PASS Summit 2013 Review

This is my fourth PASS Summit but my first time attending it outside of Seattle. I like Seattle but I have to admit it was nice to visit some place new and the fact that it was warmer was definitely a plus. Also since Charlotte is the hometown of SQL Sentry they gave us a treat with maps, evening shuttles and sponsorship for various events. 

Welcome Reception

This year I decided to attend more sessions because I wanted information about particular topics and I also wanted to see certain people present in-person. There is always a wide selection of interesting topics and knowledgeable and outstanding speakers at the Summit so choosing sessions is always a task. I believe that a main benefit of attending the event is networking and visiting vendors. I attended some of the evening events such as the welcome reception and exhibitor reception and met many attendees and vendors. The Community Appreciation Party which takes place on the Thursday night is also a great place to meet old friends and make new ones. This year the party took place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame which had many historical cars as well as activities such as High Octane Theatre, the Simulated Track and the Pit Challenge. 

NASCAR Hall of Fame

The venue, Charlotte Convention & Trade Center, was a suitable size for the event even though some might say the rooms were small for some sessions. The Summit had a large number of attendees that will continue to increase and because of the quality of speakers and sessions it seems inevitable that all sessions will have to be held in large rooms. I was shocked at my first planned session when I entered the room and saw people sitting on the floor and I was blown away the next day when I saw a queue to enter a session. My own planned session at that same time was also full. Just to be clear I’m not complaining but highlighting how much the Summit has grown.


Leaving PASS Summit 2013

I must admit that this year time management was a task especially since I wasn't familiar with the venue but I still learned and networked which are my main goals at this event. I had a great time seeing my old friends and making some new ones. In the last four years, I have never regretted taking the time or spending the money to attend the PASS Summit. If you work mainly with SQL Server and have never been to PASS Summit then I recommend attending Summit 2014 in Seattle, especially with the upcoming release of SQL Server 2014


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Red Gate's SQL in the City US Tour 2013 Review

I attended one of these events last year in Seattle and it exceeded my expectations. SQL in the City is a free event that takes place in various cities and provides great learning and networking opportunities for the SQL Server community. This year they visited three cities; Pasadena, Atlanta and Charlotte with touring speakers Steve Jones, Grant Fritchey and members of Red Gate product team. I attended two out of three events and also spoke at the Charlotte event.

Atlanta
This event had speakers Tim Radney doing a session titled 'Life as a DBA' and Stuart Ainsworth doing a session called 'Simplifying SQL Development'. I had a great time meeting Red Gate team members again as well as their new members  and also hanging out with attendees like Tim Radney's son. The sessions were very informative but I have to say that the most useful information I got was the advice that the presenters gave me for my session in Charlotte.

Red Gate team in Atlanta
Steve Jones Presenting

Charlotte
I have been looking forward to this event since August,  when I found out that I was accepted to be a speaker, because it would be my first time presenting in the US! I got to the event very early to review my slides but spent most of the morning in awe because of the venue; the Ritz-Carlton is awesome! Eventually when I settled down I saw Tony Davis, author of Red Gate's Transaction Log Management book, and asked him to review my slide deck. His feedback caused me to make some necessary last minute changes and after three cups of coffee I was ready to go.

There were 105 people at my Understanding and Controlling Transaction Logs session and I received some positive feedback from people after the session and also a good rating from Red Gate's review. To be honest presenting for the first time in the US, added some stress to me before the session but the advice from the guys in Atlanta and seeing familiar faces in the crowd during my session made it so much easier to present. It was a great experience and I want to thank Annabel Bradford, Carly Harding, Amy Roberts, Hannah Jermy and the rest of the Red Gate team for giving me this huge opportunity and also for all their assistance in preparing for it. Also want to thank people like Tony David, Steve Jones, Grant Fritchey for the advice and tips in the morning.

Presenting in Charlotte

Besides me and the rest of the touring team, this event had speakers like Louis Davidson, Kevin Boles, Kevin Hazzard and Mickey Stuewe. The sessions that I attended were fun and informative. The extra fun stuff started around 4 pm when the Charlotte BodyWorks masseurs came to relieve some people tension, followed by the networking event at 5 pm that included food, drinks and of course free swag. I want to congratulation the Red Gate team on another successful SQL in the City Tour. How do I know it was a success? Well besides me enjoying it and learning things I met someone later in the week who had attended  and to paraphrase her "For a free event I was impressed at the level of sessions, all of them were very useful and they were done by good presenters. Some paid events don't even give you that."

Performing a demo

You can download my slide deck as well as any of the other presentations from Red Gate SQL in the City site. I want to thank Paul Randal for permission to use some of his demos during my presentation.

UPDATE: While writing this post I received a Christmas card from the "Friends at Red Gate" team so I wanted to public acknowledge that and wish everyone at Red Gate a very happy holiday and a Happy New Year as well.

NEXT REVIEW: PASS Summit 2013 Review!
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TechEd North America 2013 Review


I decided to use the last few days of 2013 to write posts to review conferences and events that I attended outside Trinidad this year. Why? Because I find people's views on events to be helpful when deciding what to attend and hopefully my feedback will be useful to someone when they are choosing events in 2014! I will start off with TechEd North America 2013 which was held at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. TechEd is an annual technical conference which is held by Microsoft for IT professionals and developers.  The conference has various sessions that allow you to learn about the future of Microsoft’s products, solutions and services. Please note that this was my first time attending a TechEd event so I can’t compare it to previous instalments.

Front view of the Convention Center

Content
There were many sessions to choose from but not many if your focus is just one product/technology like SQL Server. To me this wasn’t an issue because if there were no SQL Server sessions that I wanted to attend then going to an Infrastructure or Developer session was still very useful to me. Even if you couldn’t find a track session that you considered interesting, there were certification sessions that were valuable even if you already passed the exams. Let's be real, passing an exam doesn’t mean you know absolutely everything in the course and who knows this may come in handy if you start offering training in the future (hint: opportunity). As for the speakers, the list is made up of individuals who are well-established and very knowledgeable in their field. 

Transaction Log session

Certification and Labs
If you went to sessions and saw something that interested you in a session then you could head down to the hands-on lab area and actually try out what you saw or play around with the product/feature. Not sure what you're doing or how to get started? No problem because there were a number of MCTs available to assist at the labs area. Also, you could have done certification exams on the spot for 50% of the cost. There was even the option to take practice tests

Expo Area 
Me at MSE Booth
Expo areas are my favourite at conferences because it is the best place to meet new people and build your network. The interesting thing about this expo was the fact that there were vendors with products  that are considered competition to Microsoft products. They were there because they were a sponsor and added some value to another product (Yes Oracle had a booth!).  This expo was also different because I was working at Microsoft Solutions Experience (MSE) Data Insights area. In most MSE areas there were a number of product experts made up of MVPs and Microsoft Product Group members who answered questions about various products and features. One cool thing about the MSE was the fact that the experts included speakers so if you needed clarity on anything from their session then you could have asked them at the booth.
Other Cool Stuff
There were many book signings which meant free autographed books. There were lots of swag from various vendors and you also had the option to buy at a conference store at the venue. An abundant supply of caffeine was available but I guess that is expected at Microsoft events. The event had random events at various MSE booths and various “After Hours” events during the week which included vendor parties and the closing attendee party at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a Tina Turner performance. Last thing that I must mention is the super Surface sale that allowed me to get my Surface Pro for $399.

Closing Attendee Party with Tina Tuner on stage

Expo Hall

Con
The venue was too big which made it very difficult to get to some sessions on time and in some cases I didn’t even bother to attend one or two because of the hassle involved in reaching back to the booth on time.

As I mentioned this was my first time at TechEd and also my first time in New Orleans so everything was fantastic for me (hence why only one con). I know people say TechEd has become more marketing oriented but the sessions that I went to had lots of demos and the MSE areas is a great platform for technical discussions. I understand why you might not want to attend if your focus is one product but I recommend it if you want to widen your scope or if your focus is more than one Microsoft product. New Orleans was also a factor for the event because I really enjoyed the food and the weather. I also had a great tour guide named Adam Machanic so finding the right places to eat and hangout wasn’t an issue.

Registration is open for TechEd North America 2014, which is being held from May 12-15 in Houston, Texas.

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Business Intelligence and Data Mining Presentation at USC Event


At the end of October, I presented at a University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) event called "Innovation and Technology: Novel Approaches for 21st Century Researchers”. This event focused on topics such as Data Mining, Geographic Information Systems and Data Analysis. It was an honour to be a presenter at this event which had the following lecturers and researchers as speakers:  Dr. Daren Conrad, Dr. Rene Jordan, Professor Prakash Persad, Amanda Thomas and Samuel Gabriel.
 
The deck for my presentation, Microsoft Business Intelligence and Data Mining tools is available here and more information about Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Data Mining is available here.
 
 
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T-SQL: Tips and Tricks Presentation


On Thursday I did my last 2013 presentation for the Data Architecture Virtual Chapter. I found out that the session had 334 attendees and I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to attend and also thanks for all the feedback that I received. Special thanks to Rob Canzonire, the VC member who asked me to present and also moderated it as well.

The presentation and the SQL scripts are available here. One of the databases is created by the '01_DemoDB' script and the other one, AdventureWorks2012, can be downloaded here. Below is a YouTube video of the session. Enjoy!
 



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Online Presentation for the Data Architecture Virtual Chapter


This Thursday at 12:00 pm Central Time (2:00 pm in Trinidad ) I will be presenting, 'T-SQL Tips and Tricks' for the Data Architecture VC.

Session abstract:
Queries are running longer than expected? Your database server isn't performing as well as it should? There are many reason that this could be happening and one of them is the T-SQL being executed on the system. T-SQL offers various ways to get the information that you need but sometimes the option you choose might return the data that you want but may not be the best query structure or logic to use.

This session will share insight on how basic query structure and logic works so you can avoid wasting too much time on trial and error when writing queries. It will also show you some tips and tricks to avoid some bad T-SQL coding habits and help you write better queries. This session is for Developers and Database Administrators.

To register for this online meeting or to find out more about the group and their meetings, then visit their homepage.

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