The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

PASS Summit 2020 has Gone Virtual

I am pleased to be able to share that this year’s PASS Summit event has gone virtual! We are excited to proceed with a virtual conference and we look forward to welcoming attendees from around the world that would not normally be able to join us at the in-person event.

Launching the PASS Virtual Summit was a massive undertaking for a not-for-profit, especially under such challenging circumstances. Thanks to the community feedback we received over the last few months, and the dedicated team at PASS HQ, we were able to make this conference a reality. Thank you to the dozens of community members that participated in focus groups and provided the insights that informed this change and the revised pricing.

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PASS Financials Update

We are currently in the midst of what we consider the PASS budget season for our Fiscal Year (FY), running from July 1 to June 30. This is typically the time of year where we are deep into reviewing and adjusting the extensive PASS budget in anticipation of voting on the budget in June. This year, however, is an unprecedented time for us with the uncertainty surrounding PASS Summit, which accounts for 94% of PASS’ revenue. As we’ve discussed over the last few months we have been looking at ways to diversify that revenue, but the reality is that for FY 2021, PASS Summit will be the primary source of income for our community. COVID-19 has had a significant impact. Registrations have slowed to a trickle at a time when we would expect to see our biggest numbers. We are facing an unprecedented situation where we are having to re-evaluate our path forward and the timeline.

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Monitor Exceptions in Your Database

Introduction This article started with a problem my co-workers had: they got bug reports from users where the application displayed an error message from SQL Server. Since the issue occurred only occasionally, it was difficult for them to reproduce the problem and find out where the error...

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PASS Summit 2020 Update – June Announcement

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that PASS Summit 2020 will be taking place this year, and that I would update the community throughout every step of the process and with every new development.

As we get further in understanding the logistics and financial impact of transitioning to a virtual PASS Summit conference, I wanted to share that we are confident that we will be in a place to announce whether this year’s event will be delivered in-person or virtually by early June.

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Getting Started with Big Data Clusters – Part 1

So, you’ve heard about Big Data Clusters in SQL Server 2019 and want to get some hands-on experience? Let’s get you started today! This article will guide you step-by-step on how to deploy a Big Data Cluster in Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) from a Windows client. The idea is to get your Big Data Cluster up and running fast without going into detail on every step involved, so don’t expect a deep dive on every component along the way.

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Back to the Basics: Backups

For many organizations, backups tend to be a hassle-task; relegated to the bottom of the pile to be dealt with by whoever has a few minutes to spare to throw something together. For others, backups are deemed unnecessary due to other high availability or disaster recovery features in their software/hardware stacks. These assumptions are often made when time and money are limited resources, and developing new features is seen as more profitable than adding infrastructure and using up precious developer time. To begin to counter these (and other) common misconceptions, it is best to start out with the reasons that backups are important.

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PASS Summit 2019 All Access Winner - Susan Dallegro

As the winner of the PASS Summit 2019 All Access contest I was awarded a complimentary 3-day general session registration for PASS Summit 2019 plus some perks that really made my first PASS Summit experience very special.  These included on-site VIP meet and greets, free ticket to a community-hosted games night, a PASStv interview, reserved front row seating for the PASS Summit 2019 Keynote sessions, a full USB of all PASS Summit 2019 recordings, and some nice swag a PASS Summit branded back pack and water bottle.

I was super excited when I found out that I had won.  I knew that the PASS Summit would be an excellent opportunity to receive world class technical training, learn where the future of the field is heading, make new friends, and experience everything that the community has to offer.  I intended to take full advantage of the opportunity.  I thoroughly and enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.

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PASS Summit Cancellation/Refund Policy Explained

As we navigate through new territory in planning for PASS Summit, we realize that this uncertainty will naturally result in new questions from our community. Transparency is key at all times, and we have been working to get the information we need to answer all of your questions as they arise.

One of the questions we have been asked most recently relates to the PASS Summit refund policy. Wendy announced earlier this month that if we are unable to move forward with an in-person event as planned, we would be ready to switch to an alternative virtual conference. We know there are still a lot of important unanswered questions—including the pricing structure, format, and timing of the virtual event—and we hope to be in a position to provide all of these answers asap and no later than June.

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Automate Professional PowerPoint Presentations Using R

The PowerPoint presentation is the vehicle of choice for information sharing among many businesses. R brings unparalleled power to data analysis and visualization. However, getting those visualizations from a window in R Studio to a formatted slide via copy/paste is tedious and error prone. There is a better way. Jeff Renz demonstrates how R Markdown can automate the creation of presentation-worthy slides from R code. This feature saves hours of time, eliminates errors, and allows a user to update a two-hundred-page slide deck with a key stroke. This is key for decks that include state-by-state data, profit margins across dozens of product lines, or complex visualizations reliant on constantly updated data.

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What Are the Different Types of User Defined Functions in SQL Server?

A few years ago, I did quite a few query tuning engagements. Many of my clients were small software companies who typically did not have a SQL Server DBA on staff. I looked for several anti-patterns, or what I like to call “red flags,” to help find ways that I could help improve performance. One common pattern I saw was the use of user defined functions (UDF).

Just the mention of UDFs in the SQL Server community makes folks cringe. UDFs can be “bad things,” and, to the optimizer, they are often black boxes. It’s also not easy to tell when they are bad by looking at the typical tools used for query tuning like execution plans. In fact, the bad UDFs hide what is really going on from the plan.

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