SQL Saturday #85 Orlando, FL

So, this post is long overdue.  I was able to go down to SQL Saturday #85 in Orlando on 24 September 2011 and I had a bunch of fun doing so. 

Speaker’s Party

Well, we got rained out a little as the plan was to use the porch of Liam Fitpatrick’s.  However, we were able to cram into a very small room in the back of the restaurant and chat for several hours.  Lots of good conversation with good friends and a chance to see some new faces.

Registration / Breakfast

Everything went very smoothly here.  No long lines, doughnuts / coffee / soda / etc were plentiful.  The vendors were already set up and happy to talk, with swag available.  All in all, it went very smoothly.  This was a really good sign since we were in a new building this year (and under new leadership for the event organizers).

Session 1 (with Vendors)

I skipped the first session to spend some time talking to the vendors.  Mainly I was looking into monitoring tools and wanted to get some one on one time to talk about why they thought their tool was the tool of choice and give me some demos.  There were a few sessions I would have liked to attend (anything Buck Woody is great, would have liked to see Erin Stellato’s session as well), but this was something I thought I ought to do for work so I skipped out.

Session 2 – SSIS Data Flow Buffer Breakdown (Eric Wisdahl)

This one was, in my mind, a disaster.  I was using a different machine than normal, and even though I had run through the demos two nights prior, I couldn’t find the version of the demos that was most up to date and specific to this machine.  I was still able to walk through all of the presentation; and I believe I did a decent job with the demos that I had available, but I don’t like it when things go wrong. 

However, the evaluations I got back were still very high for the most part, and I’m happy that it seems like most people still got a lot out of the session.

Session 3 (Recovering)

I spent most of this session just going over what I could have done differently in my head.  I also spent some time visiting with other speakers and volunteers who were in the vendor area. 


Lunch was awesome.  All of the speakers this year got their chef’s apron, which was wholly inappropriate but funny.  The event served catered bbq and the speakers actually helped to dish it out.  The food was really good, particularly the bbq sauces.

Session 4 – Page & Row Compression (Bradley Ball)

I have meant to go to this session several times over the past few years.  Bradley did a good job of explaining the differences between page and row compression, how it is that each are enacted, and why you might want to use them.  I highly recommend this session if you get the chance.

Session 5 – Becoming DAX: An Introduction (William Pearson)

This was a very low level introduction to DAX, which was perfect for me as I had never really seen it before.  DAX is the language that is used with PowerPivot, which is the excel add on to do analysis.  It is very similar to the excel functions, but expands the capabilities.  The reason this is more important than it might have been in the past is that DAX will also be used with the Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM) and Vertipaq in the next release of Analysis Services. 

This appears to be something I should look into more in the near future as I will be implementing a data warehouse program shortly.

Session 6 – SQL Smackdown: SSIS vs T-SQL (Mike Davis / Adam Jorgenson / Bradley Ball)

A 100 level light-hearted session that explains the pros and cons of both SSIS and T-SQL to do integration and data warehouse loads. 

Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony was not quite the same without the normal courtyard that I’ve become used to over the past three years.  However, there WAS still prize tossing by Andy Warren, one of my favorite parts of these events.  For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity, Andy stands up on the balcony and chucks prizes into the audience.  Quite fun.  This was a good opportunity to thank the vendors, the event organizers and the attendees.

After Party

A little bit better luck this evening.  This time we were able to use the patio at Liam Fitzpatrick’s.  I think about thirty people came out to the event.  I ordered the shepard’s pie, which I am a complete sucker for… I love me some irish food. 

I have lots of fun talking with the people in the community.  There are quite a few people whom I consider to be friends at this point who I get to see every few months because of these events.  In my opinion, some of the conversations you get and the contacts you make are as important as the sessions you attend.  If you see I’m going to be speaking and you have any inclination, come out to the after party and introduce yourself. 

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