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SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando: Recap

I’d like to preface my recap with a huge thanks to Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) for being such a gracious host and letting me stay with him last weekend for the event. Kendal is a great guy, DBA and father and I really appreciated his invitation.

My SQLSaturday adventure started Friday as I left work and headed to Orlando to make it to the speaker’s dinner. I swung by Kendal’s house so we could head out there together. On a complete side-note, the city of Celebration really is quite the charming little town. It’s like driving straight on to the set of The Stepford Wives, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on what you make of that! The speaker’s dinner was held at a restaurant/bar about 40 minutes north so Kendal and I had some nice one-on-one geek talk about work, life and all the madness fun stuff going on with the PASS elections last week.

The speaker’s dinner was great, I got to meet some new folks like fellow SQL Twit (and co-author) Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter), Regional PASS mentor and all-around awesome human being Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter) as well as got to have some quality geek time with the rest of the speakers. Sitting down with fellow geeks and talking shop is always a fantastic time and I highly recommend you take advantage of it any time you get. I got to take advantage of a similar situation the next day which I’ll get to in a bit. After the dinner Kendal and I went back to his place and like anyone who has presented can attest to we both stayed up late tweaking and completing our slide decks in preparation for the next day.

The next morning Kendal and I arrived at the event and due to some miscommunication with signage we got into the wrong parking lot but thankfully Kendal remembered the right place to be from a  previous event there so we finally parked in correct lot. The check-in process was pretty smooth but the only thing I’d have to ding Jack/Andy for is the placement of vendor tables in that opening hallway. The doorway to and from that vendor hallway was really crammed and made it a bit of a hassle to get to/from but I can’t ding them too bad as you can tell it was placed there out of necessity since we didn’t have a large open space like a cafeteria to take advantage of. To counter my ding I should give kudos to the very large maps provided on the walls throughout the event that showed where each classroom was. I thought this was a FANTASTIC idea and was especially helpful when last-minute room changes were made. Some other great stuff that happened prior to sessions starting I got to meet another fellow SQL tweep Gareth Swann (Blog | Twitter)!

[NOTE: All presentation materials can be downloaded at the event page SQLSaturday website, go to Schedule and click on sessions to get slidedecks/code samples)

The first session I attended was Andy Leonard’s session on Database Design. As was mentioned by Jonathan Kehayias (Blog | Twitter) this session was standing room only after the small group of people who made it in after the room change confusion. Andy is a knowledgeable, personable and funny speaker and I was very surprised to discover this was his first time presenting at a SQLSaturday event. I really enjoyed the style in which he presented code examples. The first sample of code was the easy way which many take. It’s easy, and it works. The next code sample would be a better way to do it and finally he showed the “best” (or best compared to other samples) in how to code. Some examples of what makes code “better” is making re-executable SQL code. For example wrap your code with IF EXISTS checks so that if the code were run again it can fail gracefully or at least skip unnecessary code executions. Some other nuggets were that Andy likes to save the output from his script executions, which he referred to as deployment artifacts, and archives them for documentation purposes. Something really nice I took away from this is that I finally got an explanation of what that sqlcommand button/mode does in SSMS. This mode allows you to (amongst other things) chain scripts together so if you have several deployment scripts you can launch them all from within a single script file in order. Another very cool thing I took away from this presentation is Andy talking about how he read a paper from NASA regarding their code deployment/development process entitled “They Write the Right Stuff”. In it they describe how NASA actually looks to tweaking processes before they look to tweaking code to ensure quality and Andy had some very good insights as to how to carry that over to the SQL world. If you get a chance to chat with Andy or attend one of his sessions I HIGHLY recommend it! One last funny thing to come out of this session was Jonathan Kehayias keeping track of how long it took for him to answer a question with “it depends”. I believe Andy clocked in at somewhere near the 20 minute mark.

The second time slot was time for me to present my Policy Based Management talk. I had about a dozen folks in attendance including Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter), Ken Simmons, and Bonnie Allard from the Spacecoast SQL Server User Group. I attempted to broadcast the session via LiveMeeting (big thanks to Jeremiah Peschka for providing me with that) but alas it didn’t work because 1) I’d never done it before so after the fact I realized I broadcasted only webcam with no sound and no screen shared out and 2) Internet connection at the venue was spotty so I wasn’t even sure if connection didn’t drop during event. Overall I think the talk went ok, nothing blew up too badly but I did learn some valuable lessons thanks to feedback from those in attendance. I think from here on out I am going to break up the PBM into two presentations: One intro and basic overview and second more demo heavy and advanced tips/tricks. There really is just so much stuff in it that it is very hard to try and cram everything into an hour session and not forget something or rush. Hopefully if Ken can make it down to SQLSaturday Tampa in January we can do this two-part session together (and maybe even at PASS 2010? Hehe). On a side note this is the second SQLSaturday I’ve presented this talk and the number of those coming out were about a dozen while other sessions I’ve attended were pretty much full houses. So I ask this question to you, all five of you who read this the general audience: Does Policy Based Management simply not interest you or rather Does PBM seem like to much of a “niche” topic that you feel you can’t/won’t be using? I’d be very curious to know how people view this very powerful tool. It really is not that hard to implement/use and can be extremely useful for developers and DBA’s alike. Please leave your thoughts in comments below or if you’d rather email me directly at jorge<at>sqlchicken<dot>com.

Immediately following my session, in the same room, was Ken Simmons presenting on Automating Routine Maintenance. I thought this presentation was very well done and presented some really good things to think about and implement as a DBA. The ever SQL-omniscient Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) even got some credits in regards to the different images used in Ken’s slide deck which were funny and appropriate (gotta love car analogies). Ken covered some great stuff such as covering what a fail-safe operator was and how it differentiated from a regular operator in SQL Server (hint: fail-safe operator is written to system registry, rest are kept in msdb). This was cool as I didn’t know exactly what the fail-safe operator was or why it was there! Now that I know I’ll be implementing it in my systems back home. Some other important topics he touched on were performing DBCC checks on your databases and what some of the check options are and why you should be using them. Same goes with traceflags. He also covered statistics in databases and he had a really awesome analogy for this one that involved driving home. He likened SQL Stats to someone driving to and from work everyday. After awhile you know which route to take and which route is fastest so that’s the one you always take. But what if one day there’s construction and you need to detour from your usual route for a week? Well when this happens you need to update your mental stats as to which route you need to take in order to get to your destination fastest. The database engine works in a similar fashion. Again, car analogies FTW! For the record it took Ken almost 50 minutes before he dropped the “it depends” bomb.

Lunch was a bit of whirlwind for me since I pretty much just had time to grab my box lunch, eat and head over to my room for my mini presentation on Twitter and SQL Server. I rather liked this session as it just felt more laid-back than the PBM talk and with only 15 minutes to fill there wasn’t as much pressure. The presentation was aimed more towards those who have not used Twitter due to being hesitant on finding a useful value to the tool as opposed to finding out what Miley Cyrus had for breakfast. I gave a few examples of how Twitter has helped me personally at work, the best example being getting direct help from Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter) when I had a database corruption issue. Thanks to the relationships cultivated on Twitter with the rest of the SQL Commmunity I think I have added more value to both my organization and myself as I can always reach out to others and get help on topics I’m not necessarily comfortable or familiar with (read also: SSRS and SSIS). In addition to just reaching out for help I can stay up to date on latest happenings in the SQL Community as well as training opportunities such as free webcasts, events and blog posts that help me learn more about my specialty. If I sound like I’ve drank some sort of Kool-Aid it’s because I really can’t say enough how great Twitter has been in connecting to the SQL Community. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly suggest you give it a shot. If you need a list of folks to follow on Twitter then head over to SQLServerpedia as they have a nice collection of folks already on the Twitter bandwagon. Make sure to drop me a line at http://twitter.com/sqlchicken .

At this point my intention was to head over to Kevin Kline’s End to End Troubleshooting session but as I was walking to the room I noticed a few guys sitting around the pavement chatting. What caught my eye was WHO it was since it was a couple of folks I hadn’t met yet and was really anxious to. The sidewalk gang consisted of Andy Leonard, Jonathan Kehayias, Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter), Joe Webb (Blog | Twitter), Joe Healy (Blog | Twitter) and (eventually) Ken Simmons. Despite all the great content available at the event I thought the hour spent with these guys (yup, ended up missing the session, sorry Kevin!) was invaluable. How often do you get to sit around a group of guys of that caliber and hear their thoughts on SQL Server and, as was the case in this particular conversation, get some inside stories from the world of Microsoft! This wraps back to the whole “social networking” aspect of one’s career and I highly encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities when presented. In this case I weighed my options: Can I download Kevin’s slide deck or catch another similar session online? Yes and probably. Am I going to get another opportunity to get face to face time like this outside of going to PASS Summit? Probably not. If you attend a SQLSaturday event (or any event rather) and you see someone you’d like to talk to then go introduce yourself! Heck, even milling around and simply listening to two or three top guys discussing shop-talk together can bring all sorts of new information into your world. I guarantee you that those “big name guys” are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. If you’re going to PASS this year and want to learn or practice networking skills I highly recommend you sign up for Don Gabor’s pre-conference session on Networking to Build Business Contacts. After our “sidewalk session” was done we started heading to our next classroom destinations when another impromptu networking opportunity presented itself with none other than Joe Celko (Blog)! I just got to spend a few minutes with Joe but man that guy is so ridiculously smart and personable I was blown away! I had heard how nice of a guy he really is as opposed to his evil cantankerous online alter-ego but Joe really is a great guy. He talked about the future of SQL a bit and how indexes may actually no longer be necessary thanks to something about hashing (again this guy is way out of my league in SQL-smarts so I’m probably butchering his words). So after all of this networking practice it was only right that my next session was to go see Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) present on Social and Not So Social Networking for the DBA!

Again, this was another standing-room only session and for good reason. Andy is a fantastic speaker and its almost like he’s a wisdom machine that just produces knowledge nuggets every time he speaks and you can quote me on that one. I showed up a little late due to my social activities from before so I didn’t realize (until I saw Jonathan Kehayias’ tweets) that Andy had projector issues so he was “working without a net” so to speak. I’ve attended this session before by Andy but it’s always interesting to see which way the conversation goes as the presentation is almost a forum in the way Andy prods the audience for their thoughts and views and goes from there. What I love about Andy’s speaking (and him in general) is that he has a definite viewpoint on things that are quite often different than mainstream views are and he forces you to really think about stuff. For instance it wasn’t until after then event was over that Andy delivered his first, and highly-anticipated, tweet! Did he just create an account that day? Nope, he actually created it months ago when another fellow SQL Tweep convinced him to create an account but Andy refused to jump in and start tweeting unless he could see a real returnable value from said technology or tool. This is something important for all of us to really think about before we just start jumping on-board trends. Jonathan was tweeting some great Andy quotes throughout the session and you can see some of those over at Jon’s SQLSaturday recap post.

The last session I attended was Joe Celko’s “Celko on SQL” session. Since I regrettably won’t be able to make it to PASS Summit this year, and I wasn’t sure the next time Celko was going to be down around my neck of the woods, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. The session consisted of Joe basically going back through the history of the SQL ANSI Standard (for those of you who don’t know, Joe is on the ANSI board, yes that board that met for 3 days to come to the conclusion that its pronounced S-Q-L not “sequel”) and all the fun things that came out of it and why some things behave the way they do. He had different slide decks based on topics such as the JOINs which we delved into a bit. This session didn’t have any code samples to take away or best practices to implement but its always interesting to see the history of your product and the minds behind said product. Special thanks to the Central Florida Oracle User Group for pitching in to bring Joe to SQLSaturday. Here’s another pitch for PASS but there’s plenty of opportunities like this at PASS Summit where you can talk directly to the folks that write the code that run the queries you bless/curse on a daily basis. So if you’d like a reason to give to your boss to attend, there’s a pretty good one right there.

The day wrapped up as all SQLSaturdays do with the distribution of SWAG to the masses. Andy Warren was chucking stuff left and right from the balcony to the people whose number he called out below which made for an entertaining way to wrap up the day. Huge thanks and congratulations goes out to Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren and their dedicated volunteers for putting on such a great event. Events like these and the people I meet energize me and reaffirm how much I love what I do and how much I love the community I’m a part of because of it.

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Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group Recap 10/13

I know this is a bit late but you know what they say, better late than never! This month’s meeting was quite exciting as we had a big-name speaker come in. This month we had Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter) of Quest Software come in and speak to us about Disk I/O Tuning on SQL Server.

Typically our meetings kick off with announcements and general discussion but because we had Kevin this month (he was in town for SQLSaturday #21) we let Kevin have as much time as possible so we skipped our normal routine and got right to it! First off Kevin is a fantastic speaker and has a real easy-going presentation style which I really enjoyed. Many times during the presentation felt more like a dialogue as he engaged the audience on many topics. One of the great things about a speaker engaging the audience as such is that more nuggets of information can come out that sometimes even the presenter wasn’t aware of. For instance during one exchange between Kevin and Jonathan Kehayias (Blog | Twitter) something came up (pardon me for taking horrible notes and not remembering exactly what it was!) but it was something new to Kevin. The meat of the presentation (Slide deck can be found here) was geared much towards explaining the different RAID types and their respective benefits within a SQL Server implementation. Other great disk information such as partition alignment (which you DEFINITELY want to do as it nets you up to 30-40% performance gain!), which perfmon counters you should focus on to baseline/monitor your disk performance, SQL file configurations (i.e. multiple data files), SAN tips/tricks/gotchas, and more. One really cool tidbit that Kevin shared with us, in regards to seeing real-world performance examples, is the online MMORPG EVE Online is actually back-ended with SQL Servers all on solid state drives (SSD)! How cool is that? Here’s an article on it and how they benefitted from using this technology.

Overall it was a great meeting and a huge “thank you” to Kevin for speaking at our group this month! If you ever get the chance to catch a Kevin Kline presentation I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re going to PASS Summit this year Kevin will be presenting The Ultimate Free SQL Server Toolkit (Database Administration) as well as Team Management Crash Course (Professional Development). If the Team Management one is the same presentation as the one he gave during the 24 Hours of SQL PASS event I HIGHLY recommend you attend that one as there are some great bits of information in there!

Next month on November 17th our presenter will be Jonathan Kehayias presenting Understanding SQL Server Memory Management. Visit the user group website and register to attend.

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OPASS User Group Meeting: Review

Well last night I presented my Policy Based Management presentation for the Orlando SQL PASS User Group aka OPASS. The meeting was held at the End-to-End Training (now called SQLShare.com) offices which is a nice facility ran by Andy Warren (Blog | LinkedIn). The meeting started off with a short bit of networking where Andy has everyone introduce themselves to their neighbors and get some discussion going. I thought this was a nice little touch and lets people work on their networking skills.

First up for the night was a mini presentation on Backup Basics with Todd Holmes (LinkedIn), a DBA for Channel Intelligence in Celebration. The mini presentation is a 15-minute presentation slot that Andy came up with to encourage new speakers to cut their teeth on public speaking and technical presentations. Todd did a great job with such a broad topic and even went the extra mile in showing examples via T-SQL code. Todd will also be doing this mini presentation at the upcoming SQL Saturday #21 in Orlando.

After Todd’s presentation there was a short dinner break and I got setup for my PBM presentation. Andy said he was curious to see an hour-long presentation went on Policy Based Management since he thought it was a topic that could be covered rather quickly. Funnily enough my presentation ran just a tad over an hour and I could have kept going! There were some hiccups here and there with my VM taking a little longer than I would have liked to open certain things but demos didn’t blow up like they did at the last SQL Saturday. I also got a chance to show the audience EPMF in action (sort of). I showed the script run that used PowerShell to apply existing policies and dump results into a database repository. The example failed because I tried to open Reporting Services page on VM which had the hardened IE settings enabled that didn’t allow scripts to run so I wound up just showing a screenshot of the dashboard view. Hopefully this demo helps people take SQL 2008 and PBM back to their jobs and look like rock stars for virtually no money (except for cost of SQL 2008 Standard license after they see how awesome this is).

After the meeting I stuck around and talked shop with Andy, Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter) and Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) which was pretty awesome as we talked about all things SQL. Always a good time when you get quality geek time in. Overall it was a great time and a big thank you to the group for having me out there. If you’re in the Orlando area make sure to check out the group!

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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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SQL Saturday #16 – Recap

Last Saturday was the SQL Saturday event at Devry University in Miramar, Florida. First off I have to say it was a great event with over 400 attendees! It was also my very first SQL Saturday speaking event. The speaker evaluations haven’t come back yet but I have a feeling I’ll definitely should have some dings as my presentation started off well but towards the end the presentation Gods reared their ugly heads and it ended on a not-so-great note with my demo not going so well. The good news is that one attendee, Argenis Fernandez ( Twitter ), gave me some good feedback as well as told me that he got some good ideas from the presentation and was excited to go back to work and implement Policy Based Management in his environment. Honestly that kind of response makes the effort all worthwhile.

From my session I went to check out Kendal Van Dyke’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Configuring SQL Access for the Web Developer/Admin. Kendal and I interact pretty frequently on Twitter so I was glad to get a chance to finally meet him as well attend his sessions. This was a good intro level talk on how to configure web application authentication methods in both classic ASP and ASP.NET. Some nice tricks come out of this session including how to properly add a user to the IIS_WPG group (hint: the proper way ISN’T to just add them to the group in computer management!). I’m no developer but this was really useful to me, especially as a DBA tasked with implementing Sharepoint in to our environment. I say this because Sharepoint has its share of permission issues especially if you run the app pools or web apps under a different account such as a custom AD account.

My next session was Andy Warren’s ( Blog | Twitter | LinkedIN ) session on Social and Not so Social Networking for the DBA. I’ve attended other sessions with Andy and they’ve all been great. This one was no exception. Andy is an excellent presenter and makes it look so easy. One thing that was great about this, for me, is that this is the first weekend was the first time I’ve gotten a chance to really meet and talk to Andy. It was funny because at the speaker dinner he asked “Hey, aren’t you that SQLChicken guy?” which made me laugh. I guess my self-branding is working! Anyhow, this session was really interesting as it was more of an open discussion with the group rather than a straight forward presentation. Andy brings up important things to think about in terms of networking such as don’t start building your network only when you need something (aka job search). Networking is something that can benefit you far beyond simple job searches and opportunities. In the session some of us shared how simply being connected on social networks like Twitter have actually helped improve ourselves in our current jobs. If you ever get a chance to attend this session I highly recommend you do. In fact, if you’re attending the PASS Summit in Seattle in November, Don Gabor will be holding a Pre-Conference session called Networking to Build Business Contacts. Andy highly recommends anyone attending the summit to check this session out as it will help you not only build your network professionally but help you network in general at events like PASS and SQL Saturday.

At lunch I got to sit down and have lunch with Andy Warren, Kendal Van Dyke and a few other attendees. I only mention this in the blog because I we got a chance to talk with some people who ranged from first-timers to the SQL world as well as others who’ve been doing it for awhile. Also it was interesting to get feedback on little things like how sometimes the session descriptions were a little too vague so it made it difficult to decide if the topic or level was the right one to attend. Based on this I know I’ll be tweaking my abstracts for future events. The other cool thing was getting a chance to sit and pick Andy’s brain a bit about the direction of PASS. Personally I’m excited to see what PASS has in store to continue bringing the community together. So far its been fantastic to be a part of it.

Next up was another session with Kendal with topic being Transactional Replication: Beyond the Basics.  Honestly I’m currently not using transaction replication in my shop but after attending this session I feel like I gleaned enough knowledge to be able to tackle that task if it were asked of me. Great overview of different topologies that were clearly and easily explained, as well as going over some possible pitfalls you might encounter. Very interesting topic and presented very well. Kendal will actually be doing this presentation this year at PASS (first time presenter, congrats to him!) so again if you’ll be at PASS Summit this year I suggest you check this session out.

After that I went over to Jeffrey Garbus’ ( Blog ) session on Indexing for Join Optimization which drew quite the crowd. Packed house with a bunch of people (myself included) taking a seat on the floor along the walls to check this topic out! I’ve attended Jeffrey’s session before at the last SQL Saturday in Tampa and he is a great speaker. This particular talk was actually kind of a part 2 to his earlier talk on Choosing Indexes for Performance . Even if you didn’t catch the first session this one alone is a treasure trove of great information. For instance do you know why join orders matters? Do you know the difference in performance between doing a join using the old ANSI syntax and the new? You’d be surprised. Again I highly recommend you check out any session by Jeffrey if given the opportunity.

Last, but most definitely not least, was Chad Miller’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Powershell and SQL Server Administration. Chad not only covers basic Powershell commands and tricks but he covers using a cool project he’s developed called SQL Server PowerShell Extensions. What PSX gives DBAs is a base set of functions that covers most common DBA tasks. One of the coolest demonstrations I saw during this presentation was the use of Powershell as an ETL tool. Chad shows you how you are able to copy data from table to another using only 3 lines of code! This presentation truly made me excited to really start learning Powershell and applying it at work.

Overall I thought it was a great event, as any SQL Saturday I’ve attended, and I had an absolute blast presenting and meeting a bunch of folks I’ve interacted with on Twitter. If you get a chance to make it to a SQL Saturday event I couldn’t recommend  it enough. You get top-notch education, great networking opportunities, awesome swag and all for free! If you don’t have a SQL Saturday event in a city near you, and you won’t be making it to the PASS Summit this year then don’t fret! The good folks at PASS have put together an exciting free training event called 24 Hours of SQL PASS. For more details on this great event check my previous post on it.

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