Tag Archives: SQLSaturday

SQL Saturday #80 was a Success!

On Saturday July 23rd the WVPASS and Greater Wheeling Chapter of AITP joined forces to host the 2nd Annual SQL Saturday in Wheeling, WV. SQLSaturday is a one-day free training event for SQL Server professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server brought to you by the local SQL Server community and PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server).

The following is a quick run down of our stats for the event. We had 108 people signup, 85 attendees, 11 speakers covering 18 sessions on Saturday.   Many thanks goes out to the speakers, volunteers, sponsors and attendees for making this a successful SQL Saturday.

The Good

  • We had a great mix of MVP’s, experienced speakers and first time speakers. One of the greatest accomplishments for this event is giving Matt Velic (Check out his #sqlsat80 photo’s), Abi Chapagai and Shannon Lowder their first opportunity to speak at a SQL Saturday. The speakers all did a fantastic job. We received several comments from attendees thanking us for having fantastic speakers.
  • Registration was quick and smooth. Everyone was able to get in and get to the main room to socialize and enjoy a free breakfast. The volunteers did a fantastic job.
  • We took a step outside of the box with lunch and got burrito’s from Salsa Café. With only a few complaints this was a hit. Last year we did box lunches from Panera and it was expensive and we also got lukewarm reviews.
  • Speakers received their evaluation’s shortly after their sessions. Personally, I have spoken at a few events and never received my feedback so I completely understand how important it can be towards growing as a speaker.
  • WVNCC was a fantastic host facility. The staff was very friendly and able to get us everything we needed to be successful.
  • Hosted the event on a $2,400.00 budget. There will be more on this in a future blog post.

Stuff to work on Next year!

  • Speakers dinner might have been a little too early. We held our dinner at 6pm and a few speakers wanted to attend but couldn’t make it in time. We also had plans of following our dinner with a voyage of the Italian Festival but a rain storm quickly sidelined that plan.
  • SQLGolf was a great idea and fun until the heat kicked our butt around the fifth hole. Once we got to the eighteenth hole I forgot we were still playing golf.
  • We need more onsite sponsors next year.
  • Bacon was not included in breakfast.

SQL Saturday #80 date changed

We change the date of SQL Saturday #80 from July 16th to July 23rd.

We are still early in the game so we hope this will not be an inconvenience to anyone. We sent out an email to everyone who signed up on the website. With that said, I still wanted to explain why we changed our date.

So.. Why did you change the date?

If you are like me you love SQLSaturday events and you are willing to travel to get your learn on. We changed the date of our event for the people who are willing to travel. Looking at our attendance roster from SQLSaturday #36 we noticed the majority of the attendees were travelers.

The event planners have a secret for you. We are not country music fans so we forgot about the Super Bowl of Country Music.

SQL Saturday comes back to Wheeling, WV

SQL Saturday comes back to Wheeling, WV

Its almost impossible to get hotel rooms that weekend so we pinged our host facility West Virginia Northern Community College and PASS. Once we got permission from both we pushed our event back one week.

This works out great because you can now experience our best festival while you are in town. If you like Italian food or carnivals be prepared to get a side order of fun with your free SQL Server training.

Lesson Learned

In the future we will make sure we coordinate with several group in the community to make sure we select the best date for our next SQL Saturday.

Wheeling, WV to Houston, TX – A SQL Saturday #57 Recap..

Everyone, If you attended SQL Saturday #57 in Houston, TX thank the host and the sponsors. With out their dedication and hard work this event wouldn’t have happened.  Finally, if you haven’t done so submit a speaker evaluation for the sessions you attended.

Now that the basics are covered lets move on to the recap.

Why Houston?

Last week I took a trip out to H-Town to speak at my eighth venue in the last twelve months.  Family was a huge motivator for attending SQL Saturday #57.  Being a graduate of James E. Taylor High School in Katy, Texas I was able

John Sterrett SQL Server 2008 for Developers Presentation

If you build it they will come!

to double dip and visit my parents and my oldest brother.  I flew in on Thursday to surprise my father for his birthday. I got an extra bonus when I arrived.  I found out that this was also going to be the same day my nephew was born.


On Saturday, we meet up at the church for the first SQL Saturday in Houston. Yes, that sentence is correct.  The Houston Area SQL User Group was able to get the Bammel Church of Christ to host the event. I have to be honest when I found out that a church was going to be used I was skeptical.  Normally, these events are at a community college, university or Microsoft Office.  I wondered if a church be a good venue for a SQL Saturday? I was right, it wasn’t a good venue. It was a fantastic venue.  Kudos to Nancy Hidy Wilson (Blog | Twitter) and the Houston User Group for selecting this venue.

Connecting (Volunteer & Speakers Dinner)

Normally, when I am selected to speak at a SQL Saturday I always attend the volunteer and speaker dinner and the after party. Its a great opportunity to network.  We met up at the Outback Steakhouse in Tomball.  I felt like I was back at summer camp as I hanged out with some friends and also made some new friends. (Thomas LeBlanc, Wes Brown, Ryan Adams, Jen and Sean McCowen, Sri Sridharan, Tim Mitchell and more…)

My favorite quote comes from Sri, “John you cannot say its a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your Steelers are always in the Super Bowl.”

Learning (Presentations I attended)

  • Dean Richards – Best Practices for SQL Server on VMWare
    With the economy changing we all need to find ways to do things cheaper. One of the easiest ways to do this is to virtualize your servers. The concept seams great but SQL Server can be tricky to manage.  How do you configure the guest memory? How does the host share its CPU power with guests? I learned this and a lot more during Deans session.
  • Ryan Adams – Manage Your Shop with CMS and Policy Based Management
    Those of you who know me know I am very excited about Central Management Server and Policy Based Management. I currently use it to evaluate my daily checklist against 100+ instances of SQL Server with 3,000+ databases.  I am extremely interested in seeing how other DBA’s use it.  Ryan is into mirroring and loves the mirroring facets provided with PBM.  I am glad he showed this to me.
  • Thomas LeBlanc – Transition from DBA to BI
    Any time I can sit in the front row on a sofa and watch Thomas speak its a win-win. This talk was special because  I got my learn on and felt like I was at comedy hour.  I enjoyed his path from DBA to BI.  I really liked how he was able to use his DBA skills to make a good first impression.  He also showed us a great spreadsheet out there on the interwebs to build a data dictionary for your facts and dimensions.

Sharing (My Presentations)

  • SQL Server 2008 for Developers (About 30 attendees)
    Every once in a while I submit this topic to see if people are still interested in seeing demos going over the new features provided for developers with SQL Server 2008.  During the presentation I polled the attendees to see who hasn’t migrated to SQL Server 2008.  There still is a crowd that wants to know how to implement DateTimeOffset, T-SQL enhancements,  Merge, Table Value Parameters, Change Data Capture.  I spoke right before lunch and had a few people stay extra to go over a bonus demo.  I also talked with a few of the attendees later in the day and I got some great feedback.If you attend my session please submit feedback.  You can find the slide deck and sample code on my blog.
  • Evaluate your Daily Checklist using CMS and Policy Based Management (5 Attendees)
    My PBM and CMS talk was included in the last session.  This was my first presentation using VMWare Workstation.  I did this for two reasons. One, Brent Ozar made me do it. Finally, I wanted to throw up an instance of SQL 2000 for this demo and I couldn’t do it with Windows 7.  Even though the crowed was small one attendees told me he is going to start using PBM and CMS due to my presentation. This is the greatest complement I could receive. 

    If you attend my session please submit feedback.  You can find the slide deck and sample code on my blog.

Bloggers SQL Saturday #57 Posts

Un-SQL Friday #2 – My Tech Giants

UnSQL Friday #2

The second round of UnSQL Friday is here and the topic is so good I am typing while I eat lunch rushing to beat the deadline to get this in. UnSQL Friday was created by Jen of @MidnightDBA’s to provide an avenue for SQL Bloggers to focus on a non-technical topic. The topic is as follows:

Read this blog, and then write whatever you want about Tech Giants. Be sure to mention in your blog that you’re writing for Un-SQL Friday, and link to this post. Oh, and have it up any time before the weekend (Saturday Jan 22) hits, mmkay?”

Jen said, to write about whatever I want so here we go!  I am using this venue as an opportunity to say thanks to a bunch of people who have helped become who I am today. I will also explain how they fit into my definition of a Tech Giant.

There are several other people I could include but I have a deadline so I will have to find another way to thank them later.

What is a Tech Giant?

This definition is subjective and will be defined differently from blogger to blogger so here is my definition. To me a Tech Giant is someone I look up too within IT; someone who has helped me out; someone who is mentoring me; someone who is mentoring me without even knowing that they are mentoring me.

In no particular order here is a list explaining why these individuals peeps are my tech giants:

David Hoerster, Eric Kepes & John Hidey

David Hoerster, Eric Kepes & John Hidey: These are three stand up .NET developers who are highly involved in Pittsburgh .NET User Group and the Pittsburgh code camp for years. To this day I will always remember my first code camp four years ago. The next year they gave me my first public speaking opportunity. Every year the Code Camp in Pittsburgh gets bigger and bigger. This year there were two code camps with over 150 attendees.  David, Eric and John showed me first hand how important it is to give back to your technical community.

Side Note: How the heck are none of these guys a Microsoft MVP? This almost makes me question the MVP program. I am going to do my part in correcting this by nominating them at the Microsoft MVP site.

Thomas LaRock aka SQLRockStar

Tom LaRock: Last year Tom asked the community if anyone wanted to have a mentor on his blog.  I jumped on this opportunity and we have been skyping (is this actually a word?) monthly. His book (check out my review) and those sessions have shaved years off my learning curve moving from a developer to becoming a valuable Production DBA.

I finally meet Tom in person at the 2010 SQL Pass Member Summit. He introduced me to almost everyone in the community that week. It’s weird, in a way I feel like he is my older brother from another mother.

Tom also has a great blog. In my opinion it’s one of the most entertaining technical blogs out there because he does a good job teaching with stories. A perfect example is “Everything I Needed to Know about Waits and Queues I learned From the TSA.”

Side Note: Other than his addiction to bacon and being a Patriots fan he is a great guy! Can you tell I am a die hard Pittsburgh Sports Fan?

Brent Ozar

I love this book!

Brent Ozar: I ran into Brent virtually two years ago at the Pittsburgh SQL User Group. At the end of his presentation he challenged the crowd to start blogging. I found his intro to blogging series and gave it a try.  A little later I was hooked.  Brent made me a syndicated blogger at SQLServerPedia. People will see this blog post because he took a chance on a new blogger.

Its amazing how much time and energy he puts into the SQL PASS Community with his presentations and blog posts.  His blog is a great resource for SQL Server, Professional Development, Speaking and Blogging.  Did I mention that he also co-authored one of the best SQL Server books (its the image on the left side)?

Side Note: I am working on creating a VMWare Workstation image right now due to his blog post on “How to rehears a Presentation.” Brent, I will be shooting you some question soon 🙂

Andy Warren

Andy Warren: The first SQL Saturday in West Virginia wouldn’t have happened without Andy’s help.  Andy and I had several phone calls where he gave me the guidance I needed to make it happen. He helped me from the point where I wondered,can I make this happen up to the week of the event.  Now, I have spoken at three SQL Saturdays and am adding another one to the list next week.  I don’t think this would have happened without Andy’s support.

Side Note: At SQL PASS Summit I learned that Andy is referred to as the godfather of SQL Server. I am not sure why this is true. I will have to follow-up with more at a later date.

Justin Siebert

Justin Siebert: There is no way I am going skip the great state of West Virginia. And there is no one better qualified than Justin. He started his own consulting company to provide Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. He now does business with Fortune 500 companies.  He is a big supporter of LAMP and is doing great things with WordPress.  His website is a perfect example.

Once he found out I was interested in blogging he talked me into using WordPress. Justin gives me several tips on WordPress and SEO and has never asked for money.   He also pulls me aside every once in a while to make sure I am focused on my goals and heading down the right path.

Side Notes: some people call Justin by his name. I call him the SEORockStar.  Justin and I might be the only remaining die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fans left in Wheeling (Yes the owner Bob Nutting also lives in Wheeling).

First SQLSaturday in Wheeling, West Virginia was a Success!

After SQL Saturday #36 on May 1st 2010 my wife and I headed to Spain.  Somehow this post got lost in the shuffle when I got back. I thought it is important to share my thoughts of the event so here it is.

The first SQLSaturday in West Virginia can be summed up in two sentences.  The SQL Server Community is bleeping awesome.  The Ohio Valley is bleeping awesome. I know unfortunately I will leave some people out but I would like to thank the following individuals for their advice and support Andy Warren, John Parkinson, Thomas LaRock, Jeremiah Peschka, Justin Siebert, Joelle Ennis, and The Greater Wheeling Chapter of AITP.

Its now a little past a month six months after the first SQLSaturday in West Virginia and I am glad to share my thoughts on the event.  First, I would like to say we held it down for the DBA’s in the small cities who have dreams of hosing a SQLSaturday.  Don’t quote me on this but I believe we are the only SQLSaturday host city with a population under 50,000.

When we first started this mission in November 2009 our goal was to have 50 to 100 people register.  We actually had registration at 100 and had 70 people attend.  We had three tracks that delivered 16 13 sessions presented by 11 9 speakers.

Things that worked

  • Using WVNCC as venue – The West Virginia Northern Community College campus in Downtown Wheeling allowed us to use their facility.  We had the ballroom which held 100 people, two class rooms held 50+ and two smaller class rooms that held 30 attendees. This was a great fit and we are very grateful that they hosted the meeting for us.
  • Volunteers – We had a super all-star team of volunteers on hand for the SQL Saturday. Did I mention that the volunteers were awesome? There were, and they all did a great job.
  • Selected Speakers – All of the speakers did a great job.  The evaluations showed that everyone appreciated the presentations. We need a better way to deliver results to speakers. We will work on that for next year.
  • Lunch – The box lunches from Panera Bread were a hit.  The food arrived as scheduled.  One of our volunteers was also arranged to have the Catholic Charities pick up the leftover food.  Once again, did I mention that our volunteers rock?

Things that need improved

  • Get more people involved – While we had plenty of support for the big day only two people did the majority of the pre-day work. Hopefully, we can get more people involved earlier next year.
  • Build Higher Goals –  Our venue can support more people. We tried our best to keep it simple because we didn’t know what we were doing as this was the first major information technology event in Wheeling, WV for years. Now we know what we are doing so we should try to go buck wild next year.
  • Evaluations – I will take the blame here and say that we failed.  We didn’t have a good system for generating feedback.
  • More Speakers – We cut it close with filling up our three tracks. Next year I we will need to be more active with pulling speakers.  If you are interested in speaking next year contact me and I will get you on our contact list.

Thanks to the speakers

We would like to give a shout out to all the speakers for making SQLSaturday in Wheeling happen.  You were all awesome.  Check out their blogs and tweets.

Thanks to the sponsors

Whats Next?

  • 2nd Annual SQL Saturday in West Virginia – This is correct, we are excited to give it another run and are targeting June 2011. We will shoot out an update to let everyone know when we have an official date.
  • Wheeling SQL Server User Group – Hey John there is no SQL Server User Group in West Virginia what are you smoking?  First, I don’t smoke and second there will be. Our first meeting will be on January 20th. Check out my blog during the first week of January for more information.

Related Posts:

Wheeling, WV to Dallas, TX? A SQL Saturday 56 Recap

Why would I travel from Wheeling, WV to Dallas, TX to speak at a free SQL Saturday? First, of all SQL Saturday’s in general are bleeping awesome. In a nutshell SQL Saturday is an all day multi-track, multi-session learning opportunity to learn SQL Server.  SQL Saturday #56 was was the first Business Intelligence SQL Saturday in the nation.  Second, I am blessed to have a great mother-in-law and father-in-law in Dallas and I enjoy hanging out with them so this was a huge bonus. Third, I enjoy connecting with people in the SQL Server Community so I can network and talk shop and see how we do things differently.

Facility & Logistics

First of all let me say this Pittsburgh we got gipped. Microsoft’s Campus in Dallas (yes campus not floor) was super cool. When I walk in the main door the first thing I saw was servers. You know I am a geek when I love the fact that servers are the first thing I see when I enter a business building. Anyways back to how the facility worked with the SQL Saturday event. The facility was a great fit for the 200+ attendees. There were several rooms that held 50 or more attendees and a gigantic room for the opening, main events and the end of day raffle. There were also some smaller rooms that brought everyone in closer and made for some good collaborative sessions.


I attended Jen McCowen (twitter) SSRS from Ground Zero session and was very impressed especially when I found out Jen only had one day to prepare. I already know the basics in SSRS so I was really interested in picking up a few tips while I see how an experienced speaker gives an introduction session.  I really liked Jen’s style as she just dove straight into BIDS and went over key concepts you need to know to start using SSRS.  I also got to steal a few minutes after the presentation and see how she records her videos for midnightDBA.  For those out there who are interested in recording demos it looks like she uses Camtasia Studio and from what she showed me it looks like it’s not hard to use. More on camtasia a little later.

Another session I attended focused on evaluating use case personas for a new feature coming up in the next edition of SQL Server.  I really enjoyed this session because it basically was an hour group discussion about how we do things in our shop.   I would love to go into more details but I signed an NDA. 

My Session

I gave a talk on SQL Server 2008 for Developers.  Overall I think the session went well and I was glad to take part as a speaker.  The session was interactive as there were great questions from the audience.  I didn’t do a head count so I would estimate that there were about 30 attendees in the session. 

The host crew did a great job with speaker evaluations.  I even recieved my evaluations a few minutes after my session was complete.  In fact, I had a really helpful evaluation from an attendee who mentioned I should have went over Change Data Capture and MERGE in more detail and skipped the other features.   Being that this was a BI SQL Saturday I agree so I am going to evaluate Camtasia and see if I can record a video over these features and add them to my blog over the next two weeks.


On of my favorite parts of attending SQL Saturday is networking.  I was able to meet a lot of great people.  I apologize in advance as I am sure I am leaving some super cool people off this paragraph.  I meet Ryan Adams and had a great discussion about how he uses visual basic to perform actions on alerts with MOM for SQL Server. I also shared some information about our TFS configuration with Robert Crocker during lunch.  I also meet Thomas LeBlanc, Tim Mitchell, David Stein and had several great conversation in the speakers room and at the after party.

Other Posts

The following is a short list of other bloggers recaps on SQL Saturday 56


In conclusion this was a great event. The North Texas SQL Server User Group did a great job.  I would love to speak at another one of their SQL Saturday’s.  I cannot believe they are going to have three within a twelve month period.

Recap: Mid-Atlantic Community Leadership Summit

Last weekend I attended the first annual Mid-Atlantic Community Leadership Summit (#MACLS) held for user group leaders. I would like to thank Andrew Duthie (Blog | @DevHammer)  for inviting me.  He did a great job putting the event together at the Microsoft Offices in Reston, VA. 

The following are some notes for everyone that didn’t get a chance to make it out. In general the purpose for the event was to get user group leaders together to share what’s works and what doesn’t work.  There is no order to the post just some notes with some random comments from my experience running the Greater Wheeling Chapter of AITP and hosting SQL Saturday #36.

How do you measure your user Group?

Your user group doesn’t have to be huge to be successful. I learned first hand that 20 attendees is not considered a small group from the consensus of user group leaders.  Sometimes leaders get lost in user group stats. Stats being the number of new members or attendance per meeting.  I will admit that I have been guilty. These stats really don’t hold water towards determining if a user group meeting is successful.  If you have a lot of people attend but no value provided to the attendees the meeting is not successful.

How does the user group get better?  You have to ask the members.  Its hard to meet the attendees expectations if you don’t know what they are expecting. Doing so could be a rewarding exercise for the leaders of the group and the attendees.  It helps the attendees feel like they are part of the group and it helps the leaders provide value by implementing the missing pieces. 

When should I hold that event?

BatmanWhen should I hold that event? This is a question that is asked by many user group leaders during the planning phase of an event or startup phase of a new group. Andrew Duthie created a website known as Community Megaphone to help solve this problem.  There are several user groups which means you might be competing for speakers and attendees. The Community Megaphone cannot predict when another group is going to have an event but if everyone adds their events it is a great system to see if anything else is planned.

Just like the Batman cartoon try to have your events on the same bat day, same bat time, same bat channel.  From my experience I think this works well for user groups.  Its easier for members to attend if you hold the meetings monthly on the same day (number of month or day of a week), same time and same location.

Speakers and Topics

User groups need to communicate with their members and make sure the topics are covering what the needs of the user group.

When you decide to bring a speaker in to talk have them submit multiple topics.  This allows the user group leader to follow-up with its members to decide which presentation will be a better fit for the members.  This benefits both the group and the speaker.

Instead of always having one speaker talk during the meeting or a time slot consider having several speakers talk for a short period of time.  This will light a fire and motivate some new speakers to step forward and give their first presentation because they only need to present one small topic.  The PGH.NET User Group does a good job of doing this a couple times a year.  I really enjoy them check out my thoughts on the five guys with code meeting.  The SQL Server community is also doing this at the 2010 PASS Member Summit with their lightning talks series.

The general consensus of the group is that user groups need more real-world examples during presentations and more beginner (101) sessions.  More lights go off in attendees heads when they see something they can or should implement when they go back to the office.

Liability and Coverage

First of all I am not an attorney so everything covered in here is just notes from the meeting not my opinion.    If you are in a metro area you might want to combine user groups into one non-profit organization.  I learned that the DC area is currently doing this and it seams to be working out for them.  I also believe that the Pittsburgh area does the same leveraging the Pittsburgh Technology Council (This is not verified so don’t quote me on this).  If you are in a rural area then you can look at legalzoom or try to find an attorney who might be interested in doing a little pro-bono work.

It seams like a lot of small user group start off without incorporating.

If you are a lawyer or are friends of a lawyer ask them to do a white paper on the legal side of starting a user group.  It seams like there isn’t a lot of information out there on this.

Vendors (Sponsors)

One of the most surprising things I learned this weekend is that vendors want relationships not just sales.  Okay I you caught me, I knew this but sometimes its great to be reminded because it can be easy to forget.  Anyways, ComponentOne and Infragistics had evangelists at the meeting.  They both wanted all the user group leaders to know they are willing to help they just need to know what you need.

Vendors can also do more than provide swag, pizza and money.  A real world example is SQL Saturday #36.  I had no idea where I should put the sponsors.  I called Andy Warren (blog | twitter) my mentor for the event and he reassured me that this was a common problem.  His advice was very helpful.  Andy said, “Ask your platinum sponsor Confio they have sponsored SQL Saturday’s in the past they will know the best spot for the sponsors.” I followed Confio’s advice and the rest was history. The moral of the story is that vendors are not evil they can be helpful if you choose to ask them for help.

Hosting an All Day Event (SQL Saturday, Code Camp, SharePoint Saturday etc..)

The following advice was given about hosting a big event like Code Camp, SQL Saturday, SQL Saturday (or any other all day multi-track event) but I believe it also is good advice for running a user group.  You need to treat the event like a business and get a core team together to make it happen. A core team doesn’t have to be a huge team but it has to be more than one individual.  Treat the event like a business means assign action items and have people be responsible for the detailed action items and assign due dates. The group needs to have a task manager who can get things running and make sure everyone is meeting deadlines.

Always put your attendees in charge of giving away their information. Allow sponsors to have raffles where they can collect business cards or information.  At SQL Saturday #36 we printed out cards with everyone’s contact information and gave them to the attendees in their welcome kit.  This sponsors could get contact information from attendees who don’t have or forgot their business cards.

Don’t do individual sponsorship as it can be too complicated. For example, you might think to have a lunch sponsor, snack sponsor, after-party sponsor and so on. This can be complicated because one group had an after-party sponsor but found out after the fact that the sponsor would only cover non-alcoholic drinks.  The group had to pay out of pocket for half of the dinner bill. So what’s an easier way to handle sponsorship?  Divide up sponsorship by using levels.  Break sponsorship levels out into Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze and then assign values and benefits to them so that the sponsorship will cover your total budget and still get value out of their money.  Remember that you should build your sponsorship plan like a pyramid and have only a few Platinum level sponsors.

This covers everything I have in my notes.  If you attended and I left anything out feel free to add it in the comments section.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

With football season starting I thought I would share some travel dates.  If you are at any of the following events please don’t be shy and say hi.  I look forward to hitting the road and making some new friends as I continue to connect, share and learn.

Sept 18th : Reston, VA
Microsoft Regional Leadership Summit (Non speaking)

Oct 16th : Pittsburgh, PA
Pgh.NET Code Camp 2010.2 (SQL Server 2008 for Developers)

Oct 23rd : Dallas, TX
SQL Saturday #56 BI Edition (Submitted: SQL Server 2008 for Developers)

Nov 8th – 12th : Seattle, WA
SQL Server PASS Member Summit (Submitted Chalk Talk – SQL Server 2008 for Developers)

Nov 19th : Pipestown, WV
AITP Region 18 Fall Conference

Jan 29th : Houston, TX
SQL Saturday #57  (Submitted  SQL Server 2008 for Developers)

PGH.NET Code Camp Review

This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping out David Hoerster (bio, twitter) with the setup of PGH.NET Code Camp.  Why, would I want to get up before the crack of dawn to help?  Well for starters David is a die hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan like myself.  Okay the real answer, is that I wanted to help with the code camp before I ran my first SQLSaturday in West Virginia.   This was a great practice before the game starts on May 1st.

In short I learned that if you have good volunteers it’s actually not too hard to have a great event.  If the event is free there will be people who just don’t show.  I guess mowing their lawn is more important than free training?  People will also leave before the event is over.  I could be wrong but I thought about half of the crowd left before the last session ended.  Finally, if a speaker doesn’t show you could replace the session with speakers panel.  This was a great move and actually was my favorite session of the day. 

SQL Server 2008 for Developers

During the day I also did a presentation on SQL Server 2008 for Developers.  I presented right after lunch and expected the majority of the crowed to have a food coma from the free burritos but this was not the case.  It actually was a nice interactive session. The following are a few quick facts from the presentation. 

About 40 people attended this session and only five of them are currently using SQL 2008.  I know this is a small sample size but it makes me believe that there are a lot of people out there still on SQL 2005 or SQL 2000.

The majority of the people awake (yes,  a few experience the food coma) were really impressed with using the real-time debugger to debug stored procedures, using merge to replace truncate table insert into table and use TVP to pass a data table in as an input parameter.

Follow-up Answers

The following are answers to some questions that were asked after the session.  Thought I would answer them here so others could find them in the future.

Can I create an index to filter based on dates?

Yes, you can.  I believe this is a new feature added in SQL Server 2008.  The following script will execute.

    ON Production.BillOfMaterials (ComponentID, StartDate, EndDate)
WHERE StartDate > '20000801' AND StartDate < '20010801';

Checkout this MSDN link for more on Filtering Indexes. 

How can I make my database run faster? 

This is always a fun question and a hard one to answer without looking at the database and the server it resides on.   I recommended that this individual start with the free performance boosts.  This is also known as managing your indexes.   To do this checkout the following great links with video from SQLServerPedia.

Can I find the last time database objects were modified?

Yes, check out this link for a script that does the following task

Book Review: “Confessions of a Public Speaker”

This year I made a goal to read six new books and to share my experience with everyone via book reviews.  This is the first review of the year and I am excited to give feedback on a book I really enjoyed.  Normally self help books put me to sleep but this was an exception as it was informative and entertaining to read.  If you plan to do public speaking in the near future I highly recommend this book.

My motivation for reading “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun is simple.  I find myself doing more presentations and I want to improve my craft.  This year I will be speaking at PGH.NET Code Camp in April and also at SQL Saturday #36 in Wheeling, WV. Public speaking is not easy for me.  I completely agree with Adam Machanic’s blog post.  It takes a lot of practice and some reading to see how others succeed. Therefore, I want to take any advantage I can to make my presentations better.   The lessons I learned in the first chapter alone made this book worth the $17 on Amazon.

The following are some very important lessons learned.  Most people at your presentation hope you do well but also hope your presentation ends soon.  It’s funny, after I read this I started laughing because it’s so true. I also learned to know your material but know you shouldn’t be perfect.  Normally, I try to be a perfectionist so this is something I had to know.  I cannot go back in time and correct my mistakes. Ummm… maybe I can I will have to add this to my todo list.   Finally, I learned it’s the mistakes you make before you present that matter the most.  I will dive into this with my confession below.

Being that the title of the book is “Confessions of a Public Speaker” it’s only fair to include a confession of my own.  With experience I learned that I must take control of what I can control.    Three years ago I did my first presentation at the Pittsburgh Code Camp and did a presentation on extending the Reporting Service API’s.  While no one booed or threw fruit at me the presentation was a hot mess.  I was modifying slides in the speakers room, I didn’t do a practice run of the demos, heck I didn’t go through the audience’s point of view when I built the presentation.  If I would have taken care of what I could control (my presentation) this could have been a killer presentation.  Regardless, it was a great learning opportunity which made my future presentations much better.

If you want to improve your public speaking I highly recommend Confessions of a Public Speaker. This book will stay on my bookshelf within an arms reach for quite some time.