Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote for the Pre-Con’s You’d Pay to Attend

If you read this blog you probably already know about the PASS SQLRally and that we are doing things a little bit differently for this event.  The first thing that we have done is let YOU decide what we offer for the 4 pre-conference (pre-con) seminars.  We had a committee rank the submissions and took the top 3 from each category and put them out for the community to vote on.  Here are the links for the sessions to vote on:

BI Sessions:

DBA Sessions:

Developer Sessions:

Misc Sessions:

I have to say that in each track there are 3 AWESOME choices and I’d attend any of them.  I’m not just saying that, I’ve reviewed the abstracts and outlines and I know I’d learn something I can use in every session.

I’ve seen several of the presenters speak and they all are excellent.  As a matter of fact one presenter was recently voted the best presenter at SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando!  You can’t get better than that!

So, if you haven’t voted, vote now!  SQLRally is YOUR event so make it the best event it can be by being involved.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando: Event Recap

SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando was this past weekend (October 16th, 2010).  As one of the event organizers the entire week was a busy week.  The week started with sending out final instructions to Sponsors (I was the event lead in charge of sponsors) and finishing up the event guides.  New Tribes Mission, my employer, has some printing equipment and I was able to have the event guides printed by them, but, as part of the deal I had to provide some labor.  I folded and stapled all the event guides on Sunday (my wife helped) and Monday, so that we’d have them for bag-stuffing on Tuesday (see this post for a recap of that fun evening).

Thursday I headed over to Andy Warren’s office to drop off some totes for hauling stuff from his office to the event.  We took the time to finalize some plans for Friday & Saturday and I filled the totes I had brought with attendee bags.

Friday started off with a trip to the airport to pick up Mike Walsh who was coming to Orlando from New Hampshire to speak at the event.  Mike was staying at New Tribes with me so we headed to my place to drop off his stuff and do a tour of the organization.  Then we had lunch and headed to Andy’s to go pickup the UHAUL and load it up.  Mike was great help getting things purchased and loaded on the truck and because of his help we were able to finish early enough to be able to head home before the speaker dinner.

David WaughThe speaker dinner was Liam Fitzpatrick’s and was sponsored by Confio (thanks again!).   We had a great turnout with about 40 attendees!  It’s always great to have time to get together with the speakers.  At this event I knew almost all the speakers from previous events.  I did get to meet Rafael Salas and Ed Wilson (The Scripting Guy) and his wife, Teresa for the first time.  We had an area on the outdoor patio (one of the perks of being in Florida) that allowed us to mingle freely.  The wait staff did a great job making sure that everyoneSome Speaker Party Attendees got the right drinks and meals.  We had so many people attend that we had to have 2 tables added to our area in order for everyone to have a seat.   I’d definitely recommend this location for events as they did a great job and were easy to work with. 

Saturday morning I picked up Mike and we headed to the event, arriving just after 6:30am.  Now, I’m not a morning person, so it took some effort to get there and get going.  Andy enjoyed giving me a hard time about it, saying, “Get a picture of Jack enjoying the sunrise since he doesn’t see it very often”.  Of course this was after I snapped this picture: IMG_3163 and said, “Need to get a picture of Andy working hard”.

After unloading we got everything setup and started check-in at 8:00am, and there was a line well before that!  While check-in was on-going I was trying to catch all the speakers to make sure that they got their speaker gift (see it on Andy’s post) and a book to giveaway in their session.  On my travels I snapped a couple of pictures of attendees getting coffee/tea and donuts/bananas.

IMG_3165IMG_3164  Then I got another picture of the sponsor area:

IMG_3166 As you can see we had a good crowd arrive earlier, with people registering right up to lunch.

I managed to get around to the first set of sessions and take some pictures.  Here’s what most of the rooms looked like:

IMG_3169 IMG_3176 The morning went smoothly and lunch was delivered on time.  We tried something new for lunch this year.  We had round stickers that we put on the name badges, red for regular lunch & yellow for vegetarian, it seemed to work well.   Scott Gleason came over from Jacksonville and helped out with lunch.  He did a GREAT job letting people know that he needed to see their badges to verify that they had to have a IMG_3185sticker to get lunch and that he had to see a yellow sticker for a vegetarian lunch.  Lunch went smoothly and people always seem to enjoy eating picnic style out on the lawn.  We have been fortunate to have beautiful weather every year so people WANT to be outside. 

I did present one session, Profiling: It’s Okay in SQL Server, at 1:30pm to about 15 people.  I honestly don’t think it was my best presentation because my focus was on keeping the event going, not on my presentation.  Apparently I did alright though as my evaluations were all met/exceeded expectations and 4’s and 5’s for overall quality.  There were some good comments and questions during the session, and I had fun with the group.

There were 2 more sessions after mine, and I spent that time starting the clean up process and organizing for the end of day raffle.  By the time 4:30 had rolled around I was getting bit punchy from being tired and started tossing out the ninja balls provided by Telerik.  As more people came out of sessions I was tossing the ninja balls at people to check “ninja” reflexes.  If you caught the ball you got to keep it, if it hit the ground it had to be returned to me.  This got me going again and the attendees seemed to enjoy it.

As has become our custom, Andy got to throw things off the walkway to the attendees below.  Thanks to our great sponsors, we had lots of things to giveaway.  We started with t-shirts from CA Technologies, Telerik, and Quest and worked our way up to our big-ticket items (gift card, iPod Shuffle, iPad, software from Telerik, CA, RedGate).  I was actually concerned going in that we wouldn’t have enough stuff, but we had enough so that most attendees had something to take home with them.

We had the after-party at Liam Fitzpatrick’s out on the patio.  We had a good turnout of about 40.  The event provided appetizers and the attendees were responsible for meals and drinks.  I spent time chatting with with Brad Ball, Noel & Tamara McKinney and others.  I was planning on an early night, but once I started talking to people I was having such a good time that the next thing I knew it was after 10pm.  I finally headed out about 10:30.  I had a great time.

This turned out to be a great event thanks to the volunteers, speakers, and sponsors.  We had 75 event evaluations passed in with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.  Here’s a semi-random sampling of attendee comments:

"Awesome book giveaways
Prize in each session
V101 Freezing
Add speaker contact information to web site (email, blog, linkedin)"

"Event is awesome.  I also love similar events with keynote speakers, I know time is limited.
A break between MINI's and the next session would be good.
Thanks for all the hard work"

"Bottom of screen was hard to see in many rooms
Have extra chairs in rooms
Great topics
great lunch for good price
very helpful staff
easy location to get to
have beginner topics early and advanced later"

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Plamen Ratchev for being voted the best speaker of the event!  Here’s a list of the top 5 speakers:

Votes Speaker
11 Plamen Ratchev
6 Jeff Garbus
5 Jared Neilsen
4 Ed Wilson
4 Kevin Boles
4 Mike Antonovich

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chapter 38 – Successfully Implementing Kerberos Delegation

Cross posted from the SQLPespectives blog put together Richard Rodriguez, Chris Shaw, and Jeremy Lowell for a chapter by chapter walk-through of the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives book. 

MVP Scott Stauffer does a fantastic job of explaining what Kerberos delegation is, the issues it solves, and provides an extensive list of resources to close out the chapter.

This is the best resource I have found for understanding Kerberos and how to implement it.  K. Brian Kelley has an excellent article on SQLServerCentral that is good, but not quite as in depth as this chapter.  Scott lays out the process logically beginning with how and why he came to understand the process, taking you through what Kerberos is, what issues Kerberos delegation solves, and providing a business scenario that Kerberos will solve.

Kerberos is a complex topic which Scott makes simple in his section Understanding Kerberos Delegation.  He explains SPN’s (Service Principal Names), permissions needed to work with SPN’s, and the tools you will need.

Scott very clearly takes you through implementing Kerberos from beginning to end.  He includes great screen shots and code snippets along with explaining WHY you need to go through each of the steps.

Scott also included a section on validating your delegation setup using a tool called DelegConfig.  This tool is run on the client and web tiers and will validate that Kerberos delegation is configured correctly and working.

Finally Scott provides 3 pages of resources to use to learn about and implement Kerberos delegation which includes: tools, blog posts, TechNet articles, MS Help & Support articles, white papers, and webcasts.

This chapter is really a one-stop shop for people who need to understand and implement Kerberos delegation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando Update

This is the big week for SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando.  Sunday and Monday I spent time finishing the event guides.  I had them printed at my office (we have a printing department), but I had to provide labor for folding and stapling.  So I spent about 3 hours finishing the event guides.  I think they came out pretty nice with a color cover and black & white insides.  We had some last minute schedule changes that I thought I had included in the event guide, but, alas, when I was folding them I noticed I had missed changes in the PowerShell track.  Otherwise, everything looks good.

Last night, Tuesday, we had the bag stuffing party at Andy Warren’s office.  We had 5 volunteers brave the traffic  (major accident on I4 east just at the exit for Andy’s office) to help us out for the evening, Brooke and her husband Joe, Mike A, Josh, and Wes.  They did great work and we were done by about 8:30, so it only took about 2.5 hours to get the event bags decorated, speaker evaluations sorted, name tags put in the holders, and the bags stuffed.  For our event bags we decided to go on the cheap with plain, brown paper bags with handles.  We gave sponsors an option to send us stickers to put on the bags, but didn’t have any success on getting any provided.  We may try this again next year, but get the message out sooner.  So, instead of stickers, we provided some paint/markers and volunteers put a big #49 on one side and the paid Platinum sponsor name or names on the other side.  Brooke got especially creative and even did some bags crossword style.

While the volunteers were taking care of the event bags, I went through and organized the SWAG.  I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t have much to give away, but the sponsors really did a great job providing us with some great give-aways.  I sorted through all the books (60+) and set aside a book to give away in each session, except those sessions in the sponsor track, trying to match a book with the session topic.  I couldn’t match all the topics, but we will have an item to be given out in each session.  I picked this idea up from SQLSaturday #41 – Atlanta.  What I like about this idea, is that it reduces the length of the end of day raffle and limits it to mostly “big-ticket” items.  Here’s some of the items we’ll be raffling off at the end of the day:

  • $100 American Express gift card from Quest
  • Apple TV from Veredus
  • SQL DBA Bundle from RedGate
  • Telerik Ultimate Collection from Telerik
  • 2 Padfolios with a license for PrimalScript 2009 w/ upgrade to 2011 from Sapien
  • 1 Padfolio with a license fro PrimalScipt 2009
  • 3 copies of SSIS-DTS Package search from Gerasus Software
  • iPad from FusionIO
  • SQL Admin Toolset from Idera
  • CA Erwin Data Model Validator from CA Technologies
  • Flip Ultra HD from Confio
  • Fuji 14megapixel Camera from CozyRoc 

That isn’t a full list, just some of what I’ve seen or been informed of.  Our other sponsors, like expressor will all have a nice item to raffle off as well.  There are also a bunch of t-shirts and other items that we’ll be tossing off the walkway.  Anyone have a t-shirt cannon or sling-shot we can borrow?

Things are going very smoothly so far, although we can ALWAYS use more volunteers. 

Hope to you there.  If you haven’t registered you can still register here.  There is also still room to register for the $99 Database Design Seminar on Friday by Louis Davidson.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SSMS Tip – Tab Groups

A few months ago as I came across tab groups in SSMS and once I found them I was very happy to have found this feature, so I thought I’d pass it along.

The way I access a tab group is to right-click on the tab header (for lack of a better term) and the bottom 2 choices in the context menu are:

  • New Horizontal Tab Group – great for comparing execution plans
  • New Vertical Tab Group – great for comparing scripts side-by-side.

I mostly use the horizontal tab groups when I want to compare execution plans because I can usually use a tool like RedGate SQL Compare to compare scripts, but I don’t have or know of a tool that does execution plan comparison.  Here are some screen shots that show what I mean.

Here’s how thing look normally in SSMS:

SSMS Normal You can see I have 2 tabs open and in order to compare execution plans I’d have to switch between tabs, but if I right-click on one of the Query tabs like this:


When I select “New Horizontal Tab Group” this is the result in SSMS, which is MUCH better for comparing Execution Plans:

Horizontal Tab Group

I’m sure other people knew about this long before I did, but it is a feature I have found VERY useful so I thought I’d pass it along.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Closing Fast – SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando

Well, the event is closing in fast, less than 2 weeks away!  We have over 300 registered, a great schedule, and great sponsors.  SWAG is coming in from all directions as well.  I have to admit I was a bit worried about giveaways, but books, magazines, and posters have been coming in almost daily.

I sent the event guide (here’s the pdf version) to the printing department at my office today.  I can get the guides printed inexpensively by the printing department at work, as long as I am willing to provide some labor for the folding, stapling, and trimming. 

If you can’t tell, I’m very excited about the event.  I LOVE SQLSaturday and when I only have to drive 10 minutes to get there, it’s even better!  It’s also exciting because my good friend, Mike Walsh, is flying in on Friday from cold New Hampshire to speak at the event.  The last time I saw Mike was in June when I was in New Hampshire and spoke at his user group (Seacoast SQL Server).  There are several other great people traveling in to speak at and attend the event like, Louis Davidson, Patrick Leblanc, Tom LaRock, Kathi Kellenberger, Noel McKinney (just to attend), and Aaron Nelson.  I can’t even name them all!  Then all the regulars from Florida who I get to see fairly regularly at different user groups and SQLSaturday’s in Florida like Pam Shaw, Scott Gleason, Jorge Segarra, Scott Klein, and Max Trinidad.  Oh, and I almost forgot, we’ve the Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson (@ScriptingGuys), as well.

We (Andy Warren and I) are trying to put the finishing touches on the event this week, so next week we can sit back and enjoy the ride.  Tuesday night (October 12th), we’ll be having the event bag stuffing party at Andy’s office (let us know if you want to come and help) and then Thursday and Friday we’ll be buying snacks and drinks and getting everything loaded up.  This year we’ll remember the coffee maker so we won’t run out of coffee.

I really hope to see you there.  I’ll be presenting one session in the afternoon on Profiler with the rest of the day spent making sure that the event runs smoothly.  I’ll be exhausted when the day is over, but I know it will be a good feeling because of what will have been accomplished.

Don’t forget the Database Design Seminar with Louis Davidson on Friday, October 15th.  It’s only $99 and includes an electronic copy of Louis’s book.  You can sign up on the SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando home page.

Monday, October 4, 2010

SQLSaturday #52 – Colorado Recap

I had the good fortune of being able to travel to Denver for SQLSaturday #52 the weekend of September 25, 2010.  I was able to go because my wife, Alice, had connected with Steve Jones’ wife, Tia, because of their mutual interest in horses.  So Alice was able to head out to the Jones’ ranch on Saturday to spend some time with Tia and the horses.  This worked out well as this trip was close enough to Alice’s birthday to double as a birthday present.

We flew out to Denver on Friday afternoon and had a good flight.  Our hotel was only about 1/2 mile from the speaker dinner at Great Northern Tavern, so after settling in at the hotel we walked to the dinner.  We had a GREAT time at the dinner.  I was able to reconnect with many people I already knew: Steve, Tim Mitchell, Jen McCown & daughter, Dean Richards, Nadine (from Confio), and Jason Strate.  There were also many new people to meet as well like: Meredith Ryan-Smith, Marc Beacom, another Steve, Rob, Jeff, Tom, Todd, Jason, Brandon, Michelle (from SQL Mag), Paul, Patrice, and Kate.  I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, but I feel pretty good that I remembered that many names, which is 19 out of about 25 attendees.

On Saturday Alice and I headed to the event at about 7:15am since the first session was at 8am.  The event was at the Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, which was a beautiful facility, and worked out well.  The gym was used as the lunch room and there were 4 session rooms in the main church building and 2 session rooms in the same building as the gym.  Registration was going smoothly when I arrived, and, since I was presenting in the first session, I headed to my session room.  The only problem I saw with the setup was that there were not enough signs, a common issue, especially when hosting your first event.  They could have used a large sign by the church entrance, more signs directing people to the correct rooms (they get some slack here, as there were last minute room changes), and signs on each room door with the sessions schedule for that room.

My first session was at 8am, not the best time for me, and was my presentation, Why I Use IMG_3051[1]Stored Procedures, which covers why I prefer using stored procedures for data access over other methods, specifically the Microsoft ORM tools, Linq to SQL and Entity Framework.  I had between 15-20 people in the session and had some good discussion.  The interesting thing about this session was that most of the attendees had no experience with ORM tools.  I’ve given this presentation a few times and this is the first time that there has been a majority of attendees without some exposure to ORM tools.  I had made the mistake of reworking my demos on Thursday night and, as expected, one did not work.  I demonstrate the use of Linq to SQL and Entity Framework in .NET 4 and 3.5, and by changing my demos I had broken my Entity Framework demo when using .NET 3.5.  Other than that the session went very well.  I consider any session where I get questions and stimulate some discussion to be a success and there were plenty of questions and discussion with this group.

My second session was from 10:30-11:30, just before lunch, and was my Introduction to Triggers session and was the 3rd time I’ve done this session.  This session was a little different because the hookup for the projector was towards the back and side of the room so I had to present from the side of the attendees when I was doing demos.  This session is mostly demos so it was a bit awkward, but worked.  Again, there were a lot of good comments and questions which made the time go quickly.  I really like doing this session as it gives people something to think about and take back to work to use, whether it is using DDL triggers or improving DML trigger code.

Lunch was nice sack lunch with a sandwich, chips, pasta salad, and piece of fruit.  They did 2 different things at lunch.  The first was to have Steve Jones give a short talk, like a keynote, and the second was raffling off some of the swag during lunch.  I really liked having a raffle at lunch as it gives everyone a chance to win something, even if they don’t stay for the whole event.

In the afternoon I attended 3 sessions: Glenn Berry’s session on Azure, Jen McCown’s T-SQL Code Sins, and Tim Mitchell’s session on Programming the SSIS API.  All three sessions were well-attended and informative.

The day ended with a raffle, and once again I didn’t win the iPad that FusionIO was giving away.  This went smoothly and when it was finished there was a good crew who helped clean up and put away chairs and tables so the church would be ready for Sunday services.

Because my wife had our rental car out at the ranch I hitched a ride to the after party with Lynn Pettis, a good friend from SQLServerCentral, who I met in person for the first time at the event.  The after party was at the Baker Street Pub, where we had a small section just for SQLSaturday attendees.  There was a great turnout of between 50-60 attendees out of about 160 total event attendees.  They had a nice little bingo card that attendees could fill out by talking to other attendees and you could win a gift card.  I managed to get the first bingo and win a $20 Micro Center gift card which I used to get a small PowerShell book and an older DNN book, so I can do a better job on the OPASS web site.

Sunday we went up to Boulder on the recommendation of Paul Paiva IMG_3057[1]and rented bikes to ride around town.   We spent the afternoon biking on the Boulder Creek Path.  We got to see some beautiful mountain scenery, some of deer, and a bunch of prairie dogs (neither Alice or I had seen these anywhere before).

IMG_3063[1]   IMG_3065[1]


It was a great trip.  Actually the best SQLSaturday I’ve attended so far.  I think it was for 2 reasons: Alice traveled with me and the people at the event, speakers, organizers, and attendees, were very friendly and made me feel very comfortable.

Great job by Marc, Chris, Patrice, and crew!  I hope we do as well with SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando.