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

Continue Reading →

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.

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

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!
Continue Reading →

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

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

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.

Continue Reading →

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.
Continue Reading →

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!

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

Free Microsoft Software and Tools

Before you get too excited this isn't a situation where I am giving away any software. It also is not a promotion or a scam, it is about legitimate sites and programs that offer Microsoft software and tools for various time periods. I thought this post would be useful to people with personal projects and students who are choosing what software to use for their final project as well as students entering the upcoming Teleios Code Jam competition which has highlighted bonus points for using specific technologies. I am focusing on Microsoft products because whenever I suggest using Microsoft products in classes or during presentations I always hear complaints about license price especially for small short projects.

Here is the list of sites and programs that I am aware of:

MSDN Evaluation Centre - This centre allows individuals to download full featured Microsoft software and tools which can be used for a trial period (90 or 180 days). It also sometimes has links to Microsoft preview of new products.

DreamSpark - This program allows students, educators and academic institutions to get access to Microsoft software and tools at no cost to assist with learning, teaching and research. In technical education who wouldn’t want to use the latest technologies?

BizSpark - This program provides start-ups with free software, tools and support for three years. For more information about eligibility of the BizSpark program check out the FAQ. 

Windows Azure Free Trial - This is a great option if you want to see what you can do in the cloud.

While the options above are the full products for a limited time, if you want to use a free version of the product for an unlimited time then look for the Express edition. Of course each product Express edition will have some limitations and lack some features.

If you know about any other legitimate sites or programs please feel free to mention them in the comments.
Continue Reading →

Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Live Event

This Friday, Tobias Ternstrom (Microsoft Principal Program Manager Lead) and Brian Alderman (CEO and Founder, MicroTechPoint) will be the instructor team for this 8 hour Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Jumpstart event. The purpose of this course is to help you prepare for the MCSA Exam 70-461. Even if you are not interested in taking the exam, I suggest attending to get some more insight into the power of queries and T-SQL.

Course Outline
   - Introduction to SQL Server 2012
   - Advanced SELECT statements
   - SQL Server data types
   - Grouping, aggregating and modifying data
   - Table expressions and SET operators
   - Programming with T-SQL
   - Retrieving SQL Server metadata

Event details
Date: September 13th 2013
Continue Reading →

Speaking - Red Gate's SQL in the City Charlotte Event

I have been accepted as a speaker for the SQL in the City event in Charlotte which is being held on October 14th at the Ritz-Carlton. Red Gate's SQL in the City is a free, all-day SQL Server training event that takes place in various cities and provides great learning and networking opportunities for the SQL Server community. I will be presenting a session entitled Understanding and Controlling Transaction Logs.

Here's the abstract:
This session will unravel the mysteries of the transaction log, including how you can manage your logs and optimize their performance. Transaction logging is one of the most important activities SQL Server does for you, and understanding it thoroughly means you can ensure SQL Server does the best job possible. You'll leave with tips you can implement as soon as you get back to the office.

The event has an awesome line-up of speakers and a great agenda for the day. Remember the event is taking place the same week as PASS Summit 2013 so if you want to secure your spot then register as soon as possible.

I will also be attending SQL in the City Atlanta and look forward to meeting many of you at both events - Atlanta and Charlotte. See you in October!
Continue Reading →

PASS Azure VC Meeting: SQL Server 2012 IaaS and SQL Database in Depth

Topic: SQL Server 2012 IaaS and SQL Database in Depth

Speaker:  Herve Roggero, Partner Blue Syntax Consulting LLC

Date: Tuesday, 30 July 2013 12:00-13:00            

RSVP URL: LiveMeeting Link


Let's talk database! SQL Server 2012 IaaS is a new offering, while SQL Database (previously SQL Azure) is a PaaS relational database engine. How do they compare? Which one should you use? Let's discuss pros and cons, and see how easy it is to build a database in the cloud.

About Speaker:

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.

Visit our homepage and follow us on Twitter

Continue Reading →

Free SQL Server Training in Trinidad and Tobago

In 2009, two of my friends, Ruselle Seeboo and Anand Singh, and I were discussing ways in which we could help improve the IT community in Trinidad and Tobago. We discovered that in various parts of the world there are IT User Groups which provide training to individuals and the opportunity to network with peers so we decided to start a group. After much discussion and research we started the Trinidad and Tobago SQL Server User Group in 2010 which focuses on SQL Server and other Microsoft technologies.

The group still exists and we still want to make a positive impact on the IT community but I have realised that the number of attendees and volunteers for our events is not increasing. One reason is that newcomers to the IT field don't know that we exist and the other reason is that some of our registered members have lost interest.
If you are or were a member of the group but don't attend events anymore please give us feedback by sending us an email at Never heard of TTSSUG before? Then check out the follow links for more information about the group:
If you are interested in upcoming events then follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. We have an event next week Tuesday at Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago Building, so review the event details and register.
Anyone with ideas on how we can continue growing can email us at The group was created for building the IT community so feedback from the community is very important to us and would be greatly appreciated!

Continue Reading →

SQL Server 2014 CTP 1 Now Available!

During the TechEd 2013 Europe Keynote today in Madrid, it was highlighted that SQL Server 2014 CTP 1 has been released. The CTP is currently only available in 64-bit and the installation limitations should be properly read to avoid issues.

Some of the 2014 capabilities that I am looking forward to are the In-Memory capabilities and the AlwaysOn enhancements.  For more details about 2014 check out the following links:

Already got it installed :)

Continue Reading →

TechEd NA 2013 Product Announcements

I am watching the TechEd North America 2013 keynote presentation and it was just announced that they are releasing Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Intune. While these announcements were happening my twitter was going insane with tweets about SQL Server 2014!

Check out the keynote presentation and other live TechEd 2013 sessions on Channel 9:

Also take a look at the SQL Server 2014 Product Overview and the SQL Server 2014: Unlocking Real-Time Insights blog post by Quentin Clark, the Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform Group.

Continue Reading →

Attending TechEd North America 2013!

This week I will be at Microsoft TechEd North America which is being held from Jun 3rd- Jun 6th in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For those who never heard about TechEd before; it 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. It also gives you the opportunity to network with industry influencers, experts in the field and Microsoft Partners.

For those who know about it already and you are attending the conference then take a look at the following links for tips and advice:
If you wish to meet then visit the Data Insights Booth: Mission Critical Data Platform at the following times:
Monday, June 3
10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
Tuesday, June 4
12:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Wednesday, June 5
12:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Hope to see you there!
Continue Reading →

MCSA: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Session 2

The sample code does not exist on the CD but you can download the sample from the author site - here.

If this is your first time using SQL Server then I suggest doing this tutorial:  Basic Navigation in SQL Server Management Studio.

Data Type and Built-in Functions:

Continue Reading →

MCSA: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Session 1

Introduction to SQL Server 2012

The slides that were used for the first session are available here.


Microsoft Exam Videos


Continue Reading →

SQL Server 2012 Certification at SBCS

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 and the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform certifications are being offered at the School of Business and Computer Studies (SBCS).

The MCSA: SQL Server 2012 certification is designed to validate a set of essential skills and knowledge in SQL Server 2012. 

Earning the MCSE: Data Platform certification will showcase your skills in building and administrating data solutions both on-premises and in cloud environments and will qualify you for such jobs as database analyst and database designer.

The schedule for both certifications:
For more information or to register for the course contact Natasha Beckles.
Continue Reading →

PASS Azure VC Meeting - Performance Tuning with Azure SQL Database

Topic: Performance Tuning with Azure SQL Database

Speaker:  Grant Fritchey, Product Evangelist Red Gate Software

Date: Friday April 26th 2013 12:00- 13:00 (GMT-06:00) Central Time
           ADD TO CALENDER

Just because you're using an Azure SQL database does not mean you can avoid tuning queries. Microsoft has throttling in place that could seriously impact your systems if your queries are using up lots of resources. This session will introduce you to the tools you have available to identify poor performing queries, such as dynamic management objects and others. You'll learn how to understand why a query is running slow using the Azure Portal execution plans. This understanding will enable you to fix your poorly performing queries. All in the cloud.

About Speaker:
Grant Fritchey is a SQL Server MVP with over 20 years’ experience in IT, including time spent in support and development. He has worked with SQL Server since 6.0 back in 1995. He has also developed in VB, VB.NET, C#, and Java. Grant has written books for Apress and Simple-Talk. He joined Red Gate Software as a Product Evangelist in January 2011.
Visit our homepage and follow us on Twitter!
Continue Reading →

SQL Server MVP Award Renewed

I am truly humbled and honored to have received my second Microsoft MVP award. Today 885 people around the world were given the award and I am very excited to be one of them. For those who are not familiar with the program, the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is Microsoft's way of saying thank you to individuals who share their technical expertise and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.

After being an MVP for a year, I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the program. The MVP status is not only an award to celebrate people's contributions but it also provides a year of benefits that can be used to improve yourself and do more for the community. I am looking forward to using these opportunities to do more for my community this year.

Thank you Microsoft and MVP Lead Erika Vilches Gonzalez for the award. Special thanks to my family, friends, the SQL community, the MVP community and God for all the support and assistance.

Happy 20th anniversary MVP Award!

Continue Reading →

Windows Azure HDInsight Service

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the release of their new HDInsight Service preview for Windows Azure. HDInsight Service brings an Apache Hadoop solution to the cloud and allows users to manage, analyze and report on big data. The new preview is directly integrated into the portal and includes a number of enhancements and features such as simplified cluster deployment and the ability to deploy a cluster of up to 40 nodes.

For more information check out these sites:

Continue Reading →

Win Registration to the PASS BA Conference

I wanted to give you a heads-up about a contest this week that gives you a chance to win registration to the inaugural PASS Business Analytics (BA) Conference.

About the Event
The PASS Business Analytics Conference is a professional, community-oriented gathering for business analytics professionals, which will take place at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, April 10-12, 2013. The 2-day Conference features 60+ sessions across 5 topic tracks and will bring together 1,200 business analysts, data scientists, architects, and business analytics/business intelligence practitioners to connect, share, and learn. You can learn more about the PASS BA Conference at

How to Win
Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter Monday, March 11 through to Wednesday, March 13, and share how your job function is becoming more analytics focused for your chance to win one of five passes. Make sure you’re following the BA Conference on Twitter (@passbac/#passbac) and Facebook for more information.

Good luck! And even if you don’t win, you can get $200 off registration by using the Azure VC discount code BAC337VC - just remember to register by March 15 for the best rate.

Continue Reading →

Introducing Microsoft “Data Explorer” Preview for Excel

Today, Microsoft launched their latest Excel add-in, Data Explorer. This tool provides an intuitive user interface and a seamless experience for data discovery, data transformation and enrichment. For those who find the name sounds familiar, it is probably because you used the tool when it was SQL Azure Lab project in 2011. This release however is a preview of a new set of features that are coming soon to Excel!

Microsoft “Data Explorer” Preview for Excel allows you to import data from a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional data sources such as  CSV, Windows Azure SQL Database, Oracle, MySQL, Sharepoint list, OData Feed, Facebook, etc. This imported data can then be merged and shaped to match your data analysis requirements or prepare it for further analysis and modeling by tools such as PowerPivot and PowerView.

Data Explorer - Other Sources options
Data Explorer introduces a query editor which provides users with a simple way to define and shape their data. The editor allows you to perform tasks like filter, hide columns, transform data, split a column of text, to name a few. There is also a Steps pane that allows you to add, edit, reorder or delete query steps to ensure your data is transformed in the way you need.

Data Explorer - Query Editor
Microsoft “Data Explorer” Preview for Excel is another step towards improving self-service Business Intelligence by giving business users more capabilities to import, explore and analyze data with familiar tools!

Check out the video to see what it can do and you can download and try the preview here.

Continue Reading →

2013 = Changes

At the beginning of the year, I told some of my friends that I planned to make some changes this year. Much to my surprise, the first change for 2013 occurred a mere few weeks later - I changed my occupation.  This week I started my job as a full time lecturer at the School of Business and Computer Science, a tertiary level educational institute in Trinidad and Tobago.

After being in the IT corporate world for over a decade, it was a very difficult decision to leave and join the education system. Entering a new field is a challenge but I believe this step is necessary for some of my long term plans and goals. I also see this as a new opportunity to help grow the IT world in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Caribbean.

I intended to write about this earlier but activities such as SQLSaturday #185, MVP Summit and also wrapping up previous work from Teleios kept me extremely busy. Hopefully I will have more time to blog in the future.

While I started this year with some plans in mind, the fact that I changed careers might mean change in plans as well. As Nido Qubein stated 'Change brings opportunity'!

Continue Reading →

Community Links

Blog Archive