Greetings all. I just had a fascinating week. I was invited to go give a talk at the SQLBits conference in London, England and I flew over on Wednesday/Thursday for a talk on Friday. I was supposed to leave on Saturday but found myself stranded until the following Wednesday due to volcanic ash in the air (or at least the fear of too much ash in the air :)).
I was very happy to get a chance to talk to SQL Server customers – I always learn something about the product by going to events like this.
I thought I’d post a few small thoughts about the conference that are not strictly technical since the experience was noteworthy to say the least.
First, a big thank you to the 250+ people who came to listen to my talk on how the Query Optimizer works in SQL Server. It makes a red-eye flight worthwhile when you get that kind of turnout.
Second, a small note on the room – it was in a building called “Church House” which is right near Big Ben and Parliament. Here is a picture of the session room:
The next thing I noticed was some writing on the wall:
So, I was speaking where Parliament met during WW2. This set some high expectations for me, and while I love my job I don’t think that my topic has the same gravity. I will say that it was quite humbling.
So what does one do when stuck in a foreign country by volcanic ash? Well, you go do things of course! I went to the British Museum and saw the Rosetta Stone, an Easter Island Statue, and parts of the Parthenon.
I went to visit some of my relatives who live in England (who also happened to have a washer and dryer :)).
I went to the birthday party of one of my cousin’s children – a rare treat.
Then I decided to go to Cambridge. Microsoft has a research group there and I gave a technical talk to a group of researchers on how the search framework in SQL Server works (not the same talk as I give to user groups). I spent two days learning about all sorts of interesting research topics and seeing what parts of the university there looks like (the short answer is “really nice”):
I am happy to be back and with my family – my wife deserves a break. Overall, I was pretty lucky to be stuck in England – I hope that the people stuck in airports get home soon.
I will be posting various answers to the questions I got onto the blog in the coming days. You guys sure did send me a lot of mail 🙂