PASS Summit — Making the Most of PASS Summit 2019

Last week, the PASS Professional Development Virtual Group held a webinar about making the most of PASS Summit, led by two friends of mine, Paresh Motiwala and Grant Fritchey. Unfortunately, I missed the webinar when it aired, but they did record and post the webinar to YouTube. Paresh even gives me a shout-out during the presentation, at 6:30 in the recording! (Shameless plug: come check out my session!)

Although PASS Summit is a large conference based mainly (but not entirely) around data topics, it isn’t just about attending sessions. It’s also about networking, learning, and experience. During the hour-long webinar, Paresh and Grant provide tips on how to network, convincing your manager to let you attend (PASS even includes a letter that you can give your boss!), what to expect when you attend, whom you’ll meet, how to stretch your dollar (admittedly, PASS Summit is not cheap to attend), talking with vendors, and so on.

I’ll leave it to you check out the link and leave it to Paresh and Grant to compel you to attend PASS Summit. They do a great job with the webinar, and I encourage you to check it out. It is definitely worth the hour of your time. Watching the video makes me even more excited about attending! Maybe it might be enough to talk you into attending PASS Summit!

Hope to see you in Seattle in November!

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PASS Summit — Getting the initial lay of the land

Now that the schedule for PASS Summit has been released, I can plan a little more. I now know that I will be speaking on Friday, November 8 (the last day of the conference) at 8 am. Mind you, that’s Pacific time. Hopefully, by that day, my body won’t be completely acclimated to the time change from the East Coast.

I also found out the room in which I will be speaking. I will be presenting in Room 400.

With that, I went to the Washington State Convention Center’s website and looked for a building map. I found a page that includes a virtual view of some (not all) of the areas within the building, as well as a downloadable map PDF (note: clicking this link automatically downloads the PDF to your drive). So if I’m reading the map correctly, it looks like my room is by the Skybridge Lobby, right around the corner from the elevators. Looks easy enough. One thing that was mildly disappointing for me is that the room appears to be smaller than I expected. From what I can gather, it doesn’t appear to be much larger than the lecture rooms at UAlbany (where our user group holds SQL Saturday). However, more people will be attending PASS Summit than SQL Saturday, so I’m hoping for more people in my room.

There are a number of fun activities around PASS Summit — it’s not just about attending sessions! As a first-time attendee, I signed up for the buddy program, which pairs first-timers with experienced attendees so that we don’t feel so lost! I understand that there are a number of other activities as well — including a morning SQL three mile run*, games nights, and karaoke nights. I’ll be paying attention to the activities page as we get closer to the date; it sounds like there’ll be a lot of fun stuff, and I don’t want to miss out!

(*Look, I may be a CrossFitter, but I still don’t enjoy running! My understanding is that it’s a “leisurely” morning run to get some exercise in; it’s not a race. We’ll see whether or not I decide to take part!)

I know that a number of friends will be attending; Matt Cushing, for one, told me that he would sign up to be a buddy for the buddy program. (I have mixed feeling about possibly getting assigned to him; on the one hand, at least I’d be paired with someone I know; on the other, there’s something to be said about making a new friend. After all, a major part about attending PASS Summit is networking!) I expect to see a number of friends whom I know from the SQL Saturday speaking circuit. Also, Ed Pollack, another friend and a colleague from my local user group, is also presenting. In any case, I should know enough people attending that I won’t feel totally alone!

One of the activities they do is something called Speaker Idol. If you just read that and thought “American Idol,” yes, it’s exactly what it is, only for SQL speakers. If you’re wondering how it might go, check out this YouTube link of last year’s winner! (Go ahead, check out the video! Trust me on this!)

And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t intend to sign up for Speaker Idol (at least not this year)!

As I continue looking into preparing for this year’s upcoming PASS Summit, I find myself getting more excited about my trip out to Seattle in November. Less than three months to go!

PASS Summit 2019 – Getting the most out of it

I came across this article, and I liked it enough to reblog it. For one thing, I’m reblogging it for my own reference as I prepare for PASS Summit. Secondly, I think it’s great advice for anyone looking to attend not only PASS Summit, but SQL Saturday as well.

Thanks, Malathi, for the article!

Curious..about data

The session line up for PASS Summit 2019 was announced today...there are so many good sessions to go to..managing time and what we do with our limited time there is an important skill..to some extent. I’d say it is partly skill, and partly luck to get the most out of it. We can control the skill part, so let’s see how.

1 If I am sponsored by my job, I’d consider the top sessions that I can go to that would add value to what I do at work. So let us say Powershell is one of them – I would shortlist all the sessions on powershell and decide which ones would add most value to what am doing, and attend those. One of the key things i’ve learned here is that a beginner level session on something I know does not necessarily disqualify it. It may certainly not…

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PASS Summit, travel plans, #SQLFamily, and Twitter chatter

It’s three months away, and I’m counting the days.

My prep work for my very first PASS Summit continues. I’m still waiting to hear as to whether or not my PowerPoint slides are accepted and good to go, or if I need to make any tweaks to them. I’m waiting to announce my presentation schedule (per PASS rules, I’m not allowed to announce it until they do). (Edit: the schedule has been released! I’m speaking on Friday, November 8 at 8 am PST!) There has been plenty of chatter on Twitter (which I’ll get to in a little bit) in regards to the approaching event.

I did have one setback, which didn’t make me happy. I had originally scheduled my flight home for the morning on Saturday, November 9 (which reminds me — travel tip — I discovered that it was actually cheaper for me to buy two one-way tickets, not one round-trip ticket). Per the advice of nearly everyone who’s been to PASS Summit before me (especially Matt Cushing), I was told that I should stay through Friday night and book my flight home for Saturday. I took that advice to heart, and booked a flight back to the East Coast for Saturday morning.

Unfortunately for me, American had other ideas. My flight, which was originally supposed to be 8 am on Saturday, was switched to 10 pm on Friday. To put it mildly, that did NOT make me happy. I fired back to American with a very angry email — my wife practically had to force me to NOT use any — let’s just say — colorful language in my message. I looked into changing my flight. The available options fell into one of two categories: either the schedule didn’t work for me, or the airfare was absolutely ridiculous. There was no in-between. (And if that wasn’t enough, I have something going on that Monday, which precludes me needing to be home at a reasonable time.) So, for the moment, it appears the best option is for me to keep the flight to which I’ve been switched.

It is exactly for reasons like this why I’ve come to hate flying. It is also one of the biggest reasons why I prefer taking Amtrak. I seriously considered it for this trip, but rejected it because of schedule constraints. I do love traveling by train, and believe me, I would’ve enjoyed taking 3-4 days to take a train across the country, but that’s a luxury that I just don’t have for this trip. (I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the train cross-country as a vacation idea — i.e. I wouldn’t be taking the train to get to a vacation. I’d be taking the train as the vacation! Maybe someday…)

And in addition, American Airlines has been dropped to my list of “airlines of last resort” (if I ever bother flying with them again at all).

Anyway, as I mentioned above, Twitter has been very active in regard to PASS Summit. I reluctantly joined Twitter last month. I didn’t want to join, but it’s the medium of choice for just about everyone involved with PASS, and my acceptance as a PASS Summit speaker pretty much forced my hand.

I posted my frustration at American Airlines on Twitter, and as a first-time PASS Summit attendee, asked #SQLFamily for their advice. A number of people told me that it wouldn’t be a big deal. Sea-Tac Airport would likely be busy on Friday night (which was one of the big reasons why I booked Saturday in the first place), but multiple people, including Matt Cushing and Grant Fritchey, told me that PASS generally doesn’t schedule events for Friday night. Mostly, what I’d miss is the opportunity to get together with #SQLFamily friends. And therein lies the rub.

The flight switch also affects other plans. I sent a message to my AirBnB host saying that my stay might end up being one night shorter than I planned. I want to wait a while before making that determination — for all I know, American might switch it back to Saturday. Dear airline industry: it’s not like we travelers have plans or anything like that. I swear that some of the things they pull are downright criminal. I’ll say it again: there’s a reason why I prefer Amtrak.

In any case, my plans continue to roll along. It should be fun! November will arrive before I know it.

The case for non-local user groups

Ever buy something online, then become inundated by emails from that vendor? Of course you do.

I’ve attended numerous out-of-town events, mainly SQL Saturdays, and every once in a while, a user group (I spoke at one earlier this year). Of course, once I was subscribed to their mailing lists, I’d start getting email from them.

I used to unsubscribe from some of these lists (why, for example, should I maintain a mailing for the Pittsburgh user group when it’s an eight-hour drive away). But it occurred to me not long ago that maintaining these mailings might be a good idea (in fact, I might even re-subscribe to some of these mailing lists).

I’ve extolled the benefits of getting involved with your local user groups. But why would you want to bother with groups that aren’t local? Well, here are some reasons to do so.

  • You receive news about activities in that area. Of all SQL Saturdays I’ve attended, I’ve probably attended New York City‘s the most, going all the way back to 2010 (long before I became a speaker). I travel to NYC fairly often (well okay, maybe more like once in a while — not as often as I used to, but still often enough to know my way around), so events in the City (as we upstate New Yorkers refer to it) tend to interest me. Maintaining contact with the NYC user group (and others) provides me with information regarding activities in the area.
  • It’s a form of networking. Staying connected with non-local user groups expands your reach. You’ll get news and announcements from the remote group, and in turn, maintain contacts with people involved with it.
  • You can get an idea about how other groups operate. I’m heavily involved with my local user group, so I have a pretty good idea as to its inner workings. Seeing what other groups do gives us ideas that we might like to implement within our own group.
  • Are you relocating? If you’re looking for opportunities beyond your area, a user group in your location of interest may be a good place to start. You can connect with people who know the area, and you can get information regarding job opportunities, where to live, and so on.
  • If you happen to be in the neighborhood… If you’re visiting a particular location, and the user group local to that area is meeting while you’re there, why not attend? You’ll get all the benefits that I listed above (and maybe some others that didn’t occur to me). If you’re a speaker, maybe they’ll even schedule you to speak while you’re in town.

While you might not be able to attend events for a user group that is not geographically local to you, it doesn’t necessarily preclude being involved with them. Just because a user group is not nearby doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with it.

Monthly CASSUG Meeting — August 2019

Greetings, data enthusiasts!

This is a reminder that our August CASSUG meeting will take place on Monday, August 12, 5:30 pm, in the Datto (formerly Autotask) cafeteria!

Our August speaker is Matt Cushing!  He will do his presentation: “Networking 101: Getting Ready for a SQL Event!”  For additional information and to RSVP, view our Meetup event at https://www.meetup.com/Capital-Area-SQL-Server-User-Group/events/260380158/

Also, don’t forget NY Tech Loop’s Night at the Ballpark on Tuesday, August 6!  Go to https://www.meetup.com/Capital-Area-SQL-Server-User-Group/events/263584142/ for more information and instructions for purchasing tickets!

Thanks to our sponsors, Datto/Autotask, Capital Tech Search, and CommerceHub for making this event possible!

Hope to see you there!

Win a 3-day registration to PASS Summit 2019!

Have you ever been to PASS Summit?  If not, would you like to attend?

Let PASS know how attending PASS Summit 2019 would make a positive impact in your life by August 23, 2019 for your chance to receive a complimentary 3-day registration AND exclusive access to activities that will ensure a career defining experience!

For more information and to enter, go to this link: https://www.pass.org/summit/2019/Attend/AllAccess.aspx

Good luck!