SQL Saturday 22 Recap

Overview

SQL Saturday #22 was this past weekend in Pensacola, FL and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  With the size and location of Pensacola, I have been absolutely, positively, greatly impressed with the quality of the event.  (Particularly as its’ allure as a vacation destination was diminished a bit due to the disaster in the gulf.)  It sure seems like this region has a wonderful presence and draws from lots of the neighboring areas to boost attendance.  There were many speakers and attendees down from the lower Alabama groups, a number of people came over from Baton Rouge, there was once again an impressive turnout from Tallahassee, etc. 

Speaker and Volunteer Party

I missed this party last year when I spoke at Pensacola.  I am now very, very disappointed that I did.  Even with the few hitches that were thrown its way, such as the massive thunderstorm rolling in and trying to blow us over, the party was still great.  The event was hosted at The Oar House and there was a good turnout.  I had a great time talking with Karla and Rodney, Shawn and Amanda, Tony Davis, Brad McGehee, Steve Jones, Tim Mitchell, Joe Healy, Ryan Duclos, Troy Gallant, etc.  The food was pretty good, there was lots of interaction, we played a few different “party” games, such as Names of Bands from A to Z, and some dice game, etc.  About the only failure was that no volley ball was played (although Shawn and I tried to get people to get into this it didn’t work).

Check in, Visiting Vendors, etc

As I stayed in the “preferred” hotel, the event was right around the corner.  The morning check in process seemed to go over pretty well, although I must admit that I went through the speaker line which consisted of me walking up to Shawn and heckling him to give me my stuff.  I got to the event relatively early and took the opportunity to wander around and visit with the vendors and talk with whoever wanted to come up and introduce themselves.  The process itself seemed much improved over last year.  About one of the only suggestions I would have was to have given the standard matrix for room to session / timeslot rather than the listing the way that they had it.  Also, Andy’s use of the 4 x 6 charts around campus was incredibly helpful and I would encourage other conferences to do the same.

Analysis Services Performance Tuning and Security (Devin Knight)

I must admit that I have an agenda of showing up and heckling the guys from pragmatic works.  With that being said, this session was still put together really well and was a good refresher for me on some of the aspects of analysis services that will slip after not having used it since I received my BI certification. 

SQL Profiler (Patrick Leblanc)

Patrick picked up this session from Adam Jorgenson who couldn’t make the conference.  Unfortunately, the site that they were using to do the Sharepoint presentation was down and they didn’t have access to the login to fix it.  So, instead Patrick asked the audience some questions and decided to go with a presentation on SQL Server Profiler.  All in all, he did a pretty good job on short notice.  This was an introductory level presentation, which was good as most of the people in the audience had never used the tool before.  I was sitting up front mostly making funny faces at him and his children, who also attended the event.  The highlight of the session was probably when his daughter broke the squishy ball that Quest gave out and it started streaming some sort of strange liquid out all over the place… Good times!

SSIS 2008 – Profiling Your Data (Eric Wisdahl)

As expected, going against such a strong line-up and with such an esoteric topic my room was sparsely populated.  I think there were about 10 people or so who attended.  Overall, I think it went relatively well.  This being the first time through the presentation, I tripped up on a few things as well as once again forgetting to switch between the demos and slides, instead opting to talk my way through and then show what I was talking about at the end.  Still, from the evaluations I got back everyone seemed to enjoy it (All 4s and 5s). 

Lunch!

I took the opportunity here to talk with Devin and Brad from Pragmatic works for a bit over lunch and see what they thought of my presentation among other things.  Since the event was holding lunch sessions, there was plenty of time and I spent some more talking to Karla and a few other individuals.  I took a moment to introduce her to Rushab Mehta, although I am fairly positive he has no clue who I am even though we have met at least a half dozen times now.  Lunch was subs, potato chips and a cookie and was pretty tasty.

CDC + SSIS = SCD (Patrick Leblanc)

Patrick did a pretty good job on explaining how one can go about using Change Data Capture to provide incremental loads using SSIS for a slowly changing dimension.  The room was packed, and well attended by other speakers.  The presentation once again had an interruption from his daughter (who is adorable) when she lost a tooth.  As usual, there was a good amount of back and forth between Patrick and the audience.

Introduction to Transactional Replication (Troy Gallant)

This was a very basic introductory session on Transaction Replication.  It was interesting in that the presentation had no demos and was only a lecture.  When you do things in this fashion you have to be really really good at conveying information.  Troy is good at conveying information.  It is hard to gauge how the other people in this presentation picked up the topic.  Personally, I have had to read up on most of the high availability options earlier this year when I was taking the Maintenance and Implementation certification, so I already knew most of the information on this topic. 

SQL Server 2008 Resource Governor (Shawn McGehee)

I have been meaning to attend one of Shawn’s Sessions since last year.  This was the first time that I followed through and I was glad to have done so.  In my mind, I see the resource governor as one of the larger improvements of SQL Server 2008.  Of course, I say that without having used it in a professional environment since we are just now about to upgrade at the office.  This gives us the ability to determine available resources (CPU and Memory) to various groups of users so as to limit the potential for runaway queries affecting everyone’s performance, etc.  Shawn did a good job walking through the topic.

Closing Ceremony and Swag

Karla and Rodney really put on a great show.  The vendors did a good job of showing lots of support for the community and hopefully they are seeing some good benefits from doing so.  There were a number of prizes given out, such as the beatles rock band, an xbox, a few software packages, lots of shirts, etc.  N-Fusion might have potentially really shot themselves in the foot by stating that they were giving out an I-Pad and then leaving prior to the closing.  Not sure how that is going to work out.

After Party at Rosie O’Grady’s

As with last year, the turn out at the after party was considerably smaller than I would expect for such a well attended conference.  With that said, I still had a really good time socializing with everyone.  I had a chance to hang out with Troy, Karla, Rodney, Shawn, Amanda, Stan, Jessica, Brian Boatright, and many many others.  After the official party was over at 8, the dueling pianos started in the bar and it opened up to the public.  I finally forced myself to leave at about 10 o’clock local, so 11 EDT and then had a three hour drive back home.  It was a late night, but very fun.  About the only regret I had was finding out that since the fishing trip was cancelled, a number of the group instead were going to Biloxi the next day.  Wish I would have known, I might have convinced myself that it would have been worth it 🙂

I can’t recommend these sql saturday events enough.  One note, if you do make it out to one of the events, make sure that you take the extra time and effort to introduce yourself around and try to socialize.  There are lots of good people who attend and you never know when the contacts you make will be able to help you out professionally, or to just have a good time.

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