Question: How many Oracle DBAs can you fit in Madison Square Garden?
Answer: None, their egos won’t fit through the door.
No, this blog is not a slight towards Oracle DBAs. I have several friends who are Oracle DBAs and they are some of the nicest, most humble people you will ever meet, but in my experience, they are the exception. Early in my career I had to administer Oracle and the person I was supposed to learn from was a hard core Oracle DBA and had been for years. Probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with but only barely tolerable to be around because his ego was larger than the Goodyear Blimp. When I was introduced to SQL Server way back in 1996 (yes, I am dating myself), there really weren’t any experts in the field readily available when questions came up. The internet was just starting to flourish and Google hadn’t even been invented yet. There were a few guys that I had heard of that were willing to help, Brian Knight, Andy Warren & Steve Jones. I knew about them because Steve Jones was a local guy in Denver, where I was living at the time. They created this thing called SQLServerCentral.com. These few are the epitome of SQL Server stewards, for both knowledge and professionalism. Smart, humble, easy going, willing to share knowledge freely and did I mention smart? Honestly, they have been my role models for “lifting as you climb” in my career. Okay, now I sound like some creepy stalker, so we’ll move on to the point of this blog.
For those that know me personally, you know I am not a speaker type, so I give back to the SQL community by volunteering behind the scenes in any way I can. So when I was selected to work on the program committee for PASS Summit 2014, I was so excited I did a little happy dance in my cube at work. My co-workers are used to seeing my head bob to the music of my headphones, but seeing me do a happy dance was a little startling for some. This will be my 5th year on the committee, more specifically the abstraction review team. I love being on the abstract review team, getting to read what people are passionate about teaching is always so exciting. It kick starts my love of SQL Server and learning. However, just because I had been on the committee in previous years, I never assumed I would be selected again. It is such a privilege to be chosen, and trusted, with this huge task.
Recently there has been a lot of chatter in social media about the selection process (or lack thereof according to some). It saddens me to see some people’s true colors. Being chosen to speak for any engagement, not just the PASS Summit, is a privilege, not a <insert deity here> given right. The selection process has improved over the years and has become more streamlined thanks to the investment made by the PASS IT team. It still has room for improvement, but most things do. One of the things I like best about this year is the increase in the amount of time we have been given to review the abstracts. In years past, we’ve had a very small window in which to review the abstracts. That small window made it very difficult to coordinate team members’ schedules to discuss final rankings and assign rejection reasons. I am hoping we can do a much better job this year of providing useful feedback to speakers. Another improvement that was implemented last year was the removal of the speaker from the abstract. This is a huge deal. In years past, we could see who submitted the session and I fear that it swayed team members’ opinions of abstracts, both good and bad. Some would be chosen because they were “well known” speakers and/or authors, it didn’t matter that their abstracts were poorly written, which in my experience often translated into poorly presented sessions. Some would be excluded for the exact same reason. As a speaker you need to have enough respect for your audience to provide them with the best written abstract you can, it’s the surest sign of respect.
I congratulate all those that have submitted sessions for the Summit; it’s a huge step just submitting a session for the PASS Summit. If you are selected to speak, I ask that you remember that it’s a privilege and an honor and that you treat those attending your session(s) with the respect they are due. If you are not selected, I ask that you not give up. If you have questions about why your session was not selected, ask. I have been asked in the past and am always glad to provide additional feedback.
Question: How many SQL Server DBAs can you fit in the Seattle Convention Center?
Answer: Unlimited, as long as they remember why they attend and/or speak at the PASS Summit.