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SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Interview with Friday, June 2nd precon trainers and @MidnightDBA hosts, Sean and Jen McCown

Yesterday we discussed with Tim Mitchell his training “Building Better SSIS Packages happening Thursday, June 1st for our upcoming SQLSaturday Pensacola. Now let’s learn more about our Friday seminar, “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions”, with trainers Sean McCown and Jen McCown.

The McCown’s, owners of MinionWare, LLC, have an extensive background as DBAs, using their combined years of experience to create Minion, a suite of products to help you manage your servers and databases. They also host a show on Friday evenings, DBAs@Midnight. Now to the interview…

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

Sean: 22yrs.  Actually, I was a French chef before so falling into SQL was quite an accident.  Getting into the full story now would take too long.

Jen: I’ve been working with SQL Server since sometime in the early 2000s, so that makes over 15 years. Like almost everyone else, I was doing something else when I was asked to do a little database work. Then, Sean told me that databases were way better (and more lucrative) than the work I’d mostly been doing before, so I took his word for it! (He was right, by the way.) 

The training you are doing for us on Friday, June 2nd, “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

Sean: So many DBAs don’t have a solid understanding of what it takes to have a maintenance plan in an enterprise.  I see it all the time where they’ve got completely different solutions on all their servers.  There are a number of issues that are caused by one-offing solutions, and simply not having a coherent plan.  I want you to come away with an understanding of the different aspects of maintenance that you need to take into account, as well as a cohesive strategy for your shop.  We’ll talk through all this with you and send you away with a working solution that you can deploy everywhere.  The class is very demo heavy and we discuss every aspect of your server maintenance routines.

Jen: I hope they learn to fly. Barring that, I hope they really get a good, distilled shot of our combined experience: the backup and maintenance issues that get overlooked or glossed over, the really really important things that get overlooked or glossed over…you get the picture.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings for SQLSaturday events?

Sean: This topic especially isn’t covered in any depth by anyone out there.  You can find a blog post here and there on backups, etc., but nothing in the depth you need to truly manage an enterprise.  I wanted to have the freedom to explore this very deep topic as fully as I can.  My only regret is that I’ve only got one day.

Jen: Why did I start doing full day training? Sean bet me I couldn’t talk for 8 hours straight. Guess I showed him.  Also, we seriously have a lot to say about backups and maintenance, that we think is absolutely vital for every SQL Server DBA.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

Sean: Certainly none of the Azure stuff.  I like the features that do production DBAs some good.  And I tend to like the lesser-known features.  I really like delayed durability for heavy OLTP shops.  I also love that they’re making some of the legacy data types able to reindex online… has that been within three years?  Oh well… And I like that they’re merging a lot of the functionality between enterprise and standard.

Jen: Don’t look at me…I’m still excited about the DMVs and windowing functions! 

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

Sean: Well, I still cook a lot.  I’ve been baking more in the past year than I have before.  I’ve also been doing Kenpo since I was 15, and I garden.  Fruits and veggies mostly.  I’ve got a number of fruit trees, fruit bushes, herbs and the like.

Jen: I run, I read, I pick up various hobbies and put them back down again. Three years ago I built the kids a tree house. This year I’m registering people to vote, and thinking really hard about picking up the piano again (not literally).

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Jen: I wear a size 10.5 running shoe. And I’ll answer for Sean, since he wanted to say something about bonnets…he’s got the best defined calves I’ve ever seen on an IT guy.

The McCown’s have also provided a video on what you’ll learn at this precon.

Rates for both our precons go up May 5th, so be sure and register this week to save yourself $20. The link again to the McCown’s training is here.

Be sure to also reserve your spot for SQLSaturday Pensacola!

SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Interview with Thursday, June 1st precon trainer, Tim Mitchell

As mentioned in last week’s post, SQLSaturday Pensacola #617 is rapidly approaching, and there is still a lot of work to get done, but things are coming along smoothly. Often attendees want more than just the 60 minute “shot-in-the brain” they get from sessions at training events, hince why many SQLSaturday organizers now add full day deep dive training seminars the days prior to their event. Pensacola is no different. We’ve been doing precons since 2011, our first was with Andy Leonard “A Day of SSIS”. That first precon was a huge success, and since we haven’t had any deep dives on SSIS since, we thought it a good time to bring the topic back around.

This year we have Tim Mitchell training on “Building Better SSIS Packages”. Tim is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, and is a consultant for and owns Tyleris Data. I first met Tim at SQLSaturday Tampa #32 in 2010. He was taking photos at the event, and I invited him to do the same for our next SQLSaturday. He graciously accepted, and that’s where our friendship began. Now, let’s learn more about Tim and what he has in store for us here in Pensacola this year.

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

I got my start with SQL Server in 2003. My employer at the time used an outdated system for keeping track of technical service requests, and I lobbied for a year to get a new app for tracking this information. My request was approved, with one stipulation: I would have to learn how to manage the new system’s SQL Server back end. Soon after taking on that new responsibility, I discovered that working with data was my calling.

The training you are doing for us on Thursday June 1st, “Building Better SSIS Packages”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

My hope is that the attendees learn the easy way a few things in ETL design that I’ve learned the hard way. For every design pattern I demonstrate in this class, there are numerous mistakes, missteps, and bad designs I’ve worked through to discover a better way to solve that problem.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings for SQLSaturday events?

I’ve always enjoyed the targeted, conventional presentations that are typically an hour or so in length. However, this format doesn’t allow a lot of time to have conversations or learn about the attendees’ data pain points. I put together my first full-day presentation about five years ago, purposefully building in some extra content that I could either use or skip based on what I learned about the attendees and what they expect to learn. I found that the full-day format makes it easier to have conversations rather than just monologue, and I can tailor the content I deliver based on questions and input from the audience.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

It would be hard to nail down just five, but here are a handful of things that are exciting to me, in no particular order:

  • The revamp of SSRS in 2016
  • Inclusion of enterprise features (such as partitioning) in Standard Edition starting in SQL Server 2016 SP1
  • SSIS improvements in SQL Server 2016, including custom logging levels and package-level deployment
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • SQL Server on Linux 

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

When I’m not traveling, I enjoy hanging out with my wife and kids. I enjoy baseball (go Rangers!), golf, and snow skiing. I’m also a craft beer adventurer, and enjoy trying new beers wherever I go.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

In my past, I have been both a police officer and a firefighter.

Well I certainly learned some things about Tim that I didn’t know already, and looking forward to taking him out to some of our great local breweries here in Pensacola!

Tomorrow stay tuned for our interview with Sean McCown and Jen McCown training on Friday, June 2nd on “The Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems and Solutions”.

Rates for both our precons go up May 5th, so be sure and register this week to save yourself $20. The link again to Tim’s training is here.

SQLSaturday Pensacola 2017 – Just Five Weeks Away!

It seems like just yesterday when we held our inaugural SQLSaturday #14 in Pensacola, way back in 2009. Honestly though, it seems like a long time ago. Much has changed since 2009. Looking at some of our event sessions from that first event speaks to the passage of time: “A First Look at Visual Studio 2010” and “Introduction to Microsoft Silverlight.” SQLSAT617_web

Now, at an unbelievable #617, we are excited to be a part of the ongoing success of SQLSaturday as we prepare for our June 3rd, 2017 event.  We have speakers coming from 12 states, as well as a few locally grown SQL talents, sharing their knowledge on the latest and greatest in the Microsoft Data Platform. Not only have the SQLSaturday events come a long way, but the enhancements in SQL Server 2016 has made great strides from what it was back when I was using 2008 R2.  Microsoft is always improving, and doing an even better job of listening to those in the data community on their desires for SQL Server 2017. It truly is an exciting data world we are all experiencing, and it’s great that we have so many in the community willing to share what they know at SQLSaturdays all over the world.

Now back to SQLSaturday Pensacola, you can check out our full schedule here. We are also very fortunate to be able to provide two full day pre con sessions on the Thursday and Friday prior to the main event.  This year Sean and Jen McCown of MinionWare will be training on Enterprise Maintenance Lifecycle: Problems & Solutions, and Tim Mitchell will be covering Building Better SSIS Packages.  I’ll be covering more on these trainings in my next posts.

While topics may change, the community that is drawn to SQLSaturdays to come together to learn and network and perhaps further their career and skillsets, is one that we serve proudly here in beautiful Pensacola.

Be sure to reserve your spot today!

Interested in sponsoring? There’s still time!

Let your friends and colleagues know about our event. Download the SQLSaturdayPensacola2017_EventFlyer.

SQL Sons of Beaches Tour – Coming to a Florida User Group Near You!

As a user group leader, I have always found that starting the new year with a “powerhouse” speaker or hot SQL Server topic really helps to set the momentum for the rest of the year. It reinvigorates the group after in many cases being somewhat dormant during the holidays. It’s just the shot in the arm everyone needs to getting back to learning and setting some new year personal goals.

Pensacola SQL is excited to announce the SQL Sons of Beaches Tour. The expert line-up touring the state is Denny Cherry (b|t), Grant Fritchey (b|t), and Buck Woody (b|t).

SonsOfBeaches

Shout out to Michael J Swart (b|t), thanks for the artwork!

The #SQLSoBs tour will begin immediately post the Nashville SQLSaturday event on January 14th, heading down to my hometown of Pensacola. Here is the planned schedule:

Monday, January 16 – Pensacola SQL

Tuesday, January 17 – Jacksonville SSUG

Wednesday, January 18 – Orlando PASS, MagicPASS, Space Coast SQL

Thursday, January 19 – Tampa (Hillsborough and Pinellas)

Friday, January 20 – South Florida SQL

We are excited to have our first sponsor lined up already. Thank you RedGate! If you don’t already know about RedGate tools, what rock have you been living under? I kid, well not really, but so you know, Redgate makes ingeniously simple tools for Microsoft technology professionals working with SQL Server, .NET, Visual Studio, Azure, TFS. Trusted by 91% of the Fortune 100. They are sponsoring in a big way, to include some SQL Toolbelt license giveaways. Stay tuned for details on how to win one of those, and in the meantime, download to trial some of their great products.

If you are interested in sponsoring this great cause of fantastic training to 8 user groups, please contact me directly at karlakay22@msn.com.

To register for one of these locations of the tour, visit that user groups website around end of October. They should all have their websites and registration pages ready by then. Be sure to follow us on twitter at #SQLSoBs.

Denny, Grant, Scott, and Buck – can you even imagine just how much knowledge the members of the Florida PASS Chapters are going to be absorbing with this line-up? It will either be just ridiculous overload on the brain or just an overload of fun…I am counting on both!

SQLSaturday Pensacola – Interview with Ed Watson and Mike Lawell, full day training on “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”

SQLSaturday Pensacola is coming up quickly, set for June 4th. We have some amazing speakers coming from all over the US and here locally. Check out our schedule to see what you can learn this year (for FREE) from our SQL Server and Data experts. And don’t forget to register so you can secure your spot!

In addition to SQLSaturday, each year we like to provide some deep dive training sessions (commonly known as precons) the couple of days prior to the event. There trainings are not free, but we keep them reasonably priced (appx. $130 per) for training that would typically cost a lot more. It’s top notch quality training that these presenters have offered to do at a low cost because of their love for sharing what they know and have learned themselves through their own experiences. The funds raised for these trainings helps to cover the speaker’s expenses, but also some of the expenses we incur for the SQLSaturday event.

This year we have a precon set for Thursday, June 2nd and one for Friday, June 3rd (more on the Friday precon below). I wanted to share with you an interview I did with Ed Watson [t|b] and Mike Lawell [t|b], our Thursday precon presenters coming down from Atlanta training on “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”. I personally like to know more about speakers before investing my hard earned dollar. Personality goes a long way for me, and typically a bio isn’t enough to really get to know the type of presenter they are. Yes, I want to be entertained while I’m learning, does that make me a freak? No need to answer that, on with the interview.

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

SQL Saturday 480 - Nashville - Jan 2016 - Headshots-Med[Ed] I’ve been working with SQL Server exclusively for eight years.  Before that I worked for seven years with Progress 4GL RDBMS as a consultant.  Some of those years involved a random SQL Server 6.5 or 7.0 instance.  Progress was used heavily in manufacturing sector and there is not a lot of that in Florida so the market forces pushed me to jump to SQL Server and I never looked back.

MikeLawell_812[Mike] I started working on SQL Server 6.5 in 1996, at BellSouth Mobility, when I designed a data model for tracking Cellular Phone fraud (with an Access front end). Yep, I said it. Stop laughing! Then I moved to the Marketing Information Systems team at BellSouth Cellular Corporate, where I was doing all sorts of database analysis work. Then I started building an application for BellSouth the required a database backend, they gave me SQL Server licenses that weren’t being used. And the addiction started. Ever since, I’ve been in SQL Developer, Data Architect, Team Lead, Production DBA, Manager of Data Services, Database Consultant.

The training you are doing for us on June 2nd, Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning”, what do you hope attendees gain from it?

[Ed] When I was a new DBA I was alone and had to discover many things through trial and error.  Consequently, I made more mistakes than I would like to admit.  In this course we want to help that new DBA get started and not have to make as many mistakes as I did.  Luckily, I worked for the government, otherwise I might have been fired for a few of them.  I want to make sure that new DBAs do not experience the same frustration nor the deer in the headlights look I had when there were performance issues.

[Mike] Ed, you were alone, but you got me now! Ed’s right, we all start somewhere, and I started when there wasn’t a SQLSaturday and the only “community” was in UseNet groups (like Google Groups for the younger crowd). The mistakes I made were pretty ugly. I spent 60 hour weeks for a long time improving my skills. I read many books by Ken Henderson, Kalen Delaney, and many more.

I expect the attendees to walk away with enough information that they can go home pull out our material and go through it until they understand it. No attendee will walk away with the information in their head. I’ve never seen anyone survive the drink from the fire hose.

What made you decide to start doing full day trainings jointly?

[Ed] Mike is smarter than I am but I am much better looking and funnier, of course, so the thought was that I would keep people entertained while he made sure that they learned something. Yes, I totally made that whole thing up, well except for the better looking part…have you seen my luxurious hair?

[Mike] Yeah, I keep telling you that just to make you feel good. J Who needs hair anyway? You smell kind of funny too.

Actually, I was doing a performance troubleshooting session and Ed was doing a similar session. Mine was better, but I liked Ed (because he had hair), and I didn’t want to steal all of his attendees; so I said, lets join forces. We can’t give more than a taste of what is needed in an hour. If we do a part I and II we can give attendees 2 hours of sequential information.

Then we did a half day precon… couldn’t get Ed to stop talking… and realized we had more than enough material to do a full day (if Ed didn’t talk so much). J

There you have it.

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years?

[Ed] The query store, live query statistics, integration with R, updateable column store indexes, and in-memory OLTP.  As a consultant all of our questions revolve around those features and Power BI.

[Mike] Yeah, what he said. And, how about InMemory OLTP that might actual be useful. And god love Microsoft for the Clustered Columnstore Indexes (yeah, what Ed said)! What about fixing improving Availability Groups to be compatible with Distributed Transaction Coordinator. Woohoo. And improving the replication performance of the AGs! And my favorite AG improvement is… adding another auto-failover target. So if my data center goes down it will automatically failover to the DR site. Pure genius!

Always Encrypted looks like it is going to be very beneficial to many of my clients. Can’t wait to put it into action. And then there is Stretch Database. Is that something like Stretch Armstrong? Hmmm.

What about Data Tools!

What are some things you like to do for fun when you aren’t on the road presenting and volunteering for user groups and SQLSaturday events?

[Ed] Mike and I are certified SCUBA divers, which we will be doing while we are in Pensacola. I collect vinyl and attend between 20 and 30 concerts and music festivals a year.  I am an avid college football fan and Atlanta Braves baseball fan.

[Mike] Yep, love to scuba dive. I’ve been to Bonaire, Cozumel, Okinawa, North Carolina, bunches of springs in Florida.

I like to travel with my wife, we spend a lot of time visiting our condo on 30A.

Tell us something about yourselves that most people don’t know.

[Ed] I’ve lived all over Florida, am a self-proclaimed beach bum, love roller coasters and Disney world, and my superpowers including being able to do math in my head and never getting hangovers (I’m of Irish and Scottish descent so yeah it’s in my DNA).

[Mike] I’ve lived all over the United States, Indiana, Ohio, California, Georgia, ok, not all over… but close. I worked at amusement parks (Cedar Point, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, CA (ok, only one day), Great America in Santa Clara, CA and even Sea World. We used to do fun stuff on rides to freak out the visitors. Ask me when I’ve had a beer or two at the after party.

I’m a scuba diving instructor, who taught Ed so I’d have someone to dive with. Kidding, we have a great group of SQL Scuba friends who dive together. My Twitter Handle is @sqldiver …imagine that.

I’m a real estate investor with my wife who does it full time.

Well, I feel like I’ve known you both a long time now, and I learned something new about each of you. Very cool! We look forward to having you here guys!

Get full details and register for Ed and Mike’s precon, visit their site here. Not a “new” DBA, but know someone who is, please share these details with them. They will always remember that it was YOU who got them pointed in the right direction!

Next week you’ll get to hear all about our Friday precon presenter, David Pless [t|b], a Microsoft Technical Solutions Professional. David’s day will be packed with “SQL Server 2014 and 2016 Performance Improvements and New Features”, which will include info on SSRS and PowerBI. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

SQL Saturday #442 Orlando – Call for Pre-Cons

sqlsat442_print

It’s that time again to bring for its 9th consecutive year SQLSaturday Orlando. This year’s event will be held on October 10th. We often receive every year a good handful of options from those speakers wanting to do a full day training seminar for our event. We’re hoping this year will be no different, even if it makes choosing really tough for us!

Our structure is that we do one training each on Thursday and one on Friday. One being DBA focused, the other being BI centric. Something we’ve decided to do this year is formalize better for ourselves a method for analyzing the choices that come in. With that in mind we have created a survey, so that those interested can submit their pre-con for consideration versus the potential of it getting lost in one of our team member’s inboxes.

If interested in coming and presenting for our event this year, please submit your details at:

www.surveymonkey/r/SQLSatOrlandoPrecon

We hope to make our final selections by July 1st, so don’t delay!

We look forward to seeing what great options we’ll be able to share with our community this year!!!

Cheers!

 

 

Rockin’ Around the OPASS Christmas Tree

I am super excited to announce that Orlando PASS will be hosting another holiday social event this December 18th. Last year Shawn, me, and really the entire team were all just too busy to make it happen, but we all felt so badly about not doing it, that we were determined to make sure we had it this year.

As we’ve done in the past, we’ll be making sure everyone walks away with a gift that night, as every attendee (including significant others) will get to participate in the Dirty Santa fun (many call this other things, like White Elephant, not sure where I picked up Dirty Santa from over the years, but it just has stuck with me). We’ll be limiting attendance to 60 since we want to be sure we have enough goodies for all. If by chance we manage to procure more swag than that, we’ll up the limit (our venue for this special evening, the Lake Mary Cork & Olive, holds up to 150).

In addition to the gift grabbing switching fun and good eats we’ll have for this year end finale, we’re doing a fund raiser to help support the local Rescue Outreach Mission’s “Loaves and Fishes Program”. ROM is who we provide any leftover BBQ and fixin’s to from the SQLSaturday event each year here in Orlando, so we thought we’d do more for them since the SQLSaturday is only once a year.

Not that our members need bribed, but to help raise food donations, we’re raffling off an Xbox One bundle. Everyone who attends on the 18th will get one raffle ticket for a chance to win the Xbox, but for every 5 non-perishable food items that an attendee brings, they’ll earn an extra raffle ticket to help raise their chances of winning. We’ll be including not just food donations, but anything provided from their list of needed items.

Two years ago we tried charging $10 (optional) for any couples attending the holiday social, but it didn’t really drive attendance, so we’re hoping this “good will” and fun activity of helping the needy will really hit a home run for us and our community this year.

I want to thank our two sponsors for this year’s holiday event, SIOS and SanDisk. Their contributions are going to help make this the best ever OPASS Holiday Social, covering all of the yummy food, and a good portion of the Xbox One we’ll be purchasing (come on Black Friday deals!). We’re estimating that we’ll need to probably use less than $200 from our portion of funds raised from the SQLSaturday, which is a good investment to us since we’re hoping we’ll collect at least 500 lbs in donations for RMO.

If you’ll be in Orlando December 18th, please RSVP. We’d love to see as many #sqlfamily there as possible! And don’t forget those can goods!