My first SQLSaturday (104) experience was a great one.  I got a chance to meet many new people (speakers, organizers and attendees), reunite with several others who I’ve met in previous contexts and also map Twitter handles to “real life” people.  

In addition to socializing with folks, I also got a chance to watch some great talks, including those from Tim Ford, Grant Fritchey, Jim Murphy, Jason Strate and Karen Lopez (and the tail end of a talk from Chris Randall which – although I was late, was really enjoyable and I wished I had seen the whole thing).  While the technical content is interesting, I also liked watching the different presentation styles.  For example, I liked Tim Ford’s easy (and subtle) sense of humor and creative visual layout of the DMVs that made a dense topic more easily accessible.  I also took note of Grant Fritchey’s energy and topic focus (drilling down on parameter sniffing), Jim Murphy’s ability to manage multiple moving parts in a smoothly presented AlwaysOn demo, Chris Randall’s clarity of examples (and he’s got a great sense of humor), Jason Strate’s approachable speaking style + Zen-like PPT format and Karen Lopez’s ability to “own” the room and get people actively engaged in the presentation.

SQLSaturday 104 was also my first chance to present “Performance Issue Archetypes” and I really enjoyed the experience. Plenty of suspense since it was a 2:30PM session.  My session was scheduled at the same time as some popular sessions (like Thomas LaRock’s well-received “Choose Your Own Adventure” session and John Morehouse’s “10 Things That Every DBA Should Know!”)  So even with the concurrent sessions, I was thankful to still get an audience.   I do think I jammed way too much material into one hour.  I think my session could easily have fit into 3 hours with some additional demos added – and that was after some heavy cutting I did a few weeks beforehand.  I’ll likely calibrate this presentation over time – but I did get feedback that folks got actionable value from the talk – so that made me happy (especially since this was the whole point of the talk).

Speaking of which, you can download the PDF of my presentation here.  Just note that there were some twists and turns “off deck” and that the presentation deck itself was the launching point.  Hopefully you can see the presentation in-person someday. 

SQLSaturday 104 was a great way to kick off what promises to be a year of new experiences and a significant workload. Coupled with a full plate of ongoing consulting engagements, I’ll be teaching modules alongside Paul, Kimberly and Jon in the IE2: Performance Tuning and IE3: High Availability & Disaster Recovery Immersion Events.  This means I’ll be heading to Tampa, Chicago, London and Bellevue at minimum.

On a somewhat related note; it’s been about 4 months since I joined SQLskills.  A few people have asked how it’s been so far – and here are my general observations:

·        Bottom line is that it going really well.  With any big move, it’s easy to second guess yourself – particularly since I was leaving a job with plenty of opportunity and 6 years of accumulated benefits and relationships.  I haven’t regretted it though.  Quite the opposite, the last four months have just felt “right”.  I’m working just as hard – but working on the areas that put me in the “flow state” (talking about Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s flow) for a good majority of the day.  Consulting/writing/teaching/learning.  All good.

·        Of course a major aspect of it is getting the chance to collaborate with Kimberly, Paul and Jon.  It is great to be able to share ideas and brainstorm on tough or interesting scenarios.  The energy level they have is mind boggling.  There is so much to do/learn/investigate that the toughest part is choosing where to focus next.

·        Since October I’ve worked with 24 different customers on various types of engagements. This is by far my favorite aspect of the job. The engagements have covered performance tuning & scalability, health checks, security, benchmarking, high availability and disaster recovery.  I’ve also been involved in some writing projects and will likely have more IP related work throughout this next year interspersed with the Immersion Events.  Regarding events, I do hope to attend and speak at more events, schedule permitting.

·        Paul and Kimberly have also let me get involved in the business side of things (for example – pre-engagements and scoping calls). I appreciate this since I like meeting new people and listening to new problem scenarios (it’s like getting a new puzzle to work on).   

So thankfully, it’s all good.  I hope not to kick the bucket any time soon, since I’m enjoying this.  Lots of work ahead this 2012, but its meeting my initial aspiration I quoted from NYT last October to “make progress in meaningful work every day.”