IDUG 2014 North American Technical Conference

Overall

Wow, overall, the conference ran so smoothly this year. I saw very few issues. The sessions were well clustered by track and all located in a small area. It was nearly always clear where to go and what was going on. My hat is off to the IDUG Conference Planning Committee – I cannot imagine how much work it took to put on such a conference.

I am going to mention a few things that I had issues with, but I want to state out front, that the solution to any issues you saw or that I saw with the conference is to volunteer and give your time to help IDUG make things better. You can apply to volunteer on IDUG’s website. I spend so much time on this blog that I don’t feel able to volunteer right now. Maybe I will in another couple of years. So any criticisms I have must be taken with the grain of salt that I am not willing to put my own shoulder to the wheel to help fix them at this time.

The thing that really struck me this year was how many people had read this blog and appreciated it. It really touched me to see that I am having an impact. To see that the stuff I write really does help. It is easy sitting in my basement to forget that my blog represents a significant resource and a voice outside of IBM. I may not know everything about DB2 for LUW, but what I do know, I like to share. Significant information for most blog entries comes from the IBM Knowledge Center, but even then, consolidating and re-organizing the data can be useful.

Location

I liked the location of Phoenix. For me it was close to home, and I have family in the area, so it was nice to see family. The hotel itself seemed the perfect size – plenty of meeting places, but not overly huge. I was lucky enough to get a great nightly rate, so it was affordable. The restaurants and such across the street were just fine. I did not really get more than a few blocks from the hotel except for on Sunday. As a vegetarian I had pretty much the same thing for Lunch each day, but the vegetarian option was always available, and it was not bad.

Social Media

I do feel like IDUG is struggling with social media a bit. There were very few tweets from the official IDUG account – something they did much better with last year in Orlando. I also wish some information was more easily available and more consistent. It took several emails for me to get some very basic information pre-conference. As a blogger, I wish they would send me a packet with more information that I could possibly use. I was particularly disappointed that the dine-arounds were not consistently announced and did not seem to be published anywhere. They were mentioned in a couple of pre-conference webinars, but seemed to be a moving target. I was the co-host of one of them, and was informed less than two days ahead of time that the location had changed.

I would really like to see IDUG with a larger Twitter presence.

I do like how the content committee seems to be getting some good things out there, and I am excited to see what they come up with.

Networking

Wow, what a great place to network with others. I met so many new people and made new contacts. I think I did a decent job of making sure that a few new attendees were introduced to people and found people to hang out with. It was an interesting place for me to be. It was the first year that I spent so much time supporting colleagues and less time than before going to sessions for my own education.

I was hardly able to sit or stand alone for more than a few minutes without meeting someone who reads the blog or is aware of who I am. I loved that and felt like a rockstar. I am, by nature, an introvert, and about the scariest thing to me is walking into a room and making small talk with people I have never met before. It makes it so much easier and funner when people walk up to me.

I very much enjoyed the breakfasts. Thanks to Sponsors DBI, DanL, and Gunning Technologies. I sure hope IDUG figures out how to continue that.

Problems

I wish there would have been a speaker practice room. My co-presenter and I had trouble finding another room to steal for a bit to work on our presentation. I am glad we did grab an unused room during the VSPs because we found that the text on a couple of our slides was difficult to read. It looked just fine on a laptop screen or monitor, but would have been unreadable with the projector if we had not noticed that and changed it. There are small things like that for which speaker practice rooms are very valuable.

Technical Education

I call the sessions technical education, because that has always been the biggest value of the IDUG conference to me – the educational sessions. I cannot get such in-depth technical information on varied topics at 10 times the cost anywhere else.

I also somehow managed not to land in a single session where IBM was trying to sell me something as the majority of the session. I don’t know if that’s IDUG getting better or me getting better with choosing sessions.

In nearly all of the time slots there was a clear choice for me as to which session I wanted. I appreciated that there were very few times where two of my favorite speakers were up against each other. That said, it was the very first conference I have ever been to where I have not managed to go to one of Melanie Stopfer’s presentations. For her upgrade presentation, I was moderating for and supporting a friend – and had attended the same awesome presentation at IOD in November. Melanie’s other presentation was on RCAC which is not something I see myself as likely to use in the next year, and she was up against Steeve Rees. I was glad I had picked Steve’s presentation – I think it was the best presentation of the entire conference for me.

Monday

I started out my week with one of the educational seminars. I went to Dan L’s Advanced SQL Coding and Performance workshop. It was very much worth the time and money. Dan is a wizard with SQL. I can hardly wait to apply some of the techniques he presented to a query I have been working on. It really took my SQL knowledge to the next level. I do not write a lot of SQL, but I do help our developers sometimes, and feel like I can now be more effective with that.

Tuesday

Starting out the regular conference week with Matt Huras’ two-part internals session was the right way to start for me. I have probably been to about 4 or 5 of them since the first time he blew my mind with them back when I had been a DBA only about 3 years. But I always pick up new details, and the real value add for me this time was a wealth of blog ideas.

Overall, I have come out of the week with over a dozen very specific blog ideas – the conference is such a wealth of inspiration for me.

My own session on Low-Cardinality indexes went OK. I got a lot of good comments on it, though I feel like I was talking too fast, and already have some thoughts on how to tweak it to be even better before IDUG in Prague if my presentation is accepted there. I had over 30 people show up, which was awesome.

I enjoyed Leo Pedron’s presentation. He had a bit of an inappropriate question asker. There was good information there. Some of his methodology was similar to my favorite developerWorks article on emulating monitor reset on DB2 9.7 and above. I am still not sure about the “here’s a bunch of stuff I use” approach to presentation creating. I think I prefer a presentation that sticks more to a tight theme.

Wednesday

Wednesday morning, I though that Mike Krafick’s LOB presentation went extremely well, and he had a good turnout considering he was up against the very popular and good Melanie Stopfer
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Scott Hayes’ presentations always have some interesting elements, and his backpack trick in Wednesday morning’s session did not disappoint. That said, man, Scott, we get the soup slide already. I would be happy to see that slide gone.

I must admit to skipping the Vendor presentations in an attempt to find a place to practice a presentation with a co-presenter.

Pavan is a promising new speaker I saw on Wednesday afternoon, though I thought that the “DPF” in his presentation title was not needed – he had a lot of good tips that would work just as well in non-dpf environments.

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I went to the SQL dojo, and continue to think that is a fun format. Though my team never got the keyboard.

Thursday

Thursday was probably my favorite day at the conference. I was missing a bit of that “mind=blown” experience that I am used to getting from IDUG conferences. There was great information up to this point, and great inspiration, but man, my favorite session of the whole conference was Steve Rees’ Performance FAQs. I took pages of notes.

My own presentation with Mike Krafick went well on Thursday morning.
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We had a great turnout.

I also very much enjoyed Adam Storm’s comical and informative presentation. I am not great with humor, though I can cover information. Adam has both down pat.

The Thursday keynote was interesting – certainly it spoke to the choir of DBAs on the topic of big data.

The final session on Thursday was one of my favorites – the LUW Panel. I love the panels because I get to see what questions others are asking and see answers that I never would have thought of asking about. I always learn something.

Thursday evening, I co-hosted a dine-around with Melanie Stopfer. Fun as a co-host for the first time.
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Friday

Friday had my second favorite session of the conference – Dale McInnis’ detailed look at HADR and Performance. I have so many things to play with and try coming out of that session. Again, I took volumes of notes. I also enjoyed Paul Turpin’s session on analyzing what is causing wait time in a database. How could I not love a speaker calling out my blog as a resource that he used extensively?

Summary

Overall, the conference was great, and I hope to get a chance to go to IDUG in Prague later in the year. If I do, it will be my first time at IDUG in Europe, and actually my first time out of the country in about 10 years. I’ve spent a fair amount of time overseas over the years – it has just been a while. Anyone have recommendations for learning a few basic phrases in Czech? I also hope to make it to IBM Insight in October.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello Ember — Great summary of IDUG week. Thanks for the suggestion about the presentation title. It is great feedback that I have been looking for.
    Best Regards.
    Pavan Kristipati.

  1. May 27, 2014

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