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PASS Summit 2013 – A First-timer’s Experience


Summit2013 Registration

First let me say I came to Summit with a few plans, but no set expectations.  After SQLkaraoke with Jason Horner in KC,MO, I learned to just show up to see what happens. I really came to learn from people who are better at their craft than I and catch up with friends I’ve made through SQL Saturdays.

There were only about four sessions on my must-see list.  My plans did include visits to the Microsoft Certification and testing area.   Overall, I enjoyed the few sessions I attended, really loved the SQLfamily, learned from Itzik Ben Gan, met Dave Pinal, passed one test and failed another (but still learned from it).  I’ll be back.

Preconference – Monday

  • Monday’s ‘Practical TSQL’ session with Itzik Ben Gan gave me brain cramps within the first two hours.  I left to take a call and when I returned he was navigating indexes in binary.  Obviously his idea of practical is much more involved than mine. It will take me some time to read his material and try the design techniques he taught.  Still, I learned some new ways to think about solving problems in SQL.
  • Itzik and Joe Celko are the only speakers that I have seen pull out the SQL standard to explain the concepts they teach.  My goal for speaking next year is to pull out some kind of standard, though it may be the international chocolate standards.


  • SQL Saturday Roundtable

  • Good feedback from the groups hosting SQL Saturdays and good info from the PASS members about coming changes to the website.
  • First-Timers Welcome Party.

  • Beanie hats! Ok, maybe you need a visual.

    Summit First Timer Beanies

    Allen Smith and Matt Brimer at PASS Summit 2013 First Timer welcome party.

  • Cisco Welcome Party

  • They really needed a better PA speaker system for the Quiz Bowl. It looked entertaining, but I have no idea what was said up there. But thank you Cisco.
  • Linchpin Party

  • I enjoyed bowling with Johan and Gerb.  Best of all we got to meet Pinal Dave.  Props to him for all the times his blog has helped me out.  Photo time. Summit_Pinal


  • Started early with a few dozen others for SQLRun and SQLwalk, organized by Jes BorlandSummit SQLWalk 2013
  • Opening session.

  • It was great to see our own community mentor Ryan Adams receive PASS recognition for ‘Passion Award, Honorable Mention’.
  • Great news for those of us ready to try out SQL 2014 CTP1.   People gave applause for Zoomit, but not for in-memory improvements or updatable Columnstore Indexes.  Ok…
  • The first BI Session and other sessions I attended were very overcrowded.  I did not get turned away because I was there very early for each session, but many did get turned away.   Also, the overlapping schedule was confusing so sometimes had to skip the end of one session to make it to another.
  • Certification Central

  • This was NOT well publicized in the schedule or registration info, but once I found it in the Westin they had some good Exam Prep classes. This is an amazing resource for first-timers and old-timers as well. I’ve spent over a decade doing BI in the IBM Cognos world where SQL is just another data source. The past three years have been a steep learning curve on a quickly developing Microsoft BI platform. I really want to thank Telmo Sampaio, Chris Randall, Michael Corkery and Russ Loski for sharing their knowledge and spending their days at Cert Central.
  • Skipped out on SQLKaraoke to study. As a BI Developer studying for the MCSE path, I focused my study time on my weak areas, namely installation and administration. That is usually someone else’s job.


  • I took two tests this week and passed one. On exam 70-457, I passed the DBA section which I studied, but failed on the SQL querying. Doh!  The exam subject list includes a whole section on ‘row-based processing’, which does not fly well in my world of billion row tables.  Note to self, study cursors.
  • Sessions on my must see list today, BIML BIML was popular at Summit for all BI developers. This is definitely on my list of ‘Action Items’ to try.
  • I did not spend a lot of time in the vendor exhibitions area, but it was huge.  I did visit with Dun & Bradstreet and won their twitter challenge one evening.  Thank you D&B.

Summit Vendors

  • Community Appreciation Dinner

  • The NASCAR Hall of Fame was a great venue.  I enjoyed meeting people from around the world.
Summit Party

Summit 2013 Community Appreciation Dinner at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


  • The other exam I took was 70-458.  I read over the test requirements for an hour the night before and figured why not. At worst I figured it was half price and good practice.  I left some constructive criticism in the comment section on a few choice questions.  Really, I was polite.  Then I pressed ‘End Exam’ and passed.  Sweet.
  • Final must-see session on my list was Tim Mitchell and then catch a late flight home.

Overall, a great first time experience.  Thank you PASS.



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