After a two year hiatus, SQL Bits was back in-person. Last year it was an online conference, this year it was really live again. With people you could meet and fistbump or elbow-bump or shake hands with or hug. Just whatever both felt comfortable with. This resulted in some weird dances with fists, elbows and hands trying to find some common ground. The only style I missed was the jump-style dance feet-kicks. Maybe I’ll introduce them at the next event.
The travel was weird because masks and tests and forms and everything else. But the venue itself didn’t enforce any rules. But you could wear a mask if you liked to. I did because it still felt a bit weird not to. What I underestimated was the stress involved with daily testing. Can I enter the venue (daily self tests) and can I leave the country (compulsory antigen test). Back home, the hammer fell and the energy was gone. And from various tweets, I wasn’t alone.
It’s ok to feel this way. Meeting a lot of people is hard after working from home for two years. The hustle and bustle of an event can be overwhelming. Accept it and deal with it in your own way. Make sure you have time for your own self-care and well being. For me, going outside for a walk or a run works, just like blogging about it vents of some pressure. But mostly it takes time. I should have taken at least one day off.
Attending SQL Bits was high on my list of things to do. I liked the online experience I had about a year ago but was really curious about the in-person experience. If you have been there, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not; try and go there. Not only is there high-level content, you can meet a lot of Microsoft program managers, well known community heroes/stars but there are buddies as well. If you’re an introvert, these buddies will help you getting to know people in the conference, lowering the threshold to say hi to others. It really helped me! I met a LOT of new wonderful people, finally met some people I only knew from twitter or online sessions and saw some old friends. Days flew past at breakneck speed. Before I knew it, lunch was served.
The organisers make sure there something to do in the evenings as well, this year there were boardgames, a pubquiz and the notorious party. The team I ended up in was an amalgam (our teamname as well) of people just joining the table. All it took was ‘can I sit here’? We had a ton of fun, ending last but laughing at our weird answers (and shocked when we got one right). From the reactions of the others teams, the felt the same vibe. The party was split into a quiet zone and the loud music zone. The choice is yours and no-one forces another to go somewhere. I was feeling fine in the quiet zone, talking and enjoying the company.
Saturday the drapes finally fell and the fun was over. With a fun group we went out for a lovely pizza and it was clear there is a SQL Family.
Because I enjoyed the event last year, I signed up to help. Just a message to the organisers sufficed. This means you have to do things during the conference but it’s not a full-time job. It’s a lot of fun and again, it’s an astounding way of meeting new people. So many wonderful people who invest time and energy to keep everything rolling, supervised by the organisers. They make sure the attendees or delegates and speakers get the best experience possible. As a helper, you’re part of that.
The new call for helpers has just been sent out:
I can only urge you to take part as a helper in this event. I helped out three days this year and even though it took it’s toll, it was totally worth it. But even helping out for one day will ensure next years event will be more amazing than it was this year.
My first session was a 5 minutes lightning talk on Hyperscale. Now Hyperscale is fast, but presenting a session on Hyperscale in 5 minutes is nigh impossible. But I managed (I think) and it was a really nice way of getting my in-person speaking started. Because until now, I hadn’t spoken in front of an audience on a technical event. And thats… different. Not just looking at a camera but at real people who either nod or look angry (that was because of a light, not because of my talk I found out afterwards). But it was a nice warm-up to “the big one”
My second session was a 20 minute one on what you should know (in my opinion) when becoming a DBA. The lightning talk took care of a good part of my nerves so I could slide in more easily in this one. I was very lucky to have two helpers at my session, one of them even took a lot of time to take pictures. Thanks again Marc! The AV people helped out with the mic and advised on where (not) to stand, cleaned up the desk and gave small tips to get the best video possible. Talking to a few people eased a lot of the nerves and then it was time.
You have no idea how good it feels to start talking to faces again, instead of a camera. To see people nod, write stuff down or just look at the screen and take in what I’m trying to tell. To hear people clapping when you’re done. Sharing knowledge in any way is rewarding in it’s own right, but getting the immediate feedback triples the energy.
In a few weeks, the recordings will be available for the attendees, they’ll be widely available later this year. But just remember one thing: