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I have been Knighted

As I announced on my 2000-2010 a Decade in Retrospect blog post I have joined the ranks at Pragmatic Works and started my first day today. I’m excited to join such a great professional team, full of experts in the SQL Server and Business Intelligence field. There is no waste of time here. Lots of engagements from the get go. Less than an hour at work, I got in my first brainstorming session. An hour later I have been assigned to two client engagements I will be involved with during the next few weeks. I will also be involved with the Virtual Mentoring services. If you have purchased Virtual Mentoring hours from us, I might be giving you a call soon! 

 The atmosphere here at the new offices is laid-back and you can feel a sense of teamwork from all of the guys. If you are looking to make a career move, Pragmatic Works is your best choice. Lots of expansion going on, great carer opportunities and lots of expertise in-house to tap into.

 

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Top 10 reasons to attend SQL Saturday #62 Tampa

We will jumpstart 2011 with the first SQL Saturday event of the year in Tampa, FL on January 15th, 2011. SQLSaturday #62 is a joint effort between the Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group along with the  Tampa Bay Business Intelligence User Group, its volunteers, members, speakers and sponsors.

I’m fortunate of co-organizing the event with one of the most experienced User Group leaders and SQL Saturday organizers, Pam Shaw (Twitter | Blog). It is great to have a mentor such as Pam and learn from her past experience organizing this type of events.

This will be the 4th SQL Saturday organized in Tampa. It will be held in an area of Tampa known as Ybor City (wiki) with a lot of Spanish, Cuban and Italian influence. As with previous years, we will be providing awesome Spanish food for lunch. This year we will also have two paid pre-conferences for the SQL Server/DBA track and Business Intelligence track the day before SQL Saturday on Friday, Jan 14th.

So why not come down to Tampa? SQL Saturday #62 has so many great speakers and sessions. We had over 45 different speakers who submitted more than 75 different sessions. The list was narrowed down to fit the number of rooms and time slots available, giving opportunity to new speakers as well as seasoned speakers and MVPs.

These among many other reasons make up the Top 10 reasons why you should attend SQL Saturday #62 Tampa, FL:

1) Preconferences

SQL Saturday #62 Tampa, FL will have its free sessions on Saturday Jan 15th as well as two paid pre-conferences on Friday Jan 14th. Yes, you read correctly, two all-day pre-conferences the day before SQL Saturday. The pre-conferences have a registration cost of $99. Price includes course materials, coffee, donuts, lunch, water and sodas. You can register for the paid all-day training events at:  http://sqlsaturday62.eventbrite.com/

The two pre-conferences scheduled are:

Pre-con A: Storage and Virtualization for the DBA
Presenter: Denny Cherry
Abstract: This session will be a two part session in which we will be focusing on two of the biggest topics in the DBA field, how to properly design your storage and virtualization solutions.

 Pre-con B: End-to-End Business Intelligence
Presenter: Stacia Misner
Abstract: This session will cover the basics of ETL using SSIS, a deeper focus on mutl-dimensional cube design using SSAS, effective report design using SSRS and an introduction to PowerPivot ad-hoc analysis.

If the pre-conferences (Reason #1) are not reason enough to come to SQL Saturday #62, these are additional reasons to attend;

2) Learn for free : 

Yes, free! No strings attached. All expenses for Saturday sessions are covered by event sponsors and volunteer time and effort by speakers, organizers and user group members.

3) Quality sessions by world class speakers:

And did I mention free sessions on Saturday? Learn from the best in the industry, SQL Server Most Valued Professonals (MVPs), book authors, bloggers, and certified professionals. Take a look at the MVP speaker line-up for SQL Saturday in Tampa, FL: 

MVPs                            

Adam Jorgensen
David Dye
Denny Cherry
Geoff Hiten
John Welch  
Jonathan Kehayias
Kevin Boles
Plamen Ratchev
Rodney Landrum

4) Networking opportunities

At SQL Saturday you have the opportunity to create new friendships, establish professional relationships with other professionals, meet your rockstars and if you are on Twitter, get to meet the source of some of those odd and funny tweets! You have a full day to hunt down and stalk your rockstars, enjoy a casual over lunch conversation or have more deep conversations over a drink at the after party!

5)  Talk to industry leader vendors and explore their products and services

Advaiya
Confio
CozyRoc
Enterprise Software Solutions
Enterprise Software Solutions
Fusion-IO
Gerasus Software
KForce
Melissa Data
Microsoft
Pragmatic Works
Professional Assosciation of SQL Server (PASS)
Redgate
SQL Server Magazine
Tavolacci & Associates / YouCanLearn
Confio
Fusion-IO
Enterprise Software Solutions
Pragmatic Works
Tavolacci & Associates / YouCanLearn

6) SQL Karaoke – SQL Saturday Edition
Show off your talent at the SQLSaturday after party. SQL Karaoke is a must-do event for everyone. Sing along with some of the SQL Server professionals for good’ol fun. We will have our after party at Rock-N-Sports Bar & Bistro at Centro Ybor.

7) Great food
We will be providing free lunch and back by popular demand we will be delighting you with Spanish/Cuban cuisine!

8 ) Enjoy warm and sunny weather
Escape from the cold weather and come down to Tampa. Enjoy a weekend in Ybor City, visit Busch Gardens, or take a trip to the beach.

9) Job opportunities
Looking for a job or planning a career move? Kforce representatives will be on site to talk about several job openings in the area and nationwide. Make sure to visit their booth.

10) Get your Swag on!
As an attendee you will receive a bag full of free swag from our sponsors and raffle tickets for a chance to win netbooks & other electronics, software licenses, training vouchers, books, etc.

Learning SSIS under 1 hour – SQL Lunch 12-14-2010

Learning SSIS under 1 hour presentation was a fun presentation to put together for SQL Lunch. Thanks to all who attended. I hope it was valuable.

The live demo was recorded and can be found at http://www.sqllunch.com. The slides used for this presentation can be downloaded by clicking the image below.

Afterthoughts: SQL Saturday #48 Columbia, SC

More than 1,000 miles later and almost 20 hours behind the wheel, I can only express how much I enjoyed each and every moment at SQL  Saturday #48 hosted in West Columbia, S.C. Let me get started by saying that it was a succesfull and well planned event. It had good attendance rate and had a great speaker line-up.

I have to recognize my wife for doing most of the driving. She volunteered behind the wheel while I sat back and and helped out keeping the girls entertained and busy munching on some veggie sticks.

The Highlights
I can not possibly start without pointing out that I walked away with the most valuable treasure of all: friendships. I was blessed to meet Brian Kelley (Blog Linkedin | Twitter) and his family and be able to interact with their kids. Our two daughters Fae and Sofia had a great time together in the after party. It was very fulfilling to me to be able not just to meet a talented and well-respected guy such as Brian Kelley in a professional setting but also in a more personal way. I really hope this is the start of a long-lasting friendship.

I want to recognize Brian’s wife for manning the book  and prizes table while pregnant. Not many pregnant women would volunteer to be standing up and doing physical work for a whole Saturday. It really shows the type of committment Brian and his wife have to the SQL community.

More Networking
I also had the opportunity to meet and establish friendships with some amazing professionals, in particular funny guy Bobby Dimmick (Linkedin | Twitter). Some of the new connections and personal interactions for the firs time include:

I also got to see some of my friends and tweeps such as:

 I would like to give thanks to  the organizers and sponsors for such a great event. I also want to give a big thanks to the attendees to both my sessions, Get Cert! Get Cred! and Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please! I got great feedback and participation from them. I want to recognize some of my attendees for doing some constructive observations about my presentation style and visuals.  I value all comments that help me become a better speaker and presenter.

What I learned
In my third SQL Saturday I learned several things as an attendee and as a speaker.

First of all, SQL Saturday is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family and to plan a mini-vacation, especially if traveling to a city or area you have not visited before. Also, if you are fortunate like I was, you may end up getting to know other professionals and their families. Next SQL Saturday bring your family along, especially to our Tampa SQL Saturday to be scheduled between January and February, 2011. I would love to meet you and your families.

Second as a SQL Server and Business Intelligence professional you get no better chance to meet your rockstars and be able to have an opportunity to interact. You also meet great professionals in the area with which you establish not only professional connections but also friendships. Friends with which if you can go out to lunch with if you are in their hometown or get good recommendations where to stay or what to do. Also, they can serve as a lifeline.

Third, I learned that you have to balance your presentation between what I consider the two main presentation styles: those who base their presentation on the slides content and those who base their presentation on the slide visuals primarily. The reason you have to balance these two main styles is because of your audience. Some audience members expect for you to follow your slide deck and stick to the text and content on them as much as possible (slide followers). Other audience members don’t like it when you repeat what is on your slide and want to hear what you have to say (content cravers). In this SQL Saturday I had the opportunity to experiment with both these styles. In Get Cert! Get Cred! I played with Guy Kawasaki’s style, while in Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please! I was a little more conservative. I got great feedback on both presentations ranging from As Expected and Better than Expected ratings with an overall average of 4.5 out of 5 rating. If you attended any of my sessions, I want to say thank you once more and keep commenting on ways to improve as a speaker.

Fourth, as SQL PASS Chapter leader it is a great opportunity to learn from the organization and management perspective of a SQL Saturday event. I learned what works and got some great pointers for our upcoming SQLSaturday in Tampa, FL early 2011. Also, I was able to connect with potential speakers for our user group and SQL Saturday event.

Fifth but not least, I had the opportunity to attend great sessions such as:

  • William Pearson’s “Attribute Discretization in Analysis Service”
    Learned a native way of grouping dimension attributes into buckets.
  • Mark Tabladillo’s “Data Mining with PowerPivot 2010” 
    Learned the reason behind the need for so many data mining models and more insight on PowerPivot.
  • Andy Warren’s “Building a Professional Development Plan”
    Learned that you have to consider yourself as a “business of one” and make a plan for your goals as such.
    Also, learned that when you blog do it for yourself primarily even if you repeat what others have already blogged. Unless you are blogging as a business, don’t wory about duplication of content, keeping in mind not to plagiarize.
  • Julie Smith’s “Cool Tricks to Pull from your SSIS Hat”
    Learned how to skip an SSIS container without using precedence constraints.

I hope I didn’t leave anyone or anything out. It is not my intention to exclude anyone. These are just some of  my afterthoughts. Please comment on anything or anyone I left out.

Tuning the Performance of Change Data Capture in SQL Server 2008

Great SQL Server Best Practices Article on performance considerations for Change Data Capture:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd266396.aspx

Change Data Capture as a tool for Business Intelligence, Disaster Recovery, Auditing, and more

This is a summary of the Change Data Capture presentation covered in my sessions at SQL Saturday #38 – Jacksonville and SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida.

Presentation Summary
Change Data Capture (CDC) is one of the new features available for SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and Developer Editions, which allows you to easily track and keep history of all DML (Data Manipulation Language) changes on user tables such as INSERTs, DELETEs, and UPDATEs with little or no overhead. Change Data Capture has been used primarily to track changes for incremental loads using SSIS for the ETL process in Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence because it allows you to identify new data and data that changed or was deleted since last incremental load.

Before Change Data Capture in SQL Server 2005 and prior versions, identifying new or changed data required some level of custom programming, triggers or third party tools. These solutions work well but introduce additional overhead to your production systems. This is the main reason why Change Data Capture was introduced in SQL Server 2008; to eliminate overhead while tracking new and changed data.

But Change Data Capture use is not limited as a tool for ETL Process. It can be used for many other purposes where overhead, simplicity and cost might impose a restriction.  Some of these scenarios include:

1) You are a developer adding or modifying existing code and you need to see the difference in the data output on a particular table.
2) You are a DBA and need to audit several tables in a database and need to report which data was changed, what were the new and previous values, who did the change and when was the change made.
3) You were tasked to delete several records on a highly transactional production database and unintentionally deleted records that you were not supposed to with no possibility of rolling back the changes (no explicit transaction) and no possibility of restoring a backup.
4) You are a DBA and need to know which tables and columns are being written to the most in your database.
5) You are a DBA and need to know how many new records are being entered into your database in a period of time and the percentage of change of existing records.

In most cases you would want to know what changed and which were the values before the change.

 One of the most important benefits of this feature is that it allows you to see the data before & after an UPDATE or DELETE statement, which in turn allows you to query and recover data overwritten or deleted quickly without the need of a database restore. It also captures each new row inserted.

CDC accomplishes this task by reading the committed operations from the log file and inserting the changed records in a tracking table that mirrors the source (tracked) table. The records inserted in this tracking table contain both the value before the change and the value after the change along with the metadata associated with the change. The metadata can be queried to identify the type of DML operation as follows:

1 = Delete
2 = Insert
3 = Update (record’s value before update)
4 = Update (record’s value after update)

More concepts are covered in my PowerPoint presentation which you can download here or by clicking slide below.

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