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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things I've learned at PASS Summit 2011


"Wow". "Wow!" "WOW!" - Flt Lt Hendley, Capt Hilts and another American PoW, The Great Escape
Today's not so random movie quote pretty much sums up my feelings about the PASS Summit 2011 so far and the SQL Server community in General.

I've been working in SQL Server for a couple of years but I've only just recently discovered PASS and all the goodies that come with it.

I attended SQL Saturday 94 in Salt Lake City last month and got some great information out of that. I joined Twitter and started watching #sqlpass and #sqlhelp (In fact I had an issue at midnight my time the other night, tweeted to #sqlhelp and had a couple of good ideas inside 15 minutes.

Right after SQL Saturday, I started this blog to record assorting technical musings.

This was all leading up to the PASS Summit and I'm amazed at what I've found. In the last few weeks, I signed up for the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program. I was assigned a Big Brother and a group of fellow First Timers. We swapped some emails and shared a little bit of info.

Arriving at the Summit on Monday for my first precon, I sat in and listened while Grant Fritchey and Gail Shaw talked about Execution Plans. I learned a great deal in those 7 hours. I don't know that there's much I can immediately take back to work (since the software I work with is provided by a third party vendor and there's not a lot you can do to modify the code), but my big take away was wanting to learn more about the optimizer and execution plans. One thing that I specifically remember learning was the importance of Referential Integrity constraints in the Optimizer's simplification phase. The app I work with has all the relationships in the business logic and doesn't put the RI constraints on the database - I never knew that this could have an adverse affect on optimization.

Tuesday's precon was with Adam Machanic who talked about Performance Tuning. Lots of good stuff came out of this one, including a wonderful stored procedure called sp_whoisactive. This is going on all my servers the moment I set foot in the door at work next Monday. It slices, it dices and it makes getting active session data out of SQL Server easy.

The Welcome Reception was interesting - or at least the entry was. Ever wanted to feel like you were on the field at the Super Bowl ? The First Timers (there were hundreds of us) were brought into the main ball room to cheering Alumni, spotlights, balloons and smoke. Very glitzy. Of course, the MVP on stage, who shall remain nameless, probably disappointed half the crowd by not knowing the name of the 4th Star Trek Movie during the Quiz Bowl :)

Official day 1 of the conference, with the smaller concentrated sessions had me in a jam. So many things to see and do and only one of me. Thankfully the audio for each session will be included on the session DVDs which I have on order, which will allow a nice chance to review later. Today I saw a couple of great sessions on I/O subsystems, attended the Lightning Talk sessions (Rob Farley can sing, play the guitar and write a nifty little song, who knew?) and watched Brent Ozar unveil his latest BLITZ! script.

This has all been information overload, but some of the best has been meeting and hanging out with some new people. I've enjoyed the company of a couple of new friends from my first timer's group (Go Team Honey Badgers!) and hope that after the event is over we can continue to keep in touch.

The Midnight DBA's put on a fun party tonight, "Inappropriate Sessions" which was as entertaining as it was inappropriate.

I look forward to the rest of the Summit and seeing what else I can take away from this week - not just new knowledge, but new friends and relationships that hopefully will last a long time.

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