Live, Loud, and In Stereo

If you followed the PASS Summit activities last year, you’ll probably remember the “blogger table”.  This was an area designated during each morning’s keynote assembly for a small number of writers who provided live commentary through blogs and tweets.  At this year’s Summit, I’ll be the representative in this group. 

I’ll be blogging on this site, and will be tweeting through my Twitter account (@Tim_Mitchell) so you can follow my updates from either or both outlets.  There will be several other folks who will be live blogging; be sure to look for their announcements as well.

By the way, this year you can consume the PASS keynotes even if you’re not attending the Summit!  For the first time, PASS will be live streaming the keynotes here.

Houston Tech Fest 2010

A few weekends ago, I participated in my first Tech Fest, speaking at the Houston Tech Fest 2010 event held at the University of Houston.  I delivered a presentation entitled “Introduction to SSIS”, which was aimed at software developers with little to no exposure to SSIS.  We had a good turnout at the event – the last number I heard was 650 total in attendance – and I had about 30 people in my session.  We had lots of questions and excellent discussions, so much so that I didn’t get to finish all of the demos I had planned.

For those who were in attendance and would like to download the slide deck and demos, you can find them here.

This event was a bit of a road trip for me.  Having flown to numerous events this year, I decided to hit the road and drive to Houston instead.  The drive wasn’t bad, about 4.5 hours door to door, and my friend Trevor Barkhouse travelled with me, whose company made the long drive less of a burden.  We met up with Patrick LeBlanc and other folk from the Baton Rouge area and found a little spot for some SQL karaoke on Friday night.  We had tentatively made plans to all meet up again on Saturday night, but with an agenda that called for us leaving town by 5am on Sunday (to allow me to get back in town in time for Rangers-Rays ALDS Game 4), we decided to wrap it up early.

I haven’t submitted yet, but I’m hopeful to get to come back to Houston in January for their SQL Saturday event.

SQL Saturday 56 Dallas (BI Edition) – Recap

This past Saturday, our NTSSUG group hosted SQL Saturday 56, which was our second SQL Saturday of the year.  This event was a departure from the typical SQLSat in that it strictly focused on BI, and featured topics including SSIS, SSRS, SSAS, SharePoint, MDX, and other disciplines in and around the Microsoft BI stack.  Due to space and logistical issues, the maximum capacity was intentionally kept much smaller than our big SQL Saturday back in May, with a final count of about 215 people taking in 34 different sessions in six tracks.  Thanks go out to Microsoft for allowing us the use of their Las Colinas campus, and to Artis Consulting (my employer) for taking care of the food and drinks.

I delivered three different but related sessions this time.  I started by speaking on Loops, Lookups and Splits in SSIS (files), which is aimed at the intermediate-level SSIS developer.  This was followed by Dynamic SSIS with Expressions and Configurations (files), and rounded out by my tenured presentation on SSIS Scripting (files).  These three sessions were scheduled consecutively at my request, broken up only by lunch after the first session.  All three were well attended, and we spent as much time in dialog as I did presenting; there were lots of good questions and comments throughout.  I was a little worried about my voice holding out – I’d gone to a baseball game the night before and was still a bit hoarse – but with a little help from Diet Coke and B12, I made it through with no problem.

We had some rough weather in the Dallas area on Saturday, and my second session was interrupted by, of all things, a tornado warning.  We were ordered to evacuate from the fourth floor to the first, only to be sent back up.  We were slowed down just a bit but continued with the presentation after a few laughs about the interruption.  I’ve had to deal with lots of unexpected situations as a presenter, but never before have I had a weather situation cause a disruption.  Only in Texas!

After the event, a few of us went out for drinks at NYLO, a trendy bar and hotel next door to the Microsoft headquarters.  Quite an interesting place, admittedly a little to hip for an old dog like me, but the conversation was good.

All in all, a great event.  We had a lot of positive compliments, and the only negative I heard was that there was no coffee available in the afternoon.  This was, by design, a no-frills SQL Saturday (no speaker party, very few sponsors, few giveaways), but keeping it as a smaller and easier to manage undertaking allows us the flexibility of doing two SQL Saturdays per year. 

If you were in attendance and have comments or suggestions, feel free to ping me offline.

PASS Summit, Birds of a Feather Lunch, and Ask the Experts

The PASS Summit is just around the corner, less than a month away.  Although I’m not presenting a session at the event, I’ll be contributing through a couple of other outlets this year.

First of all, I’ll be hosting a table at the Birds of a Feather lunch on Tuesday, November 9th.  The BoF lunch is designed to facilitate targeted discussion around a specific topic, where everyone at the table can ask questions and contribute as much as they feel comfortable.  At my table, we’ll be discussing “Care and Feeding of your SSIS Infrastructure”, where I hope to talk about real-world approaches and challenges with SSIS package deployment, monitoring, and maintenance.

In addition, I’ll be participating in the Ask The Experts forum.  The AtE booth on the arena floor is open to all comers who can discuss their questions, challenges, and experiences with SQL Server subject matter experts who have volunteered their time in the booth.  I don’t yet know what time I’ll be working in the Ask the Experts area, but I’d encourage you to stop by and chat with me or another volunteer any time.

I’m honored to be participating in both of these events, and I hope to see some of you there.