Wednesday - Sessions and Exhibitor Reception
By the time Wednesday came, it was hard for me to comprehend that we were just officially starting the educational content of the core Summit. I'd already had an amazing two days on Monday and Tuesday.
My first session was Erin Welker's BI Best Practices: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This session ended up being the most valuable to me with respect to my current job. I'm currently a data designer for a major module of new data coming into our data warehouse. My job includes not only designing the data warehouse structures related to this new project but also includes interactions with the business. Erin covered some of both in her session.
Erin Welker presenting on BI Best Practices: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Packed house for my first ever Summit Session to attend!
The highlight of this evening event was a 30 minute Hadoop session that Hortonworks presented. They called it a demo, but it really was an excellent 30-minute Hadoop session that gave a great high level explanation of Hadoop. It's the best high level overview of Hadoop that I've personally seen and a few others mentioned that to me, as well. I was impressed enough by the session that I spoke to one of the Hortonworks representatives about possibly giving this presentation to OKCSQL. Bonus: Attendees of the "demo" got a free stuffed Hortonworks elephant. It was my favorite swag from any of the vendors.
Special thanks to Dell, Idera, and FatCloud who gave my husband swag even though his PASS Summit Guest Badge was not scannable. I.e. they weren't getting any contact information from him. Note: none of the guest badges were scannable.
Thursday - Sessions, WIT Panel, and Community Appreciation Party
My favorite session of the day was Power BI: Modern Device and Data Search Experiences by Adam Wilson and Amy Forstrom from Microsoft. This mostly demystified the magic of Power BI Q&A. I talk more about their session in my blog post Power BI - The Latest from Summit.
Women in Technology Panel
This panel on Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender, Neutrality, and Valuing Diversity was probably the most valuable session I attended during the entire event. There was some amazing discussion during this one hour panel. The entire panel is available here. This panel went beyond gender stereotypes to talk about diversity in general. It included discussions about people being excluded or shunned by being "different" from the social norm of their employer. For example, you're into "geeky" things but work in a "non-geeky" field. Discussion included how to handle certain kinds of scenarios when diversity is not being accepted.
With WIT Panel member Gail Shaw.
Next year I'm bringing one of my Star Wars shirts!
Community Appreciation Party
We had access to the NASCAR Hall of Fame from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. for what turned out to be one of my favorite nights.
First, I got an awesome, free caricature done while my husband was in the food line. The caricature finished right before he got to the buffet.
Look I'm a race car driver!
Second, I met some amazing people and had some great conversations! Once we got our food, we stood around one of the small tables and ate. Various people would come and go from the table. This led to great discussion with a lot of different people. One of the longer conversations was with Yaxing Liu from North Carolina who is interested in possibly starting a PASS Chapter. She's been running a virtual SQL group via Meetup for awhile now with consistent membership. Thus, we spoke for awhile about chapter leadership. We've already been in contact post-Summit, as I got her in contact with Karla Landrum.
Third, I had even more great conversations. One of my favorite conversations was with fellow science fiction fan Matt Slocum. I think his shirt caught my attention, but I really don't remember exactly why we started talking. We talked about a variety of science fiction shows that we both like, and he even recommended The 4400 to my husband and I. My husband and I actually started watching it the day after we got back from Summit. Since then (by end of November), we've watched the entire series, all 45 episodes.
Hanging with my new science fiction buddy Matt Slocum
With my wonderful husband!!!
Friday - Sessions and PASS Board Q&ASessions
I was really tired by Friday morning, and there was still another full day of sessions left. I actually made most of Rob Farley's 8 a.m. session, which meant I was on track to be able to attend several sessions. I did notice that the final two sessions of the day had lower than normal attendance, as many people were already heading home.
PASS Board Q&A
Going into Summit, I didn't even know there would be a PASS Board Q&A, but Andy Warren saw me and encouraged me to attend. The first thing I learned is that there are 14 directors, including two each from founding partners Computer Associates and Microsoft. I knew Microsoft was involved, but I had no idea that CA was a founding partner of PASS. There were some great questions asked by the audience, and I liked seeing the board do their best to answer them.
By the time the final session regular session ended on Friday, I was completely exhausted, so I headed back to the hotel room and stayed there until time to fly out the following morning.
I met so many great people that I haven't had a chance to follow-up with everyone I want to.
Advice I'm glad I took for this year
Attend the first-timers orientation - I considered skipping this event. I'd read tons of Summit advice blog posts and had been to SQL Rally. Other people had given me in-person advice, as well. This event was very much worth it. I received some excellent advice like getting to your sessions early, since they sometimes fill up.
Bring an empty suitcase for swag - This was definitely worth it!
This bag was empty when we brought it and full of free swag when we took it home!!! I could have gotten even more swag, but I chose to restrain myself as the bag continued to fill throughout the week. This bag includes 1 Hortonworks Green Elephant, 1 Azure Cat, 3 Idera ducks, multiple t-shirts, and more! Obtaining all 3 different Idera ducks was by far my hardest swag accomplishment of the week. You could only get duck per day, and Idera was quickly running out of certain colors.
What I would do differently next year
I would bring business cards - This was something I didn't get around to this year. I figured most people would be accessible later via Twitter (Twitter handles were on our name badges) or would have their own business cards. This was often the case but often not. Even though I felt like I was a late comer to Twitter, a lot of attendees were not on Twitter. In some cases if someone wasn't on Twitter and didn't have a card, I'd enter their information directly into my phone, but there were some cases where there wasn't time for this.
Fly in on Monday instead of attending a pre-con - I learned a lot of great information about SSRS from Stacia Misner during her From Reporting Services Rookie to Rockstar pre-con. As a data designer, though, it's unlikely that I'll be doing a lot of SSRS development in the near future. If there isn't a pre-con closely related to my current job, I'll probably skip out on a pre-con next year. I am glad I attended one this year, though.
Pick a Night to Turn in Extra Early - In this case, turn in means being back in the hotel room versus actually going to bed. I was out socializing Monday night - Thursday night. Even though I was in bed by around 12:30 a.m. each night, I was absolutely exhausted by Friday evening. Everyone has different limits, and in my case, I needed to take a night off and didn't. If the same schedule were to occur next year, I'd probably take Wednesday night off, once the Exhibitor's event was over. It ended at 8 p.m. this year.