PASS Board of Directors Voting and Endorsement (#PASSVotes)

Disclosure: My wife, Tamera Clark, is on this year’s Nomination Committee for the PASS Board of Directors. This means she was on the team which evaluated those who threw their hats into the ring to run in this election. The comments below do not reflect her work on that committee, her opinions on the subject, or anyone’s views but my own.

It’s that time again… That time when the PASS community comes together to voice our opinion on who we think will be best to herd cats lead our fine team of volunteers, organize countless community events, and manage the internal workings of a non-trivially-sized non-profit organization.

It’s election season for the PASS Board of Directors (BoD). This time around, there are three open seats and seven candidates. If you are a PASS member, you received an email late Sunday night into Monday (depending on your timezone) announcing those seven candidates. Voting will open tonight at “end of day” Pacific Daylight Time (so that will be 0700 GMT on September 26).

Once voting opens, I hope you will join me in supporting the best candidate of this cycle.

Allen Kinsel

I don’t have much to say, other than Allen pours his heart and soul into PASS. He’s done it before, and he’ll continue to do it, in whatever capacity he is able to. However, I believe he can make the most difference having a direct leadership role as part of the BoD.

Allen has been on the board before, where he was able to do extensive work in improving relationships with PASS Local Chapters–something he would like to continue if re-elected. I think this is an important focus, as any organization is only as strong as its foundation; in this case, that foundation are the local chapters which we are all (likely) members of. As Allen describes on his Platform Page, PASS IT will be another target of his focus and improvement work. This is another area that I think is of great importance to the community as a whole, and having someone like Allen championing for improvements will make things better for us all.

I was able to spend a fair amount of time with Allen this past summer at Microsoft TechEd North America in New Orleans, where we were able to talk about both the present and future of PASS. In addition, I was able to see first-hand how much of a truly exceptional person Allen is, and how willing he is to provide any support he can to anyone who might need it.

Visit Allen’s Election Central* to learn about his platform and what others are saying in support of him.

PASS membership–that’d be you and I–would be most fortunate to have Allen serve on the BoD for another term.

Thanks for reading. Get out there and vote.

 

* Not actually what he’s calling the page. Come on, it’s impossible for me to write a 100% serious post.

T-SQL Tuesday #36: What Does the SQL Community Mean to You (Me)?

TSQL Tuesday Logo

T-SQL Tuesday #36: How rad is Community? Rad enough for me to say “rad.”

I hate doing this, but I’m throwing this post together at the last second, as with PASS Summit going on last week, I completely spaced that this was T-SQL Tuesday Week. I blame the fact that I dropped my #TSQL2sDay search column out of TweetDeck last week, but that wouldn’t even have helped, because I spent most of my time on the Surface, but that’s a different story/post altogether. Community is something pretty important to me, so I’m here trying to get this out the door by the deadline (I failed, see below).

T-SQL Tuesday #36 is being hosted by Chris Yates (blog | @YatesSQL), who chose this Community-related topic this month. It’s pretty fitting, considering a good chunk of us have just gotten back from PASS Summit in sunny (yes, really) Seattle this past weekend, where there’s a lot of “community” going on.

Hard to Avoid a Summit Story

Having been one of those that just returned from Summit on Sunday, it’s pretty hard for me to think about this without thinking about last week. I had a couple different things I wanted to say, but I’ve settled on the following, about being a and helping Summit FirstTimers.

Last year at Summit was our first time there. We’ve both been to a fair number of Tech conferences, so it wasn’t all  a new experience for us. This, combined with the fact that we already “Twitter Knew” a fair chunk of people, led us to not opt-in to the organized First Timers networking event (I’m sorry, Tom). Even with the fog machine, rock music intro the FirstTimers had heading into 6ABCD (which was pretty bad-ass), we were OK with this.

We’ve learned a lot about our Community since our first Summit, only a year ago.

This year, Tammy signed up to be an Alumni Mentor for FirstTimers. I was added as kind of an “unofficial” mentor to help her out, instead of having a group of my own, because, when you get right down to it, I’m a huge pansy. I was going to be OK just being there, but not being a mentor myself. That’s scary!

First Timers Sign for Groups 55, 56, 57

Groups on our sign. My rogue group became 57A.

As it turned out, there were a lot more people show up to the FirstTimers networking event than expected. I was standing there with our group’s (and two others’) sign, directing people which table to sit at, depending on which group they were in. At one point, Buck Woody, the guy with the microphone, and therefore the most powerful person in the room (turns out Buck Woody with a microphone is the best, but scariest thing ever), just told everyone to sit down anywhere, because it was taking too long to get everyone in. Next thing I knew, the previously-empty table I was standing next to was full of eager first-timers, along with Tammy’s table, and the other two groups on our sign.

Ohhhhhhhhcrap, I now have my own group of FirstTimers!!!

I had to get over being a pansy real fast. It did help by leading off by telling everyone sitting at my table that I guarantee I was the most scared person siting there. The time we had to sit there and listen to speakers and talk amongst ourselves actually went pretty fast. My group didn’t talk amongst themselves quite as much as I maybe would have liked, but they did have some questions about the conference, which I could answer and help out with. Plus, my head didn’t explode!

Where am I going with this? To me, “SQL Community” is sitting and talking face-to-face with people I’ve never met before…even though doing that scares the living crap out of me. After this experience, I’m sorry that we didn’t do the FirstTimers event last year. I’m going to make up for that in the future, though, by going ahead and volunteering to be a mentor of my own FirstTimers group in future years.

Timezone Fail

Bonus section!

Soooo, this post is late. I forgot that we’re GMT –6 now, because we’ve gone back to Central Standard Time. When I started writing this, I was shooting for 7:00p local. Then, at about 5:59, I realize the truth. Even then, this machine is showing 7:03, so I still failed.

And I’m the guy always crabbing about people saying “EST” when they really mean “EDT” :-(

PASS Summit 2012

I feel really bad about not getting a post up about this before now. Since it’s to the point where people are already on their way to SEA or already here for this year’s Summit, it’s not like I’m going to be able to talk anyone into spontaneously deciding to go. I mean, unless you’re totally made of money and this last-minute of a flight and full Summit price wouldn’t be that big of a deal to you. In fact, I’m writing this (posted later) from the starboard-side exit row of a Southwest 737-700 rocketing along at FL400, typing on my Surface’s Touch Cover, which I’m only about 2/3 happy with (some of it is due to the seating arrangement, some of it due to not 100% being used to the keyboard yet).

SWA 2410 Flight Tracker
Not really willing to trade flying ourselves for this kind of speed and altitude, but I do it anyway.

This is only our second time to go to Summit. Last year was the first, and was also the first time that we met a lot of the #SQLFamily that we felt like we already knew, mostly due to Twitter over the couple-three years before. ‘Course, now we actually do know a lot of people, and they’re some of our favorite people around.

Summit gets talked up a lot about being a near-sleepless, heavy learning, heavy partying networking event that’s second-to-none. For a bit, before we came last year, I didn’t think it could be AS GOOD as everyone says it is. And, well, I was wrong. Every good conference should have your brain melted by the time it’s all over. It’s two, three, four days of hours of learning, lots of time about stuff that’s at least partially over your head; that does wear on you.

I’ve been to conferences before, so that part of it wasn’t new to me. What was new is all the other stuff–all of the stuff that happens after the sessions are over for the day. Everyone always says it, but it bears repeating: If you eat dinner by yourself (or maybe with some coworkers that came in a group) and then go up to your hotel room by yourself for the rest of the night, yer doin’ it wrong. Summit is not the place to be That Guy. I know, because I used to be That Guy.

I will be the first to tell you that being That Guy does have some advantages. It allows you to review what you learned that day. If you have enough/the right equipment with you, you might even be able to tinker around with some demo code you picked up that day, or experiment with some new way of doing your nightly index maintenance.

Those are all good things. Possibly even good things to do while you’re at the event. But, when SQL Family is involved, there’s something even better to do–hang out. Talk to people. Go to SQL Karaoke. Go to dinner with the guy who presented on your favorite topic that day (OK, that one might be hard to pull off, but I can tell you from experience, it IS possible). I think it’s better to take good notes during the day (I can type faster than I can write and still be able to read it later, so I plan accordingly) so when you review them a few days later on the airplane ride home, you are still able to apply what you learned. Even better, recordings of all the main conference sessions are available for purchase before and during Summit, which makes it even easier to refresh your memory about what you learned long after you’re back home.

In Conclusion…

If you’re going to be there next week, come hang out with us. I’m not quite one of the cool kids, but they humor me, so it’s all good. See, that’s another good thing about networking at Summit–as I’ve said beforeabout this group of people, they’re all awesome, and they all understand–What you do, why you do it, what keeps you up at night… All of it. This is why SQL Family are some of my favorite people around.

See you guys at the Tap House.

PASS Summit 2012 To-Do

Diners Drive-ins and Dives was on the TV just now (it was the first episode I’ve seen of the day, so I hadn’t gotten to the point of stabbing myself in the eyes yet), and Guy was at a place in Seattle that we want to put on a list of things to do this year. Tammy said we should start a list in a folder somewhere, and I thought why not mumble to the world about it.

So, here’s a random list of things that we’re going to try to do when we’re out in Seattle this year, along with a stab at when we might be doing it. Obviously these can all be #SQLFamily events, unless otherwise noted.

Oh, and of course, if anyone knows anything about these places and it would actually be a bad idea to do/visit any of them, please feel free to let us know!

  • Slim’s Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole (1st Ave South, ~Georgetown); Probably hit this place on the way into town due to its location
  • “The spice place”; That’s all I’ve got about it. I seem to recall hearing about this once before, but this is all I’ve got right now

Will add to this as time goes on…

SQL PASS Summit Recap Part 2 & Lessons Learned

I really don’t know where November and December went. Or January. Oh crap, it’s the end of February already. Sigh. I’m doing good to not go to the office on a Saturday or start cleaning the house on a Tuesday morning. So, now, I’m finally going to finish what was a little series (err.. OK, two posts don’t a series make) about PASS Summit with this post, which will cover some boring personal stuff, along with some lessons learned back in October.

The Weekend

We were in Seattle until the Monday after the conference, so we had the weekend to do some sightseeing. We planned that since we had never been to Seattle before and we also have a habit of tacking on some vacation around conferences like this for higher quantities of bang-for-buck. We would have rather done this scheduling a little differently, but more on that in a bit.

Alaska King Salmon

Mmmmm

We reserved a rental car on Friday morning, so we could get around outside of downtown. We of course went to the Pike Place Market, which was great. Saw some fish flying through the air, as expected. Went by the original Starbucks, bought some cheese, even some flowers. We actually came back here on Monday morning on our way to the airport to pick up a couple of fish to take home with us. There’s now an Alaskan King Salmon in the freezer in the basement, which I think is pretty awesome. I suppose it’s one’s duty to go to the Space Needle their first time in Seattle, so we did that, too.

 

With the touristy stuff out of the way, Tammy and I met up with Denny (blog | @MrDenny) & wife Kris and set out to see our favorite off-the-beaten-trail thing: dams! Although more lock system than dam, we went to the Hiram M. Chittenden (aka “Ballard”) Locks. Denny & Kris made fun of us a little bit for being “oooo, boats!”, but hey, we’re from Indiana and live in Tennessee now—we don’t exactly get to see water all that often. The complex has a fish ladder where adult salmon can make it upstream past the dam complex to spawn in the freshwater Lake Washington. There’s a viewing area down along the ladder where you can see into the water through windows. October isn’t exactly heavy salmon migratory season, but there was one lone fish in there bumming around. This would be pretty sweet to see when it’s busy.

Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full

Negative, Ghostrider, the pattern is full

Somewhat ironically, immediately after this, we went and ate sushi. I can’t drive chopsticks, but that’s a different story.

The rest of the weekend involved closing down the Tap House another time or two, shopping, me piecing out and almost hitting my face on some asphalt in a park, annnnnd sleep. We got back on a 737 for the return trip to KBNA on Monday, and that was that.

Our pics from the trip are on Flickr here. Well, Tammy’s are. Mine haven’t been sorted through & uploaded.

Summit Recap

This conference is crazy. If it had eyes, you wouldn’t talk to it in a bar; you would walk swiftly the other way.

Now, of course, if you’re that guy, it probably isn’t as bad. You come to Seattle, you get your learnin’ on, maybe spend some time with the crew at an Expert Pod to talk through a nasty intermittent deadlocking problem you’ve got, grab some supper, and then head back to your room to catch up on some work or otherwise. I used to be that guy at conferences, so I understand. However, this is the SQL community, which means if you want to take your chances with the crazy, there’s plenty of opportunity.

Obviously, there’s the conference itself. With the schedule full of world-class speakers, small-group interactions with leading experts, and the Birds of a Feather lunch, it is truly amazing the amount of knowledge and experience available for attendees. If you have a question about SQL Server, there is someone here who can answer it (and if there isn’t, then the question is probably unanswerable :-) ). I really do enjoy this “learning” part of events. I also love being able to take advantage of the expertise available when I have big nagging problems that I haven’t been able to work out. Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn’t have any such things going on last fall that I was able to pick brains about. For a number of reasons, I hope that is different this year.

Along these lines, something did happen at the conference last year which I haven’t really had happen before: during a few different sessions, I had the realization that I actually knew what was going on. It wasn’t exactly that I felt I was learning for the fist time, it was more the feeling about “getting” such a big chunk of this “working with data” thing that I do. Obviously I don’t really get everything there is to get, as there’s way more to “working with data” than I have my brain wrapped around at this point, but the speakers and the content are just that good—they make you feel smarter than you actually are! I never got this feeling back when I was a sysadmin, doing sysadmin-y things, and I don’t know if it’s because my heart is so much more in what I’m doing now or something else. 

Oh hai!

There are plenty of networking opportunities during the conference day, up to and including ones that I didn’t even know were coming. Case in point: When I would think about it, I would Tweet what session I was sitting down in; or, RT someone else who beat me to it. In one session, I saw a tweet of someone sitting in the same session I was. Into the session, I happened to notice the guy next to me would flip over to TweetDeck on his laptop every so often. I checked out the avatar of the guy who said he was in the same session and I then realized that I was sitting right next to him. It was @DataOnWheels. We talked for a bit & exchanged cards at the end of the session. It was a pretty cool happening.

Some people will say to not feel obligated to go to a session in every slot—that’s what ordering the DVDs of all of the sessions are for. Instead, use the time at the conference to do things that you can’t get for later. Things like hanging out and talking to other people who do the same things that you do that you met at lunch (of which there are plenty of…even I found some!). I can at least partially agree with this advice. However, I’ve been to a fair handful of conferences over the years where, due to one reason or another, the sessions (the learning) were the main reason I was there. As a result, it is going to take me a little while to get over the “sessions are Priority 1” thing. Also, watching the DVDs afterwards just isn’t quite the same as being in the session in all cases. I know as I start to get to know more people (or maybe as more people get to know me), I will be more inclined/have more opportunity to spend part of an afternoon talking about where Microsoft is going with Vertipaq or whatever. This time, I went to a session in every slot except one or two at most, and I’m glad I did that.

One place where we did jump into the social/networking aspect is after-hours. Other than a couple nights where we went back to our hotel and pretty much passed out, we were out quite late. In fact, on the day we flew out to Seattle, I realized later that we had been awake and moving for 23 hours or so. There was SQLKaraoke for one, but for the most part, it was just hanging around at the Tap House talking shop until they kicked us out. Those were some good times. There was the second dinner lots of nights part, which was a little over-the-top. I didn’t really gain much weight that week, and I don’t know how I pulled that off.

Random Bits & Things We Learned for Next Time

Stuff We Should Have Brought More Of. Clothes. The 16 or so hour days that we were running really put an unexpected hurt on our clothes. Tammy noticed about halfway through our trip that one of my pairs of jeans was getting a little… rough (relatively speaking). We got to thinking about it and realized that we were wearing clothes for about twice as long as we usually do in a day, because of how long our days were on this trip. By the time we were heading home, nothing was standing in the corner on its own, but we do know for next time to plan on wearing some things (mostly pants) fewer times than we would normally expect to.

Stuff We Could Have Gone Without. Power Strip. I packed one. It didn’t get used once. I don’t know how it didn’t, and as a result, even though it didn’t get used this time, one will probably come along again next time. This is one of those things that doesn’t take up all that much room, but if it turns out that we actually need it, it’s gold. If we’re tight on room or weight though, this will be one of the first things to go.

Down Time. We found that down time is an important part of the week’s schedule. We cashed out pretty early two nights and it was probably the only way we made it through the week. Basically… we’re not in college anymore. And, likely…you aren’t either. I mean, if you are, that’s cool—we’ll see you a night or two this year at 0300. If you’re like us, though, there will be a few late nights and a couple/few not-so-late nights; and that’s perfectly OK.

Food. Something funny happened in the first part of our week in Seattle last year—we were sick! Long story short, it turns out that we apparently eat better than we thought we did. I mean, yeah, we hardly ever eat fast food, only eat at restaurants a few times a week, and grow a fair amount of the plant-derived food we eat, but I wasn’t expecting to be thrown for a loop by eating nothing but institutional food. This isn’t about any food in particular we had towards the beginning of our trip, it’s just that it turned out to be so different than what we usually eat, it was a shock to our systems. Everything was OK after a few days, but this might be something to keep in mind if you’re a heavy eat-in-type person. At the risk of sounding snooty, we will probably be hitting the Whole Foods that’s in downtown Seattle for some meals at least early in the week to help ease the transition.

Jet Lag. A number of years ago, someone told us of a good way to deal with Westbound jet-lag. See, the problem with going back in time is that you tend to go to bed and get up way early until you get acclimated. The fix is the day you get to your destination, stay up as late as you absolutely possibly can, and only then go to bed. This will make you “sleep in” the next morning as far as your body is concerned, which will hopefully more-or-less land you at the correct time to get up in the new timezone. We’ve done this for a while, and it works really well for us.

The problem is when flying Eastbound. This leads to one staying up and sleeping in way late compared to the prevailing time, which is more of a problem to deal with. This is really bad, because there’s not a good, easy way to deal with it like there is the other way. You just have to go to bed, set your alarm, and hope for the best (and probably be dead for a day or two). On this trip, our first day back in TN, we went to bed at about or normal time, 10:00p Central (8:00p as far as our bodies were concerned). This was only possible because of the craziness from the week before. Turns out this snapped us right back to Central Time in one day! It was by far the easiest jet lag recovery we’ve ever had.

 

That’s it for PASS Summit 2011. I feel bad that it has taken me so long to finish getting this post together. I mean, it’s almost SQL Rally time. I guess one could say the silver lining here is since so much time has gone by, this is a good way to keep the excitement for Summit 2012 alive! We’ve already registered for this year, and we pretty much can’t wait to see our #SQLFamily again.