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Category: PASS Community Summit

2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Simon Sabin

Today's post is from Simon Sabin who will be presenting "Advanced Reporting Services".  You can read more about his session here:

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
Are any of these familiar

  • You’ve been asked to make your reports more interactive.
  • You’ve got 100 reports to develop and you want to avoid doing the same thing 100 times.
  • You’ve got a system that is used by 200 clients how can you use reporting services to deliver reports for them securely.
  • You’ve seen crescent and would like some of that goodness.
  • You know reporting services can do more but you just don’t know how.
  • You’ve been sitting at your desk and you’ve got no hair left because you’ve been trying to get reporting services to do something that looks easy.

If any of them are familiar then you need to attend the advanced reporting services precon at SQL PASS
After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
After attending you will know how to tackle the common problems that on the surface look easy but in practice are very difficult. Like how do you combine data from different sources, how do you display parent child data, how do you add interactivity to your report.
Not only will you learn how, but you will also learn why certain options are better than others. I’ve done the hard work figuring these things out so you don’t have to.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
Before attending you should have some experience of reporting services. We will assume you know your way around management studio and BIDS. Some knowledge of VB.Net would be helpful but we will be covering that at a fairly basic level.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
I’ve got 14 years experience with SQL Server and have worked with reporting services from its first incarnation with SQL Server 2000. I’ve worked on large installations with 100s of reports as well as hosted services where we had to deliver reports for individual clients.
I regularly teach companies on how to use SQL Server and Reporting Services and my experience means I know the pitfalls to avoid and the ways to work around some of the limitations of reporting services.
I’ve been and MVP for 6 years, I’m one of the founders of SQLBits and I am a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server 2008.

Go here to register for the 2011 PASS Summit.


Untapped Benefit?

(Cross-posted from my blog)

Are you using your benefits to further your SQL Server skills? The other day, the company I work for (Scalability Experts) had a benefits meeting where open enrollment for insurance and other similar things were discussed. Since we are a small company, we outsource HR/Payroll/Benefits, and I discovered a new benefit that I was unaware of previously. Perhaps you have it too.

There is an Educational Assistance Benefit of $1500/year to help with courses that count towards a degree. I was somewhat familiar with that one. There is also an Educational Assistance Benefit that is geared for attending seminars (especially those offered by a Professional Association). The benefit offered through our plan is $500/year to spend on educational seminars. There is some criteria the seminar must meet under our benefit structure such as: helping develop skills that you use in your line of work and it can't be in-house or custom training.

That sounds like a perfect fit for a PASS Summit Pre-Con! Of course your organization may have different criteria and/or benefit amounts, but don't let that education benefit go to waste. There is a great selection of Pre-Cons to choose from (see the lineup below) that offer a full day of learning for only $395! Tap into your benefits and receive some great learning practically for free!
--Rick Heiges

Monday, October 10:

Tuesday, October 11


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2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Rob Farley

Today's post is from Rob Farley who will be presenting "Fixing Queries With Advanced T-SQL Constructs".  You can read more about his
session here:
Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
A lot of people are quite good at T-SQL. They can write queries to solve most of their problems, and they probably understand indexing principles - able to pick the ideal covering index for their queries, and probably know to look in the Execution Plan to look for ‘bad things’ such as Index Scans and Lookups. However, I see a lot of things that people don’t really know about writing queries and the relationship to plans. I know they don’t, because I remember learning them myself. I remember making that shift from being able to write ‘good queries’ to being able to write the queries that matched the plans I wanted to see being produced.

But you don’t have to be particularly good at T-SQL already. The kind of person I think will get the most out of this seminar is the person who is merely comfortable writing queries, and interested in being stretched to think differently.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?
My favourite piece of feedback from any of my Advanced T-SQL classes is when someone writes "You’ve made me want to pull up every query I’ve ever written." It’s not because they suddenly have tools to assess their queries better (although they will certainly have the opportunity to learn to assess queries), but because they’ve developed an interest in thinking about their queries more. I’ll show people the profoundness of what they already know, and they’ll probably think of times they’ve used those constructs without considering the impact of them. I’ve had people remote into their machines during my talks to see if they’re taking full advantage of the things I’m showing.

As well as that, people will get renewed hope that they can tune some of their nastier queries even more. We all have queries that we have given up on, and I hope that I can persuade people that there is almost always hope, even for the worst of them. The things I’ll be showing can affect a lot of queries, so I’m sure there will be something for even the most frustrating of queries.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
I’m going to assume that attendees are not complete beginners with T-SQL. I figure if I show a simple GROUP BY statement, that someone’s going to understand what I’m showing. But I don’t expect that they should have a certain level of expertise before coming. The biggest prerequisite I see for this is to have an interest in getting the most out of T-SQL. If they’re coming to hear my jokes, they’ll be disappointed - my jokes aren’t really that good.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
Well, I’ve taught Advanced T-SQL for a number of years, using my own courseware, and have delivered this seminar before with excellent feedback. I’ve done public speaking for a long time, and promise to make the day enjoyable as well as instructional. I’ve had some of the best in the industry say that I’m one of the best explainers out there, and I take pleasure in helping people really get the concepts that I’m showing. I try for a mix of the light-hearted and eye-opening, that generally works well. I don’t try for massively deep and obscure; I go for profound, and may make your head hurt as you start seeing the possibilities for the code you can write.

Oh, but if you’ve never seen an execution plan before, then consider going to Grant & Gail’s session. I’m sure that will be very good too.


2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Allan Hirt

 Today's post is from Allan Hirt who will be presenting "A Deep Dive into AlwaysOn:Failover Clustering and Availability Groups". You can read more about his session here: .

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?
There has been a lot of buzz around all the changes in high availability that come as part of Denali. This session is for those who want to jumpstart their knowledge, and focuses on both failover clustering and the new availability groups feature from a DBA/IT/infrastructure, not a developer, perspective.


After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?

  1. Learn the essentials of the new AlwaysOn availability groups feature in SQL Server Denali
  2. Understand how to plan and implement an underlying Windows failover cluster for not only a standard SQL Server failover cluster, but ones that are multi-site as well as for AlwaysOn availability groups
  3. See live demos to how how DBAs will actually need to implement and administer these features. This will not be just a day’s worth of theory from slide presentations that is not usable in the real world.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?
Since there is no plan to teach the basics of failover clustering, attendees should have at least a working knowledge of clusters because clusters not only play a role in the traditional failover clustering aspects of Denali, but in availability groups as well.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?
Besides being a Microsoft Cluster MVP who can talk to both Windows and SQL Server, I have been working with one of Microsoft’s Denali TAP customers since Spring 2011 on a multi-site deployment combining both clustered instances and availability groups. I also bring close to 20 years of experience with SQL Server including consulting, training, and writing numerous whitepapers, articles, and books. I do not just do this stuff in a lab; I help customers in the real world.

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Best Presentations from PASS Summit 2011

By Allen Kinsel
(Reposted from Allen's blog)

Every year after the Summit the results of the thousands of evaluations are tabulated.  It seems every year the only question I hear after the summit is “when are the evaluations coming out?”  Well dear reader I’m happy to say, that day is today.  First id like to point out that this year we had well over 13000 unique session evaluations which is an increase of about 30% over 2010.

Online Evaluations produce unexpected results
One interesting thing I noticed in this years online evals was that we received evals for all sorts of “events” that happened at the Summit.  Normally, we only get them for sessions but because of the way the session scheduler was automated and integrated into the session eval forms, we actually received evals on many other events that took place at the summit other than regular sessions.  Receiving candid feedback on these events was quite refreshing and will be worked back into next years similar events.

Moving into the 21st century
This year since we offered online evaluations as well as paper evaluations I was interested to see what the turnout would be and while the amount of paper vs online evaluations entered was more lopsided towards paper than I’d have liked.  I believe that overall they were well used and next year we plan on only having online session evals.  I expect that if the room monitors push the online evals in the same manner they pushed the paper this year that we’ll get enough evals next year for this to be an effective option.  The real benefit other than costs of entering paper evals and killing trees is that if all of the evals come in a digital form I would see no reason that they shouldn’t be ready either real time or within a week or 2 from the end of the event but, Ill leave those details to next years Board member who's in charge of the Summit.  

Without Further ado, Here’s the link to the 2011 Summit top overall sessions.

The top sessions were calculated by averaging all of the evaluation answers then we excluded results if there were less than 20 evaluations or 20 attendees.

Also, if you were a speaker, You can log into the PASS Speaker portal site and get your full evaluation results (and the overall event scores) from the following link

Please join me again in congratulating all of the speakers from this years Summit, without them and their excellent contributions our community wouldnt be the same.

Edited-> I had the wrong filter criteria on our exclusion of sessions from the top list specification.  I stated we excluded if there were less than 10 evals and 10 attendees when the number was 15 each, I apologize for my fading memory.

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Board Starts New Year with Portfolio Assignments

For my first editorial as PASS President, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who voted in our Board elections in December and encourage you to get even more involved in your organization in this new year. It was awesome to see the excitement generated by a phenomenal slate of candidates and by wide-ranging community discussion about the biggest issues and opportunities facing our organization. I challenge all of us to translate that energy into creative solutions to help SQL Server professionals around the world connect, share, and learn. With your help, 2012 is going to be a great year for PASS!

One of the first tasks for the President each year is to assign Board members to portfolios, and I’m excited to announce this year’s portfolio leaders. The portfolios for members of the Executive Committee were determined when the Board elected them last June. Douglas McDowell will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance, and Thomas LaRock will serve as Vice President, Marketing. Rushabh Mehta moves to the role of Immediate Past President. These terms started Jan. 1 and run for 2 years.

Directors-At-Large are typically assigned a portfolio for a calendar year, although  sometimes Board members will head the same portfolio for 2 years. This approach works best with the natural Board turnover and matching the desires of Board members with the needs of the organization.

This year, we have only one returning At-Large Director, Allen Kinsel, who is taking over the Chapters portfolio. Allen previously headed the Summit Program committee, and his experience leading a large volunteer team will be invaluable in the Chapters area.

Our three newly elected Board members – Adam Jorgensen, Denise McInerney, and Rob Farley – have also received their portfolio assignments. Adam will lead the Summit Program portfolio, putting his previous  2 years of experience on the Program Committee and service in two other portfolios to great use. Adam’s experience and combined technical and business skills will be central to the continued expansion of our Summit educational offerings.

Denise will take over the Virtual Chapters portfolio. Denise was instrumental in the creation and growth of the Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and the growth of its leadership team, and I’m excited to bring her experience to all our Virtual Chapters.

And Rob will lead the 24 Hours of PASS portfolio, heading up our largest online events program and one of our greatest opportunities to reach more members. PASS has a tremendous opportunity to expand its offering of  local-language events that can touch all parts of the globe. Rob’s drive and experience organizing events and volunteers will really shine in this portfolio.

Our last portfolio, the popular PASS SQLSaturday events program, will be filled when the Board appoints someone to fill one of two empty Board seats later this month.

I’m honored to be working with a Board that has more experience and depth than any I can remember. And I’m looking forward to this team and our army of volunteers accomplishing great things for PASS and the SQL Server community this year.


What Do You Want to See at Summit?

Hey, SQL pros!

I’m excited to announce the first milestone from your hardworking Program Team! In the past, we have done a survey that asked you to help us get inside your head. (We were disturbed at what we saw, but we’re coming back anyway. :) We do this so we can find out what you’d like to see at PASS Summit – we use the information you share to help drive the session types and content we’ll be looking for soon when we launch the call for speakers. The survey gathered great information, but it was soooo looong and took a hunk of time to complete, so we’ve streamlined!

You can take the slimmed-down survey today at The new survey has been reduced by over 50% in length and should take you only 60-120 seconds to complete. To help sweeten the pot, we’re giving you the chance to win a complimentary pre-con registration (whoa!) and a blog interview with me to share what you’d personally like to see at Summit. But don’t wait – the survey closes in 1 week, on April 11. Once the survey votes are tallied, we’ll draw for the winner.

This year, the Program Team aims to showcase the new and improved processes we’re putting in place to help make the Summit planning, session selection, evaluation, and feedback mechanisms more straightforward and streamlined. We will keep working with you to make Summit the most community-integrated event possible, always improving and learning.

You represent the strongest technology community out there (in my humble opinion), and your opinions give us the direction we need to implement the continuous flow of great ideas coming out of our volunteer teams. But we need everyone’s feedback. So get started on the survey now. Tell your friends and coworkers to take the survey, and get your dog or cat to take it too (this may not apply to you – maybe only my dog knows T-SQL).

And as always, let us know how we can keep making your PASS experience better. Reach out to me any time at with questions or feedback.

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In the Loop with PASS Summit

We've got some great things going on in the PASS ecosystem and I want to make sure you’re looped in!

The 2012 PASS Summit Preference survey has closed with nearly twice as many responses compared to last year. Thank you! Your feedback will help drive the content at PASS Summit this year.

On that note, the Summit Call for Speakers is open to all community and Microsoft presenters and I encourage you to submit an abstract by the May 13 deadline. You'll need to use your PASS member login to access the Call for Speakers site. If you don't have a login, you can create one now. This year’s program will span over 6 tracks and you can put forward up to 4 session abstracts and 2 pre-conference abstracts. It’s going to be great!

We have selected the remaining folks to help with the program committees. This excited group of volunteers is being notified of their committee assignments and going through training so we will be ready to get going as soon as the Call for Speakers closes. The invitations for spotlight sessions are also going out this week so keep your eye out, you might be invited to submit one of these sessions!

The PASS Summit Program portfolio is moving along nicely with great input and support from the rest of my team of board members. The best feedback I get however is from you, so please keep that coming. Stay on the lookout for my upcoming blog interview with Mike Lynn, our winner from the drawing we held from survey respondents. Mike will get a chance to share what he would like to see at PASS Summit, what he thinks about PASS and how we can continue to become more relevant to each of you in your day-to-day data world.

PASS SQLRally Dallas is upon us next week and this is incredibly exciting. I’ll be attending my second board meeting at the event and delivering some sessions with the rest of a tremendous cast of characters (yes I think you are all characters)! If you have not already done so, please consider making it out to the event and if you’re coming, take advantage of some of the amazing pre-cons that are happening. 

Speaking of board meetings, I am looking forward to this one. My first experience was better than expected and the group really aligned quickly to begin delivering on some commitments and planning for awesome happenings this year. There are some big topics to discuss, fun Summit planning, and some special projects being worked on by some great volunteers. Stay tuned for more info on some of these great initiatives.

– Adam | | @AJBigData

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Top Speakers Invited to Submit Spotlight Sessions

They’re back! Favorite speakers from PASS Summit 2011 were invited late last week to submit special 90-minute Spotlight session abstracts for this year’s conference.

Spotlight sessions highlight top-rated Community speakers, as determined by attendee evaluations. To receive a Spotlight invitation, speakers had to receive an overall rating of 4.6 or higher for their PASS Summit 2011 session (excluding Lightning Talks and Chalk Talks), with a minimum of 15 attendees and 15 submitted attendee evals.

This year, 27 speakers received a Spotlight invitation and are also welcome to submit Regular and ½-Day sessions, up to an overall total of four submissions. If they meet the speaker requirements for Pre-Conference sessions, they can submit two pre-con abstracts as well. All Spotlight abstracts not selected for a 90-minute Spotlight session will be considered for a regular 75-minute session. (See the PASS Summit 2012 Call for Speakers for all the details.)

Congratulations to all the fantastic speakers who received a Spotlight invitation – we can’t wait to receive your abstracts!
– Adam | | @AJBigData


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Anti-Harassment Policy Adopted for PASS Summit

The PASS Board of Directors recently approved adoption of an Anti-Harassment Policy for PASS Summit.

The policy states: "We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification." It outlines in general terms the type of behavior that is not acceptable and explains the steps that can be taken should someone engage in harassing behavior.

I had three reasons for drafting the policy and proposing its adoption:

  • Other technical conferences have had incidents of harassment. Most of these did not have a policy in place prior to having a problem, though several conference organizers have since adopted anti-harassment policies or codes of conduct. I felt it would be in PASS's interest to establish a policy so we would be prepared should there be an incident.
  • "This is Community" - Adopting a code of conduct would reinforce our community orientation and send a message about the positive character of PASS Summit. 
  • PASS is a leader among technical organizations for its promotion and support of women. Adopting a code of conduct would further demonstrate our leadership in this area.


PASS members pride themselves on being inclusive and ensuring that all attendees feel welcome at the Summit. From the many networking opportunities to the First Timers program to the #sqlpass conversations on Twitter, we encourage everyone to particpate fully in the conference. Having an anti-harassment policy is another way we ensure everyone feels welcome and safe at the Summit.

The Board had some thoughtful discussions as we worked through the details of the policy. I applaud the Board's willingness to take this step. I also want to thank PASS Governance Administrator Michelle Nalliah for all of her help in getting us through this process. 


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