SQL Saturday #53 review


The KC PASS chapter has successfully executed the latest SQL Saturday.  Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers for a wonderful event! The amazing thing about SQL Saturday is that it gives the local attendees a taste of the PASS Summit without traveling or spending any money, save a few bucks for lunch. So, you might assume that only local speakers show up to present. Well, even though there are fantastic speakers living in the area of each SQL Saturday, like PASS board member Bill Graziano in KC, SQL Saturdays also draw speakers from all over the country and, in this case, Canada as well. If you were lucky enough to be a part of SQL Saturday #53 yesterday, you could have seen presentations by out of town SQL Server gurus Tom LaRock (SQL Rockstar), Steve Jones, Sudhir Gajre, Wendy Pastrick, Chris Shaw, Karen Lopez and many more.

At this particular SQL Saturday, each attendee paid $10 for lunch. So, expecting a nice box lunch or pizza, we were all surprised to be treated to Kansas City barbeque. Fast forward a few hours to the drive home, I read on Twitter that the leftover food was donated to City Union Mission and would feed over 300 people in need. Wow, I bet our hero Bill Gates would be proud of SQL Saturday #53. 

My weekend began Friday afternoon as I met up with 5 of my St. Louis DBA friends, and we piled into a minivan and headed west. We stopped in Columbia, MO, for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Soon the conversation drifted to paging files, clustered indexes and foreign keys. Looking around the restaurant, I mentioned that we were the probably geekiest table in the place.

My session on SSRS was scheduled at 8:30, the first session block. I’m not a fan of speaking at the first session of the day, but it did go well.  My talk was about all the new features introduced with R2 that you don’t usually hear about like page names, page numbers that start over with groups, and report parts. There is more to R2 than maps and sparklines.

Once again I organized a Women in Technology (WIT) panel. This time, instead of holding the panel at lunch, we were given a regular session slot in the Professional Development track. The group attending the session was smaller than a lunch session, but the discussion was no less lively.  I served as moderator, and the panel included Kim Tessereau, Wendy Pastrick, and Karen Lopez. Karen graciously agreed to fill in for our original panelist, Michelle Ufford, who was unable to attend.

This is the third time I have been involved with a WIT panel this year, and every time the discussion is different. One of my favorite comments came from Karen concerning how technical women are portrayed in the media. She mentioned that the number of law school applications exploded when the show LA Law was popular. Now the CSI genre has captured the imagination of our young people. We need to have a cool new show featuring DBAs, women with great technical skills who lead fun, glamorous lives outside of work. I think it is a great idea! But, seriously, we need to make sure that the young women in our lives understand how cool technology really is. Side note -- Today's Parade magazine contains an article about the new popularity of High School musical groups thanks to the hit show Glee.

Lance Harra, long time PASS volunteer, brought his daughter Amanda to the session. She told us about a new middle-school trend, dressing up like nerds. It seems that non-geeky students are sporting taped up glasses and pocket protectors. (By the way, I have tried taping a pair of broken glasses, and it didn’t work.) I’ll have to check with my nieces and nephews back in my hometown to see if they have seen this. I'm not sure if this interesting new trend is good or bad for inspiring kids to think about technology careers.

For me, SQL Saturdays are also a way to catch up with my PASS friends and meet new ones. I spent most of the day networking and attended only one session, “Strategies for Concurrency and Performance” by my team member Sudhir Gajre. This session proved to all of us in the audience that we have a lot to learn if we really want to be a DBA.

Finally, I met back up with my St. Louis friends and started the long drive home. From Twitter, I saw that SQL Saturday #53 was continuing on in spirit as people met up for an informal after party.

I’ll be heading to Orlando in a couple of weeks for SQL Saturday #49. See you there!