Looking forward, with renewed enthusiasm

With SQL PASS Summit 2009 now over, it’s time to return to the real world. Fortunately I booked a few extra days off; it’s time needed to recover from the cold I picked up in Seattle and gather my thoughts about all of the things I learned and people I met in the past week.

The five days were a flurry of scurrying from room to room, chatting with SQL Bingo players and squares, talking to vendors and meeting as many people as I could.

Some quick learns:

  • Use Alt-Shift in SSMS to select text vertically.
  • Send SQL failsafe alerts to the receptionist, who is most likely always to be at the desk.
  • Hover over a column title in SSMS Activity Monitor to see which DMV is being used.
  • Don’t use ORDER BY unless absolutely necessary.
  • Use sp_executesql instead of EXEC for dynamic SQL.
  • Use an OUTPUT parameter instead of result set wherever possible for minimal columns.
  • Using a function in the WHERE clause will force SQL to do a scan insteadof a seek.
  • Don’t run DBCC FREEPROCCACHE in production!
  • The first use of a temporary object in a stored procedure forces a recompile of all temporary objects.
  • Add indexes to all foreign keys.

There are so many new things that I want to try out when I get back to work this week that I’m torn about what to do first! I do know that I have to start setting aside time for reading blogs. Blogs are usually a source for troubleshooting issues for me, but I need to be more proactive and learn before the problems surface.

Probably the single item of greatest value that I received last week was the revival of my passion for working with SQL Server, a passion that I hadn’t even realized that I’d lost. I can see now how I’ve let my work priorities slip, and will start to address that with the planning for next fiscal year that’s about to kick off.

I was a bit disappointed by how few people approached me wrt SQL Bingo. By Thursday, I was actively seeking people out; if I saw someone with a bingo card in hand, I asked if they had my square filled in yet. I helped two people finish off their blackouts by directing them on where to find other squares. It sounds like Bingo will be tried again next year and I hope to be a part of it, but it really needs more visibility and advertising.

A big shout-out to all those people I met at Summit (by no means a complete list): Wendy Pastrick, Blythe Morrow, Jeremiah Peschka, Jack Corbett, Kendal Van Dyke, Tim Mitchell, Ron Wildt, Tom LaRock, Wes Brown, Jason Strate, Mike Wells, Rushabh Mehta, Merrill Aldrich, Arlene Gray, Jen and Sean McCown, Stuart Ainsworth, Michelle Ufford, Todd McDermid, Tim Ford and Pinal Dave.

It was also a thrill to meet many authors, mostly of SQL Server MVP Deep Dives: Paul Nielsen, Kalen Delaney, Greg Low, Adam Machanic, Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp, Itzik Ben-Gan, Aaron Bertrand, Louis Davidson, Bill Graziano, Kathi Kellenberger, Kevin Kline, Andy Leonard, Brad McGehee, Gail Shaw, Erland Sommarskog, Scott Stauffer, Joe Webb, Allen White, Grant Fritchey and Joe Celko.

The whole conference was such a blast that, when the URL for 2010 Summit discount pricing was tweeted on Friday, I immediately forwarded it to my boss, asking him to put it on the training list for next fiscal year. Regardless of whether or not my employer pays next time, I still plan to attend. You should too!!

PASS Summit 2009

PASS Summit 2009

A Summit newbie’s plans

Only a few more days until my first PASS Summit! Time to print out the session materials and stress over what to pack, and realize that I never got around to replacing my suitcase after the vacation two years ago when the zipper broke.


As a SQLPASS newbie, I’m rightfully paranoid that I’m going to miss out on something important, either because I don’t know about it or am paralyzed with too many choices at the same time in my schedule. I’ve never been to an event this big before. I’m arriving in Seattle on Sunday afternoon, and staying at the Sheraton, so if anyone has plans for Sunday evening, I’d love to hear about them!

I’ve put together my session list with at least two options per time frame so that I have an alternate picked out if my first choice is too full. I am giving myself permission to not go to sessions if a more valuable networking opportunity presents itself. Can anyone tell me if *all* sessions are being recorded? The DVD says technical….

Then there’s all of the extracurricular activities. I plan to attend pre- and post-conference sessions, but I’ve not yet signed up for any (dratted Canadian dollar dropped in value in the past week). I think I’ll keep my options open for now, just in case I hear of something else that piques my interest, like a photowalk? I won’t have much opportunity to see Seattle with such full days.


Arriving at 1550, cab sharing anyone? If not, I’ll see how easy it is to make it by public transit. This is when packing light is ideal. Anyone getting together Sunday evening for a bite?


Pre-conference session (optional).
Getting together with EDMPASS veterans to get the lay of the land for the Summit.
Networking to Build Business Contacts.
Welcome Reception and Quiz Bowl.
Also SQLServerCentral party.


Birds of a Feature Lunch oh which to pick…

6-8pm Exhibitor reception.


Quest breakfast.
Women in Technology Lunch.

7-10pm Microsoft Gameworks at 7th and Pike.


Chapter lunch.


Post-conference session (optional)
Any suggestions for what to do on a Friday night? I have to fit the Sci Fi Museum in somewhere.


Whew! Departing 0950.

General to do, before and during

  • Put together a list of questions to ask people who know more than I do.
  • Print out session material.
  • Get a SQLServerCentral sticker from Steve Jones.
  • Pick up my FREE copy of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition at the Microsoft Product Pavilion (while supplies last).
  • Collect DevBucks by asking SQL Server developers technical questions (closes Wednesday at 4:30).
  • Get PASS to Prizes card stamped by participating Expo vendors.
  • Pick up Deep Dives book and get signed by as many MVPs as possible.
  • Meet people!


The last thing I want is to end up like this guy and leave the Summit despairing at lost opportunities for networking. I am ridiculously shy and find it very difficult to insert myself into conversations, and that’s a big part of the reason why I signed up to be a square in SQLBingo! What could be a better way to meet people than to have them come looking for you? And though I can’t enter the contest, I still plan on searching out the SQL experts on my cards and handing out my new business cards to everyone I meet.

My greatest concern is the lack of a portable communication device. I do have a cell phone, but it’s not one of these fancy data plan things that everyone seems to have these days, and my roaming/texting charges outside of Canada are an arm and a leg, neither of which I have to spare. My laptop weighs about 10 pounds and only has about 30 minutes of battery life, so it’s not very practical to lug outside of a hotel room. I hope to figure out a means of staying tuned in by Sunday!



I’m a Square in a SQL World

bingoAre you going to the 2009 PASS Summit in Seattle in two weeks? If so, then you really should go to the SQLServerPedia Bingo page and print out three bingo cards to bring along! Just refresh the page to change the squares. Read the rules and come ask for my code word!

This is my first time going to PASS, and I am so looking forward to meeting all of the other squares. As you can see from the list below, I’ve only met one of the other squares in person, but I’m guaranteed to meet at least Wendy, as we’re sharing a room at the Sheraton.

As one of the squares, I’m not able to enter the contest, but just meeting some of these SQL Server experts will be a prize alone. Only 9 more days until PASS!

The list of squares:

Square SquareUserName
Andy Leonard AndyLeonard
Aaron Bertrand AaronBertrand
Aaron Nelson SQLvariant
Adam Machanic AdamMachanic
Allen Kinsel sqlinsaneo
Andy Warren sqlAndy
Arlene Gray whimsql
Bill Fellows billinkc
Bill Graziano billgraziano
Blythe Morrow blythemorrow
Brent Ozar brento
Brian Kelley kbriankelley
Colin Stasiuk BenchmarkIT (hey, I know you! you’re from Edmonton)
Denny Cherry mrdenny
Eric Humphrey lotsahelp
Geoff Hiten SQLCraftsman
Grant Fritchey GFritchey
Jeff Rush JeffRush
Jeremiah Peschka peschkaj
Joe Webb JoeWebb
Ken Simmons kensimmons
Kendal Van Dyke SQLDBA
Lee Anne Pedersen leeannepedersen (that’s me!!)
Lori Edwards loriedwards
Mike Walsh Mike_Walsh
Mike Wells SarasotaSQL
Pat Wright SQLAsylum
Peter Schott paschott
Peter Shire Peter_Shire
Ross Mistry RossMistry
Rushabh Mehta rushabhmehta
Steve Jones way0utwest
Stuart Ainsworth stuarta
Tim Benninghoff bugboi
Tim Ford sqlagentman
Tim Mitchell Tim_Mitchell
TJay Belt tjaybelt
Todd McDermid Todd_McDermid
Tom LaRock SQLRockstar
Trevor Barkhouse SQLServerSleuth
Wendy Pastrick wendy_dance (this one’s a freebie, she’s my roomie)
Wesley Brown WesBrownSQL
William McKnight williammcknight

Thanks for the community

It seems that taking care of the database servers is a responsibility that has always fallen to me wherever I’ve worked. Though I’ve never formally held such a position, I consider myself to be a database administrator, because of all of the different things I’ve been asked to do, the database work has been the most enjoyable and fascinating. Working with SQL Server since version 6.5, I still don’t consider myself to be anything more than an amateur DBA, because I’ve never been able to dedicate the amount of time it takes to develop a well-rounded understanding of SQL Server. And though I’ve worked along side some very experienced database people, I’ve never had a mentor to help me on the journey.

twitter_logo_headerIt was sheer coincidence that I decided to check out the SQL PASS website on a day when new chapters were being featured, and I discovered that the Edmonton Chapter of PASS had been recently formed. I signed up for notification of the first meeting, with great hopes of getting involved in the Edmonton SQL community right from the start. I met Colin Stasiuk at that first meeting, and credit him with opening up a whole new world for me. He’s a very busy guy on Twitter and as a result my follow list exploded to include Tim Ford, Jeremiah Peschka, Thomas LaRock, Brent Ozar and many others.

If I thought I had a lot to keep up with before, it’s nothing compared to all of the information that floods out of this group.

Through unfortunate circumstances, my chances of going to SQL PASS on behalf of my employer evaporated, but I’ve made the decision to go to PASS 2009 regardless, realizing that this opportunity is simply too good to pass up. Not only will I be able to attend world-class presentations, but I will be able to establish an in-person connection to some of the many people that I’ve learned from and communicated with online.

Someday I would like to be able to give back to the community as much as what I have gained from it. So, thanks everyone, and I look forward to meeting many of you in person in November!

24 Hours of PASS

I signed up for numerous sessions of 24 Hours of PASS not long after receiving notification of the event. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to preview some of the excellent speakers I was hoping to see at PASS in Seattle in November. I had high hopes about being able to stay awake for some of the overnight presentations!

PowerShell in Management Studio

PowerShell in Management Studio

My 24 hours started with Allen White’s talk on using PowerShell for managing SQL Server. I have been keenly interesting in learning more about PowerShell but I had no idea how it could be used with SQL Server. I had seen the link in Management Studio and probably tried it once or twice, but without knowing what to do with it, had never bothered with it again.

Starting PowerShell from the Windows command line does not give you the same features as starting PowerShell from within SQL Server Management Studio.  The new features are found in snap-ins which contain SQL-specific cmdlets and an object explorer for navigating the SQL hierarchy. Fortunately the snap-ins can be added from the standard PowerShell command line to enable the features outside of Management Studio.

I also learned the common Windows commands like ‘dir’ and ‘cd’ are not actual PowerShell commands, but are aliases for Get-ChildItem and set-Location respectively.

I was really looking forward to Greg Low’s Working with Spatial Data session as I am currently struggling with adapting a process that’s been running on Oracle Spatial for years to SQL Server. Unfortunately, the session happened at 3am; I woke up in time for it, but didn’t manage to stay awake for more than 15 minutes. Top of my list for viewing the recordings!

I tuned into Grant Fritchey’s Query Performance Tuning 101 at a more reasonable hour in the morning. The different methods of capturing data about performance will certainly come in handy in my work.

I regret now that I didn’t register in advance for Kalen Delaney’s What’s Simple about Simple Recovery Model presentation. Another recording to be reviewed carefully.

I am certainly looking forward to when PASS posts the recorded sessions online so that I can watch the ones that I missed and review the ones that I did watch. Bravo for providing this event to the SQL community! I hope this will become an annual event.