PASS Summit 2017 in Photos

My favorite photos from Summit 2017. Click to enlarge & see more detail; once in the larger view, you can use the your arrow keys to cycle through.

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The Tech & Gear of PASS Summit 2017

Continuing my series of posts about my PASS Summit 2017 experience. This is about gadgets/gear I brought & software I used, the gadgets I saw around the convention center, and then a little about the hardware & software that was demoed.

Personal

Gadgets

I only brought three gadgets, plus their support items:

  • iPhone 8
  • iPad Air 2
  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • 4-port Anker wall charger
  • Anker 15K mAH battery pack
  • 2x Lightning cable (for the iPhone & iPad), 1x Micro-USB cable (to charge the battery pack), 1X Apple Watch charge cord

For the amount I used the iPad, I wish I had left it home. I only used it to watch a couple episodes of Stranger Things on the plane. The iPhone astounded me with its battery life. After charging overnight, it still had 30% left on it at 4:30 PM, even with heavy usage. Even better, it charged off the Anker battery pack fast– I was back up to 90% or better in an hour or less, much faster than I’ve experienced with other devices. This allowed me to top up the battery in the final session/event each afternoon and roam the city for the evening, comfortable that I had enough juice to last me until I returned to the hotel.

Software

Throughout the week, I used Day One to jot down important things – people I met, conversations I had, thoughts that came to mind, photos that I didn’t want to lose to the depths of my photo library, etc. I could have used paper and pen, but these were things I didn’t want to lose to my terrible handwriting. The other benefit of using Day One is that it records metadata about each entry – location, the current weather, how many steps I’d logged to that point in the day, even tags for categorization. Plus, it’s secured by TouchID. All told, I recorded 38 notes from the time I got to the airport on Monday to the time I left Seattle on Friday (although the first one, in which I mused about the TSA, is not fit for publication).

Because I’m skeptical of free open WiFi especially in such a large gathering, I bought a 1-week plan for Encrypt.me for protection.

Slack was used in several sessions and pre-cons throughout the week to drive Q&A – Brent Ozar & Erik Darling used it for their pre-con, the dbatools crew used it for theirs, and it was used for the PowerShell panel discussion as well. There was general chatter on Slack as well, but I think a lot more was going on on Twitter.

I set up an IFTTT recipe to capture #PASSSummit tweets to a Google Drive spreadsheet and it collected over 10K tweets over the week; someday I’ll go back through them to see what I missed (I set one up for #SQLFamily too, but haven’t reviewed that one yet) and make the full dataset available as a download. Twitter seems to be better/more manageable for getting notifications than Slack.

Late on Thursday, I spotted this tweet but failed to note who wrote it (had to search just now):

Intrigued, I downloaded the app and gave it a test run in a couple sessions and this was my response:

If you are anywhere you find a need to take a photo of a whiteboard, projector screen, or document, get this app. Apple may have introduced document scanning in iOS 11 but this is several levels above and it has earned a permanent spot on my phone. It automatically straightens/de-skews images and makes them very readable, then OCRs them. It even works for business cards and integrates with a number of apps/services already on your phone (OneNote, Photos, Mail, etc.). Here’s an example:

Photo of a slide, right off the camera.
The same slide, after being processed by Lens

The one place Lens falls short (in my experience thus far) is with color images, at least in Whiteboard mode. But if the content is text and line art, it’s quite useful.

Other

Despite my terrible handwriting, I still like taking notes at events like Summit (or even in meetings at the office) with pen and paper as I find that writing helps cement the ideas in my mind. My weapons of choice are the Uniball Jetstream 2 pen (seems they’re no longer producing this one, or maybe I misremembered the model; the Jetstream RT is hopefully similar) and Staples Sustainable Earth 9 1/2″ x 6″ spiral-bound notebook. The notebook has a couple pockets for stashing stuff and the covers are rigid enough that they protect the pages and I don’t have to put the notebook on a table to write.

My Eddie Bauer sling backpack got over-stuffed in a hurry. Too much swag plus my water bottle and other daily carry stuff. I need to find a replacement for it but don’t want to give up the convenience/comfort of the single-shoulder sling style. On the bright side, its obnoxious orange color makes me easy to spot from across the convention center.

Around the convention center

I didn’t see a lot of people walking around with iPads or Android tablets. Maybe when the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil become more widespread we’ll see people taking notes on them instead of paper. I did see a number of Microsoft Surface computers amongst attendees, and a few laptops. Lugging a full laptop around all week sounds like a drag (not to mention the battery anxiety) but if I had a well-spec’d Surface and large enough backpack, I might consider taking it.

The WSCC WiFi seemed shaky on Tuesday, but settled down and worked well for the remainder of the week. This seems to be the pattern at Summit, in my experience.

There was a common thread running through almost every session I attended as well as the Tuesday meetings, of the projectors blinking on and off for no apparent reason. It wasn’t any one presenter’s computer, nor was it any one room. It was bizarre but after a while, I think we all got used to it.

New stuff demoed

In Wednesday’s keynote, Microsoft ran several PowerBI (and PowerBI-adjacent) demos, but I didn’t find them particularly captivating. They were quite brief, and didn’t get into the technical work that made it possible. The HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen10 was shown off, boasting high performance thanks to persisted memory. All these demos were very shiny, but very brief. This is a technical audience – give us some more depth here, please.

The item that I found most interesting spent about 5 seconds on screen – a desktop app that looked like someone stuffed SQL Server Management Studio into Visual Studio Code, then a quick slide where the name SQL Server Operations Studio was revealed, along with a note that it’s a cross-platform GUI for managing SQL Server. Ever since SQL Server for Linux/macOS was announced, I’ve wanted this, and they skimmed over it in 5 seconds! Apparently there was a demo session at the Microsoft booth in the Exhibitor Hall later, but only advertised via Twitter; I didn’t hear about it until Thursday.

dbatools at PASS Summit 2017

I registered for Summit about a month before getting actively involved in the dbatools project, so when I saw the team was running a pre-con and I was going to meet them, I was pretty excited. It was amazing getting to meet and hang out with Chrissy, Rob, CK, Shane, Jess, John, Shawn, Aaron, Ben, Kiril, Shane, and Drew (sorry if I forgot anyone!), even if it was only for a moment.

But I’ll have another post about the people of Summit. This one’s about dbatools being talked about all over Summit and my experience with that as a member of the team. I’m certain there’s a heavy amount of confirmation bias here, but dbatools seems to have caught fire in the SQL Server community. And with good reason!

I was able to hand out about 300 of the dbatools fan ribbons I brought with me; half went to pre-con attendees, and the rest were handed out on the conference center floor at random. Sitting at the PowersShell table at the BoF lunches, people would join us and say “hey, I’ve heard about this dbatools thing but haven’t had a chance to learn it yet.” People would see mine and ask for one as they’d heard about the project and even used it themselves.

Rob Sewell talked about it at the SentryOne booth. I heard on Twitter and around the conference center that dbatools was getting mentioned in a number of speakers’ sessions, even the ones that didn’t advertise it in their abstracts. There was a panel discussion about PowerShell in general, spearheaded by the key dbatools team members and of course dbatools was talked about there. But the star of that session was Ken Van Hyning, aka SQL Tools Guy (t), talking about the roots and evolution of many of the tools we use and where he sees them going. He also hold us how we can impact the direction of the current tools and make pitches for new ones. Key takeaways:

  • Cross-platform, open-source where possible seems to be the way of the future
  • There’s a lot of work to be done to migrate the infrastructure and tooling around the tools to get the existing ones there (I think this is why we’re seeing new tooling come out instead of direct ports)
  • The squeaky wheel gets the love, so make your voice heard on Microsoft Connect and Twitter!
We even managed to get a group photo with the dbatools team members who were in the building!

After all the “I can’t believe this is happening!” moments through the week, the final session on Friday was the icing on the cake. I was in Carlos L Chacon’s session Measuring Performance Through Baselines and dbatools popped up on one of his slides.

dbatools on Carlos’s slide

Later, Carlos demonstrated a couple of functions, Get-DbaAgentAlert and Get-DbaUptime. The latter sounded familiar, so I jumped on Github and checked the history to confirm. Yep, it’s one of the functions I’d done some (non-CBH) work on. Which means that code I wrote was executed in a PASS Summit presentation! Yes, it’s a small thing and I’m the only person who even knew it as it was happening, but it happened. Which is pretty awesome.

Sleepless for Seattle

PASS Summit 2017 is only a week away and to say I’m excited about it would be an understatement. This will be my third trip to the epic gathering of SQL Server and Microsoft data platform professionals and each time, it gets better and better.

Not only is this a time for learning and networking, it’s a giant #sqlfamily reunion. The list of people I’m excited to see is long, both people I’ve known for a while and new friends I’ve only spoken with online.

How to find me:

As a “Summit Buddy” this year, I’ll be helping four Summit first-timers navigate the week. We’ve already been in contact via email and we’ll be meeting for the first time at the First-Timer Orientation & Speed Networking event late Tuesday afternoon. We’ll check in a few times through the week, probably over breakfast or lunch and hopefully see each other in the Community Zone and sessions as well. I’m hopeful that they’ll enjoy Summit as much as I do.

I’m still working out my session schedule. So many great sessions to choose from! My pre-conference and after-hours schedules are shaping up nicely though. For the first time ever, I’m attending as a User Group co-leader and SQL Saturday Organizer, so I’ll be in meetings for those on Tuesday.

Events to find me at outside the normal Summit hours:

  • Monday, 7:00 PM – Networking dinner
  • Tuesday, 4:45 PM – 6:00 PM – First-Timer Orientation & Speed Networking
  • Tuesday, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM – Welcome Reception
  • Tuesday, 8:00 PM – dbatools team gathering
  • Wednesday, 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM – SQL Trail Mix
  • Thursday, 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM – Games Night
  • One Summit tradition I’m undecided about right now is SQL run. It’s no longer an official event but people still do it. I’ve got a sore leg right now and if I can’t get it fixed I’ll pass on the running. Seattle is a nice place to run, especially by the waterfront. But it’s hilly.

As with every Summit, the schedule is jam-packed and it’s going to be exhausting. I can’t wait.

dbatools Badge Ribbons at PASS Summit

One of the (many) fun things to do at PASS Summit is to check out the ribbons people have attached to their badges. Some are witty or goofy, others informational, others technical, and still more that let you express how you identify with a community within the community.

To celebrate dbatools and the awesome team & community around it, two limited edition badges will be available from/distributed by me and a handful of other folks all week at Summit. Check ’em out:

Be on the lookout for these badges and talk to us about dbatools! What you like, what you’d like to see changed, new feature ideas, questions about how to use functions, anything at all. Even if you’ve never used dbatools, we love talking about it and showing people the awesome things they can do with it so please, introduce yourself!

PASS Summit: Things to Do, People to See

PASS Summit is nearly upon us. I’m excited to be attending my second Summit in Seattle and cannot wait to get there to see everyone. With one Summit and a few SQL Saturdays under my belt I’ve got a laundry list of things and people I can’t miss, and very little time to pack it all into.

Let’s Meet!

The greatest part of Summit (and SQL Saturday) for me is meeting people and exchanging ideas. If you haven’t experienced it, #SQLFamily is amazing. When I reached the convention center two years ago, the first feeling that hit me was “I finally found my people!” We’re all friendly, I swear. Just say “hi, I’m <your name here>.”  I guarantee you will find people who are into the same stuff you’re into, and I’m not talking just talking about SQL Server. Music, dance, outdoor activities, all kinds of stuff. We have a common thing that brought us together, but that’s not what keeps us together. It is an amazing community and it just keeps getting better. On Sunday, as you’re decompressing from the event and travel, you will miss these people who you didn’t even know a week before.

You can even connect strangers with common interests. In 2012, I met someone over a power outlet who asked if I’d done anything with a particular piece of hardware and what I thought of it. Turns out that I hadn’t, but I knew that a former co-worker was also in attendance and he had used the hardware, so I gave them each others’ contact information.

Ping me on Twitter, find me at one of the places/events listed below, breakfast or lunch in the dining hall, or if you think you see me passing in the hall (picture on my Twitter profile), say something (and if it’s not me, you’ll meet someone else, which is still awesome). Maybe even dinner at the airport on Friday evening.

Get on Twitter

So many things happen at Summit which are announced and/or organized via Twitter. The main hashtag to follow is (I think) #summit14 but once you hit the ground you’ll start figuring out who and what to follow to get all the dirt.

Schedule

Tuesday

I’m arriving in Seattle late Tuesday morning and doing some sightseeing before checking into the hotel and Summit late in the afternoon. Then it’s off to the welcome reception. The first of several visits to Tap House Grill may be in order too.

Wednesday

Wednesday starts dark & early with #SQLRun at 6 AM. I had a great time getting a 5K in before dawn at my first Summit and I’m sure this one will be great too. Don’t forget to bring the right gear; it’s pre-dawn and right now the forecast is for 50°F and rain (in Seattle. Go figure).

Aside from the sessions throughout the day, I’ll probably be found in the Community Zone. I’ll also be serving as an Ambassador helping to direct people to the dining hall for lunch, posted outside room 4C so stop by and say hi.

Wednesday evening, I’m hosting a dinner for geocachers at the Daily Grill at 6:15 PM. If you’re a cacher, or just curious about it, stop by!

Once we’ve wrapped up there, I’ll go wherever the wind may take me; probably back to the Tap House.

Thursday

Thursday is my light day at Summit. I don’t have any sessions double-booked and the only event I really need to catch is the Argenis Without Borders folks in their fuzzy rainbow leggings.

Thursday evening I’ll be at the Ray Gun Lounge for Table Top Game Night. I’m looking forward to getting to know folks there and learn some new games. We don’t play a lot of table top games at home and I’d like to change that.

Friday

Lots more sessions on Friday, plus winding everything down. By the afternoon, I’ll probably be beat and just trying to rest at the Community Zone.

I fly out late Friday night, so I’ll be trying to find dinner somewhere between the convention center and airport. I’ll probably kill a lot of time in the terminal by wandering around, playing Ingress.

Packing List

At my first Summit, I learned a few lessons about what to take and what not to take. The most important thing to bring: empty space for all the stuff you’ll bring home. SWAG from the exhibitors, souvenirs, books and more. Next most important: power! Electrical outlets are few and far between, and there will be 5000 people vying for them to top off their phones and tablets. A quick rundown of some of the stuff that might not be obvious to bring (or easily forgotten) that I’m packing:

  • Small (1 pint) widemouth water bottle. I’m partial to this Nalgene bottle I got at a 5K earlier this year.
  • NUUN electrolyte tabs. Water gets boring after a while. These will help you stave off SQLPlague (don’t forget your vitamins too!).
  • Comfortable shoes. You’ll be on your feet a lot and walking even more; the convention center is big. Not to mention the evening activities.
  • A small notepad for taking non-session notes – phone numbers, names, etc. I love my Field Notes notebook.
  • A larger notepad for taking notes in sessions. Oh, and don’t forget a pen or three. I’ve tried doing notes on a tablet and on a computer, and it just doesn’t work as well as paper & pen for me. Bonus: no batteries!
  • Hand sanitizer. Because when you have 5000 people in one place, germs get around in a hurry no matter how careful you are.
  • good wall charger for your devices. I found myself short chargers last time and had to buy one at Radio Shack. It didn’t cut it. This one has two USB ports that charge at 2.1A, which will give you a good boost when you get near a plug, and you can share with a friend. It’ll also recharge pretty much anything while you sleep. Best of all, it’s really compact.
  • A good external battery pack. Matt Slocum (b | t) got me hooked on the Anker E5 15000 mAH battery. 2 ports so you can share with a friend and it’ll recharge most phones 4-5 times from a completely empty battery.
  • Plenty of USB cords to go with both of the above.
  • Business cards! I ordered mine at the office too late last time and had to get some made at Staples in a pinch.
  • A small, light backpack to carry all of this in (well, not the shoes). Session rooms get cramped, so carrying a big pack can be a pain.
  • A lock code on my phone and tablet. I normally don’t use one but at any large gathering like this, it’s better to be safe.
  • A list of the people I need to see/find/meet/reconnect with.

This Summit is going to be a blast. I cannot wait. There’s only two things I don’t look forward to:

  1. Having to sleep (I’ll miss stuff!)
  2. It’ll eventually end

Next Tuesday cannot come soon enough.