Friday, June 26, 2015

PASS Summit Selection Process

I was thinking today about why I submit sessions to speak at the PASS Summit.

My first summit was in Denver back around 2006 or 2007. We (my boss and me) saw an ad for it on SQL Server Central. We enjoyed every minute of the Summit and had about 100 things to go back to the office and implement. Problem was, there were too many ideas to implement and we weren’t to successfully at applying the changes. The trip did get us a list of speakers to watch for published articles and blogs, plus a consultant firm or 2 to help us expand the SQL Server environment at a growing company.

The next year our plan was to find 2-3 ideas from the Summit and come back to the office and implement one within a month, the second within 3 months, and hopefully get to the third. The first was Clustering and that went well and on time. The second was Data Mirroring and that took a little longer. I do not remember the last item.

One other thing happened. I sat in a session or 2, and both me and my boss were like ‘I can do that.’ Meaning, we both could have gave that talk. Not really, but that is what we thought.

Patrick LeBlanc had started a SQL Server User Group in Baton Rouge and they were looking for speakers. I signed up. My boss (or bosses at the time) helped me refine the session and off I went. I had been doing Lunch and Learns at the last 2 jobs which helped this process. Everything went well until I got to something I did not have experience, and I could not answer the question posed from the audience. This set in motion a drive to learn more about SQL Server.

I submitted to SQLSaturday in Baton Rouge and prepared for an advanced session. Not many SQLSatuday attendees come for an advanced topic. This got me thinking that sessions at SQLSatuday need to be more introduction to topics or intermediate instead of advanced. This started a successful session building list of ideas: Focus on helping 3-5 individual learn more about SQL Server. That is why I first went to the Summit.

After 2 years of local user group and SQLSaturday talks, I got selected for a PASS Summit and the first SQLRally. The other thing I learned to have a better chance at getting picked is to find topics that are not a lot of submissions for. The second part of my process is to go watch successful sessions at the PASS Summit and find out how they present (style), abstract writing (catchy descriptions) and what the person does before and after the sessions. Blogging is also helpful for ideas and practice.

This may sound mean, but I also stop going to sessions by Microsoft speakers even though the subject was something I needed to learn. This is not a knock to the speaker or session or Microsoft, but I found it better to watch presenters with industry experience. The Microsoft sessions can be learn/watched later online or the information is in White Papers. This was just a personal opinion.

New Features is another topic I avoid right now because so many people want to talk about that new feature. Without some experience, I am not the right speaker (at the present moment) to do those talks. But, it is not a bad idea to talk about something you do not have a lot of experience with. This determination will get you to spend time (more than usually) learning about that topic or feature. The is what I have done to advance a feature at the companies I worked for.

I hope we all continue growing the community of speakers, bloggers and experts to keep the SQL Server community healthy and exciting.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

PASS Excel BI VC presents Ásgeir Gunnarsson: End to End Risk Assessment – Using PowerView

Join us today at noon central for Asgeir presenting for the Excel BI VC.

Thu, Jun 18 2015 12:00 Central Daylight Time

PASS Excel BI VC presents Ásgeir Gunnarsson: End to End Risk Assessment – Using PowerView



Risk assessment is becoming an integral part of many organizations. In order to do it successfully you need to do it regularly and consistently. You need to register the risk factors, the risks them self, evaluate them and then plan the actions required to mitigate them. Besides the registration you need to have compelling and easy reading reports that help managers quickly find how the assessment is going. The familiar Excel interface helps assessors register the risk factors and risks and then plan the actions. The solutions then uses Power Query to load data into PowerPivot without overwriting and the Power View to report the results. The results can then be monitored in Power BI. This method can easily transfer to any other data collection solution such as budgeting or incident registration Decent knowledge of Excel and a familiarity with Power Query, PowerPivot, Power View and Power BI sites

Ásgeir is a Senior Consultant with Capacent Iceland working with Business Intelligence and planning solutions using different software vendors. Ásgeir has been working in BI since 2007 both as a consultant and internal employee. Before turning to BI Ásgeir worked as a technical trainer and currently teaches BI courses at the Continuing Education Department of the University of Iceland. Ásgeir is passionate about data and loves solving problem

Thursday, June 4, 2015

SQLSaturday #408 Houston

I have been selected again to speak in Houston (Saturday, June 13th) for a SQLSaturday event and look forward to connecting with some Texas PASS members like Nancy, Alan, Jen, Sean and many others. The facilities at San Jacinto College in the Southwest part of the Houston area were great last year. These free events (yes, I said free) have wonder sponsors that help cover cost especially Lunch!!!


The presentations for this event for me are BI related: Getting Started with Tabular and Excel 2013 Tips and Tricks. These are session I have done a couple of times and get great responses. I have a couple of speakers I would like to see and hope to peak inside their sessions.

Hopefully I will see some of you there and we can talk. Come find me.

Getting started with Tabular Analysis Services [Room 1.117]

Speaker(s)Thomas LeBlanc

Duration: 60 minutes

Track: Business Intelligence


Excel 2013 Tips and Tricks for Displaying a Multidimensional Cube [Room 1.147]

Speaker(s)Thomas LeBlanc

Duration: 60 minutes

Track: Business Intelligence


Thursday, May 7, 2015

PASS Elections and Verifying Account

It is that time of the year when PASS starts a process to help update memberships and clean up duplicate account. I just Deactivated an old account setup in 2006 I never used.

Here is some more info and links. This material is copied from PASS website and emails.

Announcing 2015 PASS Elections Season

Are you ready to participate in the 2015 PASS Nomination Committee (NomCom) and Board of Directors elections? PASS is your community--don't miss this opportunity to shape its future by casting your ballot!

Who can vote?

Any PASS member who has a complete myPASS profile by 11:59 PDT on June 1, 2015, is eligible to vote in this year's elections. 

How do I vote?

The first step is to make sure that you are eligible to vote:

1. Log into your myPASS account
2. Click myProfile
3. Review and udpate all fields
4. On the myPASS section of your profile, you should see a green check mark in the Voting Eligibility section. This will confirm your status.


PASS Voting Eligibility and Upcoming Elections

Posted in [PASS General], [Virtual Chapters], [PASS Chapters], [Elections] By Bill Graziano

May 7, 2015 – During the 2014 election cycle, the PASS Board established specific eligibility requirements for voting in the PASS elections. These requirements are designed to help de-duplicate member data for eligible voters before ballot notifications are sent. Specific mandatory fields have been added to the myProfile section of to help us better serve the community.

To cast a ballot, members must complete all mandatory fields in their myPASS profile. PASS members who have not completed their profile will receive a reminder to update their myPASS profile to be eligible to vote. Your profile must be completed by 11:59 pm PDT June 1, 2015 to guarantee eligibility to cast ballots in the 2015 PASS elections.   

Don’t miss your chance to vote in the PASS elections! To confirm your eligibility, please log into your myPASS account to look for the follow eligibility stamp:

PASS is your organization. Thank you for helping to shape its future by participating in the elections process. 

–Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Favorite FREE Reports in SSMS

Microsoft has given us DBAs/Developers/etc. a wealth of free reports integrated into SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) in order to see what is happening in our environment. These reports are really nice because you do not need to know the DMV/DMF in order to get the results.

The first report I use in on a database - Disk Usage. In order to get to this report, I need to Right-Click on the database and go to Reports menu.



Disk Usage

From there, drill into Standard Reports –> Disk Usage


This reports gives me a visual of the data and log usage as well as what is going with the data files. From here, I can see if the log file is getting large and/or how full. The Data/Log File Autogrow/Autoshrink indicates that the log file grew on 4/7 and added 200MB (it is autogrow sized correct). I can also see the percentages of data, index, etc. usage on the File Groups.


Disk Usage by Top Tables (or Disk Usage by Tables)

The next report is Disk Usage by Top Tables or by Tables. The Top tables will order the report Reserved Data Size. The by Tables report orders the list alphabetically by schema name and then table name.






Schema Changes

Being able to see changes on the database without too much effort is reserved for this report. It feeds from the default trace, so some things fall off with recycling of the trace files.



Index Usage Statistics

This report gives usage and operational information about indexes.  The usage statistics are related to Seek, Scans and Updates while the operational is for Insert, Updates and Deletes.


These are just a few of the integrated reports in SSMS. I am sure you will find your favorite or even find some at the instance level you might enjoy.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

PASS Excel BI VC presents Devin Knight on Getting Started on PowerQuery

Come join us Thursday April 2nd for an Excel BI virtual chapter session at noon central with Pragmatic Work’s Devin Knight who will help us get started with PowerQuery.

Thu, Apr 02 2015 12:00 Central Daylight Time

Getting Started with Power Query by Devin Knight



Power Query is a free add-in for Excel 2010 or 2013 that provides users an easy way to discover, combine and refine data all within the familiar Excel interface. With Power Query you can now combine and transform data from a variety of data sources all within Excel, which would have previously required a complex ETL tool. Join Devin and learn how you can use Power Query to take your Self-Service BI solutions to the next level. You will also see quick ways to visualize this new data appropriately. BIO Devin a Microsoft SQL Server MVP and the Training Director at Pragmatic Works Consulting. He is an author of six SQL Server books and speaks at conferences like PASS Summit, PASS Business Analytics Conference, SQL Saturdays and Code Camps. He is also a contributing member to the PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. Making his home in Jacksonville, FL, Devin is the President of the local users’ group (JSSUG).

Devin Knight a Microsoft MVP and the Training Director at Pragmatic Works Consulting. He is an author of six SQL Server books and speaks at conferences like PASS Summit, PASS Business Analytics Conference, SQL Saturdays and Code Camps. He is also a contributing member to the PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. Making his home in Jacksonville, FL, Devin is the Vice President of the local users group (JSSUG).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Simple-Talk Article

In December, I was asked to write an article(s) on Database Refactoring. It started as 2 topics, but then consolidated into one. I really wanted to talk about the database design issues I see with a development department. Please give some time to reading the article and comment. First, I would like to thank for Simple-Talk team for the editing process which was first class and very, very useful.

The comments are really for the new developer who needs some guidance on designing databases. I wish everybody had the MIS class I took at LSU for Entity-Relationship diagrams. Back then(86-91), the ER Diagram and Data Diagram were 2 separate pieces to the database. You looked at the conceptual design before the physical implementation.

I am started to wonder if Agile/Scrum methods are starting to water down the design sessions for application development. Or maybe not :)