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PASS Summit 2012 - Gone to the mountain and returned wiser
I began my conference schedule by attending Allen White's pre-con "Automating SQL Server with PowerShell". Allen starts by telling everyone in attendance “We all can learn something from each other.  We all know something that someone else doesn't.”
I thought this was a great intro and inspiration to the attendees to participate in the PASS Community.

Later in the day while answering a question, Allen tells us he is not a PowerShell expert.  Which kind of surprises me.  He says he’s just figured out how to use PowerShell with SQL Server. I think he is being a bit too humble.  Afterwards, I talk to Allen about a script I’m working on and he points me in a direction that hopefully will help me finish it. All in all, it was excellent day of training on using PowerShell with SQL Server.

As the main conference began, I tweeted about how tight the seating was in some of the rooms on the first day of the main conference.  

After the Summit, I read an excellent post about seating arrangements that maximize aisle seats. Something to consider for the next Summit. I voted for this feedback because I prefer an aisle seat or seats that I don't have to step over so many people to get to. I would also add that a bit more space between the rows of the seats would have been safer.

I also REALLY appreciated all the extra power charge stations throughout the convention center to recharge my phone.  My phone wasn’t making it through the day because it was having a hard time getting a cell signal. Connecting it to the WiFi seem to slow the drain down a bit. For future events, I think PASS should consider venues where picocells have been installed inside to extend coverage indoors. Better signal strength indoors means cell phone batteries last longer.

Right after breakfast on the first day of the main conference, I head to the SQL Server Clinic. I spoke to Lara Rubbelke (@SqlGal) and Buck Woody (@buckwoody) about Separation of Duties and automated installs.  In a very short time, I picked up some important points. Lara said to use signed modules when permissions aren't granular enough to accomplish a task. Buck confirmed ini files are the way to go for automated installs.

Wednesday’s keynote with Ted Kummert was excellent.  Numerous announcements (
Hekaton, HDInsight, and Polybase) and a great presentation on Excel’s latest capabilities by Amir Netz made the time pass quickly. The Excel demo makes me think I should learn more about Excel’s visualization features to get a better grasp of our our database inventory.

The most important sessions for me on Wednesday were:

DBA-501 Evolution of Security in SQL Server 2012
One slide in Don Kiely’s deck confirms that I am headed in the correct direction with my Separation of Duties permissions script.

DBA-101 Real Life SQL 2012 Availability Group Lessons Learned
Brent sets a personal record mentioning PowerShell twice in his slide deck.  ;-)
Thursday’s Keynote with Quentin Clark was one big long BI demo. I can summarize my demo about this keynote with one tweet.

Brent Ozar’s Spotlight session “Diagnose T-SQL Performance Problems Fast with sp_Blitz” was so popular they had an overflow room with streaming video and audio down on the Second floor of the conference center.  I got to the original room FIFTEEN minutes early and the room monitors were directing people to the overflow room.

So, while watching Brent Ozar take questions during his session, I tweeted

Then, someone in the room responded via Twitter to just tweet my question.
Duh, great idea.  So, I did.

Then, Brent is told there is a question from the overflow room.  Brent responds very candidly and surprised “There’s an overflow room?”

The attendee in the room then asks my question. "When will you release the PowerShell version of sp_Blitz?"  

The entire room bursts out laughing. Brought the house down with one tweet!
It was one of the best moments of the Summit for me.  I love to make people laugh as does Brent. He was a great sport about it. It was the culmination of an inside joke that had been running for over a week between a few of us at the conference. I was pretty surprised the entire room burst out laughing. Brent called it a "Real BI moment."

On Friday, the last day of the Summit. I happened to sit down for breakfast at a table that included boB Taylor (@SQLboBT), who is now the Principal Program Manager for Microsoft Learning and oversees the Microsoft Certified Master program. He described the upcoming changes to the MCM program and assured us that is was not quite as scary as we all think.  It’s a tough certification to get but within reach of people who have the correct experience he said.

The most important sessions for me besides breakfast on Friday were:

Lynn Langit's session CLD-305 "Using Amazon's Cloud for the SQL Server Professional" was excellent. I really appreciate sessions that offer advice on REAL WORLD experience. This hour was full of great pointers on how to get started using Amazon's cloud offerings. Combined this with the $25 gift card that Amazon Web Services was giving away in the Expo Hall and the Free Tier usage for one year, it's too much to resist. I stood up a SQL Server instance in less than 10 minutes after getting back to the office.

DBA-324-M "Managing SQL Server with System Center 2012"

I took a Red-eye flight home Friday night AKA The Summit After-Party.
I ended up on the light rail to the airport with Craig Purnell(@CraigPurnell) and Gina Meronek(@equerystrian). We spent the ride talking about the fun moments each of us experienced during the conference. The conversation definitely pointed me towards some sessions to look for when the conference flash drive arrives.

I arrived in Houston before sunrise. Get out of my seat on the plane and look forward and see Brent Ozar (@BrentO) is on the same plane!  Never noticed him on-board during the flight. 

Brent waited for me in the Jetway as we deplaned.  I spent the Houston layover chatting with Brent over coffee. I can't think of a better way to pass the time.  Talked to him about a bunch of stuff.  One of which is the MCM program.  I’ve been thinking about working toward this certification. After speaking to boB Taylor Friday morning and now Brent, I’m going to make it a goal for 2013.

I arrived home Saturday morning.  Slept like a big dog Saturday night.  Woke up late Sunday morning feeling refreshed.  Once again, the PASS Summit was an excellent learning and networking experience. I highly recommend SQL Server professionals attend as often as they can.

Being a member of the Professional Association of SQL Server and going to the PASS Summit is like being a part of a GOOD Borg Collective.  Everybody learns from each other.  You can’t help it, it just happens.


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