This year, I have the opportunity to attend the SQL PASS event in Grapevine, Texas. This is my first PASS event, and only my second time to attend any SQL Server conference. By the end of the first day, I can say that this trip appears to be well worth the time and expense.
Most of the day was spent in a full-day preconference session with Kimberly Tripp, founder of SQLSkills.com. This event, entitled “The Next Generation DBA” addressed the most essential new features of SQL Server 2005 and how to leverage those new elements. I was highly impressed with the information presented in this session; although I have done some cursory work with beta and CTP versions of the product, I had never fully explored the most exciting of the new features of SQL Server 2005. Our presenter helped to make the time spent in this session both valuable and entertaining. Kim Tripp is one of the most knowledgeable database gurus I have ever met; her expertise on the Yukon product and in general database design is quite impressive. Her interactive yet structured style of instruction helped to keep everyone in the room excited about the upcoming product release. The complimentary lunch was a nice touch, one not often found at technical conferences such as these.
At the close of the day, a welcome reception was held in the main ballroom. The food was complimentary – while it lasted (which wasn’t long). Some of the Microsoft staff competed in a Jeopardy-style trivia game, which was both entertaining and an effective conversation starter. I had the opportunity to meet some fellow DBAs from out of state; since I am the only DBA and the only developer in my shop, I am always excited about the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues. After the welcome reception, some of us attended the casino party sponsored by SQLServerCentral.com. As an avid Texas Hold-Em player and fan, this was certainly a treat for me. Along with poker tables, there were craps and blackjack stations, complete with professional Vegas-caliber dealers. Prizes were abundant, handed out through drawings and as rewards for success at the tables. I’ve got to give a big shout out to Steve Jones and the rest of the gang at SQLServerCentral.com for setting up this event.
I’ve only a few minor complaints at the end of the day today. First, the room in which our session was held was far too small, forcing many to stand or sit on the floor. In fact, I spent the first half of the day perched atop a refreshment table at the back of the room. Preregistration was required, which would have given PASS officials a head count for this event, so I can’t imagine why this had to happen. Also, those of us driving in had to pay for parking. Not a huge gripe, especially considering that meals have been provided, but for the price of admission I would have hoped that the $9 daily parking fee could have been covered. However, despite these relatively minor annoyances, I am still excited and optimistic about the rest of the conference.
That’s it for today. It’s late and I’m tired, and the alarm will come far too early in the morning. More tomorrow!