Tuesday, April 01, 2014

SQL Saturday #279 Phoenix wrapup

This last Saturday I had the opportunity to go from 29 degree mornings to the Arizona desert and 70 degrees during the day. Looking at it that way, it wasn't much of a choice. The weather was nice and very enjoyable. Thanks for having it. If whoever was in charge of that weather, please send some my way.

But back to the event. I took off from Utah around lunchtime and flew down to Phoenix with Randy Knight and Jason Brimhall of SQL Solutions Group fame. We had an uneventful flight down, with rough weather on both takeoff and landing. Landing in Phoenix with clothing on the bottom halves of my legs seemed like a bad idea and was remediated quickly. The evening found us at a baseball game with the rest of the speakers. Amy Lewis and crew were able to acquire tickets to the D-Backs vs Cubs game. We also got vouchers to get food in the local offerings. After standing in line for 15 minutes and waiting for a my food for a half hour I had a descent burger with some incredible garlic fries. They tasted amazing. And hours, even days later, they still tasted great. Just kidding, but they did hang around for quite a while. I enjoyed them for most of the time that they were with me. The game was disappointing if you were a DBack fan, but it was still enjoyable, with some great plays and tense moments, as well as some great time to mingle and talk with all the folks attending the event. It is always like the first day of summer camp when you get to see all your friends and catch up with them, telling stories, comparing, sharing and simply enjoying each others company. Mixing and talking to everyone, watching the game, repeating, I think that we all had a blast. With the game over, folks broke up into groups and disappeared, the evening almost over and the next day looming.

Luckily I was able to return to the hotel and not have to dig into and demos or slides, as my presentations were ready to go. I know that some were not so fortunate and went back to do more work on session prep or even more real work. Saturday was rapidly approaching and i am sure we all made it there in different way. But collect again we did, the morning of Saturday at the event. More mixing and mingling and reuniting with old friends not seen the night before occurred. The morning started with some great bfast snacks and a keynote in a large windowed room with garage door openings and massive fans. One can imagine the doors opened and the fans pushing the air around. However, since the weather was just nice and not insanely hot like Phoenix can be, the room was nice, with the blue skies glowing softly outside. 

After the keynote, folks traveled to 3 different buildings on campus to attend from 11 distinct sessions. I was up for the first session hour and had the opportunity to speak on Release Management. The session time came and I only had 2 attendees and the room monitor that was forced to attend. We waited for a bit past the start time and a few more folks came in, bringing the total up to 8. So an intimate session it was, with discussion and sharing, and me blathering on about my experiences and ideas on how to keep change from impacting us negatively in our production environments. I believe that the session was well received and I enjoyed giving it and interacting with the attendees. 

More sessions came until the lunch hour. We reunited back in the large room with the glass and glass garage doors and massive fans. Pizza and pasta and salad was on the menu as well as networking and story telling. Food was consumed and connections made. SQL was discussed and plans were made. 

Sessions resumed in the 3 locations and more learning was presumably acquired by the attendees and speakers. I got to listen to parts of 2 sessions in the afternoon and learned a few things, and need to make follow up to learn more. I love being able to have access to such great knowledge and experience. Keying into the right people and making those contacts to forge even stronger relationships through learning is what these events are about for me. Sharing and learning.

The last hour of the event found me in a room with nearly 20 other folks discussing the gloriously exciting topic of Documentation. One would not think that I could get even my closest friends tricked into coming to my session of documentation, let alone 20 strangers, but alas, this is what happened. After a lively discussion that strangely started out with an explanation of my name and ended with folks wanting to get copies of my documentation, I finished the session. 

With the session ended and the final group session beginning, the attendees that were left were energized at the chance to receive presents. We went to the keynote room and swag was given out to a ton of folks. Books, licenses and more was given away. 

Cleanup started, goodbyes were hugged out, and eventually attendees, speakers and volunteers finished and parted ways. Some to the airport, some to hotels, some back to their homes and some went to the after party at a local watering hole. More networking and stories occurred, which eventually led to more hugging and departing friends. Some of us were talked into going to a Packers Bar to witness the lovely Tim Mitchel and Kathy Kellenberger sing karaoke. After some descent performances and some, well, other performances, we were treated to our favorites sing 'Babe' to the packed bar. After that, more hugs and goodbyes. And it was over.

I enjoyed the venue. The keynote room was large and spacious, with views to the outside making it feel larger than it was. The speaker room was spacious and allowed folks to spread out and practice their craft. There was also a speaker lounge just outside the serious room where seats enough for a few more speakers to kick back and chat. One could wander in here and always find someone to talk with and scheme. The rooms were not all together, which i heard a few 'complaints' about. In quotes because they were not hearty complaints, more a discussion. But having them grouped together as they were was helpful. one could go from 1 to the next easily. Once inside the rooms, with the doors even open, it provided enough space and quiet to perform the session well without outside interruptions. Having the sponsors on the way to the sessions outside one of the buildings was a great idea, letting folks chat up the sponsors without impacting any of the rooms or hallways. And being outside was glorious. The parking was plentiful and close to the venue. The venue was close to the freeway and easily accessible. I really have no complaints about this event that would even help it be better next year. It was well done, the volunteers kept the machine running along well, and you could tell that they had had some practice with previous years, and this year it just coasted along smoothly, giving everyone a great experience.

My thanks to the sponsors and volunteers that put the event on. Thanks to the speakers that came from near and far to help with the event. And a very special thanks to the attendees for giving up their Saturday to come out and get some SQL learning on.

Cya next year!!

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