Monday, August 29, 2011

SQL Saturday 85 for a Mid Level Business Intelligence Developer

 SQL Saturday 85 is just a little under 4 weeks away, and you if you are a Mid Level Business Intelligence Developer you maybe wondering what SQL Saturday could offer to you.  The answer is PLENTY!

“But Balls,” you say, “You’re not a Business Intelligence guy, how would you know if there is a lot to offer?”

That is an excellent point Dear Reader.  I’m not a BI Developer.  My work with cubes, SSAS, SSRS, and many things in between is slim.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve worked with it, but not to the extent that I do pure DBA work on a regular basis.  But one of the great advantages I have to putting together the schedule is that I am learning A LOT about my speakers.  And let me tell you who we have speaking.

 We have two dedicated BI tracks, an Microsoft Certified Master presenting on Parallel Data Warehouse, a SQL SSAS Maestros Instructor, Three SQL Server MVP’s presenting on BI topics, and one of the original team members that developed the Powerpivot plug-in for Excel, and Developed most of the Client.

And that isn’t to mention the Pre-Con’s!


 We have not one, not two, not three, BUT FOUR of the best Business Intelligence Experts in the game today training you in the full Business Intelligence Stack from start to finish.  These four experts are none other than SQL MVP  Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken | Blog), Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL | Blog), Bradley Schacht (@BradleySchacht | Blog), and Kyle Walker (Blog).   All four are out in the field working with clients for Pragmatic Works and doing what you do every day. But don’t take my word for it, let’s get the word from the guys.  Gentlemen what will you be covering in your pre-con?

In this full-day workshop, you'll learn from the author team of Jorge Segarra, Mike Davis, Brad Schacht, and Kyle Walker how to build a data warehouse for your company and support it with the Microsoft business intelligence platform. We'll start with how to design and data model a data warehouse including the system preparation. Then, we'll jump into loading a data warehouse with SSIS. After SSIS, you're ready to roll the data up and provide the slice and dice reporting with SSAS. The team will walk through cube development and data enrichment with things like key performance indicators, which are essential for your future dashboards. Lastly, we will cover how to report against the data warehouse with SSRS including a primer in how to write MDX queries against the SSAS cube.
Take Home Skills:
  1. Practical knowledge of building a Dimensional Model
  2. Designing a simple ETL process using SSIS
  3. Designing a Cube
  4. Designing simple SSRS Reports
  5. Building an integrated process that fully leverages the entire MS BI stack to load a Data Warehouse

Now normally if you went to a pre-con like this at the PASS Summit you would be paying hundreds of dollars.  But we are offering this Dear Reader for $99, and this includes all the tea & coffee you can drink in a day, and lunch.  As a Mid level Business Intelligence Developer come and see the experts up close.  This will be a good way to see what you can become if you work hard and keep learning.  So do not delay!  Join us on Friday September 23rd.    Click Here to go to the Full Day Business Intelligence  Pre-Con site!


So  here we are you went to the Pre-con, you got to talk to Jorge, Mike, Bradley, and Kyle up close and personal.  You are brimming with new skills, what should you tackle?

Michael Antonovich (@MPAntonovich|Blog)- Introduction to PowerPivot for Excel
Eric Wisdahl(@EricWisdah | Blog)– SSIS Data Flow Buffer Breakdown
Phillip E. Rosen(@BIwPhil) – Biz Intel Dashboards W/Excel OLAP formulas
Robert Biddle(@Robert_Biddle | Blog )– Loading a Data Warehouse with SSIS
William E. Pearson III(@Bill_Pearson ) – Becoming DAX: An Introduction...
Brian Mitchell(@brianwmitchell | Blog) – Applying FastTrack & PDW Best Practices to your Data Warehouse

I’ve had the opportunity to see Michael Antonovich present at MagicPASS, the SQL Server User Group we both call home.  And I saw this presentation.  And let me tell you that if you are not using PowerPivot by the time you are done you will understand it’s power and have a few great selling points for your boss.  After a great day of Pre-con Training where this topic will be covered, this session is icing on the SQL Cake.

Eric Wisdahl is next up, and he is covering a subject that will be advanced enough to challenge you, and pertinent enough to make you WANT to listen to everything he has to say.  He will be covering how the Buffer’s work in the internal SQL Memory and how they work with SSIS.  SSIS likes to use memory and Eric will give you some tips on how to troubleshoot your systems, and make sure the memory is being used properly.

Phillip Rosen will be covering how you utilize Dashboards and he will cover the different ways you can view them.  Saving them locally to the PC using Excel, publishing them using SharePoint, and using Excel OLAP formulas.  Before this session is done he will cover SharePoint 2010 BI Center and give you some references to continue your learning.

Robert Biddle will be covering something that is a must know in our field.  How to load a Data Warehouse using SSIS, after all you’ve got your OLTP database.  You need to put the data in a Data Warehouse, but what is the best way to go about it.  Maybe you’ve done this before, but it never hurts to get the tips and tricks from the experts.  Go check out Roberts session and walk out of it with more confidence for the next time you need to pull some SSIS tricks out of your hat.

William E. Pearson III will give you an Introduction to DAX.  Being self taught often times I find that I’m missing some fundamentals.  When I go to a SQL Saturday it is always a great opportunity to find experts in the field and see how they go about doing things.  If you already know DAX, or if you are a beginner wouldn’t you want to get your tips from a SQL Server MVP?  Well look no further because William is a SQL Server MVP.  Go to his session and walk out with the tips and tricks of an MVP under your belt.

Brian Mitchell is a Microsoft Certified Master.  Brian Mitchell is a Microsoft employee.  Brian Mitchell is a Microsoft Premier Support Field Engineer that specializes in Parallel Data Warehouse.  Maybe your company isn’t looking at PDW, maybe it is.  Either way it would not hurt to go learn what a Master has to teach.  I saw Brian at SQL Rally earlier this year and it was one of the best sessions that I sat in.  He is smart, he is quick, and he knows his stuff inside and out.  What better way to end a great day of learning than with a Master.

Okay Dear Reader,  GO Sign Up for the SQL Saturday Full Day BI Pre-Con and then Go Register for SQL Saturday 85.  I look forward to seeing you on Friday September 23rd and on Saturday September 24th for two incredible days of learning!



Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Morning Humor

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank You Pragmatic Works!

Hello Dear Reader I just wanted to say Thank You to all of the people that attended my webinar for Pragmatic Works on Tuesday.  My Slide Deck and Demo’s have been uploaded.  You can access them by going to my Resource Page at the links on the Top of the Page.

“So Balls,” you say “How did it go?”

This was the largest audience that I have ever presented to!  Almost 200 people tuned in and we kept around 190 of you for the entire time.  WOW!  200 that still brings a smile to my face, Thank You for showing that we the SQL Community are eager to learn about the technology we use every day!

The feedback I’ve gotten is has all been really positive, this is a tough subject to fit inside of 1 hour.  I know there where questions that I was not able to get to and I would encourage anyone who still has questions to use the Contact link at the top of the page to shoot me an email.  I’m slowly going through them all but I will respond to each and every one that I have received.


But the biggest thing I want to say is Thank YOU.  Thank You to the Attendees and Thank YOU to Pragmatic Works.  We wouldn’t have these webinars without your commitment to the community.  I want to thank Devin Knight (@Knight_devin | Blog ) for offering to let me be a part of one of your webinars.

I see the Pragmatic Guys out there in the community, actively teaching, writing, and participating in every SQL Community event that comes their way.  And I am honored to say that I contributed!

This was a lot of fun and I had a blast!



Monday, August 22, 2011

Presenting Today at the Pragmatic Works Webinar

Today I will be presenting a Free Training Webinar for Pragmatic Works at 11:00 am US EST.  My topic is Page & Row Compression How, Why, and When.   This will be the 8th time this year that I have done this presentation! 

And yet the topic never get’s old to me.  Compression to me is like watching Sports Center, every time you use it you find something different, something new, something that you didn’t notice the first time around. 

“So Balls”, you say, “Why did you team up with Pragmatic Works and Why should I listen to you present on Compression?”

Great Questions Dear Reader let’s dive right in! 


Since I have moved to Florida I kept hearing all these great things about a company named Pragmatic Works.  At my first SQL Saturday I met a guy named Jeremy Sirois (@JeremySirois ).  Jeremy is a Regional Account Manager for Pragmatic Works.  He’s from up North, I grew up in the Midwest.   We talked we joked around it was a fun evening.  That night I also met Brian Knight (@brianknight | Blog) for the first time.  We talked only briefly he was nice down to earth, and extremely tall.  I mean crazy tall, I’m picking him in a game of basketball tall.  So tall to dunk the ball he has to bend over tall.  I’m just saying….. the man is tall.

I soon met Adam Jorgensen (@Adam_jorgensen |Blog ), Devin Knight (@Knight_devin | Blog ) who is up to his eyeballs in beautiful baby twins right now (CONGRATULATIONS DEVIN!!), Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken | Blog), Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL | Blog), and Gareth Swanapoel (@GarethSwan | Blog).  All of these gentlemen I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to talk with, to see in action as presenters, volunteers, and experts within our community.  And I enjoyed every minute of it.  I’m thrilled that I get to hang out with such wonderful people.

But that wasn’t all Dear Reader, not only were these top notch professionals I soon found out they are Top Notch human beings, and it starts from the Top Down.  I’ll point you over to Brian Knight’s Community Manifesto at Pragmatic Works for more. 

Pragmatic Works gives away seat’s in their Webinars, not the Free ones that I’m doing, but seats in the Paying Ones to unemployed people within our community.  They work with Veterans who have served our country Bravely to give them training opportunities to learn new technical skills after they come home and transition to civilian life.  They donate their time to the Community through SQL Saturdays, and free Webinars of their own.  They team with Microsoft and I’ve seen quite a few of those same names presenting over in the beautiful Tampa Offices for Microsoft for free community events.

They are authors, they are MVP’s, they are Patriots, and they are just all around good human beings.  When I got the opportunity to participate I jumped with both feet and anytime you get the opportunity to learn from them you should jump as well.

Speaking of which Mike & Jorge are just two of the four Pragmatic Works speakers who will be teaching a full day Pre-Con for SQL Saturday in Orlando on September 23rd.  Click here to view that full day of training for only $99 (this price includes lunch, coffee, and tea)!


One of the most important things I’ve found is the steps you should take in determining what it is you should be compressing.  As a matter of fact I’ve even made a Monday Morning Checklist that you can download that will give you the steps that I would follow if I was there sitting with you trying to determine what to compress.

And all of the Scripts that you will see today are available for download on my Resources Page.  I’ve taken a lot of time to learn about this fascinating and very new technology so I can help you learn what you need to know as quickly as possible.  Personally I could spend days, and I have, just working on Compression. 

But you don’t have time for that!  You need to understand how it works so you can report on it to your Boss, but you want to make sure that you don’t learn it so quick that you end up forgetting it.  That is one of the MANY great things about Pragmatic Works is this Webinar will be online afterwards for you to download it and re-watch it.  My samples and my Deck will be Up on my website.  I will continue to blog on this topic, and you can find a lot of great ways to continue to educate yourself.  However this Webinar provides you a wonderful opportunity to ask me questions live and in person. 

And I will make you the promise that I make at every conference, if you ask me a question and I do not know the answer I will research it and I will Blog on it.  Some of the best learning I have done on the topic of Compression came after SQL Rally.  I got a lot of wonderful questions, and I scoured over all the fun things I could do with compression and I wrote on every single topic.  Don’t be afraid to ask, your question just might be the one that pushes me to keep on learning.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

SQL Saturday 85 for a Jr. DBA

SQL Saturday 85 is a little under 5 weeks away and it will be coming to you live in Sunny Orlando Florida on September the 24th.  During a planning meeting my friend and the Fearless Leader of MagicPASS, Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA | Blog), had suggested writing blogs aimed at a particular level of attendee.  Last week I took a swag at Why a Manager Should Care About SQL Saturday, and this week I thought we would shift gears and drop from the Manager level of the SQL Stack down to the Jr. DBA level.

“So Balls”, you say, “I’m a Jr. DBA why should I attend SQL Saturday?”

Great question Dear Reader let’s dive right in!


When I was in college I went to one of my professors before I graduated and I told him I was scared.  He smiled slyly and asked me what I was scared of.  To graduate I blurted out, I told him I feel like I’m standing on the Iceberg that sank the Titanic holding a snowball. That Iceberg was all of the IT knowledge in the world, and the snowball was all that I knew.  I told him it wasn’t enough, and that I was scared of what graduation would bring.  He smiled and told me that now I was ready.

I said nothing and thanked him for his time, knowing that this was some Yoda communicating to a Young Jedi kind of moment.  However, normally the Young Jedi somehow gets the sage advice.  I didn’t, I left just as nervous and I had arrived, save for one thing.  This brilliant Professor who had run his own software company, had been out in the outside world, and was an international lecturer thought I was ready.  That helped me because either I had this guy fooled, or he saw something I hadn’t yet recognized.   I’d prefer to believe the second one, and I still feel the best is yet to come.

Everyone who is currently a DBA, accidental or otherwise, started out where you are.  We all understand some of the things you have yet to learn.  We understand and have considered ideas that you will have in a few years.  The great thing about that is the places you have to learn are Legion, and the majority cost you nothing but your time.

So if you take me back to my first SQL Saturday I remember it felt all shiny and new.  I was a kid walking into Toy’s R Us all over again, and my mind was exploding with the possibilities of just how AWESOME this would be.   Then before you know it, SQL Saturday is over, you’re at an after party with a swag bag and your mind is still reeling from the greatness of the day.  From start to finish how do you make the most of it?


I would suggest you start with the Pre-Con’s.  They are only $99, and that includes lunch and all the Coffee & Tea you can drink in a day.   Take a good hard look at what you business is doing and where the most growth is and plan accordingly.   At this stage in your career if you want to go the DBA path we have a great Pre-Con with Microsoft’s Buck Woody (@buckwoody | Blog ) on SQL Server Performance Tuning Using Application Analysis. Click HERE to go to Buck’s Pre-con site!

If you are curious about Business Intelligence then I would Highly Suggest going to the Pragmatic Works Business Intelligence Workshop featuring Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken | Blog), Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL | Blog), Bradley Schacht (@BradleySchacht | Blog), and Kyle Walker (Blog).  Click Here to go to the Pragmatic Works Pre-Con site!

Pre-Con’s are a great way to get to know other folks that are attending as well as getting some time with the speakers as well.  There will be breaks, lunch, and plenty of other opportunity to meet people while getting some quality education from some top notch talent from the SQL Community.


So now we are here, it is SQL Saturday 85.  You’ve registered you’ve signed up for and attended the Pre-con of your choice.  Let’s get to the schedule.  The great thing is we are chocked full of DBA goodness., so let’s get straight to the selections.

Don Stevic – The Fundamentals of DBA-ism
Daniel Taylor – Useful tools for a DBA and or Database Developer
Nathan Heaivilin- Introduction to Execution Plans        
Chad Miller- Storing Powershell Output
Rob Volk- Revenge:The SQL!
Mike Davis-SQL Smackdown SSIS vs T-SQL                   

Don Stevic(@SQL_Superman | Blog) is a fabulous presenter.  This session is all about getting a good base fundamental knowledge as a DBA in the form of lessons learned from Don.  Don most recently presented at the MagicPASS, SQL Server User Group for Celebration Fl, and I had a chance to see Don in action at SQL Saturday 74 Jacksonville this year.  Don is a great guy and he uses a lot of pop-culture references to get some very technical ideas across.  To any DBA that hasn’t seen Don present, this is a MUST SEE.

Daniel Taylor (@DBABulldog | Blog) is a very good friend of mine.  It is my privilege to work with him every day.  He works hard, he’s damn smart, and I think he is quite funny.  Dan is one of those DBA’s that makes you better just by hanging around him.   He is a Sr. DBA and is extremely good at what he does and one of the great things Dan loves to do is figure out the best way to get the best answers as quick as possible.  This is a session that you should go to and soak up as much knowledge as you can.

Nathan Heaivilin is doing a presentation that I saw last year at SQL Saturday 49 in Orlando.  It was the second session of the day and it was great.  The last time Nathan gave this talk his wife and young child were sick and he had been up all night with them.  He walked in tired and apologized to the audience and gave what was still one of the top 3 sessions I’ve ever seen.  If you want to understand what an execution plan is, and how it can help you optimize your Database’s performance then go see Nathan!

Chad Miller (@cmille19|Blog) is a SQL Server MVP and a recipient of the Microsoft Community Contributor Award for 2011.  Chad Maintains the SQLPSX project on Codeplex.  If you are not familiar with Powershell or Chad then you should be.  Chad is a very impressive man, and he is covering how to store the output from a Powershell Script.  The formats you can store the output in, and how you get that output are things you need to know.  Powershell is only going to become more important as you become a more Senior DBA, so go get your Powershell on with Chad!

Rob Volk (@sql_r | Blog) is doing a Session called Revenge: The SQL!  This is all about how you can do cool things in SQL that will make the lives of your problematic users a proverbial hell.  You do not actually want to do these things as they could/will get you fired.  However T-SQL as a language has a lot of little tricks with it.  So go see a really awesome DBA teach you all the things you could do in SQL if you ever really wanted to mess with your users.

Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL | Blog), is closing out the show with SQL Smackdown SSIS vs T-SQL.  By this time in the day your head is spinning with all of your new SQL Knowledge.  Let’s toss in a little more by showing the sheer power of SSIS and T-SQL going head to head.  If you have never seen the this presentation you are in for a treat, Mike is an expert showman and this Session promises to launch itself off the top rope with all the power of a 450 Slam.  It should be a good old fashioned slobber knocker, T-SQL should get whipped harder than a government mule.  Come for the knowledge stay for the show, this session will be a treat!

There are 7 tracks going on so if what I pick doesn’t match what your interest is then take your choice over mine, and trust your gut.  So what are you waiting for Click HERE to Register for SQL Saturday 85 and I hope to see you there!



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I’m A Manager Why Should I Care About SQL Saturday 85

Hello Dear Reader SQL Saturday 85 is just 5 weeks away!  And while we were doing all of the preparations I came across a really great blog by Karla Landrum (@KarlaKay22 | Blog)  Who’s Attending Your SQL Saturdays?.    In conjunction with this I had a great conversation with Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA | Blog) about writing suggestions for what to attend at a SQL Saturday.

“So Balls”, you say, “You get to pick a job to blog about and the first one you pick is Managers? Lame.”

Not so fast Dear Reader.  In most cases when you have IT management they are one of three types A. non-technical and just a manager, or B. Used to be Technical and are now a manager, and very rarely you find type C. a manager and still heavily technical.

In each case this matters because you need to have a manager onboard with learning.  Bottom line.  If your manager doesn’t want people to better themselves, run and get a new job, then you end up in a spot where people are spinning their wheels.  When your manager is supportive of training opportunities then it makes all the world in advancing your career.

So let’s start out discussing why a manager should care about SQL Saturday and then I’ll propose a schedule of what they could attend.


Should I have a conversation with a manager that has never heard of SQL Saturday, and let’s say they are being difficult I would assume the conversation would be something like this. 

If you are asking “Why you should care?”  I’ve got two big words for you, FREE TRAINING. 

Their next question should be “If it’s free is it any good?”  “Yes,” I would say,” it is you have people from Microsoft coming, SQL Server MVP’s, and speakers that will be at this year’s PASS Summit that others will pay thousands to see as well.”

Okay so back to the questions, They ask “If it’s so freaking good why is it FREE?”

 “Great question!”, I reply, “The answer is it is not.”

“AH HA!”, They exclaim, “There’s a catch, it’s not free, you want something from me!”

“There is, I need your time as an attendee.  And as a non-profit we have Sponsors, in some cases paying thousands of dollars, so you can have a quality experience.  We have a staff that volunteers and works really tirelessly raising sponsorship money, contracting a venue, contacting & scheduling speakers, setting up schedules, and generally spreading the word about this event.”

“So this isn’t a second rate freebie, this is organized, it has the sponsorship of a Internationally known group that is purely for the sharing, education, and networking of SQL Server Professionals.  The group PASS, The Professional Association for SQL Server.”

At this point if they should be paying attention.  Even if they don’t like you and they are not letting on that they care about this, trust me they are probably trying to figure out how to repackage this and sell it as their idea paying attention .

So Dear Manager I would say this is an event that is Free to attendees, but it is not free.  They are nationally know, and Orlando, Tampa, and South Florida is where they originated from.  So you are getting one of the most established as well.  If you have people that work for you that are SQL Server Professionals you should encourage them to attend.  I would then encourage you to have a short meeting on Monday to get everyone’s thoughts and see what you all go out of it.


“So Balls,” you say, “You’ve sold me!  I’m off to SQL Saturday what should I see?”

First I would say go take a look at our Schedule by clicking HERE and see what we have to offer.  But here are my recommendations.

Today I want you to focus on being a Manager, and that doesn’t mean that you have to do techie Deep Dives, you can, we’ve got them if you’d like to.  But there is a lot you can learn just by still being true to the job you do every day.

Here’s the lineup
Andy Warren – Building a Professional Development Plan

Janis Griffin- Performance Management-2008 MDW- How & Why

Rob Collie- PowerPivot: BI & Massive Data Analysis for Humans

Norm Bowen- Data Conversions Steps, Tips, and Best Practices

William E. Pearson III- Becoming DAX: An Introduction…

Jorge Segarra- Policy-Based Management in a Nutshell

Andy Warren is one of the co-founders of, don’t know what that is?  Just ask your DBA’s.  He founded the concept of SQL Saturday’s, he is on the PASS Board of Directors.  If you where ever going to gleam insights of how to manage SQL Server DBA’s and how to encourage their career growth this is the man you would get that from.

Janis Griffin will be presenting on a topic called MDW or Management Data Warehouse.  This is a FREE, included feature if you are already paying for an Enterprise level license.   If you aren’t already paying for a 3rd party software product to do this same task, this will help you get a better understanding of how SQL Server can be leveraged to manage itself.

Rob Collie will be talking about Power Pivot and it is a very hot topic right now.   If you aren’t using this already you will be.  If your business users aren’t already clamoring for this they will be.  Go sit in his session.

Norm Bowen is covering Best Practices for upgrades and conversions.  Something every Manager of a DBA team should be concerned about.  Go get some great tips based off of personal experience.

Bill Pearson is presenting on DAX, and it may sound funny but it is all about the language that is used in side of SQL Server Analysis Services to ask the really detailed questions.  You don’t need to be a guru, but when you are Interviewing for that BI position this could give you some good questions to ask.

Jorge Segarra co-wrote the book on Policy Based Management.  As a manager you look for quicker and easier ways to do thing.  PRESTO!  Policy Based Management.  Jorge will show you how you can literally manage hundreds of servers with this tool.  It was rolled out in SQL 2008 and every DBA should be using this.

Well Dear Reader as always Thanks Again for Reading!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MagicPASS This Week!

Hello Dear Reader, it is the Time of the Month once again for MagicPASS.  This month Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA | Blog ) has lined up two absolutely Awesome presentations for us.  Fresh of off a successful presentation down at SQL Saturday 79 we have Don Stevic (@SQL_Superman | Blog).

I met Don over Twitter several months ago and hit it off with him right away.  He is a great guy, and at SQL Saturday 74 up in Jacksonville I was able to see him present.  Don has a background in theater and it translates to a smooth easy style in his presenting.  He is funny, engaging, and as always very informative.  If you get a chance to stop by you are in for a treat!  Speaking of Chances if you like Don and would like to see him present again, he'll be presenting at SQL Saturday 85 in Orlando on Saturday September 24th!

So Don what do you have planned for us?

Featured Presentation
The Art of the Trace
Speaker: Don Stevic

Summary: Have you ever been asked to troubleshoot an issue and then learned it happened a few days ago, and they wanted an root cause by 5PM? Have users complained that the "Slowness" has been plaguing them all day, but by the time you are told, you can't find a bottleneck? If you have and couldn't find answers, you need Server Side Traces. In this session, I will take you through the creation of a process to setup server side trances, and how to use them to baseline and protect your servers.

About Don: Born in New Jersey, moved to South Florida in 1980 been working my way north slowly. It has taken me 30 years to get to Orlando. I have been a mild-mannered DBA for about 6 years now, and I was an accidental DBA for 4 years prior to that. I am married to a wonderful woman, with three Super kids. When Im not out saving the world one stored proc at a time, I co-own a comic book store.

Pre-Meeting Presentation
You're Not Attractive - But Your Presentations Can Be 
(Video replay from 2010 PASS Summit DVDs)
Summary:  Come hear Buck Woody (Microsoft's Real World DBA) and Brent Ozar (SQL Server Certified Master) explain how they make high scores at presentations. It's not luck, charm or (surprisingly) good looks - there are tips and tricks you can use to make your own presentations rock. With Buck and Brent in the same room it's much like Forest's Box of Chocolates, but you're sure to learn more about presentation techniques that you can extract into your own style.

I’ve listened to the Buck Woody (@buckwoody | Blog) and Brent Ozar (@BrentO | Blog) presentation several times.  If you are a presenter, or are considering starting to present this is a MUST listen to presentation, that will make you better  at what we do right away.

So head over to Stetson University in beautiful Celebration FL, and have an incredible time with two great presentations.

Hope to see you there Dear Reader!



Tuesday Morning Humor: SQL Saturday 79

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Monday, August 15, 2011

SQL Saturday 79 Recap – (THANK YOU SQL SATURDAY 79)

It is hard to believe that SQL Saturday 79 has come and gone.  It was held in the Beautiful Carl DeSantis Building on Nova Southeastern University.  The day started out with a 3:30 am wake up.  I wanted to make sure that I had everything posted on the blog before I headed down so if anyone was looking for downloads or slides I could send them to the Resource Page for it.  After a quick shower and grabbing a cup of coffee for the ride, I hit the road about 4:30 am. 

The trip down is 187 miles from the new house in Winter Haven to Nova Southeastern, with registration starting at 7:30 and the keynote at 8 I wanted to make sure to be there in plenty of time.  It was a nice drive down, I always like watching the sun rise in the car.  I used to see it all time during the drive in to DC & on vacations driving from Virginia to Florida before the move down here.   So with the start of a beautiful day and a peaceful drive, I get to the parking garage and run into my good friend Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA | Blog) on the way into the building. 

After finding registration, finding Coffee, and the restrooms it was off to the speaker room to get a Speaker Shirt.  I don’t normally spend a lot of time in the Speaker room.  I love to meet new people at SQL Saturday’s, but I didn’t make it down for the Speaker Dinner the night before so this was a nice chance to meet some of the other Speakers like Mike Hillwig (@mikehillwig | Blog), Herve Roggero (@hroggero | Blog)  , Bradley Schacht (@bradleyschacht | Blog) and it was a chance to say Hi to others that I’ve met before.  Andy Warren (@SQLAndy | Blog), Mike Davis (@MikeDavisSQL | Blog),  Mike Antonovich (@MPAntonovich| Blog ), Jose Chinchilla (@SQLJoe | Blog), Rodney Landrum (@SQLBeat | Blog), and Thomas LaRock (@SQLRockStar | Blog).

Tom LaRock made my day by remembering me.  I have been very lucky and fortunate to meet some really awesome people in the SQL Community.  There are a lot of people that I’ve gotten to hang out with on a regular basis (point’s to the list of names up above), that I just grin ear to ear thinking about.   It wasn’t that long ago that I set in one of Tom’s sessions for SQL Saturday 49, and later read Noel McKinney’s(@NoelMcKinney | Blog) Blog about it.  At the time thinking I want to get in on this, I want to present, I want to blog, I want to take the next step in my life as a DBA.   And now I say “Hi Tom I’m Brad Ba…”, and he say’s “Hi Brad I remember meeting you before.”  Awesome.

“So Balls,” you say “We get it your there, speakers are there, your gushing like a 14 year old at a Justin Bieber Concert, What about the SESSIONS?”

Well Dear Reader, I missed the first one because I was reviewing all my presentations, cutting some material and adding a little more to others.  But after that, I jumped right in!


Rodney is a SQL MVP and has been working with SQL Server for over 12 years.  There are four letters that describe Rodney’s T-SQL Alphabet Soup, no none of the dirty ones, A.W.L.D.    A is for Awesome, W wait for it, L Ledgend ……. D DAIRY.   Ahhh…..Barney Stintson would be so proud.

I would normally blog details, but Rodney’s Presentation is very interactive and a lot of fun.  He goes one letter at a time and asks the audience to guess what command he will use.  This is a great mental exercise for those of us that use SQL, and it is a lot of fun to participate in.   And it will be one of the presentations given at SQL Saturday 85 J , CLICK HERE to look at the full line up for that great event.

My Early Birds! We had another 15 minutes to fill the room after this picture!

Compression is a great topic.  Pictured above is my room as people started coming in 15 minutes before the session started.  I had one of the best crowds I’d ever had.  We cover a lot when I do this presentation, and I had a great group of people. By the time the presentation got started we had almost filled the room.  People asked questions, we had a really good back and forth.

The main thing that I tell people is that when you apply Compression you do not want to do it blindly.  I have a Monday Morning Checklist on my Resources Page and it lists all the steps you can take to determine the tables in your database that are candidates for compression.   I like to think of Compression the way that you would Indexes.  You wouldn’t just toss an index on a table and never check to see if it effected your query plans/query response times, over head for different operations (updates/inserts), or if the data was actually worth indexing.  And Compression needs the same consideration to make sure you do it right.

Compression is also very Dynamic, with the way that Allocation Units work within tables, Indexes, and Partitions you can apply Compression in a lot of different ways and we cover the full gambit.  This was a great start on the presentations and I want to say a BIG Thank You to everyone who attended this was a lot of fun to present and you were a great crowd!


Lunch was served by Azteca Real Mexican Restaurants and it was delicious.  The line was vast, the picture you see above is after waiting for 30 minutes and then going to the back of the line, the sever table was on the opposite end from me.  There were a lot of people to feed and the SQL Saturday team did a great job of getting everyone fed, with hefty portions. 

Quick thinking on their part led them to open a line on either side of the serving table to get the crowd through as quickly as possible.  I chatted with folks in line, sat with Serge & Javier (two new acquaintances) and talked about the emergence of Business Intelligence, the free training offered by the Great Folks over at Pragmatic Works on a weekly basis, and a whole host of other topics.

With my stomach full it was off to see a SQL Rockstar!


I can’t speak for you Dear Reader, but I’m seeing a lot of Virtualization going on.  There are some databases that will not translate well, that must have physical hardware.  But these databases are normally the exception and not the rule.  We all know that Virtualization is a great way to reduce your footprint, go green, yadda yadda yadda. 

So you’ve gone Virtual, now what.  Now you are still going to have users coming up to you saying “The Application is running slow, can you fix the database?”  And you will still need to ask the same questions.  Slow compared to what?  Do you have baselines, do you know how your server is behaving, Do you know how your Host & Virtualized instance are working in tandem? 

Ah I got you with the last one, and Tom got me as well.  Tom does a great job of stepping through the different pain points that you have, CPU, Memory, Disk I/O, and Network Latency.  These are all very important things to consider, after all they were important when it was just Physical Hardware.  Now you have virtualized Hardware don’t you want to make sure that you know what is going on?

The presentation is shaped around VM Ware.  The terminology is specific to it and if you are running VM Ware and have Server Engineers talking about crazy sounding stuff like ESX Hosts, then you need to know crazy things like VM Ready Time, Reservations, Limits, and Shares.  You need to know that Swapping and Ballooning can be bad, and if you understand how SQL Server uses memory it translates pretty quick.

Tom talks about his (Patten Pending) BMFF Best Metric Friend Forever.  And when it comes to troubleshooting your VM’s these are things you need to know.  If your working with Hyper-V this is still a great presentation to attend because it will get you thinking about the questions you should be asking, and the terminology that you should be learning to better support your environment.


I’ve worked a lot with Transparent Data Encryption.  It is a great technology and was a great addition to SQL Server 2008.  It is a very simple technology to turn on and off.  And like my friend Colossus to the left it affects the Physical Structure only.

During this presentation one of the cool thing we do is taking an unencrypted backup tossing it into a Hex editor and looking at the data you can start to pull out.  The fact is there is a lot of meta data and header information, but there is also all of your other data stored in plain text.

Then take that same database, apply Transparent Data Encryption, back it up, and place that backup in a Hex Editor.  Aside from some header information that cannot be encrypted so that SQL can still read it, the difference is like night and day.

We do that in this session and then I cover some tips on how to automate the backup and on disk management of your Certificates as well as the impact this will have on Advanced Features such as Mirroring and Log shipping, as well as the additional considerations you should account for when planning your DR strategy.

Once again a very interactive crowd, and a very BIG Thank You to everyone who attended!   Some of the most gratifying moments of the day came in the conversations after this session and my next one.


3rd Presentation of the Day we are now in the Home Stretch
This was the first time I had done this presentation.  My good friend Kendal Van Dyke sat in and gave me some great pointers for the next time I do this, and I’m really excited for next time.

I think this is the year where a lot of things clicked for me and I grew the most as a DBA.  I remember reading Paul Randal’s (@PaulRandal | Blog ) about the internal contents of a Page a couple years ago.  And it took me several reads to process it to the point I could make flash cards on it.  This year the internal make up of a Page has become familiar like the view out of a window.   And as I’ve continued on with learning I’ve noticed that there are a lot of things that come up time and time again.

Sometimes I stop and go, “How have I lived my WHOLE DBA life and not known this!”  So this presentation is not about becoming an expert at internals.  It is about getting to the point where you can start that journey.  In it we covered ACID, SQL’s Internal Components, the Data Hierarchy, Transaction Log Internals, Recovery Models, how Recovery Models relate to SLA’s & DR scenarios, the different types of Backups, and what a Piecemeal Restore really does. 

I had a LOT of great questions.  And even though I was able to answer all of them I think a lot of them deserve follow up blogs.  I pointed people repeatedly to the great free resources that are out there, How Do You Learn & Top 5 Reasons You Should Be On Twitter, and encouraged them to do free and paid training where they can.  The point was to better themselves, which is always a good thing.

Another BIG Thank You to everyone who attended this presentation.  I had a great time, and really appreciated all the questions.  After this presentation I had someone come up to me and say "I've been learning on topic X and the way you explained it everything just clicked and I got it."  That is one of the best thing's I've ever been told after a presentation!


And with that Dear Reader we called it a day.  I sat and talked with Kendal, Andy, and Mike and watched as the raffles began.  It was around 5 pm, a little under 12 hours since I had awoke, and I decided to call it a day, with a 3 hour car ride and another 187 miles to home.  I got some Tweets about the after party, and I wish I had made it.  Maybe next year we will make a family vacation out of this, or even better just me and Mrs. Balls, so we can stay a little longer.

This was a great event and a great day despite all the difficulties the team hit during the day (10 speakers no showed the event)!  We had a lot of great people that filled slots, the team worked tirelessly to get it all pulled together, and by the end of the day I saw a lot of smiling faces.

I Can’t wait till next year.  Now off to SQL Saturday 85 in Orlando September 24th J!

As Always Thanks for Reading!