PASS First Timers Guide and Schedule

Hi there ho there everybody! I am now a Big Sister Fearless Leader of a group of PASS Summit first timers! This is the page wherein I record all of my sage advice and such for them, and for any other first timer who wishes to come around. I will continue to update this page all the up to (and probably through) the PASS Summit in October, so check back for updates.

For more on the program, see the PASS Summit 2011 First-Timers Program.

And as always, please leave comments and questions below.

Newest updates: Added top 3 tips, new coundown vids, and a link to the new free Summit cheatsheet. Feel free to ignore the rest if you must!

Top 3 Tips

I got a great question from one of my first timers: There’s an awful lot of “before you get there” content, so what are the top 3  recommendations?  Here they are:

  1. Relax. There’s tons of info out there, but frankly, you don’t have to do much more than show up to have a great Summit. Go there, meet folks, learn stuff, have fun.
  2. Take care of yourself. Sanitize, eat healthy(ish), drink water, sleep some, take care of your voice.
  3. Talk to people. Talk to presenters after their sessions, vendors in the expo hall, people in the halls & at lunch, bigwigs you see at events and out and about…everyone there LOVES talking, and is very approachable.

Pretty much anything else you do is just creature comforts! 

 Speaking of creature comforts, have you seen my blog about the free PASS SUmmit 2011 Cheatsheet I made you?


I’ve started a video countdown to the PASS Summit on my YouTube channel. Here’s the listing so far:


Packing, power and connectivity:

  • Bring a power strip. It’s such standard advice now as to be cliche. Even so, most people don’t bring power strips, and there’s usually a struggle to find outlets. The man with the power strip is a hero among captives. A big battery wouldn’t suck, either. And follow this mantra: Never pass up a chance to charge up. (For me, that applies mostly to my phone…)
  • Additionally, consider bringing an aircard (or somesuch method for getting online). While most people don’t do this, as there is wireless at the conference and in some hotels, it’s just not a bad idea if you’re in need.
  • I consider it a good idea to bring a network cable for your hotel. Again, most places supply wireless or a wire connection, but I’ve seen places that charge for wireless, give wired access free, but have no cable. *sheesh*


Can you share some info on the format of the sessions (is it all powerpoint? / are hard or soft copies provided? / is it common for folks to take laptops into the sessions for note-taking? ).

  • Sessions vary per presenter. Some are all powerpoint, some are SQL demonstration, and most are a mix.
  • Hard copies are rarely if ever provided.
  • Slide decks and example code are sometimes available from the presenter’s website, however.
  • It is extremely common to find attendees with laptops and tablets for note taking.
  • You can get a good idea about sessions by watching some of the old 24 Hours of PASS webcasts on
  • Finally, be aware that you can purchase the PASS DVDs, so you’ll have the collection of all sessions for the year. It’s well worth it if you can spare the money, even more so if your company will cover it (hey, cheap training for our staff) or you talk to your local user group about obtaining a set for the gang.


Here comes the part where some of the Summit regulars boo and make fun of me.  Go ahead, get it out of your system…okay.

The Summit is fun. We come together and see old friends, make new ones, talk shop, enter contests, go to parties…there’s very much a feel of celebration in the air.  Not to mention the free food and, occasionally, drink.

Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but: Conferences are prime time for getting sick, and for getting others sick. We spend all day long shaking hands, trading business cards and swag, and sitting in close quarters.  Consider, too, that the vast majorit of us aren’t 22 any more, and you’re probably going to need a few things to survive the week, like:

  • More than 4 hours of sleep.
  • Some small percentage of decent food mixed in with the free stuff.
  • Water. More water.
  • Sanitizer.
  • Something for headaches.
  • Throat lozenges. (If you do it right, you’ll speak more than you’ve ever spoken in your life.)
  • Comfy shoes.
  • A teensy-tiny bit of moderation.

I ain’t yo mama, you do what you want. But don’t come crying to me when SEAN WON’T QUIT TALKING SO LOUUUUUD…


Do you know if they publish names of attendees anywhere to facilitate networking? Yep, here on the Summit Who’s Coming page.

Also, see “Get on Twitter”, above.

Also-also, see the SQLPASS Connect pages. They’ve got some good resources and events listed. I don’t really like how things are split apart by category, so I’m trying to list everyting in one timeline here (and add in my own):

Monday, October 10
? Annual PASS Photowalk
6:00pm-9:00pm Monday Night Networking Dinner
with Steve Jones and Andy Warren
Tuesday, October 11
3:00pm – 5:00pm Special Networking to Build Business Contacts Workshop with Don Gabor
5:30pm – 6:30pm First Timers Orientation and Networking Session
6:30pm – 8:00pm PASS Summit 2011 Welcome Reception and Quiz Bowl
8:00pm – 11:00pm Red Gate Party – Sponsored by SQL Server Central (tickets required)
Wednesday, October 12
7:00am – 8:00am SQL Run
7:00am – 8:00am Welcome Breakfast
10:00am – 6:00pm Expert Pods
11:30am – 1:30pm Meet the Chapters Lunch
1:00pm – 1:30pm MVP Deep Dives Author Signing (between expo and dining hall)
6:00pm – 8:00pm Exhbitor Reception
7:00pm – 10:00pm P.U.S.S. Inappropriate Sessions Party by MidnightDBA
9:30pm-2:00am SQL Karaoke at Busch Gardens (see also
Thursday, October 13
all day SQLKilt Day! Wear your kilt to the Summit (no joke)!
7:00am – 8:00am Continental Breakfast
10:00am – 6:00pm Expert Pods
11:30am- 1:30pm Women in Technology Luncheon
7:00pm- 10:00pm Community Appreciation Party
Friday, October 14
7:00am – 8:00am Continental Breakfast
7:15am – 8:00 am MVP Deep Dives Author Signing (room 211)
10:00am – 5:00pm Expert Pods
11:30am – 1:00pm Birds of a Feather Luncheon (I’m hosting the “You-Tell-Em SQL Horror Stories (and solutions)” table)


The PASS Summit website contains lots of good info, including session abstracts, speaker bios, a schedule builder, social events, attendee list, and more.

New this year on the site is the PASS Summit First Timer’s Guide, with lots of good info.

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