I was excited to go to SQLSaturday 107 for three main reasons. For one, my SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn session was picked and I love giving that one. Secondly, Kalen Delaney (blog| @sqlqueen) was giving an all-day precon on SQL Server Execution Plans: Tuning And Management and I just had to see that! Lastly, I wanted to reunite with my #sqlfamily once again. I brought one of my employees Tim Smith (blog | @echoboombomb). This was his first SQLSaturday.
I was also very pleased with how the event went, so thanks to the organizers, (Nancy Hidy-Wilson blog | @nancyhidywilson, Will Howard blog | @willsqlonline, Jonathan Gardner (blog | @jgardner04 and others) for their hard work! It was truly a delightful event.
SQLWatchmen was also a sponsor to provide a little financial help so the event would go well.
Arrival In Houston Thursday Evening
Upon arrival, Tim Smith and I had a pleasant dinner with Kendal Van Dyke (blog | @SQLDBA. That was arranged via Twitter, so if you are new to these events, get a twitter account and tune in, you just may end up having dinner with a PASS board member. So never underestimate the power of networking.
Precon w/ Kalen Delaney
Kalen Delaney was in Houston for the week training the ACE’s from Idera Software. While she was there, she extended her trip a little and taught an awesome precon titled SQL Server Execution Plans: Tuning And Management to provide folks with low cost, all day training going deep into her subject.
Someone Misstated Kalen and Twitter Went Crazy
She projected her voice well, so even the folks at the back of the room could hear her easily. Course, I was sitting at the table she was presenting from, but some ear plugs fixed that right up! Her manner and style was very pleasant, but most importantly, her content was highly technical and explained very methodically and clear. I loved it.
As the precon was about to start, we found that the projector VGA cable was not long enough to reach Kalen’s demo location. No problem, we quickly solved this by getting rid of 1 table, which seats two, and moved Kalen closer to the projector. The show went on, but with two fewer people: Tim and me. I dashed to a closed Radio Shack, pleaded with the manager an hour before they were officially open and he rung me up a VGA extension cable early! Great guy! I dashed back to the precon, with my ‘ticket’ to see the rest of the program in hand, and waited in the corridor for Kalen to take a break so we could rewire the projector, add in the missing table and provide us a place to sit. So SQLWatchmen became the proud sponsor of a VGA Cable.
While in the hallway outside the class, Nancy and I had a great discussion about, VGA cables, User Group stuff, event planning and financials, and life. It was very nice conversation. Before long, it was break time and we rewired the projector and Tim and I got to see the rest of the presentation.
So there I was, sitting at the teachers desk feeling like I did in school when the teachers didn’t want me out of their sight. She said that I looked a little warm, but someone on twitter blew that way out of proportion. You can see a clip of that to the right.
A Message For All SQLSaturday Organizers
Here is one observation: most new people that I spoke with at the precon, had no idea what a SQLSaturday was and had no idea there was one the next day. Apparently, they’re bosses registered them for the precon (and apparently paid for them), forwarded the email and said: “Here, go to this training”. Three new people that I asked if they were going tomorrow, all said the same thing. So I have a call for SQLSaturday organizers: Promote the SQLSaturday several times AT THE PRECON. Your promotional emailings may go to the boss who registered, not the attendee. Maybe prepare a print-out about the following days’ SQLSaturday (hours, sessions, map, and how to register), and hand those out at the precon! The SQLSaturday 107 team did make an announcement.
SQLSaturday 107 Sessions
The morning started with my session at 8:30 am: AlwaysOn – Finally A Usable ‘Mirror’ . The projector kept going into sleep mode while I was in the middle of using it. After some failed pre-session diagnostics, I dashed to my car in the parking lot to grab the projector that I needed to fail over to. I’m glad I brought it, but my students were even more happy. Yes, I had a Disaster Recovery plan for the projector and was able to keep my presentation AlwaysOn (AlwaysOn is a trademark of Microsoft Corp, all rights reserved and all the rest of that stuff). After the initial projector hiccups, all went well. About 80% of the class were Clustering professionals, so I dove into some 300 material rather than just sticking to the basics.
William Assaf’s (blog | @william_a_dba) session SQL Admin Best Practices with DMV’s.
I really enjoy William’s style, what a great teacher. In this class, I learned that there is a DMV for collecting disk details starting in SQL Server 2008 R2. I did not know this. Awesome job, great mix of humor without going overboard, and a well polished presentation.
Christina Leo’s (blog | @christinaleo) session SQL Server Internals: It’s What’s for Dinner!
This was nice to see Christina’s presentation finally. We have presented at several of the same SQL Saturdays lately, but I have not been in her class as of yet. Boy, what excitement! She is so excited about what she teaches that her excitement bubbled over into the rest of the room. This fast-talking girl knows what she’s talking about and you’d better drink a Coke or have your coffee before entering this very technical and fast paced class. She covered SQL Server Internals like a pro. Beautiful slides with many animations as well. Very easy to follow.
Lunch was full of fun. You might think that a simple meal would be uneventful, but around SQL geeks, you never know what to expect. In this case, a bunch of us were at a table, including Wes Brown (blog | @sqlserverio), Benjamin Nevarez (blog | @BenjaminNevarez), Argenis Fernandez (blog | @DBArgenis), Mike Fal (blog | @Mike_Fal) and others, when Jack Corbett (blog | @unclebiguns) walks up. The short jokes begin to fly, then the tall jokes (Jason Horner blog | @jasonhorner), then the skinny jokes, then the fat jokes. It got pretty brutal but we all laughed a ton. No hard feelings of course. And in the end, we came up with a new invention for Jack so people can find him when he is in a crowd: A belt with an orange bicycle flag attached to the back so the flag sticks way up in the air.
Robert Davis’s (blog | @SQLSoldier) session Replication Magic: Initializing From Backups.
I volunteered to be a room monitor for this session to help ensure things go smooth for Robert. This was an awesome presentation where he showed us how to start Replication from a backup. Nice slides, great demos and expert handling of the questions.
Vicky Harp’s (@vickyharp) session Edge Case Testing for the Database Professional.
This was a session that I wanted to see for a while. In fact, Vicky and I have spoken at the same SQL Saturdays IN THE SAME TIME SLOT at every SQLSaturday that we both spoke at. Austin #97, same time slot. CO Springs #104, same. This was a treat and I really enjoyed the material and the discussion. Very interactive session.
I wanted to see Kalen Delaney’s session Costs of Concurrency, but I figured it was packed (which I heard later that it was). So I took the opportunity to speak with the various sponsors about their products, community, thanking them for sponsoring this event. I also got to talking with Mark Rosenberg (blog | @m_rosenberg) from New Horizons in Austin and found that he is very excited about what we are doing in Austin and is looking forward to sponsoring our own SQLSaturday in September.
I had a fantastic time at this SQLSaturday, caught up with a lot of friends and learned a great deal as well. If you have never been to a SQLSaturday event, I encourage you to find one within a few hours driving distance and GO! You won’t regret it. Experts, book authors, MVP’s and MCM’s speak at these and it is free to attend thanks to the sponsors! You just can’t loose.
P.S. – Why SQLWatchmen Sponsored
I was asked by several folks at the event where they should put their raffle ticket for SQLWatchmen since I did not set up a table/booth, and didn’t even set up a box to collect the tickets. The answer is simple: SQLWatchmen did not sponsor this event to grow the business, we sponsored to help the community and assist Nancy and company with pulling off a great event. SQLWatchmen focuses on helping small companies who do not need a full time DBA, but which run SQL Server for their critical systems, like Sharepoint, Dynamics, iMIS, etc. So nearly all attendees (DBA’s), along with their employers (who already have a DBA) are not likely to be in need of our help. So SQLWatchmen was not a sponsor in an effort to find new customers, but simply to help the community and to give a little something back to the community that I fell in love with some time ago.
Sounds strange, I know, but that is why there was no booth. This is the same reason I sponsored last years Austin SQLSaturday, and the same reason I’ll do it again this year.