Another PASS has come and gone

Wow, what a week!  I am just settling in back home after a week away, most of which I spent at the PASS summit in Seattle.  Whether you were there or not, you might be interested in my perspective of how the week went, and why this continues to be the best conference I have ever attended.

Some GREAT sessions…

Tuesday morning started off with a huge bang in the form of Bob Ward's session on wait types.  If you've never seen Bob Ward present, I don't think I can explain it to you… this guy knows his stuff, but explains it in such a way that you feel both enabled and humbled at the same time.  His process of presenting these issues reminded me somewhat of Ken Henderson's writing style – in other words, I'm a big fan.  Andrew Kelly put on a great session on capturing file and wait stats, Kalen Delaney had a very interesting talk on exploring index internals, and I caught a Resource Governor presentation from Peter DeBetta – after giving four or five talks on the Resource Governor myself, it's always interesting to be on the other side of that one.  I also attended two Extended Events sessions, one by Jonathan Kehayias and one by Adam Machanic.  During the latter I spent part of the time frantically fixing a bug back home, but I still got plenty out of both to make some use out of the knowledge.  Hopefully this will give me a new breath of life in convincing the bean counters that SQL Server 2008 is worth the upgrade.  In other news, I finally leared how to pronounce Jonathan's last name, and Jonathan finally learned how to pronounce Adam's.  So it looks like we all got something out of it.  =)

And those are just a few that I attended

Did I mention there were 162 other sessions?  No human could attend them all.  I attended a few others, and there were many conflicts which prevented me from seeing sessions I would have loved.  But nothing compares to learning and being thoroughly entertained at the same time.  By far, the most entertaining part of the conference for me: Buck Woody's sessions.  At least, when *I* wasn't the one being picked on, which was often enough – though he spread the love around, believe me – that list compiled by @sqlagentman Tim Ford was just from one session.  Spend some time on this buckwoody twitter feed to get a feel for the hilarity that filled all of his sessions (and even, perhaps inadvertently, the sessions of others, like Paul Randal).  There is a lot of material there, so I don't expect you to consume it all in one sitting, but it should give you some idea of the fun you missed out on if you didn't attend his sessions (or didn't make it to PASS at all).

MVP Deep Dives project

On Wednesday, the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book was officially launched.  This marked the first time that the book was seen in print, and there was a book signing at lunch time, where most of the contributing MVPs who were present at PASS signed about 200 copies (every copy that came to the event was sold!).  If you haven't bought the book yet, use the coupon code sqldeep40 to save 40% (which makes it only $35.99) – you might find it cheaper at Amazon and the like, but the above site is where the War Child charity gets the greatest percentage of your contribution.  Sadly, I owe apologies to Paul Nielsen, the rest of the project's editorial staff, and anyone who bought a copy at the conference and showed up at the signing.  Due to another commitment, I was unable to attend the signing, but I did manage to sign a few copies for people who sought me out during the remainder of the event.

The generosity of vendors, and the value of networking in real life

Free meals are always great, but free meals with this crowd can be phenomenal.  Early in the week, the MVPs and insiders had a reception at AndraSQLSentry and Red Gate both put on some very good evening parties for their "small" circle of friends, one at the Tap House and one at Urbane.  At these and other events, I met a lot of people that I had previously only known virtually.  I even apparently crossed paths with @phil_factor, but his true identity still remains a mystery to me.  And last night, with sponsorship help from Quest and our MVP lead Suzanna Moran, Arnie Rowland helped organize a fantastic get together at the Steelhead Diner – from the logistics of the dinner itself to the most efficient distribution of attendees amongst town cars heading to the airport for red eyes.  It was a great end to another fantastic week with almost 3,000 of my closest friends in the industry. 

I am genuinely sorry if you weren't here

If you didn't make it to PASS this year, I feel bad for you.  I get so much out of this conference year after year after year, and I strongly encourage you to do whatever you can to make it next year.  One possible incentive: until January 15th, the entry fee for next year's event (November 8th-11th, again in Seattle) is 50% off : only $995.  If cost is a major hurdle for you, maybe that will give you a little more leverage.  You can check out the registration details here (and share them with your boss, if you think it will help).  If you're having a hard time with the value proposition, let me know what you think might help.  I'm sure you can get high praise and testimonials from virtually everyone in attendance.

PASS has officially ended, but the buzz is only slowly winding down

Finally, to get a sense of the difficulty attendees have in detaching from the conference and getting back to their real lives, follow this trend on twitter: #signsyouhavntcomebacktoreality #sqlpass 

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at Simple Talk, SQLPerformance, and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him. If I've helped you out, consider thanking me with a coffee. :-)

3 Responses

  1. Sonia, PASS marketing says:

    Aaron, thanks for the awesome post! We've included it in the Summit 2010 site with a link back to this page. I trust that's ok with you but please contact PASS if not and we will remove. Thanks for your support of PASS Summit!

  2. Michael Swart says:

    I had this conversation today.
    Me: "So do you focus on OLTP or OLAP?"
    Him: "What's OLTP?"
    Me: "Strategies for databases"
    Him: "What are they?"
    Me: "A computer system that stores data."
    <blank stare>
    Me: "This is going to be an long and awkward haircut"

  3. Jack Corbett says:

    I didn't get to all the great parties (don't have the all the right connections/credentials yet), but there was always something to do in the evening regardless.  PASS is definitely a community where everyone is worth knowing.  I don't plan on missing the Summit again.