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Speaking at Space Coast User Group

Posted by sqlwiseguy on September 9, 2009

I have the privilege of presenting, Dive into the Default Trace, at the Space Coast User Group, tomorrow evening (Sept. 10). 

We’ll be discussing what the default trace is, what it collects, where’ it is used, how to find it, and how to query it.  I have what I think are some interesting demos and hopefully information that will help developers and DBA’s better manage and audit their SQL Servers.

I’m really looking forward to meeting Bonnie Allard and the rest of the group.

Posted in PASS, Speaking, SQL Server, User Group | Leave a Comment »

24 Hours of PASS

Posted by sqlwiseguy on September 3, 2009

From 7:45 pm (Eastern DST) on Tuesday, September 1st until 8:00 pm on Wednesday, September 2 PASS provided free online seminars each hour.  It was a veritable who’s who in SQL Server and a great preview of what’s to come at the PASS Summit in November.  Unlike Tom LaRock (aka SQLRockstar)  and Jonathan Kehayias I did not try to stay up and attend every session, I chose to cherry pick the sessions I would attend, none of which were in the middle of the night.  The sessions I did attend went really well with only 1 minor technical glitch during a session, which is very impressive when you think that every session I was in had at least 250 attendees.  There were some issues with errors in the links to the sessions on the 24 hours of PASS website, but Twitter definitely helped there.  Here are the sessions I attended with a few notes on what I picked up:

Session 1 – 10 Big Ideas in Database Design – Louis Davidson and Paul Nielsen

A big one for me here was that Classes <> Tables.  While ORM tools want to create a class for each table, this does not really work with a good relational design there really is not a one to one relationship there.  With a truly normalized database you will probably need to have a class that spans multiple tables. 

Session 3 – Team Management Fundamentals – Kevin Kline 

This was probably my favorite session.  I am not a manager and I really don’t want to be a manager, but I do want to understand how to manage and especially how to run meetings.  Kevin offered lots of great advice, but my one takeaway was that every meeting should end with an ACTION PLAN.  You should know what is going to happen because of this meeting and what tasks you are responsible for.  I think I heard this phrase at least 4 times in the hour.

Session 11 – Effective Indexing – Gail Shaw

This was at 6:00 am my time, and I’m not a morning person, but as a DBA/Developer I don’t think you can ever know enough about Indexing so I made a point of being up for this session.  Gail is also a friend on SQLServerCentral that I have learned a ton from there and from her blog so I knew it would be a good session.  Gail did a great job explaining how indexes work with equality and inequality operators, and how they work from left to right so you want your most selective column used in an equality operation first in your key list.  I used to make the mistake of putting bit columns, like an active flag, first because they are typically used in every query.  This is a bad choice because they are typically not very selective. 

Session 13 – Query Performance Tuning 101 – Grant Fritchey

Wow! If this was a 101 session I’d hate to be in 401 session with Grant!  Tons of good information about creating a baseline so you KNOW if you are having performance problems, what to look for, where to look, and the tools to use to look (PerfMon, Profiler, oops, sorry Grant, SQLTrace, DMV’s).  One thing that Grant mentioned as did Paul and Louis, “normalization is not evil”.  Meaning that a properly normalized database (~3rd normal form) usually does not need to be denormalized for performance reasons, if you have proper indexes.

Session 17 – Building a Better Blog – Steve Jones

Another very popular session, I guess because so many of us have blogs now.  Steve had some great tips about keeping your blog technical/professional and if you want to blog about personal things start another blog.  He did hit one hot button issue when he recommended hotlinking images instead of downloading and embedding in your blog.  He believes you should hotlink because that can protect you better from copyright violations, while others considering hotlinking to be bandwidth stealing from the hosting site.  I don’t use many images, although it is recommended so maybe I’ll start. 

A main point he made was to “Praise Publically, Criticize Privately”.  Basically don’t call someone out in your blog.  If you have an issue with someone keep it private.  Remember that your blog is public so current and prospective employers may see it.  This is really just a good piece of advice for every situation.  I did disagree a little when he said he does not comment on blog posts where he thinks there is an error, but rather contacts the author privately. I do tend to comment on blog posts where I think there is an error, but I try to do it constructively and provide solid reasons and examples for my opinion.

Session 21 – What’s Simple about Simple Recovery Model – Kalen Delaney

I can’t say that I’ve read all of Kalen’s books, but I have read a couple so I knew there’d be good information in this session and there was.  She really covered much more than the title implies.  She discussed how the transaction log works and how the different recovery models affect the transaction log.  Between sessions like this and Paul Randal’s blog I think I may eventually understand the transaction log.  The main point is that you need to carefully choose your recovery model and understand that the Simple Recovery model does NOT mean that the transaction log won’t grow, but it does mean that you do not (cannot) back up the transaction and CANNOT restore to a point time.

Overall, it was a great event (series of events?).  As I mentioned in my post, No Training Budget Still No Excuse, with events like these there really is no excuse for not taking time for professional development.  It’s YOUR career and YOU need to manage it.  Even if you had to choose 1 or 2 sessions that’s better than doing nothing.  It was also a great preview of the PASS Summit as all the speakers will be speaking there as well.


Posted in PASS, Professional Development, SQL Server, Training | 5 Comments »

No Training Budget Still No Excuse

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 12, 2009

When I first started by career in IT and SQL Server about 10 years ago I lived in a small town in northern New Hampshire.  I used my location as an excuse not to attend user groups and other events, unless the boss was willing to foot the bill.  Now I realize my mistake, I’m in charge of my professional development, and now, location is no excuse.  Here’s a list of just some of the FREE training available online:

  • JumpstartTV – short (3-5 minute), specific how-to videos for SQL Server and .NET.
  • Channel 9 – MSDN’s video training library. This has videos on just about everything microsoft. Over 200 on SQL Server 2008 alone.
  • PASS – the Official Professional Association of SQL Server web site. PASS offers Virtual Chapters (user groups that meet online monthly).  Be sure to check out the upcoming 24 hours of PASS
  • Quest Software – Quest offers free webcasts on several technologies including SQL Server and some on Quest products but many general ones. Check out Quest Connect
  • SQLServerPedia – has video podcasts as well as blogs, wiki, and articles.
  • SQLServerCentral – forums, articles, scripts, blogs, and videos. What more can you ask for?

I’m sure there are other resources as well.

Now on to the FREE events. 

  • The biggest one for SQL Server, well, at least in my opinion, is the SQLSaturday franchise.  There have been about 20 over the last 2 years from Florida to Oregon.  I should make a disclaimer that I have spoken at 2, attended another, and the franchise is owned by my friend, Andy Warren and his partners.  Actually the first SQLSaturday event was when I met Andy, actually the day before at the Day with Celko event done in conjunction with the SQLSaturday.  It’s a full day of free SQL Server training with some national speakers along with the best local speakers.
  • Code Camps – these one day events for .NET are what SQLSaturday is based on, so if you need .NET training here’s a way to get it.
  • PASS – offers a SQLSaturday like event support with it’s Community Connections
  • User Groups – just BING or GOOGLE for [your technology and location] User Group.  I’m sure you’ll find something in your area.  PASS has a list of official chapters for SQL Server.  I know of Sharepoint, Java, .NET, and Agile user groups.  I’m sure there are others.

As you can see there are plenty of training options that will only cost you time and maybe travel expenses and that’s really an investment in you. 

Posted in Community, JumpstartTV, PASS, Professional Development, SQL Server, SQLSaturday, SqlServerCentral, Training, User Group | 4 Comments »

Free Training! 24 hours of PASS

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 3, 2009

PASS is sponsoring a 24 hours of PASS event on September 2nd.  Consecutive live (Live Q&A also) 1 hour sessions by some of the best speakers in the business.  This event is loaded with MVP’s, authors, and SQL Server gurus.  Here’s a few names:

  • Louis Davidson
  • Kevin Kline
  • Brad McGehee
  • Grant Fritchey
  • Gail Shaw
  • Kalen Delaney

Wow! As far as I’m concerned that’s and impressive list.  I won’t be staying up 24 hours, but you can bet I’ll be taking in several hours.

It looks like a nice preview of what you can get at the PASS Summit, minus the networking, but free! 

Check it out and attend what you can!  Registration opens Wednesday, August 5th.

Posted in PASS, Professional Development, Training | Leave a Comment »

Meet, Greet, & Remember?

Posted by sqlwiseguy on July 22, 2009

How many of you have said, “I have a real hard time remembering names” or “Excuse me, I know we must have met, but I can’t remember your name”.  I know I have many times.  The question is what am I going to do about?  I’m glad you asked.  As an addition to the PASS Summit, PASS, at the urging of Andy Warren, is adding a 2 hour networking seminar by Don Gabor, Networking to Build Business Contacts, between the pre-conference sessions and the Welcome Reception.  The cost is $60 and attendance is limited to 100.

There are several reasons why I am attending:

  1. To develop confidence in meeting people.
  2. To learn how to build and maintain my network.
  3. To learn how to help others meet people.

Each of these items will be covered during the session, and the Welcome Session and the rest of the conference will give us the opportunity to apply the principles that will be taught.

This won’t just help me as a technical professional, but also in my work.  I currently serve as missionary with New Tribes Mission and part of my “job” is building and maintaining a network of churches and individuals who see value in what I do and are willing to support my work with prayer and finances.  This makes developing networking skills essential. 

Let me give one example of how networking can work.  Just yesterday, I got an email from the Space Coast User Group leaders asking if I could move up from the September meeting and speak at the August meeting as the speaker had to cancel.  I had a conflict so I couldn’t move up.  As I am on Twitter, I put out a message asking if anyone would be able to fill in the August meeting.  I knew at least one person who would be interested, Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken), and I heard back from him fairly quickly.  I was able to connect him with the Space Coast User Group leadership and he was able to make arrangements to fill in.  Both parties were happy, and I got to “raise” my profile through helping others.

I hope to see you there!  Then we can practice together.

Posted in Community, Networking, PASS, Professional Development, Training | 1 Comment »

Making SQLSaturday Orlando Bigger and Better

Posted by sqlwiseguy on June 1, 2009

Once again I am a bit late in getting this out, but on Saturday, May 23rd, I participated in the first planning meeting for SQLSaturday – Orlando 2009.  This will be the third SQLSaturday in Orlando, fourth if you count the Tweener Weekend.  Andy Warren is once again taking the lead role for the event, although he is looking for someone else to take that over for 2010, and he asked a few folks that have been involved in OPASS and the other Orlando SQLSaturday’s to join him for lunch to begin planning this year’s event.  Here are few things we discussed:

Getting People to Attend the After Party

With ~275 people attending the event, getting less than 50 to attend the After Party seems to be a low number, especially when most of them are speakers and volunteers.  We understand that it’s a long day of training, but we also think that one of the most valuable aspects of the day is the networking opportunity.  We discussed having a barbecue (burgers and dogs) on-site instead of adjourning to a restaurant.  I personally think this will be a great way to get people to stay.  I know I have been to events where once I get in my car, even with the intention of going to the after event party, I decide I’m tired and would rather go home.  If I never get to my car, I probably hang out.  There are definitely some logistical issues with doing the After Party on site, but I think the payoff will be worth it.

Growing the Event

How do we get more people to come?  There have to be a lot more than 400 people working with SQL Server in the Orlando area, right?  What do we need to do to get them to come to a free training event?  Certainly adding some “name” speakers would help, but that adds to the event budget and it reduces the number of slots for local speakers.  One of the area where I think we are weak is that we don’t market the event enough to developers.  A lot of the content provided is applicable to .NET/Java/Web developers who access SQL Server.  There is almost always content around SQL Injection which is applicable to developers as well as DBA’s.  One way we want to do this is by adding a slogan or motto that will show that SQLSaturday is for anyone who has any interaction with SQL Server.

Charging for Lunch

One of the biggest expenses for the weekend is providing lunch.  A couple of events have charged for lunch and we discussed and pretty much decided to try adding a $10 lunch fee.  This will allow us to use the budget for providing a better overall event and possibly more swag instead of lunch.  This also will help us as we move to on on-site After Party which will be included at no cost.  So for $10 you get a full day of training; coffee, donuts, fruit, soda, water throughout the day; lunch; and a barbecue.  What could be better.

Pre and Post Event Seminars

On the Friday before SQLSaturday #1, End to End Training hosted a one day seminar with Joe Celko for $99 which brought in about 50 people.  One of the reasons was to get Joe to come and speak at SQLSaturday.  You can agree or disagree with Joe, but he is knowledgeable and certainly generates interest.  We discussed the feasibility of doing multiple events like this during the week before and possibly the Monday after SQLSaturday.  This could possibly encourage some speakers from out of the area to come to Orlando to make a little money and stay and speak at SQLSaturday, so maybe we get a couple bigger names to come, which may help us meet our first goal of growing the event.

This is one of my longer posts, but I think it was worth it to let people know what we are doing to try to make SQLSaturday Orlando a better event.  I think it’s a great event already, I was an attendee at the first one, and a speaker and volunteer at the second, but there are always areas where you can get better and we want to do that. 

I’ll be speaking at SQLSaturday Pensacola this weekend, June 6th, and this will be my first non-Orlando SQLSaturday so it will be good to see how someone else puts together the event and hopefully get some ideas to bring home to Orlando.  So if you are in and around Pensacola I hope to see you there.  There’s a great lineup of speakers.

Posted in Code Camp, Community, OPASS, PASS, Professional Development, SQL Server, SQLSaturday | Leave a Comment »

Tampa SSUG Recap

Posted by sqlwiseguy on May 20, 2009

I had the opportunity and privilege to present Introduction to SQL Server Profiler to the Tampa SSUG last night.  I was impressed by the turnout as it was a full house with about 40 in attendance.  I arrived early, and had a chance to meet a few people, and attempt to work on my networking skills.  I learned I need more practice as I’m still having trouble remembering names of people that I met for the first time.  Some of the people I met were Jonathan Kehayias, @jmkehayias on twitter; Carlos; Andres (I hope I spelled it right); @SQLChicken, Jorge Segarra; Ron Dameron and Nathan (Fraggle on SSC), who I had met at SQLSaturday 8 – Orlando last fall; and, of course, Pam Shaw (@pamshaw) who does a great job leading the group.

After Pam went through the announcements Jorge led a discussion on the pros and cons of social networking (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…).  Some good stories were told about how problems had been solved through the active SQL Server community on Twitter, and a couple of attendees shared how that they had used LinkedIn to either find a job or a candidate for a job.  I think some attendees may have been convinced that there are business/professional reasons to use social networking tools.

After that discussion I was up with my presentation on Profiler.  This was the first time I’ve done the presentation on my new laptop with SQL Server 2008 installed so I had a couple of minor technical glitches like not having reporting services running as I expected and adjusting to how Vista handles presentation mode.  I still need some work on that.  I always start by asking who has used or uses Profiler and I am always surprised that every hand doesn’t go up.  The other question I ask is how many people know that SQL Server 2005/2008 has a server-side trace running (the Default Trace) on install.  Again, the majority of attendees do not know this.  Overall I covered everything I planned in time and had some good questions around the difference between SP:Completed/RPC:Completed and SP:StmtCompleted/RPC:StmtCompleted and good discussion about why you even have the option of having Profiler write to a file or table while running the GUI, since it is recommended against and you can save to a file or table when the trace is done.  Jonathan Kehayias gave me a couple of tips on things I missed or should have said, like when tracing lock events DON’T trace Lock:Acquired as that will fill up a trace fast.  Remember locks are good, deadlocks are bad.  It felt like everyone was pretty happy with the information presented and several people let me know they enjoyed the session, so I guess it well. 

Even though it went well, I know I can do better, but the more I present the better I’ll get.  I’ve got SQLSaturday 14 – Pensacola coming up on June 6th where I’ll be doing my Profiler presentation and Space Coast User Group in September where I’ll be doing a presentation on mining the Default Trace.  I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events!

Posted in Community, PASS, Professional Development, Speaking, SQL Server, User Group | Leave a Comment »

PASS Sessions Submitted, Should I Be Committed?

Posted by sqlwiseguy on April 11, 2009

Well, even though the deadline was extended 2 weeks, I got 2 sessions submitted for the PASS Summit submitted by the original deadline.  Now the question is, should I be committed for even attempting to speak at a national (international) event?

Here are the sessions:

Profiler: An Underused Tool

Profiler has been around for awhile, but is often left in the DBA’s toolbox. Profiler is a flexible tool that can be used for Auditing, Monitoring, and Performance Tuning


  1. Understand when, why, and how to use Profiler
  2. Understand the differences between Profiler and server-side tracing.
  3. Understand performance and security considerations for using Profiler.

Dive into the Default Trace

Beginning with SQL Server 2005 there is a server-side trace installed and started by default in every SQL Server installation. Not many DBA’s take advantage of the wealth of information collected through this trace. This trace includes 34 events in 2005 and 35 events in 2008 that audit non-DDL activity on your SQL Server.


  1. Learn what events are included in the Default Trace.
  2. Learn how to query the Default Trace
  3. Learn how to process the Default Trace files to keep the information beyond the default amount of data (5 20MB files).

Now that I’ve submitted, how about you?

Posted in Community, OPASS, PASS, Professional Development, Speaking, SQL Server, User Group, Volunteering | 1 Comment »

Update on my 2009 Goals

Posted by sqlwiseguy on April 2, 2009

Since we are 1/4 through the year I thought I should give an update on my goals.  Overall I think I am doing okay, but I need to work toward them with more purpose.

  1. Learn SQL Server 2008, particularly policy-based management, resource governor, and service broker.
      Not a whole lot of progress here.  I do have it installed on my laptop, but I have not done much with it, nor have I bought any books.  I really need to get started.
  2. Write 1 Article per quarter for SQLServerCentral.
      Well, I did get an article submitted in the first quarter which will be posted early in the second quarter so I am on target, especially since I have the information for at least 2 more articles already, so I “just” need to write them.
  3. Record and submit 1 video per quarter for JumpstartTV
      Again I did get one done in the first quarter so I am on target.  I also have some ideas for others so it is all about getting them scripted and recorded.
  4. One Blog post per week
      Another one I am meeting with 19 posts in the first quarter.  I have to admit to this being a struggle for me.  I really want the posts to have good content and not just be announcements and recaps of meetings I have been to.  There is nothing wrong with those posts, but I’d like to be sharing something others can learn from more often.  I think that as I write more, it will get easier and better, not just to write, but also to find topics.
  5. Become more involved in leadership in my local user group (OPASS).
      I’m trying to do make the time to do this, but I need to be more purposeful about it.  I am trying to help out by pursuing speakers from within my network.  Of course, a bigger network would make it easier.  Time is limited and whatever I do try to do I want to do well.  Also I have become more involved in PASS as my friend Andy Warren (the OPASS president) is on the board of directors, so I’m trying to help out there as well.
  6. Speak at 2 community events.
      I have a submitted a session to SQLSaturday – Pensacola and will be submitting at least one session for the PASS Summit, so I am making some effort.  I do need to contact some of the other User Groups within driving distance (Tampa, Jacksonville) so I can get more experience.  Odds are I will put together another presentation for OPASS this year and at the next SQLSaturday – Orlando.
  7. Attend the PASS Summit
      I am working on this one.  I have spoken to my boss about possibly getting some funds for it, but, regardless, I plan on going.  As I already mentioned I will also be submitting at least one session.  This is probably the easiest one to do as all it takes is a little money and some vacation time.

Posted in Community, Goals, JumpstartTV, OPASS, PASS, Professional Development, Speaking, SQL Server, SQLSaturday, SqlServerCentral, User Group, Volunteering | Leave a Comment »

What happens if you register for the PASS Summit and then your session is accepted?

Posted by sqlwiseguy on April 2, 2009

I asked Andy Warren this because he is a PASS board member and if he didn’t know he’d know who to ask.  They do exactly what you would expect, they refund your registration fee using whatever method you used to pay.  Thanks Andy and Marcella Santoso at PASS HQ.

If your interested in why I asked, it is because there are discounts for registering early and, being frugal (cheap) and not confident that sessions I submit will be selected, I want to take advantage of the discounted registration fee.

Posted in PASS, Professional Development | Leave a Comment »