I will be at the MySQL Conference in Santa Clara in a few weeks in the middle of April. This will be my fourth time there. Gear6 is going to be there as a sponsor, and some of my coworkers will be presenting, and I will probably share some stage time with them as they do.
My first time, was my first time. I was still working solo, as an independent. I met many MySQL-sphere people who are now personal friends, as well as being industry peers and contacts. I gave the talk that "put me on the map", for a project that was my opportunity to learn about distributed version control, cloud computing, Amazon Web Services, MySQL internals, and MySQL storage engines. I would look at the presentation schedule, and usually not even understand the titles.
My second year, I was working as part of MySQL Professional Services. My presentation was about MySQL User Defined Functions. The major buzz was "What will Sun do?". The technology arising that I was the most aware of was Memcached. One of the first memcached hackathons happened. The business thing I became aware of was Rackspace's gearing up to enter the cloud computing space. I learned later that the seeds of Drizzle DB germinated there. I would look at the presentation titles, and wish I could attend more presentations, because I could learn from almost all of them.
My third year, last year, I was working on Sun Cloud. The major buzz was "What will Oracle do?" and about the separate Percona conference and similar political/personal stuff. The tech buzz was about Drizzle DB. I would look at the presentation titles, and realize I could teach most of the presentations myself, and so focused mainly on network and on the "hallway track".
It will be fun to see what this year brings.