First Timer Experience at PASS Summit 2011

PASS Summit 2011 is my first ever SQL Server oriented conference .  It provides me with wealth of knowledge about the areas that I am interested in. It also helps me to contribute back to the community as well as networking.


Arriving in Seattle for the very first time, I did not know what to expect.  Seattle residents are very friendly and the weather was much better than expected. The PASS Summit was superb and in general, I could not be more pleased.  While the experience and memory is still fresh in mind, I thought I should write down a few things for me to remember next year and share these with the other First Timers next year.


What to bring:

  1. At least a coat / jacket. Although the weather was quite kind in early October 2011, it could be quite chilly inside the rooms at the Washington Trade Centre.  If you do not wish to cart around your coat/jacket, there is usually a cloak room.
  2. Bring a pen. Most people have Laptop or tablet PC, which is easier to take notes. However there are times where you need to write something down quickly to give to people or if your Laptop / tablet PC is out of juice, you can still use the traditional pen and paper.
  3. Laptop / tablet PC. At the Washington Trade Centre where the PASS Summit 2011 was held, there was free Wi-Fi. So it’s always a good idea to bring  your own Laptop / tablet PC; especially to keep up to date with the PASS Summit events.  However, there were a few sets of laptops provided around the Trade Centre for your convenience; so hopefully they would do this again next year.
  4. Bring your ID. At the time of registration prior to Day 1 of the conference, you would need to present a photo ID (e.g. Passport), then they give out a bag pack containing schedules, PASS booklets, promoter booklets, a pen and a blank notebook. They also give out the name tag, which you will require at all times in the Summit.
  5. If you like your water, bring your own bottle. I find that after a while, it can be costly to buy a few bottles of water to last you the whole day. Luckily the Trade Centre provides plenty of drinking water fountain near the rest rooms so you can top up your own bottle.
  6. Pack your exercise outfit.  Just because you’re in a summit, it does not mean you can keep fit. Seattle is a lovely city and has a few parks. Going for a jog or just a long walk around the city in the morning would definitely keep your mind fresh for the whole day at the Summit. Plus there is a SQL Run group that you can join at the Summit.
  7. Bring business cards and carry them with you everywhere. As PASS Summit is a good opportunity to network, carrying your business cards everywhere with you is essential. Also, if you see my tip number 2 (Bring a pen), if you get given a business card, don’t forget to write a little something on their business card so it can remind you of who they are and what to follow up with them on. Trust me on this! After getting 20 business cards in a space of a day, you won’t remember everything!
  8. Think about what you would like to achieve at the Summit. This includes preparation before you arrive at the Summit.  There are 170+ sessions, so I would strongly recommend of going through the sessions at least a few weeks before so you know what’s on offer and so that you can prioritise which sessions you would like to attend.
  9. Use the Schedule Builder and add the session to your phone’s calendar. This makes it easier to find out what your planned next session is.  Some sessions may be cancelled, so always keep your schedule/calendar up to date in the morning.
  10. Write down all your technical questions. PASS Summit gives you a great opportunity to ask all technical questions and best practices either at the Expert Pods, SQL Server Clinic, Microsoft Product Pavilion or at the sessions.
  11. Enough cash / budget to buy the DVD (and the Pre-Con DVD if you are keen). The price for the DVD is generally significantly cheaper to buy before the end of the Summit than after.  Plus, if you are like me, I have so many sessions that I would like to attend but they run at the same time, so having access to DVD means that I can watch the missed sessions or have a refresher for those that I have attended.
  12. Friendliness and positivism. Trust me on this, you will enjoy the Summit a lot more if you bring these two factors.


Things to consider:

  1. If you bring someone with you who are not attending the PASS Summit, please think twice. The Summit is quite full on – breakfast to dinner events are available. If you are thinking of attending most of the events at the Summit, your companion may not have time to spend with you outside the Summit.
  2. If you are thinking of sight-seeing in Seattle, please plan a couple of days outside the Summit. Again, if you are thinking of attending most of the events at the Summit, you would hardly have a chance to explore Seattle. (I am guilty of this)
  3. Transportation to the accommodation – if you are from outside of Seattle and arriving at the airport, visit SoundTransit.Org for more information on catching the light rail to the city (Seattle Sheraton was the preferred accommodation provider and was beyond excellent in service!).  Alternatively you can pre-book your shuttle transport to the hotel, or just rock up at the shuttle depot in the airport.
  4. Always have extra room in your luggage for items that you will bring back from the summit.  You may even win big prizes to carry home with you!
  5. If you are first timers, join Big Brother / Sister group and make sure you pre-arrange meeting up time. I have joined up a group in which I unfortunately missed out on the meeting.
  6. If you are from overseas, data plan may be costly. For PASS Summit 2011, Sheraton provides free WiFi at the lobby.  There is also free WiFi at the conference in Washington State Centre.
  7. Complete evaluation form after the session. Your feedback is important.  Remember, PASS Summit is by the community and for the community.



By the way, I co-presented “Important Trace Flags that Every DBA should Know” with Victor Isakov at PASS. The presentation went really well.  Both Victor and I are really looking forward to receiving feedbacks and hopefully to return to PASS Summit next year.  So if you attended the session or have watched the session on the DVD (due to be out in mid November 2011), please feel free to leave a constructive feedback. I hope to present more regularly at PASS.


Hope to see you next year (November 6 – 9, 2012) in Seattle!


6 comments on “First Timer Experience at PASS Summit 2011
  1. Pingback: PASS Summit 2012 Tips | Ms SQL Girl

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