One of the things that you should do is map out your "Learning Itinerary" before coming to the summit. It probably will change once you get onsite, but having a plan will save you time and perhaps some frustration. You can go to the Summit website and start to build your schedule.
When you arrive at registration to get your badge and other materials, you will also receive a Program Guide. This booklet has a lot of information about the entire event. It has a detailed description of each session, maps of the venue, and much more. We also have a Smart Phone App (iPhone, Android, Windows 7 Phone) that has much of this same information. The advantage of relying on the Smat Phone App is that it will have the latest information available (Session Changes, etc). More information on this later.
Each Session has a Session Code associated with it. Example: AD-104, BIA-303-S, DBA-302-M. There are 4 timeslots/day with up to 15 different choices; that's over 170 choices!
The first part identifies the Track the session is part of:
- AD = Application Development
- AZ = SQL Azure
- BIA = BI Architecture / Development
- BID = BI Deployment / Delivery
- DBA = Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment
- PD = Professional Development
The Second part indicates the Level that the session is aimed at. 100, 200, and so on.
The suffix is optional and may indicate several things to be aware of:
- S = Spotlight Session (These sessions are 90 minutes instead of 75)
- M= Microsoft (Presented by Microsoft)
- C = CSS (Presented by a Member of the CSS team from Microsoft)
- HD = Half-Day (3 hour session - NEW This Year!)
There are also a few sessions identified as "Lightning Talks" These sessions have a variety of speakers who give a brief 5 minute presentation. Lots of Fun and covers a multitude of subjects quickly. You won't be bored in here! I encourage you to attend at least one Lightning Talk during the summit. You never know what gems you can find in a 5 minute talk.
What happens if there is more than one session that you wish to attend? Can you be two places at once? No, but all sessions are being recorded and will be available usually a few weeks later via streaming. A DVD set may also be purchased by modifying your registration information or by ordering onsite.
Outside the session rooms, a sign will indicate what sessions are scheduled to be there and who is presenting. Some sessinos / speakers will have a special designation. Here are some terms that you may see and what it means:
- MVP - Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Awardee (This is a non-Microsoft person who eagerly shares knowledge about SQL Server with the community)
- MCM - Microsoft Certified Professional (Passed both a written and Lab Exam)
- SQLCAT - SQL Server Customer Advisory Team member (often weearing a SQLCAT shirt typically of a hideous color)
In the hallways and lunch rooms, you will also see people with a Red Vest on. These people are playing the role of a PASS Ambassador. These people are Alumni Attendees who simply want to help you have a better experience at the summit. They can help you with Finding a Session room, Reading the Program Guide, Getting you in touch with the right resource, or just about anything else.
The Session Rooms are setup "Theater Style" - Rows of chairs beside one another (no tables). You will notice that each session room will have several reserved seats for Amabassadors. Ambassadors often come in late or leave a little early and need easy access to alleviate any disruption to the speaker.
Each Room also has a Room Monitor. These people work for the convention center. They are charged with:
- Enforcing Capacity Restrictions / Fire Code
- Enforcing Security for Entry to the Session Rooms by checking badges
- Counting Attendees / Providing a 5 minute warning to the speaker
- Collection Paper Evaluations
Room Monitors are helpful too - especially with questions about the facility. Amabassadors are a better resource for questions relating to PASS or the summit in general.