Speaking at SQL Saturday Manchester

I was surprised to find it within me to submit a session abstract to SQL Saturday 645 in Manchester. Not to mention delighted when my session on SQLOS scheduling got chosen.

This will be my first time speaking at a SQL Saturday, so I’m pretty excited about the experience. The plan is to cover some fundamentals, revisit a few things I have blogged about, and add bits that have probably never been covered anywhere before.

What can possibly go wrong if I get up on stage? Here endeth the SQL section of this blog post.

This can possibly go wrong when I get up on stage

In a previous life, I spent 7.5 years as a cruise ship musician, first playing in a lounge band, then moving to the show band. I ended up as music director, leading the show band from the piano, and vaguely responsible for supervising and scheduling all music around the ship. Fortunately the latter mostly involved letting people do what they’re good at, and I wasn’t in a position of any responsibility during the below incident.

Back in the mists of early 2001, I worked on a ship that was doing a series of musical theme cruises. One particular cruise was really juicy: the star attraction was a Frank Sinatra impersonator, and our normal 7-piece band got expanded to a 20-piece big band for the occasion. The act was great, the stage was satisfyingly full, and those classic arrangements were a joy to play.

The full show early in the week was over, and regular entertainment went on as usual, except that the star singer was doing a short segment in a variety show on the last night: a magician to open, the singer in the prime spot, and then a short production number from the dance cast.

In line with dinner, which was split between two seatings, shows were done twice each night, at 20:30 and then again at 22:15. Except for the last night, when the second seating had an early 18:45 show before their meal.

Somehow it never occurred to anyone to explicitly mention the flipped showtimes to the headliner. No big deal when we didn’t see his face before curtain up, because he still had twenty minutes to get backstage. But around this time we started asking whether he knows about the early show. Frantic phone calls were made, and towards the end of the magician’s act someone managed to get him on the phone after he just stepped out of the shower.

With one minute to go, and the hope that he can get dressed and ready in three more, the cruise director shouted at the band to play something – anything – while we figure out what to do. The cast was roused from their backstage lazing and told they might have to go on in two.

It was around this point where things completely fell apart. Like any production deployment, stage management works on reasonable certainty and a pre-arranged set of cues. Improvisation rarely has a happy ending.

Keeping a token brave face, the cruise director did a hand-over to the band, who figured we may as well play “A-train” and see where it goes. And the curtain opened up as a half-naked dancer frantically ran across the stage, trailing bits of costume.

The singer turned up a minute after the production cast finished their bit, culminating with the stage being littered with the disgorged content of streamer cannons and unfit for further use. The cruise director, having completely lost the erstwhile brave face, had by then walked on to tell the audience that this was indeed it, and could they please swallow their disappointment as they fill in their feedback forms rating the week’s experience.

The curtain resolutely stayed down. Muffled swearing could be heard backstage. Fingers pointed impotently.

The good news

None of this will happen at SQL Saturday Manchester. I have learned about the dangers of confetti cannons, I will turn up on time, and I probably won’t be in drag.

But if you are interested in the gubbins of context switching, what a SystemThreadDispatcher really does for a living, and you don’t live too far away, do drop by.

2 thoughts on “Speaking at SQL Saturday Manchester”

    1. Challenge accepted, Kevin! I’ll be seeing you at PASS Summit, and continuing to marvel at your ability to remember names.

      All the best,
      Ewald

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