Feb 242015

I’m definitely a fan of Wisconsin. I never really developed a taste for beer, but I do love Culver’s and cheese curds, so that counts, right? I’m also very happy to be presenting at SQL Saturday #387 in Madison on April 11 2015!

I had a blast at SQL Saturday Madison in 2012 and 2013. Last year I missed it, but with good reason – I was speaking at SQL Saturday Boston instead. I’m very happy to be heading back, though, and am looking forward to seeing friends and sitting in on some sessions by the other speakers in their amazing lineup.

My presentation this time around talks about all the wonderful new features in SQL Server 2014 other than In-Memory OLTP, more commonly known as “Hekaton”, which was it’s feature codename. Whenever SQL Server 2014 is brought up, Hekaton is usually one of the first things that comes to mind. It’s even got it’s own Wikipedia Page. It’s a neat feature, but SQL Server 2014 offers plenty of other awesomeness that far more people will benefit from. This session gives those other features some much-deserved love, and shows attendees how they can take advantage of all the new improvements.

If you haven’t already signed up for SQL Saturday Madison, do it soon – spots are filling up fast! Registration is still open as of right now. I hope to see you there!

May 212013

Tomorrow I am making the trek up to Madison to speak at MADPASS! I had a great time there last year and am looking forward to heading back.MADPASS Logo

I’ll be giving my talk on SQL Server’s data compression feature entitled “The Skinny on Data Compression.” I’ll be explaining how data compression works and sharing some of the things I’ve learned about when and where to deploy data compression that I’ve accumulated over the past 2 years of using it.

Greg Kramer will also be presenting tips and tricks regarding DAX that both Excel and SQL professionals should find useful.

WHERE: 2310 Crossroads Drive, Madison, WI 53718

WHEN: Wednesday 22 May 2013, 5:30PM

Hope to see you there!

Apr 242012

This past weekend I was very fortunate to be able to attend and speak at SQL Saturday #118 in Madison, Wisconsin. This was a top-notch event; all the hard work and planning that went into it really showed in how smoothly things ran.

My trip began around noon on Friday, which was a great decision because I hit no traffic at all on the way up there. I checked into the Crowne Plaza Madison and ended up with a little time to kill before heading out to help set things up. The hotel was excellent, featuring a pool and free wi-fi that was surprisingly fast. I’ve been gouged at other hotels for a much slower connection!

SQLCowA large group of volunteers converged on the venue around 4pm Friday to help with setup, stuff goodie bags, and make sure everything was ready to go. So many showed up that things got done significantly faster than planned, meaning more downtime before the speaker dinner started. Downtime’s never a bad thing at these events though – we all hung out at Ale Asylum, a brew pub with some very tasty beer!

The speaker dinner was held at Benvenuto’s Italian Grill, where much merriment was had, along with some excellent Italian food. Afterwards a lot of us headed back to the hotel bar before turning in for the night.

Doors opened for registration at 7:00 the next morning. The event was held at Madison Area Technical College, which was a terrific venue. There was excellent classroom space featuring large projector screens, plenty of desk space for laptops, and most rooms had tiered seating to help with visibility. The hallways were wide and there was plenty of open spaces to mingle and network with others. Much like the hotel, it also featured some impressively fast wi-fi.

My session, where I talked about data compression, was at 8:00 am – the first timeslot of the day. This was fine with me as I am very much a morning person. Not only was I awake and ready to go, but I had a pretty lively crowd of attendees that were eager to get the day started as well. My presentation filled the 75 minute timeslot perfectly, with enough time for some great questions afterwards.

Lunch was a delicious Wisconsin picnic featuring bratwurst, hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, and cookies for dessert. To facilitate conversation on specific topics, this was a “Cows of a Spot” lunch, where speakers were assigned to specific tables marked with topics and attendees could come with their questions. I manned a table on performance and had some great conversations with those who stopped by.

The sessions themselves appeared very well-organized, and those I attended personally were of excellent quality. I was particularly impressed by how room monitors were assigned to each room and evaluation forms were given to speakers immediately following their session. Of all the SQL Saturdays I’ve spoken at this was the first time I’ve gotten to see my evaluations. I can remember one where the evaluation forms got lost before we got them, and another where it wasn’t communicated that speakers had to come pick them up so they were thrown out instead. Giving the forms to the speaker immediately following the session eliminated any confusion and made sure the evals got in the right hands as quickly as possible.

After a full day of training, closing ceremonies and the highly anticipated raffle drawings took place. There were some great prizes, including many books, Amazon Kindles, and even a HP Mini! The after party was held at Wilson’s Sports Bar across town. Unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot to say about this, as I left for home shortly after it started. I’m sure an amazing time was had by all, and you’ll be able to find blog posts by others who stayed.

All in all I thought this was an excellent event. While it was the first SQL Saturday in Wisconsin, it sure felt like it was put on by a bunch of seasoned pros. Many thanks to the organizing team, which consisted of Jes Borland (blog | @grrl_geek), Ted Krueger (blog | @onpnt), Gina Meronek (@equerystrian), Leonard Murphy (blog | @phonetictalk), and the MADPASS Board: Tim Benninghoff (blog), Matt Cherwin (@control_group), Tony Sebion (@tonysebion), and Steve Novoselac (blog | @scaleovenstove). Also a huge thanks to the sponsors – without their support it wouldn’t have been possible.

Mar 212012

SQL Saturday 118I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as a speaker for SQL Saturday #118 in Wisconsin on April 21, 2012. After an excellent time speaking at MADPASS in February, I’m really looking forward to getting back to Madison for this event!

I’ll be giving my presentation entitled The Skinny on Data Compression which covers the different types of data compression available in SQL Server and some of the details behind how they work. I’ll also talk about the pros and cons of compressing data and how to determine which flavor of compression is most appropriate for an object. This presentation was very popular in Kansas City and I’m expecting more of the same up North next month!

Registration is still open as of when this post went live, so if you’d like to attend please sign up here. If you’re on twitter, follow the #sqlsat118 hashtag for the latest information.

I can’t wait to head to up Madison. Hope to see you there!

Feb 242012

This week I was very fortunate to speak at the February 2012 MADPASS user group meeting. I’ve seen lots of positive tweets about the group over the course of the past year and had been hoping to attend a meeting of theirs, so when I got the email a few months ago asking if I would present I jumped at the chance.

I left Chicago around noon figuring I would give myself plenty of time to drive there, find my way if I got lost, and/or sit in traffic. I didn’t end up getting lost or hitting any traffic, so I ended up with a few hours to kill. Fortunately the building MADPASS meets in has this awesome room called “The Pub” which very much looks the part. I think my building needs one of these! I spent a few hours in there, got some work done via wi-fi and made sure my slide deck was in order.

The Pub

The Pub

MADPASS meetings aren’t held in the pub, though I understand the first one was because the pool table wasn’t there yet. Once the pool table was installed the meetings moved next door to a meeting room featuring cushy chairs and a fireplace. This is much different from any other presentation space I’ve seen since it doesn’t have a lectern or hard-wired projector, however the folks at MADPASS have a cart full of electronics with all the equipment necessary to present, webcast and record the meeting.

After the welcome and introductions, Jes Borland started off with a 30 minute version of her “Making Your Voice Heard” presentation on the benefits of raising your profile in the SQL Server community through twitter, forums, and blogs, and some tips and tricks to help accomplish that goal.

After Jes came food and networking. Dinner consisted of pizza, soft drinks, beer (we need this at the Chicago meetings!!) and birthday cake. February marks MADPASS’ first birthday, and of course no birthday would be fun without some cake. Jes has a photo of it in her blog post about the meeting.

I left dinner a little early to make sure all my equipment was setup to present, and it’s a good thing I did that because I ended up needing every second of that time and then some. Apparently I’m the first person they’ve had that’s given their presentation from a Mac and LiveMeeting didn’t want to play very nicely. I ended up getting started about 20 minutes later than planned and with screenshots recorded via a join.me session. I ended up running a bit long and rushing through the last few slides because I started late, but managed to get everything in. I hope everyone enjoyed it and learned a trick or two. I also got some really great questions afterwards. If you’re looking for the demo scripts I used, you can find the latest version of them along with other resource material here.

I’d like to thank the MADPASS board: Tim Benninghoff (blog), Jes Borland (blog | @grrl_geek), Matt Cherwin (@control_group), Steve Novoselac (blog | @scaleovenstove), and Tony Sebion (@tonysebion) for the opportunity to speak, and also Confio for sponsoring the meeting and providing swag and raffle prizes.