Well, all good things have to come to an end and SQL PASS 2011 isn’t any different. I know that this is a couple of days late, but here it is.

Bring it Seattle!

The day started like the others with another beautiful day in Seattle. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it really did look like a nice day ahead of me.  I quickly got up and got ready as I was going to hit up breakfast at the conference and then try to catch the key note speaker.

Happy Friday!

I headed over to the conference center and was waiting for some friends when I had the thought of taking a picture of the downtown Seattle.  So the picture to the left is the view from the front steps of the Conference Center and as a refernce, the hotel is just left of the picture on the same side of the street that I’m standing.  We had lunch over at the Cheesecake Factory one day, which being so close, was very handy.

Breakfast wasn’t too bad, some fruit and muffin type of food along with some cereal. I seriously could have gone for a hot breakfast, but it was what it was.  I met up again with Phil Brammer along with Rochelle, one of the many SQL people that I met over the week.

Next it was time to head over to the key note, where Dr. David DeWitt was going to speak.  I had several people tell me that he’s an excellent speaker and is a geek like the rest of us. Phil, Rochelle and I grabbed some seat left of the main stage and got settled in.

Big Data & Hadoop

Dr. Dewitt started his talk about big data and hadoop. People were right, he is geek like us and he was great to watch. He continued his discussion about this big data and how “NoSql” was playing a role in it.  Both Facebook and Yahoo have created there own query language, HIVE & PIG respectively.  Dr. DeWitt went on to go through some scenarios on how “big data” is laid out and and how these new systems work. The beauty about the discussion was that he showed without a doubt that RDBMS such as SQL Server will be around for a long time.  I highly recommend catching this key note if you can find it.

First Session

Sysinternals to the Rescue!

After the key note, I headed over to catch Argenis Fernandez’s  presentation on Troubleshooting SQL Server with Sysinternals Tools.  His presentation was very enlightening and I got a lot out of it. Argenis had a lot of excellent demos and he even showed us another outstanding reason as to why NOT to use SQL Server logins and stay with integrated authentication.  I didn’t realize of all the things that you can do with these tools.  I took several notes of various things to try back at the office. Definitely going to be adding some of these tools to my arsenal.

Second Session

For the second session (which was after lunch) was Jeremiah Peschka’s session on “Rewrite Your T-SQL for Great Good!“.  It was a totally packed house so I had to grab a piece of carpet and settled in.  Jeremy was already rolling but I knew I could review the DVD’s once we received them. Anyway, Jeremy had some excellent points in his presentation such as your joins, remove excess joins, watch naming conventions and probably most importantly, be consistent. I totally agree with this point. Often times consistency or lack thereof it was makes the database seem like oatmeal.

However, Jeremiah did mention that you should remove the hungarian notation of labeling your objects with a prefix or suffix such as ‘usp’ or ‘tbl’.  While I think that this is probably true, I’m not sure how this is more than a preference.  If you label your objects in this manner, I don’t see any down side from the performance perspective.  I think this notation is fine as long as you are consistent.  This is actually a shift for me as for a long time I was against this notation format, but people can change right? Of course, don’t label your stored procedures as “sp_” as that would indeed cause confusion.

Sorry, didn’t grab a picture from the floor.

Third Session

Compress This!

This session was being given by Bradley Ball (aka SQLBalls) and was entitled “Page & Row Compression: A Deep Dive“. I got a seat relatively close to the front so that I could easily see the demos. I had the pleasure of meeting Brad through a mutual colleague and I want to be able to give Brad some feedback on his presentation.

Brad did an excellent job warming up the crowd. He appear to be a natural speaker and had a really good flow into his presentation.  He first talked about row compression and how that functions.  Side Note: I will say that if you don’t understand how the row/page structure works in SQL Server, this presentation isn’t for you yet.

After that, Brad moved onto page compression and talked about how SQL Server uses either prefix compression or dictionary compression.  He had a lot of great demos and fielded a lot of questions about compression in general.

Even though compression can be a dry subject, Brad did a great job of making it “not so dry” subject.  I even over head a couple of people behind me say “Whoa” & “Wow” as Brad went through his demos.

Fourth Session

Ok, you caught me.  I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t go to one.  I had full intentions on attending Jason Strate’s session on Extended Events, Work Smarter Not Harder, but in my travels to the session I ran into Colorado MVP Chris Shaw and we got into a discussion on Chapter issues and since I knew I had the DVD’s coming I thought that this networking opportunity was more important.  I definitely have a to-do in my notes to go back and watch his presentation.


Most of the last sessions ended around 5:30pm, so a few of us weren’t leaving until the morning decided to go out and try to grab dinner somewhere.  Since we are in Seattle, we thought that we would walk down to Pike Place Market and see what kind of sea food we could find.

Oysters Anybody?

We settled on Elliott’s Oyster House and it was amazing! I had the Seafood Fettuccine and a bowl of the white clam chowder.  It was awesome food and I would definitely recommend it!

There was about 6 of us at dinner and even though we had been talking shop all week we still did a lot of discussing of various topics we had learned over the week. I thought that it was great. Actually, I’ll have a blog post later this week about one of our dinner topics.

Anyway, after dinner we were all glad for the 6 block hike back to the hotel that we had so that we could work off that awesome dinner!

So now the day was done and I successfully attended my first ever SQL PASS Summit.  I will be recalling the whole event in a later blog post, but for now just take my word that it was epic.  I loved every second of it and can’t wait to do it again!

BTW, I wrote this post primarily (sans some minor edits after I got home) on the flight home from Seattle to Minneapolis. At 35k feet. On my phone.


© 2011, John Morehouse. All rights reserved.

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