SQL Saturday #10 (Long Overdue)

OK, so I know that this is a long overdue post… but I figured I would throw it out here anyway.  I attended and spoke at the SQL Saturday #10 event in Tampa FL on January 24, 2009.  As always, I had a good time and had a great opportunity to meet new people and attend some great sessions.  One of my coworkers was also able to make it and had a good time as well.  I had previously posted some presentations that I thought that I would attend, only to find out that they had shifted the schedule around a bit.  What follows is a brief description of each of the sessions.

Introduction to SSAS (Brian Knight)

At most of the conferences I go to, I will try to attend one class or presentation on reporting services and analysis services just as a kind of refresher since I do not use them in day to day activities.  Really, I haven’t done much more than the tutorials for either (although that is about to change shortly as I am going to try for my BI certificates and we have a few projects at work using SSAS that I will be picking up).  For that reason, and because I had yet to see Brian speak for a full session, I decided to drop in on the "introduction to SSAS class".  I would have to say that I was relatively happy with it.  He went through some background material to discuss the terms that microsoft has decided to adopt in relation to SSAS and data warehouses.  Afterwards, he did a very brief run through of some of the capabilities of the tool.  Nothing to fancy, but about what I would expect.  Unfortunately I had to cut out a few minutes early so that I would have time to set up for my session.

One odd part of this session, and it was a bit distracting, was that it was in a hallway.  I felt kind of like I was in a bowling lane as there was a very long line of chairs set up…. all depth and little width.  Just, I don’t know… Odd

SSIS: Configurations, Expressions and Constraints (Eric Wisdahl)

Well, this was my presentation.  It was the second time that I have done this topic and I would have to say that I am not sure that I did as good of a job as the first.  I think a large part of that is due to the fact that my dog kept me up the entire night before hand so I was not at my best.  Again, it was also a kind of strange set up in that I was in a room that was sectioned off into two parts by a large wall of boxes.

I think that I was able to adequately confer my thoughts and ideas to most of the attendees.  The crowd was not nearly as big as the first time that I presented.  There was one guy who had convinced himself that SSIS was terrible, and looked like he was falling asleep throughout the session (although to be fair, it was still kind of early… And although I think I am a good speaker I am perhaps deceiving myself?).  Really, one of the only things that I regret is that, in my sleep deprived addled state, I forgot to actually show the package configurations screen and wizard during the demo.  I am kind of surprised that no one mentioned this to me, but, alas… it was not to be.

All in all, I would still say that the presentation was a success.  I received more feedback this time around than the first and had a few people approach me at lunch to answer further questions.  There was apparently some demand for my slides as the event organizer emailed me fairly soon after the event for them stating that she had had requests. 

SQL Server Statistics (Andy Warren)

This was a session that I wanted to take for a few reasons.  First off, I knew very little about statistics (although I know a lot more now then I did!).  Second, and probably more important, I had yet to hear Andy Speak.  As I have spent some time with him now, and feel like he is a good guy and really knows his stuff, I figured I’d give this one a shot.  One of the first things he said when the class started was that we would learn a good bit about the way SQL handled statistics, but that we wouldn’t really do anything extra with it.  Well, I think he is right 🙂  But, it is good to know how the internals work and I would recommend this session to anyone who is curious.

Lunch!

This was a little disappointing in that by the time I got around to the lunch table a lot of the variety was gone.  Although, I really shouldn’t feel that bad as there was very little to nothing that our fair vegetarian friends could eat.  As previously stated, this lunch hour was nice as I was able to talk to a few people who attended my session and help them out.  I was also able to sit down and talk a bit with Jonathan Kehayias and Kent Waldrop, two people who I try to spend time with at most of these events, as well as Andy, Devin Knight and Jessica Moss.  All around a good time for a bit of social networking.

Understanding Indexes for Single-Table Queries (Jeffrey Garbus)

While I was sitting in this session I was trying to think why it felt like I had seen it before.  Then it dawned on me, I had downloaded and read the slides for this session about a week earlier 😛

As is, it was still worth while.  Jeffrey was a decent presenter who was able to go through the indexing in a concise manner.  I picked up a few things from the class and was entertained throughout.  If you attended the event, he is giving a six session series of webinar’s starting Feb 13, 2009 for free.  I think that I will try to listen in on these as well, although I am not certain if I will be available during the time slots or not.

Making Reporting Services Work For You (Jessica Moss)

Jessica is fast becoming one of my favorite speakers.  During this session she walked through some of the common tasks that you can accomplish with reporting services.  It was a no fuss affair wherein she tried to get as much participation from the attendees as possible.  Also, this kept up the whole at least one session on SSAS and SSRS that I was trying to maintain and reminded me even more that I need to get on the ball and start using these other portions of the SQL BI Stack.

Microsoft Certificates (I forget the exact title and speaker)

This was probably the least helpful session of the day.  As it was the last class of the day, it didn’t really matter as much to me.  I also sat in with Kent and we were able to talk a bit before during and after so that made it more bearable.  The class essentially went through the information that is up on the microsoft web site regarding the various SQL certificates and what they took to get.  It also went over all of the upgrade paths to get from the SQL 2000 certificates to the appropriate 2005 certificates.  About the only thing that I got that I wasn’t aware of prior was the ungodly cost of the master (?) or Architect level certifications.  I don’t remember exactly which one, but it was something to the effect of 18K and 3 weeks on site with peer review.  Supposedly equivalent to a PHD thesis?  Either way you cut it, it doesn’t sound worth the trouble.

Closing Comments and Swag!

The closing comments were a bit less cohesive than the prior SQL Saturday and seemed to go on for a bit longer.  Perhaps it was just because I was tired.  Still, I had fun.  I was able to pick up the newest Itzik Ben-Gan book, SQL Server 2008 Fundamentals, which I have heard from many MVPs is a REALLY good read.  Well, maybe some time next year or towards the end of this year I’ll be able to tell you 🙂 … As is, I have a bunch of tech books on the queue in front of it.

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