Un-SQL Friday: Branding

So looks like we have another blog party on our hands, this time courtesy of Jen McCown (Blog | Twitter), one half of the MidnightDBA brand!  This is such a great topic especially coming from a couple who have built up quite a successful brand for themselves in the community and continue to grow it. Check out both their entries (Jen | Sean) on this topic as they both have really interesting views on this stuff.

Branding is a funny thing. It can go one of two ways: you can create a brand that resonates with your target audience, makes you memorable, and any continued associations with your brand and your audience are positive and meaningful. Or you can create a brand very much slanted the other way and any interactions or associations with your brand can bring negative results and damage you personally or professionally.

I’m going to make a quick confession here and tell you that I not only have watched the show “What Not To Wear” on TLC but I thoroughly enjoyed said show. Why confess that? Well on the show the hosts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London often tell their fashion-challenged targets that they need to realize that they’re trying to sell themselves. It’s all about image. This may sound a bit shallow but hear me out folks. You really are the image you project and this includes how you dress, how you act and in the world of blogging and presenting this directly relates to the brand you’re trying to sell: you!

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PASS Summit: Day 3 Keynote Live

Well, it’s the final day of PASS Summit and the week’s final keynote! Today’s keynote will be delivered by Dr. David Dewitt! His speaking is the result of a user survey sent out by PASS earlier this year.

From Summit site:

You voted, and the results are in: Dr. David DeWitt will be speaking on Query Optimization 101 during the most anticipated keynote of PASS Summit 2010!

“In two short years, giving a keynote at the PASS Summit has become a highlight of my year,” noted Dr. DeWitt, Technical Fellow with Microsoft’s Jim Gray Systems Lab. “This year, I am excited to have the opportunity to talk about SQL query optimization, why it is hard to always produce good plans, and new technologies that offer the promise of better plans in future releases of SQL Server.”

Query optimization is the process of compiling a SQL query into an executable plan that is as efficient as possible. While the basic fundamentals for cost-based query optimization were first described in a seminal paper by Pat Selinger of IBM Research in 1979, optimizing complex queries continues to be very challenging 30 years later. In this talk, David DeWitt will describe the fundamentals of query optimization, why it remains a very hard problem today, and present several recent research results that promise to improve the quality of plans produced in the years to come.

David J. DeWitt is a Technical Fellow in the Microsoft Data and Storage Platform Division. DeWitt’s role is creating and leading the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, a new advanced development center in Madison, WI, for Microsoft, in association with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Computer Sciences Department. DeWitt came to Microsoft from the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin, which he joined in September 1976 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He served as department chair from July 1999 to July 2004 and held the title of John P. Morgridge Professor of Computer Sciences when he retired from the University of Wisconsin.

Click Here for live blog!

PASS Summit: Day 2 Keynote Live

It’s Day 2 of the PASS Summit and here we are again live blogging the event.

From the Summit site:

Today Tom Casey will discuss and showcase some of the exciting new and upcoming innovations in Business Intelligence and advances to the data platform, including the expansion into the cloud. Tom will also discuss Microsoft’s progress in the cloud, and the powerful role that SQL Azure and cloud computing will play in enabling the information platform.

Click Here for live blog!

PASS Summit: Day 1 Keynote Live

It’s the first day of the PASS Summit 2010 and I”ll be live blogging the first keynote here. Click on the link below to follow along!

From the Summit site:

Ted Kummert will open Day 1 of PASS Summit 2010 by highlighting continued innovation across Microsoft’s business and information platform. Kummert will explore Microsoft’s key technical investments that help solve the toughest issues for various roles across an organization, from IT Professionals to developers. Kummert will explore Mission Critical applications, getting the most out of your datacenter, and the accessibility of Business Intelligence in an effort to deliver on Microsoft’s vision of enabling data platform customers to be more efficient through integrated tools. Some exciting product announcements will also be shared exclusively with PASS attendees so you won’t want to miss out!

On a side note: I REALLY hope we hear announcement for SQL Server 11 😀

Click Here for live blog!

PASS Summit 2010 Magic: The Pledge

Are You Watching?

I write this as I’m on my way to Seattle for the annual PASS Summit in Seattle, Washington. This is very exciting for me as this is my very first Summit experience and I’ve been looking forward to this for a few years now. So why am I so excited about this event? Well first off this is the largest SQL Server-focused conference in the world! Basically this is the Super Bowl (or for my international friends, the World Cup) of conferences for SQL Server professionals! Being the geek I am, I am going to write a few articles this week that will follow the format of a magic trick: the Presentation, the Turn, and the Prestige. Why this format? Well first off, I’m a fan of the movie the Prestige. Secondly, this event is much like a magic trick in itself.

For those who may not have seen The Prestige, or are familiar with magic tricks in general, there are three major steps to a magic trick. The first is referred to as the Pledge. In this step the magician sets up the audience by telling them they will witness something amazing and setup the situation accordingly. The second step is referred to as the Turn. Here is where the magician’s trick is applied be it making something disappear, or something equally amazing to happen. The audience is held captive as they don’t know how the trick , escape, or illusion will play out. Finally there is the Prestige. This is the final step where the magician finally completes the trick and the audience is left in awe as they witness the seemingly impossible occur right before their eyes. The final result of this process is the audience is left enchanted, thrilled and wanting more. One thing I’ve noticed about the SQL community, and specifically this conference, is it seems to have the same affect hence my choosing this format to share this year’s conference experience.

The last few years for various reasons I haven’t been able to make the cross-country trek for this event . Instead of experiencing the conference first-hand I’ve read accounts on blogs as well as followed along “live” while folks from all over the world Tweeted their experiences from the conference. Not only was there amazing content being presented from top-notch speakers but you could actually follow along and see relationships form as people connected and shared those experiences. Even from a distance I could see how amazing of an experience this was and I wanted to take part. Last year I took part in the conference, virtually, by volunteering my services to the then-community organizer for PASS, Blythe Morrow (Twitter). I had contributed to helping out the organization by putting together a portion of the PowerPoint presentation used by then-President Wayne Snyder in his keynote speech! What made that even cooler was when folks tweeted to me that Wayne had actually acknowledged me by name on-stage for my contribution! In that respect it was very cool feeling connected like I was there even when I wasn’t. It was then that I resolved “even if I have to rob a bank, I’m going to Summit next year!”. Luckily I didn’t have to resort to that and I’m headed there now (the conference, not the bank). I share this last story so as to let you know if you can’t physically make it to the Summit you can still be very much connected and part of the magic. If you’re looking to take part in the magic yourself PASS is always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help out! If you’re interested feel free to contact the Community Organizer, Nancy Nasso (Email | Twitter) and let her know!

So, my friends, I give you the Presentation. This week is set to be an amazing one. In the next few days the top SQL Server talent from all over the world will converge upon Seattle once again for this amazing experience. The week kicks off with pre-conference sessions given by top industry folks such as Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter), Itzik Ben-Gan (Blog), Kimberly L. Tripp (Blog | Twitter), and more! In addition to those events there will be extra-curricular events going on such as the Photowalk tour or SQLServerCentral’s Casino Night party. From there the conference kicks off with a keynote from Ted Kummert from Microsoft who promises to have some big and exciting news for attendees. Oh, did I mention that all keynotes this week will be streamed live? They will be, so you can witness the magic first-hand with us! Then the next three days are filled with amazing sessions, events, and networking opportunities. This three days portion will be the Turn, as so much will happen and I don’t know how all this magic will happen just yet. Finally, there is the Prestige. Once everything is sais and done, myself and every other attendee will surely be transformed and spellbound by the magic we experienced. In addition to these posts I’ll also be live-blogging the keynotes just so I can share my thoughts on everything that happens so keep an eye out for those posts as well. Ladies and gentlemen, sit back and enjoy the show as we present to you PASS Summit 2010! Enjoy the show!

WorldWide Online Tech Day 2010

Hate to post this late but just wanted to let everyone know I’ll be presenting for Brazil’s Worldwide Online Tech Day tomorrow, Saturday October 30th. I’ll be presenting on Policy-Based Management and my session runs at 6pm EDT. Listed below is the link schedule of events. This event will have all sorts of cool stuff such as Silverlight, PowerShell, SQL Server, Professional Development, SSIS, SharePoint, Business Intelligence and more!  Hope you can join us!

Schedule of events, with timezone conversion times!

SQLSaturday #49 Orlando – Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of presenting at another great SQLSaturday event, number 49 actually and the 3rd one I’ve been to in Orlando. One of the greatest things about this event is not only the great stuff you learn but most importantly the amazing people you meet!

This event was especially exciting for me for several reasons. First being that this is the first event I’d be attending as a PragmaticWorks employee, which still boggles my mind that I can say that! Secondly, in addition to all the amazing people that were presenting this weekend there were a couple of folks that I’ve come to know/admire/respect online for the past year which I finally got to meet face to face for the first time. Most notably of these were Mike Walsh (Blog | Twitter), Kathi Kellenberger (Blog | Twitter), Ed Wilson (Blog | Twitter) and the SQL Rockstar himself, Tom LaRock (Blog | Twitter)! For those of you who followed along the #sqlsat49 Twitter stream that weekend, you’ll have noticed that Tom and I have developed what can only be termed as a bro-mance. It couldn’t be helped people, this is what happens when outstanding geekiness meets pure shenanigans. It’s an unstoppable force of nature and I can only imagine what the week of PASS Summit will hold in store.

Man-love aside, let’s talk about the event and the awesome schedule that was laid out for us. As I have changed my career path from being a DBA to a BI consultant I’ve decided that from here on out I’d attend as many BI-centric sessions at events as possible. I kept this goal in mind but I couldn’t resist going to see Tom’s session on Wait Stats as I had missed him give this presentation online. Wait stats are a vital thing to learn no matter which tree of SQL Server you’re specialized in so I really enjoyed the topic. Tom’s a great presenter and one of the things that really struck me is this: Tom works for Confio, Confio makes Ignite 8 which focuses on wait stats and reporting on them in an easy and generally awesome way. You’d think this session would basically be an Ignite 8 infomercial but it wasn’t at all! In fact he did something really awesome in displaying Ignite graphs without specifically telling you where they’re from. Let the fish come to the bait, so to speak. One thing that was really cool from this session is I had no idea about was the SQL Diagramming method by Dan Tow (Website). I’ll definitely try to use this in the future.

I wasn’t able to attend a session during the second time slot since another exciting event took place. Recently PASS has re-launched the Regional Mentor program, of which I’m proud to say I’m one of the RM’s for the U.S. Greater Southeast region along with Adam Jorgensen (Blog | Twitter). Also in attendance at this event were several other RM’s including Patrick “The Ego” LeBlanc (Blog | Twitter) and Karla Landrum (Blog | Twitter). Since we had so many RM’s together we met with Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) and fleshed out some thoughts and ideas for stuff we’re looking to do with and for the RM program. I’ll expound more on this meeting as well as activities from the RM program in another blog post. Suffice to say this was a great meeting and look forward to some exciting stuff to come from PASS in the near future!

Next up I headed over to the BI track and listened to Devin Knight (Blog | Twitter) present on Intro to Analysis Services. If you’re new to BI and want to learn Analysis Services (or anything from the BI stack really) I highly recommend you catch one of Devin’s sessions. Great presentation that demos that make SSAS easy to digest and understand. Unfortunately Devin wasn’t able to use some kind of drug dealer database as his data source (which would have been highly entertaining) so we were “forced” to watch him demo using the standard AdventureWorks data sets. This wasn’t the last time I’d hear about this drug dealer data set today…

After lunch I swung by Patrick’s mini session on “Why Should You Present” and watched Patrick’s ego go into over drive! For those who don’t know, Patrick is a great guy and an amazing presenter. We joke about his ego since when you see him present you can instantly see how comfortable Patrick is up there (and he’ll let you know it too). Great topic and I can’t encourage folks enough to present. Honestly it’s one of the greatest ways to learn something new as it forces you to learn a topic!

I continued my BI knowledge suck by checking out Wes Dumey’s Data Warehousing session. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to stay for the whole thing as I had to leave early to prepare for my session in the next time slot. From the time I was there though, Wes did a pretty good job covering data warehousing concepts and terminology.

After my Policy-Based Management In a Nutshell session, I shot over to my last session of the day, Patrick’s CDC+SSIS = SCD (Slowly Changing Dimensions) session as it seemed like a pretty interesting topic. I wasn’t let down. Patrick, entertaining as ever, covered a pretty topic pretty thoroughly and walked us though a bunch of code which was really interesting. Again, if you ever get a chance go watch Patrick present. If you can’t make it in person make sure to check him out at his site http://sqllunch.com where he hosts free SQL webinars on a pretty regular basis.

The day wrapped us as per usual with tons of great giveaways from sponsors which included prizes like an iPad, free software, shirts, dart boards, and even an Apple TV! A HUGE thanks goes out to the organizers Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren and Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) for doing such a fantastic job with this event. These guys always put on a fantastic event and their experience shows with how well everything flows and is executed. Another huge thanks goes to the volunteers for the event. Without them an event of this high of quality wouldn’t run as smooth as it does. Thank you Orlando for another amazing event!

Join Me For Lunch?

Just a quick note that today at 12:30 EST (11:30 CST) I’ll be presenting on Policy-Based Management for SQLLunch. If you’re not familiar with SQLLunch it’s an awesome series of FREE webcasts setup by SQL MVP Patrick LeBlanc (Blog | Twitter). Each webcast focuses on a different aspect of SQL Server.

Free training? Can’t beat it, make sure to check it out! To find out latest news on SQLLunch and all upcoming webcasts register on their site for free. You can also join PASS (free) directly from their registration, Win/Win!

Info on today’s webcast:

SQLLunch #29: Policy-Based Management

Topic: #29-Policy-Based Management in a Nutshell
We will be learning an overview of this powerful new feature in SQL Server 2008 and how you can leverage it to help manage your existing SQL environment. This will include plenty of demos, best practices and Q&A so by the end you should be able to walk away ready to take control of your SQL Servers!

Hope to see you there!