Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 4

For the penultimate installment of this little series, I’m going to share locations that are excellent places to meet other SQL nerds/DBAs/what-have-you for this week in Seattle. The list contains a mix of locations at the conference in addition to “outside” venues where SQL Server nerds tend to congregate after hours.

Speaker Idol
For a few years now, there has been Speaker Idol at the PASS Summit. Speaker Idol is a contest for–wait for it–speakers, competing to win the first speaking slot of the next year’s PASS summit. Comprising 12 contestants delivering 5-minute lightning talks, the contest goes down in three preliminary rounds plus a final, culminating in the winner being crowned by the panel of judges, awarded a guaranteed speaking slot in next year’s Summit, able to speak on whatever topic they choose.

Tap House

1506 Sixth Ave
On Sixth Ave, half a block north of the Sheraton, just south of the convention center, is the Tap House Grill. Likely due to its convenient location, and SURELY not due to the 160 beers on tap, this is a favorite hangout of anyone at PASS Summit anytime during operating hours. It’s downstairs, it tends to be unfortunately hot, the food tends to be decent-to-good, and someone is always there; can’t go wrong.

Community Zone

On the bridge over 6th Ave
Most importantly, PASS Summit is a community event. There’s no better place to connect with that community than the Community Zone. This is an open area on the walkway that spans between the Washington State Convention Center and The Convention Center to the north, where you can find community leaders, peers, and bean bag chairs. It’s a good place to meet and chat with fellow community members during the day, along with a decent place to just sit down and relax for a bit.

CAT lab

I assume still across from the main Vendor Hall entrance, but I haven’t been paying attention.
The Customer Advisory Team are some of the most talented support employees working for Microsoft. If you are at Summit and have any problems at all with SQL Server, these are the folks to ask. Open/Available most of the days, stop by and talk to someone in a light green shirt (OK, their shirts may be a different color this year); they’ll for-sure be able to help you. Also, towards the end of the day, you can even pick up a beer or a glass of wine at CAT Happy Hour!

SQL Karaoke/DCAC/SIOS/SentryOne

Tuesday Night
Also for a few years now, on Tuesday evening, there has been a party thrown by us and SIOS. This year, SentryOne joins the party, as it were. This is primarily a karaoke party with a live band, to boot! I don’t really sing, so don’t count on that, but this is a great place to hang out with SQL folks for entirely too far into Wednesday morning. The open bar tickets are sold out, but you can still come by! Hit the Eventbrite link there to pick up a free ticket, and come by and say hi!

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 2

This was on the waiter’s station at Bush Garden in 2011

For installment #2 of this brief series on visiting Seattle for PASS Summit, we have a semi-touristy-flavored list of things to do/places to go. These are items that can (or should) be worked into your “normal” conference schedule, without needing to have extra time in town, a car, or such. This list doesn’t include the Pike Place Market, because that’s kind of a gimme, and you’re probably going to do that, anyway. These are other items that are either unofficial parts of the Summit experience itself, or other places that we like to visit for various reasons.

Things to Do: Semi-Touristy

Bush Garden
614 Maynard Ave S
You’ve heard of “SQL Karaoke”, right? Up to, and including the party that we (DCAC) have thrown on Tuesday evening for a few years now. But before there was that, there was Bush Garden.

Bush Garden, you see, is this little place that’s cheap Asian food place by day, karaoke bar by night. I’m not sure who found it first, but it has been a near-nightly place to go during Summit for good number of years now. There’s been Jägermeister incidents, bad singing, good singing, my wife doing dishes one time, and then there’s the green couch.

This will be the second year that “the building has been closed, so Bush Garden could go away at any moment” rumors have been present, so as long as they’re still open now–which I believe they are–you gotta go at least one night this year, because this may be it.

World Spice Merchants
1509 Western Ave
Tucked behind the Pike Place Market towards the sound, this is a favorite place of us to visit. World Spice Merchants is exactly what it sounds like–a place to buy spices. Also having teas, the walls of this place are lined with little glass jars with raw/bulk spices in them that you peruse, taking notes on what you want and how much of it on waiter pads. At the end, you hand your list over to the staff, and they pack everything up for you. Take it with you, or they will ship it home for you. They’ve got lots of stuff that may be otherwise hard to find (especially for us), so if you’re into cooking, don’t skip making a trip down here.

Wines of Washington Tasting Room
1924 Post Alley
If you’re into wine, you know how good PacNW cabs can be, and this is an excellent place to experience them. Set up almost like your friends’ living/dining/family room, with small tables and board games on shelves on the wall, this can be a fun place for either hardcore wine tasting (we ran them out of glassware one afternoon) or a cool place to just chill with friends in the evening. You can of course buy bottles here to take [home] with you, and they also have a club.

13 Coins (at 3 AM)
125 Boren Ave
So, you see… There aren’t many places open really late in Seattle. Except for 13 Coins. They’re open 24 hours, so no matter what you’re doing (or when), you can count on being able to stop by here for some good eats. Up super-early because your body’s still on Eastern time and it’s 7:00 AM where you “are”? You closed down Bush Garden and now you’re hungry? Here ya go. They have big booths, good food, and can be quite accommodating when a dozen people show up together in the middle of the night for, uh “breakfast.”

Clay’s Market (“The bodega at the convention center”)

815 Pike St
Outside the convention center (but in the building), up the street a little bit from the Crepe place and the Subway, kinda hidden underneath is Clay’s Market. This is a handy (although admittedly a little seedy) very handily-located place to buy the kinds of things you would buy at, well, a bodega. Due to its proximity to the convention center, expect prices to be higher than you may otherwise like.

There’s also another, larger place a few blocks further up Pike that has more items and more reasonable prices. If you don’t mind the walk there or need to buy ten little bottles of orange juice, that may be a better stop.

City Target

1401 2nd Ave
Bonus item!
My wife and I are from rural Indiana, and we still live a little bit out in the country, doing our shopping/such in the classic suburban situation, where there’s more parking lot than there is store. Therefore, when we first went walking around downtown Seattle, we were enamored with the “City Target”, a small-in-area-but-three-levels-high Target store right in the middle of the city. Individual bananas for 25 cents, shopping cart escalators, and a smaller selection of everything you’d expect from a Target. Usually full of locals doing their normal shopping, this can also be an excellent place to pick up some food if you’re tired of eating out at restaurants all the time and have a way to cook it, if you don’t mind the walk down towards the waterfront.

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.