PASS Summit 2008: Day 3

November 21, 2008 at 8:33 pm (SQL Server 2008) (, )

Two speakers at the keynote. The first, some guy from Dell, whose name I didn’t catch, presented a few slides on something. The second presenter was Dr. DeWitt. It was one of those moments where I realized just how stupid I was. This man was scary smart. Not only that, he was witty. He went over parallel databases, shared nothing servers, and related technologies. He drilled down and defined the problems around developing a database that does parallel data storage. It was amazing. I can’t properly convey it (I’m flat out, not smart enough), but you should download that video and check it out. One of my favorite quotes from him was “Query Optimizers are fragile.” Don’t get him wrong. He praised the concept of optimizers, but he was pretty clear that they’re rather delicate, which is very true.

I next went to a Microsoft Database Developer Evaluation and breakout session. I’m not supposed to talk about things that were done there in detail, but suffice to say, it was fascinating to see, a little bit, how Microsoft thinks and some of the directions they were headed in. I’d like to do more of that. But, it was another one of those moments where I was probably the dumbest guy in the room. While I love going to PASS, it’s awfully humbling, several times a day.

Next session was Entity Framework Futures. It was good, but a bit dry and I’m very tired. I tried to keep good notes, but I just couldn’t. However, I liked the way the tool worked with relational databases, not object databases.

My vote for best session of the summit was next. Gail Shaw, MVP and one of the top posters over at SQL Server Central, gave a presentation she called “The Dirty Dozen.” It was a dozen query patterns that cause lots of problems. She should know since she answers more posts on SSC than just about anyone (Jeff Moden aside). I enjoyed it all and learned a bit. However, getting publicly spanked by Gail (verbally, verbally) was a bit of a shock. She called me on SELECT (*) vs. SELECT ([column name]), and rightly so. But it was all better in the end. This blog got a plug. Woo Hoo! She told a joke, repeated from Itzik Ben-Gan, that a good question is one that the presenter doesn’t know but an excellent question is one that’s on the next slide. There was a lot of discussion of what she presented and she had several other MVP’s in the audience with whom she interacted. It was great. Once again, I was one of the dumber people in the room (it was a big room, so claiming to be the dumbest might be presumptive). The discussion around collation’s affect on query times is pretty interesting. I’m going to have to do some research and experimentation on that one.

Final session of the day I went to Kevin Kline’s session on troubleshooting SQL Server. This is good stuff. I especially like that he put out real numbers.

This was a terrific PASS. In some ways, the best one I’ve been to (although, I think that’s partly because I presented). I got reunite with a bunch of great people that I had met at previous PASS Summits. I met people like R Barry Young, or Gail Shaw, and others, who I had only every interacted with through emails & newsgroups or posts here on the blog. I also met several Microsoft developers and other MVP’s and authors, all people that make or design or define the tools I work with. I’m tired as hell, but I can’t wait to get back to work and I can’t wait to come to PASS next year.

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Multi-Statement Table Value Function Alternative

November 21, 2008 at 1:41 pm (TSQL) (, , , )

I was talking with Andrew Novick at the PASS Summit. We ended up talking about multi-statement table valued functions. I was talking about how much the performance of these things is weak (to be kind). He agreed, but suggested an alertnative that might be worth further exploration, if you really think you need multi-statement UDFs. Andrew said that in his testing, using CLR offered a great alernative to using the UDF. I’m still pretty convinced that any type of programming you’re doing on the SQL Server end that requires a UDF or CLR is probably either just TSQL gone wrong (see Jeff Moden and the RBAR concept) or it’s something that doesn’t belong on the SQL Server but instead should be done on the application layer somewhere. Still, it is an option.

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PASS Board

November 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm (PASS) (, , )

The winners were the other guy, Lynda Rab and Andy Warren. Congratulations to all three.

I lobbied hard for one of the three winners, Andy, so my special congratulations go out to him. On the back of my laptop, as I type this, is the logo (probably due for a law-suit soon) of the SQLBatman. He lost his second PASS election in a row. However, he came through like a trooper and says he’s going to run again next year (go Susan Lucci, uh, I mean Tom).

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PASS Summit Day 2

November 21, 2008 at 1:19 pm (PASS) (, )

I only half listened to the key notes. The party’s the preceding night may have had something to do with it.

First session was with Kalen Delaney on Plan Guides. She didn’t really do plan guides though. Instead she talked about guiding plans. She is such a great presenter. I like her use of the language and precise definitions. Lubor Kollar (sp?) was in the room and made a point of standing up & addressing some of Kalen’s info.  My best take away was that plan guides (she covered those too) do not reduce compile time and can in fact increase compile time. Second best was the use of plan guides as a mechanism for testing since you can apply the guide, enable & disable, without rewriting the proc. Sessions like this are a big part of making the conference worth while.

Next session was Tom LaRock’s on Ops Manager. He picked on me from the podium several times, but since we were collaborating a bit (I slacked off on that and feel bad about it), I guess it’s fair. I loved hearing him say he starts his day looking at Ops Manager. I’m trying to get our system DBA’s to do the same thing. Interesting enough, he doesn’t use it for gathering performance metrics. That’s one of our main uses. His scripts around verifying backups are worth downloading.

I went down to a Microsoft session on tips and tricks from within Microsoft. There were a bunch of different presenters covering different topics. The frist half was very ineresting. The last half slacked off a bit for me (I just don’t have a need for mirroring, so spending time learning about implimentation tricks just doesn’t help me). Extended events for monitoring sounded pretty good. I’m going to have to check up on it. There was another session covering that in detail. I’ll track down the recording. Centeral Management Server was pretty cool too.

I bailed early on that and went to see Andy Leonard’s Unit Testing. He’s a great presenter. He covered the topic very well. The information he presented was great. I especially liked how he showed how to deal with scripts that would generate an error if run, which prevented you from using them as a test (referential integrity checks was the example). Check that one out.

The last session I went to was Joe Webb’s. Unfortunately his machine died right before the session started. I left. He apparently got a few things back together & presented. I’ll go back and watch the video.

In between and around the sessions, and of course, afterwards, I got the chance to talk to a lot of great people. I really like the networking possibilities of this place. If you’re attending PASS and you’re not talking to everyone you possibly can, you’re losing a huge part of the value of the place. I’ve been talking to Brad McGeehee (nicest guy, and scary smart), Michael Coles, Gail Shaw (ask her to tell you her scary Itanium stories, they’re great), Kathi Kellenburger (the recipient of the PASS PASSion award this year, many kudos), Steve Jones, Andy Warren (new PASS Board member, congrats, I’ll post something seperate on that one), Brent Ozar, TJBelt, Tim Ford, Jamie Laflen (one of the developers of Data Dude, it was so great to get the chance to bounce my ideas for his tool off him), more… I mean all these fantastic people who know so much more than I do and are so smart, and talented and helpful. You have to take the opportunity that PASS presents to talk to these guys.

[Update]
I originally typed Bob Ward instead of Joe Webb for the presenter who had the malfunction. I can only attribute the mistake to my own incompentence and being tired. Apologies. I updated the text.

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