SQL Saturday Madison (118) Top Ten List

I have a habit of posting Top Ten Lists after SQL events. I hereby continue said habit. As always, these are not really in any particular order. And also, as always, there were cool things that could not make this list due to limitations of the number Ten. A huge thank you to all the fine humans who worked so hard to make this happen and the sponsors for dropping some coins in the mighty fountain of learning.

Behold, my Top Ten list for the SQL Saturday (SQLSat118) this past weekend in Madison, WI.

10. Carpooling

CarpoolWhen I indicated that I was headed out to SQLSat118, a fellow member of PASSMN messaged me on Twitter to ask if I wanted to carpool. That fine fellow was Mr. Mike Donnelly ( b | t ). I didn’t know Mike much at all. We had just seen each other at PASSMN meetings, and such. It turns out that he didn’t try to sell me to any drug cartels or anything. He is a very cool guy and I had a lot of fun driving with him and hanging out with him in and around the event itself.


9. New Presenter

Mr. Donnelly was giving his first full length presentation at SQLSat118. It was the first session of the day for me, called SSIS: Figuring Out Configuring. He talked about the use of xml configuration files in SSIS 2008 R2 and also discussed some of the new configuration options in SSIS 2012. He also demonstrated how to easily convert a solution from “package deployment” to “project deployment” in SSIS 2012. Mike really did a fine job. I honestly could not tell that he was really new to presenting as he stayed relaxed and had fun with it. Bravo, Mike.

8. SSIS 2012 New Features

Ever since I attended my first SQL Saturday (in Chicago) a few years ago and met Norman Kelm ( b | t ), I have made it a point to attend his SSIS sessions. I find his knowledge of SSIS to be impressive. This time around he discussed new features in SSIS 2012. There was some great discussion in that session, for sure.

7. Minimal Processing For Large Cubes

I attended this session by Ross McNeely ( linkedin ) being a bit of a newbie to SSAS. I am really glad I did. Ross has created a very cool framework that assesses each partition in your cube to determine the what type of processing it needs. Partitions that can be processed using Process Add are done that way. Only partitions that NEED Process Update get that more intense treatment. I haven’t had to deal with any processing headaches yet, but I found his framework to be really flexible and robust. Great session.

6. Performance Monitoring and Tuning in SSAS

I attended this session by mighty Steve Hughes ( b | t ) directly after my own session (which I will get to later). This was a bit of an advanced session, particular with my being pretty new to SSAS. Steve’s relaxed and fun delivery style is always a good time, though. And I didn’t come away empty handed. I learned how to monitor when MDX queries are hitting the cache and when they’re not, letting me know what queries need a little help. But the biggest thing I learned in that session was that I have a lot to learn before I can even begin approach the level of experienced SSAS folks like Steve. But don’t tell him I said that; I’ll never hear the end of it…

5. Data Visualizations in Reporting Services

I spent the last session of the day with MVP Stacia Misner ( b | t ) and Reporting Services. Indicators, Data Bars, and Sparklines, Oh My. Stacia demonstrated the configuration of each of these as well as maps. She also covered some visualization design practices, including what NOT to do. Can you say 3D? I agree totally that 3D visualizations defy the basic tenet of a report: Above All, Show The Data. It’s great to learn from experts like Stacia that I don’t get to see very often.

4. Life is Like a Box Of Chocolates

While hanging out a bit before the speaker dinner on Friday night, the great Erin Stellato ( b | t ) opened up a box of chocolates and offered me one. I immediately popped it into my mouth all in one piece. Apparently, that was a breach of protocol. I learned that you MUST bite the chocolate in half and share info about what kind of chocolate it is. I had never encountered this law of the universe. From now on, whenever I have myself a chocolate, I shall think of Erin (and furtively pop the whole dang thing into my mouth, probably).

3. Coffee

We don’t have Dunkin Donuts here in Minnesota. Having grown up in New England where they are EVERYWHERE, I miss their coffee big-time. On the drive back, Mike and I hit a DD just outside of Madison. So good. (sigh)Dunkin Donuts Coffee

2. SQL People

I have said this before and I will say it again. The people of the SQL community are JUST AWESOME. I spent a lot of time hanging out with really excellent folks. Just sitting around chatting with people I respect and like was just such a great part of the experience. If you find yourself attending a SQL Saturday or other similar event, I IMPLORE you to go introduce yourself to people. You won’t regret it.

1. MDX Trek: First Contact

I have to mention my own session here. I have been overwhelmed with how well-received my MDX Trek: First Contact session was. The comments I received on the evaluations, on Twitter, and face to face, have all been amazingly positive. I worked very hard on preparing that presentation, so the fact that it has had such an impact is just really uplifting. Thanks to everyone who attended.