What I learned at Tulsa Tech Fest 2008


Tulsa Tech Fest is a ginormous cross-discipline tech event that drew over 800 people to two days of fun sessions at OSU-Tulsa.  I learned so much from so many different people that I can’t even begin to lay it all out, but I’m going to throw in the highlights here.

Tulsa developers “get” social media. During one of the keynotes, the speaker asked for a show of hands from everybody on Twitter, and something like 1 in 5 hands went up.  That’s way, way higher of a participation rate than I see when I ask that same question in other cities.  Then, add in the fact that Twitpic and Ping.fm are both born and raised in Tulsa.  Wow.

Ping.fm consists of two guys in Tulsa. Ping.fm is a service that broadcasts your status updates to all of the social networking sites you use – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and so on.  Post your update in one place, and boom, it goes out everywhere.  You can do updates via the web or via email, and if you attach a picture to your email, it handles that too.  Without Ping.fm, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my friends on so many different social networks.  It works so well and stays up so much more than Twitter that it’s hard to believe it’s done by only two guys.  I met @seamoss and he’s totally down-to-earth.  If I ever started a site that cool, I’d be full of myself.  Heck, I’m full of myself now, and all I have is a blog!  Caught you reading it, though.  Heh.

People still believe virtual servers are smoke and mirrors. I gave a session on VMware and Hyper-V to an audience of people who hadn’t done any work with either platform yet.  About halfway through, I could tell that it wasn’t resonating with the audience, so I stopped and asked, “Okay, wait, how many of you actually believe me that this stuff works?  That say, VMotion works?”  The only raised hands were from the two guys in the audience who’d already done large (200+ host) VMware deployments.  I had to drop out of the slide deck, remote desktop into my lab, and show it in action.  Even then, they still didn’t seem to believe it.  Folks, this stuff is for real, and it’s coming fast.

Mint.com is a free web-based replacement for Quicken. I used to love Quicken, but it’s such a manual pain in the rear.  Mint screen-scrapes your bank’s web site, automatically categorizes your expenses based on the business name, and saves you money by suggesting things like cheaper insurance.  I’m sold.

Chris Bernard is a hell of a presenter. He’s a user experience evangelist for Microsoft, and his design experience carries over to his presentations.  He doesn’t keep turning around and pointing at the slide deck.  He doesn’t go “Uhhh, well, kinda, like, you know.”  He just bangs out his points, and the slides serve to illustrate what he’s talking about in amazing ways.  You can’t get the experience by watching Chris’s keynote on Slideshare, because like a good presenter, he’s not reading bullet points off a screen.  He’s talking about concepts, and supporting images or quotes will pop up behind him, but if you just watch the screen you’re missing the point.  I have a new benchmark to aim for in my presentations.

People love Perfmon. I gave a session on performance tuning, ran right up against my time limit, and people wanted more.  There’s a strong desire to learn more about what specific Perfmon counters mean, and what actions you should take when those counters are high.

Profiler groupings & aggregates can be enabled on the fly. If you get the chance to see Red Gate’s Brad McGehee speak on Profiler, attend, because everybody can learn something.  I eat, breathe and sleep Profiler, and I still didn’t know that you could enable groupings while a profile was running.  He got a lot of oohs and aahs when he showed deadlock graphs too.

Telligent is building cool stuff with social networking inside companies. I use a lot of social networking tools like Twitter to communicate quickly with other SQL Server professionals, and it helps me get my job done faster and have more fun doing it.  Rob Howard of Telligent gave a great keynote on social networking in the enterprise, and everybody was nodding their heads.  The products just made sense.  I’m sure they’re hard to sell to older executives who don’t get the power of things like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn yet, but integrated social portals like Telligent’s will help the younger generation get their job done better.

I’m still not seeing an interest in SQL 2008. The vast majority of DBAs I talked to just weren’t interested in putting in the time and effort to do upgrades because the business didn’t see an ROI in it.  They like some of the new features, but they can’t justify the manpower cost.  They also liked a lot of the Enterprise-only features in 2008, and they weren’t sure that management would spring for Enterprise.  Interesting.

Jeremy Marx and David Walker are really nice guys. One of the side effects of using Twitter is that you end up with friends all over the globe who you’ve never actually seen before. I finally got the chance to shake hands with Jeremy & David and talk with ’em for a while, and they’re both great people.  I’ve met more cool people through Twitter in the last few months than I’ve probably met in real life the last 5 years!

I’ll be back next year. I had a great time, and I’m only scratching the surface of everything that happened.  If you’re anywhere near Tulsa, I highly recommend attending Tulsa Tech Fest.  At $2 or 2 cans of food, it’s the best IT conference bargain around.

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • I don’t suppose that they’ll be offering downloads of the presentations?

  • That’s not planned, but I have a trick up my sleeve there. I’m working with SQLServerPedia.com to deliver video recordings of the presentations we’ve done, and they’ll be available as podcasts around the launch of PASS. Really excited about that – I’ve got a ton of presentations that I’ve done.

  • Gregory Simmons
    October 14, 2008 4:29 pm

    Hey Brent. This was my first time at Tulsa Techfest and yeah you summed it up. There was too much learned there to begin to list out. I enjoyed your presentation, got free stuff, and had a ball meeting 800+ other people who like to get their geek on!


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