PASS Summit 2012 – Birds of a Feather Lunch

Going to the SQL PASS Summit this year? I sure hope you are! This year, like in 2009, 2010 and 2011 I helped out in getting the Birds of a Feather lunch organized for one of the days. PASS may never ask me back after this year seeing as how the Summit is next week and I just now have the final list of table hosts compiled and ready for pruning!!! But, as you’ll see in a moment, this years format means we could get away with running the selection down to the wire.

This year the Birds of a Feather lunch will be the Friday of Summit during the regular lunch in the regular lunch room. 60-80 tables will be set aside and there will be signage and directions inside the lunch room. All you have to do is pick one of the table topics below.

A special thanks goes out to the folks at PASS HQ (LANA! KATHY! and everyone really!) who do a lot of the hard work and the reminding of these things. They juggle a heck of a lot behind the scenes. Also to Andrew Karcher – you see, I’m going to miss my first SQL PASS Summit in about 4? 5? years so I won’t be there to the help on setup and to walk around and make sure no fights break out between the DBA and Dev tables. Andrew is stepping up to the plate and doing that this year. Thanks!!!!

A Little History First…

So 2009 was the year the Summit did the first Birds of a Feather lunch. The idea is simple (and I still don’t know who came up with the idea of trying this at the PASS Summit! I just know Blythe from PASSHQ at the time needed volunteers to help organize this concept and I said “sounds simple enough.”) – instead of folks going through the lunch buffet by themselves, and finding a table with the most open seats and eating by themselves, we figured we’d provide a way to get folks sitting together, if they wanted to.  So the premise here is we would create a bunch of table topics, provide a list of those table topics to people ahead of the lunch and they could sit with others interested in the same topic. The first three years, we’ve asked table hosts to come up with specific table topic titles and people would sit down at a topic title that interested them.

What Worked In The Past

Most of the tables had people sitting at them and I’ve always walked around and listened in at each table – great conversations ensued at most and some friendships even were formed because of these. I’d call that a success. There were some hitches though:

  • Topic Titles Were Long – I encouraged the hosts to come up with creative table titles in previous years. That was a lot of fun and many came up with witty titles. BUT – We had query issues on the list.. Our users (the attendees finding a table) now had to do a scan through 50+ long titles to quickly decide where to sit. This wasn’t efficient, and a lot of people just went for the first one they found or a table not part of the BoF lunch.
  • People Didn’t Find Info Ahead of Time – Further complicating our problem above, most people didn’t find the info about the topics ahead of time, so they were left to look at a few signs and try and make that decision. A little overwhelming, perhaps.
  • Flyers – The last couple years we printed (wasted) a lot of pages of table topics. First half of the sheet was the topics, second half was a “map” and we got a bunch of PASS HQ volunteers and we attacked folks heading into lunch with a sheet. Most quickly looked away like we were telling them about a PASS credit card offer.

What It Looks Like This Year

Some parts still remain the same. Like the roles and responsibilities:

PASS provides the icebreaking – a technical affinity  to coalesce around. A lunch room. Some food.

Your Table Hosts Talk with Ful Mouths – MVPs, MCMs, Microsoft Employees and starting this year, Summit speakers have hosted various tables. They’ll help encourage conversations around the topic area and help foster networking.

You eat and meet folks. Sometimes you get questions answered – The whole reason we do the BoF tables is for attendees. Attendees pick a table based on a topic area they are interested in, grab a seat there and join the conversation. Great way for you to learn more about a topic, meet others who are interested, meet some new friends and maybe get a question answered from the host or other attendees.

What’s different this year? The Topics.

Instead of inundating you with a totally different topic title per table. We are going to try going with pretty broad table topics this year and see how it works out. We still great table hosts interested in a whole range of aspects of these topics but now you can just pick that general topic and sit at any of the tables with a sign on it for that topic. A lot of the table hosts will be blogging and tweeting about their hosting and we’ll get a list of the hosts out once we are agreed on the finality of it later today.

The Topics 

The bolded words below are the topic titles. These are what the signs will be on the tables. The non-exhaustive list of sub topics are the kind of conversations you can expect to have at a table in that topic area. Any questions? Leave a comment and I’ll answer.

  • The Cloud – Azure, working with data in the cloud, syncing between cloud and on premise, etc.
  • Big Data – Hadoop integration with Microsoft, working with Big Data, analytics on Big Data, etc.
  • Data Warehousing & Reporting –  SSAS, Analytics, Data Mining, Dimensional Data Modeling techniques, Considerations and best practices with data collection, warehousing and dissemination with tools like PowerPivot/Power View, SharePoint, etc.
  • SSIS and Data Integration – SSIS, EIM, DQS, MDS & other TLAs
  • Performance – Database and system performance baselining, optimization techniques and tricks, getting the most out of your instances, understanding hardware, etc
  • Database and Data Development – Data modeling, SQL Server Development best practices, T-SQL enhancements in SQL 2012, Source Control for databases, etc.
  • DBA – Database Administration Best practices, Virtualization, Consolidation, HA/DR, Backup & Recovery, Troubleshooting, Upgrading and Migrating
  • #SQLFamily – Meet current and past BoD members at PASS,  talk about PASSWIT,  some Professional Development thoughts, learn about SQL Saturdays and User Groups, Get excited about volunteering, learn about #SQLHelp on twitter and all of the great resources out there available for free within the #SQLFamily

1 thought on “PASS Summit 2012 – Birds of a Feather Lunch”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This