Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SQL Saturday #67 Chicago

SQLSaturday 67 LogoMost of the sessions I attended involved improving performance. Whether it was proactive (design for performance) or reactive (troubleshooting), most sessions included some coverage of indexes. Surprisingly there very little duplication of content by the different speakers. Because of the quality and relevance of the all sessions offered, it was difficult to decide which sessions to attend. Below is a brief recap of the ones I chose.


Performance Tuning Made Easy with Thomas LaRock

Being a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, I appreciated the way Tom (blog|twitter) described a simple systematic process for performance tuning based on the Six Sigma DMAIC (Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach.

The Optimizer, Statistics, and Indexes with Grant Fritchey

Grant (blog|twitter) gave a great primer to the internals of the Relational Engine, the components of which have really cool names like Query Parser, Algebrizer, and Optimizer. He also spent more time discussing the Statistics histogram, which appeals to my six sigma senses, than I generally see in an hour long presentation.

WIT (Women in Technology) Panel: Energizing the Next Generation

This session seemed to have a balanced number of men and women in attendance. It was nice to hear the perspective of multiple women with different backgrounds sharing their experiences in the field. I’m really happy that most of their experiences sounded positive even in the face of adversity.

Refactoring SQL with Jeremiah Peschka

Jeremiah (blog|twitter) really highlighted the importance of using consistent naming conventions and common alias names. He touched on SQL unit testing and some open source test frameworks. He also showed refactoring examples such as, re-writing where clauses to move functions from the left side of the operator to the right side for performance gains.

Database Design Contentious Issues with Karen Lopez

This was one of my favorite sessions. It was interactive as the participants had to walk to the front of the room and anonymously vote (via post-it note) on a scale of 1 to 5 on our opinion/view of two issues which people often passionately argue about, such as, surrogate keys vs. natural keys. People that admitted to voting on the extremes (one or five) were asked to explain why they voted the way they did and open the topic for group discussion. Karen liberally made effective use of Canadian SWAG (like ketchup flavored Pringles) to persuade the edge-case voters to plead their case in the face of possible peer criticism. Karen (blog|twitter) expertly moderated the discussion and provided great pro/con examples on both sides even where it conflicted with her own views. It was both fun and educational.

Index Internals for Mere Mortals with Michelle Ufford

At a lightning quick pace, Michelle (blog|twitter) brought a great deal of insight to index internals. She showed actual representations of index pages and pointed out key elements of it, including the “uniqueifier”. She covered a great deal of information in the short one hour, but it was very clear, understandable, and educational.


The lunch was provided by Meaty Balls. It was plenty of tasty meat and mushrooms for the price.


The organizers offered a “Speed Pass” option where I printed my name tag, lunch ticket, and raffle tickets off in advance which meant I could sleep in a little before heading to Chicago.


The conference was hosted at the DeVry University Addison Campus which had great classroom spaces. There were ample power outlets available on the table tops for each attendee to plug in, if desired. I wish I had remembered to bring the AC adapter for my GPS for the trip home since my car lighter adapter stopped working before the trip.


I was within a SWAG keychain throw of several SQL Celebrities like Kevin Kline (blog | twitter) and Brent Ozar (blog|twitter). Brent was sitting behind me in three out of five sessions I attended - and no, I’m not a SQL Stalker.

I finally got to meet Wendy Pastrick face-to-face after several email and twitter conversations over the last year.


I’ve been running the fwPASS User Group for a few years and to do just an average job takes a surprising amount of time and effort. See my case study on continuous improvement in a professional association for more information. The organizers did an exceptional job that deserves more thanks than I can provide. I’m not sure if this is inclusive of all the organizers (which I copied from Doug Lane’s blog), but THANK YOU:

Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter)
Ted Kruger (blog|twitter)
Norman Kelm (blog|twitter)
Jes Borland (blog|twitter)
Bob Pusateri (blog|twitter)
Aaron Lowe (blog|twitter)
Bill Lescher (twitter)
Rich Rousseau (twitter)

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