PASS 2010 Submissions

June 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , , )

Since all the cool kids seem to be posting the sessions that they submitted to the PASS Summit, nerd that I am, I’ll follow along and do the same. I submitted four sessions, two by invitation for a Spotlight session and two for regular sessions. I tried to branch out a bit from where I’ve been in the past to see if I can start talking about different topics. With that in mind, the first session was: Spatial Data: The Business Case

We’ve all seen the cool presentations showing all the pizza joints near the conference center or all the bicycle shops on a biking route, but what’s the case for spatial data and business? This session sets out to show how spatial data can be of interest to almost any business that has more than one location to worry about. Are weather events or natural disasters affecting your locations? Without the ability to precisely map them, how can you know? Is your new building on a flood plain? If you’re planning a visit to a customer, are there other customers near by that you could also visit? The session focuses on a business case for using spatial data, but it also shows some of the technical means that spatial data can use to solve those cases using the spatial data type, Microsoft Bing Maps and Reporting Services.

The next “different” session was: Database Deployment in the Real World

Deploying databases can be a difficult challenge. This session will provide a general approach to database development and database deployment that seeks to alleviate the issues around getting databases deployed. There will be general methods on display, such as the use of source control as a part of database development, and scripting methods for production deployments. There will also be specific methods using a variety of tools to meet this deployment methodology. Tools from Microsoft, such as Visual Studio and the DTA, and various 3rd party vendors will be demonstrated. The goal of the session will be to provide mechanisms for attendees to apply to their own databases in order to arrive at a safer and more reliable deployment process.

After that I went back to my usual topics: Identifying and Fixing Performance Problems using Execution Plans

This session will demonstrate how SQL Server execution plans can be used to identify problems with the database design, or the TSQL code, and address those problems. The session takes the user through various common issues such as poor or missing indexes, badly written code and generally bad query performance, demonstrating how to identify the issues involved using execution plans. The session will then demonstrate different methods for addressing the issues and show how the fixed query’s execution plans differ. Multiple methods for accessing execution plans including graphical, DMV’s, and trace events are demonstrated. All this is meant to lay a foundation for a general troubleshooting approach to empower the attendee to make their own queries run faster and more consistently.

And even recycled a session from last year, again, as an experiment: DMV’s as a Shortcut to Procedure Tuning

Dynamic Management Views (DMV) expose a wealth of information to the database administrator. However, they also expose information that is vital to the database developer. More often than not people gather performance metrics through server side traces. This session will show how to gather information from the DMVs for currently executing, and recently executed queries. The session will demonstrate combining this information with other DMVs to get more intersting information such as the query plan and query text. I’ll show where you can get aggregate information for the queries in cache to determine which queries are being frequently accessed or using the most resources. I’ll show how to determine which indexes are being used in your system and which are not. All of this will be focused, not on the DBA, but on the query writer, the developer or database developer that needs information to tune and troubleshoot data access. 

There are absolutely glorious sessions that have been submitted this year (and if you haven’t looked them over, you should). The competition is going to be fierce, which will make for an excellent Summit.

Oh, and don’t forget that Wednesday is Kilt Day at the Pass Summit.

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The SQL Server Community

April 14, 2010 at 8:53 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , )

I attended, and spoke at, the inaugural meeting of the Seacoast SQL Server User’s group last night. There were about 60 people in attendance. An excellent turn-out and congratulations go out to Mike Walsh (blog | twitter) and the other organizers.

I was curious about something after watching Mike present the PASS monthly slide-deck. He asked how many people were PASS members. Approximately a third of the audience raised their hands. When it was my turn to speak, I asked how many people had heard of Buck Woody (blog | twitter). I was honestly shocked when only about 6 people raised their hands. Then I asked how many had heard of Paul Randal (blog | twitter). This time I had about 9-12 people. Finally, I asked about Brent Ozar (blog | twitter) and only had about 4-6 people raise their hands.

Today I was reading the minutes from the PASS Board meeting from March. Oh, as an aside, well done, thank you, and hearty congratulations to the board for performing this act of openness. In it, they were talking about, what else, the SQL Server Community.

It got me thinking. When I say “community” in referring to the people that use SQL Server, a lot of the times, I’m talking about the vocal and visible people, the PASS board, Brent Ozar, Buck Woody, Paul Randal, Denny Cherry (blog | twitter), I can keep going, all the bloggers I read, all the tweeters/twitterers/whatever that I follow, all the posters at SQL Server Central (especially those on The Thread) and at Ask.SQLServerCentral.com… You get the point. Even with that little list there, I’m leaving out people that I like and admire and learn from. But you know what, most of those people, know who Buck Woody is. Most of those people know who Paul Randal is. Yeah, most of them even know who Brent Ozar is (probably). But, based on my completely un-scientific survey, that’s only about 10-15% of all the SQL Server users out there, at the most 20%.

On the one hand, you can say, “Oh crud. We’re only hitting 10-15% of the users despite busting our behinds writing blog posts, tweeting, answering questions on forums, presenting at user groups, SQL Saturday events, PASS Summits, Connections. I might as well get a case of botulism.” And it could be disheartening. On the other hand, you could say, “Holy crud, we can grow this community three or four times and still not even be hitting half of all the SQL Server users out there. Oh boy, I’m going to blog more, tweet more, write more books…” because our growth potential is HUGE!

So, to the board of PASS I say, again, thanks for posting the minutes, and thank you for your hard work. You guys have fantastic opportunities in front of you. Good luck. To all the bloggers, tweeters, posters, presenters & authors, and my friends that fit many or all those categories, what are you doing right now? We’ve got a market to penetrate. Stop lolly-gagging and get to work.

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24 Hours of PASS v2.0

April 6, 2010 at 10:29 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

The kids over at the Professional Association of SQL Server Users have done it again. They’re hosting 24 Hours of PASS: Celebrating SQL Server 2008 R2. That’s 24 hours of free training by top names in the business, providing you with the information you want and need. I’m not presenting this year (I may cry), but who cares. This is going to be a great chance to get some serious learning. I’m sure going to attend as many sessions as I can. First one that I’ve already got marked is Andy Leonard’s on database development patterns. That’s a topic that’s near & dear to my heart.

So follow the link, look the offerings over, and register right away.

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Location of the PASS Summit Follow-up

March 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm (PASS) (, , )

I got a little distracted after lunch and was reading through some of the various bloggers reactions to the decision to keep the Summit in Seattle for the forseeable future. I enjoyed Brent Ozar’s take on the situation, but the thing that struck me square in the eyes and inspired me to add one more post of my own, was a comment on Brent’s post by Aaron. Scroll down and read it. Here’s the part that really made an impact:

This whole situation is making me less interested in supporting the organization. As a relative newcomer to PASS and having never attended a Summit, I’m turned off by the “come talk to Microsoft employees” stance. I’d rather them say come and talk to (or sing Karaoke with?) cool guys like Brent Ozar and others in the community who deal with real world issues day to day.

The arguments for keeping the Summit in Seattle largely boiled down to cost & access to Microsoft. Cost has been beat about the face & neck by me & others, and I can’t add anything else even marginally intelligent to the conversation, so I’ll shut up on that. Microsoft. Yeah, having access to Microsoft makes the Summit pretty cool (not to mention useful, a couple of my favorite sessions were from Microsoft presenters). PASS stands for the Professional Association of SQL Server users. The summit is produced by PASS in order to meet it’s own goals which are “dedicated to supporting, educating, and promoting the Microsoft SQL Server community.” (Yeah, silly me, I go and read the organization’s web site).

So here’s my comment. Is the community PASS is trying to support, educate and promote better represented by a bunch of Microsoft developers, or, to quote Aaron, “Brent Ozar and others in the community who deal with real world issues day to day?”

And, lest I take an inappropriate beating, I’m neither knocking Microsoft developers, nor saying that they’re not a part of the community. My job and, to a small degree, my life, wouldn’t be the same without those people. I just want to make sure any rocks tossed my way are thrown for the right reasons.

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Location of the PASS Summit

March 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm (PASS) (, , )

There has been some discussion recently around the location of the PASS Summit. The debate was centered on the results from a recent survey hosted by PASS. Today’s Community Connector has an editorial by the PASS President, Rushabh Mehta, explaining why those of us on the East Coast will be flying to the other side of the continent for the next two years, and supplying the results of the survey

I get why they’re doing this. Microsoft really will commit more resources to an event that is in their back yard. I get it. I also understand, that those of us who consider the PASS Summit a big part of our “community” are actually in the minority. Most people attending the Summit aren’t involved in the community, aren’t interested in networking, and go to the conference to learn something and then go back to their hotel room. They want to see Microsoft developers, not community members. I understand. I also know that the excellent support team provided through the management company is also headquartered out there. We might see fewer of them at the conference, and those few will cost more to fly in. I get it.

But…

With the economy shrinking, and no end in sight, budgets are getting tightened. Travel expenses are being examined closely where I work and justification for a trip is more difficult than it was previously. Cutting a few corners here & there, including reducing the cost of a plane flight,  might make a difference. For example, doing a quick search on Travelocity, no details, accepting defaults, meeting half-way, in Dallas, would cost $216 instead of $399. That’s almost $200 in savings. Even if Rushabh is right and we’d have to increase the cost, let’s say $150/attendee, that’s still offset by the flight.

Still, those are savings at the margins, would that offset it enough to prevent people from travelling? Maybe, some people. But, there’s also the flight itself to consider. Not everyone is Gail Shaw, prepared to cross continents, oceans, raging rivers, burning deserts, and French strike lines to get to the Summit. For some people, that hike out to Seattle, ignore the cost, Microsoft, the community, is too much. Would moving it to Atlanta or Dallas or wherever guarantee a larger percentage of attendee’s? Nope, probably not, but I’ll bet you you’d see a different set of attendee’s and I’ll bet you the attendance wouldn’t drop. Because remember, it’s not just the flying time or the travel costs or the time away from work (yay). It’s time away from the family. Based on the results of the survey, 800 (51%) of the 1500 plus think a short flight is very or somewhat important, where as only about 380 (25%) thought it wasn’t. The vast majority of people responding to the survey are in the Eastern & Central time zones (585 & 458 compared to 331 in the Western zone). I could actually be wrong about the number of attendees.

And let’s just mention, Microsoft is holding some sort of get together in June. It seems to be fairly well attended by Microsoft people and, oh, look at that, it’s in New Orleans, not Seattle. I guess it is possible to get some Microsoft involvement in other places if Microsoft wants to.

I’m not on the board, so it’s easy for me to snipe from the sidelines, but based on the noise level, and the fact that 588 people thought having a conference on the east coast would make it more likely that they would attend, with only 405 making it less likely, and the fact that that number goes up to 639 more likely if the Summit was in the center of the country, I’m not alone in thinking that the PASS Community Summit should move around a bit more than we’ve been doing lately.

On another note, the release of the survey results was… poorly handled. The board, probably for good reasons, tends to play things very close to the vest. I think, at least in this case, too close. I appreciate the need to keep valuable information away from the competition. However, since this is a community organization, and one that is largely run by volunteers, I think the board really ought to err on too much communication instead of too little.

Finally, assuming anyone has made it this far, I want to thank the board and Rushabh for releasing this information. I think explaining how they made their decision and providing the basis for that in the results is absolutely the right thing to do. Did it apparently, or even evidently, require poking from people outside the board? Maybe, but they still did it and deserve the credit for taking the right action.

That’s it. End of the pointless, wandering diatribe. Go about your lives citizens. Hopefully, I’ll get another session or two accepted this year and I’ll see you all Seattle (again).

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PASS Summit 2009 Day 3

November 6, 2009 at 1:47 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

The day started off with a mixed bag. First we had an honestly tearful farewell with Wayne Snyder saying goodbye to Kevin Kline, leaving the board for the first time since PASS was founded. This was followed by a painfully dull session with Dell all about their commitment to bread & butter DBA concerns. That was followed by Dr. DeWitt doing a deep dive into the history and the future of computing, showing and teaching in ways that only the very best can achieve. It was a fantastic performance, entertaining, enlightening, amazing… Just flat out incredible. It’s the kind of understanding that you wish you could get about most things, most of the time. Unfortunately, it came to an end.

Today I finally got to hit a lot of sessions. First I saw Andrew Kelly give a session on “Capturing and Analyzing File & Wait Stats.” It was great. Andrew Kelly is a good presenter and he knows this topic forwards and backwards. That makes it very easy to sit and learn from him. It’s the kind of useful information you can really take advantage of in your job. For lunch I went to a book signing to find out that both my books were sold out. A few people, including @sqlbelle, stopped by to get books signed. It was a real honor and privilege for them to do that. After that I went to two Buck Woody sessions, back-to-back. After the session yesterday I couldn’t have missed them. The first session was on “SQL Server Automation on Steroids.” The slide deck was laid out to look like a Zune. It was great stuff on fundamentals like how to configure SQL Agent, and drill downs on mechanisms for working with PowerShell, or POSH as Buck calls it. He showed several different scripts and I’m pretty jazzed to continue my pursuit of POSH skills after his session and Allen White’s earlier in the week. Yes, this sort of reinforcement of session on session with different people giving different views of the same tools used in varying ways is something you can only get at the PASS Summit. His second session was on “Performance Tuning with SQL Server 2008.” While I didn’t find it as technically useful as the previous two sessions I’d seen him do, it was every bit as entertaining and enlightening. He made my list of must see presenters. I finished out the day, and the PASS Summit, at Gail Shaw’s “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Gail presented fantastic information in her clear, informative style. If you needed to know something about statistics, she laid them out for you in this session. Things were a bit subdued, this being the end of the Summit (not counting the post-conference) but Gail got the audience up and awake with some great demo’s and explanations of how statistics works inside SQL Server.

After hours it was off to the Friends of Red Gate party. I’m a friend of Red Gate because I sing the praises of their products, which are absolutely praiseworthy. But, I’ll tell you, I might be inspired to sing at least one praise more because of the meal we had. Nice food at a nice resteraunt with great, impassioned people, excited about what they do. It’s hard to enjoy things more.

So that’s the end of the Summit proper for me. I’ll be staying in Seattle through Friday because of a series of events that Microsoft is holding, but I won’t be blogging about them here. This has been one of the best PASS conferences I’ve been to, out of the five that I’ve attended.

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PASS Summit 2009 Key Note 1

November 5, 2009 at 11:50 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

Wow, the bloggers table is empty today!

Nice intro! Good photo’s. I love the Summit!

Bill Graziano is introducing Day 3. He acknowledged Twitter and the bloggers. We rock! Outgoing board members are Greg Low and Pat Wright. These are great guys who’ve busted their butts for the community. Kevin Kline is completely off the board now, finishing his time as the immediate past-president. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time he won’t be on the board. Yep, I’m right, he’s never been off the board since PASS was a organization. He really has done a lot for the organization. Thanks for your time Kevin. A review of all the other board members including the new president Rushabh Mehta and Wayne Snyder as the immediate past president.

April 21-23,2010 the European Conference will be in Neuss Germany. Next years conference will be in Seattle (again…. blech!… I understand why, I do, but it’s a ROYAL pain to fly across the whole continent every year). A thanks to the headquarters staff too. These guys are great and they work some odd hours. You’d think they were DBA’s. Nice work guys.

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PASS Summit 2009 – Day 1

November 4, 2009 at 11:03 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

YAAAAAH!

The PASS Summit is pretty amazing. Yesterday I sat through the key notes from Microsoft. I was at the bloggers table where I could hear the speaker and lots of typing. I used to consider myself a blogger, but then I watched Brent Ozar doing and learned that I was doing it all wrong. Anyway, the key note was pretty interesting. They talked about future plans and directions of the information platform (note, not data).

Right after I presented my first session, Execution Plan Best Practices.  The room was darned full and I only had one, very minor, glitch. After that I RAN to the Birds of a Feather lunch to host a table discussing developing databases on a team. It went all right. I don’t think my table mates were quite as excited about the topic as I was, but we had fun.

I then looked around the vendor floor, more than a little shrunken from last year it seemed. There just wasn’t quite as much excitement. I think the economy is hurting people. After lunch I hung out in the Speaker’s room for a bit, and I don’t mind saying, that’s a great place to meet the people I’ve been learning from for years.

I presented my second session of the conference, DMV’s for Performance Tuning. The session went fairly well, but I was glad as hell that Tim Ford, who’s writing a book on DMV’s was in the room to answer questions when I got stumped (which happened a couple of times). The best part was when Jenn McCown (Midnight DBA) tweeted one of the things I said and Paul Randall tweeted back, commenting on it. Jenn announced what Paul said in the session and I was able to comment on that. GREAT STUFF. Twitter may or may not be useful in day to day life, but in a conference like this, having the experts like Paul hooked in… what a difference in the quality and flow of information. Again, great stuff.

I then went to Allen White’s magnificent session on using PowerShell to collect performance metrics. Unfortunately, I got a little ill and had to leave part way through. It was a great session and I’m going to watch what I missed on the DVD’s.

Then, it was off to parties. First the reception for the vendors at the Summit. It wasn’t as exciting as last year, although I got to meet and talk with Michael Rys of Microsoft about some issues I was having with spatial data. Opportunities like that are what this summit is all about. After that it was off to the Microsoft Insiders party where I could hob nob with my betters, the other MVP’s. What a privilege. The party then moved to the Tap House, hosted by SQL Server Sentry (thanks guys).

What a day! I’m going to mostly hit sessions today.

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More PASS Activities

October 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm (PASS) (, )

As if I needed more.

I’ll be sitting at the blogger table and blogging live (as live as I get) during the keynotes. It should be fun. As I said on Twitter, this means I get to pick on the cool kids. Life is good.

Thursday I’ll be doing a book signing with Apress between 12:30PM-1:00PM across from the Summit bookstore. I don’t have a clue which book we’re talking about since they’ll be supplying it. I hope it’s the Performance Tuning one, but it might be the Introduction one. Either way, that’s another place to track me down & say hello.

In addition to my keynote blogging, I’ll put up a summary for each day of the summit just like last year. It’s looking to be a great summit.

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SQL Server Standard, Volume 6, Issue #1

October 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm (PASS, sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , )

It’s alive! It’s alive!

That’s enough from Colin Clive.

It’ll be out for the Summit. SQL Server Standard lives again! Although, not quite in the same shape as it used to be. But hey, stitching stuff together out of dead tissue is messy work.

I want to thank our first author who had to suffer through quite a few growing pains and help us blaze a trail through the woods, Thomas LaRock. I want to thank my boss at PASS for all the support especially the time I started whining, Andy Warren. And there’s this other guy, who has helped just a ton in this effort in every way, and lead the technical edit team, Brad McGehee. We have a photo credit to Pat Write for the front. Craig Ellis has done a yeoman’s labor putting together all the layout & art stuff, especially when you consider he had me making artistic suggestions (gave my wife a laugh anyway). The technical editors on the first article are K. Brian Kelley, Jose Santiago Oyervides and Tim Mitchell. Finally I have to thank Kathy Blomstrom for all her hard work editing and laying out the final.

To all you guys, thanks for working so hard through this process. I have bad news though. We have to get another one together in just a couple of weeks.

I’m probably stealing a little bit of Andy’s thunder by announcing it here. I don’t think he’ll be too mad at me.

I hope the community appreciates all the hard work these people put into this. Each of them did a great job. If you see them at the PASS Summit, be sure to say thanks.

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