T-SQL Tuesday #153 – The Conference That Changed Everything For Me

T-SQL Tuesday #153 – The Conference That Changed Everything For Me


T-SQL Tuesday is the blog party started by Adam Machanic (b|t) over a decade ago and is now maintained by Steve Jones (b|t) on tsqltuesday.com. Each month, ots of people blog their thoughts on a common topic. Month #153 is hosted by Kevin Kline with the topic of “The Conference That Changed Everything For Me”, Kevin is interested in how attending Conferences have helped shape our futures. He talks about it better in the invitation

I seem to be writing non-technical Blog posts a lot these days (two this week!), but I couldn’t miss this one as I have such a love and respect for Technical Conferences. I couldn’t think of one thing that fitted the title exactly, but here are my thoughts anyway…

My First Time

The first Conference that I attended was for Visual Basic developers, back in the nineties.

It was an awesome day out in Bristol, with lots of learning, new concepts, contacts and having my mind blown by things like someone saying that they’d “never used DOS !”. This was in the days before the Internet. I had such a good time that I turned up at the next one a whole week early, based on a mis-understood phone call! Details may have been advertised on a Bulletin Board in those days, but I just remember paper and calls. BTW, if there’s anyone else of the same vintage who was working with VB back then, do you remember “The Mandlebrot Set”?

I always wanted to attend PASS Summit, in fact had tickets for PASS in Orlando, September 2001 including a pre-conf with Kalen Delaney. I was paying for this myself, just telling the team that I had a week off. As you’d imagine, it didn’t happen.



This meant that when I found out about the first SQLBits Conference, then I was on it. It was great to have so much concentrated knowledge in one place. In the days before you could hit up YouTube to learn, this was gold! I had attended a number of local groups with a connection to SQLServerFAQ (UK SQL User Group), but this was on a different level.

With the evolution of almost household names related to SQL Server, SQLBits has become a venue to put a face to a name. I don’t think that we appreciate enough the amazing community that we have with SQL Server. Something I’ve certainly realised recently when my work has taken me more towards AWS. I’m still looking for the equivalent in that world. Like getting to a party when you look for your friends, or likeminded people, I still haven’t found many yet!

The “SQL RockStars”

Anyway, back to SQLBits, it’s been great to be able to meet, thank and talk to people who’s technical knowledge has been imparted to me over the years. I can understand when people are a bit overwhelmed (Brent has spoken of this), and apologies on behalf of (most of) the fans that you’re going to meet. People are grateful for the time that is put into their work helping others, and it’s nice to have opportunity to feed back. Personally, I have a known issue whereby I can struggle to recognise people, and I’m always amazed at how people recognise me and say hi (or suddenly disappear! 🙂 )

The Real Conference RockStars

As well as the people that you’ve met, there’s so many people that you haven’t. You get to know people who are attending the same sessions, you can catch up with them at coffee breaks, find out what they enjoyed, what they didn’t and what sessions that they have planned for later. These people can even come up with brilliant points when you suddenly call upon them to review your Blog post at the last minute!

New Shiny Stuff

I’ve seen Software Tools at SQLBits that has impressed me so much that I’ve gone back and written up cost justifications to get them in. I’ve spoken before about my love for Vendors but I’ve spent money, not just collected a T-Shirt in the past. I’ve bought Monitoring, Mentoring, Training and even a Data Import tool (that I later discovered we might have been the only customer for!)







People say that “It’s all about the Networking”. I do admit meeting people at Conferences that have been able to help with technical questions, help with “background checks” on potential employees or employers! I’ve employed consultants to give on-site training after meeting them at SQLBits.


Don’t forget the Party either – I’ve had fun. I’ve edited this bit to reflect the different views – sometimes people think that you are away on business and that means just business. Personally, I think that there is room to enjoy your downtime as well. It makes for a more balanced use of time and provides additional opportunities for networking. I’ll certainly not forget SQLBits Brighton – meeting Steve Wozniak (more hero-worship than Networking) and rode a Rodeo Bull to win a prize, only to give it away in a chivalrous act!



At SQLBits Disco, I was challenged to a game of “Dance Dance Revolution” on one of the vendors stands. While the challenger absolutely whooped me on that occasion, we became great friends and have kept in touch since. I’m at a point where I’d like a re-match now as I think my skills must have improved. Maybe one day!

Potential Downsides

It’s always been important to me that people are given access to training and development. This kind-of went the wrong way back in 2012 when I took a few members of the team to SQLBits. A few weeks later, one of the team handed in his notice. The reason… “I saw so many cool things at SQLBits and they’re not available to us here, so I’m going to somewhere else where I can use them”.

Can’t argue with that!

Now that I think of it, it could have been the result of the Karaoke session (which still exists on video somewhere!)


At the same conference, I attended a pre-conference session for the first time. It was a bit of a gamble since it was non-technical session at a Technical conference. It turned out to be really useful, talking about what’s required for Technical Leadership. While I don’t profess to putting everything into practice, there were lots of useful nuggets of information presented by a top class presenter and nice guy who always says “hello” when we meet.

Thanks Kevin.



PS I done something technical earlier that made me think “ooh, that would make a good Blog post”. Honest!

Follow on Feedly

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.