Category Archives: PASS

PASS Board March Meeting Minutes Review

Thanks to Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) for keeping the community abreast of these things by blogging about their availability. That being said since the community clamored about transparency during the last elections I think it’s time we took advantage of that fact. My plan, and I propose if you write a SQL-centric blog you try it out yourself as well, is to read over the meeting minutes every month and give my take on what I’m seeing come out of them. I’d like to warn you that I may say some things that may or may not make friends but that’s what transparency is all about, right? PASS is for the people, by the people and we really should have a hand in how the organization is run. So that being said, let’s get to the fun part. Now while I do go over points I still highly recommend you read the minutes for yourself as I don’t want your views skewed simply from my points. Again, read the minutes and make your own judgements:

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Quest Virtual Training – SQL Server Training on DMV’s

Quest Software put on a great all-day training event today on all things DMV courtesy of Brent Ozar (@brento on Twitter), Kevin Kline (@kekline on Twitter) and Ari Weil (@aweil on Twitter).

If you missed this great live event, don’t fret as you can catch the videos on-demand here. One of the amazing things about this event is also the fact that in-chat there are literally hundreds of folks swapping information and resources. Unfortunately when you watch it on-demand you miss out on some of those great chat conversations. Well fear not! I’ve saved the chat log and made it available for download for you so you can see the kind of interaction this great SQL community has. As was mentioned in chat several times, with the economy being the way it is training opportunities are priceless. So check out the on-demand recordings and definitely check out the chat logs as in conjunction with the live event and Twitter (event hashtag is #questQA)

Quest-Virtual-Training-chatlog (.zip format)

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24 Hours of SQL PASS Recordings

For those who weren’t able to make the event, some of the recordings from the 24 Hours of SQL PASS event are now available on-demand from the PASS Summit website. You can register for the webcasts at the link below:

Registration for 24 Hours of PASS Selected Sessions

You may be asking “well what about the other sessions?”. The rest of the sessions should be available online after the Summit in November. But that shouldn’t matter much because you’re going to PASS…right? RIGHT?!?!

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Upcoming Talks:Orlando SSUG and SQL Saturday #21

It’s going to be a fun month! Next week I’ll be speaking at the Orlando SQL Server User Group on Policy Based Management 101. I also got confirmation that not only was my PBM presentation accepted for SQL Saturday #21 on October 17th but I’ll also be doing a MINI session on SQL & Twitter:A Perfect UNION !

I’m REALLY psyched about SQL Saturday as there are going to be some awesome presenters there such as Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter), Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter), Joe Webb (Blog | Twitter), Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter), Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter), Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter), Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter), Chad Miller (Blog | Twitter) and many more! The speaker lineup looks like a veritable PASS Summit East Coast edition. If you can’t make it to the Summit this year (and I highly encourage you to do so if you can) then definitely try to make it to SQL Saturday #21!

And as if the lineup of talks at the SQL Saturday event wasn’t enough to blow your mind, the week leading up to it there is a week of day-long training seminars! Again, this looks like a rock star line up featuring Andy Warren, Brian Knight, Kevin Kline, Andy Leonard and Buck Woody. Each session is $150 and WELL worth the investment.

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PASS Summit Hotel/Travel Forum

Are you going to the SQL PASS Summit? Would you like to save some money on hotel by finding someone to split a room with? Want to share insider information on local spots you can dine at on the cheap? Well I hinted on Twitter recently that I was working on something for PASS with Jeremiah Peschka (Blog | Twitter) and thankfully we finally have it done: PASS Summit Forum

This forum has been setup so attendees can share information on lodging arrangements using the official hotels (and room blocks) for PASS Summit. Of note is that I said the official room blocks and hotels because a lot of people have done a lot of hard work to get the best rates possible for room blocks. We are looking to fill these blocks as much as possible so that in the future these hotels not only welcome us back with open arms but we can negotiate a better rate in the future (win-win y’all!).

In addition to having a single place to coordinate lodging you can also coordinate things like rides to/from the airport. You might be able to save some nice change by getting a limo van to pick up a group of folks at a hotel rather than everyone scurrying one by one. Also you can coordinate things like photowalk tours and much more! So make sure you go check it out!

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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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24 Hours of SQL PASS

Call Chloe and the rest of the CTU gang, grab a giant pot of coffee and your 9mm and get ready for 24 hours of pure, free SQL hotness: 24 Hours of PASS! The good folks at PASS have put together another fabulous free training opportunity for us in 24 hours of webcasts from the world’s leading SQL Server experts!

Using the latest in advanced hacking technology I’ve managed to access the PASS mainframe and get you the session schedule. Uploading to your screen now…

Session 01 (Dev) – Start time: 00:00 GMT
10 Big Ideas in Database Design
Presenters: Louis Davidson and Paul Nielsen

Session 02 (DBA) – Start time: 01:00 GMT
Using Powershell to Get the Most Out of SQL Server
Presenter: Allen White

Session 03 (PD) – Start time: 02:00 GMT
Team Management Fundamentals
Presenter: Kevin Kline

Session 04 (BI) – Start time 03:00 GMT
Delivering Good Performance Consistently with SSIS
Presenter: John Welch

Session 05 (DBA) – Start time 04:00 GMT
Using SQLdiag to Troubleshoot SQL Server Problems
Presenter: Brad McGehee

Session 06 (DBA) – Start time 05:00 GMT
The SQL Server 2008 Vanishing Act
Presenter: Peter Ward

Session 07 (BI) – Start time 06:00 GMT
Text Mining
Presenter: Dejan Sarka

Session 08 (Dev) – Start time 07:00 GMT
Tips and Tricks for Writing SET Based Queries
Presenter: Jacob Sebastian

Session 09 (DBA) – Start time 08:00 GMT
Mirrored Databases
Presenter: Thomas Grohser

Session 10 (Dev) – Start time 09:00 GMT
Working with Spatial Data in SQL Server 2008
Presenter: Greg Low

Session 11 (DBA) – Start time 10:00 GMT
Effective Indexing
Presenter: Gail Shaw

Session 12 (BI) – Start time 11:00 GMT
Reporting Services inside out the things you should know
Presenter: Simon Sabin

Session 13 (DBA) – Start time 12:00 GMT
Query Performance Tuning 101
Presenter: Grant Fritchey

Session 14 (BI) – Start time 13:00 GMT
Reporting from Analysis Services Cubes Using Excel 2007
Presenter: Peter Myers

Session 15 (BI) – Start time 14:00 GMT
Data Warehousing: Laying the Foundation to Success
Presenter: Erik Veerman

Session 16 (DBA) – Start time 15:00 GMT
Database Compatibility Settings: What They Really Do… and Don’t Do
Presenter: Don Vilen

Session 17 (PD) – Start time 16:00 GMT
Building a Better Blog
Presenter: Steve Jones

Session 18 (Dev) – Start time 17:00 GMT
Building Flexible Data Services for the Web Using the ADO .NET Data Services Framework
Presenter: Artemakis Artemiou

Session 19 (Dev) – Start time 18:00 GMT
SQLCLR or T-SQL? A Brief Survey of Performance Options
Presenter: Adam Machanic

Session 20 (BI) – Start time 19:00 GMT
Loading a Data Warehouse in SSIS
Presenter: Brian Knight

Session 21 (DBA) – Start time 20:00 GMT
What’s Simple about Simple Recovery Model
Presenter: Kalen Delaney

Session 22 (Dev) – Start time 21:00 GMT
What’s New, Harder, and Easier in SQL Server 2008 Security
Presenter: Don Kiely

Session 23 (DBA) – Start time 22:00 GMT
Analyzing File and Wait Statistics
Presenter: Andrew Kelly

Session 24 (BI): Start time 23:00 GMT
Embed Reporting Services into your Applications
Presenter: Jessica Moss

*Depending on your location, sessions may also be broadcast on Sept. 1 and Sept. 3, 2009. Please be sure to check our time zone guide for exact times. When you register using our LiveMeeting interface, sessions will be sent to your Outlook calendar for the correct time in your region.

Excellent. So your priority should now to be to head over to the event site and register for this excellent opportunity. I highly suggest you hurry up and do so as Jack Bauer doesn’t take kindly to not taking advantage of such awesome opportunities. Here’s the last guy who didn’t take advantage…

Please, for your sake, don’t be that guy.

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Looks like August is definitely shaping up to be a busy one for me! First I’ll be presenting at SQL Saturday #16 in South Florida. That takes place on Saturday, August 8th. I’m really excited for this event since it’ll be the first SQL Saturday I’ve presented at.

Following that I’ll be heading over to Melbourne the following week on Thursday, August 13th for the Spacecoast SQL Server User Group meeting. At both locations I’ll be presenting my Policy Based Management 101 session. Then to finish off my month the following week I’m moving to a new place so August will definitely be an active one. Speaking of which, check out and participate in Active August! I’ll be writing up a series blog posts about my #activeaugust experience as well.

**UPDATE**
Sweet! Looks like I just confirmed with Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter) that I’ll be presenting for the Orlando SQL Server User Group on September 15th!

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Recap: Performance Tuning and Query Optimization

Tonight was our monthly SQL Server User Group meeting and our featured presenter this evening was Plamen Ratchev (Blog) presenting on performance tuning and query optimization. First off, he has an awesome accent. I think he’s of Croatian descent from what he mentioned but he rolls his R’s something fierce. I should’ve had him say the phrase “reporting services” a bunch of times just to make me giggle. Anyways, I’m way off topic…

He opened with a quote from Donald Knuth that stated

We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil

This was a good point to open with in that if you try to focus on only performance in the development phase you’re more than likely going to perform an epic fail. He then went on to show the differences between being reactive and proactive in terms of performance tuning. His take was that in Europe their development processes focused more on being proactive and trying to take care of issues before they become major problems as opposed to trying to run around putting out fires all the time like many a DBA (myself included) is forced to do on a daily basis. In an interesting story he relayed to us he told us about how he had come to the U.S. and pitched a European software that allowed a major car manufacturer to improve their processes. The software would basically alert you if anything in production fell “out of the norm” and would advise actions on how to fix it. The American company had a different approach to their process. They basically hired a team of high-priced consultants to come in for a week, measure everything nuts to bolts about what’s wrong in the production process, produce a report and leave (whether or not problem got fixed). What surprised me most was that he told us the manager told him if there’s a problem they pretty much just build another assembly line somewhere else rather than fix current issue. If you’re wondering why they need Federal bail-out money, this story should give you a slight clue.

The presentation continued on with things such as common performance issues you’re likely to find such as inefficient queries, retrieving too much data, inefficient or missing indexes and a few other things. This was a nice list to see for both devs and DBA’s alike so everyone is aware of these common mistakes. This lead to topic of problematic designs such as the “one-true lookup” table issue. This is when rather than normalizing your data someone decides its easier to just throw everything in to one large table and add columns as needed later on. I can see some of you cringe when you read that since you’ve probably seen that in production somewhere at some point.The surprising thing that came out of this example though (to me anyways) was that sometimes this setup actually makes sense for very specific applications such as a simple survey or a medical application that is only storing straight facts (i.e. patient monitor). Another oldie but a goodie is mismatched data types on join columns or filters. While this may work without a problem, when you throw a heavy work load at something like this you’ll see performance tank because behind the scenes the data engine is having to do lots of implicit conversions to process that query for you. So remember that little tidbit next time you’re planning with your devs and database developers.

The next interesting thing I learned was regarding data type optimization. Do you know what the one of the fundamental differences is between VARCHAR and NVARCHAR besides one taking up twice as much space as the other? NVARCHAR handles multiple collations while VARCHAR is more for single so if your application is only going to be delivered via a single, default collation then stick with using VARCHAR.

I could go on and on but needless to say this was an extremely insightful and useful presentation. Another user group member, Ron Dameron (Twitter), noted in Twitter this evening

…seen this deck twice now. Learned new stuff both times. Thx Plamen

If you ever get a chance to attend one of Plamen’s presentations at a live event I highly encourage you to do so as he’s a brilliant guy and presents well. If he’s not coming anywhere near you, you can still check out his presentation stylings by watching his videos over at JumpstartTV. In closing here’s some book recommendations he threw out at the end of his slide deck. Basically this is just an excuse for me to use the cool Carousel feature from Amazon!

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