SQL Saturday #33 was held on Saturday, 3/6, at the Microsoft campus in Charlotte. Hosted by the Charlotte SQL Server Users Group, this was the first time for a SQL Saturday in the area and I think they did a fantastic job! Peter Shire (Twitter) and Greg Gonzalez (Blog | Twitter) put a lot of hard work and effort into making this a can't-miss event by enticing speakers from around the country to come present (including 14 MVPs), securing a great facility, and landing the backing of a great group of sponsors.
The speaker's dinner on Friday night started with a social hour at the SQL Sentry office. Hands down they've got the coolest lounge I've ever seen at an office – an XBox 360 hooked up to a ginormous screen with surround sound and a full set of Rock Band instruments on one end and a fridge full of frosty beverages on the other (for after hours relaxation, of course!). I spent most of the time at the social talking shop with Chris Skorlinski (Blog | Twitter), a Replication guru at Microsoft.
Dinner was a short walk around the corner and easily the best speaker's dinner I've ever been to. SQL Sentry sponsored and spared no expense. My favorite part about speaker dinners is the chance to catch up with friends who I only get to see a few times each year. The day of the event is always hectic and this is the one chance to get everybody in a room together at the same time. Worth the price of the plane ticket from Orlando, easily!
The Main Event
Saturday started with a keynote featuring Steve Jones (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter), and Rushabh Metah (Blog | Twitter) discussing the past, present, and future of the SQL Saturday brand. I presented at the first ever SQL Saturday in Orlando back in 2008 and really appreciate the opportunity it's provided for me to meet other SQL professionals and grow as a speaker. I also know how much time and effort Andy's put into getting it where it is today so I feel a sense of pride for Andy that it's grown (I think) into what he was hoping it would become.
The first of the two sessions I presented was Getting Started In Blogging and Technical Speaking (slide deck here). I counted 12 non-presenters in the room plus five bloggers\presenters (three of which I asked to sit in to help add perspective). This is an interactive session by design and despite some initial hesitation from attendees there were a lot of questions asked and some great back and forth discussion. It's also satisfying to find out that two people who came to my session decided to blog about their day here and here.
My second session, The (Solid) State Of Drive Technology (slide deck here), was less popular than I thought it would be. I was scheduled in one of the larger rooms that held 50 people but only 12 people showed. Maybe interest in solid state drives isn't there like I thought. Nevertheless, this was a first-time presentation for me and I thought it went well. I run an SSD in my laptop so it made for a cool demonstration to reboot and have the everything reloaded in less than two minutes. If nothing else I probably convinced a few people to go out and buy an SSD for their desktop\laptop!
I finished out the day by going to Kevin Kline's sessions on SQL Server Internals and Top 10 Mistakes, then hit the after party with a few other speakers before heading to the airport to catch my flight back home to Orlando.