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SQLSaturday Round-Up (Dec. 16-22)

(This is Round 7 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

After the conclusion of SQLSaturday #61 in Washington DC, held on Dec. 4, there are no more PASS SQLSaturdays until 2011. There's lots of news and helpful information in this post, though, so read on -- we'll go back to the future for one more week! (Why? Because that DeLorean is amazing. That's why.)

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


Matt Velic attended SQLSaturday #61 in Washington DC (okay, this was in the past, but it's a great recap of the day's events)

Adam Jorgensen is the BI Iron Chef at SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa

Brian K. McDonald is speaking at SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa


Contrary to our post from last week, there are actually three SQLSaturdays in January and four SQLSaturdays in February. We forgot to mention that SQLSaturday #65 swings by near PASS HQ in Vancouver, Canada, on February 26. (Cheers to Gail Shaw for reminding us!)


SQLSaturdays can be stressful to host for many reasons. Karla Landrum provides some tips on reducing the stresses and costs of hosting these events. One way of putting a few extra dollars in your event's coffers is to have blog sponsorships -- as Noel McKinney explains, this is great for events and for bloggers.

And finally, with the holidays approaching quickly, a timely and relevant message from Kendal Van Dyke about how SQLSaturdays and other local SQL community events can help those less fortunate than we are. Definitely worth a read.

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.



The times they are a-changin'

[cross-posted from Jeremiah Peschka's blog at]

Last week, I sent an email to the PASS Board of Directors. It said, in short, that I was stepping down from my seat on the board. In fact, here’s the email:

A few months ago I made a huge change in my career and stepped out of my role as a production DBA and into a new career working with new databases. The more time I spend with these databases, the more I realize that they need an exciting, vibrant community like we have here in PASS. I want to help these communities grow and thrive, but there are only so many hours in the day. I have enjoyed the time that I’ve served on the PASS Board of Directors and I will continue to be involved in the community, but there are new communities that need what we have at PASS.

This has not been an easy decision to make, but I am stepping down from the PASS Board of Directors.

Just so you don’t think it sounds contrived, here it is again:

I love PASS and I love the SQL Server community. Being a part of PASS has given me a phenomenal sense of community. The SQL Server community has readily welcomed new members and new technologies and continues to grow the meaning of being a SQL Server professional. The community has embraced knowledge sharing in a way that many communities should envy. I keep learning so much every day from all of your blogs, presentations, books, and white papers.

And this is where things get difficult. I love what I’m doing with PASS, but I also love what I’m doing outside of SQL Server. There is a lot of knowledge there, but it’s silo’d and stuck in people’s heads. That knowledge needs to get out into the wild. One of the easiest ways to spread knowledge is to help it spread through communities. It’s difficult building a community from the ground up. Hell, maintaining an existing community is difficult. Doing both at the same time is impossible.

I asked myself how I could help when I started with PASS several years ago. I jumped in and started a chapter, then I took over a virtual chapter, and then I ran for the Board of Directors. Along the way, I met a ton of people who were kind, helpful, thoughtful, and more than ready to help out. As I slowly came to the realization that I couldn’t build a new community and grow an existing community at the same time, I also came to the realization that there were a lot of people ready to step up and help PASS grow.

Knowing that so many of you care and want to help made it a lot easier to come to this decision. I know that no matter what, there are a lot of people who will steer PASS and help it grow.

PASS showed me a wonderful community and I want to share that community with other people. I’m not running away and I’m not leaving, I’m just spreading the love around.


SQLSaturday Round-Up (Dec. 9-15)

(This is Round 6 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

After the conclusion of SQLSaturday #61 in Washington DC, held on Dec. 4, there are no more PASS SQLSaturdays until 2011. While we'll be going through a bit of withdrawal until then, it's worth noting that 2011 is looking like a booming year for SQLSaturdays, with 14 events already booked and many others rumored to be on the way. Until then, it's back to the future again for us!

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


+ David Dye will be speaking at SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa

+ Denny Cherry will be delivering a pre-conference session at SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa

+ The mysterious Es Cue El is helping organize SQLSaturday #60 in Cleveland


There are three SQLSaturdays coming up in January alone. SQLSaturday #62 happens in Tampa on Jan. 15, SQLSaturday #45 in Louisville on Jan. 22, and SQLSaturday #57 in Houston on Jan. 29.

But being the little month that could, February refuses to be outdone - that month will also see three SQLSaturdays hosted: SQLSaturday #60 in Cleveland on Feb. 5, SQLSaturday #66 in Colorado Springs on Feb. 12, and SQLSaturday #47 on Feb. 19. 

And finally, Grant Fritchey recently announced that SQLSaturday #71 is a go in New England.


As we noted last week, SQLSaturday is a fantastic venue to hone your presentation skills. This week, John Sterrett points out that you don't have to be an expert to speak at SQLSaturdays

Of course, SQLSaturdays aren't just about speaking or learning - they're fantastic opportunities for meeting people and networking, and this week Andy Warren blogged about some real life anecdotes to inspire you.

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.



PASS SQLRally Call For Speakers Update

[cross-posted from Jack Corbeett's blog at]


Well, we have 3 days left in the PASS SQLRally Call for speakers and we are doing well.  We have over 70 completed submissions, there may be more in a “saved” state, with a great mix of topics across the three main tracks of Development, DBA, and Business Intelligence. 

One area where we currently have a limited number of submissions is in our Professional Development category.  Our goal is to have 3 professional development sessions (one a deep dive) so we’d like to have double-digit submissions in this track, so that the community will have nice group of sessions to choose from.

With our goal of having 48 unique speakers, we are still looking for more submissions across all tracks and for all levels of ability, from 100 level to 400 level topics.

So, have you submitted yet?  If not, what's holding you back?  Here’s a post by Brent Ozar that talks about how community involvement helped propel his career forward: Rock Stars, Normal People, and You.

(Note - if you have submitted you might want to double check that your abstracts are in a "submitted" state; we've noticed some abstracts are in a "saved" state which means they're still considered a work in progress)




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I Need More Women

[cross-posted from Thomas LaRock's blog at]

While sitting at the WIT lunch during the PASS 2010 Summit it was mentioned that the percentage of woman MVPs overall was less than the percentage of WIT in general. With my thinking cap engaged I had a crazy idea: why not do the next 24 Hours of PASS and feature only women speakers, and do it in March ( which also happens to be women’s history month). I turned to the person sitting next to me on my right and asked a simple question: “Do you think I should do this?” That person was Jen McCown (blog | @midnightdba) who said “yes”, then paused to reflect, and then said “HELL, yes”.

I then went about engaging various members of the SQL Community to get some feedback on the idea. After about two weeks we had an outline for the next 24 HoP event and there was much rejoicing. But we have some other work to do first.

The current 24HoP structure doesn’t work anymore, it just isn’t transparent enough. Even as I put together the last event I knew that changes needed to be made. So here is what I would like to see done.

The call for abstracts has gone out already. (If you have an abstract in mind or have suggestions for specific speakers or topics, send us an email at Deadline for abstract submission (max 250 words with a 125 word bio) is January 14.) That part was easy. The next part is not as easy: how do we get the Community involved in selecting the sessions and speakers?

Right now the 24 HoP Committee is actively working on how to implement this change. My current idea is to use UserVoice and have voting open for about a week after the deadline for abstracts is complete. What I would like to do is find a way to have people vote once for a list of speakers (with no mention of abstracts) and also for a list of abstracts (without knowing which speaker submitted the abstract). I feel that by doing so we would have an idea of not only who the Community wants to see speak, but what they want to hear. We would tally the two lists and come up with 28 speakers (24 and 4 alternates).

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea if this is the best way to get the Community Choice done, but it is the only idea we have on the table right now. And it is also the reason I am writing this blog post: if you have suggestions, please send them along. Drop us a note at and tell us your suggestion. The 24 HoP Committee will be spending the next four weeks trying to find a way to let the Community decide the sessions for the next 24 HoP and we don’t pretend to think we have all the right answers.



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SQLSaturday Round-Up (Dec. 2-8)

(This is Round 5 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

Only one PASS SQLSaturday was held in the past week, SQLSaturday #61 in Washington DC, but that doesn't mean we're short on blog posts! 


+ Kendra Little presented at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

Sandra Mueller presented at SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC

+ Ryan Rastedt attended SQLSaturday #61, Washington DC


2010's events are all done, but there are lots of SQLSaturdays coming up in 2011. If you're in the vicinity, don't miss SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa on Jan. 15 or SQLSaturday #57 in Houston on Jan. 29. PASS Director and speaker Andy Warren notes that SQLSaturday #62 is so popular that they've had to turn down speakers

And finally, Bob Pusateri announced that Chicago will be hosting SQLSaturday #67 on March 26.


SQLSaturday is a fantastic venue to hone your presentation skills. Brent Ozar blogged about these (and other) opportunities for up-and-coming speakers in 2011. 

For those about to host or thinking of hosting a SQLSaturday, you may be interested in Kathi Kellenberger's insightful interview with SQLSaturday #53 organizer, Bill Fellows

Before we go, we have to point you to this fantastic post by Wendy Pastrick. Wendy won the 2010 PASSion Award as PASS's most outstanding volunteer -- she blogs about how this came about and the role SQLSaturday played in her success. Congratulations again, Wendy! 

Want to attend a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

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What's Your PASSion?

[Cross-posted from Wendy Pastrick's blog at]

It's a little late for a SQL PASS Summit 2010 recap, but I still wanted to share some of my experience from the event.

Each year, an award is given to a single recipient for displaying a passion in working with PASS and the SQL Server Community: The PASSion Award. This year, I was honored and humbled to be that person. Looking back at this past year, I'm dumbfounded to see all the things in which I became involved. It started with a letter sent to my current General Manager trying to justify my attendance at the Summit. What did I do? Started a new User Group in the Chicago suburbs, tried my hand at blogging, brought together Team SQL Saturday for the Chicago event, worked as co-chair for the Women In Technology Virtual Chapter, worked on the WIT Luncheon for the Summit, spoke at a few UG meetings and SQL Saturdays, and became a Regional Mentor for the Midwest. You know what, even looking at that list, I still feel that I didn't do all I wanted. Most of these things were (and still are) hard work, and yes, the ball gets dropped now and then. Looks like Michelangelo's theory is true: 

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

I started thinking 'What drives passion'? What motivates any one person to get out there and spend their spare time working on things that may or may not come to fruition? Taking a look inward, I have to say that I never intended to do any of these things with any tangible goals in mind other than "bring people together". As to the question of Why? - honestly it was more the fact that I had a an opportunity to work with really fun people who wanted to do the same things I did - so, I took it. Maybe I just got lucky that those opportunities happened somewhat simultaneously. However, looking at it more realistically, each one grew out of another.

Thank you to all the wonderful people I've met, worked with and studied from over this past year. You make it fun and worth doing!

So, go now, find your PASSion and have fun, plus meet like-minded people along the way! You really can get back out of it, sometimes even greater than, what you put into it.

Consider yourself tagged :)

[posted to PASS Blog by Hannes Bez on behalf of Wendy Pastrick]



SQLRally Call for Speakers Closes December 15, 2010

[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at]

The call for speakers is open through December 15, 2010, and I hope many of you will take the chance to throw a session or two into the SQLRally hat. Whether you get picked or not for the final program, it’s fun to be in the game, to enjoy the wait and the voting and the announcement to see who gets one of the prized slots at the first every SQLRally.

The final selection will be done by the community, so as you write your entries you might think about:

  • Is the title descriptive, intriguing, but not too cute?
  • Does the abstract tell them clearly what you will deliver? Imagine the voters have to be pick between five similarly titled abstracts, will the text you write give them the best understanding of what you will teach?
  • It wouldn’t be wrong to post your title and description on your blog or twitter for comment before you submit it. Why not get some feedback first?
  • Writing a good bio is hard, it can feel a bit like patting yourself on the back or overselling. It certainly can be overdone, but think of it as a very short resume – if a voter has a choice of five similar presentations have you done the best job you can to show them your technical and speaking experience?
  • Niche topics are ok, might even give you an edge!
  • Remember you’ll be competing by topic category, so it might be worth spending a few minutes seeing what other presentations have been done on that area of SQL and try to stake out new ground
  • Don’t be afraid to go head to head with the big dogs. Yes, it’s harder to win against someone with bigger name recognition, but it could happen – especially if you’ve built your chops and some community recognition of your own. Plus, it’s good to make them keep working at it!
  • Pick a topic you know and are passionate about, even if it is topic most likely to win. Passion wins more often than you might think.

Take the chance, I think you’ll be glad you did, and it’s a great way to contribute to the community, giving us the chance to pick from a great selection and try to build the schedule we want!


Mr. LaRock Goes To Washington

[cross-posted from Thomas LaRock's blog at]

Well, technically I think we would just call it Virginia, but I am speaking this weekend at SQL Saturday #61. My talk is ‘Performance Tuning Made Easy’ and you can read a little bit more about it here.

I am always trying to find ways to help people who are new to MSSQL to understand the basics and give them a solid foundation to build upon. Performance tuning is hard for a lot of people because there is little to no structure put around the idea of performance tuning. My talk helps to give some structure where none previously existed.

I even spend some time going over a process to help anyone (newbies and veterans) have some structure when trying to tune a particular query. I borrow the SQL Diagramming method from Dan Tow and summarize that into a 12-step process. Why 12 steps? Because every other program I have entered has 12 steps so it just seemed natural. In my mind I wanted to create a process that anyone, no matter how many years of experience, could follow and have the end result be a step in the right direction. I’ll give you the rundown:

  1. List all tables in the query (what??? I don’t start by examining an execution plan? NO! you need some details first in order to be efficient in your tuning process)
  2. Gather rowcounts for each table (yeah, you’ll need this. I see people who dive into execution plans only to come back later to ask ‘how many rows in that table anyway?’, so do yourself a favor and get the info first)
  3. Find all filters (get info on the JOIN and WHERE clause of the query, list out the columns used)
  4. Calculate the selectivity (remember the rowcounts? good. now using the info from the filters, figure out how many rows are being returned from each table. So if we have an orders table with 12,000 orders but we filter to only want 3,000 of those orders, then our selectivity is 3,000/12,000 or 0.25)
  5. Gather info on any additional columns used (look in the SELECT clause for this)
  6. Gather info on existing keys and indexes (some newbies may not have any idea about this stuff but now is the time to learn. Dive in and make certain you are aware what exists currently)
  7. Examine the execution plan (finally! go ahead and run the query and examine the execution plan, use SET STATISTICS IO ON and SET STATISTICS TIME ON as well, you’ll want those numbers)
  8. Record your results from step 7 (otherwise how would you ever know if things are getting better?)
  9. Adjust the indexes for tables with the lowest selectivity first (by ‘lowest’ I mean the tables that are closest to zero from the calculation in step 4)
  10. Rerun the query and examine the results and execution plans
  11. Rinse, lather, repeat on each table in increasing order by selectivity
  12. Continue onward, reducing your logical and physical reads (you can focus on logical reads, ideally you wouldn’t have any physical reads. now is a good time to remind you that this is simply a process to help people get some structure around performance tuning, it isn’t meant to be something that is infallible for each and every query in existence)

That’s right, you need to examine the other DUI (Deletes, Updates, Inserts) statements that are hitting those same tables. If you are working with tables that have lots of modifications being done then adding the additional indexes could hurt performance in other areas. Oh, sure, your query may run better, but you would have hosed someone else. And while I have come across MANY developers that don’t care about anyone else except their own performance I am here to tell you as a DBA it is your job to stand up and make certain that you help maintain a performance balance for all users, not just one user and one query.

I hope to see you this Saturday!

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PASS Update #48

[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at]

It’s the end of November and this will probably be my last update on PASS for the year as things slow down for the holidays. This seems like a good time to update you on ongoing projects and to think about where I’ll be headed next year.

As I look back at 2010 it’s a mixed bag. I started the year with speaker bureau (SB) project, one that I was enthused about, a good project that would have a nice impact on both speakers and chapter leaders. Then I had to change course to manage the adoption of SQLSaturday by PASS and had to put SB on hold. That adoption took a while, and then I also ended owning the initial implementation of SQLRally which pushed SB back again. I kept Rushabh in the loop about the delays, only so much time in the day. In hindsight I wish I had gotten a little further in the beginning and tried to hand off to a volunteer team.

The SQLSaturday transition has been slow and not without some minor pain internally as we worked to divide the work up at HQ and learn how to make it work, but it’s been almost seamless for the event leaders and certainly so for the attendees. My work on this now consists of long term vision, making sure we’re finding the efficiencies where we can, budget, and driving lessons learned back to our event leaders. HQ owns the day to day stuff, from making sure email goes out to coaching first time events to sending out checks at the end of the event. A successful transition, and one that has had a tremendous positive impact on PASS.

SQLRally is of course still in flight, but we’ve been working on it hard since July. There were definitely times prior to the November launch that we were behind the curve, not having a web site ready was one, but the choice was to say nothing until ready, or start talking about it even though not fully prepared. We opted for the latter just to get the news out early enough in 2010 that people could try to get it worked into their 2011 budget requests. At this point we’ve opened registration, completed a community vote to pick the pre-con speakers, and the call for speakers is now open through Dec 15th. Our next real challenge is marketing. We have some ideas and it’ll be fun to see if a true grass roots effort works as well as we hope.

Going into next year I’ll have two projects, SQLSaturday and SQLRally. SQLSaturday I’ve covered already, SQLRally the goal is to have another one in the US in 2012, but also take the event international which brings a whole new set of questions and lessons. PASS is working hard to develop an international strategy and this is part of it, doing some mid size events and finding out what works and what doesn’t. Rushabh and had a long talk at the Summit about where to best use my time, and the result was that the SB project is being transferred to Allen and Jeremiah. Hard to let it go, but it needs to be done, and I’m not likely to find any more time in my weeks.

My other current commitment that will run some months into 2011 is the Election Review Committee (see the web site at That effort is under way and as a group we’re still working to understand the various view points and problems before we start to work on recommendations. I hope in the end our recommendations will be simple, but getting to them is going to be a lot of work!

It’s easy to think (and for me to make it look like) that I’m just a project manager, and sometimes the doer as well. There is some of that, though I expect to spend less time doing in 2011 and put a lot more time into thinking. It can’t just be throwing ideas on the table and hoping someone grabs them, it’s got to be coming up with ideas and testing them through conversations, and figuring out which ones make sense to work on. There is no shortage of ideas for PASS, but we’re going to have to get better at figuring out which ones we should do. We can’t do them all, and that’s part of the thinking process – should we do it, how can we do it with less time, is there something else that would be of greater benefit?

It’s been a good two years. I’ve learned a lot and helped drive some change, and hoping that I can do more of both in the next two years. I plan to continue writing these update over the next two years, so look for #49 sometime in January!


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