Tag: sqlkaraoke

SQL Saturday Chicago (119) Top Ten List

As is my custom following a SQL event, I hereby release my SQL Saturday Chicago Top Ten List. And, as always, these are in no particular ranking order and some really cool things could not make this list due to limitations of the number Ten.

10. 6 of 1…

This year, like last year, I rode with some really great folks. Jason Strate (b|t) drove, and brought his awesome wife Sarah Strate (b|t) who volunteered at the PASS table. Jason brought fellow Digineerians Chris Fish (t), Joe Tempel (t), Eric Strom and my very own self, whose blog you now read with rapt joy. I have to say, I was looking forward to the drive with such fine humans just as much as anything. I had a lot of fun talking and laughing with them on the trek. And Jason once again proved he is a successful driver as we didn’t crash even once.

9. Speaker Dinner

The speaker dinner on Friday night was at Dave and Buster’s. There was pool and shuffle-board and general laughing and hanging out. These are always fun and just build up even more excitement for the event itself.

8. Un-Hacking My Blog

I found out Thursday night, just before heading to bed that my blog had been hacked. My home page was replaced with an announcement of the hack and some political statements of varying levels of popularity in different parts of the world. Given that the timing was such that I was about to present at a SQL Saturday, typically resulting in a bit of a bump in traffic to my blog, and the fact that it is about the time that the PASS Summit Program Committee could be looking over my blog as a factor in whether to accept a session from me, I must confess that I uttered a few expletives. But at the same time, it was really quite funny and became a bit of a running joke throughout the weekend. Anyway, after the speaker dinner on Friday night, Eric Strom helped me out in un-hacking it. To the credit of the hacker, it was not malicious. I didn’t lose anything. All they did was replace my home page. So, recovery was quite simple.

7. My MDX Trek: First Contact Session

I gave my MDX Trek: First Contact presentation during the first slot of the day. Once again, I was overwhelmed by the great folks in Chicago and the feedback I received. It means a lot when something I worked so hard on ends up really helping people understand a complex topic. So many people have told me that my way of explaining MDX and the cube space just made it click for them. Helping people learn is such a huge part of my aspirations for my career. Knowing that I am accomplishing that is just awesome.

By the way, if there is a topic you want to learn about, write a presentation on it. You do not need to be an expert to present on a topic. You learn a lot by putting these things together.

6. Performance Tuning 2012 SSIS Data Loads

Hope Foley (b|t) gave a presentation on the awesomeness that is SSIS 2012. I found out after from Hope that she did this presentation as a challenge to herself since she did not do a lot of SSIS. If you want to learn something, present on it. Hope did a great job and set an awesome example of the “present to learn” ideal.

5. Kama Sutra of SSIS: A Guide to Loving ETL

In this fine session, Bill Fellows (b|t) showed some great tips and tricks for using SSIS well. Even dealing with a bit of a hardware failure just before the session, Bill did a great job giving a fun and informative presentation. Not only that, but he gave out candy. I like candy.

4. SQL Server 2012 Column Store Index

I knew very little about Column Store indexes before this fine session by Kevin Boles (t). Kevin did a great job explaining how they work and how they apply to data warehousing. He discussed the ups and downs of using them. He then demonstrated how they work and the awesomesauce they can bring. I definitely need to dig into these more.

3. Advancements in CDC in SSIS 2012

In this presentation by Mike Donnelly (b|t), I learned how new features of SSIS 2012 make CDC just awesomely easy. Mike did a great job explaining how to use them and showing how easy they are to use. Mike has only presented a few times before, but it doesn’t really show. He really does a fine job like someone who has presented many times before.

2. After Party

SQL Saturday after parties I have been to have been just a total blast. This one was no exception. As usual for Chicago, this one featured SQL Karaoke. What a blast this is. Hanging out and laughing and some people singing, and other people doing something that could NEVER EVER be confused with singing. Just awesome.

1. SQL People

I hung out with some people this time around that I never really spent time with before. A few of us sat chatting until almost 3am. Yeah. That’s the awesomeness that is the SQL community.


SQL Saturdays are just awesome. I implore you to make an effort to go to one if you haven’t before. It still amazes me how welcoming people are. The phrase “SQL Family” is totally accurate.

PASS Summit 2011 Top Ten List

After I come back from an event, whether I presented or not, I like to write up a Top Ten List of my experience. These are not necessarily ranked in order of importance; they were all cool. And there were awesome experiences that could not make the list due to limitations of the number Ten.



10. Guidebook App

Mobile phone users (aka anyone with a pulse) were able to use an app called a Guidebook to track the schedule, speakers, exhibitors, etc. This meant that I was able to easily build my own schedule of the sessions I wanted to attend as well as fill out my evaluations online. There were configurable reminders to make sure I didn’t forget something I had put on my schedule. It was also easy to keep track of any updates to the schedule during the event. Especially for a noob like me, this app was awesome.

9. SQLKaraoke

SQLKaraoke is just fun. When you’re not singing, you get to hang out with really cool people. I have a background in Theater and Improvised Comedy, so SQLKaraoke is a total blast for me. Since I’m well…a little different, I actually use SQLKaraoke as a networking tool. I like to make up SQL-related spoofs and even do an impression or two. This time around, I ended up performing The Bangles Eternal Flame as Gilbert Gottfried. Yeah. It was pretty silly. But it ended up being a huge boon in terms of networking. People who I have long followed and respect were introducing themselves to me instead of the other way around. I was “the karaoke guy.” Bottom line: be creative in your networking. Creative use of your strengths can pay off really well for meeting new people.

8. Women In Technology Luncheon – Make Yourself HeardLadiesRoomSign

This was totally a great way to meet girls. <pause>

Seriously though, this is an event really designed to help women continue to gain more traction in the workplace. Things are certainly a lot better than they used to be (my wife just started watching Mad Men), but I think we can all agree that true equality isn’t there yet. I was excited to see there were a LOT of men in there (and not just to meet girls). The wisdom shared by the panel is applicable to everyone. It was just a great experience.


7. Exhibitor Hall

I’m a nerd. I like hardware and software. I like stuff. There was all of that in here. You know the old saying, “run around like a kid in a candy store?” Well, this was more like a mall full of candy stores. Mmmmmmmm.

6. Peoples

A huge part of the Summit is networking. Meeting other people. I met so many awesome SQL professionals from around the world. It was just unreal how friendly people were. First Timers, like myself, were made to feel so welcome. I spent meals, walks (there was a LOT of walking), evenings, some events, just meeting and chatting with great folks. There were too many fantastic people to list.

5. “Preventing the Oh, Poop! Reporting Situation.”

SQL Server MVP Jessica Moss (Blog | Twitter) delivered this session. She demonstrated the out-of-the-box methods that Reporting Services provides for tracking the performance of your reports. This included how to determine that a report returned no rows (CEO’s LOVE that, right?). She also demonstrated a cool meta-report solution (reports about reports) you can use to keep an eye on things. It was cool to see a presentation about Report management to complement the ones about building them.

4. A Little Help From My Friends

My friend, Jes Schultz Borland (Blog | Twitter), gave a session called “Reporting Services 201: From Basic To WOW!” She gave some great tips on report authoring and really explained the Tablix well for anyone that was new to it. She discussed features such as the Tooltip and the NoRows message. These are things that are easily overlooked but can really enhance the user experience when implemented well. Squeeeeee! (translation of “Squee”: Hi, my name is Jes and I presented at the Summit!)

My friend, Doug Lane (Blog | Twitter), gave a session called “Developers Are From Mars, Report Servers Are From Venus.” Mr. Lane gave some valuable tips and tricks on Reporting Services through the lens of a marriage. He included the “mother-in-law always comes along” feature of the extra pages you sometimes get in SSRS and how you can often solve that with the ConsumeContainerWhiteSpace property.


NOTE: This image has nothing to do with this post. But, it’s cool so I put it in anyway.

3. Dr. David DeWitt: “Big Data – What is the Big Deal?”

On Friday, Dr. DeWitt gave his keynote, this time on Big Data. As stated earlier, my background is in Theater and Improvised Comedy. I cannot remember any of my acting classes in involving huge quantities of data. And, never having dealt with VLDBs at all in my career, the concepts related to Big Data were pretty new to me. But here is the thing: I understood this keynote. That surprised me. I expected to get lost pretty quickly. Rather, I was able to follow along due to the excellent way in which Dr. DeWitt explained it. This was not merely a presentation on Big Data, it was also a master class in how to be a great presenter.

2. BISM (BI Semantic Model)

I have done a lot of work with Report Models and enjoy dealing with tools that can enable end users. I am excited to deal with BISM and help people get their own data. Why give people a fish when you can plant a potato? Wait… Yeah. You certainly don’t plant the fish…

1. Power View (Project Crescent)

Along the lines of letting users get their own data is the fabulous Power View (formerly known as Crescent). This thing is friggin cool. That’s totally industry speak, by the way. The idea of Two Clicks To ROI is just a great way to make things easy. Essentially, no feature in Power View is more than two clicks away. It is just so easy to use and gorgeous to behold. I can’t wait to really get in and play with this fabulous tool. Keep in mind that it complements the existing tools; it does not replace any of them.


The PASS Summit was an amazing experience. If you ever get the chance to go, grab onto it with both hands.

SQL Saturday Chicago Top Ten List

This past weekend, I attended the amazing SQL Saturday event in Chicago. I also had the tremendous honor of presenting this time around. The entire experience was fantastic. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who worked so hard to make this event happen. Here is my top ten list:

10. A 3-pack of Hanes white cotton T-shirts + a black Sharpie = SWAG. On a whim, after the spSwageaker dinner on Friday night, I decided I needed swag to give away during my session. One trip to Walmart and a few moments of sketching later, I had 3 genuine, hand crafted, MarkVSQL shirts. One recipient called my shirts the “greatest swag ever.” #awesomeshirt

9. Doug Lane (blog | Twitter) built a really cool solution using SSIS to achieve Data Driven Subscription functionality without the need for Enterprise Edition. I love really creative uses for SSIS and cannot wait to play with this. On top of that, I was meeting Doug in person for the first time. He’s a really cool guy. If you get a chance to hang with him or mow his lawn or something, go for it.

8. This one I had already seen when I attended last year’s SQL Saturday Chicago: The SQL community in and around the Windy City is vibrant and fun. The attendees for my session were great and I had such an awesome time presenting.

Not everyone had the great experience I did, though. A tiny number of people (1 that I know of) need to keep in mind that people who give of their time to present at these events, and in many cases travel across the country at their own expense to do it, deserve to be treated with some appreciation and respect.

7. Part of the experience is getting to hang out with cool, smart people. I learned a lot outside of sessions just chatting with other folks at the speaker dinner and after party.

6. Hope Foley (Twitter) showed some cool features of PowerPivot, including some mad compression. Nicely done.

5. Norman Kelm (website| Twitter) demonstrated how to have SSIS logging take place within the Script Task. He also showed some Script Task debugging techniques. Pretty cool stuff to be sure.

4. The hot dogs at Portillo’s are frickin spectacular.

3. Jason Strate (blog | Twitter) likes to say: “I’m not a good driver; I’m a successful driver.” Well, he is that. Chris Fish (Twitter) and I rode with Jason down to Chicago from the Twin Cities. And I have to say, we didn’t die even once.

2. I sing about as well as a dead cow under a truck (which is pretty bad, in case you are not aware). I knew that one a long time ago. What I learned this time around is that I can pull off a pretty good rendition of The Lion King’s Hakuna Matata, with Timone and Pumbaa character voices throughout, all by myself. Seriously, #sqlkaraoke is more fun than should be allowed. And singing ability is irrelevant. Just ask Jason Strate. Wait. I should delete that.

1. Getting involved in the SQL Community is awesome. I highly recommend picking a topic you know and want to learn more about and submit a session at your local user group, a SQL Saturday, or even just present to a group of co-workers. You can learn so much by presenting and sharing your expertise with others. If you would rather not present, then please feel free to volunteer or help out however you can. The SQL Community is all of us.