Saturday, November 7, 2009

PASS Summit Day 3 – Brain on Overload

After the first 2 official days of the Summit the brain is already on overload and then the second part of the keynote by Dr. Dewitt and 45 minutes of Itzik Ben-Gan’s tips and tricks totally fried my brain.

I arrived and sat with Bob Hovious with the plan to connect to the wireless and publish a couple of blog posts I had written the Wednesday night but couldn’t publish because I wasn’t about to pay for internet in the $200/night hotel room.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to publish the posts because when I turned on the laptop I got an error, No boot device found.  I was totally ticked off, more because of the time I had put in on the blog posts than because of the hardware issue.  Fortunately, after lunch when I went to the hotel to print my boarding pass and check to see if I was still under warranty, it booted up, and has worked since.  I am planning on getting an image done at the office on Monday.


The day started off with recognition of departing board members: Pat Wright (@SQLAsylum), Greg Low, and Kevin Kline (@kekline).  It was a tearful goodbye by PASS president Wayne Snider to Kevin as Kevin has served on the board since PASS’s inception.  Kevin has been a tireless worker for PASS and deserved all the recognition and the standing ovation given to him.

Following the recognition of departing members was a presentation by DELL.  Unfortunately it was not the best presentation of the week, to put it mildly.

Then, we were taught by Dr. DeWitt.  He talked about the changes in CPU, memory, and storage since 1980 and how while there have been improvements in each the real improvement especially relative to speed vs. size has been in CPU so I/O is the real bottleneck.  One way to offset this, especially in data warehouse applications, is through the development of columnar data stores vs. the traditional row-based database.  Columnar data stores narrow the data so that there are fewer I/O operations required.  To be honest much of this was over my head, but definitely worth learning more about.

T-SQL Tips and Tricks – Itzik Ben-Gan

I was only able to attend about half of this session because I had to be at the Chapter Leader lunch, but what I heard while in there was mind-blowing.  I was sitting in the back with Kathi Kellenberger (@auntkathi) and Tom LaRock (@SQLRockstar) and at one point Tom said, “Where does he come up with this?  He’s like a mad scientist”, that may be somewhat paraphrased, but the meaning is there.  The 2 new tips for me in that time were:

  • Using (select null) in the Order By for windowing functions as a constant which eliminates a sort.  Select RowNumber() Over(Order By (select null)).
  • ON clause ordering eliminating the need for multiple LEFT JOIN’s.

    customers C LEFT JOIN (sales S JOIN products P ON S.product_id = P.product_id) ON C.customer_id = S.customer_id

Just those 2 tips will help me write better performing and more readable code.

Lunch with Chapter Leaders

As co-president of OPASS, I was tasked to sit at our table at lunch.  The idea, I think, was to let people who are not attending chapter meetings where the chapters are located and to meet people involved in the chapters.  There are a lot of chapters in Florida, but it didn’t seem like there were a lot of chapter members at the Summit other than the chapter leaders.  I only had Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDba) from the Orlando area sit with me, while Scott Gleason from Jacksonville also joined us because the Jacksonville chapter hadn’t gotten the right paperwork in. 

This is definitely a good idea as was the MVP Birds of a Feather lunch.

Proactive DBA: Manage SQL Server Better – Ross Laforte

This session had to do with finding all your SQL Server instances using the MAP tool and using PBM to manage your servers.  Another session that had content that was familiar to me.  Lots of good information shared, but not necessarily new to me.

Advanced SQL Server 2008 Extended Events: Performance Profiling and Troubleshooting Techniques – Adam Machanic

This was a FANTASTIC session.  There was a ton of information, great demos, and humor.  Adam is one the best presenters I have seen.  I have not done anything with Extended Events as I am running SQL Server 2005, but this session inspired me to try to learn more.  Extended Events are powerful, especially when you use Causality.  Causality can help you track down what caused the condition that CAUSED the event to happen.  I think Extended Events are designed to eventually replace SQL Trace and certainly give you much more flexibility.  While I’m not Brad McGehee, I do consider myself to be an expert in Profiler, but I’m looking forward to being able to use Extended Events.


Since I’m not currently a Friend of Redgate, I didn’t have a party to go to, but did have a great dinner with Bob Hovious, a friend from SQLServerCentral.  After dinner we went back to the Sheraton Lobby lounge to continue our discussion.  We saw a bunch of people and Robert Cain (@arcanecode) and Paul Waters sat down with us for awhile.  These conversations are the highlight of each day.

Friday – Heading Home

Had breakfast with my roommate, Tim Mitchell (@tim_mitchell) and saw some of the board a the restaurant with Bill Graziano (@billgraziano) stopping at our table for a short chat.  Then it was off to the airport where I met up with Pam Shaw, so for the first hour the Summit continued.  I had good flights all the way to Orlando and, while it is great to be home with family, it’s a downer to be away from the SQL family.  I’m already excited for next year’s Summit.  Fortunately I can make a couple of SQLSaturday’s between now and then to get a small fix of Summit and SQL goodness.


  1. Hey Jack,

    Thanks for mentioning the two takeaways from Itzik's session. Both are great and will help me as well!

    Causality sounds interesting. While we don't have 2008 either, I'm definitely going to play with this on my own.


  2. Thanks Jeremy. Itzik had a full day post-con for his tips and tricks. I wish I could have attended it. I need to buy his book now.


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