Speaking at SQL Saturday Kansas City

Whew… where does the time go? Well, if you’re me it goes into helping all the people that spent money on projects earlier this year to finally implement everything over the last few months. To say that work has been busy would be a gross understatement of the recent Sisyphean nature of my job.

There. That should be enough literary references for now.

Anyway. Just a quick note that I’ve updated my speaking schedule. I’ll be in Kansas City this weekend for SQL Saturday #444. Seriously, #300, #444… KC gets the cool numbers. Wait – I wonder who had SQL Saturday 007… :-)

I hope to see you there.  More posts coming soon. Promise.

-David.

SQL Saturday Rochester Recap and Speaker Feedback

Rochester, you all are so, so kind… :-)

First things first: Big thanks to Matt Slocum, Andy Levy and their entire crew, the sponsors, the speakers, the volunteers, everyone who put together such a fun event. SQL Saturday Rochester was a great time.

I started my day off in Colleen Morrow’s session: “So You Want To Be A DBA?” It’s a question I’ve posed to quite a few people recently, as I’ve been approached by multiple people interested in the career track. I always kind of struggle to describe what I do and what makes a good DBA. Colleen doesn’t struggle with this at all. She did a great job, presenting all the main points, pains and proclivities of a DBA, and even had a fun quiz in her session. The quiz showed the background of several well known people in the community and the attendees were asked to match the person to the bio. I was a bit surprised at a couple of them, which was very cool.

Next up, I went to Adam Belebczuk’s session, “XML Without Xanax.” My knowledge of XML is sorely lacking. (Read, just enough to pass an exam.) So, I was desperate for some help and better insight into how SQL stores and actually works with XML. Adam didn’t disappoint. One of the really good takeaways I got from this session was the idea of using an XSD schema definition as a sort of column constraint, where XML is being stored. Something I’m definitely going to have to look into.

After a break to make sure my laptop was charged, I stopped by David Klee’s session, which was called “My Brain Has Blue Screened.” Rather than deep technical content, this was a bunch of DBAs and the like, gathered around swapping war / horror stories. Many of which had me cringing. Excellent idea for a session, and something we may have to do at SQL Saturday Columbus this year, if he’s willing. (Hint, hint…)

After a very tasty lunch, I stopped in to see Kendal Van Dyke set up a SAN-less cluster with SIOS’ Data Keeper product. This wasn’t something I had seen before in the wild and it was certainly interesting. We’ve been kind of trying to move away from failover cluster instance at work in favor of Availability Groups. I’ll have to check this out to see if it may be a better fit for us.

I skipped the next session to re-run the demos for my own two sessions in the afternoon. Good thing I did so. I made a few final adjustments to one of my demos and was ready to rock. My first session, “The Usual SUSPECTs”, which deals with database states, went off without a hitch. “DBA 911 – Database Corruption” went pretty much as it usually does. I was able to get through both sessions without modifying too much, though I did gloss over a couple of things due to the time limit. I was trying very hard to make sure the attendees were able to get to the raffle on time at the end of the day, since you do have to be present to win.

I don’t have much in the way of speaker feedback this time, since the feedback I received was universally positive across the board. The attendees must have been very kind people. For the Usual SUSPECTs session, I did get a pair of really great comments under the heading “How will you use the information you learned here?”

“Not sure if I will, but good to know.” – Trust me, one day, you will. :-)

“Test at office on production. No, just kidding!” – If you do, let me know. I could use the consulting work…

And from the DBA 911 session:

How will you use the information you learned here? “Test Backups”.

My work here is done. See you in Philadelphia? :-)

Thanks for reading.

-David.

Quick Speaking Event Roundup

Wow… so much on the radar right now.

This Saturday, I’ll be speaking at SQL Saturday Rochester. I’ll be giving two sessions. First, The Usual SUSPECTs which covers some of the states that a database can be in other than “online”. Second, DBA 911 – Database Corruption, which covers on-disk data corruption and repair techniques. I’m really looking forward to it, and hope to see many of you there.

Next month on June 6th, I’ll be speaking at SQL Saturday Philadelphia, giving my DBA 911 – Database Corruption session. That session has certainly been popular. I think I’ve presented it about a dozen times. :-) Both Rochester and Philadelphia are new cities for me, and I’m really looking forward to enjoying my visits.

I’m also excited to say that I’ve been selected to speak for this summer’s 24 Hours of Pass. This is a great event, and the lineup of speakers is awesome. I’m grateful to be included in such a group. I’ll be presenting my latest session, Turbo-Charged Transaction Logs, on transaction log internals and performance. I encourage you to register, and look forward to ‘seeing’ you there.

Last, but most definitely not least, SQL Saturday Columbus is coming up on July 11. We just extended the speaker submission deadline through the weekend for those of you who still have to submit sessions. Please do so; we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to catch up with you at one of these events, or another.

-David.

Why you should speak or volunteer at SQL Saturday Columbus.

“Hi. My name is David, and I’m a SQL Saturday addict.”

“Hi, David…”

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll no doubt have noticed I’ve spent a good bit of time on talking about SQL Saturdays on here recently. SQL Saturday is a big deal for me. No – scratch that – it’s an all caps BIG DEAL. Why? If for no other reason then it’s the number one thing that has contributed to my career over the last five years.

Let’s break that down, shall we?

1. People. This is the number one reason to attend a SQL Saturday, period. The people you will find at these events are amazing. Not only have I made many valuable professional contacts, I have made some life-long friends as well. At how many professional events can you say that? Also, consider this: How many times in your life can you remember being in a room with a couple dozen people, and being able to explain what you do in five words or less… and everyone *gets it*.  Rare, right? Not at SQL Saturday. Here, you are one of us.

2. Knowledge. Tons of it. Everywhere. Not just in the session rooms, either. Conversations in the hall, during breakfast or lunch, even after the event… There’s a ton of knowledge being shared on just about any aspect of SQL Server that you can think of. The learning opportunities are limitless. I’ve learned more than I thought I would just by talking to people outside of the sessions. That issue you’ve been dealing with at work and can’t seem to find a good solution to? There’s a good chance the person sitting next to you has seen that as well. Maybe you should ask them about it?

3. Community. This could easily have fallen under ‘people’ but I wanted to give it its own separate space. A community is much, much more than just a collection of people. Remember that the people who put on this event are volunteers. This includes the speakers. They don’t get paid for putting on these events, they simply do it because they love it. And when I say they love ‘it’ I don’t mean SQL Server, but the community of professionals that make it better, faster, more powerful, and more valuable to the businesses and organizations that use it. Giving back to that community is kind of like a feedback loop. The more we put into it, the more we get out of it, and the better it gets.

That brings me to the point of this post. I want you – yes YOU – to consider submitting a session for SQL Saturday Columbus. Speaker selection is open until May 15. Have you given talks at work, or maybe for a local user group? Perfect – you’d be an excellent candidate. Need help with the submission process or coming up with your abstract? No problem – contact me via my contact page and I’ll help you out!

And if you’re not interested in speaking, then maybe volunteering is for you. We’ve got all kinds of things that need to be set up, taken down, monitored, moved, and generally managed the day of the event. We need all kinds of people to do it, as well. Volunteers are what make these events run, and make the community great. If you would like to volunteer, you can sign up on the SQL Saturday site, or simply contact me.

I hope to see you there.

Thanks for reading.

-David.

 

SQL Saturday Madison – Recap and Speaker Feedback

First things first: THANK YOU to the organizers, volunteers, speakers and sponsors for putting on yet another amazing SQL Saturday in Madison WI. I had a fantastic time, as I expected. Well done all around.

I attended some excellent sessions that day. I particularly want to call out Andy Yun (B | T) for an excellent session on SQL Server Data Types. I got a couple of ideas from attending his session that I want to add to my own presentation. Andy did a great job illustrating the advantages of selecting the right data types for the data you have, and more importantly, what you want to do with it. I was even able to use some of his points in discussions at work already.

One of the things I really like is the feedback I get from my sessions. I’m consistently surprised how many people show up to my sessions in the first place. This time, I got some fantastic feedback this time, from some obviously experienced people. I’m going to condense and respond to some of that here.

“Work on not talking to the monitor during demos.”  Yeah, I have a problem with this. Will do!

“Explain named transactions more.” Got it. I think I mention naming a transaction in passing, but I don’t really explain what a named transaction is. I’ll add a bit about that.

“Do ‘Who Am I?’ first. Disjointed transition between goals and self.”  Good point. Thanks!

“Explain how log backups affect the tran log and the difference between simple and full recovery models.” Ok, time for me to confess something. For some reason I don’t remember, I thought this was supposed to be a 60 minute session instead of a 75 minute session. So I had cut a couple things out, and one of them happened to be an explanation of log behavior in the various recovery modes. I should have had that handy and put it back in. I will be adding it back to the session soon.

“Add some visual drawings in the slides explaining VLF reuse and the circular use of the transaction log.” Yep – this was another thing I cut for time. Also, I wasn’t happy with how my initial iteration of that came out, and planned to re-do it anyway. Plus, I thought it made more sense the way it looked in the demo. So yes, this will be back.

“Light green font was hard to read from the back.” I changed color schemes on this presentation about six times. Apparently, I didn’t pick a good one. :-)  I’ve already planned on changing that, as well.

So thanks to everyone who provided feedback to me. I really do take it seriously and consider it very valuable. Presentation materials are available on my resources page, linked at the top.

That’s that! See you in Rochester? :-)

Thanks for reading.

-David.

SQL Saturday Roundup – April 2015 Edition

This year is picking up nicely for events for me. After thoroughly enjoying SQL Saturday Nashville in January, and SQL Saturday Cleveland in February, I’m really looking forward to my next few SQL-related trips. I’ve updated my schedule page accordingly, but wanted to call out the next couple of events I’m going to be at. If anyone in those areas, or travelling to them for the events, wants to get together and chat, please let me know.

April 11 – SQL Saturday – Madison WI

I’ll be heading to SQL Saturday Madison for the second year in a row, and I’m very excited for a couple of reasons. First, I’ll be presenting my brand new session, “Turbo-Charged Transaction Logs“. In that session, we’ll dig a little bit into the transaction log internals, show how SQL logs what it does, and some ways to make the logging process faster.  Second, and more importantly, I’m looking forward to spending time learning and relaxing with the fantastic people of the Madison SQL Server community. You’ve got a good crew up there, folks. Looking forward to seeing you all.

May 4 – 8: SQL Skills IE:PTO2 – Chicago IL

OK. This isn’t a SQL Saturday event, but I will be travelling to Chicago for a week to get schooled on SQL Server performance by one of the best companies in the business, SQL Skills. At some point, my brain is going to need a break so if you’re in the Chicago area and want to catch up, or just chat about SQL Server, drop me a line. I should have an evening or two free. :-)

May 16 – SQL Saturday – Rochester NY

This will be my first time speaking for SQL Saturday Rochester, and I’m stoked. The schedule hasn’t been finalized, but the approximate schedule is up, and if it sticks, I’ll be doing two sessions on disaster recovery, back to back. A whole afternoon block of breaking and fixing. Sounds like fun!

One session I’ll be presenting is: “The Usual SUSPECTs: When Good Databases Go Bad“.  This session is all about database states. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as it were. In addition to talking about things like moving OFFLINE database files and rolling a database forward through its transactions using a STANDBY restore, we’ll look at what happens when a SAN failure puts a database in to RECOVERY_PENDING, or when a disk crash lands you into SUSPECT mode. I’ll show you how to recover from those states in a safe way.

The other session I’ll be doing is “DBA 911 – Database Corruption“. In that session, we’ll look at the basic definitions and terms of database corruption and repair. We’ll talk about some of the different kinds of corruption, how to look for and troubleshoot corruption issues, and when it’s best to repair vs. restore. As in all things Disaster Recovery – preparation is key, so we’ll also cover steps you can take to ready yourself for a corruption problem. (Hint: have you hugged your backups today?)

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at one of these events.

-David.

Speaking at SQL Saturday Cleveland (#SQLSat241)

I am delighted to be speaking at SQL Saturday Cleveland on Saturday, February 8th 2014.  My ever-popular (read: the one that keeps getting picked) presentation on database corruption, DBA 911, will be the topic, and I’m really looking forward to the lively discussion it usually sparks. Turns out people really do care a lot about being able to handle corruption issues. Who knew?

I hope to see you there.  If you haven’t registered yet, please do so at: http://www.sqlsaturday.com/241/eventhome.aspx.

Thanks,

-David.