Month: June 2010

July PASSMN Meeting

Dude! Itzik Ben-Gan… Dig it!

Start Date/Time:
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:00 PM

End Date/Time:
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:00 PM

Query Tuning Tips with Itzik Ben-Gan

Meeting sponsor: Digineer

Location: 8300 Norman Center Drive, 9th Floor, Bloomington, MN  55437

Live Meeting

·         URL:*ZR%248%25%2Fd

·         Meeting ID: 7DGRT6

·         Entry Code: h*ZR$8%/d


5:00 –5:15 : Announcements
5:15 –5:25 : Sponsor
5:25 –6:45 : Query Tuning Tips (Itzik)
6:45 –7:00 : Survey Collection and Giveaways


Query Tuning Tips

Given a SQL Server querying problem there’s much that you can do to enable a good performing solution. Tuning involves arranging an optimal physical environment, e.g., by creating supporting indexes, as well as writing the query in a way that it would get an optimal execution plan. Many factors can affect the efficiency of the solution including the availability of indexes, data distribution and density, and others. In different scenarios, a different solution could be the most efficient for the same querying problem. Query tuning could be considered an art. This session will provide various tips to do efficient query tuning and demonstrate those through specific tuning examples.

Itzik Ben-Gan is a Mentor and Co-Founder of Solid Quality Mentors. A SQL Server Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) since 1999, Itzik has delivered numerous training events around the world focused on T-SQL Querying, Query Tuning and Programming. Itzik is the author of several books including Microsoft SQL Server 2008: T-SQL Fundamentals, Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2008: T-SQL Querying and Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2008: T-SQL Programming. He has written many articles for SQL Server Magazine as well as articles and whitepapers for MSDN. Itzik’s speaking activities include TechEd, DevWeek, SQLPASS, SQL Server Magazine Connections, various user groups around the world, and Solid Quality Mentors’ events to name a few. Itzik is the author of Solid Quality Mentors’ Advanced T-SQL Querying, Programming and Tuning and T-SQL Fundamentals courses along with being a primary resource within the company for their T-SQL related activities..

PASSMN June Meeting: What’s New In SSRS 2008 R2

I have been lax in promoting my local SQL users group, so here goes. Oh, by the way, it’s Lara’s fault that I am a SQL Server consultant. Thanks Lara!

June PASSMN Meeting & Newsletter
Sponsored by Magenic

There will be books, shirts and other swag at the end of the meeting!

Location:    8300 Norman Center Drive, 9th Floor, Bloomington, MN  55437
Date:     June 15th, 2010
Time:    3:00 – 5:30

Please click here for meeting details and to RSVP.

Registration has changed with the move from our previous hosting site and you will be required to log into in order to register for our events. If you have any issues with this, please contact

What’s New in SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services

Lara Rubbelke (Twitter | Blog), Microsoft

Amp up your Reporting Services with the many great enhancements in SQL Server 2008 R2. Lara will take you on a tour of all that is new in R2 including collaboration features, new visualizations, rendering enhancements, and new data sources. After this session you will wonder why they call R2 an "interim" release!

Questions for presenters?
If you have any questions you would like our presenter to answer in the meeting, feel free to submit them ahead of time to or to any of the board members before the meeting. All question askers will be kept anonymous.

Other News
•       Live Meeting
   o    Beginning in 2010 meeting, you will now be able to join monthly meetings virtually through Live Meeting. This is a great opportunity to stay connected that has been provided to us by PASS.
•       SQL Azure Presentation
   o   Presented by Mike Benkovich at Twin Cities Cloud Computing User Group (TCCCUG)
   o   July 8th, 2010
   o   Click Here for more information
•       PASS Summit 2010
   o    Registration for PASS Summit 2010 is now open. Register for only $1,395 until June 30. Tap into your 2009 or 2010 training budgets to take advantage of the low rate for PASS Summit.

Exam: 70-448 SQL 2008 BI Dev and Maintenance

In conjunction with my professional development plan, on June 1st I took the 70-448 exam: SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance, which I passed. Hazzah!

With most of my SQL Server career involving SSIS and SSRS, I  felt comfortable in those areas. I have only done a little bit of SSAS, so I knew that was where my prep needed focus. I ended up using the Microsoft Press Self-Paced Training Kit as my main preparation tool. I read pretty much all of it, making sure to learn more about SSIS and SSRS tools and techniques I had not played with. For the SSAS areas, I also performed all of the hands on practice exercises. This helped a lot in making up for not having a lot of SSAS experience. Overall, I found this book to be a very good prep tool and would recommend it to others who are looking to take the 70-448 exam. Also, I found the exam had really good balance between SSIS, SSRS, and SSAS. I had heard from colleagues that the 2005 version was not as well balanced.

In passing the exam (by a much better margin than I expected), I accomplished my main goal for taking it: measuring how much I have learned in the BI space. And I picked up a new MCTS cert in the process. Not a bad day.

Now that this exam, and the prep for it, are behind me, I am digging deeper into SQL 2008 R2. I just set up my Windows 7 laptop to dual boot Server 2008 R2. I set up Hyper V and have a VM with SQL Server 2008 R2 installed and configured. Looking forward to digging in. A Sharepoint colleague also sent me the link to the 2010 Information Worker Demonstration and Evaluation Virtual Machine (RTM). I will be using that to play with the new SSRS features of R2 that related to Sharepoint 2010.

Mmmmmmmm….more learning…mmmmmmmm

No Presenting, Please

When I walked into class on the first day of Acting II at the University of New Hampshire, the chalk board at the front of the room was empty except for three words: “No acting, please.” Yeah. This was an acting class. At first, this made no sense to me, but soon it was crystal clear. Our teacher, David Kaye, taught us if you are truly connected to your character and the scene, then “acting” gets in the way. The key is to be so open to your character that you don’t need to act. If your character is terrified, and you are fully committed to what you are doing, then you ARE terrified. This is achieved through researching the material/character/setting and rehearsal: homework. I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned a great deal about presenting in that room.

When I present, I try to keep a conversational tone. I don’t want to talk at my audience. I want to connect with them. If I’ve done my homework and know the material, if I have rehearsed, then I can focus on sharing the material instead of reading it from my slides. Rehearsal also helps you stay comfortable and avoid speaking too fast due to nerves (done that one). It can be hard, but it is totally worth it when your audience sees how relaxed you are and how much fun you are having. This audience comment from an evaluation of a presentation I did shows that this effort makes a difference:

Good presentation skills – like the "breezy" style

Keeping things relaxed also allows me to pepper in some humor here and there. That can help a lot, too. Sitting through overtly serious, monotone presentations can be painful. I don’t want to do that to anyone. Now, for me, planned humor is a real challenge. I did Improvised Comedy in college and it was perfect for me. I can’t tell jokes to save my life; I would be horrid on Last Comic Standing. But, what I can do is come up with one liners off the cuff. That works for me. But whatever works for you, be it funny images in your slide deck or a well timed rubber chicken, try to work some humor into your presentations if you can. It can pay off, as this audience comment shows:

Good sense of humor!!   Very nice presentation.

Another aspect of the “No acting, please” lesson has to do with honesty. If you really commit to your character, then you show the audience that you believe in what you are doing and they are far more likely to come along for the ride. In terms of presenting, for me that means being open about what I know and what I don’t know. Nothing wrecks credibility like making sh!t up. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I am honest about that. But I don’t just say “I don’t know” and move on. If I don’t know, then I make the effort to point them in the right direction or have them contact me afterward so I can try to track down their answer. This helps a lot, in my opinion, as this audience comment shows:

Let us know what he did and did not know about the subject!

Whether I am presenting at clients or at a user group, etc, I try to keep keep the above in mind. The feedback I have gotten from clients has been great. My presentations at the Minnesota chapter of PASS have gone over really well, too, both averaging 4.4 our of 5 on the audience evaluations. This success is not because I have presented humteen million times or because I wear bright yellow pants, but rather because I have a strategy that works for me.

My advice to new presenters is to find a strategy that works for you. If any of the above work for you, do it. If bright yellow pants work for you, wear them. If it helps you to picture your audience in their Fruit of the Looms, go for it (but, take my word for it: don’t stare). Whatever you need to do to keep things relaxed and fun, bring it.  Share what you have to say like you are showing something really cool to a friend. Above all though, don’t force it. No presenting, please.