Jacksonville SQL Saturday

So this last Saturday I attended the local SQL Saturday event. I have to admit I was a little concerned about attending an event based around SQL Server. After all it is not my normal RDBMS and I have no connections into that community. But it was recommended to me by my friend Joe Healy and we are all supposed to be geeks (unite!) I mean WTH – a database is a database so I shouldn’t be completely lost. So why not go and get the lay of the land, maybe learn something new and meet a few interesting people.

So off I go – totally clueless and completely unprepared since I figure – hey I’m just an attendee. And yes – I go from bad to worse.

So off to UNF I go. AFAIK SQL Saturday is going to be held in the College of Computing & Engineering – hey my old alma mater – cool! Never mind that it has been 8 years since I was on campus, I know my way around right?! Wrong 😀

I got completely lost since almost all the old parking lots are gone and the ones that are still there are designated parking only… and did I mention that the event is in building 50? Yeah – well, that building wasn’t around when I attended UNF so I then proceeded to get confused because it was a different building then the one I attended. All told I spent about 15-20 minutes being lost and befuddled. Should have given me a clue what an idiot I was being.

I eventually find my way there, check in and grab a free donut and coffee (Dunkin’ donuts – Mmm). The place is just starting to get busy so I kinda meander around watching. I have to admit that in new situations I like to people watch.

First thing I noticed was that this crowd while similar to a crowd I would see at an open source conference – was also distinctly different. The crowd seemed to be older (more my own age rather then younger then me) with a *lot* more women attending then I expected (easily twice to maybe 3 times as many women around then I would see at an OS conference) and very few people had a laptop with them. It kinda threw me there – in a rather good way.

I hang out a bit outside and chat a bit with various people. Once they find out I work for MySQL/Oracle, I of course get the requisite “Dark Side” joke and I try to refrain from commenting that “we have cookies”.

I eventually make my way to my first session – SQL University 101: Starting the SQL Journey I have to say it – it was a great session. It provided a nice intro into the SQL Server world that was both intro and technical enough to keep me occupied for the whole class… I even won a poster for knowing what SQL stood for.

Next I attended the T-SQL 102: Aliases and Table Joins talk figuring it would cover anything interesting on how SQL Server handles JOINs (indexing techniques, what kind of index it uses, optimization techniques, etc.). Well it turns out it was more like a basic intro to writing SQL JOINs so not that interesting for me. What I did find humorous when I first noticed it was that the instructor used Venn Diagrams to explain JOINs… which is something I have posted on in the past.

Now at the time of my Venn diagram post, AFAIK I was the only one who thought of them that way. (Turns out I am not – the instructor stated they first came across the idea back in 2000.) I (being the arrogant POS that I am) wondered if the instructor had somehow come across that information and was using it in their presentation. (Have I mentioned I am a complete idiot most days.) I tried to speak with the instructor for a brief while on the subject and ended up making a total and complete fool of myself with them (someone write a big “L” on my forehead).

So I officially would like to 1) apologize to the instructor for giggling in their class. I am an idiot. 2) apologize for just being an arrogant sh*t. I really do try and keep that under control. I am sorry and I have no excuse.

After that I took a walk around campus for a while. As I said it has been 8 years since I was on campus and so much had changed. I actually was lost until I finally got my bearings finding old landmarks. It was nice being back.

So during lunch I sat in on a couple of mini-sessions. One on becoming a DBA and the other on networking at technical events. Both were very good covering areas that to me are similar in the open source world. One thing I did find interesting is that neither of the instructors discussed participation in open source projects – even if it is on CodePlex – Microsoft’s open source portal.

I am unsure if it is simply not a known conduit for the SQL Server community, or if the culture of the community does not push it the way that, obviously, the open source community would. That would be an interesting discussion to have one day.

The final session I attended was the Introduction to Data Warehousing talk. Again it was a very good talk that covered general concepts as well as SQL Server specific tools. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on design of a data warehouse and the general patterns of them – star and snowflake. The examples given and discussed were easy to understand and follow even though the terminology I am most familiar with was slightly different.

Relatively soon after the end of that session I left to go home and be with the family (it was the day before Mother’s Day after all).

I had a fabulous time at SQL Saturday and if I had a complaint about anything it would have to be the network (of course). Because I have Skype on my machine I was quarantined/locked out of the network a number of times so my connection was intermittent at best.

Now that I have had a chance to see the SQL Server community I have to admit I plan to try and get to a Jacksonville SQL Server User Group meeting some time in the near future if I can. It is always nice to learn new stuff about databases… Don’t get me wrong – I love my RDBMS and plan to stay here a long time but being “the n00b” and adding more tools to my toolbox is not a bad place to be.