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SQL Saturday #194 Exeter – A presenters review


This weekend was full of a range of emotions for me. Grab a beverage and I’ll tell you all about it….

The Journey

On the Friday I had arranged to take my 70-451 exam at lunchtime at a test center just outside Birmingham which would provide me with a nice jaunt down the M5, or so I thought.

Drove to the test center, took and passed the exam and all was well with the world. I was pretty happy. Unfortunately there were quite a lot of roadworks on the M5 and driving down to Devon with a bad back on a Friday afternoon probably wasn’t the wisest decision I could have made.

As it tuns out my journey faired a lot better than some of the other presenters who decided to travel down later in the day.


The arrival / venue

I never told anyone this at the event, but I managed to get lost :( oops oh well! Eventually found the hotal and parked across the road which was really convenient. At this point I’m sore but glad to be here.

The hotel itself was OK, the staff were pleasant and courteous – you can’t ask for much more than that and it was in a pretty good location for those travelling in being not too far from the bus and train stations.

I’m going to skip ahead a bit here and then double back later in a Tarrantino style edit so stick with me. After the speaker meal (stick with me) I mentioned I didn’t have my pass so was ushered downstairs to where the event was taking place. Jonathan, Annette and the team had managed to attain 4 fair sized rooms plus two other rooms for use as a speaker room and an exhibition hall for the event itself. It was a hive of activity these volunteers, organisers and sponsors put in a lot more hours than regular attendees would realise.


The social bit

It’s become a bit of a tradition to have a speakers meal before events now and we all headed down to a Spannish tapas establishment where I spent a very pleasant meal sat between Denny Cherry (Blog|Twitter) and Mark Broadbent (Blog|Twitter) with Mr and Mrs (to be) Dave Morrison opposite. I should point out that Dave’s fiance isn’t going to take his first name as well – that would be too confusing!

It was great to catch up with so many of the #SQLFamily, I’ve ended up committing to speaking at a few more events as well as pulling in a few favours and booking others to speak at my user group.

There were a full range of conversations with various people from bewildered looking first timers unsure of what to expect from a community event to a really deep chat with Thomas Kejser (Blog | Twitter) on the future of SSD and how it could change our whole perception of performance tuning with SQL Server.


The sessions

I made a conscious decision not go to many of the sessions during the day because I was getting quite a bit of pain from my back and didn’t think it would be fair on people if I needed to stand up and walk around whilst someone else was trying to present! I really do regret this decision as there are so many talented people in the UK and Jonathan, Annette and the team made a great job of creating an interesting and varied programme.

There was one session that I did sit in on and that was Thomas’s session on compression – for those that missed it he has blogged about it and you can read it here –


Thank you’s – Sponsors

Due to syndication rules, I can’t really speak about the companies which were there as it’s similar to product placement. Suffice to say there were companies there providing blazingly fast IO subsystems, training providers, more traditional software vendors and a few consultancy firms.

Your support was appreciated as without your sponsorship events like this would not be possible.


Thank you’s – Organisers

A big thank you has to go out to the organising team headed up by “Mr and Mrs Father Jack” aka Jonathan and Annette Allen who run the SQL SouthWest user group. Jonathan, Annette and the team really put a lot of effort into organising this event, which is especially impressive when you consider that they are also working on other projects such as SQL Relay.

You can gain a little bit of insight into their lives with the “New Year Aspirations” interviews I conducted with them back in January: Jonathan, Annette


Thank you’s – Volunteers

Being a volunteer is a very selfless task and can be very hard work, so I’d like to thank all the volunteers and let them know that we all really appreciated their part in the days proceedings. Especially my room monitor who didn’t seem to mind that I went a few minutes over!

That brings me on neatly to my session…


My session – “Natural Born Killers, performance issues to avoid”

I was very humbled to be billed alongside several MVP’s, MCM’s, MCA’s and authors. As this was my first ever SQL Saturday I was a little unsure exactly what to expect.

My session was billed last, whether this was because they saved the best till last (doubtful – see my comments about the highly esteemed counterparts above) or they though everyone would have gone home by then (much more plausible).

I was actually very pleasently surprised by the turnout. As this session is a summary of a number of core performance issue topics and I knew that some of these topics were being covered in other sessions throughout the day I thought there would be me and the room monitor watching the rugby on the big screen. The reality was very different with just a couple of empty seats at the front.

From my perspective things seemed to go pretty well, I haven’t recived the feedback yet, so whether that feeling was reciproated is under dispute.

What I can say that I did manage to get some audience participation going and there seemed to be some genuine enthusiasm and I could see a few lightbulbs going off. Add in some random sweet throwing to people who answered questions correctly and I was very happy.


The end?

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick around for the raffle and wrap up and had to shoot off atraight after my session, but not before I was asked to pose for a photo which was a little strange! If I ever receive a copy I’ll update the post with a picture.

It was a really enjoyable time and I would recommend that everyone does try to support the community by goingto these kinds of events. You may even want to try your hand at presenting…


Presenting Tips

If you’re interested in speaking or have just started speaking why not check out the indepth interview I did with Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter) on presenting.


Upcoming events

If this has whet your appetite for finding out more about community events, this post of mine lists all the events based in the UK for March 2013.

If you are living elsewhere in the world why not check out to see if there is a SQL Saturday event taking place near you.


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