Well what a few days. Everyone I spoke to agreed that SQLBits 8 has been the best SQLBits conference yet. The organisers did a fantastic job, the whole event seemed to run incredibly smoothly and was very well received. I’m sure there’s a certain element of the swan effect, with frantic paddling behind the scenes, but they pulled it off very well indeed. A massive thanks for all of your effort.

For me, this was the first SQLBits conference that I’ve presented at, and I have to say it made it even better for me. I’ve got so much out of SQLBits over the years it’s really nice to be able to give something back and contribute to the event. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my sessions, and will definitely get a session or two lined up for the next conference.

I took a few photos over the 3 days, and thought I’d share them to give you a feel of the event if you couldn’t make it.

The venue: Brighton

And we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Just fabulous.

The hotel, The Brighton Grand.

The general consensus seems to have been that the best SQLBits conferences so far have been Celtic Manor and Brighton. To me, this is because both were held in hotels, which brings the social and work elements of the conference together.

The first day: SQLBits Insight

This is the first time the ‘Insight’ day has been held, and is aimed at more of a non-technical audience; managers, decision makers, architects etc.

I thought it was a great success, and was far better attended than I expected, with every seat full and standing room only. Great to see.

The panel discussion.

Some really interesting topics covered, with a very experienced panel. Mark Souza (SQL Server General Manager) and Guy Lucchi (CTO for the NHS project at CSC) were especially interesting. If anyone tries telling you that SQL Server doesn’t scale, tell them to get in touch with Guy – the sheer scale of the NHS project defies belief, and is all SQL Server…

The Woz!

One of the highlights for me was Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. He gave a fascinating talk about his history with electronics, and how it has led him to be involved with the Fusion IO team. If you’ve not heard of Fusion IO, go and look them up, they have some awesome kit for insanely fast storage systems. Very impressive.

Not just fast storage space…

Love this photo, tweeted by Aaron Bertrand. Is this the world’s most expensive iPhone charger?!

The Games.

On Thursday night, the Fusion IO guys put on the best SQLBits party yet. Not only can they give you really impressive IO stats, they can also give you a really impressive hangover… One of the highlights was the bucking bronco.

This is Nigel from Barclays Loans getting thrown off with an element of style! He won an X-Box for his troubles though!

Nigel has just been in touch to clarify a point… He did of course give his XBox to Kath (from innocent drinks) straight away as an act of gallantry. As he wonderfully put it: “All I got out of it is nasty bruising, a faulty thumb, and a good story”

And who says chivalry is dead?! Most admirable Nigel, you put the rest of us to shame as there’s no way I’m giving up my iPod!

Woz signed iPod!

I couldn’t resist having a go myself, and won an iPod signed by Steve Wozniak! Result.

The mandatory late night greasy spoon. Well, you need something to soak up the free bar!

One of my favourite parts of the conference is the people. It’s great to meet up with old colleagues, friends and clients, as well as putting faces to the twitterati and of course meeting some great new people.
The SQLCAT team.

Great to have Thomas Kejser and co from the SQL Customer Advisory Team. These guys know their stuff!

I have to confess, I did manage to sneak off for a few minutes and enjoy an ice cream on the beach… It would have been rude not to, I’m sure you’ll agree…
Friday night fun and games began with a game of giant Connect 4. I’m proud to say I managed a 4 game unbeaten run before having to quit on a high and head off to the speakers and sponsors meal.
The speakers and sponsors meal on Friday night
My conference room!

I gave two talks on the Saturday, one ‘lightning’ talk and one full hour session, both in this room. The lightning talks were a great success, lots of speakers both experienced and new, presenting a brief 5-15 minute session on something interesting. I was pleasantly surprised by the great turnout to these sessions, I hope they do more at the next SQLBits.

It’s not all about learning SQL stuff…

Jamie Thompson did a great job of recording some great impromptu videos which he’s uploaded to YouTube. One of his more amusing and random videos is of Allan Mitchell explaining the finer details of the espresso macchiato.

He also recorded a couple of me summarising my two sessions: here and here.

In summary, great venue, great conference, great sessions, great people.

See you all at SQLBits 9!