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SQL Saturday Chicago Highlights

It’s been a crazy few weeks. As I mentioned previously, I presented at two SQL Saturday Events in back to back weeks. I’m on the core committee for the North Texas SQL Server User Group SQL Saturday, so I was overwhelmed with things to do and couldn’t stop to blog.

So, now that I’ve taken a few days to catch up and relax I’ll share some of the highlights of both experiences.

SQL Saturday Chicago

I had a great time at this event put on by both the Chicago SQL Server User Group and the Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group. I flew in early Friday to attend my second Freecon event. Freecon is a free event put on by Brent Ozar (Blog/Twitter) in which he invites a small group of bloggers/presenters from the SQL Community to discuss issues important to us and the community. My Freecon experiences have been excellent, and I’ll go into those in more depth in a future post. I simply can’t thank Master O enough for including me. Oh, and the atmosphere at the The Catalyst Ranch was amazing too.

So, why mention it? Well, I learned an important lesson. I am never, ever flying out at 5:30am again. I was so exhausted after getting up at 3am that I never caught up. SQL Saturday events are packed with activity, especially if you’re volunteering or speaking. After the Freecon, Erin Stellato (Blog/Twitter) was kind enough to cart Karen Lopez aka DataChick (Site/Blog/Twitter), her hubby Rob Drysdale, and I to and from our hotel which was a bit of a distance from SQL Saturday.

SQL Sentry hosted the speaker’s dinner. The food was excellent and there were so many amazing database people to meet including Aaron Bertrand (Twitter) who works for SQL Sentry. SQL Saturday Chicago provided personalized shirts for the speakers with our names on the front. It was a classy touch which I intend to suggest to my local group. The problem with personalized shirts is the risk of typos.

Thomas LaRock (Blog/Twitter) was a good sport about being called RockSar all weekend.

I got up bright blurry eyed Saturday morning, scarfed some breakfast, and headed to the event. It was obvious that this was not the Chicago groups’ first rodeo as they knew what they were doing. Wendy Pastrick (Blog/Twitter) and her group had everything running smoothly. Noel McKinney (Blog/Twitter), whom I had met on Friday, had me through the check in process and I never saw a line up.

Unfortunately I didn’t attend many presentations because I was having laptop problems and had to re-build part of my demo. This was my second important lesson of the trip. I need better contingency plans so I’ve purchased VMWare Workstation and every one of my demos will be done that way. I’ll keep a backup copy of the VM on a USB hard drive so I can use another laptop at a moment’s notice.

I did see Grant Fritchey (Blog/Twitter) present “The Optimizer, Statistics, and Indexes.” Honestly, I think everyone saw him. The room was packed so full that people were standing along the walls and SQL Rockstar sat right next to him. Grant is amazing, if you ever get the chance to see him present, do not pass it up. In the speaker’s room after the presentation, we were laughing because one of the attendees commented that the “Sidekick in the corner was distracting” because Tom and Grant bantered back and forth a bit during his presentation. Hilarious.

Grant took this short video of me in the speaker’s room. It should be worth a laugh.

An old friend came to see me at the event. She used to work for Made2Manage support and she’s one of the many people I’ve encouraged to get out into the much larger world of SQL Server. Anyway as she and I were talking in the hallway, Grant Fritchey walked by and I introduced him as “The Scary DBA.” My friend scoffed and said that when she worked in support my phone calls would sometimes bring her to tears. Grant thought it was hilarious, but I was a wee bit embarrassed.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/5563407238/in/set-72157626362555312/
My presentation went well, and I had more than 40 attendees. Not bad considering I was scheduled at the same time as Brent Ozar, Datachick, Jes Borland, and others.

As promised the downloadable scripts and presentation can be downloaded here.

I learned something else from this trip. I normally take a lot of time creating geeky/funny Abstracts and Titles like “Data Warehousing – How to convince ‘The Bobs’.” However, when I asked how many people had seen “Office Space,” which is the underlying theme of the presentation, less than 10% had seen it. Ugh. I’m going to have to re-think my Title and Abstract Strategy and go with something closer to “Creating a Data Warehouse Proof of Concept” which has more widespread appeal.

I went to the after party and had a great time talking with Jose Chinchilla (Blog/Twitter) as the dude is hilarious. I hope to get him back down to Dallas to present again soon. I also succumbed to peer pressure and had a drink with Jose, Datachick + 1, and Noel McKinney and his wife. Apparently I get really funny even after having one drink. Anyway, I ended up at SQL Karoake, but wasn’t up to embarassing myself like I did at PASS last year, so I just watched with Datachick + 1.

I will tell you that SQL People let their hair down like no other at SQL Karoake. Jes Borland (Blog/Twitter), who has more energy than any three people I know, and Jason Strate (Blog/Twitter) belted out a duet and everyone had a good time.

I have no idea why more people don’t attend the after parties. It’s fun, and a great way to network with some of the best in the SQL profession.

What I want you to take from this is simple. Attending SQL Saturday Events is a lot of fun and great for your career. Take full advantage of them, including the after party.

Come Join Us.

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