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:

baby_uff

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.

PASS Summit 2009

My abstract for PASS Summit 2009 was accepted! Woot! You may not be able to see it from where you’re sitting, but I’m doing the happy dance. :)

In case you missed my original post on my abstract submission, here’s what I’ll be presenting on:

Super Bowl, Super Load – A Look at Performance Tuning for VLDB’s

Few DBA’s have the opportunity to experience a real-life load test in their production environment. Michelle Ufford works for GoDaddy.com, a company that has experienced phenomenal success with its Super Bowl ads. These ads are designed to drive traffic to the company’s websites, which puts the database servers under high load. In her presentation, Michelle will explore the performance tuning techniques that have resulted in an 80% reduction in server response times and allowed her VLDB’s to reach rates of 27k transactions per second. Topics will include vertical and horizontal partitioning, bulk operations, table design, and indexing.

Do you read my blog? Do I read yours? Do we exchange weird messages on Twitter? Do you have free cookies? If you’re going to to the PASS Summit and answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I want to meet you! Make sure to say “hi” to me in Seattle. :)

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…

Officers

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

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…

Events

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…

Loot

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).

PvP

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!

Performance Considerations of Data Types

I’ve just finished my first real content for the PASS Performance SIG. I decided to write on “Performance Considerations of Data Types,” as I think this is one of the easiest and most overlooked topics in performance tuning. Here’s a summary:

Selecting inappropriate data types, especially on large tables with millions or billions of rows, can have significant performance implications. In this article, I’ll explain why and offer suggestions on how to select the most appropriate data type for your needs. The primary focus will be on common data types in SQL Server 2005 and 2008, but I’ll also discuss some aspects of clustered indexes and column properties. Most importantly, I’ll show some examples of common data-type misuse.

If you’re interested in this content, you can find it here: Performance Considerations of Data Types.

Special thanks to Paul Randal and Paul Nielsen for providing me with technical reviews and great feedback. You guys are awesome!

Thanks also to Mladen Prajdic and Jeremiah Peschka for their great input. You guys are awesome, too!

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!

380PASS – Meeting Tomorrow Night!

Hi, everyone! Just a reminder that tomorrow night will be our 2nd meeting of the 380PASS chapter. Zakir Durumeric from the University of Iowa will be presenting on Database Mirroring topics. We had 31 members at our first meeting, and we’re hoping to keep the momentum going. This 2nd meeting will be held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Due to scheduling conflicts, this meeting will start at 6:00pm, with the presentation starting at 6:30pm. This is a one-time schedule change; future meetings will resume at 5:30pm. Additional details and directions can be found on our website at http://380pass.org.

If you haven’t already, please register for the event on our website at http://380pass.org. This will help ensure I order enough pizza. :)

To register for an event, you’ll first need to log into the site. If you’ve never logged in before, you’ll need to register for the site as well. Registration is free, quick, and fairly painless. Send me an e-mail at michelle @ sqlfool dot com if you’re having any trouble.

I hope to see you there!

PASS Summit – My Abstract, Deadline Extended!

PASS has extended the deadline for abstract submissions to Friday, 24 April at midnight.
If you’re even thinking about submitting an abstract, just do it.

In related news, yesterday I received the green light from GD legal to submit my abstract. This is my first-ever abstract for PASS, and I’m pretty excited about the topic. After some technical difficulties that resulted in SQL statements being displayed in the error message on-screen (tsk tsk), I finally submitted and received my confirmation number. Here’s an overview, just in case you plan to speak on the same topic…

Super Bowl, Super Load – A Look at Performance Tuning for VLDB’s

Few DBA’s have the opportunity to experience a real-life load test in their production environment. Michelle Ufford works for GoDaddy.com, a company that has experienced phenomenal success with its Super Bowl ads. These ads are designed to drive traffic to the company’s websites, which puts the database servers under high load. In her presentation, Michelle will explore the performance tuning techniques that have resulted in an 80% reduction in server response times and allowed her VLDB’s to reach rates of 27k transactions per second. Topics will include vertical and horizontal partitioning, bulk operations, table design, and indexing.

Source: http://sqlfool.com/2009/04/pass-summit-my-abstract-deadline-extended

380PASS Meeting – Tuesday, 14 April

We’re busy getting ready for our next PASS meeting, which is next Tuesday, 14 April. This meeting will be held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Zakir Durumeric will be speaking on database mirroring in SQL Server. More details, including directions and maps, can be found on our website at http://380pass.org.

Thanks to our Membership Officer, Ed Leighton-Dick, we now have a new Event Registration module! Please make sure to register for the event so we know how much food to order. But feel free to come even if you decide at the last minute and cannot register ahead of time.