East Iowa SQL Saturday is Next Saturday! (Oct 1st)

East Iowa’s 3rd annual SQL Saturday is right around the corner! This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 1st. It’s being held in the same location as previous years, at the University of Iowa Capitol Centre in Iowa City.

We have a great mix of speakers this year, including nationally-recognized speakers such as Jason Strate and Ted Krueger. Topics include Denali, PowerPivot, High Availability, Disaster Recovery, PowerShell, SSIS, Analysis Services, Reporting Services, database tuning, and more. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to network with SQL-savvy locals while receiving FREE training.

If you haven’t registered yet, please do so we can make sure we order enough food. Oh, and make sure to stick around for the after-party, too. The after-party is one of my favorite parts of the whole event. This year’s party will be held at The Mill, which is within walking distance of the conference center.

I hope to see you there! 🙂

See you in Seattle!

My Summit abstract was accepted! I’m still a little surprised, but I’m also excited (okay, and a little nervous) to once more be presenting at the PASS Summit. If you’ll be at Summit this year — and I really hope you are, as it’s well worth the time and cost — then please make sure to say “hi” if you see me wandering around. Aside from the *excellent* content, my favorite thing about Summit is getting to meet so many great people. 🙂

In other news, I’ve once more switched roles within GoDaddy. For the half dozen folks who’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you may remember that I originally started out on the traffic team working with tuning and VLDB’s, then took an opportunity to switch to the BI team to learn more about OLAP. Recently, a new team has been formed under the BI branch that’s tasked with developing a massive hybrid data warehouse (by hybrid, I mean half OLTP and half OLAP). “How massive is it?” Well, it’s SO massive, we’re expecting to be store petabytes of data when everything is said and done. I’m happy to say I’ll be on this new team. So yes, that means we have an opening for an OLAP developer. We’re also hiring SQL Server DBA’s. We have offices in Cedar Rapids, Denver, and the Phoenix area. Send me an e-mail at michelle at sqlfool dot com if you’re interested in learning more about this great job opportunity and company.

Lastly, I want to announce that SQL Saturday 50 is now open for registration! SQL Saturday 50 will be held in Iowa City, IA on Saturday, September 18th. We’re almost at 50% of our attendance capacity, so if you’re interested in attending, please register soon.

That’s it for now. I promise that my next blog post will be uber technical. 🙂

SQL Saturday #50 – Call for Speakers

The Call for Speakers is now open for SQL Saturday #50, the East Iowa SQL Saturday event! This is our second time hosting a SQL Saturday, and we’re hoping to build upon the success of last year’s event. We’re looking for a wide variety of topics on SQL Server and related technologies (i.e. PowerShell, R2, LINQ, etc.). We also have had several requests for intro-level topics, such as beginning disaster recovery and basic performance tuning. If you’re even remotely thinking about speaking, please submit an abstract!

Last year we had about 100 folks attend from surrounding areas. This year, we’re shooting for 125 attendees, which would max out our facility’s capacity. Not sure how far away Iowa City is? It may be closer than you think. Allow me to rehash my travel times from last year’s plea for speakers:

  • Chicago – 3.5 hours
  • Omaha – 3.5 hours
  • Milwaukee – 4 hours
  • Kansas City – 4.5 hours
  • Minneapolis – 5 hours
  • St. Louis – 5 hours
  • Indianapolis – 6 hours

The event will be held on September 18th at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. You can find more information, including an abstract submission form, on our event website at http://sqlsaturday.com/50/eventhome.aspx.

Oh, and if you do make it to our SQL Saturday event, please make sure to stop me and say “hi!” 🙂


Allen Kinsel on Twitter (@sqlinsaneo) recently started a new Twitter tag, #PASSAwesomeness, about all of the cool things about PASS Summit. I really like the tag, so I’m going to blatantly steal borrow it for this post. 🙂

First, and long overdue, I want to give a brief recap of the East Iowa SQL Saturday. On October 17th, our local PASS chapter, 380PASS, sponsored our first ever SQL Saturday at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. By all accounts, the event was a great success! We had 90 attendees, 11 speakers, and 21 sessions. We received numerous compliments on the quality of the speakers, the niceness of the facilities, and the abundance of food. Not too shabby for our first time hosting the event, if I do say so myself. 🙂

I’d like to thank all of our wonderful speakers, especially those who traveled from out of town and out of state, for making this event such a success. I’d also like to thank our amazing volunteers for helping put this all together. Lastly, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank our generous sponsors, without whom this event would not be possible. Because this event went so smoothly and was so well received in the community, we’ve already started planning our next big SQL event! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our monthly 380PASS meetings to tide you over.

I’d also like to take a moment to discuss the PASS Summit. Unless you’re a DBA who’s been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the PASS Summit. If you *have* been living under a rock — and hey, I’m not poking fun, I used to live under a rock, too! — then what you need to know is that the Summit is the largest SQL Server conference in the world. It’s a gathering of Microsoft developers and SQL Server gurus; the rest of us show up to try to absorb as much from them as possible. Since I’ve recently moved to the Business Intelligence team, I’m extremely excited to delve into the amazing amount of BI content offered.

I’m also deeply honored to be presenting at the Summit this year on some of the performance tuning techniques I’ve used with great success in my production environments. The session is titled, Super Bowl, Super Load – A Look At Performance Tuning for VLDB’s. If you’re interested in performance tuning or VLDB (very large database) topics, consider stopping by to catch my session. From what I can tell, I’ll be presenting on Tuesday from 10:15am – 11:30am in room(s?) 602-604.

If you read my blog, or if we’ve ever interacted in any way on the internet — Twitter, LinkedIn, e-mails, blog comments, etc. — please stop by and say “hi”! Aside from all of the awesome SQL Server content, I’m really looking forward to meeting as many new folks as possible.

And on that note…

Getting to meet all of the amazing SQL Server professionals out there who have inspired and encouraged me in so many ways #PASSAwesomeness

Why I’m Blogging Less

I’ve received a few questions asking why I’ve been blogging less frequently, and even one inquiry after my health. Rest assured, I’m completely fine. But there are 2 perfectly good reasons why I’ve been blogging less these days.

East Iowa SQL Saturday:

I’m the event organizer for East Iowa SQL Saturday, which is eating up a lot of my free time. If you haven’t yet heard about our SQL Saturday event, let me give you a brief overview. It’s a FREE, one-day training event geared toward SQL Server professionals and anyone who wants to learn more about SQL Server. We have 22 sessions planned covering a variety of topics, from Business Intelligence to Disaster Recovery to SQL Server 2008 topics. And if you’re a .NET developer, we also have some .NET-related presentations, including PowerShell and MVC.

We’re very fortunate to have snagged an excellent set of speakers. Jessica Moss, Louis Davidson, Timothy Ford, Jason Strate, and Alex Kuznetsov are just a few of the great speakers we have lined up.

There’s only a handful of spots left, so if you’re interested in attending, you should register soon. To find out more details about the speakers and sessions, or to register, be sure to check out our website at http://sqlsaturday.380pass.org.

The Other Reason:


Yes, that’s right, I’m with child. Expecting. Eating for two. Bun in the oven. In the family way. You get the idea.

So when I’m not at work, planning SQL Saturday, or playing Civilization Revolution, I’m sleeping. For those who remotely care, I’m due around Super Bowl time in February 2010.

2010: The Year I Make Contact

2010: The Year I Make Contact

Rest assured, this blog isn’t going away. And hopefully once I get through SQL Saturday and then PASS Summit, I’ll have more free time again. 🙂

East Iowa SQL Saturday – Call For Speakers, Open Registration

A few announcements regarding the East Iowa SQL Saturday:

  • The date has changed to October 17th due to scheduling conflicts. Please update your calendars.
  • We’re still looking for speakers! We currently have 10 submissions, but we’d like to have double that. If you’re even thinking about submitting a session, please do! Who knows, Iowa City may be closer than you think.
  • Registration is open! If you’re planning to attend the East Iowa SQL Saturday, please make sure to register by clicking on the “Register” link and completing the short questionnaire. Seating is limited, so make sure to register soon.
  • Also, if you’re in the area and would be interested in volunteering, please send me an e-mail at michelle at sqlfool dot com.

Bored this summer?

Bored this summer? Do you like to help others? Do you have too much free time? Do you find yourself thinking, “Man, I really should spend more time indoors.” If you answered “yes” to all any of these questions, then have I got a proposition for you!

What could be more fun than getting second-degree burns at the waterpark, you ask? Volunteering on the PASS Performance SIG! That’s right, we’re looking for a few good women and men to join our ranks as content contributors. Specifically, we’re looking for people to write articles and/or host LiveMeeting events on performance-related topics. Not a performance expert? This can be a great way for you to learn more.

In case I scared you off in my opening paragraph, let me assure you that it really does not take that much time to be a volunteer. Just 3-4 hours a month can be a huge help. We’re also looking for contributors of all experience levels, so if you’re only comfortable writing intro-level articles, that’s definitely okay.

Oh, and while I’m begging for volunteers, we’re still looking for speakers for the SQL Saturday in East Iowa. 🙂

If you’re interested in either, then please send me an e-mail at michelle at sqlfool dot com for more information.

East Iowa SQL Saturday – Call for Speakers!

The Call for Speakers is now open for the East Iowa SQL Saturday! This is our first time hosting a SQL Saturday, and there’s a lot of excitement and interest from our local SQL Server folks. There’s some interest from local speakers, but we’ll probably also need to pull in speakers from outside of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to support the number of tracks and attendees we plan to have.

The event will be held on October 10th, 2009 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Special thanks to Russ Allen for his help with securing a location for us!

For those who are not in the immediate area but would be willing to travel, here’s some general travel times from major cities in the area:

  • Chicago – 3.5 hours
  • Omaha – 3.5 hours
  • Milwaukee – 4 hours
  • Kansas City – 4.5 hours
  • Minneapolis – 5 hours
  • St. Louis – 5 hours
  • Indianapolis – 6 hours
  • Columbus, OH – 9 hours (hint, hint, Jeremiah!)

So if you’re in the general area, please, PLEASE consider speaking at our SQL Saturday. Pretty please with sugar on top. 🙂

You can find out a little more information and submit sessions at our SQL Saturday website.

User Groups Are Like Guilds…

(channeling “Forest Gump”)… you never know what you’re gonna get. Ack! Sorry, I just can’t help myself sometimes. Moving on…

I was recently discussing guilds with my gamer husband and he commented how much running a user group sounds like running a guild. For those of you who aren’t already aware, before I traded my gaming addiction for a SQL one, he and I ran a guild together with around 140 members.

The Guild
Not sure what a guild is? Check out the The Guild, a popular, very humorous, and only slightly exaggerated web series.

The more I’ve thought about what my husband said, the more I realized how right he is. Allow me to share my (questionable) thoughts on the subject:

Guild Masters

Some guild masters are great leaders and others are just very dedicated; the same is true with user group leaders. If you spend all day trolling forums and working on maxing your DPS, you’re probably a good gamer but it doesn’t necessarily make you a good guild master. Similarly, being a SQL samurai does not necessarily prepare you to lead a user group. A handful of people are just naturally good leaders; most everyone else has to acquire the skill, often through painful experience. Before starting a guild or user group, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you in the market for an unpaid part-time job?
  • Do you like to alphabetize your DVD collection?
  • Do you enjoy helping n00bs (junior admins)?
  • Have you ever led an anti-social, semi-violent mob before?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t worry, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should not start your own guild or user group. But you may want to consider first joining an existing group to ensure you’ll enjoy the experience. Either way, you’ll quickly find out how important it is to have…


You can’t do it alone. Well, you can try, but don’t expect the 40-man heroic raid you scheduled to start on-time or run smoothly. Every guild and group leader needs supportive and dedicated officers. If it’s your first time leading a group, try to recruit someone who has leadership experience but perhaps doesn’t have the time or energy to be El Jefe; this person can be an invaluable resource for you. And if you have run a group before, you still want officers to help distribute the workload. Officers can help with a variety of tasks, from managing supplies to organizing major events. Lastly, they’re also a great point of contact for your…


Guildies (members) are the fine men and women who have entrusted you to lead them into battle (provide stimulating meetings). Without them, you would have no guild (user group). They have joined for any number of reasons: some are new to the game and want to learn (junior DBAs), some are interested in meeting new people with similar interests, and others are just there for the free food.

Over time, you’ll find membership waxes and wanes; people switch servers (move to a new city), trade in gaming for a more boring hobby (switch from DBA to sysadmin), or just run out of time in the day. There’s little you can do to change this, so you’ll inevitably have to do some new-member recruitment. However, if you’ve got a good group, you’ll find much of your advertisement is by the word-of-mouth of current members. Still want to recruit new members? Try throwing some big…


Whether it’s an end-of-game dungeon or a SQL Saturday, everyone loves a good event. There’s a couple of things you should be aware of, though. First, always, ALWAYS plan for people to not show. Don’t take it personally; life just happens. I’ve heard that 70% of registrants is a good estimate of how many people will actually show up.

Secondly, while everyone loves to attend events, not many people want to actually help organize one. If you’re lucky enough to get volunteers, treat them very well! You’ll quickly find out a good volunteer is worth his or her weight in…


Just as dungeon bosses drop loot (prizes) both good and bad, so do sponsors. Very few guildies are motivated solely by loot, and loot is not absolutely necessary for a successful event. Still, everyone likes to win, and there’s really nothing like the joy of rolling a perfect 100 to score that epic dagger (erm… I guess the best translation for this one is having your ticket drawn to win a copy of Quest’s Capacity Manager).


One of the most popular event types is a PvP (player vs. player) raid. This is where your guildies attack members of opposing factions, just for fun and bragging rights. To help make user groups even more guild-like, I’m currently organizing raids against the local Oracle and mySQL user groups. We hope to use the element of surprise to really lay into ’em. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

All jokes aside, guilds and user groups may not be _exactly_ the same, but there are certainly a surprising amount of similarities. If nothing else, both definitely involve a lot of time, effort, and dedication, and I think many of the leadership and organizational skills learned in a guild are truly transferable to the “real world.”

Hopefully by now you’re either feeling motivated to start a user group, or you’re off to the store to stock up on Cheetos and Mt. Dew, the sustenance of choice for most gamers, so you can survive the weekend locked in the basement playing PC games. Whatever the case… have fun!

380PASS – Another Successful Meeting!

Our 2nd 380PASS meeting was another success, by all accounts. We had 31 attendees! This is twice what registered and remains on par with our first meeting. The meeting was held in one of the very nice, state-of-the-art conference rooms at the University of Iowa. We began the meeting with a new feature, quick and easy SQL tips. I gave the first tip, which was how SSMS 2008 will display missing indexes. Afterwards, Zakir Durumeric from the Research Information Systems (RIS) team at the University spoke on database mirroring. Zakir gave an excellent overview of high availability options, the pros and cons of various methods, and some of the obstacles and solutions he’s faced in his environment. The materials for last night’s meeting will be uploaded to http://380pass.org later today.

Following Zakir’s presentation, Russ Allen shared some powerful and time-saving tips on how to use Central Management Servers to manage multi-server environments. The meeting ended with an interesting and informative discussion on Red Gate’s software. The conversation primarily revolved around SQL Compare, SQL Data Compare, and SQL Prompt, and the positive impact those applications have had on our lives.

We’re pleased to announce SQL Server MVP Hilary Cotter as the guest speaker for our May meeting. Hilary will be presenting remotely on performance tuning topics. More details to follow as we finalize them.

Thank you for all who attended and have helped make our new chapter such a success!