There was a lot to like about the first (and best) SQL Rally that concluded last Friday on May 13th. It was held in a first class venue at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL that made it feel important and professional. Even though the Marriott is a large complex, the sessions, registration desk, vendor booths, and lunch were all right next to each other, making everything easy to find and allowing as much free and easy contact between attendees, organizers, and speakers. A diverse set of of sessions were delivered spanning the SQL Server product line and every session I attended had excellent audience participation with a lot of good questions and comments. It seems that because of the proximity of the sessions, I met more people than at any other conference I’ve attended. This was great because meeting people is one of the real benefits of being there. I also got to hang out with familiar faces from back home in Colorado including Chris Shaw and Mike Fal.
The success of a conference starts with the organizers and it was no different with SQL Rally. Jack Corbett, Kendal Van Dyke and Andy Warren and the volunteers are to be congratulated for making it happen. Registration was easy, locations were well-marked, and every session I attended was delivered by a true professional. I also went to the Women in Technology (WIT) luncheon and participated in the Speed Networking sessions. The WIT luncheon discussed the role of mentors in the high tech world and stressed the importance of finding a good mentor, especially for women. The mentor doesn’t have to be a woman, and men who have good mentoring skills should be open to mentoring women also. The Speed Networking session is a great tool for us ‘introverts’ and gives us a chance to engage in conversation with people we might not normally talk to.
On Friday morning I presented ‘The Data Mining Lifecycle’ and like the sessions I attended, had really good participation by the attendees. I think I got more questions in this session than any other time I’ve spoken on the subject, and the follow up after the session kept me talking in the hall for another hour, which I enjoyed very much. Then I went to lunch and continued talking about data mining, so I really got my money’s worth.
Two Successful Launches
I stayed in Orlando over the weekend and visited the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday. On Monday morning I looked out of my hotel room at 8:56 and saw the Space Shuttle Endeavour take off for the last time. I was luckier than most of the people who attended SQL Rally, since I got to see two successful launches in one week!