By Eric Ness
Here at SCS, we attend and present at several conferences and other events throughout the year to stay up to date on the latest industry trends. SQL Saturday is a free conference organized by PASS organizations across the globe – in fact, there’s another SQL event coming up in October! Our latest SQL event was Fargo, ND’s first, back on April 27. The day was filled with learning, socializing and a celebrity.
SQL Saturday was originally organized by PASS to give beginning presenters a speaking venue. Some speakers at these conferences are presenting for the first time while others tour nationally. The conferences are a great way to improve your technical knowledge while meeting other professionals in the same field.
Sharing Some SQL Insights
A colleague and I made the road trip up to Fargo from Minneapolis, MN. The conference started early on Saturday morning on the Microsoft campus and ran the entire day. There were four tracks running simultaneously to provide variety for the 150 attendees. Many of the other speakers were also from Minnesota and there were even a few who had flown in from other parts of the country.
My presentation was the first of the morning. This was a great time because then I could enjoy the rest of the day learning from other presenters. I could also follow an interesting subplot that developed: an attendee told me that Bill Gates was on campus.
My topic was “Data Mining Deep Dive: Clustering.” SQL Server provides tools for predictive analysis, including many popular data mining algorithms. Few people use these features and even fewer are aware of how to optimize their results. My talk was meant to give people more familiarity with these algorithms so they could use them effectively. We had a great turnout for this extremely niche topic.
Enjoying the Rest of SQL Saturday…Including a Celebrity Guest
After my talk, I enjoyed several other presentations during the day. I learned about more exotic index types from Jes Borland and automating SQL Server administration using PowerShell from Jim Dorame. As the sessions went by, we noticed a podium and folding chairs being set up in an open area adjacent to the conference area.
While I was waiting for a presentation by Ross McNeely on data analysis in F#, I walked out in the hall and through a pair of double doors. As I tried to get back to the talk, I saw through the double doors an entourage come up the stairs. Suddenly, Bill Gates was in the hall talking and chatting with people. I was star struck. Security quickly ushered Bill into a meeting room to prepare for his presentation and I was directed to return to Ross’ talk.
Unfortunately, by the time we were out in the hall again, Bill’s talk was almost finished. He had presented on his work with the Bill Gates Foundation and how they are striving to help reduce suffering in the developing world. After finishing, he shook some hands in the crowd as he walked out and then disappeared into the twilight of a perfect spring evening.
Overall, SQL Saturday was an excellent opportunity to “talk shop” and gain insight into the latest industry trends. In addition to my very own celebrity sighting, it was definitely a great event for SCS and other IT professionals.
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