May 112017
 

Thank you to all who attended my session on “Passive Security for Hostile Environments” back on the 3rd of this month. I consider it an honor to be part of such a wonderful lineup. I just received my evaluations and comments, and am very happy to report that the results were extremely positive. Thank you very much to the people who took the time to rate my presentation and offer feedback, which I will include below.

I was also very surprised to hear that my session had 193 attendees, which puts it in the top five in terms of attendance – wow!

If you weren’t able to attend but would like to check it out, a recording is now available.

My slide deck is available for download on the 24 Hours of PASS site.

Demo scripts and other resources are available here.

Feedback

Sessions were evaluated based on four questions, and I received 78 total responses.

  1. How would you rate this session overall?
    Excellent: 60    Good: 18     Average: 0     Fair: 0     Poor: 0
  2. How would you rate the speakers’ presentation skills?
    Excellent: 64     Good: 13     Average: 0     Fair: 0     Poor: 0
  3. How would you rate the speakers’ knowledge of the subject?
    Excellent: 71      Good: 6      Average: 0     Fair: 0     Poor: 0
  4. Did you learn what you expected to learn from this session?
    Agree: 67     Somewhat Agree: 7     Neutral: 3     Somewhat Disagree: 0     Disagree: 0

I also received the following comments:

  • excellent demos and real deep dive into the details of each area he covered.
  • Your demo scenarios were very effective in showing the strengths and weaknesses of each option. Well done.
  • great use of demos!
  • Thank you!
  • Great presentation. Good demos – be great to get a copy of the scripts.
  • I had a lot of familiarity with DDL/DML triggers and Event Notifications. There were some new aspects you showed that I had not considered. Impersonation, for instance. Policy based management is something I haven’t used, but have read about. The session helped reinforce what I’ve learned in the past. Slide decks are great. But I prefer live demos and the code. You had a good, complementary mix of both.
  • Wow, this was incredibly good! So well organized. You covered a lot of territory.
  • Great overview of the different tech
  • Very clear explanations and demos, great pace for a webinar. Packed full of useful examples for real projects. Thank you!

 

Nov 042015
 

I had a beyond amazing week at SQL Saturday Portland and PASS Summit, but now it’s back to reality. Time to catch up on sleep, return to the daily grind of work, and enjoy the comforts of home. Gotta sort through all those photos, start counting down the 51 weeks until the next Summit (PASS has a countdown clock up on their site!) and start thinking about which sessions to submit when the call for speakers opens in a few short months.

In past years I’ve given a play-by-play of things I did, but there’s so much that goes on that week that writing it up properly would be way too long of a post. I’ll keep it simpler this time around and stick to just a few thoughts.

An annual milestone

PASS Summit is one of my milestones of the year. It automatically triggers thinking back to the previous one and then realizing that another year has gone by and wow, I’m older. As I think about it, it’s a lot like Christmas: something I look forward to all year where I get to have a wonderful time with family. Yes, it’s #sqlfamily instead of blood relatives, but there’s also the bonus of not having to take that family photo where Grandma makes everyone stand in the exact same spot every year. (I’m not kidding, we have these going back to 1990.)

Great advice: sleep when you get home

As attendees in one session were told: “If you’re going back to your hotel at 6pm, you’re doing it wrong. Hotels are for basic hygiene and *some* sleep. Other than that, get out, do things, and meet people.” I didn’t hear that advice my first year, but I’m so glad I had already met so many people on Twitter before I arrived 4 years ago. By the time I got to Seattle, I already had plenty of contacts that knew better than to let me get a good night’s sleep!

Wifi connections

In the past, wifi at the summit hasn’t been all that dependable. With 5000+ people, most of whom are carrying multiple devices, it’s not hard to understand why. This year, however, it was rock solid. I got kicked off the network exactly once, and I’m pretty sure it was my own fault. Whatever PASS did to make things so reliable this time, thank you very much!

Non-wifi connections

Connect. Share. Learn. This has been PASS’ motto for quite a while. We do it all year long in chapter meetings, SQL Saturdays, virtual chapters, and on social media. What makes the summit special to me is that it’s so much bigger than any of those things, and no computer is necessary. You can meet people in person. Shake their hand. Give them a hug. Give them a really big hug if you haven’t seen them in a while. There’s amazing learning to be had in the sessions, but for me the real learning has always taken place outside of presentations. Getting to know people. Finding out what they enjoy doing when they’re not working. Making new friendships and strengthening existing ones. It always amazes me how much we all have in common, regardless of what we do or where we come from. I took my own advice more this year than ever before. Yes, that means I spent less time attending sessions and more time connecting with people. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Try something new

As many ways as PASS Summit is the same every year, I try to make it different each time as well. Last year was my first time taking the #sqltrain from Portland to Seattle, an add-on that was so much fun I didn’t have to think twice about doing it again. This time around I did a few new things, including attending different types of sessions. Hardcore SQL Server internals porn is great, and while I still got my fix in that department, I also attended some professional development and business intelligence sessions. I got to see how handsome and witty Mark Vaillancourt is when presenting, and as an added bonus his movie-themed session used my favorite clip from The Wizard of Oz. (Click that link – it’s really neat!)

I also got outside of my comfort zone this year and was more of an active participant in SQL Karaoke instead of just being a member of the audience. This took some careful prodding, but I’m glad I was persuaded. (I’ll be even more glad if no evidence of this ever surfaces…)

No regrets

Of course there’s no regrets. In all honesty, the only regret I’ve ever had in terms of PASS Summit is not attending sooner. I wish this could be my 6th or 7th year instead of my 4th. But I know there’s plenty of people who haven’t been to one, let alone four. I’m extremely fortunate in that sense.

The perfect photo

I’m always searching for the single perfect photo to sum up an event or era of my life. My 2013 PASS Summit Wrap-Up used what I consider to be the perfect picture representing my high school years: a huge group of my friends getting together in my parents’ basement. I’ve always loved getting people together to have a good time. PASS Summit is way more people, and a lot of times you’ll find us in a much larger basement, but the essence is the same.

More often than not, the perfect photo isn’t a group shot. Group photos contain lots of stories, but don’t really tell a story. My favorite photo from all 5 years of college marching band is a seemingly random picture taken by my father 11 years ago this weekend. It’s of my best friend from college and I playing in the stands. It’s a cold November day, but you’d never know that by looking at the bandos. The sun perfectly captures the reddish Illini orange of our capes, as well as a few of the flaws of our uniform. My gloves are on my shoulder because pockets were difficult to get to. Her cape is reinforced with a safety pin because they were too heavy for buttons alone to support. Campus buildings can be seen off in the distance, and the football game is nowhere to be found. (The Fighting Illini weren’t all that great that year…or any year after my first, for that matter.)

A perfect photo for this or any year’s PASS Summit? I’m not sure I have one. There’s so many things going on with so many wonderful people. Also, perfect photos tend to become more apparent after-the-fact. This is a chapter of my life that’s still ongoing, with plenty more people to meet, experiences to share, and memories to make. In that sense, I hope this perfect photo hasn’t been taken yet.

Oct 222015
 

It’s nearly upon us! Next week, data professionals from around the world will gather in Seattle for the spectacle that is PASS Summit. A conference (and family reunion) like no other, we’ll share knowledge, war stories, fellowship, and also germs (because I’m pretty sure I’ve come home with some strain of the nerd flu each year.)

With over 200 technical sessions, there’s something for pretty much everybody. Building a personal schedule always proves to be an exercise not in finding a session you want to attend, but rather choosing which session you absolutely cannot miss because there’s 3 others you also want to see in that same time slot.

Yet amidst this bounty of knowledge being given away by leaders and experts in their fields, there are times when I opt to simply not attend a session at all. Instead of listening to a presentation, you’ll probably find me in a beanbag chair in the community zone chatting with others, out for coffee, or exploring some part of Seattle I’ve yet to find. Why? Because PASS Summit is about way more than attending sessions. It’s about community. It’s making connections and new friends, and catching up with the old ones you haven’t seen in a while. The real power of the summit is being in the same place as all these people, interacting, and getting to know them. Time is extremely valuable that week, and while sitting in presentations is a solid way to invest it, there are other ways to spend it that are just as valuable, if not moreso.

Buy the videos

Really. They’re so worth it. Like I said earlier, it’s not going to be possible to attend all the sessions you’ll want to see. And to be honest, you won’t always be in the best physical or mental shape to learn in a session. Perhaps you were at an evening activity pretty late and now you’re exhausted, or maybe you went on #sqlrun and decided that a #sqlshower* might be a good (and courteous!) alternative to making the first session of the morning. You can watch the videos whenever you like, and as an added bonus, they also support pause and rewind functionality.

Microsoft also gets it

Earlier this month it was announced that Microsoft would not be offering 50% off certification exams on site, as they have done in the past. At first I was upset, but then I continued reading and saw that they would be offering 50% off exam vouchers to conference attendees instead. This is a much better deal in my mind – you are now free to take a discounted exam back at home where you won’t have to miss out on sessions or other activities to do so. It’s one fewer distraction from making connections and learning from others, whether that’s inside or outside of a session.

To sum things up, your time at conferences is very valuable. Everything you do is paid for with time, over and above all the monetary expense you and/or your employer incurred to be there. However you spend your time, make sure you’re getting the most out of it. If you’re going to be attending PASS Summit this year, I’ll see you there, hopefully outside of a session!

 

* For the record, #sqlshower is NOT a group activity.

Sep 222015
 

There’s a little more than a month to go until two momentous occasions are upon us: PASS Summit, and the deadline for Argenis Without Borders 2.0!

If you’re not familiar with last year’s incarnation, Argenis Without Borders started as an office dare by Kirsten Benzel and ended up being an awesome campaign for Doctors Without Borders where Argenis Fernandez promised to wear a unicorn hoodie (see photographic evidence below) and others agreed to wear costumes and perform various humorous acts as different fundraising milestones were met. It was a tremendous success!

Maybe reaching our goal will help impress him!

This year even more people, including myself, have joined in on the fun. 16 of us have agreed to wear costumes or awesome hats if we hit the $5000 mark.

Only problem is, we haven’t reached that goal yet.

The good news is that there’s still more than a month left; donations are being accepted until October 27. It’s for an amazing cause, and we all know how generous #sqlfamily can be. So if you’d like to see me and 15 others wearing something completely off-the-wall, please donate here!

UPDATE: We’ve now hit the $5,000 mark. Great job, everyone! Guess I’ll have to figure out a costume after all!

Jul 162015
 

I’m happy to announce I am running for the PASS Nomination Committee! Please check out my candidate profile. I also have an election page here on my blog with more information which I will be updating frequently.

What is the NomCom?

Per the Nomination Committee page:

The Nomination Committee (NomCom) administers the election process for the annual PASS Board of Directors election.

The primary role of the NomCom is to measure each candidate against a set of criteria set by the Board of Directors. The NomCom evaluates the answers to a questionnaire returned by each Board applicant. In addition, the NomCom as a group interviews each Board applicant who has passed the initial application process. The NomCom then presents a list of recommended candidates to the Board of Directors, which then approves the final slate.

Why am I running?

I’ve been a member of PASS for 6 years now, and while I’ve volunteered for and presented at many events, I want to take a more active role in something that drives the organization. Being part of the NomCom and assisting with the election process seems like an excellent way to do that. If elected, I promise to be firm, yet fair in evaluating candidates. I want to make sure the best possible people make their way onto the ballot.

How does voting work?

NomCom elections opened today, July 16, at 8:00am Pacific Time and close on July 21 at 12:00pm Pacific Time. All members who completed their myPASS profile by 11:59pm Pacific Time on June 1, 2015, are elegible to vote in both the NomCom and Board of Directors elections. You will receive a link to vote via email, and that link can also be found on your myPASS page. To verify that you are eligible, check out Bill Graziano’s post from the official PASS blog.

I would appreciate your consideration and your vote. Thank you very much!

“My name is Bob Pusateri, and I approve this message.” (I’ve always wanted to say that!)