PASS Summit 2014 in Review

I’m finally completely recovered from a great week in Seattle last week for PASS Summit.  Now that it’s back to the grind of regular work I thought I’d put together some thoughts and tell you about my experiences from the week. 

You may have read others blogs about their experiences during the conference.  I always love how everyone may do very different things while at this conference but still have a great time!

My week started early as I arrived in Seattle on Saturday to prepare for MVP Summit that was going on at the same time.  There were some mixed opinions about these events going on at the same time but I liked it.  I think this helped many that are from out of the country justify coming to both events in a single trip rather then making two expensive and time consuming trips to Seattle.  MVP Summit started Sunday for SQL Server MVPs and ended a bit early for me, on Monday, because I delivered a Pre-Con on Tuesday.  Once our day in Redmond was done on Monday I went and registered for the PASS Summit in Seattle and called it an early night, knowing that I had a full day of talking during my Pre-Con coming up the next day.

Tuesday

This was a very full day as Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter) and myself taught a full day of SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution in our Pre-Con.  The Pre-Con was well attended with about 140 attendees.  I really enjoyed teaching and even attending sessions like these that focus on solving problems.  There’s many reasons why I attend PASS Summit but one of the biggest is that I want to learn things that I can immediately go use to help me solve problems when I get back to work.  I think we accomplished that with this session.  It’s was very focused on problems and different ways to solve them using SSIS.

Brian and I have done many presentations together over time but we’re always learning still.  One of the things we learned from feedback last year was to provide a PowerPoint deck with a little more substance.  PASS prints these decks for attendees to keep and take notes on.  While a single image slide with verbal discussion comes across great in a presentation it’s not effective when the slides are printed.  By the way, I still like the single image slide for presentations but not when you know the slides are printed for attendees.

Feedback on the session this year seemed to be pretty good but I’ll know for sure when the reviews are released.

Once the Pre-con was done I dropped my things off at the hotel and came back to the conference for the Welcome Reception.

Later that night I went to the Networking Party that was moved to Yard House.  I stayed and talked for a bit and meet some new people.  Unfortunately it looked like they weren’t ready to handle that volume of people at once so I ordered a meal from somewhere else to end my night.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I started my morning after breakfast by attending the Keynote feature T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan, James Phillips, and Joseph Sirosh from Microsoft.  Definitely some interesting things announced during the this Keynote including Power BI Dashboard Preview coming soon.  You can watch the Keynote still on PASStv

Wednesday I had to deliver my session towards the end of the day so I wasn’t able to attend as many sessions as I would have liked, as I did some practice runs of my session. I did however attend Bradley Balls (Blog | Twitter) session on Using PowerShell to Manage Cloud Integrated Data Platforms. Brad always does a great job and shows his passion for the technology.  He showed many of the capabilities that PowerShell has for integrating into Azure.

Towards the end of the conference day I sat in the session that was prior to mine because I was a bit worried that there would be a lot of cross over with my topic because it was Power View related too.  Luckily there was very little that was the same.  I did my session on Creating and End to End Reporting Solution with Power View.  I think it went pretty well, even with Excel crashing on me.  I always have a back up ready :).  There was a lot of interest in Power View with SharePoint and how Multidimensional cubes interact with Power View so I saved some time towards the end for that discussion.

Immediately after my session I ran down to the Expo Hall for the Exhibitor Party where I was doing a book signing for Pragmatic Works.  We do this every year and it’s always a blast to meet so many people and give away free books!

Here’s a video Jeremy from our team who took showing the line that built up.

After the Exhibitor Party Pragmatic Works hosted our annual karaoke party at the Hard Rock with a live band.  I always have fun here and was able to catch up with friends.

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Thursday

I started my day by attending the Keynote by Dr Rimma Nehme. This was possibly one of the best Keynotes I’ve attended.  Her explanation of cloud computing was done in a way that I think my sales team would be comfortable with.  You can watch the Keynote still on PASStv.

You can watch the Keynote here or read Steve Jones’ (Blog | Twitter) summary here.

In between networking with a few new folks I also attended two session: The BI Power Hour and Top Five Power Query M Functions That You Don’t Know.

The BI Power Hour is always a fun “infotainment” type session with many of the members of the Power BI product team.

I also really enjoyed the Top Five Power Query M Functions session.  I’ve always really liked Power Query but Reza Rad (Blog | Twitter) showed me a few new tricks!

I ended my day by attending the PASS Community Appreciation Party at the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum.  This place is always fun and of course they had live band lead karaoke.

Friday

This was my day to work the Pragmatic Works booth so my morning was eaten up by that. To end the day I sat in on the Speaker Idol competition. The winner of the last round would be guaranteed a session at PASS Summit 2015. I was curious to watch this because we do a version of this locally for the user group in Jacksonville. Here’s Jason Carter (Blog | Twitter) doing his presentation

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I had a late flight home and actually didn’t end up back in Jacksonville until 11 AM Saturday morning… Long day!

If you’ve never been to a PASS Summit before I highly recommend it.  It is an event run by the community, which makes it unique.  While there are sponsorships and partnerships it’s community run so you hear from and meet a lot of people that are going through the same things you are.  Next years PASS Summit will be Oct 27-30. I hope to see you there!

PASS Summit 2013 and SQL Saturday Charlotte in Review

I love reading the many blogs posts that pour in following a PASS Summit.  I think it is fun to read everyone’s experience.  There’s not really a wrong way to attend the conference unless you just hide our in your hotel the whole week.  Here’s how my week went.

Sunday

This was a travel day for me.  I drove with Brad Schacht and Gareth Swanepoel up to Charlotte from Jacksonville.  This was a fun 5.5 hour drive as Gareth live tweeted our trip with the hashtag #sqlwolfpack.  We arrived Sunday night with just enough time to go register for the conference before registration closed for the night.

Monday

Monday Brian Knight and I delivered a full day precon on Growing up with Analysis Service: Power Pivot to MOLAP.  We had about 100 in the audience for an exciting day of learning.  We took the approach of telling a story of an Analyst that created a Power Pivot model but as requirements changed there was a need to find a more scalable solution through the other forms of Analysis Services.

Tuesday

This was a lighter day for me but I did stop by and visit the networking party hosted by Andy at Buffalo Wild Wings. I also spent much of this day setting up the Pragmatic Works’ booth prior to the opening of the event on Wednesday.

Wednesday

The opening of summit started with the keynote describing a hybrid approach to SQL Server (On Premise and Cloud).  I’m seeing more and more momentum Microsoft cloud.  A lot of the crowd that wasn’t buying into is years ago are now starting to see the benefits clearly now too so that’s helping. 

After lunch I delivered a presentation on Creating an End to End Power View Reporting Solution.  In this session I show what is needed to go from basic data source to full reporting solution using Power View.

After all the sessions were complete the Exhibiter receptions started and the Pragmatic Works’ booth hosted a book signing.

I also attended a Karaoke party hosted by Pragmatic Works that night with a live band.  You can check out about 200 pictures from that event here.

Thursday

On Thursday I presented a session with Dustin Ryan on Choosing the Right Analysis Services: Tabular vs MOLAP.  This was the first time I had ever presented with Dustin and I think it went really well.  I especially enjoyed how we worked off each other to make our points together.  Demos were of course planned but the banter was all thought of on the spot.

I also attended a couple sessions on Thursday.  One on Real Time Data Warehousing on PDW and then also the BI Power Hour.

Friday

I worked the Pragmatic Works booth much of this day and then went to the SQL Saturday Charlotte Speaker dinner at night. 

Saturday

I presented a session at SQL Saturday Charlotte on Power Query.  I had a lot of great questions in this session, which happens to be one of my favorite topics right now.  The event was incredibly organized.  I tip my hat to the organizers who obviously put a lot of work into getting the event together.

PASS Summit 2012 Recordings Available

Did you attend PASS Summit and miss out on some sessions because there were so many or you were busy networking?  Good news!  The recordings are now available for free to watch streaming for all those who attended the conference now here.

If you weren’t an attendee you can still watch the sessions for a small price here.  Enjoy the great content!

PASS Summit 2012 Review

Life is finally returning to normal after a great week in Seattle for PASS Summit 2012.  The entire year is basically other smaller events (still great events!) that occur to pass the time until Summit arrives.  Like Ted Kummert said in the keynote on Wednesday PASS Summit is like a big family reunion. 

Here’s a summary of how my week went:

Friday

I did my duty of Early Voting in Florida (I didn’t know then it would take Florida 5 days to announce it’s winner) before taking for an afternoon flight to Seattle.  After landing in Seattle I drove with Bradley Schacht to meet several other Pragmatic Works employees for our companies annual hike up Mt. Rainier.

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Saturday

We woke up early Saturday morning and began our hike up Mt Rainier.  The weather was less than ideal for our plans, but we wanted to see how close we could make it to our goal of Camp Muir, which was 4.1 miles up from our starting point.  Unfortunately, we did not reach our goal because of the weather but it was a blast anyways. Hopefully next time I’m in Seattle we can go for it again.

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You can tell this photo was taken pretty early on because I’m still smiling and not wearing my hood yet.

Sunday

We took our time leaving the cabin by Mt. Rainier and drove to Bellevue for a visit to the Microsoft store where a couple of the Pragmatic Works guys bought the new Surface.  Then we all returned our rental cars and made the light rail trip back into Seattle.  After checking into our hotel we all ran up to the convention center and registered ourselves.  I stayed with Brian this night to prepare for our precon the next day, while most of the others went to the penthouse they rented for the week, I would join them later. 

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Here’s a view from the penthouse.

Monday

Monday was the first day for Pre-Conference seminar, Brian and I were delivering ours on Implementing a BI Solution using SQL Server 2012.  There was a lot of material to cover but we managed to do it and I think everyone really enjoyed the seminar.  We presented using election data which was very topical seeing that the presidential election was on Tuesday. 

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Picture of our packed house during the seminar.

Tuesday

Tuesday I was free to be irresponsible so I woke up late (7:00 AM) and took my time heading to the Boeing facility in Everett, WA with Bradley Schacht and Chris Price.  No picture taking allowed at the Boeing Factory, but I did get some nice souvenirs for my kids here.

Wednesday

Wednesday I had a very busy day.  I went to the keynote, presented my session, worked our booth during the exhibitor expo and partied hard at the Hard Rock karaoke event.

The keynote had many great announcements including one I’ve been waiting to hear about: Multidimensional cubes working with Power View.  There were other big announcements like Hekaton and Polybase.

After lunch I presenting my sessions on Adapting your ETL Solution to use SSIS 2012.  I think the session went great.  I had a lot of great questions that kept me pretty occupied after the session was over.

At night was the Exhibitor Expo where the Pragmatic Works booth held a book signing and gave away passes to our SQL Karaoke party that night.  The Karaoke event at the Hard Rock Cafe was amazing with a live band and plenty of space to just chat and hang out if Karaoke isn’t your thing.

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Here’s the line of people waiting to get a signed book.

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SQL Karaoke at Hard Rock Cafe with a live band.

Thursday

This was my last day of presenting sessions.  Unfortunately, I was the last session of the day and others had presented similar topics several times throughout the week so I only has about 30 or 40 attend.  The session was on creating a Power View solution, where I showed how to create a model and Power View report as an end to end solution. 

Friday

Friday I worked the Pragmatic Works booth all morning and headed down to Pike’s Place Market for some last minute sight seeing before our red-eye flight back. 

It was a great week and I can’t wait for the BI Conference in Chicago.

24 Hours of PASS Recordings Available

If you missed any of the great 24 hour of PASS sessions from September you can now watch the recordings. 

http://www.sqlpass.org/UserLogin.aspx?returnurl=%2fLearningCenter%2fSessionRecordings%2f24HoursFall2012.aspx

Details on my session can be found below:

Session 01 – Choosing the Right Reporting Platform
Presenters: Brian Knight, Devin Knight
Download presentation slides (PDF)

Why do you attend sessions? – Survey Results

Several weeks ago I posted a quick survey on my blog that asked how you choose a session to attend when you have so many options at conferences.  Thought I’d share the results of the survey today. 

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I don’t think there’s anything surprising about it.  Most people overwhelmingly responded that the number one reason they choose to attend a session is simply because they needed to learn the topic.

24 Hours of PASS

Tomorrow Brian Knight and I will kick off 24 hours of PASS with a session on Choosing a Microsoft Reporting Platform.  I hope you’re able to join use and indulge in the all day learnathon that PASS is putting on with great list of amazing speakers.

If you’ve never attended 24 hours of PASS I encourage you to check out as many sessions as possible!

From the PASS website:

24 Back-to-back Hours of Free SQL Server Training!
Get your learning on – indulge in free online SQL Server training with the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS Summit Preview event on September 20, 2012. Join SQL Server experts as they take to the virtual stage with in-depth sessions on the hottest SQL Server topics over 24 consecutive (and free!) technical webcasts. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll gain access to best SQL Server training, delivered to your computer.

Browse the sessions by schedule or track and register today, it’s free.

This 24 Hours of PASS event gives you a glimpse at the unmatched technical content PASS Summit 2012 has to offer across 190+ technical sessions, pre-conference seminars, and invaluable networking opportunities. Find out why you should attend and justify your attendance today. You won’t want to miss PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle, WA, Nov. 6-9.

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