Beg, borrow, steal (well maybe not the last) to make sure you can get there. If you have a training budget, use it on this summit. I have no idea how they can put this on for the price. I hate to use a cliche, but the entire Summit has a value far beyond any price you could put on it.Recommendation #2
- attend at least one pre-conference seminar, it's worth the extra cost and them some. I attended one with Kalen Delany as the host. A great many of you will have heard of her, and seen her articles around, and maybe even have her books. She’s a fantastic teacher and I gained more from that one day seminar than I could have imagined.Recommendation #3
- get to your class early, even if it means missing a cup of coffee, bring water with you. The first lesson I wanted to attend was on SQL Server 2008 on SAN: Lessons learned and best practices. So I wandered over to the room after grabbing a soda during the refreshment break. The door was closed and people were being turned away.Recommendation #4
- plan your week ahead. Get the schedule, select a primary and secondary class for every time period so that you don't get caught out and scrambling to figure out what you are going to do next.Recommendation #5
- this maybe seems inconsistent with #4, but adjust your schedule if something comes up in a previous seminar that captures your attention. Readjust your class priorities on a nightly basis (or even during lunch) if needs be. Remember, always have a backup (and test your restores).Recommendation #6
– Look for the SQLCat team, they rock in every respect. From their classes to snagging one in the hallway and asking questions to their attendance in the “Ask the Experts” lounge. The product development team are none to shabby either.Recommendation #7
– Attend the evening events. I wouldn’t say I am anti-social, but I can write it. That being said they are worth attending, there actually IS a chance that you might speak to someone, or rock out with some folks on Rock Band for a couple of hours.Recommendation #8
– Book your attendance through the SQL Server Central site. There are perks. It gives you a chance to connect with the immediate community that you are involved in right now. They even had giveaways. A polo shirt, the most recent SQL Central book and spot prizes on the casino tables. I walked away with a Spaceballs dvd, now THAT rules (the guy standing to the right of me hit BlackJack for the camera, he shall never be forgiven.Recommendation #9
– Bring pens. You’ll be given a pen, however by the end of the week I had gone through the ink on two and was well on the way to draining a third.Recommendation #10
– Bring a notebook that you can stick in your pocket (or pocketbook) and clip a pen to it. I used this for jotting down questions, this way they didn’t get lost in amongst my session notes, and it was always on hand to ask someone something, or add another question that pops into your head.Recommendation #11
– keep the notebook next to your bed. I woke at 5am one day, wrote a whole bunch of questions down about filestreams and went back to sleep.Recommendation #12
– if you have a question ask it. I had several questions that I figured were pretty dumb, but nobody ever treated me like I was a doofus. Everyone had respect for the questions and the patience to answer them.Recommendation #13
– there is an “Ask the Experts” lounge. It’s there for a reason, use it. Those guys know their stuff, and if you do actually manage to stump one of them with a question they will pull in someone who can. I had a great deal of fun asking questions and getting answers from these guys. Each answer leading me to pose another question. Being able to talk with the SQLCat guys, product developers and program managers, people you wouldn’t normally get access to, is pretty damn awesome.Recommendation #14
– be there for breakfast and lunch. You’ll sit at a table and talk with a variety of people from different parts of the country, who do different jobs. It’s an interesting way to pass the time while stuffing your mouth, and the foods not bad either.Recommendation #15
– stay to the end. Don’t skip out early on Friday, there are a lot of nuggets in those afternoon seminarsRecommendation #16
– hit lunch early on Friday if you want to get food, however there’s several eateries in the location and across the road, so not that big of a deal.Recommendation #17
– talk to the attending vendors, they support the Summit, and it’s how you can attend for such a cheap price. I could see two choices here, either go around, get your card stamped by everyone and enter for a prize, or just go see who you found interesting and talk to them about their products. I spent probably a total of 3 hours with just 5 different vendors, learned great deal about their products, saw demonstrations, all without the hard sell and pressure you would find under normal circumstances (the hard sell is coming, but by then you’ll know whether it’s worth listening to the pitch or not).Recommendation #18
– Attend the keynotes. I had thought about ditching the first one and hitting the Microsoft Labs that were open from 8am to 8pm every day. Keynotes are boring. Yeah, that was yet another thing that I was totally wrong about. It was fascinating, awesome, funny. It drew in the crowd of people sitting in the huge conference room and left every one of them awestruck. If they weren't then they either knew what was going to be in that keynote, or had their Zunes playing in their ears (seriously, we can't have iPods, this is a Microsoft product centric Summit). If you get the chance to view the keynote online or talk to anyone about it, I am sure that you will hear the sheer enthusiasm about the future of the SQL product. Kilimanjaro, Madison and Gemini. Each drew massive applause and wows from the crowd. At one point, right in the middle of the Madison presentation a refresh button was hit, goose bumps raised on my arms and the entire room erupted. If you were there, you know, if you weren't I cannot explain it better than that, sorry.Recommendation #19
– start saving now for next year. I was fortunate enough to attend on a training budget this year, I don’t think that’s going to be the case next year, so a side savings account is being opened for the “Pass Fund”.
I walked into the Summit, my first, thinking that I knew quite a lot about being a DBA. I'm not a developer, however can create sufficient T-SQL code to get me through my admin duties. As for BI, that's far out of my reach. As such I went in with the intention of focusing on the DBA focused classes.
As I mentioned, I thought I knew a lot. Boy was I wrong.
The days pass by very quickly, and before you know if the last seminar is over.
This was my first year, it won’t be my last for sure.
Thanks to the Pass people who put the gig together, and to Steve Jones and co for the after party. For this community that over the years they have built. And with their enthusiasm for the entire event year after year, finally persuading me to attend.
Shamless self promotion - read my blog http://sirsql.net