SQL Saturdays #8

I just got back from SQL Saturday #8 in orlando (well, really in Sanford) and I had a great time.  As I have mentioned a few times I was doing a presentation for the conference (SSIS Expressions, Package Configurations and Precedence Constraints) and I really didn’t know what to expect.  I had been to the sql saturday a few months back, but it was a part of the tweener event (between the two weeks of tech ed) and contained a whole lot more tracks as it was combined with code camps for all sorts of microsoft technologies.  As is, I was really impressed.  I don’t know the total count for attendees, but there were a lot of people there.  For my presentation there were probably about forty or fifty people…. and I was just hoping to have at least five or ten 🙂

All of the sessions which I attended throughout the day were interesting.  I started the morning with a session presented by Rob Hatton on Slowly Changing Dimensions, Then I did my presentation, we broke for lunch, I came back to see Ryan Fonnett talk about Optimizing SSIS packages, then on to Kent Waldrop’s SQL FAQ session followed by Jonathan Kehayias’ Virtualizing SQL Server session and finally ended the day with Rodney Landrum’s SQL DBA Green thumb session.

SQL Slowly Changing Dimension

This session was an introduction to the concept of slowly changing dimensions including a number of example scripts which could be used to bring information over to a data warehouse.  There were a number of points which I did not necessarily agree with the speaker, but I think overall he did a good job getting the concept across to the audience.  It was interesting to see the reaction of the crowd to some of the talking points.  It was also interesting in that it seems like most of the crowd was well aware of what SCDs are, but were instead looking for a bit deeper insight and some extra pointers.  I found a number of the questions from the audience really insightful and really liked the report between the speaker and the rest of the audience.

SSIS Configurations, Expressions and Constraints

This was my presentation.  I had a lot of fun with it and I hope that I was able to help people out.  It seemed like most of the audience enjoyed the talk and seemed to take a good amount away from the session.  There was, however, not many questions asked during the Q&A portion of the session…  Also, I think I cut out a few minutes early as I thought I had less time than I actually did.  Still, overall, I was very pleased with the experience.

I got a chance to quickly flip through the surveys and notes that people jotted down and I would have to say that although I was rated well (mostly 4s and 5s out of 5… only one person rated me at a 2 {can’t please everyone I guess… Although I wish that that person would have provided comments so that I could try to improve}) I was a bit abashed about the number of comments talking about providing at least a few power point slides and those mentioning using a larger font so that the audience could see what was going on.  If you were in this class, I am very sorry about both.

To be perfectly honest, until this morning I wasn’t really certain whether I would try to build a package during the class, whether I would show my talking points up on the projector, whether I would do most of the session by asking and taking question from the crowd, etc…  I don’t know exactly what I was expecting or why, but as the time was approaching I decided to use the package that I had built earlier in the week and to use my notes that I had written out as a final walk through.  Over the next week or so I will try to transfer the notes from onenote to power point so that anyone who is interested can grab them…. I guess I really should have done that earlier in the week.  Once again, if you were sitting in on my presentation I am sorry about not having this before hand.


I like lunch!  But seriously, the food was pretty good and the fact that it was free and available made it even better.  Much better than the last sql saturday I went to… I was also able to have some conversations with a few people who had been in my session, as well as getting to spend time with Kent Waldrop, one of the MVPs, as well as Jonathan Kehayias, anther MVP,  that I have now had a chance to meet up with a few times.  What’s the saying? "They are good people"…

Optimizing SSIS Packages Using SQL Server 2008

Perhaps it was the timing of this presentation, or perhaps it was the style, but I was just not in to this session as much.  With a title like optimizing ssis packages I figured it would get into a lot of the real nitty gritty of looking at the execution trees and what not.  As is, it was a good presentation on some tips for speeding things up (A really good thing for those who have not been introduced to this concept) with a nice tour through the data flow sources, transformation and destinations pertaining to their nature as non-blocking, semi-blocking and fully blocking.  Unfortunately it was all stuff which I have had an opportunity to experiment with in the past.  I did get a chance to think about why using the error lookup might be a little more costly than ignoring non-matches for a lookup in 2005.  There was also not quite as much about the new cache files / lookup etc as I would have liked.  But, again, overall this was a good session for a beginning to intermediate user.

Transact SQL Frequently Asked Questions

This presentation was a quick jaunt through some of the more frequently asked questions on the transact sql forums through msdn.  Overall it was pretty informative and thought provoking.  I particularly like the "You’re SCREWED" slide…. 🙂

Virtualizing SQL Server

This session may have been a bit of a stretch for me to attend as I am neither in control of any server / admin duties or looking to pick any of these duties up in the near future.  However, as I have often overheard talk of the benefits of vitualization and it is something I am mildly interested in, as well as the fact that this was being presented by Jonathan Kehayias, I decided to drop in.  Well, as I expected, this was an interesting talk that may end up giving me some conversation pieces in the future… but I don’t know how much I will use anything I learned.  Also, the conversation was derailed near the end of the presentation that got off on a far ranging tangent.  Overall, this was yet another session that I was happy with.

The SQL DBA Green Thumb

Another session that was essentially a utility belt full of useful queries and tools.  There was some good conversation with the audience and at the end of the session the presenter was willing to copy all of the queries and tools to your jump driving if you wanted. 

Wrap up

At the end of the day, the conference attendees gathered together to see who had won the swag from the conference.  Unfortunately, I did not win any of the xbox-360s or the IPod Touch 😦  But I did end up with a Programming SQL Server 2005 book as well as a LINQ for C# book (Thanks Kent).

As I have previously stated, these sql saturday events are highly recommended.  You just can’t beat the price (Free) or the people.  As an added bonus I’ll be able to meet up with a good number of the people I saw today at the PASS Summit next month.

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2 Responses to SQL Saturdays #8

  1. Unknown says:

    Hello, Eric.  It looks like you had a pretty good time of it.  Also it looks like from the review that your first presentation went well.  I hope I can catch your presentation in the future.
    Kent Waldrop

  2. Eric says:

    Thanks Kent. I enjoyed your presentation and look forward to spending time with you again in the future.

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