I Will See You in Seattle!

A few weeks ago, I teased good news.

One person hypothesized that I’m joining Microsoft (it seems to be the thing to do lately) and another jumped to the conclusion that I must be pregnant. Both creative responses, but not quite correct.

I’ll be at PASS Summit 2018!

So much to do!

  • Pick some sessions
  • Make my checklist of #sqlfamily I need to see
  • Find a way to pack lighter (I think the iPad will stay home this time)
  • Up my selfie game
  • Get back into shape for #sqlrun
  • Print up some more dbatools ribbons
  • Figure out the social media photo situation (see above, “Up my selfie game”)

If you’re attending Summit, let’s meet up! I’ll be on Twitter, Slack, and Instagram (@alevyinroc across the board) all week and roaming the convention center & various evening events so ping me there to find out where I am.

Because Summit starts on Election Day here in the USA, be sure to either get to your local polling place that morning or follow your state’s process to request & submit an absentee ballot. Every election is more important than the one before it (that’s the most political I’ll get on this blog, I swear).

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PASS Summit 2017 Wrap-Up – The People!

I need a new social media profile picture.

That’s one of the most important (non-technical) conclusions I drew from my week at PASS Summit 2017. It seemed like everywhere I went, I heard “I didn’t recognize you without the hat!” The picture I use on Slack, Twitter and Instagram is the same one I use here on my About Me page. This photo was taken in 2014 at the West Bend, WI Cache Bash and it’s one of the few photos of myself that I actually like (harsh shadows aside). I nearly did bring The Hat with me, but decided against it as it’s big, heavy, and not really an “indoor” hat.

But I digress. The point is, a lot of the people who I met at Summit only previously knew me with The Hat. But that also means that I was meeting a lot of people in person for the first time. And meeting new people is my second-favorite thing to do at PASS events – my favorite being catching up with everyone I already know.

Once I was registered for Summit, I told myself that I was going to make every after-hours event I could and meet everyone I could all over Summit & the associated events. I even signed up for the Summit Buddy program to meet people while helping them navigate their first Summit.

Monday

I didn’t even get through the hotel lobby in before spotting my first SQLFamily. En route from the front desk to the elevator, I crossed paths with Chrissy LeMaire (b|t), Rob Sewell (b|t), Constantine Kokkinos (b|t), and (I think – memory’s fuzzy here) Sander Stad (b|t)! I immediately introduced myself (with The Hat, no introductions would have been needed). We chatted for a moment but they had dinner plans they needed to get to, and I needed a bit of a rest from my trek before heading out to the networking dinner at Yard House.

I arrived at the Networking Dinner hosted by Lisa Bohm (though I didn’t meet her until Tuesday evening) and all the tables were full. I was early for my seating but after a short wait I was able to get a seat at a table with Jeremy Marx (t), whom I’d spoken with on Slack but we didn’t realize it for a few minutes (again, The Hat). A few moments later, we were joined by George Anderson (t), and then finally Kiril Kravstov (b|t) – another dbatools contributor!

Monday was over and I’d already met a half-dozen people. Incredible. I also managed to track down my friend Bill Schultz (t). We worked together a several years ago, and now despite living only an hour away from one another, we only see each other at Summit.

Tuesday

I had an early start as I needed to meet up with Chrissy to give her the badge ribbons I finally found buried in my backpack (not the first time I’ve lost things in its various pockets). Along the way, I bumped into another dbatools team member, Shawn Melton (b|t), who was awarded MVP status by Microsoft the following day.

A bunch of us hung out in the precon classroom and helped with setup, but as I was neither registered for the precon nor running it, I had to take off. I needed breakfast anyway. At the Daily Grille, I spotted Mike Fal (b|t), Rie Irish (b|t) and Monica Rathbun (b|t) at another booth and when I was finished with my meal, I stopped over to say hi. I worked with Mike when we were both at previous jobs, but I’d only spoken with Rie and Monica via Twitter previously.

I spent much of Tuesday in meetings for User Group leaders and SQL Saturday Organizers, but that just meant more new people to meet! On the lunch break, I walked down to Beecher’s with William Assaf (b|t) and Adrian Aucoin (b. Later in the day was the First Timers Orientation and Speed Networking. I attempted to arrange a meeting of my first-timers group just before that event but was only able to find half of them, Kathy & Jasper. The event is set up as a way to get you talking to new people, but unfortunately when you have a couple hundred people all in one room in pairs, all trying to have the same conversation, it gets very loud and a number of people left early. By chance, I found myself sitting next to James Livingston (t), a fellow Rochestarian!

After Orientation was the Welcome Reception. They had a live band! But wow was it loud. I hung out with Kiril and we managed to chat with a number of people including Luis Gonzales (t), Lisa, and Allen White (b|t) before making our way toward the exit with Chrissy and Rob to head over to Tap House for the dbatools team gathering. At Tap House, I met Amanda Crisp (b|t), whom I’d spoken with a few times on Twitter. I don’t recall what it was that put us each others’ respective radars, but it was good to finally meet!

Wednesday

As is tradition, Wednesday started with #SQLRun at 6 AM. 2017 was a bad year for me with regard to running, but the cool weather and good company like Nick Harshberger (t), Allen, Jen McCown (t) and James (who I ended up running with the whole time with) make it lots of fun. James and I clocked about 3 1/2 miles at a relaxed pace, though I had to take a bit of a breather coming up out of Pike’s Market (the ascent from Alaskan Way is tough).

After the run, I got cleaned up and braced myself for the madness that is Day One. On my way up the escalator to breakfast, I spotted someone I’ve wanted to meet for a while at one of the coffee shops and decided it was now or never. Summit is so large that if there’s someone you want to meet for the first time or someone you already know and want to catch up with, you have to do it the first time you’re anywhere near them. You may not get a second chance.

So, I detoured from my path to breakfast, apologized for interrupting his breakfast, and introduced myself to Brent Ozar (b|t). We chatted for about 5 minutes, he gave me a suggestion for mitigating some SQL Server performance issues I was dealing with at work (which I immediately texted to my colleague back at the office), and then he gave me a few Query Bucks and was gracious enough to pose for a selfie. Terrific start to the day.

After breakfast I meandered to the ballroom for the Keynote and found myself a prime seat right behind the blogger table. Closest to me was Kevin Kline (b|t), and we got to catch up for a few minutes before he had to get ready to liveblog the keynote. While we were talking Gail Shaw (b|t) arrived and I got to meet her as well!

Post-keynote, I found my way to the exhibitor hall. After checking in with a few folks, I bumped into Justin Whaley (b|t), who I discovered was working on some PowerShell functions for Red Gate tools just before Summit. We chatted a bit and decided to catch up later on to discuss his work.

One of the best things that happens at Summit is the chance encounters. As I started down the buffet table to get lunch, I looked up and discovered Deborah Melkin (b|t) across the table from me! Deborah spoke at SQL Saturday Albany last summer and had I been able to attend the event, her session was on my must-see list.

Wednesday evening was the big night for events. As an avid listener of the SQL Data Partners Podcast, I signed up for Carlos & Steve’s SQL Trail Mix event as soon as I heard about it. In their post-Summit podcast, I learned that they had a very limited number of tickets available for this event, so I’m glad I didn’t wait. Right away I saw Kathi Kellenberger (b|t) and Sheila Acker (t) (trivia: Sheila’s one of the first people I met & talked to for more than 5 seconds at my first Summit in 2012). Later, I’d find out that there were several people at this event whom I’d run into later in the week or I wanted to meet up with, but didn’t see.

As I left, I chatted with Carlos & Steve for a bit about Scouting; all three of us are currently or previously have been involved with Cub Scouts and/or Boy Scouts over the years (something I’ve noticed across SQL Family for a while).

Up next was Pike Brewing Company and the Sentry One party. The place was packed and I immediately found myself catching up with Kirsten Benzel (t) (we never got a chance to geek out about our watches though 😦 ), Argenis Fernandez (b|t) (whom I saw briefly at SQL Trail Mix) and Monica, plus I got to meet a few more folks milling around the bar. This was also the event where Lou talked me into trying out the 5X Stout Float, a custom concoction presented by one of the bartenders. I was skeptical at first, but wow. I’m going to have to try this one at home sometime.

Thursday

Thursday tends to be my “easy” day at Summit. It’s the “down” day between “gotta meet everyone I can ASAP” on Wednesday and “gotta catch everyone to say goodbye” on Friday. The big daytime event was the PowerShell panel hosted by Chrissy & Rob. We put out the call on Twitter and Slack to get as many dbatools contributors in the room so that we could get a group photo. By my count we had thirteen! At least one other team member had been at Summit but due to other obligations, he wasn’t able to make it for the photo. We’ll just ‘shop him later, right? I finally got meet John Hohengarten (t) and Jess Pomfret (t) there too (we snuck in a photobomb on Chrissy & Nic Cain (b|t)). I’ve spoken with John a lot on Slack, and Jess is another person with whom I’ve crossed paths on Twitter but never gotten to meet.

Thursday evening there were a few more sponsor parties but I was already signed up for Game Night hosted by Kevin Hill (b|t) at the convention center. Three years ago, I attended a small game night hosted by a sponsor in a shop a few blocks from the convention center, but it’s now a semi-official event with PASS backing – PASS even has a collection of tabletop games they bring to Summit for us! I don’t play a lot of board games (beyond the classics) at home but I’m looking to branch out, so I was really looking forward to this event. And it didn’t disappoint! It’s a small, quiet, laid-back gathering so you can chat with people while figuring out how to play the game you’ve picked out. Some welcome downtime.

But between the sessions and the games, we had some open time and needed to find food. Fortunately, Charlie Brown (t) was in the same boat but he’d heard about a good place nearby to get something quick. Charlie & I had talked a bit on Slack in the weeks leading up to Summit but hadn’t met yet, so we got to close that loop. As we waited in line for our food, Kathy and Bert Wagner (b|t) arrived unexpectedly so we all ate together, then several of us walked back to the convention center.

I teamed up with Kathy, Karin (another first-timer) and Swan Web (t) to learn/play Pandemic. Only Karin had played before so the game moved a little slower than with four experienced players, but the we had good time learning how it worked. A 100% collaborative game (as opposed to competitive) was a new experience for me and I ended up buying it to play at home! As things wound down I chatted with a couple of people including Kevin and Matt Cushing (b|t), once again being reminded that I was missing The Hat.

I thought this would be an early night, but making my way through the Sheraton I saw Justin hanging out in the lounge and stopped to catch up about his PowerShell functions for Red Gate tools. What might have been a 20-minute conversation ended up being several hours as we talked about anything and everything.

Friday

Friday’s kind of a sad day because it means having to say goodbye to everyone. I caught a couple of sessions but also spent a bit of time hanging out in the Community Zone. I also made sure to stop by the last few sponsors I needed to talk to, entered a few more of their drawings, and actually won one of them!

Earlier in the week I saw #SQLFamily badge ribbons and I was determined to find out where those came from. Turns out they were brought by ArcticDBA (b|t) and he wanted a dbatools ribbon, so we managed to finally meet up just before lunch and make an exchange.

Closing down the week, I made sure to attend Carlos L. Cachon’s session on baselining, something that I’m not doing a great job of right now. I discussed the highlight (for me) of that session in an earlier post. After the session, having outed myself as a member of the dbatools team, someone approached me with a question about installing the module, as he was having difficulty with one workstation. Unfortunately he’d already tried everything I could think of, so I suggested that he get onto Slack and ask the folks there. Shortly after Summit, he was there and got a solution to the problem.

The official festivities over, I grabbed my luggage and made my way to Tap House. Kevin mentioned that he was getting a bunch of people together there for dinner and drinks and while I had made plans to go to Crab Pot, I had time to pop in for a drink on the way. We quickly took over the billiards room in the back and by this point in the week, it was almost all familiar faces. I chatted with Shane O’Neill (b|t) for a while and he commented that he’d been to New York to visit family somewhat recently. We got to talking about it and I learned that on that trip, he was actually in my town. Incredible! Hopefully on a return visit we can meet up and maybe even schedule our local user group meeting so he can attend.

On to Crab Pot! I’ve heard about this dinner over the years, hosted by Tim Mitchell (b|t), and decided that since I had to do something besides sit in the airport terminal for five hours, I’d go. I don’t know how many people were there but it had to be at least 50 and it was very busy.

Recap

One thing that really struck me about the week was how little time I spent on social media looking for things to do. Instead, I was talking to people and finding or even making those things happen. I ended up turning the notifications from Slack and Twitter up to eleven to make sure that I didn’t miss anything critical there. As it turned out, my inattention to Twitter resulted in me missing an informal talk at the Microsoft booth about the new SQL Operations Studio, but oh well. On the other hand, I still got the notifications from people I was talking to.

At my past two Summits, I found myself completely drained and exhausted by the time Friday came around. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen this time around despite feeling like I did a lot more. I think I just paced myself better. Or maybe I’m becoming less introverted and talking to people is energizing me more.

I heard “I was hoping to meet you here” a few times outside the folks I’d pre-arranged seeing and that was a completely unexpected, but really awesome, experience.

Things I Did Well

  • Get up the gumption to introduce myself to new people
  • Stay off social media/my phone except where necessary
  • Find lunch tables with the fewest empty seats and join in the conversation, even/especially with strangers
  • Renewed connections with people I knew from past events
  • Not get completely exhausted

Things I Need to Work On

  • Step up the selfie game (including getting the courage to ask people for selfies)
  • Talk to more people at the booths in the exhibitor hall
  • Coordinate with my group if I join the Summit Buddies program
  • Get to a couple more sessions. I bought the session recordings so I can catch up, but sessions are still a good place to meet people

Now, to find that new social media profile photo…

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.

T-SQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

T-SQL Tuesday logoIt’s time for T-SQL Tuesday and this month’s edition is hosted by Ewald Cress (b|t). It’s non-technical this month because we’re all recovering from PASS Summit. Ewald asks us to:

give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.

This post is both difficult and easy. Difficult because there are so many people in the community whom I’ve learned from. But easy because there are a

Allen White (b | t)

I met Allen in the winter of 2011. Allen was a consultant and my employer engaged with his firm for help with a SQL Server migration/upgrade and DBA services. Allen introduced me to PASS, the SQL Server community, and helped me discover a passion for the field. I had previously dabbled with SQL Server, and tried to pick up what I could on my own and from random internet searches, but I spent a lot of time fumbling around and learning bad habits. Allen got me pointed in the right direction and drew me into the #SQLFamily. He is one of the first people I look for every time I go to SQL Saturday Cleveland or PASS Summit.

Kendal Van Dyke (b | t)

A little over a year after I met Allen, Kendal joined his team and I started working with him. Kendal became our primary DBA and when we had difficulties with SQL Server (or, more accurately, our application was giving SQL Server agitation) Kendal was our first call. I worked on a number of issues with Kendal; he knows SQL Server inside and out, and I was deeply familiar with the application that was giving it trouble so we made a good combination and I learned a lot about troubleshooting/debugging and some creative ways to resolve/work around application issues that can’t be fixed at the application layer. Kendal even hosted my first-ever blog post! Every now and then, something pops up on Twitter and we reminisce about the good ol’ days.

Matt Slocum (b | t)

I met Matt when I started attending my local user group meetings (or maybe it was at PASS Summit 2012, after which I started going to the local meetings). He somehow talked me into helping him run the local SQL Saturday, then talked me into taking over running SQL Saturday. As I described in my post earlier this year about how I became a DBA, he gave me that final nudge to say “yes, I want to be a DBA now. It’s time to make it happen.”

Chris Sommer (b | t)

I met Chris through our local user group and it turns out we know a lot of the same people despite never having worked together; there aren’t a lot of SQL Server folks in town! Chris took a new job around the same time I changed jobs earlier this year so we’ve been out for quite a few lunchtime runs and walks where we discuss various technical (and non-technical) challenges we face at work.

Chrissy LeMaire, Rob Sewell, Constantine Kokkinos, Shawn Melton

Newcomers to this list. This group (and really, I can’t single any one of them out) has welcomed me into the dbatools team and been very patient with me as I’ve learned GitHub, learned how to work within the goals/parameters of dbatools, and let me fire off a lot of pull requests just to do things like spelling corrections. It’s a whole new piece of the SQL Server community they’ve helped me get exposure to, and at Summit this year I was shocked when I had people coming up to me saying “hi, I wanted to meet you” or “hey, you work on dbatools? I need some help…” My Impostor Syndrome has been working overtime here; it’s been a few months now and I still can’t believe they let me work on this stuff. I’ve been honing my own PowerShell skills, learning more about dbatools, and reinforcing what I thought I already knew by reading so much of their code as I work on my various fix-ups – and even making real code changes!

To everyone named here, and the whole SQL family, thank you. If you have ever attended or organized a SQL Server-related event – SQL Saturday, Summit, User Group meeting, webinar, or blog party – you have had an effect on me. My career would not be where it is today without you.