Last night kicked off the Spring DevConnections show in Orlando, Florida.  It's kind of like the Oscars for the SQL world.  The who's who of SQL is certainly here and the best part is you can, not only rub shoulders with the experts, you can walk up and ask them questions. I ran into Gert Drapers (aka Data Dude) who had just arrived after a week in Mexico with his family. We were both getting a late dinner and I got to hear some great stories from him, including his experience of converting the London Stock Exchange to SQL Server. Very cool.  Gert has five sessions at this year’s conference.

You can actually meet and talk to some of our long-time authors, Brian Moran and Itzik Ben-Gan. There is a schedule of there informal talk sessions at the Solid Quality Learning booth. Don't miss this opportunity to meet these SQL experts, they are truly wonderful people. Folks who attended the pre-conference workshops spent the day listening, learning, and having questioned answered by Kim Tripp and Itzik Ben-Gan, two of our favorites here at SQL Server Magazine. Both of them have articles in our latest issue that you received in your conference bag.

The evening kicked off with the keynote speakers including Scott Guthrie talking about "Building Next-Generation Web Solutions Using ASP.NET AJAX Technologies" and the tools being developed for building more interactive applications.  These tools will bring the designer and the developer together in application development. This is a big win for all parties. Christian Kleinerman talked about the explosion in digital data storage, which promises to see exponential increases year over year. You can probably catch some of this on video at the SSWUG site since their film crew was front and center filming last night. They'll also be recording sessions for playback on their site.

The highlight of the evening was the opening of the floorshow and the dessert reception (desserts go over well with techies-as well as beer and wine). Once the flurry of card stamping (to win the Harley Davidson) passed, and evaluating who has the best 'goodies' to haul back to the office (I even ran into Shirley's parents filling their bags!), people started to get serious about connecting with the vendors who can answer some of their pressing issues with current development projects.  Our booth is premiering the launch of three new IT Pro websites for Office, SharePoint and .NET. These sites will be launching next month to provide three of the most comprehensive websites for learning about and connecting with the SharePoint, Office, and .NET communities. I talked to several attendees last night who are embarking on or in the initial development of the their first SharePoint implementation.

Which brings me to the final comments today.
The best part of these shows is the opportunity to talk face-to-face with our readers. Like the couple who came in on the plane and shuttle bus with me from Minneapolis (yes, I came to Orlando from Denver via Minneapolis - spring break you know). Then there was Russell Bloom, who might recognize from the forums. He asked if I was the Diana May who posts - busted! You may even see a byline from Russell in a future Reader to Reader. And there was the woman who is here from Romania via Michigan who stopped for information on ASP.NET. Thanks to all for taking the time to share your feedback on the magazine and our website. I look forward to talking to many more of our readers over the next couple of days. I'll be at the booth (look for the orange construction cones) and at sessions. I'll have my SQL Server Magazine and WindowsITPro shirt, so come up and say hello.  We have the best readers in the world and with your input; we'll get even better! See you at the show or online.

Diana