Lock In Learning for March 2011

Bill Fellows (Blog|Twitter) wrote a blog post last week on the idea of SQL Lock In events.  The concept sounds similar to BarCamp but with expert-guided learning opportunities rather than participant-driven workshops.  This sounds like a great idea to me, especially if it’s free to attend, right?

As I thought about Bill’s post, I realized that there are at least two events coming up in March that provide an experience similar to what he described as a SQL Lock In.  They aren’t free, but the cost seems reasonable when you consider what you are getting for the money.

Pre-Con for SQL Saturday #67

Let’s discuss the shorter, lower-priced event first.  SQL Saturday #67 is being held in Chicago on March 26th (if you are a SQL blogger then consider becoming a sponsor).  The day before this event there will be an all day pre-conference, aka “Pre-Con”.  All day pre-con opportunities for SQL Server have been part of the PASS Summit, will be available at the upcoming SQL Rally, and seem to be increasingly offered before SQL Saturday events.

The Pre-Con for SQL Saturday in Chicago will be held on March 25, 2011 at a location near the next day’s SQL Saturday event.  More information on this event and a registration link is available here.  Eddie Wuerch (Blog|Twitter) will be running this pre-con event.  While Eddie says the event is “for DBAs” I’d say the skills covered would be good knowledge for developers as well (I’ve previously blogged that in my opinion DBA skills are good for developers to have).  Besides, there’s more to the pre-con experience than the formal agenda.

Last October I attended the SQL Saturday 49 Pre-Con in Orlando (link for my review of this event including the pre-con).  This was a database design seminar taught by Louis Davidson (Blog|Twitter).  Louis did a fantastic job, and the material was relevant to my work, but I still would have attended just because it was an opportunity to spend the day interacting with the other attendees (including at least one SQL Server MVP).

So I’d say that even if you feel you have an adequate grasp of the DBA topics to be covered at the Chicago Pre-Con, you should still consider attending.  It’s like a 9 hour SQL Lock In for $99 (price goes up to $109 after March 7th) including lunch, snacks, etc.  Will I be there?  Well, I’ve already committed to all-day meeting that day, so I can’t attend the Pre-Con.  Otherwise, I definitely would be there.

Thus, there is a pattern for this blog post… I’m advocating two events that I won’t be able to attend.  Still, I can’t help but promote them and hope you’ll know I’m sincere in saying “I would be there, but I can’t because <fill in excuse here>.”

This brings us to the second “SQL Lock In” type event coming up in March.

SQLCruise Miami

Bill’s post mentioned SQLCruise as an event similar to his SQL Lock In concept, so this comparison isn’t an original thought of mine.  However, I thought I could weigh-in here since I attended the 2010 SQLCruise Miami event.  So did Matt Velic (Blog|Twitter), and he blogged last week that during SQLCruise “SQL Server learning happened around the clock.”  Last week I also mentioned something along those lines when I announced that I’m going on SQLCruise to Alaska in May 2011.  It’s truly an immersion experience because the SQL Server discussion and learning extends beyond formal training sessions.

The 2011 Miami SQLCruise is two weeks away, so the clock on this opportunity is ticking.  Also, there may be last-minute deals to take into consideration.  You could be less than two weeks away from going to sea with the two trainers, a surprise guest, plus a group of attendees that includes one of last year’s cruisers, a co-worker of one of last year’s cruisers, and the extremely generous host of SQLBBQ.

My lame excuse for not going on the 2011 Miami SQLCruise is that I’m going on the Alaska SQLCruise later this year, and I only have so many vacation days off from my employer per year.  By the time I take off a week or more for the Alaska event, plus a week or more for the 2011 PASS Summit, I don’t have a lot of days left to distribute over other events that I might want to attend during the year (plus I might want to allocate a few vacation days for non-SQL activities with family or whatever).  By the way, yes, you read that correctly, I use vacation days (and pay out-of-pocket) for all the SQL Server training and community events that I attend.

Of course, that out-of-pocket amount is lowered thanks to a special group, and that’s the sponsors of events.  The price of SQLCruise Miami is low for the amount of training received due to the support of SQL Sentry, Quest Software, Idera, and Red Gate.  I’m sure they’ll also provide lots of swag and prizes for the cruisers, and those of us not on the cruise will get watch the fun as we follow the SQLCruise chatter on twitter in two weeks!

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4 Responses to Lock In Learning for March 2011

  1. Brent Ozar says:

    Thanks for the kind words about SQLCruise! Now you’ve got me thinking about a lock-in, too, because I didn’t catch that original post. I could totally see that as a killer SQL Saturday post-con – lock ourselves in for a night and then leave Sunday. Innnnteresting…

    • I hadn’t thought about doing a lock-in as a SQL Saturday post-con, yes, that does sound interesting. Last year’s IndyTechFest had a parallel guided Open Spaces track that was an opportunity for people to (1) group-together after a session to dig deeper into the topic or (2) self-organize around a topic not covered in any formal sessions. The lock-in could offer similar opportunities.

      BarCamp events seem to take place on a Saturdays, but that doesn’t seem to work because so many Saturdays already have a SQL Saturday event… don’t want to create conflicts. Having a lock-in on the Friday night before a SQL Saturday would lead to some grumpy and tired attendees and presenters.

      So the only conflict I see with having a lock-in following a SQL Saturday would be the after-party event. I don’t think that has to be a big conflict. People going to the lock-in could still attend the after-party for a little while and just avoid overdoing it on the intake of delightful beverages.

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