SQL PASS 2011: Day 1

My first day at my first PASS Summit is drawing to a close, so I thought that I’d try to put a post up and do a little recap.

Good Morning Seattle!

The day started off waking up early at 6:15, only because my internal time clock was completely off due to the time zone difference. After getting cleaned up and taking care of some emails, I headed downstairs to start the day.   Heading outside, it was a beautiful morning here in Seattle, mid 50’s with a brisk breeze.

As a side note, I thought that it was interesting that the locals were wearing stocking caps and wool coats and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.  Just a reminder that the weather that we have in Nebraska in winter can be harsher than what other people experience in other parts of the world.

For breakfast, myself and a few others opted to wander down to Pikes Place Market to check out what was available.  There was rumor that there was a great little french cafe, Le Panier,  where you could get a cup of coffee and an excellent pastry.  They were right, it was awesome. Everything was priced right and I would highly recommend it.

Fresh Fish Anybody?

After having some breakfast we still had some time to kill so we walked through the market just to see what was there.

Being a seafood lover and not having easy access to fresh fish in Omaha, I was happy to see the amount of fresh fish vendors in the market place.  Just about every other vendor was a food vendor and most had some type of fish products available for sale.  There was also a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables available.  We even got to watch a couple of locals throw fish around.

By the time we made our way through the market, it was time to head back.  I actually had a call from the office that they needed some help with somethings, so I headed back to the hotel to see if I could wrap things up before my first session.

Fast forward an hour, work stuff has been wrapped up (I hoped) and it’s time to head to the conference center for my first ever, SQL PASS session. As a side note, if you can stay at the Sheraton, do so.  It’s literally right next door to the conference center.  That really helps out when you have to do work related things and need a quiet place to do it.

First Session

If you have looked at the schedule, you’ll agree that there is a wealth of knowledge being presented at PASS.  I choose to attend, “SQL Server Storage Engine under the hood: How SQL Server performs I/O” given by Thomas Grohser.  When I arrived it, was standing room only so I grabbed a spot along the wall.  I had thought that the presentation would be a deeper dive into the internals of SQL Server than what I already knew, but it wasn’t.  He talked about how SQL Server reads data from the various pages, how it does extent allocation and how and why it’s important to understand the various types of disk subsystems are available.  While this presentation wasn’t as deep as I had hoped, I thought that he presented the material fairly well and I think that I would give him another shot with another session if one came available.


Lunch today was the Chapter Lunch Table.  PASS basically put each chapter at a specific table so that attendees could find their local chapters and sit and chat with the leaders.  I thought that it was a great way to get the chapters out there.  I sat at a table along with fellow leaders John Danley (Lincoln User Group) and Patrick Purviance (Wichita User Group).  We all three had people from our respective areas come join us and we talked shop about each group and the challenges that we face.  It was a great time and I thank PASS for putting it together.  Great way to try to drive the chapters.

Second Session

After lunch at the Chapter Leaders tables, I opted to attend the 3 hour session on “Inside TempDB” presented by Bob Ward of Microsoft. This was a 500 level session and it was all of that level if not more.  Bob went into a very deep dive on how Tempdb works in SQL Server.  Bob had a ton of content to deliver so if you didn’t pay attention you got lost.  A couple of times I did get lost and had to catch up by piecing things together.  I will say that attending a SQL Skills Immersion Event really helped me to understand this session and I would bet that I was able to comprehend about 75-80% of the material because of that training.  Bob definitely knew his stuff and it was an excellent session to attend.  This is definitely one session that I will be going back over when I get the DVD’s.

Third Session

For my third session of the day (The second session actually covered two time slots, so I only had 3 for today) was “Why Are We Waiting” presented by Neil Hambly.  This was another session that was standing room only. I grabbed a seat along with fellow Nebraskan and MVP Phil Brammer.  I’m really interested in this topic as I think that it’s often a misplaced item when doing trouble shooting.  Neil kicked it off and did great. He jumped around a bit and he did have some not so nice hecklers (which he handled very well) but I did get some notes to take away.  I look forward to next week when I can apply some of his scripts to my development environment to see really what my SQL Servers are waiting on.  He had a lot of good content and I thought that it was a good session.

Side Note:  If you are attending a session at a conference and the speakers aren’t being paid for their time and efforts, don’t heckle them. Respect them for what they are doing.  If you have ever given a presentation, you know that most of the time you’re tweaking things right up to go time and that they will upload their stuff when they can.

Networking Time

Going Down!

After the last session, I headed down the exhibition area where Dell was putting on a very nice welcome reception.  Each attendee had a couple of drink tickets and they were serving various kinds of finger foods.  I grab a drink and wandered through the various vendors.  I found a couple of people that I knew and struck up some awesome conversations.

One of the goals that I had for this conference was do to some serious networking and getting in front of other SQL People.  I’ve been able to chat with people from all over the United States (well, UK too if you count the Red Gate Reps) and it’s been totally awesome.  I have a stack of business cards to go through and I can’t wait.

Before I knew it, they were kicking us out of the reception hall and I had spent most of the evening networking.  It was simply awesome.   Some of the folks were heading to various after-parties, but I opted to head back to the hotel to catch up on a few things, one being this blog post.

This was only day one, but I can already see the question coming, “When can I do this again?”

Stay tuned while I try to blog at the end of each day, trying to provide a recap of the day.


© 2011, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

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