PASS Summit 2019 Wrap-Up

Page content

I’m home from PASS Summit 2019, recovered from the travel, and in the post-Summit “I miss #SQLFamily” funk. Time to recap the week, maybe a bit differently than it’s been done in the past (at least by me). Not going to get too far into the technical stuff because what was thrown at us was a bit overwhelming, and it’ll take a while for it to all soak in. I’m going to tell the story of my Summit 2019 experience through shoutouts to the folks I connected and reconnected with. Let’s see how this format works out.


I’ve SELECTed these without an ORDER BY so buckle up and prepare for whiplash as you walk through this timeline. This list is not exhaustive, and I apologize to anyone I might miss here.

  • The whole PASS HQ staff and PASS BoD for putting together another incredible event this year.
  • Sheila Acker. Sheila is one of the first people I spoke with at my first PASS Summit in 2012 (I even remember where we were standing!). I spotted her in the convention center as I was walking around to the back entrance by the registration desk Monday afternoon. She saw me, we waved through the glass then said hi before I picked up my stuff. I mentioned to her this week that back in 2012, she suggested I present to her user group. At the time I had nothing to present, was barely even thinking about it. With a couple SQL Saturdays under my belt, I told her I’m ready to do a remote presentation for her group.
  • Greg Moore (blog | twitter) has been presenting about his $200 SQL Server at various SQL Saturdays. In Wednesday’s keynote, we learned that Microsoft borrowed the idea and then upped the ante by announcing that SQL Server now runs on the Raspberry Pi. A total Pi package (computer, storage, case, and power) can be had for less than half what Greg’s setup costs.
  • Rob Sewell (blog | twitter). After getting checked in Monday and chatting with Sheila for a bit, I ran up to the room where Rob was teaching his pre-con. I patiently waited for his attendees to wrap up speaking with him and before I could say a word, Rob wrapped me up in one of his signature hugs. After flying cross-country and being awake for 16 1/2 hours, all that strain and exhaustion was undone.
    Then on Wednesday, I sat up front in Rob’s session on Azure Data Studio Notebooks and was used as a device in the story he told of preparing a notebook for a junior DBA whose first priority is to retrieve coffee. I thought it would stop after the first 10 minutes but this went on for the whole 75 minutes. And I couldn’t have been happier.
  • Jamie Wick (blog | twitter) organized the Tuesday evening #SQLphotowalk as he has for several years now. This was the first year I partook, and I really enjoyed it. I only had my iPhone 11 but as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. Jamie led us down to Pike’s Market for some sunset shots of the Seattle landmark, I somehow lost track of the group for a while, and we ultimately ended up on the waterfront. Had some good conversations as the group walked around and found interesting things to photograph. After hearing about the iPhone 11’s camera on several podcasts since its release, I finally see what the buzz is about. It is incredible.
  • Andy Yun (blog | twitter) is (aside from being an excellent speaker and working for one of my favorite vendors) the reason I spent a lot of time at Summit trying to introduce and connect people both in-person and on Twitter. Tuesday morning as I walked through the lower level of the convention center, I happened upon him talking to a first-timer and he introduced us, saying that I was “a good person to follow on Twitter” and “very social.” So I had to live up to that. I’ve never thought of myself as being a terribly social person but this flipped a switch in my head.
  • Deborah Melkin (blog | twitter) won Speaker Idol! She’s written one blog post about the experience and will hopefully be doing a second. Deborah absolutely nailed her 5-minute talk about UPDATE statements. She faced some tough competition in both the prelim and final rounds but seeing the evolution of her talk from before Summit through the finals, it was clear to me why she won. I can’t wait to see what she does in Houston next November.
  • Kim StJacques (blog | twitter) has been active with PASS and Summit much longer than I have, and this year was her first year speaking! Except…her voice abandoned her before she got to Seattle. She spent so much time at Starbucks getting their “medicine ball” drinks that they just gave her at least one, trying to get better for Thursday afternoon. Alas, it was not to be and she had to invoke a disaster recovery plan for her talk.
    I’d been dealing with a cough all week myself, and Kim offered up a NyQuil before our shared flight home. What a lifesaver! I figured I’d sleep on the plane anyway but sometimes that doesn’t go to plan. Not this time! I was asleep before we were off the ground and got 3+ solid hours of shuteye en route to Detroit and another hour between there and Rochester, without even trying.
  • Mike Grayson (twitter), another Rochestarian, was also lined up to speak on Thursday. He stepped up and ably delivered Kim’s lightning talk content on her behalf. Excellent teamwork!
  • Ray Kim (blog | twitter), a first-time speaker and Summit attendee and fellow New Yorker, had a blast in Seattle. I helped him get his bearings when he arrived at the Convention Center on Tuesday (unplanned - we just happened to cross paths as he was making his way to the registration desk). He posted his thoughts about the week on his own blog.
  • Grant Fritchey (blog | twitter) was everywhere the whole week, as he had at least three distinct responsibilities - PASS President, Red Gate employee, and he delivered a couple presentations. His presentation on containers answered a number of “but…why? how? huh?” questions I’d been trying to work through for a while now. Later at the Red Gate booth, we caught up about non-SQL Server stuff, namely Scouts and amateur radio for a few minutes.
  • Allen White (blog | twitter) is one of the people responsible for my involvement with PASS, presenting, and my career being where it is today as a DBA. I didn’t get to spend much time with him this week but it’s always great catching up with Allen when we get the chance.
  • John “Shoe” Hohengarten (twitter) caught me Wednesday morning outside the keynote room, saying “know how I recognized you?” Before I could answer, he said “the glasses.” But…what about my…oh no I left @SQLHat back in my AirBnB. Thanks for the gentle reminder there, John. I ran back after the keynote so people could find me for the remainder of the day.
  • Jen McCown (blog | twitter) retweeted a number of my Day One Keynote livetweets. This was my first time attempting such a thing and it was both fun and exhausting. Jen’s retweets helped me get a bit more exposure for that Twitter account and signaled to me that I was interpreting what I saw & heard correctly.
  • Olivia Allard (blog | twitter) spotted me leaving the Exhibition Hall on Wednesday. We met last year (her first Summit) at Games Night but she’s been relatively quiet online since. As we did last year, we played a few rounds of Codenames (fun group/party game). By late Friday morning, a few people had convinced her to start up a blog and I’m looking forward to seeing what she publishes there. She snagged an excellent domain name for it; I don’t know how wasn’t already taken.
  • Matt Cushing (blog | twitter) and I spent quite a bit of time together at Summit. We met two years ago when he was a First Timer and have stayed in touch since. Matt was asked to speak at the First Timers Networking event Tuesday evening alongside Erin Stellato and Edwin Sarmiento - good company to find oneself in! We had a great dinner Wednesday under the guise of me checking out gluten-free restaurants for a future visit to the Emerald City.
  • Devon Wilson (twitter) happened to land within minutes of me in Seattle, so we rode the light rail into town and then grabbed lunch at Tap House Grill for some pre-Summit hangout time. I still owe her a drink though.
  • Taiob Ali (blog | twitter) picked up the ball that is #SQLRun and, well, ran with it. He got it listed on the Summit Community Hosted Events page at the last minute, and led the run by running sweep (a location I’m no stranger to, as I’m out of shape) to make sure no one was left behind. And, as it was a social run above all else, great conversation out on the road early Wednesday morning.
  • I met Mike Clark (twitter) at the volunteer party Tuesday night. As many do, he started out by mispronouncing the name of the town I live in. When I tried to politely correct him, he told me he was just goofing with me - he grew up there! Talk about a small world.
  • Kevin Hill (blog | twitter) is the other half of the duo hosting Game Night. He had Wednesday, Matt Cushing was in charge of Thursday. Most embarrassing moment of the week - I spent so much time introducing people to each other on Tuesday that I introduced Matt & Kevin, completely forgetting that they already knew each other. Kevin & I took in a session or two together and chatted several times through the week.
  • Lisa Bohm (blog | twitter) organized this year’s Networking Dinner Monday night. Always a good time!
  • Leslie Andrews (blog | twitter) brought snickerdoodles to the Day 1 Keynote. ’nuff said :)
  • My financial advisor is angry with David Klee (blog | twitter) now. He brought a new toy with him to Summit, “the world’s smallest ultrabook.” 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, it runs SQL Server, has real ports, a high-resolution display, and fits in your jacket pocket. I want this computer.
  • Daniel Hutmacher (blog | twitter), one of the three folks keeping GroupBy running, told me that they’ve got a mailing list so that I can find out right away when submissions are open for the next event. And then we played Codenames on Thursday night.
  • Jeff Taylor (twitter) asked some great questions at the PASS Board of Directors Q&A. Side note: hey PASS members, I know we’re all supposed to be there to get our learn on, but we need to make a better showing at these BoD Q&A sessions.
  • Bob Ward (twitter) didn’t melt my brain! But I was careful to only go to sessions meant to be friendly to mortals.
  • Ed Pollack (twitter) gave me a great recommendation for a breakfast burrito. Check out Blue Water Taco. It’s a bit of a walk from downtown Seattle, but reasonable.
  • I ran into Chris Wood (twitter) on Tuesday at the volunteer party and was able to thank him in person for the comment he left on one of my earlier PASS Summit 2019 posts.
  • Last but not least, Angela Tidwell (blog | twitter). At the SQL Saturday organizers’ meeting, she got up on stage to talk about something new her event had to do this year. Both times I’ve seen her speak now, I’ve been awestruck by the energy and personality she brings to the material. I hope to someday have 10% of that range in my own presentations.

I have intentionally not mentioned all the amazing Summit First Timers I met for the first time, as I don’t know them well enough (yet) to know if they’d be OK with me calling them out by name here. A big shoutout to all of you who came out to Seattle and jumped headfirst into everything. Summit can be a bit intimidating but in my experience, the experienced folks are always looking to help out.

Miscellaneous Notes

With two SQL Saturdays under my belt this year, I had enough confidence to finally say to a few people “hey, I’d like to present for your user group sometime, can we make that happen?” I’m looking forward to presenting my current material as well as pulling a new talk together over the coming months for this.

As is tradition, I took one of the earliest flights out of Rochester on Monday morning and landed in Seattle at Noon. On one hand it resulted in a great coincidence, seeing Devon in the airport and taking the train with her into town. On the other hand, getting up at 3 AM for the trip is wearing thin, especially if I don’t need to be in Seattle at a set time on that first day. While it won’t be quite the same haul to Houston in 2020, I’m definitely going to re-evaluate my travel planning and plan a less-punishing itinerary if at all possible.