I had a chance to go to three in-person conferences this year: SQL Saturday Orlando, Live! 360 (also in Orlando), and the Microsoft Azure + AI Conference in Las Vegas. Here are a few stray thoughts from these events.

  • SQL Saturday Orlando was the SQL Saturday in the US last year. There were a few other virtual events (like Data Saturday/SQL Saturday Los Angeles), but Orlando was the only in-person SQL Saturday in the United States in the year 2021. A regular SQL Saturday Orlando gets about 500-600 people. This one had about 70 people, so a big dropoff. I definitely appreciate Andy Warren’s work, as well as the rest of the SQL Saturday Orlando crew. Andy has a bigger write-up, which I highly recommend.
  • Next up was Live! 360, also in Orlando this year. 2019 was my first Live! 360, so n=2 on my observations. It felt like there were probably about 30-40% as many people in 2021 as I saw in 2019, but they did offer a hybrid live and virtual experience, so there could have been more people watching the streams instead of being in the rooms.
  • The last conference I spoke at was the SQL Server & Azure SQL Conference, part of DEVintersection. This is my first DEVintersection, so no estimates on how it compares size-wise to prior years, but there looked to be a couple thousand people at the event, so a pretty good-sized number of attendees spread across the MGM Grand conference center.
  • As far as timing goes, I kind of wish I’d spent an extra day in Orlando and one or two fewer days in Las Vegas. I was there for about 4 days in Orlando for Live! 360 and that was 100% conference. For DEVintersection, I arrived on a Saturday and left the following Saturday. The weather was beautiful on Sunday, so I went for a long walk and found a place selling arepas off the strip. That was definitely nice, though the conference didn’t start in earnest for me until Tuesday. By the time I attended a post-conference workshop on Friday, I was officially done with people for a while—there’s nothing wrong with you fine folks, but a week of being around crowds really brings out the hermit in me. I think I could have taken a red-eye on Thursday night, skipped the post-con on Friday, and been a little better for it. But then I would have missed out on Din Tai Fung with some great people and that would have been a shame.
  • I’m pretty sure airlines have gotten worse since I last flew regularly. With SQL Saturday Orlando, my flight from Charlotte to Raleigh was cancelled the night before and they wanted to fly me back at 5 AM on Monday. Instead, I ended up booking a direct flight home on another airline and eating the cost. Getting to Orlando for Live! 360, we experienced a flight delay on the CLT to MCO leg of the route, though at least that didn’t upset plans too greatly and the return trip was smooth. For DEVintersection, the trip back was a mess, as my flight from Las Vegas to Charlotte was delayed repeatedly, to the point that I asked my wife to pick me up in Charlotte because there was no way I’d be able to make my Charlotte to Raleigh flight in time and they were trying to re-book me on a flight the next day and I didn’t want to mess with that. The kicker was that when I reached the airport, my flight to Raleigh was delayed due to weather so I actually could have made it in time. That’s 2 out of 3 trips with a major impact causing me to spend extra money (in the first case) and time (in the second case). Not great.
  • I am definitely excited about attending a few more in-person events in 2022, except for the whole “travel to and from” bit.
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