Tag Archives: passsummit

I’m Speaking at PASS Summit!

On May 31st, I was shocked to find out one of my submitted sessions was selected for PASS Summit 2018. My response?

I didn’t see this coming. At all. I was stunned – walking around at the office, saying “Oh my gosh…I got picked” while co-workers looked at me like I had lost my mind. Literally.

I thought I would be going to PASS Summit this year, but not as a speaker. I thought I would be an attendee, learning a lot and having an amazing time. I thought it was far more likely that we see 10 feet of snow this winter in Texas than I would be selected for this year’s PASS Summit.

I am sincerely humbled and grateful to be selected. The competition was stiff. I should know – just like last year, I pulled all the data while it was still available. Once the selections were announced I was able to isolate the sessions from those submitted, and also isolate the ones that were not selected. I was able to determine one particular number – how many sessions were selected out of total submissions.

90. 90 sessions were selected out of approximately 600 submitted. I might be off by a few, but I also checked this against ones that are there but I didn’t have in the data pull from immediately following the closing of submissions. For the most part, the ones that are there that didn’t match with a submission are pre-cons or sessions from what I am assuming were invited speakers.

I’m not saying any of this is bad. What I am saying is that the competition among PASS Summit submissions is growing and becoming more fierce. I see this as a positive for the community – we are developing more and more excellent speakers with awesome content to share.

I queried my data set further, looking for the names of the people selected and those not selected. I found the latter to contain many speakers I know personally, who would make amazing PASS Summit speakers, and may have already done so in the past.

I pulled the list of the speakers that had sessions that were part of the “Best Of” from PASS Summit 2017. Out of 36 speakers from that list, 13 of those are currently part of 2018 PASS Summit lineup. While it could be said that all of these people should be on this year’s roster because they were part of the “Best Of” from last year, I think the only thing that can really be taken away from this number is the fact that no one is guaranteed a speaking spot at PASS Summit, no matter who you are.

Are there invited speakers? Yes, but like the regular submissions selection, that list likely has some subjectivity to it as well. Maybe an invited speaker gets red carded in the previous year following their session (heaven forbid, but you never know) – do you think they would be invited back? I would hope not, regardless of the content they would provide.

As speakers in the SQL community, we are largely a very goal oriented, driven bunch of people. We might even be a tad competitive. It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to have been selected this year. Looking back to previous years when my submissions didn’t make the cut, I know now that while this was something that I wanted, I wasn’t ready. I might have been grumpy about it, but that didn’t make me any more ready for this monumental task. For all the seasoned PASS Summit speaker veterans that were not selected, you of all people know how competitive this is. You also know that your time will come again.

Selected or not, I hope to see everyone at PASS Summit this year. If you haven’t registered yet, and need a discount code, I got one of those for ya!
LSDIS97QR

The price for PASS Summit goes up after June 29th so if you are planning on attending, get registered now!

Note: I am on the board of directors for the North Texas SQL Server User Group and this is our code. Registering with this code benefits our group. There are other discount codes out there but I just gave you this one. Like, right now. See? There it is. So go register and use it!

Holy Blocking Chains, Batman – I’m Speaking at PASS Summit!

For the first time ever I will doing a general session at PASS Summit this year.

Waiting for an email with news one way or the other last week was angst ridden, to say the least. After receiving no notification with the first wave on Tuesday, I got even more anxious and tried to occupy myself with work and other things. I didn’t want to get excited over something that wasn’t even a thing yet.

Then late Friday – acceptance.

Yeah, that’s right. ME!

It didn’t sink in right away. I had myself so convinced I wasn’t going to get selected. Maybe my head and heart were still bracing for the disappointment that was not to happen. Why would I be thinking this way? This is the third time I have submitted and the first time I have had a general session accepted. I did have the opportunity of doing a lightning talk last year. I also got to compete in Speaker Idol, which was an amazing and valuable experience that is only available to those that have not done a general session before. More on this later.

The first year I submitted I had been writing abstracts the same way I normally did for SQL Saturday events, not knowing there was more involved for a PASS Summit abstract. I logged in and was about to fill out everything for each of my sessions when I saw all these fields to fill out that I didn’t know about. I quickly got things written for them, along with my main abstracts, and submitted.

But I didn’t get selected.

The next year PASS offered a program for feedback on Summit abstracts. I thought “Yes, this is great! I will write my abstracts, get feedback, and I will be speaking at Summit this year!”

But I didn’t get selected for a general session.

Both times I was disappointed. Both times I did a fair amount of sulking and grumbling, but I am only human. In these cases, my best was beat out by others that were better. Kind of a hard pill to swallow, but I think these challenges are what make us who we are – IT professionals that are constantly striving to improve our own skills while creating content that will convey knowledge and better the SQL Server community.

Last year however, I was selected for a lightning talk and I finally got to participate in Speaker Idol. Doing my lightning talk on How to Keep Your DBA from KILLING YOU was fun and a great experience.

Speaker Idol? Wow…how do I put this? If you are a new speaker, and have not spoken at PASS Summit before (general session or better), throw your name in the hat for this! If selected, you will have the opportunity to get up and present something in five minutes, and get immediate feedback from a panel of judges, who also happen to be well known and experienced speakers in the SQL community. When this was first done in 2014, I heard about the brutality of the first round, so I made sure I was there for the subsequent rounds. Your audience for this? Mostly speakers or aspiring speakers. Don’t be surprised if the final round is standing room only. Or if there are acrobatics (lookin’ at you, Rob).

Moving on to 2017…

Earlier this year it was announced that the Summit selection process was changing yet again. There would be no feedback to speakers and you were also limited to submitting three sessions. There was also a list of topics, with some marked as “hot topics” or topics that PASS really wanted content on. It was also stated that they wanted new content. That session you had been peddling to every SQL Saturday that would have you? Not new content.

I took all this info and combined it with a ramped-up abstract writing and review process. What is ramped-up? Reading the sessions that were selected last year, and having a reviewer that is a seasoned PASS Summit speaker. It also helped that my reviewer was super critical. Once it was announced that submissions were being accepted I logged in and grabbed all the sections that I would need to fill out and got started on my abstracts, outlining details before writing anything. There was even one session I outlined while on a plane, that I looked at later to write up and decided it was COMPLETE GARBAGE…AND WHAT WAS I THINKING???

What did I learn from the PASS Summit submission and selection process this year?

  • Review, review, review. Write them early, review, come back later and review again. Have other experienced PASS Summit speakers review your abstracts. Don’t like their feedback or think they are being mean? Ummmm….they are trying to help you get your abstract to a level that is worthy of PASS Summit. LISTEN TO THEM!!! And buy them a beer.
  • Nothing is guaranteed. In a previous blog post I told y’all how to pull all the submitted session into a table and even gave you some PowerShell code to do it. I was able to compare that to the list of speakers selected and there were some amazing people that have spoken and PASS Summit before that didn’t make the cut this year. Sessions are reviewed and selected by human beings. This is a gamble, and regardless of how good of an abstract you have, you are at the mercy of the session review committee and what they feel is good enough for Summit. This is a monumental task, but they hunker down and get it done so that all of us can have an amazing selection of sessions to pick from.

I hope I get to see everyone at PASS Summit this year, whether or not they are speaking. Out of the conferences that I have been to over the years, I have found PASS Summit to not only be the best of them, but it was where I discovered that the #SQLFamily thing is real. If you are open to it, you can get hooked into groups that will welcome you and include you all because you are there for the same reason they are – to expand your knowledge and career in the area of SQL Server.

See y’all in October!

(UPDATED) PASS Summit 2017 Session Data (You know you want it…so go get it!)

UPDATE #1 –
The following changes were made to the PowerShell script for the PASS Summit 2017 session scrape:

  • Abstract field is now varchar(max). ‘Cause precons get all the chars.
  • Added SubmittedSession column.
  • Upper bound increased to include precons.

UPDATE #2 –
Before I could get update #1 posted, it appeared all the general sessions and lightning talks were removed from the submissions page and replaced with submitted precons. Don’t fret – the PowerShell script will still grab all the submitted sessions (for now). There were also some more precons added so the upper bound has been changed yet again.

 

The deadline for PASS Summit submissions came and went. Either you got yours in or you didn’t. What does this mean? Time to gather the data.

Go get it! You know you want to!

Never having done a web scrape before, this was the perfect subject for my first time – grabbing all the sessions submitted to PASS Summit 2017…and doing it with PowerShell! Here is the script I used for this. I have accounted for the following:

  • Apostrophes (aka single quote). They will break your insert unless you have two of them, and for some reason, people seem to use them all over the place.
  • Formatting the string data for insert. No, your data will not magically come out right in your insert with single quotes so you need to add them.
  • Additional ID and deleted fields.
  • Speaker URL and ID. Will be using this to scrape speaker details later.
  • Accurate lower and upper bounds. These were arrived at by trial and error (you’re welcome), as well as the clean up of the data I scraped. More on this later.

Now for the code –

 

There will also be some webids that error out – this means the session doesn’t exist for that specified webid. You will see an error in the output to the PowerShell window, but the script will keep running.

Once you run the script and it completes, you will have your table of session data. You will notice that there are more sessions there than have been submitted, according to the website. If you do a count of the sessions by speaker you will also find that there are more than three sessions (the maximum allowed) for quite a few speakers. Why is this? You are pulling from a data source that contains sessions other than the ones that were submitted to Summit (apparently). This means you will have to clean up the data – I included the deleted field for this purpose. Look at the duration and filter for the 75 minute and 10 minute sessions and update your deleted field accordingly.

After this, you will have sessions that meet the duration, but you will find the speaker is not listed on the submission site when doing an advanced search. Clean the data some more.

Are you done cleansing your data yet? You might think so, but you aren’t. You see sessions that look like they were submitted for Summit but are not on the site. These appear to be sessions that were created and saved, but not officially submitted. You can rule out quite a few of these if you look for speakers that have more than three sessions. Get those counts, check the website for those speakers, and clean your data.

“Good lord, am I done yet?”

No. No you’re not.

There will be speakers that have three sessions in your table but only submitted one or two. This sounds worse than it is, but it is a little painful. How do you do this? You’re going to search the speakers with the advanced search on the website. Do these in groups based on the number of sessions a speaker has, ordering by speaker name. You can exclude the the speakers you have already reviewed in the previous clean-up steps, deleting their names from your list as you go. When you find a speaker with three sessions in your list and fewer sessions submitted, mark the session that was not submitted as deleted. Next, do the speakers with two sessions as they may have only submitted one. Finally, look at the speakers with one session as there may be ones that didn’t officially submit anything.

“But what about the code for the clean-up?”

No. You know how to do this, and may write it differently (and better) than me. My code was ugly and I don’t feel like cleaning it up and posting it here. I gave you the script to grab it all. Stop complaining or I will send you to time-out.

The speaker info grab will be a separate blog post. With the script in this post you might be able to use the syntax and craft your own PowerShell script for this. Or you could wait for my blog on it.

Yeah…I haz the datas!