Our long #SQLVacation is nearly at an end because our stop in Evansville, IN is our last roadtrip location for the family and the penultimate (i.e., second to last) technical session of the journey. It's a bittersweet, but a joy to have the family with me while I work these long days and late nights.
Evansville is such a beautiful place that it was name La Belle Riviere ("The Beautiful River") by the early French trappers who were the first Europeans to explore the river valley. Today, the city is the commercial and cultural hub of the "entire tri-state area!". (I can't help but say that in the voice of Dr. Doofenshmirtz from the TV show Phineas and Ferb).
The Evansville SQL Server users group meets monthly in the Evansville Central Library (in Browning Room B), 200 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Evansville, IN 47713. If you're planning to attend, be sure to register HERE so the organizers can get a proper headcount for the lunch. I'll be delivering two sessions at this event: SQL Server Internals & Architecture and Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Developer Should Know. You can download the slide decks from SlideShare.Net.
The user group is led by Edward Rhoades, an enterprise DBA and all-around Renaissance Man of IT. Let's get to know a little more about Evansville, the user group, and its hardworking volunteers:
- When did you begin your professional career? I began my professional career as a retail manager. After about 10 years of retail manager, I decided to go back to college to get a degree in Information Technology. After I had a job as a developer post college, I got a job as a DBA at Atlas World Group about 4 years ago. I was mentored by a great bunch of SQL DBAs there and I owe them a lot as they were my first #sqlfamily. Even though I have shifted a tad in focus from DBA to developer to IT Manager, I still am a DBA.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? My work life is stretched supporting a lot of different kinds of technology. One hour, I could be writing a Reporting Services report. And then the next hour I could be troubleshooting an Active Directory issue. And then I could be meeting with a customer to talk with them about their EDI requirements. This is a big difference from when I was a production DBA. I do miss those days of getting knee deep with SQL Server internals and performance tuning.
- When did you come to Evansville? I have lived here most of my life. For about 10-15 years, I was living in different areas of the country and living abroad in Scotland. But I've gravitated back Evansville. It's where family lives and since family is important to me and my wife, we like living here.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? A year or so ago, the previous leader came to me and had asked if I would like to take on a leadership role. I said sure. But I didn't know at the time that my role would morph into becoming one of the co-leaders of the group. There are multiple positive experiences about being a volunteer leader. I would have to say that at the top of the list for me is that I get to collaborate with some great people who are working on some cool things here in Evansville. Both of the other co-leaders of our group are awesome to work with and we're lucky to have them.
- What is the IT community like there? Our IT community is small but we've attracted some great minds to work here. We continually look for opportunities to engage people to attend one of the several user group meetings here. We have active PowerShell, .NET, SharePoint user groups that are focused to provide their membership quality education and networking opportunities in our IT community. I love the PASS community! Last year was the first time I attended the PASS Summit and I really enjoyed meeting a lot of people who I see on twitter all of the time. I hope that everyone from our user group could get the opportunity to experience the #sqlfamily like I have. My goal with our group is for every member to feel like they are a part of the #sqlfamily We're always looking for speakers, members, and sponsors for our group.
- What do you like about Evansville? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? For historical buffs like myself, our city is rich with culture and history. We have lots of museums, like the Children's Museum of Evansville (CMOE), the Evansville Museum, the LST 325 Navy Ship, Willard Library, and the Reitz Historic Home. We also have a vast list of unique restaurants and micropubs for people to experience. Check out directory of activities at http://www.celebrateevansville.com/ for a great look at all our city has to offer.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? We are big fans of taking advantage of a lot of the cool things in our downtown area. We are big fans of the museums and historical places in Evansville, the cool Children’s Museum, and the Evansville Museum. We also have a 7 mile greenway space which runs along the Ohio river that is great for running, walking or biking on. We also like to see an occasional baseball game at historic Bosse Field.
To learn more about the Evansville SQL Server Users Group, follow them on Twitter at @evvpass or check out their webpage. They usually meet every third Thursday between 11:30 and 1pm at Central Library in downtown Evansville. Edward can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get involved with your local chapter of PASS! You won't regret it.
And please let me know what you think about, well, about whatever's on your mind. Inquiring minds what to know...
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The Griswolds had an experience they'll never forget in St. Louis. And we've had ours too, but in a very good way. We'd vacationed in St. Louis two years ago and had a great time. We've seen the sights, gotten the pictures, and have the t-Shirts. I still love to see the big, iconic Gateway Arch though. In fact, I'm pretty much old news in St. Louis having spoken at their SQL Server user group several times over the years.
They've set a grueling pace for me at this meeting, asking for 3 out of my 4 roadtrip presentations along with a vendor presentation to talk about SQL Sentry's tools. Here are the details:
St. Louis SQL Server User Group Meeting
June 23rd 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm CST, Vendor Presentation 4:15 pm- 5:00 pm
: Microsoft St. Louis Office, Three City Place Drive, Suite 1100, St. Louis, MO 63141. Parking is in the garage behind / next to the building. There is an entrance to the building from the 2nd floor in the garage.Agenda
12:30 Registration - Lunch Provided - Covenant Technology Partners
13:00 (me) Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know
14:00 (me) Top 10 DBA Mistakes on SQL Server
15:00 (me) End-to-End Troubleshooting Checklist for Microsoft SQL Server
16:00 Raffle Drawing: Apress, Wrox, McGraw-Hill, Murach, Wiley, O'Reilly/Msft Books and more!
16:15 Vendor Presentation - Kevin Kline, SQL Sentry
I'm not exactly sure how we'll pull this off without bathroom breaks and no time for questions, since they're all 1-hour presentations. So we'll just have to play it by ear.
- When did you begin your professional career? I was fortunate to get a great job offer right out of college from Chevron in San Francisco. It was my first time living outside of St. Louis and it was a wonderful experience in a fantastic city. I started out as a programmer was promoted to a analyst. (Ok, I’ll date myself… We all wore suits with big shoulder pads.) I’ve always worked in IT. I first started working with SQL Server with Version 6.5 and I was thrilled when Version 7 came out with all of its improvements.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? I start with reflective prayer! “Please let all last night’s backups work.” After that I take a big sigh and read through the current work tickets to decipher how many claimed emergencies are really emergencies. Then I check emails. If yours isn’t in the top 100, you lose. Next, I scroll through my “To Do” list and try to convince myself I can actually get something checked off. Wishful thinking. Eventually I install SQL Server on new servers and configure. Test AG failover, backups jobs and restore testing. Set up new SQL Server jobs, grant permissions and general DBA activities. I’m still in a more reactive role. Unfortunately, I’m also involved with our SQL Licensing and Microsoft negotiations. Fun stuff. Oh wait, some of my “normal” days start with a 3AM wake-up call. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we!
- When did you come to St. Louis? I’m a native St Louisian. I did an early stint in San Francisco, then came back to the Midwest to be close to family.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I was originally a DB2 DBA and a Co-Chairman of the St. Louis DB2 User Group. When I moved over to SQL Server I looked for a local chapter and discovered it was defunct. I contacted Microsoft and they assigned a SQL technical liaison to assist me with starting up the St. Louis SQL User Group. Microsoft offered the meeting room and, at first, the speakers. They also assisted with getting the word out about the user group. That was back in 2003 and I’m still involved as a Co-Chairman. It has been a great way to meet the SQL community in the St. Louis area. We were able to get associated with PASS and broaden our groups horizons. STLSSUG grew and we spun off the St. Louis BI User Group. Where we were once quarterly meetings there is now a meeting every month, with times varying between afternoons and evenings. By creating relationships at PASS we have been able to bring in top national speakers to our local meeting. We also assist with the St. Louis SQL Saturday. Getting members involved in the group has been very rewarding.
- What is the IT community like there? Very diverse! Our members are from large and small companies. We've got members from all industries - Healthcare, Brokerage, Retail, Manufacturing, Research, Universities, Justice Department, Consulting Firms, Rental Car, Aero Space, Legal and more.
- What do you like about St. Louis? We have everything from A (Anheuser-Bush) to Z (one of the best rated Zoos in the country). The majority of the venues are free and it is a great place to visit even if you are on a tight budget. We also have a top symphony, huge botanical garden, first-run musical theater, great sporting events and excellent Jazz venues.
- What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Visit Forest Park, one of the largest city parks in the nation. Within the park you can visit the Zoo, Science Center, Art Museum, History Museum or just paddle a boat around the lake and enjoy the scenery. Don’t forget to make a trip downtown to the Gateway Arch or take in a Cardinals baseball game. If you have kids, the City Museum and the Magic House are very unique and not to be missed. Adults might enjoy the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour and free sampling. Do it twice! Foodies can enjoy “The Hill" for authentic Italian cuisine and some famous Ted Drewes frozen custard for dessert. And while we might not have Walley World, Six Flags close by!
- What do you and your family enjoy doing? You can usually find my husband and me doting on our dog Sparky and walking through the many historic neighborhoods.We enjoy the classic architecture, landscaped lawns and many parks St. Louis has to offer. We go to St. Louis Symphony concerts and the historic Fox theater whenever possible. As an avid gardener I frequent the Missouri Botanical Garden for inspiration and enjoy caring for my many Bonsai trees at home.
If you're in the St. Louis area be sure to come to the next user group meeting! Your career will thank you. And while you're at it, be sure to join PASS, the worldwide community of SQL Server and data management professionals of which the St. Louis group is a local chapter.
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In the movie, National Lampoon's Vacation, Clark and Ellen Griswold decide to lead their family, including the kids Rusty and Audrey, on a cross-country expedition from the Chicago area to the Los Angeles amusement park Walley World, touted as "America's Favorite Family Fun Park." Ellen sensibly wants to fly, but Clark wants to bond with his family over the course of a long road trip.
Clark: So, this is the ol' homestead.
Eddie: Yeah, but I don't know for how long? Bank's been on me like flies on a rib roast.
Clark: I know the feeling.
Eddie: Enough 'bout my problems. Hell, looks like you could use a cold one.
Clark: Now, you're talking Eddie! (Eddie drinks from an open can, passes it to Clark, then opens a fresh beer and begins to chug.)
In my version of the vacation , we're stop in Springfield, IL (a place we've never been before) instead of the Griswold's stop in Kansas to visit Ellen's cousin Catherine and her husband Eddie. I'm just hoping nobody foists their cranky Aunt Edna or their mean dog Dinky on us. But if we do have to deal with add-on travelers, we're dropping them off at Lori Edwards (b |t) place in Tucson instead of Edna's son's Normy's home in Phoenix.
Not only the Man who Preserved the Union, but also an evidently talented vampire hunter.
Springfield is a lovely town, serving as the state capital and also a well-known tourist destination since it is the birth place of Abraham Lincoln. Set in lush and bucolic southern IL, it is surrounded by miles of rolling hills and verdant, well-tended farms. The kids will be enjoying some #SQLVacation time seeing the Lincoln-related tourist attractions today while I'm speaking at the local SQL Server users group of PASS, led by Patrick Brewer.
At tonight's meeting at the lovely Island Bay Yacht Club, I'll be presenting two sessions: End-to-End Troubleshooting Checklist for Microsoft SQL Server and Top 10 DBA Mistakes. (You can download the slides now on SlideShare). Let's get to know Patrick and the Central Illinois SQL Server user group a little better!
- When did you begin your professional career? I started in 1996 SQL Server 4.21 converting to SQL Server 6.5. I maintained a document imaging system that had 9 servers (running Windows 3.1 and 3.11) with 18 jukeboxes for a great company, JM Family Enterprises. Each of the Windows server were running a local version of Sybase (I’m old).
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? Creating solutions with T-SQL, SSIS, C#, MVC, conducting meetings on Lync, troubleshooting issues with vintage systems, and trying to provide customers the best solutions possible.
- When did you come to Springfield? I moved to Bloomington, IL 5 years ago. I drove from Springfield (72.4 Miles) to work every day for 4 years, and finally convinced my wife to move to Bloomington, IN.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I learned about PASS from my manager when I started at Afni 9 years ago. We had always talked about starting a chapter, but no one wanted to take the reins. I’ve always enjoyed helping people learn new things. I’ve always enjoyed teaching. Becoming the chapter leader was a no brainer. I’ve had so many positive experiences in the year that our chapter has been established. Most of them are meeting people like myself that want to learn more about the products that we use to provide solutions, but also meeting the experts and finding out that they are just like myself (wanting to help people learn more).
- What is the IT community like there? Our group covers a large area of Illinois. We have many Colleges/ Universities, manufacturing, insurance, call centers, hospitals, and government agencies. The largest employers in Central Illinois are State Farm and Caterpillar. Though if you have ever sipped a cup of Coffee, the home of Bunn Automatic is in Springfield.
- What do you like about Springfield? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Though I moved to Bloomington 5 years ago, I still go back home to Springfield. I grew up racing sailboats and still sail 4 times a week. I start in March and will sail until the lake freezes over. The only weather I don’t like sailing in is lightning storms. Springfield is the home to Abraham Lincoln, and as you can imagine, there are many things to do relating to Lincoln. I worked at Lincolns home for a summer, and it is like stepping back into the mid-1800’s. Even the nails on the sidewalks are designed from the era. Other than that, there are corn fields for miles and miles.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? Movies, Shakespeare Festival, hanging with friends. My mom volunteered at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and has been involved with many activities with the Lincoln sites. The most popular sites are:
Have you set your vacation plans for the summer? If so, share them with the community and on social media using the hashtag #SQLVacation! And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance at many free prizes!
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Of the hundreds of cities that I've visited around the world, Chicago is one of my favorites. The food. The museums. The architecture. The scenery. It's all good - except for those outrageously cold winters. So I was really excited when my family agreed that they'd enjoy spending their summer vacation in the "Second City" as the midpoint for the #sqlvacation speaking tour. (Don't forget that the contest component of #sqlvacation lasts all summer long. You've got plenty of opportunity to win through July 31st).
While I'm working, the Horde will visit Navy Pier, Art Institute of Chicago, the Bean, the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, 360 Chicago, and do an Architecture River Cruise.
One of the great things about being active in PASS and the broader SQL Server community are the interesting and inspiring local user group leaders. Chicago has a rich history of contributing to the SQL Server community. For example, Rick Bolesta from the Lyle, IL area served on the PASS board of directors for even longer than I did (13 years, iirc), acting as the board liaison for founding sponsor, CA. And I'd be remiss not to point out that PASS was founded on the concrete banks of the Chicago River under the aegis of the association management company Smith Bucklin.
The Thursday evening session at the Chicago SQL Server User Group meeting is completely sold out. (Of course, the meetings are free. But you know what I mean). I am presenting two of my sessions there - Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know and Top 10 DBA Mistakes on SQL Server. If you can't attend, why not go ahead and download the slide decks now from my page on SlideShare! Let's learn a little more about the current leadership team in Chi-town, Frank Gill and Bob Pusateri.
- When did you begin your professional career? I started working in IT in 1999 as a COBOL programmer. DB2 was my first exposure to databases. I started working as a SQL Server DBA in 2007 and have been enjoying it ever since.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? I work for a managed services/consulting company and split my day between clients. In the course of a day, I might install SQL Server, set up availability groups, and troubleshoot performance problems.
- When did you come to Chicago? I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved into the city in 1993.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? When Bill Lescher announced he was stepping down in June of 2012, I decided to put myself up for consideration. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know other chapter leaders and members of the SQL community. It’s also been rewarding to be able to give back to the SQL community.
- What is the IT community like there? The IT community is varied in Chicago. Our user group is made up of DBAs, developers, architects, and business intelligence analysts.
- What do you like about Chicago? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? I am a volunteer at the Art Institute of Chicago and I highly recommend a visit there. Chicago is a great place to eat. If you get a chance to get out of downtown, they are many opportunities to sample great food: Pilsen for Mexican, Taylor Street for Italian, Argyle Street for Southeast Asian, and Albany Park for Middle Eastern.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? We love the Art Institute and the Field Museum. We also love exploring new neighborhoods. I’ve lived in the city for more than 20 years and still make to parts of the city I’ve never been on a regular basis.
- When did you begin your professional career? I always wanted to end up in IT (except for those times where I wanted to be a doctor...or a fireman...or an actuary...or a city manager...). I actually started working with "databases" (MS Access) in high school. I had an after-school job working for a city and the building department was totally based on paper at that time. They were trying to move everything to Excel and it was failing miserably. I thought there had to be a better way, and looked into writing something using Access or MySQL. I probably should have chosen MySQL, but over a summer I learned Access and put together an application for managing building permits, contractor licenses and a couple other day-to-day tasks. I perfected it over the next year, and then they started using it to run the department. It went live in 2003. They still use it today. I also sold it to a few other cities, some of which still use it as well. All through college I knew I wanted to be a DBA and started learning SQL Server (2000) in my spare time. Tried as hard as I could but no company would hire a DBA straight out of college (probably a smart idea!) so I took a job as a programmer and then moved to the DBA team 2 years later.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? First thing I'll do in the morning is go through the server and job logs from the night before and make sure nothing went bump in the night. If something did, I'll either fix it myself or get in touch with the responsible parties. Then I'll work on outstanding tickets and answer email. Lunchtime is for reading blogs. After lunch it's usually meetings with our team's customers and work on other projects.
- When did you come to Chicago? Aside from going to college downstate, I've never left. Born and raised in the Chicago area.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I was a member of the chapter for a few years, and each year the chapter leader would mention they're looking for help. I had been thinking about it for a while, and last year decided to open my mouth and become a co-chapter leader.
- What is the IT community like there? I've always felt there's tremendous opportunity for IT folk in and around Chicago in pretty much every field imaginable. The financial district, especially the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Board Options Exchange means you'll find pretty much every global player in financial markets has an office here. There's also a strong presence from the insurance industry, and several large academic medical centers that are always seeking top IT talent. In the last few years the startup community has really grown as well.
- What do you like about Chicago? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? There's never a dull moment in Chicago (for better or for worse). Always plenty to do, no matter what time of year. If you come here and are bored, you're doing something wrong. For those who have never been to Chicago before, my to-do list has several items. See Millennium Park and be sure to walk through The Lurie Garden, my favorite part. Check out one of the museums. If you're at all interested in architecture, there are some wonderful tours along the river. You have to eat a hot dog and a beef sandwich, so go to Portillo's. You also need deep dish pizza. I recommend Lou Malnati's or Pizzeria Uno. They're both great, but their restaurants are quite manufactured and touristy. If you want something a little more seedy, head to Exchequer on Wabash. Segway tours are a lot of fun and a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly. If it's a rainy day, check out the Lincoln Park or Garfield Park Conservatories. I'm not much of a plant person but they really are spectacular.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in Chicago? If we're going downtown, it's usually for a specific purpose. Either we'll be heading out to dinner, maybe catching a show in the theatre district, summer concerts at Millennium Park, or checking out one of the museums. They're all great, but our favorite is the Museum of Science and Industry. The Field Museum and Art Institute are also amazing. For a real treat (and I recommend this for your family if you are staying downtown and have the time) after dark, catch a cab (or take a long walk and watch out for freaky people) to the Adler Planetarium. You get the most amazing view of the skyline from there. It's great during the day too, but really awesome at night.
On behalf of the entire SQL Server community, I want to say thank you to Frank and Bob for their volunteer spirit. Were it not for hardworking and unsung heroes like them, SQLFamily simply would not exist.
So how about you? Are you active in your local PASS chapter? If not, consider attending your next chapter meeting. They're all posted online at the PASS Local Chapters web page.
The #sqlvacation contest continues until July 31st and includes both a contest component and the live events. Check out all of the details at SQLSentry.com/SQLVacation.
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I've been to Chicagoland many times over the years. Winters are tough for a Southern boy like me. But summer in Chicagoland is one of the best experiences evah! One such magical experience was when I stumbled into a Taste of Chicago event back when that wasn't a wide-spread event. Irmagird. During the 1990's, when I worked for Deloitte, I occasionally traveled to the practice office in downtown Chicago or to the tax practice in Deerfield. In the later 1990's and early 2000's (a.k.a. "the aughts"), I frequently traveled to the original offices for PASS on Michigan Avenue. Later on during the aughts through 2012, I often traveled to the Quest Software offices in Naperville. So it's with these thoughts in mind that we make the #SQLVacation drive from Indianapolis to the Chicago Suburban SQL Server user group in Downers Grove, IL.
I had those glasses. And that computer.
One of the things I have to keep reminding myself about America's biggest cities is that they are HUGE. You can start driving in one part of Chicagoland at noon, drive a straight line without looping, and still be in greater Chicagoland hours later. And if you don't time it just right, you can add a couple hours additional time spent in stop-n-go traffic. That's frustrating enough to send Clark Griswold into an over-the-top tirade of EPIC proportions.
My session will run from from 6:00 - 9:00 PM CST and will address the topic of End-to-End Troubleshooting Checklist for Microsoft SQL Server. (Click the link to download the slide deck from SlideShare.net). Oh and you need to REGISTER HERE. Officially, the event is sold out. But we'll figure something out - and possibly anger the Fire Marshall - if we have a few unregistered attendees show up.
By all accounts, Downers Grove is an amazing place to live and work. Forbes Magazine named Downers to the Top 10 of America's Friendliest Towns. It's also rated as on of the country's most educated cities, one of America's Top 10 Best Places for a Healthy Retirement list (on account of its many parks and hospitals), and at the other end of the age spectrum, one of the best cities in America for kids. But perhaps most significant of all is that Randy "Macho Man" Savage was a proud alumnus of Downers Grove North High School. OOOH YEAH!!!
Today, I want to give a shout out to the leaders of the Chicago Suburban SQL Server user group - Lowry Kozlowski and Andy Yun.
- When did you begin your professional career? I began my professional IT career while going through a divorce about 17 years ago as a Y2K COBOL programmer. But our DBA left before the project was fully converted. Since I was taking SQL database courses at college at the same time, I stepped in to use Unisys ISQL command line to validate the data and it went from there. We got a SQL Server box that I managed to connect to the DMSII databases, and run Crystal Reports. I was hooked. Prior to that I worked as an optician and in accounting positions. I had wanted to be a photographer, but developed allergy to the chemicals. Hence my dual degrees, Associates in Photography and Bachelors in CS.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? What is normal? As a consultant, I could be at a client site doing installs and building new systems, perform assessment of existing infrastructure, in the office reviewing job failures, training junior team members on troubleshooting, or working on troubleshooting tickets for clients.
- When did you come to Chicagoland? I have lived in the Chicago land area my whole life, so it is great to be able to support my community.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I had considered several years ago helping the user group when Wendy Pastrick (now on the PASS Board of Directors) was going to step down. But another volunteer was more ready than I was at the time. I wasn't sure I could handle the responsibility and time commitment at the point in my life. So when Wendy ask if I would be able to work with Andy Yun to support the group. It is great to be able to help bring training and networking avenues to our group. I love getting to know the people in the group and extended community. It has been a learning experience on how to get speakers, sponsors, and even venues to have our meetings at. I really enjoy working with Andy, as he is very outgoing and we have been able to achieve a very good balance on the meeting and other responsibilities.
- What is the IT community like there? Chicago is a great IT community, and the Downtown Chicago chapter and Suburban chapter work very closely together, as well as with the Chicago BI group. Our industries vary from consulting, to businesses to education, and a whole variety of things in between.
- What do you like about Chicagoland? What would you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? I love that there is so much variety of things to do in Chicago area - zoos, museums, street fests, fantastic food. If you get a chance to see it, go to Navy Pier and wander around, take a cruise on the lake front, or a take speedboat ride. The river tours are just great. Walk around Grant Park or Navy pier, Sears tower, John Hancock,I could go on and on.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in Chicagoland? My family loves to go to the museums, shopping, and out to eat. (I have all girls). We enjoy walking or biking on the lakefront. Seasonal things are great too. Art fairs and street fests are just a few of the things we love to do. Since I am a Cubs fan and the girls are Sox fans, we rarely go to the ball park together. :)
- When did you begin your professional career? Around 2000-2001. My first job out of college was for a small internet development consulting shop. There, I was both an app dev and a system admin. And that's where I was first exposed to SQL Server 2000. After that, I took a job as a junior SQL Server DBA and the rest is history!
- When did you come to Chicagoland? Dude, I was born & raised in the Chicagoland area! (He didn't actually say "dude" -Kev).
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I'd already been a member of the Chicagoland SQL Saturday organizing committee for two years and had begun speaking 3-4 months prior. The opportunity to reboot the Chicago Suburban User Group came up as a surprise to me. I freaked out for 30 seconds, then decided "Alright, why not!" In the past year, I've been thrilled to meet many new #SQLFamily members, in my immediate area. I've enjoyed building a small community of UG regulars, who I look forward to seeing every month! Oh yes, for your "any extras," guess I'd just like to plug that I'm thrilled & honored to be speaking for 24 Hours of PASS later this month! My session is entitled Every Byte Counts: Why Your Data Type Choices Matter.
- What is the IT community like there? The community here in Chicagoland is massive. And being Chicagoland, asking what industry is NOT present somewhere here would be easier to answer!
- What do you like about Chicagoland? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Food!!! There's such a diverse food scene here, with numerous ethnic groups represented, to traditional "Chicago-style" offerings (pizza, hotdogs), to cutting-edge chefs pushing the boundaries. Whenever #SQLFamily come into town, I like to take them out to interesting places to eat. Ask the SQLSkills crew, I take their students out regularly!
- Where can I find out more about the user group? Contact myself or Lowry Kozlowski at email@example.com or visit us on the web at http://chicagosuburban.sqlpass.org/.
Even if you can't make it to this meeting, please get active in your local PASS chapter. To find the PASS chapter closest to you, check at the PASS Local Chapters web page. Over over 250 chapters around the world, there's likely to be one near you.
And don't forget, the #sqlvacation includes both a contest component and the live events. Check out all of the details at SQLSentry.com/SQLVacation.
And if you want my slides, be sure to check my page on SlideShare!
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For some people, Indianapolis means one thing, and one thing only - the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a.k.a "The Brickyard") and the Indianapolis 500. In my case, it means several times speaking at IndyPASS, the local SQL Server User Group, over the last 10 years. I first spoke at IndyPASS with the then head of Microsoft's Business Intelligence product line, Bill Baker. Bill was a big racing fan and, fortuitously, the user group leaders were happy to accommodate his request to speak in time to see the big race.
I also got the chance back in 2005-2006 to see a hilarious comedian known as Buck Foley. (Lloyd Work is a local IT guy, a programmer by day, and a Chris Farley impersonator by night). Suffice it to say that Buck is a motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. And he knows IT like no other comedian I've ever seen. Check him out online, especially if you can't come see him in person.
While this #SQLVacation means lots of free time for "the Horde" (that's my nickname for my 7 kids), I'll still be working. Today's agenda for my wife and the four out of our seven kids on this roadtrip includes a day at Indianapolis Children's Museum, the largest in the world. My hope is that they'll get to see something really exciting, like the world's largest turnip. That's just the way Clark Griswold would want it. Perhaps they'll stop by the site of Wonder Bread where they literally invented sliced bread. (Everybody keeps trying to tell me that their invention is the best thing since Wonder Bread. But I know better!) Or they might swing by for a selfy at the Slippery Noddle Inn where bullets are still embedded in the walls from the Al Brady and John Dillinger gang shout outs. Or, best in my book, would be a visit to the Indiana Medical History Museum for a chance to gander at a room full of pickled human brains. Wow!
The Indy event will be crowded and fun. Why? Because it's their 10th Anniversary Birthday Bash! The program starts at 5:30 PM with catering by Dick's Bodacious BBQ and entertainment. The session for this event will be Ten Query Tuning Techniques Every SQL Programmer Should Know (feel free to use the link to download the slide deck from SlideShare).
So let’s get to know the Indianapolis even better by talking with Ray Lucas, the lead volunteer for IndyPASS. Twitter and LinkedIn
- When did you begin your professional career? I graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelors in Computer Information Technology in 1995. Back then I was learning all things database on the dreaded O word...you know Oracle. :-) I spent two summers as a college intern at Allison Engine in the early 90's, using a temp agency to snag a job as a receptionist, covering for someone out on leave. I then networked my way into a job for the remainder of the summer and the next. I have fun stories about how the oil pumps are made for V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff airplanes. I was right at home with the engineers. Upon graduation, I started my professional career back in 1995, working with, you guessed it, Oracle. My studies at Purdue included PL/SQL, and that landed me a job supporting applications, designing databases, and writing code. From there I spent the next 7 years implementing applications, but not just database related tasks. I became the jack of all trades, generalist IT guy who got the projects that didn't fit into a specific mold. That has been the precedent for my career ever since. I spent years as an infrastructure project manager, Manager of a Business Intelligence Team, responsible for reporting strategy for a Fortune 500 company. I was the lead BI architect for a well-known Indy based high end audio company. I moved to consulting 7 years ago, and was asked to run an infrastructure migration for our managed services arm. That move has been my focus ever since, as I now am an Infrastructure Execution Lead, responsible for large scale IT infrastructure migrations, most recently full IT integrations of manufacturing plants in the Mergers and Acquisitions space. Like I said, that general IT, just give it to Ray thing paid dividends, as I think I have a decent grasp on how IT works, both from a business and technical perspective, which allows me to take on large IT projects.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? Calls from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm with my European clients (UK, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland). Meetings in the early afternoon with US resources and South American clients (Columbia, Puerto Rico, Brazil). Real work from 3:00-5:00 pm. Calls from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm with my Chinese and Japanese clients. Sometimes I even get to travel to these counties. It is tiring, but the people are interesting, the work exciting, and I love it. After being out and about, not sure I can go back to a desk only job.
- When did you come to Indy? I was born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, the small-town of John Mellencamp fame. I went to college 90 minutes north at Purdue University, studying Computer Information Technology. My summer internships in Indy helped me to establish local ties that drew me back to Indianapolis. I started my career here in 1995, and started helping with IndyPASS in 2005.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I went to the first IndyPASS Meeting as an attendee. A co-worked mentioned it and I decided that night to attend at the Microsoft Offices. The crowd was large, probably 150 or so to see Bill Baker from Microsoft. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to help in any way and offered my services the next meeting. Hearing that the group needed a place to meet, I secured the Conseco Conference Center where I worked at no cost to the group. I then became Sponsorship Director, Vice President, and now serve as President. IndyPASS has helped my career tremendously. My path to Executive Director of Managed Services and my current infrastructure role in Mergers and Acquisitions started with an IndyPASS sponsor. When I was downsized from an employer, an IndyPASS Sponsor and now a dear friend of mine, sold a job at her company with my name on the contract, insisting I work with her. She arranged for the role, the position, and the rest is history. Infrastructure projects have been my life ever since. In general, IndyPASS has furthered my career, helping me to understand how to lead, motivate and cultivate relationships. It has helped me to better understand the Indy IT community, and help connect others that might not otherwise know one another. I enjoy connecting job seekers with open positions, sponsors with potential customers, and most importantly IndyPASS attendees with opportunities to learn, grow, and develop the social networking skills so desperately needed in today’s Information Technology landscape.
- What is the IT community like there? IndyPASS draw folks from all over Indiana. We have regular attendees from as far north as Lafayette (90 minutes north), and as far south as Bloomington (90 minutes south). Attendees come from big companies like Caterpillar, insurance companies, small law firms, large and small consulting firms, managed services companies, software development companies, healthcare companies, and even professors from IUPUI here in downtown Indianapolis. The Indy tech community is vibrant and alive, with many start-ups rooting here in the Midwest and having great success doing so. I consider our attendees to be some of the brightest I’ve met, while still holding true to that humble Midwest way that brings them back to learn from anyone willing to speak and share their knowledge.
- What do you like about your city? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Downtown Indianapolis is a fun, walkable city, with lots of monuments. Check out the Eli Lilly Museum at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the circle before walking 300+ stairs to the top. Ever wonder why they call us the "Circle City"? The people in Indy are honest, friendly, and genuine. Catch an Indianapolis Indians baseball game. This Triple-A team is fun to watch and Victory Field is one of the best minor league parks in the country. If you are here in the winter, the Colts and Pacers both play at amazing facilities, with Bankers Life Fieldhouse voted the best sports arena in the country 12 years running. Check out the NCAA Museum. This is the home of the NCAA y'know. Check out the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the largest of its kind in the country. Last but certainly not least, take a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500. The museum only costs a few dollars and you get to see all the cars that have won the Indy 500. Then take a couple laps around the famed 2.5 mile oval. There really is nothing more exciting than a race at IMS.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? Sports, sports and more sports. Indianapolis 500 in the spring. Indians baseball in the summer. Brickyard 400 and MotoGP motorcycle racing in the late summer. Pacers basketball and Colts Football in the winter. Microbreweries, microbreweries and more microbreweries. Beer is the new drink of choice these days in Indianapolis.
Ray's IndyPASS History Highlights
- First meeting took place on June 16, 2005 with Bill Baker of Microsoft.
- IndyPASS was started by Bret Updegraf (first President) and John Magnabosco (first VP).
- Crowe-Chizek (now Crowe-Horwath) seeded the group with $2000, allowing us to provide free meetings and eventually have the funds to secure a 501©3 status.
- That non-profit status has really helped to secure annual sponsors, with IndyPASS never being below at least 3 active sponsors at any one time in its 10 year history.
- IndyPASS currently has six (6) sponsors, in industries from consulting to managed services to hardware to software to recruiting.
- Of the 120 potential meetings, only 3 have been cancelled due to weather. We only bow to Mother Nature when we have to. Otherwise, the learning must go on.
- The IndyPASS email subscription base sits at just under 600.
- Monthly meetings fluctuate in attendance, but average between 40 and 50 these days.
- The largest IndyPASS crowd was right around 200 attendees at IndyPASS Birthday Bash v2.
- Group members also actively manage Indianapolis SQL Saturday, which last year had over 300 registrations.
- June 16, 2015 marks v10 of IndyPASS.
- We are proud of the first 10 years of IndyPASS and look forward to the next 10 years of IndyPASS.
Ray's Key Insights to User Group Success
- Great Sponsors. IndyPASS relies on great sponsors to back and promote meetings, provide food and prizes, all with no charge to attendees.
- Generous Hosts. Meetings have been hosted at Conseco, Microsoft, LANTech Training, Perpetual Technologies, and currently Apparatus, all at no cost to IndyPASS for all 10 years.
- Engaged Technical Base. Indy has a great base of technical folks interested in all things data and technology who keep it fresh:
- We span the SQL Server stack (and most systems that touch or rely upon SQL Server), with topics targeting DBA’s, infrastructure, Business Intelligence, reporting, Big Data, Parallel Data Warehousing, ETL, Hadoop connectivity, SharePoint reliance, SQL Internals, data security, data backups, SQL Programming, etc. You name it and we have probably talked about it over the years.
- Great people!
- Past board members: Bret Updegraff (founder), John Magnabosco (founder), Jimmy May, Dave Leininger
- Current Board Members: Ray Lucas (President), Kyle Neier (Vice President), Scott Stephens (Treasurer, he's been here in this role since the beginning), Devin Lamb (IndyPASS Web Guru, the guy behind the emails), Aaron Cutshall (Sponsorship Director), Dexter Ploss (SWAG Director, DP finds the free giveaways better than anyone), Hope Foley (SQL Saturday Guru and Board Member), Alan Dykes (Board Member), Tom Ahler (Board Member and Ticket Guy), Ron Carrel (Board Member), Michael Goolsby (Board Member and IndyPASS Facilities, the room is ready when MG is involved)
Along the banks of the mighty Ohio River, in sight of the shores of Indiana, lies beautiful Louisville, KY. Louisville is a city I've long felt connected to. (No, not because I drink bourbon, although that's a pretty good reason to like the place, come to think of it). It's because my brother, five years my senior, earned his graduate degrees in one of the city's fine universities and worked there as an English professor for many years. Whenever I had a spare weekend, I'd load up the family, pop a cassette into the car stereo, and make the ~3 hour trip north to the Bluegrass State to visit my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. Good times for sure.
Even after my brother relocated to Anchorage, Alaska (It's a long story, trust me), I still visited Louisville at least once a year for their annual SQL Saturday. In fact, this year was the first year I've ever missed the event. And that's only because I knew I'd be there for this event!
It's well known that Clark Griswold is a big fan of every bit of kitschy Americana on his family vacations. Some fun things we're going to try to see for our #SQLVacation include: 95% of the world's bourbon whiskey is made in the state as are 90% of the disco balls sold in the USA. Over 100,000 mint juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oats events. The world's largest baseball bat (120 feet tall!) is the replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger bat weighing in at 68,000 pounds, is made of steel, stands 120 feet tall and is located at Louisville Slugger Museum. GQ magazine ranks Louisville as the 'Manliest City' because of bourbon, baseball, and horse racing.
If you're in the area and are interested in hearing my presentation, then be there early. They've already got a "sell out" crowd. I'll be there around 11:00 AM for an 11:30 AM starting time. The topic is going to be decided there by a show of hands. It's a toss-up between (click the link below to download the slides):
So let's get to know the city even better by talking with Dave Fackler, the lead for the Louisville PASS chapter (Dave's responses are in italics):
- When did you begin your professional career? I started working as a computer programmer in the US Air Force in 1989, working primarily with Unix and mainframe systems. I started working with SQL Server in 1998 with the release of SQL Server 7.0 and became addicted to the BI tools – and that addiction continues today J
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? As a consultant to the Department of Veterans Affairs, I spend most of my time helping the Business Intelligence Service Line there expand, develop, and support the VA’s enterprise data warehouse environment. As the Chief Technical Architect for that group, I help strategize on the overall architecture and design of the business intelligence infrastructure, make recommendations on tooling choices, help other teams throughout the VA who are building data mart and reporting solutions based on the data warehouse environment, etc. Given that I telework 100%, I also spend a lot of time on the phone and on Microsoft Skype calls!
- When did you come to Louisville? I grew up outside of Louisville in a small farming community, went away to college at Vanderbilt in Nashville in 1985, served in the US Air Force until 1997, worked for a consulting firm in Atlanta until 2005, and then returned home to build a house on my Dad’s farm. So I’ve come full circle and am VERY glad to be back in the Louisville area.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I helped to start the Atlanta SQL Server Users Group back in 2001 (and even gave the first ever presentation for the group, which can still be found here. So I was very familiar with leading a local PASS chapter when the prior leader of the Louisville group (Mala Mahadevan) needed to turn over the group to someone in late 2013. I really enjoy leading the group, seeing SQL Server professionals in Louisville network together and learn, and meeting other chapter leaders and volunteers across the country and around the world!
- What is the IT community like there? The IT community within Louisville is a great mix of “old and new”. We have a lot of companies that have called Louisville home for a very long time – particularly in the healthcare, automotive, and manufacturing sectors. SQL Server professionals in those companies are focused on maintaining their systems, developing in-house database solutions, and dealing with third-party ERP and EHR systems. On the other hand, we have several cutting-edge technology companies that are helping to “modernize” the IT community through groups like the Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky (TALK) and events like TechFest Louisville. So Louisville is a great place to be for technologists and SQL Server professionals of all backgrounds and levels of experience.
- What do you like about your city? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Louisville is a great place to visit! Of course, anyone coming can start with the classics like the Derby Museum at Churchill Downs (or even the Derby itself, if you plan your trip for early May), Slugger Museum & Factory, the Muhammad Ali Center, the Frazier History Museum, and the Kentucky Science Center (check out the KentuckyShow! which provides a “Kentucky 101” lesson narrated by Ashley Judd). Beyond that, Louisville has a wealth of green spaces and parks along with a growing list of culinary delights (led by a group of independent restaurants known as the Louisville Originals). And you can’t really come to Louisville and Kentucky without at least considering a trip to some of our most famous distilleries (check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail) or at least a few of our world-famous bourbon bars (take a look at the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail for distilleries IN the city). And finally, for the more adventurous visitors, take a shot at the MEGA attractions at the underground MEGA Cavern. There’s lots to do in Louisville!!
- Where can I find out more about the user group? The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And our website is at http://louisville.sqlpass.org. We're also active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Come join us!
- How can we get in touch with you for further questions? Easy. My email is email@example.com. And you can connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
How about you, dear reader? Have you ever visited Louisville, KY as a tourist? Tell us about it using the #SQLVacation hashtag on social media! If you've entered the contest, every #SQLVacation tweet or post you put out is a raffle entry! One in every 25 entries wins, so get in there and share your #SQLVacation with the community.
-Follow me on Twitter!
This summer, we at SQL Sentry have decided to do a fun riff on the National Lampoon Vacation movies starring Chevy Chase. And I'm asking you to participate as you take your own vacation, whether it's a week at the beach or a "staycation" catching up on chores around the house.
In my case, I’m going to load up the 5 of the 7 members of the Horde in a minivan (no dog or mother-in-law on this trip) and drive a circuit of the big cities between Nashville and Chicago, speaking at a different SQL Server user group meeting each day. Your first way to participate is to come to the user group meetings:
• 15-Jun-2015, Louisville KY, Lunch session
• 16-Jun-2015, Indianapolis IN, Dinner session
• 17-Jun-2015, Chicago Suburbs IL, Dinner session
• 18-Jun-2015, Chicago IL, Dinner session (Limited seating. Be sure to REGISTER).
• 22-Jun-2015, Springfield IL, Dinner session
• 23-Jun-2015, St Louis MO, Lunch session
• 24-Jun-2015, Evansville IN, Lunch session
• 26-Jun-2015, Nashville TN, Lunch session
I’ll be giving away some custom t-shirts (take a look at the design below) and getting the SQL Server family pumped up during the otherwise slower months of summer.
Your second way to participate and to get in on some prizes is to join in the social media fun. Just put out the word on social media (Twitter, Facebook, what have you) about your own #SQLVacation plans and activities and you'll get entered into the regular prize drawings and as well as the grand prize drawing, at the end of summer.
I hope you’ll take part in the social media fun! You can read all of the details about the contest, rules for participation, and such at http://sqlsentry.com/sqlvacation. (Some conditions and rules apply, so be certain to read up)! If we get a lot of community participation, we'll do it again next year to a whole different set of cities!
I hope to see you in person! Best regards,
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The //build Tour
If you build software using Visual Studio or code against the Microsoft stack, you don't want to miss the //build traveling road show.
The Microsoft //build tours bring the Build conference experience to you for in-depth, usable knowledge about Windows 10 and much more. There's coding sessions and lots of new product demos. You'll also get facetime with Microsoft Technical Experts to ask those tough questions, partner showcases, and opportunities to connect with your fellow peers. Register today, it's a FREE event.
Two dates are just around the corner:
On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, Build Tour Chicago
On Monday, June 15, 2015, Build Tour Los Angeles
- Best of //build announcements and insights.
- Windows 10 developer platform for app and web developers.
- Coding sessions and demos across devices.
- Q&A with Microsoft engineers.
Attend sessions and demos, watch the keynote, and deepen your knowledge of Microsoft Universal Windows Apps, Web Apps Platform, Lighting-up new devices and capabilities and Cross-platform development.
The Windows10/Office Tour
In addition, the “USA Tour on Windows 10/Office/EMS” is coming to a city near you. This mini-conference is focused on Windows 10, Office 365, and productivity offerings to ensure you are on the leading edge of Microsoft software, devices, and services. Topics include: Windows 10, Next Generation Windows Devices, Internet Explorer and Project Spartan, Office 365, Delve, Sway, & Skype for Business, Windows Phone 10, Surface Hub, and the new Enterprise Mobility Suite. Register for these upcoming cities:
- Indianapolis, IN on Thursday, June 4
- Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, June 9
- Jacksonville, FL on Thursday, June 11
Let me know if you decide to attend. I'd like to hear what you thought of the event.
-Follow me on Twitter!
Great topics for further reading about tuning SQL Server performance:
Exploring SQL Server 2014 SELECT INTO Parallelism
Joe Sack (b | t) provides us with a peak into the performance improvements and new behaviors of SQL Server 2014 in the way it can now parallelize large SELECT INTO operations.
Parameter Sniffing, Embedding, and the RECOMPILE Options
Parameter sniffing is a term used to describe the processes by which SQL Server attempts to reuse execution plans where certain parameters might frequently change. If you’re only familiar in passing with the term, it probably has negative connotations for you. But parameter sniffing is merely a behavior, which is neither always bad nor always good in and of itself. Read this interesting article by Paul White (b|t), and be sure to read the lively discussion that follows.
Finding Performance Benefits with Partitioning
Erin Stellato (b | t), of SQLSkills.com, is back with another great read. This time she’s covering performance benefits that come from partitioning and in which cases partitioning is not going to provide a performance boost.
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If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I travel and speak quite a lot. (Bizarre fact - I've been blogging since 2004 when blogging was a new thing). A frequent question I'm asked at these events and afterwards in email is "I want to start blogging, but don't know where to start. What do you recommend?" This is a such a common and natural question as to be almost existential at it's root. In most every context where we move from the known to the unknown, from taking that first international trip to learning how to swim to changing jobs, we might first begin by saying "I'm uncertain. Where do I start?"
Success in any of these situations can be distilled down to a single word - DOING. You can plan and plot for months, attempting to foil every possible risk and mitigate every unpleasant possibility, but you will never progress without the doing of the thing. As Nike says, "Just do it".
I have had the benefit of talking to a lot of really talented writers, from poetry to fiction to non-fiction, and no matter what tact they take they always have to knuckle down and do it. Some like to plan ahead for all of their major points, and they're successful in that approach. Others like to start writing without a plan, letting their characters and the thesis of their article take shape as they write. But in all of those situations, they sit down and write.
So my first piece of advice is to carve out a pre-defined, well-bounded block of time to write every single week. In my case, I have blocked off Monday mornings on my Outlook calendar for writing. And that's what I do every Monday morning. You should too, even if it's just a half-hour once per month, you'll make much more progress than if you say to yourself "I'll write when I have time". Block off the time and respect it - don't dodge it or blow it off as something that's disposable. In other words, don't let your own self-discipline be your biggest obstacle.
FIND YOUR VOICE
Another common follow-up question I get is "I know I want to write, but I don't know what to say". On this point, I have a couple tips to get you started. I find, however, that once someone has spent some time blogging reliable, this becomes much less of an issue. But here are some ideas about how to find your voice as a blogger:
- Write advice to your younger self: You've struggled to get the knowledge and experience you've accumulated. Some of the things you've learned were hard won. You wished you'd had it easier. Conversely, there are tens of thousands of IT professionals who are now struggling with exactly the same exasperating situation(s) you'd conquered in the past. Use that as your starting point - write a blog post explaining that trying time and how you'd handle it then if only you knew what you know now. (Incidentally, as I went to publish this post, my buddy Brent Ozar (b | t) did this very thing in this blog post called Sentences to My Younger Selves. It's a great read).
- Catalog your own knowledge: Similarly, some things that we learn are hard to retain or we have to train a bunch of people on the topic several times a year. Maybe me know a tough process so well that others in our organization are constantly asking us about it. Maybe writing something down helps cement something we've learned into our permanent memory. Maybe we don't use a technique or process very often. For example, I write a newsletter for SQL Sentry every month. Personally, if I do something only once per month, I never really and truly learn it by heart. Knowing that, I wrote a post for myself (and perhaps for use by my successor) to document in step-by-step detail exactly how I manage this rather complex, multi-person process. You could do the same for the things you learn working with SQL Server. And you'll feel a unique sense of pride months or years later when you do an Internet search on that topic and your post appears as the top hit from Google or Bing.
- Write about what you want to learn: This is an approach that my buddy Aaron Bertrand (b | t) is a master of and is something you can see demonstrated every week in his new blog posts on SQLPerformance.com. In this case, you might be wondering about a specific technical questions and, finding no good answer to the question with an Internet search, set about researching the topic yourself. For example, you might be wondering "What's faster? Option A or Option B" Well, guess what? There are likely to be thousands of others wondering the same thing across the Internet. That means they are the audience you'll be answering by researching the answer and blogging your findings. You'll literally be improving their lives. Wow!
- Speak to your values: Even in purely technical writing, we have personal values to are reflected in what we have to say. For example, let's say you've written a blog post about various kinds of high-availability and disaster recovery options that your enterprise has thought about implementing. When you write about your conclusions, be sure to describe the values that drove your conclusion. Was low-price a bigger factor than resilience? Was ease of management a bigger factor than performance? When you explain your motivations and values in light of technological questions, your readers begin to connect with you on a deeper level and from that connection you can build stronger rapport with your readers.
If you start writing from one of those three points of view, you'll always have something valuable to say.
NUTS AND BOLTS BLOGGING ADVICE
Here are a few tips about the more procedural, nuts and bolts of blogging:
- Start reading http://www.problogger.net/: They literally wrote the Bible on blogging. Reading their stuff will both: A) blow your mind with their awesome information, and B) make you feel really inadequate. Option B is what I spend most of my time experiencing, since I already know a lot of their recommendations. But don't have the time or (frequently) the drive to implement their recommendations. But even if you implement a fraction of their recommendations, you'll be better than 90% of the other bloggers out there. And they have a great book of the same name. Buy it.
- Fully invest in social media and make that a part of your blogging: You might not be very active on social media. That's a mistake. Get at least a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter account. If you prefer, create separate accounts for your professional life, so that your friends don’t see your technical content and your blog readers don't see how cute your kitten. (In my case, I started on social media before the recommendation was self-evident. Now, public and private personas are hopelessly entangled). Fwiw, the SQL Server community is HUGE on Twitter. So don't ignore it, if for no other reason than to publicize your posts to the Twittersphere.
- Include a picture: I didn’t know about this until recently, but it makes a big difference in how Google ranks your pages when someone searches on a given topic. Also, when naming pictures, use a naming standard such as “johnqpublic.net – powerpivot example 014.jpg”. That way, if someone searches on Google Images, you’ll get the full dose of SEO goodness.
- All things being equal, go with a Wordpress blog: If you haven't chose a blogging platform, you won't go wrong with a Wordpress blog. It's fast. It's easy. There are lots of inexpensive consultants who can help, if you ever need it. And there are plenty of good, plug-in widgets add nearly endless customization and special features. Want a widget to announce your your new blogs to your social media channels? There are a dozen (or more). Want a widget to automate backups? Lots of those. Want better SEO ranking? Already written. For that matter, let's talk about a couple specific examples....
- Wordpress widgets. Make sure to get some of the other really useful Wordpress widgets:
A) Grab Yost SEO, Moz, or Jetpack SEO plug-in.
B) Get one of the social widgets I mentioned earlier. I use Sociable for Wordpress. These do two things for you. First, they enable you to post directly to your social media channels either on a schedule or immediately upon publication. Second, they enable little “Share Now” links for readers to post to their social media channels as they read. SEO goodness!
C) Get a Wordpress backup widget of some kind. I currently use WP-DBBackup at the moment, but it only backs up the post text, not images or other files like slide decks. Afaik, I'll have to spend a little money for a full-site backup widget.
D) Askimet for spam comment filtering.
E) You might like a Related Posts widget. Since I’ve been blogging a long time, I’ve got a lot of content. This widget automatically puts a little entry at the bottom of a blog post which says “You might like to read these:” and shows links to other posts by me and others.
And don't forget to pace yourself. There's no need to hurry. You’ve got a lot of good things to say. But you don’t have to say everything at once. I recommend a pace of no more than two blog posts per week. As time goes on, you can alter the pace (if you want to). It’s not really a very bad thing to put out a bazillion posts in the early days of your blog. However, you haven’t caught a lot of traction with a lot of readers yet. So when you string it out over a longer period of time, you can build your readership with a steady, consistent release schedule. As I always say, when dealing with people it is better to consistently exceed expectations than to be occasionally brilliant AND occasionally absent.
Does this all make sense? What sort of questions do you have?
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Here are some oldies, but goodies that I recommend you read:
Two Partitioning Peculiarities and Aggregates and Partitioning
Most of us know that partitions are one of the best ways to scale very large databases or very large IO workloads. However, there are risks, two of which are explored in detail by internals master Paul White (b | t).
The Price of Not Purging
Holding on to data long after its useful lifespan contributes to bloat and added preventative maintenance headaches. Read this informative post from Erin Stellato (b | t), of SQLSkills.com, where you’ll find a lot of useful information about the direct role that database size plays in the duration of all sorts of transactions and administrative operations.
Why is my intermediate result set so huge?
Over at our SQL query tuning forum on Answers.SQLPerformance.com, you should read this entry to see a strong real-world example of why table-valued functions (that should set of warning klaxons!) can be a mixed blessing or, in some cases, even a curse.
Follow-up on Summer Performance Palooza
I like Q&A articles, often because someone smarter than me has thought of a question I should have thought of but didn’t. Aaron Bertrand (b | t), the editor-in-chief at SQLPerformance.com, recaps his performance presentation for the PASS VC Summer Performance Palooza including an expansive Q&A section covering all of the questions that came in during and after the presentation.
What's in your recommended reading list? Thanks,
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Do you do a bit of query tuning? Then check out this treasure trove of performance tuning advice!
Optimization Phases and Missed Opportunities and
Working Around Missed Optimizations
Paul White (b | t) writes two fascinating blog posts that go hand-in-hand concerning query optimization. He goes into some deep details about how the query optimizer works, comparing various versions of SQL Server, and shows you several useful ways to assess query performance. Plus, there’s one handy trace flag too!
Observer Overhead and Wait Type Symptoms
Joe Sack (b | t) does a deep dive on “observer overhead”, that is, the overhead caused by whatever tool or method you use to monitor SQL Server performance and the impact which this overhead exerts on the wait statistics accumulated by SQL Server. Wait stats are my first-line defense in the war against poor performance, so this is a very important article for anyone learning or using wait stats.
Understanding What sp_updatestats Really Updates
If you assume that sp_updatestats does pretty much the same thing as the Update Statistics command, like I did, then you’d be wrong. Read this informative post from Erin Stellato (b | t), of SQLSkills.com, and also discover a useful script to help determine when a manual update of index statistics is needed.
I learned a lot from these articles. What about you?
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Great Articles at SQLPerformance.com
There are so many good articles from SQLPerformance.com this ICYMI article that it’s hard to know which are best to highlight in the limited space. So, I’ll be arbitrary and simply choose a few of my favorite entries as we look back:
Troubleshooting SQL Server CPU Performance Issues
This outstanding article from Joe Sack (b | t) of SQLSkills steps you through a methodical and insightful series of DMVs and queries that can pinpoint CPU issues on your SQL Server instances.
Don’t just blindly create those “missing” indexes!
Aaron Bertrand (b | t) discusses ways to get better and more balanced information used in decisions about creating new indexes than offered as suggestions by native SQL Server tools.
The Myth that DROP and TRUNCATE TABLE are Non-Logged
Paul Randal (b |t) at SQLSkills.com refutes the age-old myth that TRUNCATE TABLE and DROP are not logged operations. I love the full T-SQL reproduction of the issue so that you can see the internals in action.
Query Tuning Insight at Answers.SQLPerformance.com
More great query tuning tips and techniques are coming in at http://answers.SQLPerformance.com every week. Get involved! Start uploading your own difficult SQL statements, read the clever solutions to other query tuning challenges, and provide your own feedback. I always learn from Paul White (b|t), when I read his solutions to tough query turning problems. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Why doesn't Query optimizer eliminate unneeded left join in view with Pivot?
Microsoft MVP Michael Swart (b | t) and Paul White discuss a query which delivers a bad plan and, in the process, go into a deep dive about how and at what stages the SQL Server query engine might simplify a query execution plan by removing unnecessary joins.
I want to optimize this query execution to improve its duration
Paul White dives into an interesting situation where a normal-seeming query causes intermediate work sets to spool to physical disk, thereby causing the query to run much too long.
How does SS determine JOIN operator row estimates?
Once again, Paul White teaches me new things. This time he shows how to better understand and fix JOIN cardinality estimates.
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