Who You Learn From

October 25, 2010 at 9:01 am (PASS) (, , , )

Less than two weeks to go until the PASS Summit. I’m excited. I’ve managed to cram a ton of activities into this Summit, more than ever before. But, I’m still going to try to go to a few sessions. The question asked, which sessions are you going to? Who do you want to learn from. Who can you learn from?

I’ve got a pretty simple answer. Everybody. There’s not a single person that I work with on my current team that I haven’t learned something from. Sure, there are those that teach you tons and tons, for example, we have a fantastic SSIS guy on our team, that has taught me quite a lot, faster than I could have picked it up on my own.

So, you’re going to the PASS Summit. Is your plan to hit just the big name people? If so, you’re messing up. You can learn from everybody. I’m not saying don’t go to the big name sessions, heck I will, but I’m saying you need to look around at more than just names. Now, that said, before I tell you the people who’s sessions I’m going to, I want to give you one important piece of advice. If you go into a session and within 5-10 minutes you can tell that session isn’t for you, get up & leave. Go to another one, or start chatting people up out in the hallway or down at the PASS booth. Don’t waste your time.

I already listed a number of sessions that I thought were must sees. Unfortunately, I won’t be making it to many of them. I’m pretty busy, presenting on Tuesday & Wednesday and at one of the Lightening Rounds on Thursday. I’m also going to work the Ask the Experts area for the first time ever (please, don’t stop by to play “Stump the Chump.” I know you guys know more than I do. I’m just trying to help) Thursday afternoon. Here are some other sessions that should have made my list, that I plan on attending.

 Tuesday afternoon I’m absolutely going to make it to Aaron Nelson’s (blog|twitter) session on PowerShell, The Dirty Dozen. I saw him present at SQL Saturday in Raliegh. This guy is good. You may not know his name, but I promise, if you’re getting started in PowerShell, or even if you’ve been working with it for a while, you’re going to learn from him. I’ll probably hit a couple of other sessions on Tuesday too.

On Wednesday afternoon there’s a total embarassment of riches. I want to go to four different sessions right after lunch. I’m leaning towards the one on Professional Development Plans, but I’m not sure I want to miss the one Troubleshooting SSRS Performance or the Incredible Shrinking Execution Plan. After that, probably, because of a new emphassis on SSRS where I work, Cooking with SSRS. The last session of the day is easy, Kimberly Tripp’s (blogTales From the Trenches.

Thursday morning is open, assuming I’m still on my feet. I’ll probably hit DBA MythBusters. That’s also assuming that after listening to Dr. Dewitt my brain isn’t completely stuff full. If you only make one keynote, make it Thursday morning’s.

This is going to be an excellent summit. For the names I left out, for the sessions I didn’t mention, I could just list the entire summit schedule and tell you to go to all of them. I’d be willing to bet there are very few, if any, that you won’t learn from. Like I said, everyone can teach you something. Figure out which ones are best for you and go to them. See you there.

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Kilt Day at the PASS Summit

October 20, 2010 at 4:52 pm (PASS) (, , , , )

Last year, with the infinite power at my disposal (read, zero), I declared Wednesday, Kilt Wednesday at the PASS Summit. It took off… a little ways. Three people wore kilts. Now, you’d think that three out of 3000 would almost not get noticed, but the three people wearing them… well, each for different reasons, we stand out in a crowd. Heck, I was even told one of us looked good in the kilt (wasn’t me, of course). Anyway, where was I, oh yeah, we were noticed (and it might be because I jumped up on the bloggers table during one of the the key notes…) and now, this year, LOTS of people are planning on wearing kilts on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010.

If you don’t have a kilt, don’t panic. You can always run down the street to Utilikilt, who has their headquarters right there in Seattle. There are lots of other sources. You don’t want to miss out, this year. It’s going to be fun. Follow the hashtag #sqlkilt on Twitter to keep up to date on what’s happening.

Also, Wednesday is the Women In Technology lunch. So, you can get extremely creative and supportive WIT you should track down Jenn McCown (blog|twitter) and get one of her cool t-shirts.

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

October 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm (PASS) (, , , )

I’ve got a couple of more sessions before the big two at the PASS Summit. Tomorrow night, October 20th, I’ll be speaking at the Southern New England Network Users Group on SQL Server Best Practices. It’s the first time I’ve talked on this topic, so it might be fun to watch. After that I’m previewing one of my two Summit presentations for Brian Knight (blog|twitter) and Pragmatic Works in a webinar on Identifying and Fixing Performance Problems Using Execution Plans. Go here to register.

After that, it’s off the PASS Summit.

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Working the Door

October 14, 2010 at 8:00 am (PASS) (, , )

You know those guys that work the door at clubs, seperating the wheat from the chaff, culling the herd, Choosing the Slain, sifting the gold from the dross, telling the difference between the sheep and the goats, winnowing out the weak, tipping the scales of justice… you know, the guys taking tickets. Well, this year, I get to do that job at the SQL Server Central party at the PASS Summit.

That’s right, I’ve been given absolute power, the keys to the kingdom, control of the list… you get the point. And best of all, while I was offered money, fame, power & women, I bargained for more and I got it. I’ll be wearing one of those nifty Hawaiian shirts (Friday shirts) we always see Steve & Andy sporting. HA! And my wife won’t let me negotiate with used car salesmen. Now I’ll finally get some respect.

Anyway, see you at the SQL Server Central party, opening night at the PASS Summit, right after the official Welcome shindig.

Remember, registration code SSC2010 or $30 at the door.

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PASS Summit Birds of a Feather Lunch

October 13, 2010 at 11:18 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

The absolute biggest part of the PASS Summit is the one thing that most people don’t take advantage of, networking. And no, I don’t mean glad-handing everyone you meet, remembering all their names (although that is a good skill to have) and saying over & over again “Rush Chairman, damn glad to meet you.” I mean taking advantage of the fact that you can talk to people that have already solved the problem that you’re facing at work, or just might have some insight into that issue, or maybe you can give them insight into a problem they’re facing. I’m mean, talking to people.

Yeah, I know, we’re all geeks, and worse than that, data geeks. That means we like to sit in dark little caves & grumble about our fellow man having WAY too much access to the data we’ve been sworn to protect. I’m with you. But, you’ve made the decision to go the PASS Summit. You’re there. All over the place are your fellow data geeks. And look at that, some of them are talking to each other. You can too. In fact, you should.

So, how do you break the ice? Here’s a suggestion. When you go to lunch on Tuesday, look for the Birds of a Feather tables. Each one will have a different topic, hosted by someone who knows at least a little about that topic, or is just really excited about discussing that topic. Sit down (you don’t need permission, it’s implied), introduce yourself and dive into the topic. Ask questions. Answer questions. At least say hi before you sit there and listen. You’re in. You’ve just made the leap. Welcome to networking. Now, find out where the party is for Tuesday night and you can do some more.

I’ll be hosting a table on the topic “T-SQL Tuning & Optimization.” If you’re interested in that topic, please, sit down & talk. Oh, I might be a minute or two late. I’m presenting right before lunch. Save me a chair, just in case.

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SQL Saturday New England: The New Date

October 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, )

The real world can get in the way of important things like SQL Saturday. In the case of SQL Saturday New England, the original date was the same time as the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, that means that Boston’s somewhat limited hotel space will be tweaked. Rather than try to compete with that, we moved the date. Please mark it as April 2nd, 2011.

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SQL Saturday in New England

October 4, 2010 at 9:41 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , , )

Adam Machanic (blog|twitter) has put on a SQL Saturday/Data camp event in New England for the last two years. I’ve helped him both years. It’s been very successful. In January we had over 300 attendees, making it one of the larger SQL Saturday events. But, with a single exception (thank you Tim Ford (blog|twitter)), we’ve only had local speakers. Mind you, we’re somewhat lucky with speakers here in New England and have several MVPs and others who are truly excellent when presenting.

I’m taking over from Adam to lead the effort for this year, and due to my schedule we’re moving the event to the spring sometime. We were thinking about maybe making it the the weekend before SQL Rally. But, I’ve got a question for all of you who present at SQL Saturday events. Will you show up? Will you be more, or less, likely to come if it’s near SQL Rally. Will you be likely to come, period, full stop? While I strongly believe Adam has put on a magnificent show for two years running, for some reason we just haven’t received the community lovin’ that the other SQL Saturday events have had. Since I’m the one in charge (although Adam is still pitching in, and I’m getting help from the magnificent Mike Walsh (blog|twitter)), I’d like to make it as good a show as Adam has, so I need the other great presenters to show up, in addition to our fantastic local talent.

Comments, suggestions, questions, feedback?

PS: I hate asking questions like this on the blog, but I’m trying to collect some information so I can make a decision. Feedback is a gift, so if you want skip buying me a present for Yule this year, post a comment.

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SQL Saturday 46 (#sqlsat46) Recap

September 20, 2010 at 9:48 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

I was privileged to be able to attend and present at SQL Saturday 46 in Raleigh, NC, this last weekend. It was a great collection of people presenting some amazing stuff. I want to say, right off, I think this is the best SQL Saturday event I’ve been to. I say that despite the fact that I’ve helped put on a SQL Saturday. I also say that despite the fact that my sample size on SQL Saturday’s is fairly low. I’ve only been to three (including the one I put on).

You have to understand, the people who put on #sqlsat46, the Triangle SQL Server Users Group, did an absolutely outstanding job. They had clearly done the early work of getting sponsorships and organizing. This weekend, all that early work was on evidence. They had speaker shirts AND they had volunteer shirts. You could always tell who to talk to when you had questions. There was excellent signage, including signs on every door for all the sessions that were taken down as sessions finished, so you could tell which sessions were coming up and didn’t have to try to figure out what time it was or anything. The speaker dinner was at an EXCELLENT restaraunt called The Pit in downtown Raleigh. Sandra, the amazingly hard working volunteer responsible for the speakers did an simply wonderful job of making sure we had everything we needed to get our presentations off without a hitch. On top of that, she was really funny and fun to hang out with. There was a shuttle to get the speakers from our hotels to the speakers dinner & back. The food was excellent at breakfast & lunch and there was plenty of it. They even had an afternoon snack. They gave away a ton of excellent prizes. It was just a very well run event and a real pleasure to take part in it.

I can offer up but one criticism, and it’s pretty minor. The facilities were a little bit weak. First off, they were rather confusing to get around in and at one point Tom Larock (blog|twitter) and I got locked into a hallway that we couldn’t get out of. A little pounding on a door got someone’s attention and we were rescued (before I had to kill & eat Tom). The rooms that most of the sessions were in had an orientation such that entering or leaving the room required you to walk right in front of the speaker, so it was hard to show up late or leave early without being very disruptive. But, that’s it. Other than those two, minor, weaknesses, the facilities were nice, clean, well appointed, comfortable… you get the point.

As to people… Wow! Is the best thing I can say. I went to excellent sessions, one each by Andrew Kelly (blog|twitter) and Aaron Nelson (blog|twitter). I got to talk to and hang out with Andy Leonard (blog|twitter), Tom Larock, Allen White (blog|twitter), Tim Chapman (blog|twitter), Kevin Boles (twitter), Geoff Hiten (blog|twitter), Jessica Moss (blog|twitter), Eric Humphrey(blog|twitter)… yeah, look at that list. I’m not dropping names, I’m just in awe of who I got to talk to and I’m not listing everyone that was there. These guys at Triangle SQL pulled together an amazing group of people to present. The networking opportunities were just excellent. I got to meet a lot of new people too. Special shout out to Eli Weinstock-Herman (blog|twitter) who I met for the first time, ever, and had a great conversation with at the after party (along with Allen and a bunch of other guys).

I presented two things. A session on Red Gate’s excellent new piece of software, SQL Source Control. The room was full, the people were engaged and I had a great time. I hope everyone enjoyed the presentation. I also presented a preview of one of my presentations for the 2010 PASS Summit. Unfortunately I had spent most of my rehearsal time getting ready for 24 Hours of PASS, so I didn’t rehearse adequately for this session. I just didn’t do as good a job as I’m capable of. I’ll work on it some more and get it polished up for the Summit. But it was well received, so hopefully people got some good from it. That’s sure the goal.

To sum up, great people, great place, great opportunity. Thank you, very much to Jimmy, Brent, Sandra and all the rest of the magnificent people at Triangle SQL who put this show on. You guys should be damned proud of a job well done.

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Upcoming Presentations: #24HOP & #SQLSAT46

August 30, 2010 at 8:53 am (PASS) (, , , , )

Blogging has been a bit quiet of late. That’s because I’ve been spending a lot my spare time getting ready for presentations that I have to give. Two of them are in about two weeks.

First, and this one is going to be a big deal, is 24 Hours of Pass: Summit Preview. At the PASS Summit this year I have two spotlight sessions, both on tricks and tools for tuning queries, one on using execution plans and the other on using DMVs. Since the 24HOP presentation is supposed to be a lead-in to the PASS presentations, I decided that before you started tuning queries, you need to know which queries to tune. The presentation is titled: Identifying Costly Queries. I understand there are already nearly 2000 people registered. Let’s see if we can break LiveMeeting on September 15th. And please, try to break LiveMeeting for all the other sessions too. 24HOP this year is spanning two days, plus another four hours, so it’s really 28 Hours of PASS. There are going to be some fantastic sessions by great presenters.

Second, and I’m very excited about this one too, I’m travelling for the first time (not counting driving the car) to a SQL Saturday event. Red Gate, wonderful people that they are, have sponsored my trip to SQL Saturday #46 in Raleigh, NC, on the 18th of September. I’ll be doing an initial run through of my PASS Summit session on using execution plans to tune queries. If you can’t make the Summit this year, but you can make it to Raleigh, this is your chance to see this session. Check out the schedule for this SQL Saturday. It’s going to be a huge deal. I see a whole bunch of MVP’s and authors who are going to be giving you their best stuff. I’ll also be doing a lunch time session on some Red Gate tools (have to pay for the trip). The software they released in the spring is SQL Source Control. It’s a pretty amazing bit of programming that works within SQL Server Management Studio to get your database into source control (and if you’re not using source control with your databases, time to start).

Between getting these, and other, presentations together, working on books (tech edited one, working on chapters on another, getting ready to rewrite the Execution Plans book), actually spending time with my family, oh, and going to work (note, I didn’t say working), my blog posts have suffered a bit. I’ll get back on the stick very soon. Hopefully before Tom updates his blog listings.

If you attend any of the in-person events  where I’ll this fall (and I’m going to four, SQL Saturday #46, New England Code Camp #14, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday #59), please look me up. Say hello. These events are all about networking and building community. The people that go and present expect you to stop them in the hall and talk to them. That’s what this community stuff is all about. Meeting people and making connections.

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PASS Elections

August 23, 2010 at 9:39 am (PASS) (, , )

There are a lot of things I’d like to say about the PASS elections. I was on vacation last week when the news about the slate of candidates broke. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions thinking about this, which is funny, because, really, what does it matter? But, because of the people, and let’s face it, PASS is nothing without the people involved, it does matter. But, I’ve decided to say as little as possible because I’m not convinced I can add constructively to the conversation and that is what is most needed at this time.

First, I want to endorse a few candidates. The people I’m going to endorse, I’m endorsing because I know them personally. I’ve worked with them, I’ve talked to them, I’ve read their stuff. I know these guys. None of this is to question the other people on the slate, their abilities or character, but these are the ones that I can personally recommend. So, I suggest you vote for, in no particular order, Andy Warren (blog|twitter), Allen Kinsel (blog|twitter) and Geof Hiten (blog|twitter).

Finally, the one person I would have liked to have endorsed, because he’s the guy who got me involved with the SQL Server community, who gave me chances to write, who always promoted the Summit, who gave away SQL Saturday to the PASS organization, who has acted in many ways that are positive for our community… well, anyway, I can’t endorse him because he’s not on the slate. I’ve heard the explanations for why that’s true and I still don’t understand it. But, since he’s taking the high road on this, I’ll follow along and refrain from further comment.

Be sure, if you’re eligible, that you vote in the PASS elections. This stuff can be important if you care about the community and the people involved.

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