I decided to take a brief trip down memory lane for this recap.
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/84/schedule.aspx Attendee, Volunteer
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/160/schedule.aspx Attendee, Volunteer
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/204/schedule.aspx Attendee, Volunteer, Speaker
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/256/schedule.aspx Attendee, Volunteer
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/292/schedule.aspx Attendee, Volunteer Coordinator, Speaker
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/299/schedule.aspx Attendee, Speaker
Some of those session titles are amusing after 3 years, especially anything that has “new” in the title. That first SQL Saturday in 2011 was pretty special. I realized that volunteering helped my more introverted personality get a chance to network with others.
At the Kalamazoo84 SQLSat I was having a conversation about the pains of double hop authentication and another speaker asked me what my session was about, but I was only a volunteer. I didn’t think I was ready to speak(I wasn’t). That person thought for some strange reason I knew my stuff and suggested I whip up a session and try it out. It was some advice that I remember but didn’t act on for quite a while. This was also another interesting question because it is a total bait question. It is something that the speakers are thinking about and is a great icebreaker.
The Detroit SQL Saturday in 2013 was the first time I was a speaker at a SQL Saturday. I had found my niche that I was passionate enough about to actually enjoy getting up in front of people and presenting. The basic SQL topics are great but I didn’t feel I had enough ground breaking experience and depth on any of those topics to present until I found a way to make security interesting. It was my in because nobody else seemed to be talking about it. I saw other presenters doing a bit of cross training into virtualization and storage so I figured a bit of offensive security and networking concepts would be totally acceptable. A couple user groups of practice and I was ready for a larger audience. I packed a smaller room full of very interested and thankful people. I’m glad the first time went well because it was very nerve racking. I may not have continued to challenge myself in this way had it went poorly.
Kalamazoo, Detroit and now Columbus. These SQL Saturday conferences have all been very rewarding. I always learn something, meet at least a few new awesome people and give as much back to the community as I can. Getting a reasonably sized, semi-interested audience is priceless to me when I am trying to practice my presentation and public speaking skills. There is only so much I can teach my wife about computers until she murders me in my sleep!
My session in Columbus went well sans one whoopsie. I have learned I need to get an accurate start and stop time from multiple sources. I started my session at 3:30 thinking the 3:34 was a typo in the handout. Unfortunately it was a typo but in the other direction and was supposed to start at 3:45 according to the website. I started at 3:30 and someone kindly got up and shut the door. A little less than 10 minutes in I noticed a small crowd peeking in the small glass part of the door and someone finally opened it. This nearly doubled the people in attendance so I started over but didn’t show the video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c36UNSoJenI ) again. Anyways, the slides and demo scripts are posted on the schedule link above.
I decided to attend sessions at this SQL Saturday. Below are the sessions I attended. I particularly liked Kevin Boles SQL Injection session because of the hands on approach. He developed a great demo that showed several different methods of attack and defense. It is also very complimentary to my session because I avoid that particular topic for the most part.
Also, I would like to thank Mark https://twitter.com/m60freeman for organizing a great speaker dinner and event. I’m happy they were able to give me the opportunity to present.
I sometimes imagine where would I be today had I not started attending user groups and events like SQL Saturday. I would most likely be a mess. I have supported an environment that has grown from ~15 SQL servers 5 years ago to almost 200. Without the skills and drive to make SQL Server the best possible platform at my organization I’m not sure I would have as much responsibility. Business users would have run away instead of diving into SQL Server. I imagine myself still being a “DBA” but constantly putting out fires instead of scripting our build and auditing processes. I imagine myself never having the time to research storage and virtualization and becoming confident enough to take on these new administration challenges. I definitely would not have begun the journey of improving my public speaking skills that have improved my overall quality of life. The place without PASS in my life is a scary place.