News about SQL Server and the SQL Server Community
I recently got my DVD set from the PASS 2011 Summit and started to look through all of the sessions that I missed. Wow! I can't wait to go through all of these! It will take me a while.
Since this is a new year and many people are often greeted with new challenges (like a new server to manage), I decided that this session would be a good one to review. It is by Brent Ozar and titled "BLITZ! The SQL - More One Hour SQL Server Takeovers".
Essentially, Brent shares with the audience his experience of being handed a SQL Server that someone else managed and being told that it is now his to manage. He went through the thought process of what to do first - what was important to know about this server. In short, he developed scripts that reveal information about the server such as when it was last backed up, had a consistency check, which sp_config settings had been changed from default, etc. In other words, he wants to do a Blitzkrieg on the server to take it over. He encourages the audience to go through the script and learn what is really happening and to not just run it blindly as this script is continually evolving. In fact, he has come up with a way to get the latest script "automatically" from the cloud when you want to run the script.
I watched this session on my fresh DVD set, but you can watch it here if you attended the summit:http://softconference.com/pass/sessionDetail.asp?SID=274893
For more information on the Blitz script and to see a training video, click here: http://www.brentozar.com/blitz/
One of my goals in 2012 is to blog on a more consistent basis. One idea that I have for keep this goal is to blog about a webcast or session recording that I listened to. I often listen to webcasts / session recordings while working. It helps to keep me "current".
So I will be starting a series called "Rick Reviews" which will be providing a summary and key things that I learned from a webcast or recording. I hope that you find these useful and can help point out some resources that you may not have been aware of. The first one will be out shortly.
In this post, Logistics centered around how to get to downtown from the airport (SEA - commonly referred to as SEA-TAC for Seattle - Tacoma).
As you would expect, the Seattle airport is almost always busy. Some airports have periods where almost no activitiy is going on. That is rare here. Signage is good throughout the airport on how to get to Baggage CLaim and Ground Transportation. If your flight comes into the "N" or "S" satellite terminals, you will need to take at least one train to the main terminal.
Denny Cherry has a recorded webcast that does a great job on going over all of the options on getting to downtown. You can find it here. He will go into more detail than I will about transit and after hours as well.
Rental Cars are available at SEA-TAC, but I believe that if you are truly coming for the summit that it will be a huge waste of money. One thing to note is that there are several rental car companies that require a shuttle to get to and makes it a little more difficult to return but are cheaper. If you do rent a car, you will need to park it somewhere. The convention center parking is convenient, but not cheap. Hotels also charge $20 - $30 per night. There are severall rental car locations downtown. If you truly need to rent a car to get somewhere for a day or perhaps to explore the scenery before/after the Summit, I'd recommend planning accordingly.
Taxi Cabs and Town Cars are also readily available. Fares (with a tip) will run about $45-$55. If you share a cab with two other people, the cost isn't that bad. The benefit of course is that you get taken directly to your hotel and do not need to wait until the shuttle is full before leaving.
Shuttle Express also offers a Shuttle service (which is sometimes a bus) to downtown hotels. Costs for using this service runs about $15 and you can also purchase a round trip ticket at a discount. I've used tis service on several occassions. On occassion, you may have to wait until a shuttle is full enough to go.
There is also a fairly new Light Rail service to downtown which costs about $3. There is a stop (Westlake) which is about 2 blocks from the Sheraton. This is Pine between 4th and 5th. Walk up Pine to 6th. Turn Right - Sheraton is one block ahead. The Light Rail service does NOT run 24 hours per day. This option may not be available depending upon you departure time. Denny does a great job discussing this in his webcast.
If you are planning to spend some additional time in Seattle before or after the confeence, check out the PASS Summit "Explore Seattle" webpage located here.
See you in Seattle!
I really don't think that you can get the full flavor of the Summit unless you delve into Social Networking. There are multiple vehicles for social networking. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Yelp are all tools in the Social Networking Toolbox. At the Summit, the best one of these is Twitter. With twitter, yo can eavesdrop on conversations, get tips in real time, and find out where people are hanging out at.
Here is a YouTube video that is pretty good about Twitter. There are other ones out there as well.
I recommend that you use a twitter client like TweetDeck on your PC and also on your smart phone. The interface makes it easier to use than the plain vanilla web page. In your twitter client, you can create custom "feeds" to target a particular word or idea. You can have multiple comuns on your client with many of these "feeds" that you follow. These words that you target are often referred to as hashtags. Here are some common hashtags to follow:
Once you start using twitter, you''ll understand more of what all this means. Brent Ozar has put together a great primer on twitter that may be found here. Closing thoughts on Twitter:
- You don't have to create an account to get value out of it. You can just follow some of the hashtags listed above - especially #sqlpass
- Get on twitter and try it out before you get to the summit
- Follow #sqlhelp and learn a LOT about where you can find great resources for SQL Server.
- make up your own hashtags like #JustSayin or #KilroyWashere or #whatever
- When choosing a "handle", consider incorporating "SQL" as part of it. Members of the SQL Community are more apt to follow you and value your tweets if they know you are a SQL Server Professional.
Another application (targeted for mobile devices) that can be valuable is FourSquare. FourSquare also integrates with Twiiter and FaceBook. It works best with smart phones with GPS enabled. Essentially, you check-in to a location such as a restaurant , bar, Conference Center, etc. As part of the "check-in" process, you can add a "shout" to your check-in that may be tweeted and/or set to update your FaceBook status. This is optional, but it can help with networking. Check out FourSquare.
The third social networking property that holds value is LinkedIn. There are many discussion groups affiliated with PASS. It is a great way to connect with other SQL Professionals once you get home.
There is also a PASS YouTube Channel. Check out the videos from last year's summit! Of course, PASS is also on FaceBook. Another social networking tool that you may find useful is YELP. It is particualrly good at helping to find a good restaurant near by.
Flickr - Many folks who are shutterbugs or just want to share photos do so via Flickr and the #sqlpass or #PASS2011 hashtags. I look forward to seeing a lot of pictures from everyone this year.
Bottom Line: Get on Twitter Now! Follow #sqlpass and #sqlhelp. Get involved in the conversation.
Now that I have covered just about all of the "official" Summit activities, it is time for a blog post about "After Hours" activities.
There is a webpage that lists some of the activities that we are currently aware of. You can find that page here.
Monday Night Networking Dinner - Last year, Andy Warren and Steve Jones started a Netowrking Dinner (Food / Drink is your own responsibility). It will be Monday Evening at Lowell's. More information is available on the link provided above.Follow general #sqlpass on twitter to see what's going on.
Photo Walk - Pat Wright and Tim Ford started this tradition several years ago. Essentially, Pat / Tim coordinate a place / time to start on a tour of Seattle. Bring your camera andprepare to have a great time discovering Seattle.Follow #photowalk on twitter to obtain more information.
SQL Kilt Day - It will be Thursday this year. Several years ago, three SQL Community leaders decided to wear kilts one day. Many more joined in last year (even some vendors). I don't havve an exact count, but I suspect that thee were at least 50 people wearing kilts last year. I suspect that number will be over 100 this year. Wearing a kilt on #sqlkilt day will definitely bring you some attention. :-)
SQL Run - Running is a favorite fitness activity of quite a few members of the SQL Community. Would you like to run with some others who are attending the conference? Follow #SQLRun on twitter to find out when/where to meet up for a run.
SQL Karaoke - What happens when you mix an open mic, SQL Professionals, and some libation together? SQL Karaoke at a Dive Bar. See the Link above for more information on locatoin. This year it will be on Wednesday Evening and now enjoys a limited sponsorship by NEC and Genesis Hosting Solutions. Follow #SQLKaraoke for more information - especially on Wednesday.
SSC / Redgate Party - SQL Server Central and RedGate will be hosting another party right after the Welcome Reception on Tuesday night. More info may be found here.
Other Vendor Parties - Many other Vendors will also host parties or other get togethers. Be sure to visit all of the vendors in the Exhibit Hall. I encourage you to visit all of the vendors and perhaps score an invite to an "after hours" event.
There is more, but I don't know about it yet. Denny Cherry has put together a website that lists "after hours" events that he is aware of.
One of the most valuable parts of the entire Summit experience is the networking that goes on. In this post, I will go over some of the opportunities for you to network with others. Once again, this post will not focus on "after hours" activities which will come later.
Badge and Ribbons - Once you get to the Summit and pick up your materials, you will have a badge. The badge will have the following information on it:
- Nick Name
- Full Name
- Company Name
- Where you are from
- Twitter Handle
You will also receive at least one ribbon (Alumni or First Timer). You may notice that some people have more than one ribbon. These ribbons identify how a person contributes to the SQL Community. Be curious. When you see a person with more than one ribbon, ask them about it. It is a great way to start a conversation. These people are very interested in meeting YOU.
Don Gabor - We have asked Don Gabor to once again run a 2 hour Networking Workshop on Tuesday. It is inexpensive ($70) and a great way to invest in yourself to make the most of the Summit. You can go online and modify your registration add this mini-pre-con or sign up onsite. Don will also be leading a special Speed Networking Session during the First Timer Orientation. I want to particularly encourage First Timers to take advantage of this session based on feedback from former First Timers.
Big Brothers / Big Sisters - There is also a Big Brothers / Big Sisters orientation program. It is not too late to sign-up. We match a willing and eager Alumni with a small grooup of First Timers via email. The Big Brother/Sister will then contact the First Timers prior to coming to the summit to answer any questions or to simply "break the ice" before actually getting to Seattle. If you are a First Timer, I encourage you to take advantage of this program. If you are an Alumni and would like to help out some First Timers, your help will be appreciated by the First Timers and the entire PASS organization. Visit here to sign-up.
Other places to Network at the Summit:
Welcome Reception (Tue Evening)
Expo Hall Reception (Wed Evening)
Attendee Party (Thu Evening)
Lunches - especially Chapter, WIT and Birds of a Feather
Before the Keynotes
At the PASS Booth
Remember that only you can make the most of your Summit Experience. I have outlined a number of opportunities where you can network with others who are doing the same thing. Go Forth and Network!
The Summit is much more than just geat content from excellent speakers. There is a great deal of other stuff going on at the Summit to really enhance your experience. In this post, I will not focus on the "after hours" events.
Do you want to get your hands dirty with Denali? Perhaps you downloaded the latest Denali bits, but you just never got a chance to install them. Or perhaps you just really don't know what's new with Denali and don't know exactly where to start. This is where the Hands-On Labs come in. We will have a room set aside staffed with knowledgable assistants to help you get your hands dirty with Denali. This is a great place to go right after you see a session on Denali and want to play around with a feature a little more.
Do you have a nagging SQL Server problem that you just can't seem to get a resolution to? Are you unsure of Best Practices for a server with 80 cores or want to know the latest on Virtualizing SQL Server? The SQL Server CLinic is for you! CSS (those MSFT support folks who know KB articles by heart) folks along with the SQLCAT team will be in full force here to tackle your toughest problems or to just simply answer a question.
In addition to these great resources, there will be Expert Pods located in the hallways close to the session rooms. These are tables that will be staffed by MSFT Developers, MVPs, and MCMs. Each Expert Pod will have a sing indicating the general topic that they are there to provide assistance upon. Did you ever wonder "why" a particular feature works the way it does? You can probably meet the guy who wrote that piece of code and get a great explanation of just hoy something was done one way and not another.
We also want you take advantage of special events that occur during the Lunch period. Each day, there will be an optional event to include with your lunch:
- Wed - Chapter Lunch - Come meet Local Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors who cover your geographic area. Also learn about Virtual Chapter that are "Topic-based" chapters that normally meet once per month online!
- Thu - Women In Technology (WIT) Luncheon - This event keeps growing in popularity every year. Lunch is served while a panel discusses trendy topics in the Industry. Thursday is SQLKillt day. You do not have to be a woman to attend; and yoou do not need to wear a kilt either.
- Fri - Birds of a Feather Lunch - MVPs and MCMs will host lunch tables during the lunch period to share their expertise on a particular topic. This is a great way to get into a much deeper conversation with an expert and to expand your personal network.
Did you want to Meet the Board of Directors and share feedback about the Summit and PASS organization? The PASS Board Meet and Greet will be held on Friday at the beginning of Lunch. More details to follow.
One area that you will go by on a daily basis is at the base of the long escalators that take you from the 4th floor to the 6th. In this area, there will be a Book Store featuring books on SQL Server and BI. As you would expect, many of the authors of these books are in attendance and would be delighted to sign your book. Be sure to leave some room in your suitcase for a new book.
Don't want to lug you laptop around but still need to check email? The Internet Pavillion is the place to go. This area will be easily accessible during Summit Hours. PCs are available for you to browse the internet, check your email, or print out a boarding pass. Wired Network connections for those wishing to use their own laptop are also available. The PCs and wired connections are set upon high top tables for quick / brief access to the net.
As you can see, there is more to do at the PASS Summit than merely attend sessions.
Another question that you may have is "What about food? What meals are included? Should I budget for meals?"
Breakfast: A Continental Breakfast will be served from 7-8am in the Meal Hall on the 4th floor across from Registration Wed - Fri
Lunch: This meal is usually more substantial. It is often quite good. Your typical Conference Food with multiple buffet lines. I can't recall, but occassionally, the lunch on Friday is a box lunch.
Dinner: Dinner is not officially a meal provided; however, there will be food served at the Welcome Reception (Tue 6:30-8pm), the Expo Hall Reception (Wed 6:15-8:15pm), and the Attendee Party (Thu 7-10pm).
Snacks: There is normally a morning and afternoon snack break usually consisting of Beverages / Snacks (like cookies, pretzels).
Overall, most of your meals are taken care of during the conference. Another item to tout when calculating the ROI for your funding. :-)
One of the things that you should do is map out your "Learning Itinerary" before coming to the summit. It probably will change once you get onsite, but having a plan will save you time and perhaps some frustration. You can go to the Summit website and start to build your schedule.
When you arrive at registration to get your badge and other materials, you will also receive a Program Guide. This booklet has a lot of information about the entire event. It has a detailed description of each session, maps of the venue, and much more. We also have a Smart Phone App (iPhone, Android, Windows 7 Phone) that has much of this same information. The advantage of relying on the Smat Phone App is that it will have the latest information available (Session Changes, etc). More information on this later.
Each Session has a Session Code associated with it. Example: AD-104, BIA-303-S, DBA-302-M. There are 4 timeslots/day with up to 15 different choices; that's over 170 choices!
The first part identifies the Track the session is part of:
- AD = Application Development
- AZ = SQL Azure
- BIA = BI Architecture / Development
- BID = BI Deployment / Delivery
- DBA = Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment
- PD = Professional Development
The Second part indicates the Level that the session is aimed at. 100, 200, and so on.
The suffix is optional and may indicate several things to be aware of:
- S = Spotlight Session (These sessions are 90 minutes instead of 75)
- M= Microsoft (Presented by Microsoft)
- C = CSS (Presented by a Member of the CSS team from Microsoft)
- HD = Half-Day (3 hour session - NEW This Year!)
There are also a few sessions identified as "Lightning Talks" These sessions have a variety of speakers who give a brief 5 minute presentation. Lots of Fun and covers a multitude of subjects quickly. You won't be bored in here! I encourage you to attend at least one Lightning Talk during the summit. You never know what gems you can find in a 5 minute talk.
What happens if there is more than one session that you wish to attend? Can you be two places at once? No, but all sessions are being recorded and will be available usually a few weeks later via streaming. A DVD set may also be purchased by modifying your registration information or by ordering onsite.
Outside the session rooms, a sign will indicate what sessions are scheduled to be there and who is presenting. Some sessinos / speakers will have a special designation. Here are some terms that you may see and what it means:
- MVP - Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Awardee (This is a non-Microsoft person who eagerly shares knowledge about SQL Server with the community)
- MCM - Microsoft Certified Professional (Passed both a written and Lab Exam)
- SQLCAT - SQL Server Customer Advisory Team member (often weearing a SQLCAT shirt typically of a hideous color)
In the hallways and lunch rooms, you will also see people with a Red Vest on. These people are playing the role of a PASS Ambassador. These people are Alumni Attendees who simply want to help you have a better experience at the summit. They can help you with Finding a Session room, Reading the Program Guide, Getting you in touch with the right resource, or just about anything else.
The Session Rooms are setup "Theater Style" - Rows of chairs beside one another (no tables). You will notice that each session room will have several reserved seats for Amabassadors. Ambassadors often come in late or leave a little early and need easy access to alleviate any disruption to the speaker.
Each Room also has a Room Monitor. These people work for the convention center. They are charged with:
- Enforcing Capacity Restrictions / Fire Code
- Enforcing Security for Entry to the Session Rooms by checking badges
- Counting Attendees / Providing a 5 minute warning to the speaker
- Collection Paper Evaluations
Room Monitors are helpful too - especially with questions about the facility. Amabassadors are a better resource for questions relating to PASS or the summit in general.
This is the first in series of blog posts about getting ready for the PASS Summit 2011. Why am I doing this? I am preparing for my webcast on Sep 20 @ 1pm ET (Details to come) about this subject. I thought that I'd get this information out in a blog format as well.
Even before the Conference Begins, there are some great training opportunities. Check out the great pre-cons happening Mon/Tue here. Pre-cons are $395 each except for the 2 hour Don Gabor Networking Session (3-5pm) which is $70.This is a great way to learn how to hone your networking skills! I also want to point out a special pre-con with Dr DeWitt on Tuesday. Dr. DeWitt is well known by our attendees as a favorite keynote speaker. He is presenting an entire day on a Peek Inside a Database Engine along with a group of his colleagues. My head is already starting to hurt.
On Tuesday evening, a special "First Timers" session will start at 5:30 right before the Welcome Reception. There will be some snacks and beverages there as well as the Quiz Bowl game (prizes!). The reception will be in the Washington State Trade and Convention Center (WSTC) on the 6th floor. This is also where the Keynotes will be held. The reception is set to start at 6:30pm and go until 8pm. There will also be some tables set up where you can learn more about Virtual Chapters and become more invloved.
Start your day off right with a Keynote each morning. The session will begin promptly at 8:15am each morning and last until 10am. These keynotes will full of announcements, demos, and deep thinking (especially Friday!). Learn about the direction that MSFT is taking with SQL Server and how your life will become easier. Don't miss these!
Perhaps the toughest choice that you will have to make is which session to attend. There are up to 15 concurrent sessions and 4 time slots / day. (More about Session in a later blog post) Content is what brings people initially to the summit. The experience and networking is what brings you back.
Another great feature at the summit is the Expo Hall. This is a great place to meet the people who make your favorite tools or provide services focused on SQL Server. They have offerings that will make your life easier. And they are fun to talk to as well! The Expo Hall will be open on Wednesday and Thursday only with a Wednesday Evening Reception in the hall from 6:15 - 8:15pm. Again there will be food and beverages available. If you are bringing a significant other, there is also a guest pass that may be purchased for the evening events. Many Vendors participate in the popular PASSPort to Prizes or have their own give-away program. SWAG can consist of pens, squishy balls, t-shirts, etc as well as the occassional really cool thing that nobody thought of before. This is the BEST time to talk with the vendors because it doesn't overlap with any sessinos or other activities at the summit. Take advantage of this time to look around and learn about an offering that just may make your day easier.
The Weather in Seattle can be very unpredictable. Last year in November, we had some sunny (and almost hot) days. The Average Hi temp is 60 F. October only averages 3 inches of rain for the month. My advice is to dress comfortably. If you are comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, great! If you feel more comfortable in a suit/tie or a dress, that is fine too. You can even wear a kilt! (more on that later) I suggest that you dress in layers so that you can adjust accordingly as sometimes the heating/air conditioning can be tricky in these flexible spaces.
WiFi will be availble throughout the summit areas. Remember that about 3000 of your best SQL friends will also be jumping on the connection as well (some with multiple devices!). I have generally had good luck with the connection over the years, but there are times when the network may be overused. Power Outlets are available, but often hard to find. Remember that many of the session rooms have at least one air wall which means no outlets on that wall (difficult to put an outlet in a wall that isn't always there). Bring along a small power strip and make friends fast!
Be sure to check out the Summit webpages located here.
Register for the event here!
I am in the process of finalizing a date (week of Sep 19) for a LiveMeeting event that will focus on the upcoming PASS Community Summit. It will be primarily targeted at the first-timers to the Summit, but everyone will be welcome to join. There will be event information forthcoming on the PASS website - www.sqlpass.org.
Here is a rundown on the topics that I plan to cover:
- What is PASS? PASS Events (Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQLSat, Chapters, Virtual Chapters)
- What to Expect / How to read the Program Guide and Smart Phone App to Plan your Itinerary
- Pre-cons, half-day sessions, spotlight sessions, Speaker annotations (MVP, MCM, SQLCAT)
- Stuff besides Sessions (Hands-on labs, SQL Clinic, Expert Pods, Birds of Feather Lunch, etc.)
- Social Media (Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, etc)
- Activities "outside of the Summit" (SQL Karaoke, Photo walk, Kilt Day, etc)
- Logistics - Getting to the Summit from SEA-TAC (light rail, shuttle, cab, etc.)
I have gone through the Flickr photos. Always looking for more "gems". Looking for photos that may help with logistics or showcasing interaction at the summit. Leave a comment for a link to other sites like Flickr with pictures from past summits.
Are you using your benefits to further your SQL Server skills? The other day, the company I work for (Scalability Experts) had a benefits meeting where open enrollment for insurance and other similar things were discussed. Since we are a small company, we outsource HR/Payroll/Benefits and I discovered a new benefit that I was unaware of previously. Perhaps you have it too. THere is an Educational Assistance Benefit of $1500/year to help with courses that count towards a degree. I was somewhat familiar with that one. There is also an Educational Assistance benefit that is geared for attending seminars (especially those offered by a Professional Association). The benefit offered through our plan is $500/year to spend on educational seminars. There is some criteria the seminar must meet under our benefit structure such as: helping develop skills that you use in your line of work and it can't be in-house or custom training. That sounds like a perfect fit for a PASS Summit Pre-Con! Of course your organization may have different criteria and /or benefit amounts, but don't let that education benefit go to waste. There is a great selection of Pre-Cons to choose from that offer a full day of learning for only $395! Tap into your benefits and receive some great learning practically for free!
When discussing "How did you become a DBA" with almost anyone, it was an accident. Nobody seems to go to school to become a DBA. Most DBAs that I know either were developers for a while and they took over the admin duties of the database server, or they were a system administrator and were tasked with taking charge of a database server. After reading many of the SQLPeople.net interviews, I don't recall an instance where someone decided to become a DBA on purpose.
What makes a successful DBA? Are there common traits or aptitude "markers" that are common among successful DBAs? If someone comes up to you and aks you how to become a DBA, that do you tell them? Are they "cut out" to be a DBA?
Well, I don't have the answer. But let's start the list and see where it goes.
Responsible - DBAs need to take responsibility for Backups and ensure that a restore of the database is possible. This can't really occur unless the person is responsible. Now here's the tricky part. How do you phrase a question to help someone determine if they are responsible enough? The question phrased like "Are you responsible?" is not a good question to help someone determine if they really are responsible. A better way would be to present a scenario of some sort and allow the person to either choose one of the answers or perhaps provide an open-ended response. Its tougher than you think because the scenario must be something relatively common to everyone and not SQL Server specific (the person isn't a DBA yet).
This is the first thing that came to mind in developing a scenario-based "responsible" type of question.....
Scenario: You just purchased a new phone that does just about everything. One of the many questions that you asked was "Can I receive phone calls while using the GPS?". The salesperson assures you that yes you can. How do you determine if he is telling the truth?
Option A - You believe him and go about enjoying your new phone.
Option B - On your drive home, you text someone to call you as you activate the GPS feature.
Option C - You drive home. Read the instructions. Test it out at home before depending upon being able to receive calls while using the GPS.
Option D - Free Form Answer....
Option C would strike me as the "responsible" answer, but a free form response may also be very revealing.
Why am I blogging about this here? In North Carolina, there is a "Lateral Entry" program for people who want to get into teaching for a second career and don't have the time/resources to return to school to get certified. This made me think about "How do we get more SQL Server DBAs?" because we will not get them from college I was thinking about formulating 5-10 questions that could be used to help a person who is interested in becoming a DBA know if they have the "right stuff". These questions would not necessarily be perfect, but it would at least be a tool. I'm looking for additional feedback/ideas/scenarios.
What is the "right stuff" that makes up a successful DBA?