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Kevin Kline

  • SQLVacation Postcard Day 1: Louisville, Kentucky SQLVacation Louisville Postcard

    Along the banks of the mighty Ohio River, in sight of the shores of Indiana, lies beautiful Louisville, KY. Louisville is a city I've long felt connected to. (No, not because I drink bourbon, although that's a pretty good reason to like the place, come to think of it). It's because my brother, five years my senior, earned his graduate degrees in one of the city's fine universities and worked there as an English professor for many years. Whenever I had a spare weekend, I'd load up the family, pop a cassette into the car stereo, and make the ~3 hour trip north to the Bluegrass State to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. Good times for sure. SQLVacation 02

    Even after my brother relocated to Anchorage, Alaska (It's a long story, trust me), I still visited Louisville at least once a year for their annual SQL Saturday. In fact, this year was the first year I've ever missed the event. And that's only because I knew I'd be there for this event!

    It's well known that Clark Griswold is a big fan of every bit of kitschy Americana on his family vacations. Some fun things we're going to try to see for our #SQLVacation include: 95% of the world's bourbon whiskey is made in the state as are 90% of the disco balls sold in the USA. Over 100,000 mint juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oats events. The world's largest baseball bat (120 feet tall!) is the replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat weighing in at 68,000 pounds, is made of steel, stands 120 feet tall and is located at Louisville Slugger MuseumGQ magazine ranks Louisville as the 'Manliest City' because of bourbon, baseball, and horse racing.

    If you're in the area and are interested in hearing my presentation, then be there early. They've already got a "sell out" crowd. I'll be there around 11:00 AM for an 11:30 AM starting time. The topic is going to be decided there by a show of hands. It's a toss-up between (click the link below to download the slides): SQLVacation Dave FacklerSo let's get to know the city even better by talking with Dave Fackler, the lead for the Louisville PASS chapter (Dave's responses are in italics):

    • When did you begin your professional career? I started working as a computer programmer in the US Air Force in 1989, working primarily with Unix and mainframe systems.  I started working with SQL Server in 1998 with the release of SQL Server 7.0 and became addicted to the BI tools – and that addiction continues today J
    • What’s a normal day at work like for you? As a consultant to the Department of Veterans Affairs, I spend most of my time helping the Business Intelligence Service Line there expand, develop, and support the VA’s enterprise data warehouse environment.  As the Chief Technical Architect for that group, I help strategize on the overall architecture and design of the business intelligence infrastructure, make recommendations on tooling choices, help other teams throughout the VA who are building data mart and reporting solutions based on the data warehouse environment, etc. Given that I telework 100%, I also spend a lot of time on the phone and on Microsoft Skype calls!
    • When did you come to Louisville? I grew up outside of Louisville in a small farming community, went away to college at Vanderbilt in Nashville in 1985, served in the US Air Force until 1997, worked for a consulting firm in Atlanta until 2005, and then returned home to build a house on my Dad’s farm.  So I’ve come full circle and am VERY glad to be back in the Louisville area.
    • When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I helped to start the Atlanta SQL Server Users Group back in 2001 (and even gave the first ever presentation for the group, which can still be found here. So I was very familiar with leading a local PASS chapter when the prior leader of the Louisville group (Mala Mahadevan) needed to turn over the group to someone in late 2013.  I really enjoy leading the group, seeing SQL Server professionals in Louisville network together and learn, and meeting other chapter leaders and volunteers across the country and around the world!
    • What is the IT community like there? The IT community within Louisville is a great mix of “old and new”.  We have a lot of companies that have called Louisville home for a very long time – particularly in the healthcare, automotive, and manufacturing sectors.  SQL Server professionals in those companies are focused on maintaining their systems, developing in-house database solutions, and dealing with third-party ERP and EHR systems. On the other hand, we have several cutting-edge technology companies that are helping to “modernize” the IT community through groups like the Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky (TALK) and events like TechFest Louisville.  So Louisville is a great place to be for technologists and SQL Server professionals of all backgrounds and levels of experience.
    • What do you like about your city? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Louisville is a great place to visit!  Of course, anyone coming can start with the classics like the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs (or even the Derby itself, if you plan your trip for early May), Slugger Museum & Factory, the Muhammad Ali Center, the Frazier History Museum, and the Kentucky Science Center (check out the KentuckyShow! which provides a “Kentucky 101” lesson narrated by Ashley Judd).  Beyond that, Louisville has a wealth of green spaces and parks along with a growing list of culinary delights (led by a group of independent restaurants known as the Louisville Originals).  And you can’t really come to Louisville and Kentucky without at least considering a trip to some of our most famous distilleries (check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail) or at least a few of our world-famous bourbon bars (take a look at the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail for distilleries IN the city).  And finally, for the more adventurous visitors, take a shot at the MEGA attractions at the underground MEGA Cavern.  There’s lots to do in Louisville!!
    • Where can I find out more about the user group? The email address is And our website is at We're also active on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter. Come join us!
    • How can we get in touch with you for further questions?  Easy. My email is And you can connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

    How about you, dear reader? Have you ever visited Louisville, KY as a tourist? Tell us about it using the #SQLVacation hashtag on social media! If you've entered the contest, every #SQLVacation tweet or post you put out is a raffle entry! One in every 25 entries wins, so get in there and share your #SQLVacation with the community.


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  • Make your summer vacation a #SQLVacation

    This summer, we at SQL Sentry have decided to do a fun riff on the National Lampoon Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase. And I'm asking you to participate as you take your own vacation, whether it's a week at the beach or a "staycation" catching up on chores around the house.

    sqlvacation 01

    In my case, I’m going to load up the 5 of the 7 members of the Horde in a minivan (no dog or mother-in-law on this trip) and drive a circuit of the big cities between Nashville and Chicago, speaking at a different SQL Server user group meeting each day. Your first way to participate is to come to the user group meetings:

    • 15-Jun-2015, Louisville KY, Lunch session
    • 16-Jun-2015, Indianapolis IN, Dinner session
    • 17-Jun-2015, Chicago Suburbs IL, Dinner session
    • 18-Jun-2015, Chicago IL, Dinner session (Limited seating. Be sure to REGISTER).
    • 22-Jun-2015, Springfield IL, Dinner session
    • 23-Jun-2015, St Louis MO, Lunch session
    • 24-Jun-2015, Evansville IN, Lunch session

    • 26-Jun-2015, Nashville TN, Lunch session 

    I’ll be giving away some custom t-shirts (take a look at the design below) and getting the SQL Server family pumped up during the otherwise slower months of summer.

     Your second way to participate and to get in on some prizes is  to join in the social media fun. Just put out the word on social media (Twitter, Facebook, what have you) about your own #SQLVacation plans and activities and you'll get entered into the regular prize drawings and as well as the grand prize drawing, at the end of summer.

    I hope you’ll take part in the social media fun! You can read all of the details about the contest, rules for participation, and such at (Some conditions and rules apply, so be certain to read up)! If we get a lot of community participation, we'll do it again next year to a whole different set of cities!

    sqlvacation t-shirt 02

    I hope to see you in person! Best regards,


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  • Microsoft //Build and Office365 Events Coming to a Chicago, LA, Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville

    The //build Tour

    If you build software using Visual Studio or code against the Microsoft stack, you don't want to miss the //build traveling road show.

    The Microsoft //build tours bring the Build conference experience to you for in-depth, usable knowledge about Windows 10 and much more. There's coding sessions and lots of new product demos. You'll also get facetime with Microsoft Technical Experts to ask those tough questions, partner showcases, and opportunities to connect with your fellow peers. Register today, it's a FREE event.

    Two dates are just around the corner:

    On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, Build Tour Chicago

    build 01, 2015-06-04_9-38-41

    On Monday, June 15, 2015, Build Tour Los Angeles

    build 02, 2015-06-04_9-39-25

    You experience...

    • Best of //build announcements and insights.
    • Windows 10 developer platform for app and web developers.
    • Coding sessions and demos across devices.
    • Q&A with Microsoft engineers.

    Attend sessions and demos, watch the keynote, and deepen your knowledge of Microsoft Universal Windows Apps, Web Apps Platform, Lighting-up new devices and capabilities and Cross-platform development.

    The Windows10/Office Tour

    In addition, the “USA Tour on Windows 10/Office/EMS” is coming to a city near you. This mini-conference is focused on Windows 10, Office 365, and productivity offerings to ensure you are on the leading edge of Microsoft software, devices, and services. Topics include: Windows 10, Next Generation Windows Devices, Internet Explorer and Project Spartan, Office 365, Delve, Sway, & Skype for Business, Windows Phone 10, Surface Hub, and the new Enterprise Mobility Suite. Register for these upcoming cities:

    • Indianapolis, IN on Thursday, June 4
    • Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, June 9
    • Jacksonville, FL on Thursday, June 11

    Let me know if you decide to attend. I'd like to hear what you thought of the event.

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  • ICYMI: Parameter Sniffing, Friends with Partition Benefits, and SELECT INTO Parallelism - SQL Server Performance

    Great topics for further reading about tuning SQL Server performance:

    Exploring SQL Server 2014 SELECT INTO Parallelism

    Joe Sack (b | t) provides us with a peak into the performance improvements and new behaviors of SQL Server 2014 in the way it can now parallelize large SELECT INTO operations.

    Parameter Sniffing, Embedding, and the RECOMPILE Options

    Parameter sniffing is a term used to describe the processes by which SQL Server attempts to reuse execution plans where certain parameters might frequently change. If you’re only familiar in passing with the term, it probably has negative connotations for you.  But parameter sniffing is merely a behavior, which is neither always bad nor always good in and of itself. Read this interesting article by Paul White (b|t), and be sure to read the lively discussion that follows.

    Finding Performance Benefits with Partitioning

    Erin Stellato (b | t), of, is back with another great read. This time she’s covering performance benefits that come from partitioning and in which cases partitioning is not going to provide a performance boost.



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  • Advice to New Tech Bloggers

    If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I travel and speak quite a lot. (Bizarre fact - I've been blogging since 2004 when blogging was a new thing). A frequent question I'm asked at these events and afterwards in email is "I want to start blogging, but don't know where to start. What do you recommend?" This is a such a common and natural question as to be almost existential at it's root. In most every context where we move from the known to the unknown, from taking that first international trip to learning how to swim to changing jobs, we might first begin by saying "I'm uncertain. Where do I start?"


    Success in any of these situations can be distilled down to a single word - DOING. You can plan and plot for months, attempting to foil every possible risk and mitigate every unpleasant possibility, but you will never progress without the doing of the thing. As Nike says, "Just do it".

    I have had the benefit of talking to a lot of really talented writers, from poetry to fiction to non-fiction, and no matter what tact they take they always have to knuckle down and do it. Some like to plan ahead for all of their major points, and they're successful in that approach. Others like to start writing without a plan, letting their characters and the thesis of their article take shape as they write. But in all of those situations, they sit down and write.

    So my first piece of advice is to carve out a pre-defined, well-bounded block of time to write every single week. In my case, I have blocked off Monday mornings on my Outlook calendar for writing. And that's what I do every Monday morning. You should too, even if it's just a half-hour once per month, you'll make much more progress than if you say to yourself "I'll write when I have time". Block off the time and respect it - don't dodge it or blow it off as something that's disposable. In other words, don't let your own self-discipline be your biggest obstacle.


    Another common follow-up question I get is "I know I want to write, but I don't know what to say". On this point, I have a couple tips to get you started. I find, however, that once someone has spent some time blogging reliable, this becomes much less of an issue. But here are some ideas about how to find your voice as a blogger:

    1. Write advice to your younger self: You've struggled to get the knowledge and experience you've accumulated. Some of the things you've learned were hard won. You wished you'd had it easier. Conversely, there are tens of thousands of IT professionals who are now struggling with exactly the same exasperating situation(s) you'd conquered in the past. Use that as your starting point - write a blog post explaining that trying time and how you'd handle it then if only you knew what you know now. (Incidentally, as I went to publish this post, my buddy Brent Ozar (b | t) did this very thing in this blog post called Sentences to My Younger Selves. It's a great read).
    2. Catalog your own knowledge: Similarly, some things that we learn are hard to retain or we have to train a bunch of people on the topic several times a year. Maybe me know a tough process so well that others in our organization are constantly asking us about it. Maybe writing something down helps cement something we've learned into our permanent memory. Maybe we don't use a technique or process very often. For example, I write a newsletter for SQL Sentry every month. Personally, if I do something only once per month, I never really and truly learn it by heart. Knowing that, I wrote a post for myself (and perhaps for use by my successor) to document in step-by-step detail exactly how I manage this rather complex, multi-person process. You could do the same for the things you learn working with SQL Server. And you'll feel a unique sense of pride months or years later when you do an Internet search on that topic and your post appears as the top hit from Google or Bing.
    3. Write about what you want to learn: This is an approach that my buddy Aaron Bertrand (b | t)  is a master of and is something you can see demonstrated every week in his new blog posts on In this case, you might be wondering about a specific technical questions and, finding no good answer to the question with an Internet search, set about researching the topic yourself. For example, you might be wondering "What's faster? Option A or Option B" Well, guess what? There are likely to be thousands of others wondering the same thing across the Internet. That means they are the audience you'll be answering by researching the answer and blogging your findings. You'll literally be improving their lives. Wow!
    4. Speak to your values: Even in purely technical writing, we have personal values to are reflected in what we have to say. For example, let's say you've written a blog post about various kinds of high-availability and disaster recovery options that your enterprise has thought about implementing. When you write about your conclusions, be sure to describe the values that drove your conclusion. Was low-price a bigger factor than resilience? Was ease of management a bigger factor than performance? When you explain your motivations and values in light of technological questions, your readers begin to connect with you on a deeper level and from that connection you can build stronger rapport with your readers.

    If you start writing from one of those three points of view, you'll always have something valuable to say.


    Here are a few tips about the more procedural, nuts and bolts of blogging:

    1. Start reading They literally wrote the Bible on blogging. Reading their stuff will both: A) blow your mind with their awesome information, and B) make you feel really inadequate. Option B is what I spend most of my time experiencing, since I already know a lot of their recommendations. But don't have the time or (frequently) the drive to implement their recommendations. But even if you implement a fraction of their recommendations, you'll be better than 90% of the other bloggers out there. And they have a great book of the same name. Buy it.
    2. Fully invest in social media and make that a part of your blogging: You might not be very active on social media. That's a mistake. Get at least a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter account. If you prefer, create separate accounts for your professional life, so that your friends don’t see your technical content and your blog readers don't see how cute your kitten. (In my case, I started on social media before the recommendation was self-evident. Now, public and private personas are hopelessly entangled). Fwiw, the SQL Server community is HUGE on Twitter. So don't ignore it, if for no other reason than to publicize your posts to the Twittersphere.
    3. Include a picture: I didn’t know about this until recently, but it makes a big difference in how Google ranks your pages when someone searches on a given topic. Also, when naming pictures, use a naming standard such as “ – powerpivot example 014.jpg”. That way, if someone searches on Google Images, you’ll get the full dose of SEO goodness.
    4. All things being equal, go with a Wordpress blog: If you haven't chose a blogging platform, you won't go wrong with a Wordpress blog. It's fast. It's easy. There are lots of inexpensive consultants who can help, if you ever need it. And there are plenty of good, plug-in widgets add nearly endless customization and special features. Want a widget to announce your your new blogs to your social media channels? There are a dozen (or more). Want a widget to automate backups? Lots of those. Want better SEO ranking? Already written. For that matter, let's talk about a couple specific examples....
    5. Wordpress widgets. Make sure to get some of the other really useful Wordpress widgets:

    A) Grab Yost SEO, Moz, or Jetpack SEO plug-in.

    B) Get one of the social widgets I mentioned earlier. I use Sociable for Wordpress. These do two things for you. First, they enable you to post directly to your social media channels either on a schedule or immediately upon publication. Second, they enable little “Share Now” links for readers to post to their social media channels as they read. SEO goodness!

    C) Get a Wordpress backup widget of some kind. I currently use WP-DBBackup at the moment, but it only backs up the post text, not images or other files like slide decks. Afaik, I'll have to spend a little money for a full-site backup widget.

    D) Askimet for spam comment filtering.

    E) You might like a Related Posts widget. Since I’ve been blogging a long time, I’ve got a lot of content. This widget automatically puts a little entry at the bottom of a blog post which says “You might like to read these:” and shows links to other posts by me and others.

    And don't forget to pace yourself. There's no need to hurry. You’ve got a lot of good things to say. But you don’t have to say everything at once. I recommend a pace of no more than two blog posts per week. As time goes on, you can alter the pace (if you want to). It’s not really a very bad thing to put out a bazillion posts in the early days of your blog. However, you haven’t caught a lot of traction with a lot of readers yet. So when you string it out over a longer period of time, you can build your readership with a steady, consistent release schedule. As I always say, when dealing with people it is better to consistently exceed expectations than to be occasionally brilliant AND occasionally absent.

    Does this all make sense? What sort of questions do you have?


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  • ICYMI: Partitioning Advice, Purging Data Bloat, and an example of TVF Misbehavior - SQL Server Performance

    Here are some oldies, but goodies that I recommend you read:

    Two Partitioning Peculiarities and Aggregates and Partitioning

    Most of us know that partitions are one of the best ways to scale very large databases or very large IO workloads.  However, there are risks, two of which are explored in detail by internals master Paul White (b | t).

    The Price of Not Purging

    Holding on to data long after its useful lifespan contributes to bloat and added preventative maintenance headaches. Read this informative post from Erin Stellato (b | t), of, where you’ll find a lot of useful information about the direct role that database size plays in the duration of all sorts of transactions and administrative operations.

    Why is my intermediate result set so huge?

    Over at our SQL query tuning forum on, you should read this entry to see a strong real-world example of why table-valued functions (that should set of warning klaxons!) can be a mixed blessing or, in some cases, even a curse.

    Follow-up on Summer Performance Palooza

    I like Q&A articles, often because someone smarter than me has thought of a question I should have thought of but didn’t. Aaron Bertrand (b | t), the editor-in-chief at, recaps his performance presentation for the PASS VC Summer Performance Palooza including an expansive Q&A section covering all of the questions that came in during and after the presentation.

    What's in your recommended reading list? Thanks,


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  • ICYMI: Query Optimization Phases, Observer Overhead, and Secrets of SP_Updatestats - SQL Server Performance

    Do you do a bit of query tuning? Then check out this treasure trove of performance tuning advice!

    Optimization Phases and Missed Opportunities and

    Working Around Missed Optimizations

    Paul White (b | t) writes two fascinating blog posts that go hand-in-hand concerning query optimization.  He goes into some deep details about how the query optimizer works, comparing various versions of SQL Server, and shows you several useful ways to assess query performance. Plus, there’s one handy trace flag too!

    Observer Overhead and Wait Type Symptoms

    Joe Sack (b | t) does a deep dive on “observer overhead”, that is, the overhead caused by whatever tool or method you use to monitor SQL Server performance and the impact which this overhead exerts on the wait statistics accumulated by SQL Server. Wait stats are my first-line defense in the war against poor performance, so this is a very important article for anyone learning or using wait stats.

    Understanding What sp_updatestats Really Updates

    If you assume that sp_updatestats does pretty much the same thing as the Update Statistics command, like I did, then you’d be wrong. Read this informative post from Erin Stellato (b | t), of, and also discover a useful script to help determine when a manual update of index statistics is needed.

    I learned a lot from these articles. What about you?


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  • ICYMI: Troubleshooting CPU, Logging Myths, Missing Indexes, and Query Tuning Examples

    Great Articles at

    There are so many good articles from this ICYMI article that it’s hard to know which are best to highlight in the limited space. So, I’ll be arbitrary and simply choose a few of my favorite entries as we look back:

    Troubleshooting SQL Server CPU Performance Issues

    This outstanding article from Joe Sack (b | t) of SQLSkills steps you through a methodical and insightful series of DMVs and queries that can pinpoint CPU issues on your SQL Server instances.

    Don’t just blindly create those “missing” indexes!

    Aaron Bertrand (b | t) discusses ways to get better and more balanced information used in decisions about creating new indexes than offered as suggestions by native SQL Server tools.

    The Myth that DROP and TRUNCATE TABLE are Non-Logged

    Paul Randal (b |t) at refutes the age-old myth that TRUNCATE TABLE and DROP are not logged operations. I love the full T-SQL reproduction of the issue so that you can see the internals in action.

    Query Tuning Insight at

    More great query tuning tips and techniques are coming in at every week. Get involved! Start uploading your own difficult SQL statements, read the clever solutions to other query tuning challenges, and provide your own feedback. I always learn from Paul White (b|t), when I read his solutions to tough query turning problems. Here are a couple of my favorites:

     Why doesn't Query optimizer eliminate unneeded left join in view with Pivot?

    Microsoft MVP Michael Swart (b | t) and Paul White discuss a query which delivers a bad plan and, in the process, go into a deep dive about how and at what stages the SQL Server query engine might simplify a query execution plan by removing unnecessary joins.

    I want to optimize this query execution to improve its duration

    Paul White dives into an interesting situation where a normal-seeming query causes intermediate work sets to spool to physical disk, thereby causing the query to run much too long.

    How does SS determine JOIN operator row estimates?

    Once again, Paul White teaches me new things.  This time he shows how to better understand and fix JOIN cardinality estimates.

     Let me know what you think! Thanks,


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  • ICYMI: Troubleshooting Availability Groups and the Schema Switcharoo - SQL Server Performance

    Aaron Bertrand (b | t) is on a roll this month's SQL Server performance highlights with more great articles from


    Troubleshooting AlwaysOn – Sometimes it takes many sets of eyes

    Aaron Bertrand (b | t) hit some obstacles recently when configuring an Availability Groups lab environment. This post shows how some assistance from the community helped him isolate and solve the issues.

    Another argument for stored procedures

    Learn the subtle ways that ad hoc queries can interfere with SQL Server performance by taking up more space in the plan cache than they really need.

    Schema Switch-A-Roo : Part 2

    Get even more detail about what happens to metadata when you use the schema transfer technique behind the scenes move data and database objects.

    So what do you think? What SQL Server performance issues would you like to read about?


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  • ICYMI: the Halloween Problem and DBCC CheckConstraints - SQL Server Performance

    Don't miss these great articles on from the industry’s top experts:


    Erin Stellato (b | t) of SQLskills takes a deep look into the I/O impact of running DBCC CHECKCONSTRAINTS, including explaining why some check methods may consume a lot more I/O than others.

    The Halloween Problem, Part 1 of a 4-Part Series

    Paul White (bt) provides unique insight into a long-standing data modification issue, the infamous Halloween Problem.  Much has been written over the years about understanding and optimizing SELECT queries, but rather less about data modification. This series examines an issue specific to the data modification statements of INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE and MERGE queries.



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  • ICYMI: Ten Query Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know (Video)

    Update 09-Mar-2015: The original PASS links I provided were behind a firewall. Thanks reader MMcDonald, we have a working link on YouTube. 

    One of the benefits of joining PASS is that you get access to their expansive library of conference videos. (Membership is free. So join now. What'dya want, a hand-written invitation?!?) I want to take a moment to point out a good one that I think anybody who writes SQL code on SQL Server should watch.

    If you know anything about the staff here at SQL Sentry, then you’re probably expecting me and my colleague Microsoft MVP Aaron Bertrand (b | t) to be doing double-duty at any conference we attend in both the booth and as a conference presenter. Well, you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. :-)

    Kev n Aaron 01

    Between the two of us at the PASS Summit 2013, we participated or led in:

    • Three “First Timer” Orientation Sessions, with Microsoft MVP Kendal Van Dyke (b | t)
    • The opening night Reception and Quizbowl
    • The Women in Technology (WIT) Luncheon
    • Two Spotlight sessions with a technology focus. (Click the picture at above to watch the video for the session Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know. Aaron has posted extras like PowerPoint and Samples  as well!)
    • Two regular sessions with a professional development focus

    Now, it's time for Aaron and I to figure out what we're going to submit to the PASS Summit 2015. What kind of suggestions do you have for us?


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  • The SQL Sentry forum for SQL Statement Tuning

    The SQL Sentry forum for SQL Statement Tuning

    Have you ever looked at our community site specifically dedicated to helping users tune their SQL queries,

    You can easily upload an execution plan directly from our free Plan Explorer tool or from good ol' SQL Server Management Studio.  Once uploaded, our internal team and forum members will provide plenty of tips and input on how to improve the plan and/or explain what the plan is actually doing.  The renown SQL execution plan expert, Paul White (b|t), is the moderator of the site. But there are many other experts like our CEO, Greg Gonzalez (b | t), and Aaron Bertrand (b|t) on hand to provide additional insight. I pipe up from time to time as well.

    Call to action – start posting your own execution plans, reading about the issues in other plans, and take part in the conversation!

    You might not think of a discussion-based website as part of a product. But in this case, it truly is an integrated part of our Plan Explorer tools. You can upload an execution plan directly from our free Plan Explorer tool with a single click or you can use good ol' SQL Server Management Studio to save and then manually upload your execution plan.

    Fancy yourself as a SQL expert? Then help tune this monster query!

    Take a look at this most recent posting that was our 2015 SQL Cruise Hairy Execution Plan winner at I'm not sure if you can read the small print in the plan steps below, but those are TRILLIONS of records moving between plan operator steps!

    2015 Winner Now, we don't usually take pride in a really bad SQL query, but the entries in the Hairy Execution Plan contest are an exception to the rule. These are queries that are so horrific, they're like a car wreck on the highway - you have to slow down to examine them in greater detail, and then breath a sigh of relief that it's not your job to fix them. :-)


    Here are a couple early examples of what you can expect at

    Optimize this Sort operation

    Paul White (bt) gives a questioner a comprehensive analysis of a difficult execution plan. It’s well worth a read if for no other reason than to see in action Paul’s mastery of these difficult problems. It’s literally free consulting of the highest caliber!

    How to tune a slow query using spatial indexes

    Aaron and Bob Beauchemin (b|t) of give pointers on how to improve this long-running query which uses spatial indexes and data types.

    Why the Lazy Spool operation?

    Paul White (bt) gives a highly-detailed exposition on how SQL Server uses the lazy spool operation in this query to achieve better performance. (Image above is from this entry).


    Plan Explorer is so Free, We don't even ask for an email address!

    If  you’re a user of Plan Explorer but are not familiar with, be sure to read Aaron Bertrand’s post about these new features at

    And, if you haven’t already, download a copy of the free or PRO version of Plan Explorer at

    Do you have a Plan Explorer story to share? I'd love to hear it.


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  • Troubleshooting workshop at SQL Saturday Richmond and Configuration workshop at SQL Saturday Huntington Beach

    Want to learn more about SQL Server? Now's a good time to get a full day of inexpensive high-quality training on the coast in March and the west coast in April.

    I hope you'll join me for a full-day troubleshooting and performance tuning workshop on the Friday preceding the Richmond, VA SQL Saturday in March. And in April, I'll be on the west coast presenting a full-day high-performance configuration tuning workshop preceding the Huntington Beach, CA SQL Saturday.


    As you probably know, I speak at a lot of conferences and events. Here are other upcoming events where I'll be speaking:

    • Mar 04, 2015 - Mar 07, 2015, SQLBits XIV - London, United Kingdom: SQLBits is one of our favorite conference events among the many around the world that we attend. Both Aaron Bertrand (b | t) and I will be delivering sessions. Come join us at the biggest and best SQL Server event in Europe!
    • Mar 21, 2015, SQLSaturday #381 - Richmond, VA: I’ll be delivering a full-day, pre-conference seminar and sessions at this SQLSaturday at the SouthSide ECPI Campus located at 800 Moorefield Park Drive, Richmond, VA 23236.  
    • Apr 11, 2015, SQLSaturday #389 - Huntington Beach, CA: I look forward to visiting friends and family on this trip, plus deliver a full-day, pre-conference seminar and sessions at Goldenwest College, 15744 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647.  
    • Apr 27, 2015 - Apr 29, 2015, Microsoft Ignite - Chicago, IL: It used to be called Microsoft TechEd, now it is called Ignite. This is where the best and brightest minds in the Microsoft world get together at one event. Come see the whole team as we hang out in the Exhibit Hall!
    • May 16, 2015, SQLSaturday #392 - Atlanta, GA: SQLSaturday is a free training event for SQL Server professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server. And we’ll be in Atlanta, for the biggest SQLSaturday of them all. This event is at Georgia State University, 3775 Brookside Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022.  
    • May 18, 2015 - May 21, 2015, SQLintersection - Scottsdale, AZ: Aaron and I will be delivering sessions at this SQLintersection, an event for developers and IT professionals alike.
    Let me know what you think. Thanks!
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  • ICYMI: Sequences, CPUs, and Trimming T-Logs

    Have you read any of the great articles on The deep-dive technical info comes from the SQL Server industry’s top experts. Here are a few great articles from the early days of the website, January 2013:


    Generate a set or sequence without loops

    Aaron Bertrand (b|t) provides detailed performance information about a variety of methods used to generate sets and sequences in this first in a three part series.

    Selecting a Processor for SQL Server 2012

    Glenn Berry (b|t) of sheds light on the best CPU to select for your new SQL Server 2012 installation, an especially important insight considering Microsoft’s move to core-based licensing.  The wrong choice could cost you a fortune. A lively discussion also made this article even more enjoyable.

    Trimming More Transaction Log Fat

    In a follow-up to his December 2012 article, Paul Randal (b|t) of dives into subtle performance problems that can cause bloat in the transaction log and slow its performance.

    Let me know what you think!


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  • IT Pro Events & Free Stuff for the Central USA – Jan 2015

    Central USA IT Pro Community News – Jan 2015

    There are lots of free, in-person and virtual events happening in the central USA over the next few weeks. Don't miss out on training, ebooks, and other goodies!

    Come to the Nashville SQL Saturday on Jan 17!

    Upcoming Events

    Free Ebook of the Month

    Free study programs and resources

    Recorded Events and Training

    Microsoft Server and Cloud News


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