Apr 062017
 

At last month’s SQL Saturday in Chicago, we had two great distinctions:

  • We were SQL Saturday #600, a milestone! (But weren’t SQL Saturday numbers going away?)
  • We also were the first SQL Saturday to use the new logo, which is just one part of the major rebranding project undertaken by PASS last year.

At PASS Summit 2016, PASS announced several new logos as part of it’s rebranding campaign. There were new logos for PASS as a whole, SQL Saturday, 24 Hours of PASS, PASS Summit, and Business Analytics. In general they’re not terrible. I actually really like the new PASS logo. The old one just never made sense to me. Was it a St. Andrew’s Cross spider on top of a storm warning flag? (Since Sharknado was a hit, a movie about a hurricane full of spiders is a guaranteed blockbuster, right?) If there was any symbolism behind that old PASS logo, I’ve never heard it.

Old (left) and new (right) PASS logos

The new PASS logo, on the other hand, has a nifty story behind it. It’s all the different facets that make up PASS coming together into one. I like that.

But then there’s the new SQL Saturday logo.

Old (top) and new (bottom) SQL Saturday Chicago logos

SQL Saturday’s new logo is much more refined than it’s predecessor, and it’s very evident that a lot of effort went into these new logos and this rebranding as a whole. That being said, I think the new logo falls short in a few key areas.

First of all, there’s the symbol itself. It definitely works well with the PASS logo, but look at it. If you’re thinking in SQL about it (and since it’s a logo for SQL Saturday, that’s not too hard to imagine) you’ll see that it’s literally “<>”, the T-SQL operator for “not equals”. I have to imagine that whoever designed this logo was a graphic designer with absolutely no clue what SQL is, or what the logo they designed meant to people familiar with it. And I think that’s okay to a degree, but very early-on in this process someone at PASS probably should have looked at that and said “ya know, that looks like a not equals operator. Is that really how we want to symbolize SQL Saturday?”

Second, the typeface used in the new logo is much more modern, and the letters are significantly thinner than the old one. It looks great on a computer screen or when printed on paper, but think about what SQL Saturday logos are used for. In a lot of cases they are embroidered on things like shirts or jackets. Did whoever designed this logo know that? Once again I’ll assume they didn’t, otherwise they probably would have accounted for that.

The smaller a detail is, the more difficult/expensive it becomes to embroider, and this logo definitely qualifies. Just look at the PASS logo located inside the SQL Saturday logo. It’s microscopic. We had to use a bolder typeface for the speaker jackets we gave out in Chicago this year; it just didn’t look good otherwise. We also had to make it single-color, and remove the gradients. But by making all those changes, we technically changed the logo, which has become a big no-no in recent years. The SQL Saturday Wiki states: “Per the SQL Saturday license, the event logos provided to you by PASS are not to be altered in any way.” So if changes are necessary to be able to embroider this logo, but it can’t be altered in any way, does that mean organizers will have to run afowl of the license agreement? Or just do away with speaker shirts altogether? I don’t know, and I’m not sure there’s any way to tell.

SQL Saturday Chicago embroidered on jacket

It really doesn’t have to be this difficult though. This logo is still quite new, relatively unused, and there seems to be quite a few members of the community (SQL Saturday organizers in particular) who think this logo could use some work. Why not change it now? I’m sure there’s a way to come up with something that fits in with PASS’ new branding, is easier to embroider, and has a better message than “not equals.”

Apr 042017
 

Spring is upon us! It’s slowly getting warmer outside (with a few final insults of snow and freezing temperatures mixed in) and that can only mean one thing: SQL Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin is fast approaching – it’s actually this Saturday! I’m very proud to once again be on the schedule to present at one of my favorite SQL Saturdays. Not only is it relatively close to home for me, but the University of Wisconsin-Madison makes for a wonderful venue!

My presentation is entitled “Supercharging Your Backups and Restores For Fun and Profit”, and covers the various methods that can be used to increase the speed of SQL Server database backups. You may be familiar with query tuning, but did you know that backups and restores can be tuned in a similar way? This demo-intensive session will discuss the different phases of the backup and restore processes, how to determine which of them are the slowest, and which are the easiest to speed up. Cutting backup and restore times by 75% or more is entirely possible by using the methods covered in this session.

I hope to see you there!

Jan 302017
 

SQL Saturday Chicago 2017SQL Saturday Chicago 2017 is fast approaching!

After receiving a total of 131 abstracts submitted by 64 speakers, we’re pleased to announce our schedule for the day. Thank you to all who submitted! Building a schedule like this is not easy, especially given the number and quality of abstracts received.

We hope to see you on Saturday, March 11, 2017 for this amazing day of free training, career development, and networking. (Lunch onsite is available for $15.)

Registration has been brisk, and at this point we are at capacity, but don’t worry, chances are very good you can still attend. Here’s how:

Join our waiting list for a chance at a spot. As the event nears, LOTS of people find they are unable to attend and cancel their registration. As this happens, we pull from our waiting list in the order that people signed up for it. REGISTER HERE for our waiting list – the sooner you do, the greater your chance of getting a spot!

Register for a pre-conference session and be guaranteed a spot. We are offering 2 wonderful full-day pre-conference sessions on Friday, March 10. These in-depth workshops are being conducted by experts Adam Machanic and David Klee. Your pre-conference registration fee includes light breakfast, coffee, and lunch. Additionally, pre-conference attendees can bypass the SQL Saturday waiting list and are guaranteed a spot. You can find out more information and register for pre-conference sessions at the links below:

David Klee: The Complete Primer to SQL Server Infrastructure and Cloud

Adam Machanic: Tuning Your Biggest Queries

I hope to see you all there!

May 122016
 

For the past few years I’ve had the annual goal of attending a SQL Saturday in a location that’s totally new to me. For 2016, that new place is Maine. The closest I’ve ever gotten to there is Boston, so I’m really looking forward to this trip and honored to be among the presenters at SQL Saturday Maine 2016!

I’ll be giving my talk entitled “Introduction to SQL Server Encryption”, the same one I delivered in Madison earlier this year and went quite well. If your organization is investigating deploying any of SQL Server’s encryption features, this is the session for you! Please bring your questions and I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

If you still haven’t signed up for SQL Saturday in Portland, Maine, there’s still spots available as of when this post went live. The organizing team has built an amazing schedule, and it’s sure to be a great day of education and networking!

Feb 292016
 

Thank you so much to the wonderful organizing committee of SQL Saturday Madison 2016 for selecting me to present!

I’m a huge fan of Madison – it’s a great city that’s not-too-terribly far from my house. I’ve had amazing times at their previous SQL Saturdays in 2012, 2013, and 2015, and I can only assume it will be just as awesome this year. They’ve put together a wonderful schedule with amazing presenters both local and from afar.

The presentation I’ll be giving is an introduction to SQL Server Encryption. Security is only getting more important as time goes on, and encryption continues to play an increasing role across the board. While it was once seen as necessary only at the client level, the calls for databases to be encrypted as well are becoming more and more frequent. This session will cover SQL Server’s encryption capabilities and what they have to offer, including certificates, encryption algorithms, backup encryption, transparent database encryption, and column-level encryption.

Registration for SQL Saturday Madison is still open right now, so if you’d like to see a day’s worth of amazing presenters cover Microsoft’s Data Platform technologies, sign up today!