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24 Hours of SQL PASS – Review

So the inaugural event for 24 Hours of SQL PASS has come and gone. In its wake its left hundreds of eager minds reeling from absolutely amazing content overload, bleary and blood-shot eyes around the globe and one worn-down rock star.

First off the staff at PASS and all of the presenters deserve a standing ovation for the amazing job they did putting this event together. From marketing the event across multiple platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Summit site) as well as adding a fun bonus add-on with having Tom LaRock (Blog), aka the SQLRockstar, do a full 24 hour co-broadcast via Ustream. While I wasn’t able to have the insanity fortitude of Tom and brave all 24 hours (did anyone else actually accomplish this insane feat?) I did manage to catch most of the ones that were of most interest to me. I’ll recap in order of sessions attended.

Hour 1 (8:00 PM EST) – 10 Big Ideas in Database Design by Louis Davidson (Blog|Twitter) and Paul Nielsen (Blog | Twitter)

I won’t lie, I pretty much missed the entirety of this session trying to get my desktop working so I could bring up the Live Meeting. The only thing I had working was the laptop running Tom’s Ustream feed and chat. Luckily this setup allowed me to listen to the session so I was in and out as far as paying attention while I tried to troubleshoot my desktop woes. It’s Dr. SQL and Paul Nielsen, can’t go wrong with these guys and from what I caught there was a lot of good information that people should pay attention to when developing. When this session becomes available on demand I’ll definitely be watching it.

Hour 2 (9:00 PM EST)Using PowerShell to Get the Most Out of SQL Server by Allen White (Blog)

Powershell sessions always leave me feeling like less of a man for not knowing and using Powershell yet. TMI? Anywho, Allen did a great job showing some cool tips and tricks in showing how you can access and control different aspects of SQL Server via Powershell.

Hour 3 (10:00 PM EST) – Team Management Fundamentals by Kevin Kline ( Blog | Twitter )

This was one of my favorite sessions that I attended. Kevin’s topic was about how to effectively manage an IT team. Some of the stuff he mentioned is pretty universal but there are caveats when dealing with tech folks that he covered and covered well. Grab his slide deck and check it out, excellent presenter on a great topic. It’s funny because today Brent Ozar ( Blog | Twitter ) wrote up an article about management as well.

At this point I bowed out for the evening so I could grab some shut eye and get up early for Gail Shaw’s ( Blog ) Effective Indexing presentation at 6 am. Alas, I missed that one but got to the office early to catch the next one. I WILL be watching Gail’s presentation on demand when its available as effective indexing is something every DBA and developer needs to take the time and fully understand.

Hour 12 (7:00 am EST) – Reporting Services Inside and Out: The Things You Should Know by Simon Sabin (Blog|Twitter)

Reporting Services is one of those pieces of SQL Server that you look at it and think “damn I could do soooo many cool things with it”. You attend the webcasts, read the books, and if you’re anything like me you end up too busy to get to that awesome idea you had. Simon did a bang up job walking through SSRS and showing some cool tips and tricks with it. I especially liked the part where he created a report that dynamically changed pictures of either a check mark or an X depending on the result of the query on the column. I’ll definitely be re-watching that later on to try that out. Funny part of this session came when Simon had to excuse himself to take a call as he and his wife are expecting their baby to be born any day now. God speed Simon and hope your bundle of joy comes soon and healthy!

Hour 13 (8:00 am EST) – Query Performance Tuning 101 by Grant Fritchey (Blog|Twitter)

This was one of the most heavily attended sessions (about 450 people!) and for good reason, Grant is a fantastic presenter and his knowledge on the subject of performance tuning is second to none. I attended a session of Grant’s a couple of weeks ago and I got something new out of that. Same thing happened with this session. Grant’s book, SQL Server Query Performance Tuning Distilled, is on my list of must-buy books and if you have any interest in development or performance tuning it should be on yours as well. If you ever get a chance to attend any session by Grant I HIGHLY encourage you to do so. After that hour you’ll come away feeling like you want to re-write every bit of code within your grasp (and in some shops that probably wouldn’t be a bad idea!).

<insert a few hours of me doing my actual job here>

Hour 17 (12:00 pm EST) – Building a Better Blow by Steve Jones (Blog|Twitter)

Maybe its because I absolutely love Steve as a presenter (make sure to catch his weekly podcast, The Voice of the DBA), maybe its because I’ve taken up blogging in the last few months, whatever it was I have to say this one of my favorite sessions overall. Steve basically went over reasons why starting and maintaining a blog can be beneficial for you both personally and professionally. He also covered a topic of great importance in this realm which was basically DO NOT STEAL OTHER PEOPLE’S CONTENT!!! Seriously, it happens more than you think and if you get caught you just look really, really bad. Other highlights of this presentation were magically seeing my own profile come up in his slide deck as an example of a basic profile (thanks again Steve!) as well as watching Tom make Steve laugh on the air since apparently Steve had Tom’s broadcast up on another monitor.

<Insert a few more hours of meetings and doing work. Yeah, I know, you’re shocked>

Hour 24 (7:00 pm EST) – Embed Reporting Services into Your Applications by Jessica Moss (Blog|Twitter)

As I mentioned before Reporting Services is one of the those really cool features I wish I took more advantage of. Jessica is the SQL community’s resident expert on the topic and she does a great job of walking through the product and clearly explaining everything. This was a pretty cool session in which she showed the differences between the types of Reporting Services reports you can use and create. For instance did you know that in addition to .rdl files there are .rdlc files that are client side reports? Well up until last week I didn’t know that!

Overall Thoughts

Overall I thought this was a fantastic event and I can’t thank PASS and the presenters enough. There were some glitches in the links for the Live Meeting links but thanks to the awesome community that problem was quickly handled via Twitter, chat rooms and blog posts. These events are mind-blowingly awesome in that you ALWAYS walk away with some new piece of knowledge and best of all…IT WAS FREE! The other thing about an event like this is that this is just a taste of what the annual PASS Summit can offer you. At the Summit not only do you get all of this mind-blowing content but you get to interact with presenters, you’re surrounded by the greatest experts from all over world, and you get to expand your social network thanks to all skills you got from the networking sessions AT the conference. So what are you waiting for? Print out your justification list, present it to your boss and get your rear to the PASS Summit. Make sure to register by September 15th to take advantage of the discounted pricing. After the 15th the price goes up $400.

2009 PASS Summit

2009 PASS Summit

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