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SQL Saturday #33 – Charlotte – A Recap

I am sitting in the terminal at Charlotte’s airport waiting for my flight back, it’s a bit delayed so I have time to reflect on a great SQL Saturday. This was my second SQLSaturday and it was a fantastic event. Boston was also great, as I blogged about but I was here a bit longer and had more time to interact with a lot of great speakers and attendees. I also had a great time hanging out wit the folks at SQL Sentry for their first Product Advisory Council meeting.

I am excited to be heading home to my family but it is actually a bit sad leaving some of the great people I got to hang out with. Once again, there were some great speakers (It is intimidating to be speaking at an event with the names who spoke today).

I’m going to take a walk through my weekend with a few lenses. If you are interested, come along for the journey…

Product Advisory Council Meeting

Wow. A great time. I felt a little odd being there with crowd of gurus and MVPs that they had assembled but I wasn’t lost in the conversations. I’ll blog about this a bit more in a separate non-syndicated post since it is related to a product. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot and was able to provide (hopefully meaningful) input. I had a great time hanging out with the team and hitting the speaker party on Friday. What a great time put on by the platinum sponsor of this SQL Saturday – SQL Sentry. Great food and some awesome conversations with some familiar faces from PASS and the blogosphere.

SQL Saturday Presenter

I am balding faster than I realized...

So last month was my first time speaking at a community event and I was a lot more nervous and a bit more rigid then than I was today. I had a really fun time presenting both sessions today. A bit more fun in the first talk (more on that in a second) but the audience was great, the atmosphere was relaxed, I had laughs where I was hoping to, had some good interaction back from all y’alls in the audience. 😉

I know what I need to improve on and am hoping to get some feedback to know what I don’t know I need to improve on but I really want to speak some more, it is a great next step in the learning continuum (I learned preparing, learned through the questions during and after the talks,etc)

First Talk – “As a DBA, Where Do I start?”

If I had to rate myself, I’d say this was the better of the two. I was in a 20 capacity room and the chairs filled up with some folks standing around in the back and sitting on the floor/tables. I liked the smaller room, the fuller feeling room and being closer to the audience made it flow better, I think.

The questions from this talk told me that I was heading in the right direction. I think I might tweak it to include some more demos and perhaps better show a priority of steps. I want to keep doing this chat, there are a lot of accidental DBAs out there.

I need to work on my slide design. I like the minimalist approach and the images I use in this deck to provide some levity (the waterboarding of vendors seemed to be a universally well accepted practice down here) but I want to link back to more points (Like Buck Woody’s checklist for DBAs) and maybe spend some more time on practical aspects, perhaps as a follow on to that conversation. Maybe a screen cast to make.

Second Talk“You Can Tune Your Own SQL Code”

I saw a fair number of familiar faces in this talk from my first talk. That was nice, made me feel that much better about the first talk and inspire some confidence. That and all the sweet tea cursing through my system (I discovered and fell in love with the stuff down here… Did I mention I don’t get out of New England a whole lot?) made me definitely energetic for this talk. This talk was really crowded, I was a bit late getting over there because of the previous session and I had to fight a crowd to get in. It was a 20 person room but the tables and aisles were well filled. Hoping folks found what they were expecting.

It started out well. I feel like I had some good audience interaction and some good laughter (where I was alright hearing laughter, mind you) and some fun with the crowd. I need to rework and re-rehearse this presentation more, though. My timing of the slides to demos was off, I was too rushed in the demo. I also need to better tweak what I talk about, I only have 60 minutes and I can’t get into every single detail (like the side track on the whiteboard of B-Trees, those kind of discussions can happen later). I think the Phone Book trick worked to help illustrate SARGable queries and I’ll keep that. I will, however, re-time everything and make a better flow. All in all, I don’t think I outright bombed (please leave a comment if I did! It can be anonymous, My speaker rate account is completely anonymous if you prefer- Mike Walsh speaker rate). I had some questions afterwards, requests for cards, etc. but I didn’t feel as good about this one as the first talk. I want to give a better experience for the next time I deliver this talk.

SQL Saturday Attendee

I went to the following sessions:

Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA on twitter) – He gave a talk on an introduction to Blogging and Speaking. He asked me if I would help on the panel but it was all his presentation. It was a great presentation, really shows what our community is about – Community. We don’t want to exclude speakers or bloggers, we want more! I blogged about that in the post series on blogging. A few people in the audience said they would start blogging or speaking. I really hope they do. Great presentation!

Tim Ford (@SQLAgentMan on twitter) – He said he was off because he was sick but he gave a good presentation anyway. He talked about tips for harnessing the power of Lazy as a DBA. Some good tips (including using templates for a baseline server installation process. That is awesome and I have a huge need for that in my day job, I’ll be implementing his idea very soon)

Kendal Van Dyke (again) – He gave a great presentation on SSD storage options with pros/cons and honest feedback/caveats. I haven’t yet played with it and his talk gave me some great food for thought. I was very impressed by his cold reboot mid-presentation. I have never seen a Windows laptop reboot so quick. One thing I may do is change my laptop drive real soon 🙂

Jeffry Schwartz – I met Jeffry at the PAC meeting. He is a really thoughtful, intelligent and in tune with performance kind of guy. His talk was great. He didn’t talk a lot about SQL Server but he talked about “performance outside the box”. He got into counters I don’t play with much in perfmon (DPCs, Processor interrupts) and talked about a lot of really good, geeky hardware and OS information. I am used to SQL Server sessions devoted a lot more to performance counters within SQL and SQL performance. Jeffry reminded us of something that should be common sense (but not always is a first instinct for folks) –> sometimes performance problems have nothing to do with SQL. He showed us some tools and tips to help see when someone else on your SAN is the blame, or when the system is to blame or even a driver/NIC configuration. I really hope to see Jeffry speak at the PASS Summit for a longer session.

Going Home Mike

Well that’s it. Going home Mike is tired (the sugar rush from the sweet tea is wearing off), filled with knowledge and excited to speak again. I won’t be doing any SQL Saturday’s until at least fall with baby number 3 (Sam) coming sometime around the end of May. I pay my own way and have a family to support. Plus my time will be devoted to getting the Seacoast NH/ME/MA SQL chapter working with our first meeting coming in April.

I may even to submit a Professional Development chat to PASS or perhaps even a variation of my DBA talk from SQL Saturday.

Again, thanks to the sponsors, this was a memorable time! I stole my picture from this stream: http://sqlsentry.smugmug.com/Events/2010-03-SQLsaturday33/11432245_nDzgG I am hoping they don’t mind 🙂

Did you go? What did you go listen to? What did you take away? Let us know in the comments or a post of your own.

Article by Mike Walsh

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2 thoughts on “SQL Saturday #33 – Charlotte – A Recap”

  1. Mike, It was great to host your visit to the Queen City and thanks for your support of SQLSaturday #33. I received many positive comments on the quality of your session. You are well on your way as a SQL expert and noted community speaker. Looking forward to your solo presentation to the Charlotte SQL Server Users Group sometime in the future.

    All the best,
    Peter Shire
    President, Charlotte SQL Server Users Group

    • Thanks, Peter. The real thanks goes to you guys for hosting a really great event. The crowds were motivated, sharp and had some great questions/interaction in every session I got to visit. I would love to speak down there anytime, especially if I can get some more sweet tea 🙂


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