April 27, 2010

SQL Saturday Recap #sqlsat41

Posted in SQL Saturday, SQL Server tagged , , at 10:00 am by David Taylor

I got to enjoy another SQL Saturday this past weekend, and it was as good and in some ways better than any I had attended before. This one, in case you didn’t know, was held in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, GA on April 24th. That makes it only 180 miles from home, the closest one I’ve been able to get to this year!

 Put on by the folks from AtlantaMDF, the local PASS chapter, led by Stuart Ainsworth (Blog | Twitter), who was helped by the likes of Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter) and many others whom I don’t know their names (sorry!), this event had speakers that included something like 6 MVPs, and, if I heard correctly, at least two Microsoft employees. Some serious quality in speakers.

 Like some of the recaps I have read so far, let’s do a bad things/good things type of review:

The Bad

 The worst thing for me was that I couldn’t stay for the whole day! I had a prior commitment that forced me to have to leave at 1:30, making me miss the last three sessions of the day! Some have asked me if it was even worth going, given that restriction and I answer with a resounding “Yes!” More on why after the not so good.

 There was only one registration desk, with two people manning it. There were two lines, breaking up the alphabet in two, but the signs with the letter groups on them were written in ball point pen, on the desk itself, impossible to read from far away. To be fair, this ended up not affecting me, as Aaron Nelson, who is a fellow volunteer with me at PASS Application Development Virtual Chapter, came out from behind the table to personally give me my name tag and bag stuffed with papers and such, but for others not with the ‘in’ crowd, I’m sure this was a problem.

 Another shortcoming I found was the building layout and lack of signage within. There were no signs in the parking garage, and even with the help of a stranger who had been in the building before, we had trouble getting to the correct floor to get to the entrance. Once inside, beyond the registration desk, there were elevators around the corner to get upstairs to the event, but no signs telling you to go there. This was not so much for me because Aaron took me under his wing right away, and led me upstairs to where the event was being held. If I had not had that help, I would have had no idea where to go from the desk.

 These were really the only negatives I found, and as I say, only the first one was a real problem for me, anyway, so the day was a win!

 On the good side, starting again with a personal good for me note, even while I was in line before registration I ran into people (the first familiar face I saw was Audrey Hammonds

Audrey Hammonds and me!

Audrey Hammonds and me!

 [Blog | Twitter] who was also speaking at the event) I had met at other SQL Saturdays before, so I was immediately comfortable in my surroundings.

 Going further into good, the food laid out on arrival was excellent. The volunteers were very visible throughout the day, and made the event as smooth and more so as any I had been to.

 I like how the Speaker Evals were handled – volunteers distributed them at the beginning of the session, collected them at the end, and, another good point, there was a raffle at the end of every session with the winner pulled from the collected evals – I’m sure it made the end raffle much smoother and quicker.

 Now, how I spent my SQL Saturday

 I started with Jonathan Kehayias’ (Blog | Twitter) “Auditing User Activity 101.” Let me start by saying that, as I entered the room, the first thing I heard was that Jonathan could not get his demo computer to work with the projector. ‘Uh, oh,’ I thought, but I needn’t have worried. He soldiered on anyway. His presentation computer worked fine with the projector, so he could present on the subject without problems. He covered auditing in SQL 2000, 2005 and 2008, highlighting what was possible in each version, which I thought was very good. Everyone seems to speak about the latest version, and there are a lot of places still on old versions. There was quite a bit of detailed coverage for each version, too, belying the ‘101’ in the title. While he did cover basics, he also went into deep enough detail to explain the ‘why’ in addition to the ‘how.’ It’s obvious why this man is an MVP – he really knows his stuff!

 When it came to demo, we just gathered around his laptop! Good thing the SQL community is as close as it is 🙂 The demo scripts were also done on a mix of versions, highlighting his points made during presentation. All were very well done, and, at the time of writing, I eagerly await their upload so I can further study them.

 During the break between the first and second sessions, I had one of the brightest spots in the event, for me – I got to meet, in person, an actual SQL community celebrity, the fairer half of the @MidnightDBA couple, Jen McCown!

Jen McCown and me!

Jen McCown and me!

(Blog | Twitter). I was thrilled! Made the whole trip worth it, even if nothing else had happened that day 🙂

 My second session was Whitney Weaver’s (Blog | Twitter) “Solving Real World Problems with DMVs.”  This was a very interesting session. I loved Whitney’s laid back attitude, and his in-depth knowledge of the subject. As an aside, Glenn Alan Berry (Blog | Twitter) is doing a blog series this month called “A DMV a Day,” which I have been following closely. This session was similar in that it was covering DMVs, but Whitney’s style and take on the subject are different. Having a different approach seemed to help solidify the concepts in my head.

 This was followed by Kevin Boles’ (Twitter) “Advanced T-SQL Solutions.” I’m finding myself gravitating towards more advanced subjects as I learn more of SQL Server, and this session was right at the “advanced enough to make my brain feel full” level! This man showed some tricks with SQL that I’d never thought of before, making for another set of scripts I eagerly await to be able to download and study.

 Lunch, which came next chronologically, was a box affair consisting of choices of sandwich, chips and a cookie, which was actually very good. Better, I got to schmooze and network with more people I have come to know over the past year, among them, the lead organizer Stuart Ainsworth, Julie Smith (Blog | Twitter and newly named Twitter), and several others, already named.

 The last session I had time to make was Troy Gallant’s (Blog | Twitter) “Introduction to Transactional Replication.” I know, I just got through saying I was learning more advanced stuff, and this was an intro level talk, but I have not been exposed to this subject before. Troy handled it with aplomb, sticking to the 100 level, letting the attendees know where the pitfalls were, and where to use the various approaches. A very enjoyable end to the day.

 On the way out, I got to spend a little while longer networking and saying goodbye, seeing folks I hadn’t seen yet in the day that I wanted to, such as Robert Cain (Blog | Twitter), who actually remembered me (!) and Kendall Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) who greeted me like an old friend, even though we had only met once before, at SQL Saturday #33 in Charlotte.

 A great, fulfilling day, overall, I am so glad I was able to go, and I look forward to the next SQL Saturday I can attend, #38, in Jacksonville, in two weeks!


1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PASS and Jen & Sean McCown, David Taylor. David Taylor said: SQL Saturday Recap #sqlsat41: http://wp.me/pL8sS-U […]

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