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SQL Saturday 85 is in the record books. A great time was had by everyone that I spoke with, speakers, volunteers, and attendees alike. Shawn McGehee (t|g+|b), Karla Landrum (t|g+|b), Kendal Van Dyke (t|g+|b), and Bradley Ball (t|b) all did a fantastic job putting things together.

The planning committee tried something new this year in Orlando with room proctors to assist the speakers with eval forms, and a “five-minute warning” (not totally unlike the two-minute warning in the NFL, except maybe a little more subtle). All in an effort to assist the speakers, and get a better return on their eval forms which have been somewhat lacking in years prior. I would be interested in hearing from the speakers to see if they liked/disliked this approach, and what – if anything – they would like to see different next year.

Buck Woody (t|g+|b) and some of the folks from Pragmatic Works held Pre-Cons as a prelude to the day of immersion that was SQL Saturday 85. With seven tracks, and over forty speakers, along with no fewer than 23 sponsors, there was plenty of learning to be done, indeed! I tried to attend one session in each track, but the quality and quantity of offerings were so vast, making my decision was not as easy as I had hoped.

I spent the morning listening in on Buck’s session, titled “From Ground to Cloud”, and if there is anything I took away from that session, it was, “Don’t put your encrypted data in my cloud. Don’t even ask!” In reality, there were several good take-aways from his session, and I am looking forward to digging deeper into SQLAzure as it progresses through it’s life-cycle. Secondly, I paid a visit to my friend, Eric Wisdahl (t|g+|b) as he spoke about SSIS data flow buffers. Eric always has great content in his in-depth sessions, and I was especially interested in the performance gains in managing my data flow buffers more efficiently. For my third session, I stopped in to Rodney Landrum’s (t|b) “T-SQL Alphabet Soup”. As the name suggests, this was a fun one! Who knew there was a reserved word for every letter of the alphabet?! Not to mention, it makes for a great drinking game 🙂

Lunch was another new concept, with the speakers serving up some of the best BBQ in Orlando, catered by Keller’s BBQ. Here, the planning committee got a little creative and had some fun, too! The speakers all donned their aprons (some got a little confused and thought they were super-hero capes, but we didn’t tell them any different!) and suddenly they all became chefs. Jorge Segarra (t|g+|b) was the lone cannibal in the group serving up BBQ’d @SQLChicken to attendees, much to his chagrin, after he learned of his brethren’s fate 😮

Several vendors offered up mini-sessions during the latter-half of the lunch break, and the response I heard was that they were packed! This is great news, given the time and money our sponsors offer to help us hold these events. Being receptive and appreciative to them will almost guarantee a return visit!

Finally, after lunch, I stopped in to check out Bradley Schacht’s (t|g+|b) presentation on dynamic SSIS. (There was even a little slap-schtick comedy tossed into the mix with this one, how does that face feel, Jorge?!) This session was of particular interest to me, because I helped to develop an SSIS configuration database standard at a previous position, and any insight into how some of the best in the business are doing this is greatly welcomed. It was quite reassuring to know that we were in agreement on a vast majority of best practices with configurations in SSIS, and I learned that the fate of configurations in Denali will leave me a bit of a learning curve. I am quite OK with that, since I love to learn, and this career is one learning opportunity after another! In my final session of the day, I could not resist checking out Mike Davis (t|g+|b) and Adam Jorgensen’s (t|g+|b) SQL Smackdown (with @SQLBalls as the totally un-biased referee ;)) As is usual with the crew from Pragmatic Works, their session was as much entertainment as it was enlightenment. Jabs were thrown, pic were shown, and in the end, Adam’s T-SQL solution (even without being executed… un-biased, remember?) came out the victor! Not to be out done, Mike stormed off in disgust, and then laid a smack-down SSIS-style on the ref!

Andy Warren (t|b) stayed true to tradition, with his annual “book drop” at the conclusion of the event, and each of the sponsors had some really great raffle prizes to give away to a few lucky attendees. Noticeably absent, however,  was our good friend Jack Corbett (t|g+|b) who moved back up north earlier this year.

All-in-all, it was a great day of SQL learning. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, the lunch was the best I have ever had for $5, the speakers and sponsors were top-notch, and the venue was absolutely beautiful. There are plenty of pictures to peruse, so please, help yourself. See you at the next SQL Saturday!

(As a side note, this is my very first published blog post. There will certainly be more down the road, but I would like any constructive criticism that any readers would like to leave. I’m jumping in with both feet and not looking back!)

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