PASS Conference Stories – tagging Adam Machanic and Peter DeBetta
In 2005, PASS was held in Grapevine, Texas. The conference hotel was called the Gaylord, of all things. It was quite luxurious — more of a resort than a hotel — but miles and miles and miles (and miles) from civilization. The nearby town was nice enough (with a conspiracy museum, among other fun attractions) but on the day we decided to venture out there it was a ghost town… we had walked around the whole town in under an hour, and sat for a while waiting for a shuttle to bring us back to the hotel.
The conference itself was great, despite the surroundings. What I remember most about this specific PASS conference was how much I learned about Joe Celko. For those of you that don't know Joe, he is a pretty arrogant poster out on the newsgroups, with a knack for rubbing people the wrong way, and trying a bit too hard to educate them and/or make them feel stupid. I agree with his base ideas about half the time, but I do not have any respect for the way he treats people, especially those that are clearly in over their head. These people usually just need a quick solution to keep their business running, not a return to Software Engineering 101. One of his more famous "corrections" is making people feel like idiots for saying field instead of column, or record instead of row. That is an important one because it is going to come up again… stay tuned.
On the day that Celko was speaking, I happened upon him in the lunch room, and decided to sit with him. Throughout our conversation I was taken aback by his demeanor and attitude. Believe it or not, he is actually a very nice guy in person… quite humble, and not this abrasive old man that most of you picture (at least those of you who only know him virtually). By the time lunch was over, I *almost* felt guilty about wearing this shirt, which I had made in anticipation of attending his talk:
Like I said, *almost.* 🙂
Joe and I happened to be attending the same session right after lunch. I think it might have been one of Andrew Kelly's, but memory does not serve me greatly at the moment. Anyway, at break time, Joe was sitting straight up, but sound asleep beside me. I'm not too sure how long that had gone on. Maybe he fell asleep the moment he sat down?
So after this session, it was Celko's session. It wasn't a very technical session; more like the do's and don't's of database design and development. About halfway through, he made a reference to creating some kind of field in a table. When he finished his sentence, and I know a few of you will remember this, I stood up and called him out on this obvious "mistake." Was the professor of "they're columns, not fields!" really going to admit that he, too, sometimes called them fields instead of columns, and records instead of rows? Sure enough, he did. He wasn't too happy about it, but kind of sighed with a sheepish grin, and said, "Yup, you got me."