SQL Saturday 121 In Philadelphia – A recap

The weekend of June 9th was a double first for me. I attended my first SQL Saturday, and also spoke at it. Here is my review.

SQL Amtrak: Going Solo

When I learned my talk was accepted, I tried to organize a group Amtrak trip to SQL Saturday for anyone in the NYC area, or for anyone who I could convince to fly into EWR. I convinced no one, but I realize Amtrak is a hit or miss kind of thing. Regardless, its always fun to take the train. More leg room than a plane, and an electric outlet. My train ride was enjoyable uneventful.

Paoli, PA: navigating the suburbs without a car

I had to get 3.2 miles from my train stop in Paoli to the speaker dinner. I didn’t have a plan to do this beyond taking a bus or taxi. I got off the train and saw no cabs parked by the tracks or cabbies looking for passengers. I crossed to the other side where the station office was and saw no cabs. Google maps revealed that I’d have to wait an hour for a bus. I called a cab and waited over 30 minutes for it to arrive. In retrospect, I should have called for a cab ahead of time or just started walking when I saw no cabs were waiting at the station. As per the driver that finally showed up, traffic was really bad, and the cab company serves a very large area. Coming from NYC I’m used to cabs waiting at the train station when I need to take NJ Transit, Metro North or the Long Island Rail Road. One day I will learn this doesn’t apply to commuter rail stations of other metropolises.

Speaker dinner

I got to the bar a little early, and was told the table was not set up yet. I spotted Karen Lopez (blog|twitter), who I never met in person, and introduced myself. She led me to the other speakers, and there was much introduction, small talk and general nerdery. Then the table and buffet was ready and there was more introduction, small talk, and general nerdery. Oh and of course drinking.

People I met at the dinner besides Karen included, Joey D’Antoni (blog|twitter), Dominic Falso, Hope Foley (blog|twitter), Mike Hillwig (blog|twitter), Christina Leo (blog|twitter),  Vince Napoli, Erin Stellato (blog|twitter) and Allan White (blog|twitter) and many more.

The day of

My speaking slot was 8:30 AM. I was one of the opening bands. I had around 10 people show up for my talk. My room was one of the smaller rooms so between that and the early time I was ok with the attendance. I got rated higher then I would have rated myself, and I had some good interaction, possibly due to all the 10gen swag I gave out to people that asked questions.

After that I attended a wide variety of sessions. Erin gave a talk on statistics. There was a WIT talk. I ran a Powershell talk during lunch, which got combines with the high availability lunch discussion. After lunch there were two talks by sponsors. I attended the one by GridIron who offered a very interesting product that was basically a “tier 0” SSD cache for your SAN. Then I went to Christina’s talk on server side traces. I also attended a Data Modeling talk lead by Karen. Finally, I finished my day with a career management talk. That was perhaps a great talk because it caused my to question and alter my “never ever take a counter offer” stance. I’d go as far as saying that before that session it was one of my ore beliefs.

After the event

After the event Joey invited all the speakers and volunteers to his house for an after party. My time was cut short because I needed to catch the Amtrak back. However, I enjoyed my short time there.