Thank You for 2012

Like every other year, 2012 had its ups and downs but this has been a great SQL Server year for me. This post isn't to highlight my SQL Server achievements and activities but to thank all the people who assisted me and encouraged me this year! The list is long so I can’t mention everyone here but I am going to mention groups and some members from the groups who have gone above and beyond for me.

Special Thanks to:

TTSSUG Committee Members - Anand Singh, Ruselle Seeboo, Mitra Sinanan, Gisselle Ramsaran, Jason Deyalsingh and Hasani Holder.

Azure VC Committee Members - Paras Doshi and Jose Rivera.

PASS - Entire PASS team and Board of Directors.

SQL Server Family.

SolidQ - Fernando Guerrero, Antonio Soto, Ron Talmage and Paul Turley.

SQL Server Team (Microsoft) - Suzanna Litwin (Moran), Emilie Bridon, Katrina Munsell.

Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago - Nancy Manfredonia, Indera Ghanesh.

Last but not least, special thanks to all my readers for taking the time to read my ramblings and dealing with my grammatical errors.

Wishing you all a new year filled with peace, joy, health and prosperity. See you in 2013!

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SQL in Seattle

Last month, I travelled to Seattle for one of my favourite events of the year - PASS Summit!
This year's summit trip had an extra benefit, another SQL Server event called Red Gate SQL in the City.


SQL In the City - 5th November

As stated on the website, 'SQL in the City brings together Red Gate and the SQL community for an awesome day of free SQL Server training the Red Gate way.'

The event had very interesting and informative sessions as well as some well-known SQL Server speakers.  I went to three of the sessions and spent the rest of the day meeting Red Gate staff and attendees. At the end of the day was a networking session as well as free swag. I had an awesome first experience at this the event. Thanks Red Gate!

PASS Summit 2012 - 6th - 9th November

Starting my own PASS Summit tradition -
Super Hero T-Shirts Day!
I was looking forward to this event since the last day of PASS Summit 2011. This year some things were different but adjusting to the changes was not difficult. The fact that the next summit isn’t going to be in Seattle means I should be prepared for more changes next year.

I tried to balance the time that I spent participating in the various activities at the event. I went to some sessions based on recommendations that I received during my PASS Summit Interviews. I visited the exhibition booths to see what products/services were offered and also to talk to them about sponsor SQLSaturday #185. Of course I also had to make time to visit the Community Zone, the SQL Clinic and all my PASS friends in the HQ booth and room.

One of the best things about the summit is the fact that I get to see my friends and also make new friends. This was my first summit as an MVP and being on the MVP mailing list made me create a new list of people that I had to meet. The list is very long but I wanted to highlight a few persons because of the things they have done for me before meeting me in person:

Me and Katrina Munsell (aka @SQLServer)
Due to my limited trips to events in the US, I try to do something for the community at the PASS Summit every year. I participated at the bloggers table again this year but due to some wireless issues my posts weren't what I wanted them to be. I also hosted a 'Birds of the feather' table and even though it was the only 'Cloud table' I am glad to say that we had people present to talk about the topic.  Jeremiah Peschka can confirm that the picture below wasn't photo shopped.

Birds of the feather - The Cloud table 
Some events that occurred during the trip that stood out in my mind (in no particular order) are:

1.       Hanging out with my friends Para Doshi and Adam Machanic. 
2.       My interactions with Katrina Munsell. She is funny and very cool. Thanks for the SQL Server swag!
3.       Meeting my SolidQ boss, Antonio Soto and the rest of the SolidQ family at the 10th Anniversary event!
4.       Getting saved from Jennifer McCown at the bloggers' table when I was starving. Thanks Jen!
5.       Wendy Pastrick supplying us with internet at the bloggers' table.  Thanks Wendy!
6.       Going for coffee with Jeremiah Peschka which resulted with us running down the street to FedEx with a Red Gate box.
7.       Hanging out with Rob Farley and the LobsterPot team.
8.       Cindy Gross impersonation of Mark Souza.
9.       Watching a long line of people waiting for an autograph from Pinal Dave.
10.    Meeting Paul White.

As I stated, this list has some events and not all the events but I can’t end this post without highlight the best memory for this trip – Winning an Xbox from the SQL Server booth. Thanks Microsoft for my Christmas gift!
My Gift arrives safely- Xbox with Kinect and two games

Overall the summit was great and I can't wait for PASS Summit 2013!

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Last month, we launched our new site -

Since we are hosting SQLSaturday #185, most of the upcoming articles and news would be focusing on the event. We also have a Job Section so if you are interested in advertising local IT Job Opportunities on the site please email us at
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Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Partner Training‏

Tomorrow I will be presenting at the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Partner Training! This is a Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago event and is for Microsoft Partners only.

 If you are interested in attending or need more information about the event, please contact Rose Nath at or Indera Ghanesh at
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PASS Azure VC Meeting - November Meeting

Topic: In-Depth Azure’s No-SQL with Azure Tables
Speaker: Herve Roggero, Partner Blue Syntax Consulting LLC
When: Tuesday, Nov 20 2012 17:00 - 18:00 Eastern Standard Time
Summary: In this presentation, Herve will talk about the benefits and practices of Windows Azure’s no-sql offering called Azure Table. Herve will demonstrate the use of Azure Tables, how to migrated data in and out of Azure Tables and a SQL Server environment, and some of the important design considerations when creating Azure Tables from a performance standpoint. Herve will also review the performance and scalability objectives of Azure Tables and how this impacts your design decisions.

About Herve: Herve Roggero, SQL Azure MVP and co-author of PRO SQL Azure, is the founder of Blue Syntax Consulting ( Herve’s experience includes software development, architecture, database administration and senior management with both global corporations and startup companies. Over the last 15 years, Herve has worked in the Education, Financial, Health Care, Management Consulting and Database Security sectors. He holds multiple certifications, including an MCDBA, MCSE, MCSD. He also holds an MBA from Indiana University. Herve is heavily involved with the South Florida SQL Server community, speaks at multiple venues, and runs SQL Saturdays in South Florida.
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SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1

For those who did not see the PASS Summit 2012 Day 1 Keynote or haven't heard the news on the IT grapevine, just thought you should know that  Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 was released last week. Check MSDN to see what updates and capabilities are available in this release. If you want to know what bugs are fixed then check the KB article.

Available Downloads: 

After installing, run SELECT SERVERPROPERTY('ProductLevel') to ensure SP1 is returned!
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PASS Summit 2012 Day 2 Keynote - Live Blog

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2012 Day 2 Keynote. You can see it live here -

I am here at the blogger table again representing Trinidad and Tobago, TTSSUG and SolidQ!

8:20 Douglas McDowell, Executive Vice President of Finance just started the keynote!

He welcomes all the attendees from around the world and is now highlighting the PASS Revenue and Expense Trend - FY2011, FY2012 and FY2013.

Douglas highlights the new elected PASS board members - Wendy Pastrick, James Rowland-Jones and Sri Sridharan. I am sitting new to Wendy at the bloggers table!

8:35 He is now introducing the PASS Vice President of Marketing, Thomas LaRock!

PASSion award winner - Jen Stirrup - I have an interview with her -

PASSion Award Honorable mention - Amy Lewis and Jesus Gil!

Tom just announced PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte, NC from October 15-18.

SolidQ highlighted as one of the companies who sent more than 5 people to the summit this year!

Today is the 'Women in Technology' (WIT) luncheon and tomorrow is the 'Birds of a Feather' luncheon.

8:40 Thomas just introduced Quentin Clark, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the SQL Program Management, before leaving the stage.

9:10 Demo with Hadoop and PDW and general BI.

9:50: Demo still going but I have to go get ready for my next session so I am ending my live blog session now.

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PASS Summit 2012 Day 1 Keynote - Live Blog

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2012 Day 1 Keynote. You can see it live here -

Today I am at the blogger table representing Trinidad and Tobago, TTSSUG and SolidQ!

8:15 Bill Graziano, PASS President, kicks off the keynote!

He highlights the PASS TV, a new feature of the PASS Summit.

Some PASS facts:
PASS has over 127000 members. There are 250+ local PASS Chapters in over 65 countries and 20 Virtual Chapters!

Bill thanks all the volunteers for making PASS what it is today.

What's that I'm hearing - A new conference, The PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago, April 10-12, 2013.

8:30 He is currently talking about the PASS international Focus, I am very interested in more information about this.

8:40 Bill introduces Ted Kummert, Microsoft Corporate Vice President
Ted welcomes the attendees to the SQL Family.

First big announcement from Ted, SQL Server 2012 SP1 is available today!

Buzz word for 2013 - Big Data. If you never heard of this before then you need to get familiar

Second big announcement - In-memory for OLTP - Codename 'Hekaton'

8:55 A Hekaton and xVelocity ColumnStore Demo

Third big announcement - SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse! Coming in 2013

9:15 Parellel Data Warehouse Demo

Ted introduces PolyBase which would be in Parallel Data warehouse. PDW powered by PolyBase, enables queries across relational data & non-relational Hadoop data.
Ted highlights that PDW is built for Big Data

9:30 Amir Netz is going to do a BI demo using SQL Server 2012 SP1 and Office 2013
Full interactive map in Excel 2013 - how awesome is that!
Most of PASS attendees agree that Excel is now the complete end-user BI tool!

Entertaining demo by Amir, this dude is a very energetic individual!

Keynote Day 1 is over, time for some PASS Summit 2012 sessions and networking!

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Interview With Dr. David DeWitt - PASS Summit 2012 Special

Last week, when I saw the announcement on the PASS Summit Keynote Page that Dr. David DeWitt was coming to the PASS Summit 2012, my first thought was “cool” and then my second thought was “it would be really cool if I did an interview with him”.  If you are interested in seeing him present, then check out his Spotlight Session on “Big Data Meets SQL Server”.

The following interview with Technical Fellow and past Keynote speaker, Dr. David DeWitt is my special treat for the SQL Community!

Tell us about yourself

After finishing my PhD degree in 1976, I spent 32 years as a computer science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison teaching database courses and conducting a research program in the database area. I supervised 35 Ph.D. students over the course of my career as a professor. I spent 5 years as department chair.

In March 2008, I retired from academia and started a small research and advanced development facility for Microsoft in Madison which, organizationally, is part of the SQL Server product team. In addition to 8 full time employees, the lab also houses 8 graduate students as well as a couple of faculty members as consultants. The URL for our site is

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

I love the enthusiasm and energy at the keynote talks I have given over the past 5 years. While the talks always take a long time to prepare (sometimes dismaying my bosses about the amount of time I spend on them) it is always worth the effort. The audience is truly amazing. Having seen the tweets, a couple of years ago my wife decided she had to come see me in person. Not only did she find a math error on one of my slides, she decided that I was not as good a speaker as the tweets might indicate.

While I was disappointed that I was not asked to do another keynote this year, I am very pleased to be able to give a spotlight talk.

Tell us about your first time presenting at PASS Summit

The first time I gave a keynote at PASS was in 2008. I had only been a Microsoft employee for about 6 months at the time and I decided to talk about parallel database systems, an area I had been working on for more than 30 years. Only after Bill Graziano rode a motorcycle across the stage did I fully understand how different PASS is than the typical academic conference I had attended as a professor. I had never spoken to more than 500 people. I was truly terrified to find myself in front of more than 2000 people. But the audience was incredibly gracious in their comments and I found the entire experience very satisfying - forcing me to up my game at every successive keynote.

As a previous keynote speaker, you know what it takes to present to a PASS audience. What advice can you give to new, current and future PASS speakers?

Prepare, prepare, prepare. I typically start on a talk at least a couple of months in advance and strive to have a complete initial draft of the talk a month in advance. I fine tune every single slide repeatedly, striving for maximum understanding by the entire audience. Having taught undergraduate and graduate classes for many years I have developed a pretty good sense of how to communicate complicated ideas as simply as possible, but I still find that every talk requires a large amount of work on my part.

Do you have any general advice for the professionals who are trying to increase their in-depth knowledge of SQL Server?

There is no better place to do this than by attending PASS. It is an incredible community of individuals willing to share their expertise with their peers.

Do you have any general advice or words of encouragement for the SQL Server Community?

This is an amazing time to be involved in the database field. The amount and types of data being accumulated by every business and organization is simply incredible. The move to the cloud opens many new opportunities that we are only beginning to appreciate.

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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Davide Mauri

This is the tenth and last in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  My last post with Cindy Gross was done before I left Trinidad and this one was done in Chicago! This interview is with my Italian SolidQ colleague and friend, Davide Mauri.

Tell us about yourself

I am a SolidQ Mentor and member of the Board of Directors of SolidQ Italia.  I am also a Microsoft SQL Server MVP who speaks at international SQL Server conferences. I enjoy working with T-SQL and relational modeling and studying the theory behind it. My knowledge of Reporting Services, .NET, and object-oriented principles as well as my understanding of Integration Services and Analysis Services, gives me a broad area of expertise around the Microsoft Data Platform and the vision and experience to handle development of complex Business Intelligence solutions.

Twitter: @mauridb

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

DMVs are my favorite thing! Right from when Microsoft started to ship them in SQL Server 2005, they made my life much easier (and customers happier) since you can have a great understanding of what’s happening inside SQL Server, which is great when you have to do performance tuning or database administration.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My very first time was in Dallas. It was really great, since you can really feel the community and understand that there is not difference between being a speaker or not. Everyone is here just to share, learn and grow…and that’s really incredible!

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Ah, good question and a complex oneJ. I wrote a blog entry on this topic: PASS Summit for SQL starters, since it’s quite a broad one. In addition to what I said there, I would also add that the DVD is really a must have, since there are by far too many interesting session happening at the same time. And also networking is important too and you cannot do that after the event.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

As said before I have wrote a blog post on this topic dedicated to the first-timers. My personal selection of session is the following:

 1. Inside SQLOS 2012 (Bob Ward)
2. Dive into the Query Optimizer: Undocumented Insight (Benjamin Nevarez)
3. Big Data Meets SQL Server (David DeWitt)
4. Performance Tuning Through the Plan Cache (Jason Strate)
5. Recovering Lost Data (Robert Davis)

And, of course, my session J DMVs are really a life saver, so everyone working with SQL Server should become very confident with them.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Networking! Connect with other people, talk to speakers, discuss your ideas and problems with SQL CAT and SQL Development team….learn as much as you can, there’s no other place like this for someone involved with SQL Server. 

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

Well, the PASS website is surely a great resource, but also local PASS chapters are a great way to stay connected and up-to-date. In addition to that SQL Saturdays and 24 Hours of PASS (24HOP) offers additional possibilities to learn and improve.
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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Cindy Gross

This is the ninth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with Microsoft Certified Master Cindy Gross.

Tell us about yourself

I have worked with SQL Server since 1993 when we had to feed stacks of diskettes to the OS/2 machines to install SQL Server 1.11. Since then I have worked with many different feature sets within SQL Server and I currently focus on the SQL BI stack and Big Data, including our new HDInsight offerings. As a member of SQL CAT I work with challenging scenarios to remove real world implementation roadblocks and publish lessons learned back to the community. I have spoken at SQL PASS Summits, SQL Saturdays, and local and virtual user group meetings. One of the hardest things I’ve done is earn the SQL Server 2008 Microsoft Certified Master certification. I live in Boise, ID where I can enjoy outdoor activities right outside my front door while also being only a short bicycle ride from our vibrant downtown.

Twitter: @SQLCindy

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

Hive is such an easy entry point for SQL Server professionals into the world of Big Data. It makes Hadoop data look like familiar tables with columns and rows and you can reuse your existing SQL language skills to enter into this new Big Data World. I’m excited to introduce Hive to whole new group of SQL Peeps and give some additional insights to those who have already dipped their toes into Hive!

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

I first attended the PASS Summit in Dallas. I was working the local Microsoft PSS support office at the time and went to PASS to work in the SQL Clinic. It was a great experience to meet so many people I had previously only met virtually. The wealth of knowledge and sense of #SQLFamily at the PASS Summit is astounding and it’s great to be part of that experience.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Reach out to your fellow geeks and share your experiences with them. No matter how little or how much time you have been working with SQL Server you have valuable insights, questions, and answers. The PASS Summit is your chance to learn from the best in the SQL world and make some great friends along the way.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

The SQL CAT team members are well known for presenting “can’t miss” sessions based on real world scenarios. Make sure you attend at least a couple of those. Base your decisions not just on the content but on the speakers, there are some people like Kalen Delaney that you just have to hear speak in person.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Everyone should visit the SQL Clinic and talk to the CAT and PSS folks. Ask architectural or troubleshooting questions, get advice on something you’re thinking about or struggling with, and meet some of the people who get to work heads down on SQL Server every day. Networking with your peers is also very important – the connections you make at PASS can help you solve problems, become a member of the #SQLFamily, and maybe even help you find that perfect career move.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

Attend local user group and SQLSaturday events, talk to people during breaks and at lunch. Find an active discussion group on a forum or mailing list and start reading the posts. Find some questions you are willing to answer and start answering. Sometimes just asking for clarification on the question can be a great help to both the questioner (who may find their answer while trying to add the information) and to the other readers. Start thinking about what you’re really good at or what you struggled to learn but figured out, whether it’s something basic or something really complicated someone else will be interested in knowing that same thing. Blog about it or put it together into a talk and demo and share it!

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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Erin Stellato

This is the eighth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with PASS Performance Virtual Chapter Leader, Erin Stellato.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Senior Consultant for and a SQL Server MVP.  I like to know how things work, and in my SQL Server world that translates to knowing how the storage engine and query processor work.  I have been working with clients for the past 12 years, and each day is an adventure.  I learn something new every day.

Twitter: @erinstellato

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

My favorite thing about both of my Summit sessions is that I share practical, real-world knowledge that a DBA or developer can put to use immediately.  It goes back to knowing how things work.  It's not just about understanding how statistics get created and how they get updated, it's also how they are used by the query processor.  For DBCC, I don't want people to simply know the commands, I want them to understand the impact on their data or on performance, so they don't have one of those "Whoops!" moments with a production environment.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

It was two years ago, 2010.  I finally had the opportunity to meet so many people in person - people that I "knew" from Twitter.  One of the first people I met up with was Ted Krueger.  I remember sitting down near the front for the keynote on the first day and it opened with a Tina Turner impersonator.  I was so confused.  I remember thinking, "What inside joke did I miss here?"  Then I realized that I wasn't the only one who didn't get it.  I planned to attend a session in every time slot, every day.  By the second day I was exhausted. I learned a lot, met a ton of people, and it was a fantastic week.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Keep an open mind.  The value in Summit is not just the content, it's also the people.  There are a few thousand people at Summit.  Most of them are like you in a lot of ways, but that doesn't mean that you'll connect with every person.  Introduce yourself to people - that includes the person sitting next to you in a session, at lunch, or the speaker whose session you just attended.  Some people may take a while to chat (some of us are introverts :), others will be happy to have an hour long conversation with you.  You never know who you'll meet; you never know who will help you solve a performance problem you've been struggling with at work, who might get you actually using PowerShell (finally!), or who might end up being your roommate at Summit next year.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

The ones from Bob Ward and Paul White.  If I want to know how things work, those are two of the go-to individuals in the community.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Wednesday morning's #sqlrun organized by roommate Jes Borland.  Donuts from Top Pot.  A trip down to La Panier in Pike's Place.  But mostly, just seeing old friends, catching up, and meeting new people!

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

Take advantage of your Local Chapter, and start following the Virtual Chapters!  Not everyone can attend their local meeting every single month, life is crazy.  But the virtual chapters don't require you to go anywhere, just tune in and learn.  I highly recommend Twitter.  It is a great medium for getting to know people.  And if you want to really get involved in the SQL Server Community, volunteer.  If you don't where to start, stop by the Community Zone while you're at Summit.  I know that PASS is always looking for smart, motivated individuals to help out with the many on-going projects in the community.
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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Grant Fritchey

This is the seventh in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with SQL Server MVP Grant Fritchey.

Tell us about yourself

I'm working as the product evangelist for Red Gate Software. That means I'm in marketing. But I've got more than 20 years of experience in IT working in support, development and database administration. After either making the mistake or watching others make the mistake, I've managed to learn a lot about how not to code and structure databases, so I tend to specialize in query tuning, database design and architecture. I've got my name on several books including "SQL Server 2012 Query Performance Tuning, SQL Server 2012 Administration, SQL Server Execution Plans and others.

Twitter: @gfritchey

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

I'm doing three sessions at PASS, an all-day pre-conference seminar on query tuning, a spotlight session on improving query performance by fixing bad parameter sniffing, and an introductory session on what to look for in execution plans. The one thing I really like to aim for in all my sessions is providing some information that people can put to work immediately. I think I get that at least once in every session.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My first time at PASS was Dallas in 2005. I was one of those guys who went to the sessions, visited the vendor floor to pick up some t-shirts, and then went back to my hotel. Completely the wrong the way to go about it. But, I happened to score an invite to a vendor party and met some people from all around the world who were volunteering for the PASS organization and clearly having a blast. That chance meeting basically changed my life.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

A bunch of stuff! Don't just attend sessions. Make sure you talk to people. And walk right up and say hello to your favorite author/blogger/presenter. They're just human and are at the Summit in order to engage with people. If you are in a session and it's not going well for you, get up and leave. It's not rude. Better to go outside and find another session or chat with some people than waste your time in a session that's not for you and then fill out bad evaluations on the speaker. Also, do fill out the evaluations on the speakers. Trust me, we read them and take them seriously. If you have feedback, please provide it, but be specific and as helpful as you can. Take your favorite three sessions back to the office and present them to co-workers. It'll reinforce what you learn.

Oh, and have some fun!

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

Mine of course -Kidding. Dr. DeWitt session is the one session I will crawl across broken glass to get to. Other than that, it depends on what I'm working on at the moment. I'm probably going to track down some of the cloud-oriented content.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Everyone has a different list for this, but I've always attended the SQL Server Central party. It's always been a gambling theme where you can play poker, blackjack, craps or roulette and instead of risking your money, you get the chance to win some fun geeky prizes. There is a small entry fee.

Also, you have to make sure you have your kilt for Kilt Day on Thursday (AKA Day 2). It's a tradition I started three years ago and it's grown.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

Watch the PASS website. It lists things going on constantly. Watch the SQL Saturday web site for events in your area. Find your local user group and get to their meetings. If nothing else, get involved in some of the online forums like SQL Server Central. All this is a great way to keep engaged in the community.
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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Jen Stirrup

This is the sixth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with one of the Women in Technology (WIT) panelist, Jen Stirrup.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a SQL Server MVP with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. I am part of the leadership team at Copper Blue Consulting, with 15 years SQL experience in delivering end-to-end Business Intelligence solutions.

I am also active in many SQL Server user groups in the UK, helping run the SQLHerts group. I have delivered pre-cons and general sessions at SQLBits and presented webcasts for the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter and 24 Hours of PASS Women in Technology edition.

Twitter: @jenstirrup

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

I love the ability to engage people by showing demos. I also love to talk about the 'why' as well as the 'how'. I think that, if people know 'why' things are done in a particular framework, then it makes them better at the 'how'.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My first time at PASS Summit was awesome. I felt 'at home' with so many SQL Server and data fans around. I made lots of friends who were as passionate about Business Intelligence as I am, and these friendships have lasted. We have such a great community, and it is my privilege to get to know everyone who participates.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

My advice to new PASS first-timers is to attend all of the orientation sessions. Remember that there are a lot of other new people around too, and the people around you might feel shy too. I often start my sessions by asking people to introduce themselves to their neighbour, and talk about their favourite new feature of SQL Server 2012. It's an ice-breaker, and a 'start' in getting people to make business contacts and new friendships.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

My 'can't miss' sessions are given by Michael Rhys. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael at TechEd Europe, and I was very engaged in listening to his research work (he holds a Ph.D and publishes papers) as well as listening to his deep technical insights whilst helping delegates with their technical problems. I had a great week working the TechEd booths with Michael, and I will definitely be attending his sessions.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Outside of sessions, I will be taking a Starbucks in Seattle. You often run into other delegates when you're taking a coffee, so it's always nice to say 'hi' to the person next to you in the queue who is wearing a SQLPass shirt or speaker badge, for example.

I'm Scottish, and not in the US very often. I want to go to the Opera House in Seattle, and I want to go to the Seattle Art Museum too.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

I'd strongly recommend the webinars for the Virtual Chapters. You can listen 'in real time' or you can download at a later date. I'd also suggest that people buy the SQLPass DVDs since I believe that they are well worth the money. I am still listening to my SQLPass 2010 set!

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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Robert Davis

It's the week before the big event, PASS Summit 2012!
As a treat to all the attendees, I will be posting at least one interview every day until I leave home to attend the summit. This is the fifth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the event which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with Microsoft Certified Master Robert Davis.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server and have been working with SQL Server for more than 12 years. Over the years, I’ve worn just about every hat a SQL Server professional can including SQL developer, production DBA, and data architect. I consider myself to be a “reformed developer”. When I got my first real job in IT, I was looking for a position as a web developer. Eventually, I was offered a job as a database developer. I was very eager to start my first IT job, and accepted it even though the thought of working with databases sounded like a boring job.

I was working at a small company, and for the next several years, I flipped between database and web development depending on the needs of the company at any given time. A day came eventually when my manager said that he thought they would be able to make me a web developer permanently. I realized at that moment that I no longer wanted to be a web developer. Our DBA had left the company about 6 months earlier and had not been replaced, mostly due to budget restrictions. I made a counter-offer for the DBA position instead, and SQL Server has been my real passion ever since.

Twitter: @SQLSoldier

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

My favorite thing about doing sessions are when people tell me that they learned something new that will save them a lot of time. As DBAs, we are often tasked with doing a lot more than is truly possible. As such we learn to be as efficient as possible. When I worked as a web developer, I was often given the opportunity to come up with elegant solutions to problems, and that was fun. As a DBA, to be successful, you need to learn to come up with the most efficient way to do things. So any time I can learn new ways to be efficient or teach someone else to be more efficient, I consider it a very good thing.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My first time at PASS Summit was in 2010. To be honest, I never paid attention to PASS activities until I started getting actively involved in the SQL community in 2008. I had been blogging intermittently on SQL Server Central for a couple of years, and started speaking at SQL Saturday events in 2009. I didn’t get picked to speak at the SQL PASS Summit in 2009 because my team’s entire training budget had been allocated to sending me through the Certified Master program. Every year since then, I have been selected to be a speaker.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Diversify and participate. Take in a variety of sessions and attend lots of the after-hour events. The first-timers’ program is also a great way to meet people. Your mentor is probably someone who knows a lot of people and can introduce you to someone.

And if you run into someone you’ve always wanted to meet, talk to them. They’re just people like you and I. For me, the SQL pros I always wanted to meet were Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp, and I’ve had the good fortune to be a student of their class and to work with them on projects. You won’t meet anyone nicer and easier to talk to than Paul and Kimberly.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

Paul White’s session is one of the things I look forward to the most. I told him last year that he should submit a session called S*** Only I Know. He’s freaky smart about things like the query optimizer. I only wish he was doing a full day pre-con.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

There are a couple of SQL Karaoke parties at the same time on the same night. SQL Karaoke is always a lot of fun, and I’m sorry that I’ll be missing the one sponsored by Pragmatic Works. I think Pragmatic Works is an awesome company, and I have lots of friends there. I have lots of friends that will be at the SQL Karaoke sponsored by Idera and run by Denny Cherry, and that is the SQL Karaoke event that I will be attending.

I also like to just hang out and “talk shop” with other SQL people. There will be times where you can find me just hanging out and talking to people. In fact, I’ll probably spend some time hanging out at the Idera booth. They get a lot of people at the booths that have technical questions, and this gives me a good way to talk shop with people I don’t even know.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

SQLSaturdays are still one of my favorite PASS events. I love speaking at and attending the events. One of the things I love about my job at Idera is that they send me to SQLSaturday events that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to attend. Travel can be expensive, so I definitely get to attend more than I would otherwise.

I would love to help organize and run a SQLSaturday event as well. I know it would be a lot of work, but I think there are some great things being done at the events out there that I would love to see get incorporated into our local SQLSaturdays.

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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Adam Machanic

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with SQL Server MVP Adam Machanic, the creator of T-SQL Tuesday.

Tell us about yourself

I am a SQL Server developer residing in the Boston, MA area. I focus on large scale relational data warehouses, primarily in the financial services industry. Sometimes I also like to get away from the computer, and on the rare occasion on which that happens I like to spend my spare time cooking, baking bread, and messing about with cocktails. 

Blog(s): (not the most active thing in the world, these days)
Twitter: @AdamMachanic

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

This year I'm doing a session on taking control of SQL Server intra-query parallelism. Today's servers have a lot more cores, a lot more memory, and much faster storage than we were seeing even just five years ago. SQL Server's query processor is quite capable of taking advantage of this hardware, but the optimizer hasn't received much of an upgrade in several years. This means that if you want your big queries to run as fast as they possibly can, you need to take control. I'm a take-charge kind of guy, so this session fits in perfectly with my sensibilities.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

My first Summit was 2004 or 2005. It was great to meet a lot of people with whom I'd previously conversed online. On the plane home I tried to remember everyone I'd met and talked to, and ended up writing a blog post with all of the names. I think there were at least 150 of them; quite the networking experience!

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Communicate! If you're at lunch, sit down at a table with other people. Talk to them. If you're in a room and a session hasn't started, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Don't sit in your hotel room all night checking your e-mail. You can get plenty of SQL Server content online; the thing you can get at PASS that you can't get elsewhere is interaction with your fellow SQL Server professionals.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

I always enjoy Bob Ward's sessions, and this year I'm planning to be there early so I can snag a front row seat.

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Whenever I'm in Seattle I make a point of spending some quality time at the Pike Place Market. Other than that, networking, networking and a bit of partying. 

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

Attend your local SQL Server user group(s), follow and engage with people on Twitter, and block out time in your schedule for catching up on blog posts. Never stop reading. 

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Interview With PASS Summit 2012 Speaker - Karen Lopez

This is the third in a series of interviews with speakers leading up to the 2012 PASS Summit which will be held in Seattle from November 6th - 9th.  This interview is with SQL Server MVP Karen Lopez.

Tell us about yourself
I’m a Senior Project Manager and Architect at InfoAdvisors.  I specialize in all things data.  I want you to Love Your Data. 

Twitter: @datachick

Tell us your favorite thing about your PASS session(s)

I love talking with people about data modeling and database design, especially in the SQL Server crowd, were the vast majority of people tend to be operational, not development.  So in my first session on Database Design Throwdown, I get to debate with a DBA about the nuances of issues in design.  In my other session on Data Model Driven Development, I get to talk about how modeling can help improve the quality of designs and free up time for production and operational people to do more good stuff.

Tell us about your first time at PASS Summit

That was in 2010.  I was new not only to the Summit, but also the PASS community.  I had been active in the online community for a while, so meeting hundreds of people I already knew was incredible.  My impression of the Summit was that 1) there’s too much to see and do 2) there are too many people to meet and engage and 3) those two “problems” were amazing ones to have.

What advice do you have for PASS Summit First Timers?

Don’t think that the Summit ends with the last session every day.  Go to the after events and/or find other people to socialize with in the evenings and in the morning.  Things are going on around the clock.  The best thing about attending an in-person event is the fact that you can spend time with people in the real world.

Feel free to change sessions if you find the session you are in doesn’t meet your needs or the speaker is being overly “salesy” PASS does a wonderful job keeping that to a minimum, which is great.  I also encourage people to attend sessions outside their area of expertise.  Learning something new about SQL Server is one of the best things about being in such a diverse environment.   There are so many options available in the program.

What are your can't-miss PASS sessions?

I’ll be blogging about this soon, but in summary, I tend to pick speakers over topics.  I find the value I get out of hearing a great speaker present is worth learning a few new things, too. 

Besides sessions, what's on your must-do list at Summit?

Meeting people.  Sharing stories, pain points, and successes.  My favourite part.

Besides that, I love chatting with the vendors at the Summit.  I’m a strong advocate of vendors being part of our community.  One of my Splendid Truths about tools is that they impact our decisions and designs much more than we could ever imagine.  By sharing our success stories, our pain points, our questions with vendors, we have a great opportunity to help them help us.  I chat with them at their booths, but also at evening events and coffee breaks.  

Also, events like the Summit, SQLSaturdays and usergroups could not happen without the support of these sponsors.  In fact, I make it a habit of personally thanking each of them for being there and helping us make this event possible.  I encourage others to do the same.  

The PASS mission is Connect, Share, Learn. For me, that’s what the Summit is all about.  Connecting with others, sharing what we know and learning more about SQL Server and data management.

How can attendees become involved in the SQL Server Community and continue their learning throughout the year?

There are so many options here, too.  Join their local SQL Server user group (My user group is  Start a user group, tweetup, event.  Join Twitter and chat with other data professionals.  Attend training, both formal and informal. Read blogs.  Blog yourself. Attend a PASS Virtual Chapter webinar.  Attend the PASS Summit and other PASS events.  

 The great thing about the SQL Server Community is that there are so many options.
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