Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reviewing My 2010 Goals

You can go over my goals here.  I’ve really hesitated to do this post because, in my opinion, I did so poorly.  Here’s what I did:


  1. Write 1 article per quarter for SQLServerCentral. – Fail.  I don’t think I wrote one article this year.  Sorry, Steve.
  2. Submit 1 video per quarter to SQLShare  - Fail.  I think I did one last January.  Sorry, Andy.
  3. Grow OPASS from 15-20 attendees to 25+ per meeting – Fail.  We tried several new things including Live Meeting and meeting monthly instead of every other month, but we never really got any traction for growth.  With some new help, Karla and Rodney Landrum, in town we’ll be trying again this year.  There will be a blog post coming about OPASS changes for 2011.
  4. Speak at 4 events this year (user groups, SQLSaturday’s, PASS Summit?)SUCCESS. I spoke at SQLSaturday #32 – Tampa, SQLSaturday #41 – Atlanta, Seacost SQL Server Users Group on June 8th, SQL Server Society of Las Vegas on July 8th (Remote), SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida, Space Coast User Group on September 9th, SQLSaturday #52 – Colorado, and SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando.  I definitely made that goal with room to spare.  I really enjoy speaking and eventually would like to make it up to a national conference like the PASS Summit.
  5. Present for 1 PASS Virtual ChapterSUCCESS. I presented for the DBA Virtual Chapter in July.

Professional Development

  1. 2 blog posts per week with at least 3 scheduled. - Close.  I had 98 posts in 2010 (not counting this one).  I did really well until November, although I never got a consistent set of 3 scheduled.  Most of the year I had none scheduled.
  2. Read 2 technical and 2 professional development books. -   SUCCESS.  I read the MVP Deep Dives book and MCTS Self-Pace Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft SQL Server 2008-Implementation and Maintenance.  For Professional Development I read: Tribes, Crunch Time: 8 Steps to Making the Right Life Decisions at the Right Times, and Visioneering.
  3. Get MCITP: Database Administrator 2008.  - SUCCESS.  I passed both tests on the first try with good scores.  You can see my thoughts on this process here and here.

Technical (Can I skip this one?)

  1. Develop an application (C# or PowerShell) to automate testing of backups. – Fail. I never even worked on this one.  I’d still like to do it, but can’t seem to get a test environment setup at home. 
  2. Learn how to and do a page restore. - Fail. Haven’t had to do it in real life and probably never will, so little motivation
  3. Develop an application (C#) that uses SQL Compact Edition for offline access and uses SQL Azure for storage. – Fail. I actually started this one, but couldn’t find good documentation on how to sync an existing compact database to Azure.  I’d still like to do this one.


  1. Lose 25 lbs. – Fail.  I hadn’t done anything until I ended up in the hospital with a heart scare (false alarm) just before Thanksgiving.  Since then I’ve made lifestyle changes and lost 15+ lbs and I’d like to lost about another 15.
  2. Play my bass guitar 10 minutes a day to finish the book my wife got for me. – Fail.  Did well on and off on this one.  I definitely see improvement when I do this, but life gets in the way too easily.
  3. Study my Bible every day. - Fail.  I definitely did better than ever before, but I didn’t even read my Bible every day, much less study it.  I did do some study every week.

Not a great year for meeting my goals.  No excuses, I didn’t get it done this year.  Here’s hoping for a more productive 2011, at least as far as goals go.

Monday, December 13, 2010

PASS SQLRally Call For Speakers Update

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)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One Week Left in the PASS SQLRally Call For Speakers

There is only one week left to submit your abstract for the PASS SQLRally.  This is a great opportunity for you to take your career to the next level!  You've likely spoken at user groups, SQLSaturday's, and Code Camps to groups of 20 to 50, but now you get an opportunity to speak to a group of over 100! The next step from here is the PASS Summit!

I know, you are probably like me, where you think that you don't know enough to speak at this level. Well, we are both wrong! If you are knowledgeable enough to speak at smaller events you are knowledgeable enough to teach someone something at SQLRally. SQL Server is such a large product that no one can know it all, so we all have people who know more than us and people that know less, help those that know less by sharing your knowledge. You don't need to be an MVP or be a Microsoft Certified Master, you just need passion and desire to share your knowledge. There's no better way to become an expert at something than to teach it to others. Here's your chance, submit your session(s) today! Give the community the opportunity to vote for you!

Not sure how to write an abstract? See Andy Warren's post, SQLRally Call for Speakers Closes December 15, 2010 for some tips and visit the PASS Speaker Resource Page.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Worn Out and Maybe Burned Out

Ever feel worn out and/or burned out?  Don’t worry you aren’t alone.  As a matter of fact most people have this happen to them and I have it happening right now.  I even started a this thread on SQLServerCentral to get some advice about it.  This is why my blogging has been limited recently, I just don’t want to be on my computer once I get home from work.  I’ve basically been just keeping up with email via my phone. 

So what started it?

Really, I can’t point to one thing that started it, but I can say that between some bad lifestyle choices and a confluence of life events probably led to it. 

First the bad lifestyle choices:

  1. Bad diet.  I was munching on junk food all the time, particularly at night, the worst time to do that.
  2. No exercise.  I used to at least play basketball on a regular basis, but I let that fall off and never replaced it with anything.
  3. Not enough sleep.  I wasn’t doing anything, but I wasn’t sleeping well either.

Now the life events:

  1. Potential work change.  I don’t know if I’m mentioned this before, but my current position at New Tribes Mission is a 4 year commitment that ends at the end of June 2011.  I know it seems far away but my wife and I believe we need to make a decision by the end of January so both NTM and we can make the necessary plans.  You can read more about this on our ministry blog here & here.  This could also lead to a change in fields.  I still enjoy working with SQL Server and doing development work, but not like I used to when I‘d dream in code.
  2. Alice’s Dad, my father-in-law, being diagnosed and having surgery for stomach cancer, subsequently entering a nursing home, and being told he is terminal.  You can follow this here.
  3. Our middle child, Evan (9), breaking his left arm at school, a “nasty” break according to the orthopedic surgeon.  He required a plate and 6 screws.
  4. Semi-crunch time on the never ending project at the office.

All this led to my ending up in the ER the Sunday before Thanksgiving because I had chest pains.  I ended up spending the night in the hospital for observation.  Praise the Lord, I hadn’t had a heart attack, but I am dealing with some kind of digestive issue still to be determined and high cholesterol. 

So how do I get out of it?

Well, oddly enough I started coming out of it the week before I ended up in the hospital.  I spoke with my boss about the potential work change and started walking before work and at lunch.  Of course, being in the hospital tends to send you back into a funk.  Added to that I found out my father has cancer in the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck…

Here’s what I’m trying to help me get re-motivated and help me avoid it in the future:

  1. Exercise.  I had started before I went to the hospital and it was helping, now with high cholesterol I need to do it even more.  Still keeping at a walk until I finish some follow-up doctor visits, but it IS making a difference in my energy level and ability to focus.
  2. Diet.  Again this is partly due to medical issues, but I’m on a low fat diet and eating more fruits and vegetables.  I’m hungry a lot because of reduced portions and not as much snacking, but it is helping as well.
  3. Sleep.   Getting enough rest is definitely important for anyone to function at an optimal level.  The amount of sleep each person needs will vary, but if you are struggling every day, it is probably time to get some rest.
  4. Priorities.  Just getting one thing accomplished each day is a motivator.  I need to do a better job of setting tasks so I can check something off each day.
  5. Friends.  Just getting advice on the thread I started on SSC and talking with friends and family has made a big difference.  Talking about problems is hard, but it is necessary.
  6. Perspective.  In the grand scheme of things my life is pretty good.  I have a job where I can take a week off to help care for my children without issues, who else can say that?  See my What I’m Thankful For post for other things.
  7. Faith.  This is part of who I am and really does help me get through some tough times.  Knowing that God has a plan helps me to relax and not worry. 

What about you?  Have you been there?  What have you done to overcome it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I’m Thankful For

Since it is the week of Thanksgiving in the United States, Jason Strate (@strateSql) has requested that bloggers post what they are thankful for, along the lines of Adam Machanic’s (@AdamMachanic) T-SQL Tuesday and now Jen McCown’s (@midnightDBA) UnSQL Friday. So this is my entry.

I have many things to be thankful for and, honestly, I’m not thankful enough, so this is a good exercise for me.


This Fall has been a fairly difficult one for my family and me.  We found out that my father-in-law has terminal cancer, we’ve dealt with lice, my son broke his arm, I went to the ER with chest pain, and I just found out that my father has cancer in the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck.  Yet, through all of this, I find comfort in my faith because I believe what the Bible says in Romans 6:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Even when I don’t understand the why’s I know that God has a plan.  I know that his is hard for people who don’t share my faith to understand.  It’s even hard for me to explain, of course that’s why it’s faith.


My wife, Alice, is the best.  She has to be to put up with me.  She’s my best friend and there’s comfort just in knowing she’s there.  She’s allowed me to drag here from New Hampshire to Florida and dealt with her parents failing health from 1500 miles away.  Alice also has encouraged me to be involved in the SQL Server community and to grow professionally no matter the time and expense needed.  On top of all that she’s a great mom too!

I love my 3 kids.  Danielle is almost 12, does great in school, and can really do anything she sets her mind to.  Evan (mister broken arm), 9, is my sports pal.  He loves to play and watch sports with me.   Regan, 7, is a bundle of energy and loves to perform.  Things are NEVER dull when he’s around.  Sure I get frustrated with them and annoyed, but I couldn’t ask for a better set of kids.


I’ve moved around a lot in my life so I don’t have that best friend since second grade, but I’m blessed with many friends all over the world.

Over the last couple of years the SQL Server Community has amazed me with the way it rallies around and supports its members.  Most of you I’ve only interacted with online, but in many cases I know you as well or better than people I see regularly.  I consider Mike Walsh (@mike_walsh) to be one of my closest friends (this may be news to him) and I’ve only met him face to face 3 times, but we share the same faith and the same profession so we have much in common.  There are too many of you to name you all, but I’m thankful that I get to associate with you all.

Being thankful is something I know I could and should do better at.  I’m going to close with one more verse that sums up how I should be 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PASS SQLRally Call for Speakers and Registration Open!!

Call for Speakers

With the close of the PASS Summit today, the call for speakers for PASS SQLRally has opened!  so those of you who submitted to the Summit and didn’t quite make it, break out your abstracts and send them in!! We will be taking submissions through December 15th.  You can see the qualifications on the Speaker page on the SQLRally site.  I’m really excited about this event and excited to see how many sessions we’ll have submitted.  SQLRally will have 4 tracks:

  • BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration
  • Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment
  • Database & Application Development
  • Wild Card – which will include 3 Professional Development sessions and 3 sessions from each of the other 3 tracks.

Included in each of the tracks will be “Summit Showcase” sessions that are selected from submissions by experienced Summit presenters.  As this event is designed to be a “taste” of the Summit these sessions will really give you a chance to see what the Summit is like.

Here’s even more great news, YOU will select the sessions on the schedule.  The event team will evaluate submissions for eligibility and group the sessions into categories within each track (BI, DBA, Dev, Professional Development).  YOU will then have the opportunity to vote on the session you’d like to see in each session.  Abstracts will be available for viewing and comments shortly after the call for speakers ends and voting will take place in the month of January.  Here is the voting schedule:

  • Professional Development (Jan 3, 2011 to January 9, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST) (3 categories)
  • Database & Application Development (Jan 10, 2011 to January 16, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST)
  • Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment (Jan 17, 2011 to January 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST)
  • BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration (Jan 24, 2011 to January 30, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST)

Be sure to check out the Speaker Page on the SQLRally site for details.


Even if you aren’t interested in speaking you can still attend.  Registration is now open and how can you beat 2 days of training for $299 + a full-day pre-con for $199?  Don’t forget that we are limited to 600 attendees, so register early to make sure you get a seat!


We are excited to already have 3 sponsors on board:

On the off-chance that a SQLSaturday sponsor reads my blog and you have an interest in sponsoring SQLRally, you can!  We have limited number of sponsor opportunities, see our sponsor page for contact information.

We are confident that this will be a GREAT event and hope that you can come.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Priorities and the PASS Summit

As most of you know, I am not attending the PASS Summit this year.  I had all my plans made, airline tickets, hotel, and a schedule laid out for the week.  Then during lunch on Friday my son’s school called to let us know that he had injured his arm falling off a swing during the lunch recess.  Of course, we thought nothing of it at first, thinking he may have sprain or minor fracture, then we got to the school and could immediately see that the arm was broken.  By the end of the day Friday we knew that Evan had a “nasty” displaced fracture of the ulna and a fracture at the head of the radius and that he would need surgery Saturday to repair everything, including having a plate inserted to hold the ulna in place. 

Even with that, I still held out hope that I’d be able to make it for most of the week.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to leave on Sunday, as I had originally planned, so I cancelled that flight Saturday morning, but kept my return flight for the next Friday.  By Saturday afternoon I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it all, so I let my roommate, Mike Walsh (@mike_walsh) know and he took care of cancelling my hotel reservation for me.

We got Evan home a little after 7pm Sunday night and I have to admit that Sunday night watching the #sqlpass hash tag on Twitter was hard.  Seeing many friends getting together with people I haven’t had the opportunity to meet in person made me wish I was there.  As the week has gone on, yes, it’s only Tuesday morning, every day I realize even more that I made the right decision.  Evan is still in a lot of pain and I don’t think that there is any way that his mother, Alice, could have handled him and the other 2 kids alone without going crazy.  This is where priorities come in.  Even though the Summit is a great time and a great way to advance professionally, my career isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.  My priority list is: faith, family, friends, and then work.  My wife and kids need me to be home this week so that’s where I am.

I’m going to live the Summit vicariously through Twitter and the Live Stream of the Keynotes.  It certainly isn’t the same as being at Top Post, the Tap House, or any of the other events and places, but it’ll do.

Have a great time and I hope to see people at the SQLRally in the spring!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My PASS Summit Schedule

Several bloggers have posted what their plans are for the PASS Summit and I’m following suit for 2 reasons:

  1. So people who may want to meet me, hopefully there are some, will know where I’ll be.
  2. To hopefully give the members of my O.C. group an idea on where to find me.


My flight is scheduled to arrive at 3:15pm.  I’ll be traveling with Kendal Van Dyke (@sqldba) on this flight.

Once I get checked into the hotel, staying at the Sheraton with Mike Walsh (@mike_walsh), Mike and I are planning on attending a service at Mars Hill Church.  If my flight is on time we may be able to make the 5pm service.  After church I’d like to try to connect with anyone from my O.C. group who is arriving on Sunday and head to the dinner Andy Warren (@sqlandy) is planning (details). One of the goals of the O.C. is to get people introduced and starting with a dinner with Andy and Don will be a good start. 

Since I don’t have anything early on Monday morning I’ll probably use Twitter to find out where people are hanging out and stay out a bit later.


While I’m not attending a pre-con, I’ll have plenty to do on Monday.

Each morning there will be an opportunity to meet up with other Christians to pray (see Mike Walsh’s post) that I’ll be involved in.

I’ll likely meet up with Andy Warren at Top Pot Donuts (his favorite morning hangout in Seattle) and anyone else who wanders in before anything else happens.  Being on Eastern Time still means I’ll probably be awake by 5am.

At 10:00am I’ll be in the SQLSaturday Round Table and then I’ll be trying to meet-up with my any of my O.C. crew and others for lunch. 

I believe that there is a volunteer networking session with Don Gabor during the afternoon that I will likely attend.

At 4:30pm there is a 2 hour networking session with Don Gabor that I may attend if any of my O.C. crew registers.  I need to get this ironed out this week so I can get that paid for and scheduled.

At 6:00pm I’ll be at the Welcome and Orientation session for new attendees along with my O.C. crew. 

From 6:30-8:00 is the Official Welcome Reception and Quiz Bowl and I’ll be at that.

Then I’ll be heading to the SQLServerCentral Party.  There is also a Volunteer and Speaker party, but I committed to the SSC party prior to the volunteer party invite coming.  I’m frustrated that I can only attend one, but that’s life and there are plenty of people to see at either.

I’m not a big SQLKaroke guy, so I’ll probably turn in early (by midnight).


I’ll probably head to Top Pot Donuts in the morning and then to the convention center before the keynote to try to meet up with my O.C. crew.

Because there is so much I need to learn about it is hard to decide which sessions I’ll be attending throughout the week.  I’m also going to try to focus on areas that I have little to no experience like SSAS.  There are definitely times I’ll be just hanging out in the convention center talking with people, but here are sessions I may attend:

10:15 – Virtualization and SAN Basics for DBAs – Brent Ozar

I’ve seen Brent speak so I know this will be a good session and I need to better understand Virtualization and SANs.  My alternate in this block would be Getting SQL Service Broker Up and Running – Denny Cherry.  I know Denny, but have never heard him speak and Service Broker is a technology I think I need to know because I’ll be using it at my office soon.

Lunch is the Birds of a Feather lunch where each table will be hosted by an MVP who will moderate/lead a discussion around a specific topic.  Last year I sat at Paul Randal’s table on HA/DR.  This was my favorite part of the official Summit.  I don’t know what table I’ll be at this year, but whichever one it is will be good I’m sure.  I’ll likely pick one where I don’t know the MVP, at least not well, and on a subject I know little about.

1:30 – Entity Framework for the DB Administrator - Faisal Mohamood

Entity Framework is going to be around so I want to know how to use it and deal with it.  I probably do more development in my current position than DBA work, so I’m definitely interested.  My alternate for this session is Best Practices for Data Warehousing with SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 with Eric Hanson

3:00 – Demystifying MDX in Reporting Services – Stacia Misner

I follow Stacia on Twitter and would like to meet her.  This is also staying with my theme of subjects I’m not familiar with and would like to know more about.  My alternate is An MDM Methodololgy with SQL Server 2008 Master Data Services – Paul Bertucci

4:30 - SQLCAT: SQL Server Consolidation - Enabling Tools and Lessons Learned (90 mins) - Guy Bowerman; Prem Mehra; Sylvia Vargas

My alternate is Building FILESTREAM solutions with SQL Server 2008 – Klaus Aschenbrenner

For the evening I’m planning on attending the SQLSentry Party and then who knows?  This is what Twitter is for, knowing where to head next.


From 7:00am – 10:15am I will be serving as an Ambassador, helping get people where they need to be, which should be the key note.

10:15 – I’ll be at the Chapter Leader & Regional Mentor meeting

This is the time when the Chapter Leaders meet to help each other and help PASS help us.  This is when you find out that you aren’t alone in facing issues with sponsors, speakers, venues, etc…

Today is the Women in Technology luncheon which I missed last year, and I’ll try to attend this year.  This is not a female-only event, but an opportunity to discuss the role of women in technology.  With a daughter I definitely have an interest in what is happening with women in the work force.  I’m also friends with several of the organizers of the luncheon so I want to support them as well.

1:30 - 50 surprising features of SQL Server Business Intelligence - Amir Netz; Donald Farmer

I think BI is an area I need to know to be marketable and you can’t get better than Donald Farmer, right?  My alternate for this slot is Making SQL Server Extended Events Work for You – Charles Hawkins

3:00 - Conducting Effective Meetings – Joe Webb

I complain constantly about meetings, so I want to be able to schedule and lead productive meetings if and when I ‘m ever in a position to do that.  My alternate is Data Warehouse Design and Architecture Best Practices – Eric Veerman

4:30 - Inside Latching (90 min) – Bob Ward

I didn’t attend Bob Ward’s session last year and found out that I missed one of the best sessions of the Summit.  I’m not going to make that mistake this year.  This will go beyond locking and help me to better understand some internals.  My alternate is Business Intelligence – end-to-end - Donald Farmer; Pej Javaheri; Russell Humphries

Wednesday night is the Microsoft party at Gameworks which I’ll spend some time at and then see where other people end up.  As usual, Twitter is the tool I’ll use to find people.


This morning’s keynote is by Dr. David DeWitt who had a highly lauded keynote last year.  So if you are going to make one keynote this is the one to make.  This is where I’ll be.

10:15 - Upgrade and Migrate your SQL Server with Just Minutes of Down Time – Chris Shaw

I’m looking at upgrading from 2005 to 2008 R2 in the next few months, probably January, so this is a session on a subject I can use in the office almost immediately.  My alternate is DBA Mythbusters – Paul Randal.

Lunch is the chapter leader lunch and I’ll be at the Orlando table so if you are from the Orlando area be sure to find my table.

1:00 - Starting with More than a Blank Page: Using an Industry Standard Data Model – Karen Lopez

I’ve met Karen and have wanted to hear her speak and this is a great opportunity and good topic to understand.  My alternate Know thy Report Server! - James Luetkehoelter

2:30 - Automating SQL Buildouts with Hyper-V and SQL Server 2008 R2 – Robert Davis

Virtualization is an area I want to understand better.  My alternate is N-Tier Applications Designed for Optimal Performance – Areas to focus from a connectivity perspective. - Lars Giusti; Luiz Santos

4:00 - SQL Server and Hyper-V - getting the most out of new features – Guy Bowerman

Alternate is ETL from the Trenches:  Using SSIS in the Real World – Dave Fackler.

I’ll be having dinner with the Friends of RedGate and then likely heading back to the hotel to get packed up.


I fly out at 10:30 so I’ll be heading to the airport pretty much first thing in the morning.  I’ll be ready to get home to my family by this time.

I know I won’t be in every session.  I’ll probably miss the after lunch sessions every day because of lunch discussions.  I also want to make sure I make it through the exhibition hall to talk with the vendors.  There is definitely something you can learn from the vendors and many of the products are worth taking a look at.

I hope to see you there.  Be sure to come say, “Hello” to me during the week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

T-SQL Tuesday–Why are DBA Skills Necessary?

This month T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Paul Randal (@PaulRandal) and he asks the question, “Why are DBA Skills Necessary?”.

The Story

When I first started working at New Tribes Mission in July of 2007, I was informed that there were no SQL Servers and that the plan was to move from FoxPro to .NET and SQL Server.  So I came on board as the SQL Server expert (at the time I was only an expert in comparison to the people in-house, I’ve come a LONG way since then). 

Well, as most SQL Server professionals have found out, SQL Server is out there whether you know about it or not.  It turns out there was a critical application in our Finance department that had a SQL Server backend which was running on a desktop class PC in the Finance office.  At the time I didn’t know about the MAP Tool, SQLPing, and other tools that find SQL Servers, so I didn’t find out about this SQL Server until November.  Guess why I found out about it?  That’s right, it crashed!  The worst part about the crash is that the original problem occurred in August!  There had been a power outage and msdb was corrupted.  What happens when msdb is corrupted?  That’s right, SQL Server Agent jobs doing backups no longer run!  Well, the PC maintenance department had been taking regular Acronis images of this PC, but the most recent one was a week old, so all we were able to do was to get the data recovered to within a week.  I was then able to rebuild msdb and recreate all the backup jobs, this time with system database backups and alerts when they don’t run.  Then I made plans to migrate the application database to a true SQL Server in our server room, with proper backups, monitoring, and maintenance.

The Moral of the Story

Why do you need DBA skills?  To keep these types of situations from happening. Does NTM need a full-time DBA?  No, but like any business running critical systems on SQL Server, they definitely need someone with DBA skills on a part-time basis to keep an eye on the SQL Server environment.

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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Be Thorough When Making Schema Changes

This morning we made some changes to the database.  We realized that as part of a re-factor we needed to move 2 columns from table A to table B.  We made the changes and immediately a lot of unit tests began failing.  As we worked on it we found out we forgot a couple of things:

  1. The logging trigger on the table needed to be changed.  I take responsibility for this.  Another developer made the change, talked to me, and I didn’t think it through.  This is one reason I use triggers minimally, and why some people won’t use them at all.
  2. We are using Linq to SQL for data access on this project.  I haven’t been shy about stating my dislike for Linq to SQL, but allowed it on this project partly so I could understand it well enough to complain about it intelligently.  Well, when you make changes to a the database schema, those changes need to be made to the DBML as well because Linq to SQL is generating SQL statements from the DBML which means the SQL being generated will be wrong if you don’t update the DBML.

Moral of the story

Make sure you consider everything and take your time when making schema changes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

PASS Elections – Improving the Process

Since there has been a bit of a furor over the PASS election process the past 2 years I thought I’d post some ideas about the process, even if many people are tired of it.

The process this year was essentially 4 steps:

  1. Written applications reviewed & rated by the Nominating Committee.
  2. Applicants with a high enough score on the application invited for phone interviews by the Nominating Committee.
  3. Interviewees with a high enough combined score presented as a slate to the board of directors
  4. Slate voted on by the Board of Directors.  Strictly a yes/no vote.  If rejected then sent back to the Nominating Committee to be adjusted and re-presented to the board.

Seem like a pretty simple process, and as an applicant and interviewee I can say that parts 1 and 2 of the process were okay from an implementation process.  The issue this year seems to have been the rating process.  The rating templates were posted on the elections site (Applications | Interviews) so you knew what areas you would be rated on, but the issue is that there was no published standard as to what constituted a 1 or a 5.  This is particularly an issue when you have static things like education or volunteerism (in or out of PASS). The other issue I had with the ranking process is that there were shared items in the two forms and they were evaluated differently (education, references, volunteer experience).  I’d suggest in the future that those things be rated one time.  I can say that PASS did put the documents out for feedback prior to the elections starting, but that I did not review them because I thought that it would not have been ethical for me to see the process before applying (I’m not passing judgment on any applicants who did, it was a personal decision).

Issues I Would Address

Nominating Committee

Currently, according to the by-laws, the Nominating Committee consists of:

The Immediate Past President shall preside as Chair over the Nominations Committee, subject to approval of the
Board of Directors. Should the Board not approve the Immediate Past President’s role as Chair, the President will select the new Chair, whose appointment shall be subject to Board ratification. The President cannot serve as Chair of the Nominations Committee. 

The Nominations Committee shall consist of at least five (5) voting members, one of whom shall be the Chair. The
Chair shall appoint the other members of the Nominations Committee.

The Nominations Committee shall nominate up to three (3) candidates for each open position on the Board, unless
otherwise determined by the Board of Directors. Each nominee must be reviewed and accepted by the Board to be
eligible for office. All voting member representatives are eligible to serve on the Nominations Committee. All
voting members are eligible to recommend candidates for nomination and election. 


This year the nominating committee consisted of the Immediate Past President (voting board member), 3 sitting board members, the PASS Executive Director (non-voting board member) and 2 community members.  So in essence you have 4 of 7 nominating committee members are voting board members.  Here’s my issue with this, the board approves the slate the nominating committee recommends and in the 2010 elections 1/3 of the board members that voted on the slate selected the slate.  This year that had a major impact on the board decision as the final vote was 7-5 to approve the slate as recommended.  Assuming all 4 nominating committee members voted for the slate then the vote by the board members NOT on the nominating committee was 5-3 against the slate.  In my opinion the nominating committee should have board representation, but should not have such a large number of board members.  With this many board members on the nominating committee I think you might as well have the board do the interviews. 

Suggested Solution

The nominating committee does need to have board representation as the board members are the ones who really know what it takes to be a board member, but limit that to the Immediate Past President (or Nominating Committee chair) and 1 other board member.  The rest of the committee should be made up of community members.  In my previous experience with Nominating committee’s this has been the practice.

The nominating committee should really exist to make sure that the applicants meet the minimum requirements.  As long as the applicant meets those minimum requirements then they should be on the recommended slate.

Candidate Requirements


Candidate requirements are not defined and repeatable.  In 2009 we had a candidate who had no volunteer experience with PASS and in 2010 a person was rejected because not enough volunteer experience with PASS.  The qualifications listed this year on the elections web site (you need to scroll down):

  • Strong written, verbal, and time management skills.
  • Strong leadership and management abilities.
  • At least 5 years of practical experience with SQL Server or related products.
  • Prior experience within the PASS volunteer organization.
  • Support and understanding from employer to fulfill the role of a Board member, which includes time away from work for meetings and conferences, as well as Board calls during business hours.

As you can see there isn’t a lot to go on here.  The only clearly defined requirements are 5 years experience with SQL Server or related products, although I do wonder what qualifies as a related product, and support from employer.  Now I have to grant that the first two are subjective and I don’t know how you get an objective evaluation.  The key one to me is prior experience within the PASS volunteer organization.  What’s enough?  What levels?  Is one year on a committee good enough?  What about leading a chapter?  Why restrict it to PASS? 


Honestly, I don’t know how you totally solve this problem.  Here are some of my ideas and I’m open to others. 

Strong written, verbal, and time management skills

I’d like to see samples of writing (books, articles, white papers, blogs) that demonstrate the candidates ability to convey a message in writing.

I’d like to see the candidate have speaking experience at User Groups, SQLSaturday’s, PASS Summit, PASS SQLRally.  Even videos and podcasts can be used to demonstrate that a candidate can communicate verbally.

For time management, let’s see a history of regular writing and speaking in addition to a day job.  If you can do all of that then you probably have decent time management skills.

Strong Leadership and Management Abilities

This is where the application and interview really come into play.  Does the candidate have good examples of successfully implementing change or of leading a team?  This doesn’t have to be work related, it could be being president of the PTA, serving on the board of a different volunteer or non-profit agency.  It also can be shown through references.  This is still subjective, but if you were elected chairperson of the local Salvation Army board or president of the PTA, I’d say that generally indicates strong leadership and management abilities.  This is one area where being a successful business person should separate you from the pack. 

At Least 5 Years of Practical Experience with SQL Server or Related Products

I have to admit to being torn on this one.  On one hand you really need to be a SQL Server professional to know what other SQL Server professionals need or want from their professional organization, but, on the other hand, how does experience with SQL Server qualify you to lead or handle a budget.  I suppose if you combine this with Stong Leadership and Management Abilities I think you’d be all right.  Also, what are the related products?  Office or .NET?  Would another RDBMS qualify?

Prior experience within the PASS volunteer organization

This has been a big one.  In the 2009 election we had a candidate make it to the slate with no experience with PASS and no SQL Server experience.  In the 2010 election we had an interviewee withheld from the slate because he did not have enough experience with PASS, even though he has been a strong advocate in the larger SQL Server Community for many years.  I’ve even heard that there has been dispute about if being a Chapter Leader should qualify you to be on the board.  My personal opinion is that, yes, it would be great for board members to have some experience within PASS, but, then again, people from outside the organization may bring in fresh ideas. 

Andy Warren and I have discussed this issue many times, and we don’t necessarily agree on it.  He tends to want to have the process be open and allow for many paths to the board while I’d like to see some kind of progression.  I’m a big believer that the backbone of PASS is, and should be, chapters.  Because of this I think the best path to the board begins with Chapter leadership and progresses through organizing a SQLSaturday (helps prepare for planning the Summit), maybe planning a SQLRally in your region, becoming a Regional Mentor.  I’m not saying that this should be the only path to being qualified for the board, but I think it should be one path.  If you’ve done all these things, in my opinion, you clearly have what it takes as a manager and leader AND the experience within PASS.

Yes, there should be other paths to leadership, but let’s clearly define how much experience is necessary.  Is serving on the Program Committee one year enough?  There are two things that need to be done:

  1. Define the amount of volunteer experience required
  2. Post specific volunteer opportunities and allow people to sign up for them.  This is something that has been discussed, but not implemented yet.


I don’t know that I’ve solved any problems with this post, but I hope I’ve offered some ideas that will make people think.  I know that the board is setting up a committee to look into the election (September meeting minutes) so the issues are going to be addressed.

If you are going to the PASS Summit this year, I’ll be there, so we can discuss this if you are interested.

Monday, September 20, 2010

SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando is Closing In

We are less than an month from SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando at Seminole State College – Sanford/Lake Mary campus on October 16th.  Our preparations are going well, we have a good sponsor base, a great schedule, and several volunteers.  We can always use more sponsors (plan|sign up) and volunteers.  Our registrations are bit lower than we’d like at this point, but we normally see a spike in the last few weeks.  If you have registered please invite your friends and co-workers, our best advertisement is satisfied customer base, and if you have not registered, what are you waiting for (register).  If you need a reason to sign up check out Arie Jones’ take:

Why #SQLSaturday Matters

and for any Oracle folks, here’s a post for you:

SQLSaturday for an Oracle Guy

I’ve been trying to woo some more sponsors.  I’m a bit disappointed we don’t have more local companies as sponsors.  I love to have the software companies as sponsors as they bring some great value and expertise to the event, but I also think that the local companies would benefit and add value as well.  At our most recent OPASS meeting, we had several people who are looking for work, but only one recruiter in attendance that we could connect these people with.  We only have one recruiting company signed up as a SQLSaturday sponsor, yet I’d have to imagine that there will be many people looking for work out of the 250 that we anticipate attending.  I know if I’m looking, the first companies I’d contact are the ones I’ve seen at events.

I’ve also spent time on the event guide.  Graphic design and layout are not strengths, but I think I have something acceptable.  It’s hard as I try to keep the length down so that we don’t have a huge expense for the event guide.

We are trying a some new things this year.  First we have a new sponsorship type for personal bloggers.  For $5 you can be a SQL Blogger sponsor and have your logo on the site and in the event guide.  See Andy Warren’s post for details.  We currently have 7 bloggers signed up.

Next we have a volunteer, Bob Blaydes, who has a popcorn machine, so we will be having fresh popcorn in the afternoon.  In relation to this we have offered our currently signed up sponsors the opportunity to become the official popcorn sponsor by bidding on the sponsorship (min. bid $100).  If you are signed up as a sponsor send your bid to by September 30th.

We also are asking each speaker to take the first 2 minutes of their session to ask the attendees to introduce themselves to the people next to them.  We want to encourage people to get to know each other and do some networking.

Overall the event is looking pretty good.  If you haven’t registered yet, register now!

Friday, September 17, 2010

SQLSaturday #52 – Colorado Here I Come!

Well, I’ve been waiting to book hotel and rental car for SQLSaturday #52 – Colorado because I wasn’t sure if my father-in-law’s health issues were going to cause us to cancel the trip, but fortunately his health is looking up, so we booked our hotel last night and our rental car this morning.

This trip is a short getaway for my wife, Alice, and I and her birthday present.  Alice has connected on-line with Steve Jones’ wife, Tia, as Alice loves horse and Tia has them and trains them.  So while I’m at SQLSaturday soaking up knowledge and networking, Alice will be heading out to the ranch to hang with Tia.  We really appreciate Steve and Tia opening their home for the day.  Alice and I aren’t sure what we’ll be doing on Sunday (we’ll be attending church in the AM) and Monday (flight is in the evening), but I’m sure we’ll find something. 

I’m scheduled to give two sessions at SQLSaturday:

Why I Use Stored Procedures

With the proliferation of ORM tools like Entity Framework, nHibernate, and Linq to SQL, many projects have decided that stored procedures are not needed and slow down development. While these tools have their place and have improved greatly, stored procedures still have their place, and, in this speaker's opinion, are the best way to do data access. In this session I'll discuss my reasons for using stored procedures and hopefully stimulate some discussion of other access methods.

Session Level: Intermediate

Introduction to Triggers

This session will give a brief overview of the different types of triggers available in SQL Server (DDL & DML) and then go into more detail on how and when to use DML triggers. This session will cover misconceptions about how triggers work, when triggers shoul d and shouldn't be used (we will discuss options), common mistakes, and how to fix the most common mistakes. After attending this session a person will: 1. Identify different types of triggers and when to use them. 2. Be able to identify when a trigger is the right solution 3. Be able to write triggers that perform well

Session Level: Beginner

Finally, the organizers are doing some good work on this event by with a food drive:

Giving Back - Help local food banks and the Boulder fire victims!

In spirit of this community event and giving back to the community, we have decided to run a food drive to help out others in our area.  Attendees that bring in can goods or provide a financial donation, all of which will be going to local food banks and help out the Boulder fire victims, you will be entered into a special drawing.  This drawing, for a special prize, will be held during lunch at SQL Saturday #52 – Colorado.

This is a great idea especially as we close in on the holiday season.  We need to remember that most of us in the technology field are blessed with good salaries where out needs are met, and we often have more that we can give back.  Take the time to help out those less fortunate than us by bring something for the food drive.

Can’t wait to get there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September OPASS Meeting Tonight!


Topic: Using PIVOT – Going from Static to Dynamic

Sometimes data normalization results in a data structure that is not convenient for displaying the data. Take the common example of a sales database in which each record represents a single sale.  However, what the customer really wants is a summary of sales for each product by quarter in which the quarters are columns, not vertical groupings.  SQL 2005 introduced PIVOT  to solve that type of problem.  The only drawback is that you must know when you write the SQL statement, how many columns you will need along with their name/values.  In some situations you may not know how many columns you need ahead of time.  Suppose you wanted to pivot on products that your company sells, but the number of products changes frequently.  How can you make the PIVOT statement dynamic?  We will explore one solution to that problem in this month’s SQL Tech Shot.

Speaker: Michael Antonovich

Mike Antonovich is the Assistant Director of Web Services for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, FL where he manages the SharePoint portal team implementing the Internet, intranet, collaboration, project, team, and school sites. They are also responsible for multiple .Net custom applications around the district. In June of 2010, he published his 7th book: Office and SharePoint 2010 User's Guide. Mike has been using SQL Server since 1998 and SharePoint since 2007.

Main Session

Topic:  Cool Stuff with SQL Azure

This session will provide a quick introduction into SQL Azure, including account creation and security, and discuss why a move to SQL Azure might be important to your organization. We will discuss supported functionality in SQL Azure and then look at different deployment scenarios and data access techniques such as sharding and why that is important in SQL Azure. We will then take a look at how to develop applications for SQL Azure using many of the topics discussed

Speaker: Scott Klein

Scott Klein is President of Blue Syntax, a consulting and services firm specializing in SQL Azure. Scott is a Microsoft SQL Server MVP and author of several books including Professional SQL Server 2005 XML, Professional LINQ, Professional Entity Framework 4.0, and Pro SQL Azure. Scott runs the South Florida SQL Server Users Group.



6:00-6:10 Welcome and Announcements

6:10-6:25 SQLSaturday

6:25-6:40 Michael Antonovich - Using PIVOT – Going from Static to Dynamic

6:40-7:00 Pizza/Networking

7:00-8:00 Scott Klein - Cool Stuff with SQL Azure

8:00-8:15 Wrap-up/Raffle

Hope to see you there

 Don't Forget to register for SQLSaturday #49 - Orlando!