Last week was SQL Bits in the UK, and it was a blast. I think this might be my favorite conference, despite the long trip for me to get there. This is my third SQL Bits, and each has been more fun than the last.
This one was in Telford, which is NW of London, W of Cambridge, and a two hour drive from Red Gate. There’s not a lot around there, though Grant did want to stop at the Ironbridge Gorge, which we did.
The event is a lot of fun, with three different days and different feels. Thursday has pre-cons, and there were a lot of people walking out as I arrived Thur afternoon. Everyone I talked to that presented a pre-conference session was happy with the day, and as I queried people on Friday and Saturday that had paid for one, all felt it was worth the time and money.
Thur night was quiet for me, hanging out with friend and chatting while a pub quiz (trivial pursuit type, bingo event) took place in the conference center. It’s a nice mix of professional and casual that seems to excite me at SQL Bits. We learn a lot, and there are great sessions, but it’s not as strict and big a deal with badges being constantly checked as happens at some other conferences.
Friday was a day I didn’t have to present, so I walked around learning. I saw sessions on SSDT, Unit Testing, security, and more. It was interesting, and Andreas Wolter is a scary security presenter. His talk made me want to build an alert for anyone querying @@version on my systems. That seems to be the start of ways in which hackers can learn about what to attack inside your instance. Simon Sabin presented a great security session on encryption in which he also deployed changes to a live system without interrupting things. That was really cool.
Friday night was the main party, which always has a theme, and is a lot of fun. Last year Red Gate gave me a costume, and I ended up looking like this:
This year the theme was Steampunk, with an older carnival type flyer. I wondered what that would mean, and I have to say that I was surprised when I walked into the party.
Yes, there was a carousel, along with a two story slide, various entertainers, and carnival booth games. Lots of people dressed the steampunk way, including Grant. Here’s one that was taken, showing the types of outfits.
It was a little loud, but a lot of fun, and I stayed much longer and later than I planned. Saturday morning was hard to wake to, especially as I needed to pack up and leave.
Saturday at SQL Bits is the free day. I had two sessions, and while I sat in a few others, I also needed to prep. It had been quite some time since I’d actually worked with one of my sessions and the technology.
My branding session had a packed room and went over well. People asked a few questions, and hopefully I helped a few people. My CI session wasn’t great. The room was packed, but my VM acted up. I suspect that some of the changes to the config of HyperV at Red Gate caused a few issues, and I couldn’t demo everything I wanted to. Some of my processes failed when I didn’t want them to, and passed when they did. My apologies to the attendees is coming soon.
I didn’t stick around Saturday night as I had to get back to Heathrow for an early Sunday flight. Things were uneventful from then on for me.
I met lots of new people, as well as seeing many more that I’ve known for years and only see in the UK. The event was run as smoothly as any I’ve experienced, and was a lot of fun, with quite a few spouses and even some kids there.
Thanks to everyone that attended and huge thanks (and kudos) to the organizers. I’m already looking forward to next year and hoping to get to speak again.