Last Saturday was SQL Saturday #62 in Tampa, Florida.  I just want to say, thank you SO much to Jose Chinchilla (BlogTwitter) and Pam Shaw (Twitter) for making it possible for me to tag along with Stacia Misner (BlogTwitter), who delivered a pre-con session on BI.  Also, thank you so much for all you did to make this event possible.  It can’t have been easy, but it was well worth it.  This was my first ever SQL Saturday and I now TOTALLY understand why everyone gets so excited about these.  It will definitely not be my last.

I was really struck by how much energy there was.  On Friday, Stacia did an end-to-end presentation on the Microsoft BI stack in ONE day- something I’ve seen her barely be able to squeeze into 3 days.  Naturally, she ran over, but I feel the only thing that got truly short shrift was SSRS, and well, I know a good book you can get if you want more detail than you can handle with respect to that particular product ;-).  Surprisingly, people managed to stay with her and not conk out!  It’s a lot of information to digest, especially at the whirlwind pace necessitated by the time constraints, but the attendees asked good questions and were engaged which is always great to see.

The actual SQL Saturday was a ton of fun.  So much content! And I loved the informal atmosphere, which really allowed people to have a lot of fun, and frankly makes it easier for me to learn.  I have a hard time sitting still and paying attention while one person talks in a big cold room.  The energy surrounding me actually makes it easier for me to pay attention.  That, and you may have seen me knitting ;-).  But I guarantee, if you quizzed me on the content I could give you a complete run-down (even if I didn’t understand everything, what can I say? I don’t use Powershell or SSIS much – but I’m much more motivated to learn now!).  Yay ADHD.

There were two standout sessions in particular.  SQL Smackdown: SSIS vs Powershell featured Aaron Nelson (BlogTwitter) and Mike Davis going head-to-head with Powershell and SSIS, respectively.  Both had good examples to let their choice of weapon shine.  I played devil’s advocate a bit on Aaron’s presentation, and inadvertently won a book from Mike!  But actually, I feel that Aaron might have eked out the win overall (in my mind, apparently the voters felt otherwise).  I like the ease of SSIS, I don’t need a lot of knowledge to get up and running with it, but the flexibility and capability of Powershell has me intrigued.  Plus, apparently Powershell can be used WITHIN SSIS.  Now I just need to find me a good book…

I also got tagged to be a judge for IRON CHEF SQL SERVER.  Emceed by Brian Knight (BlogTwitter), the contender Devin Knight (BlogTwitter) went head to head against Adam Jorgenson (BlogTwitter) to see who could produce the most BI the fastest with ‘illicit’ pharmaceutical data.  I say they went head to head because, well, they weren’t allowed to use their hands! That’s right, no use of the keyboard or mouse allowed, necessitating each chef to grab a sous chef: Jorge Seguerra (BlogTwitter) for Devin and Sherri McDonald (Blog) for Adam.

My task was simple: make snarky comments.  Which I hope I did well enough.  I decided to play the PowerPivot convert and question why, if the contestants were tasked with producing the most BI in the shortest amount of time, did they not open up Excel first thing?  I want my charts NOW dammit!  I was being somewhat facetious, but I have to say it would actually have been intriguing to have one contestant go down that path, while the other chose SSIS, instead of just seeing the straight load vs building SCDs.  Especially since Adam ended up firing up SharePoint and doing a lot with the data once it was loaded up in there.  Given that uploading PowerPivot into SharePoint makes a sandbox cube available, as well as becoming a data source for other reports and PowerPivot workbooks, a lot could have been done.  Although apparently all of this could have been done with only 4 lines in Powershell, so maybe the discussion is moot.

I was also picked to be a panelist for the WIT session – a session which unfortunately didn’t seem to get the publicity due to difficulties in getting it to properly show up on the schedule.  But we had enough people for a round table discussion that I think was very enlightening.  And we got to hear a success story: One of the attendees had been at the PASS WIT luncheon and taken the advice to heart.  She got called in for an interview for a job she’d wanted for quite some time and decided to really own what she knew.  Instead of downplaying her capabilities, she put them forward, and if she wasn’t an expert in anything, she made it clear that she could become one.  She got the job.

It was a crazy weekend and I was glad it was done – simply cuz I needed a rest!  But a lot of fun and knowledge was packed into the weekend.  The location was great, the atmosphere was exceptional, and it really showed just why people find the SQL Community so fantastic.  I can’t wait for my next one.