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SQL Saturday #442 Orlando – Call for Pre-Cons


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:


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!!!




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!

Holy Cow! Another SQLSaturday Record!

As I sit here at the hotel lobby in Barcelona, waiting for my room to be ready, I can’t stop smiling. Sure, I’m thrilled to be back in Spain, fond memories for Rodney and I since Spain was our first European trip together year one of dating. But really, this smile is because of what tomorrow holds for SQLSaturday history. That’s right, a new record of seven total events on the day same day, covering 5 different countries. It just warms my heart to know that so many people around the globe will be getting some of the best SQL Server training around, and for free!

This reminds me of when I first started working for PASS. I recall a conversation with Andy Warren, who was on the Board at the time over the SQLSaturday portfolio. We had our first Saturday coming that had four events happening on the same day (Sept 17, 2011), with a few folks in the community questioning whether these events were heading to “oversaturation”. I had asked Andy just what he thought would be a good number for one month. His reply was basically simple math. We were having a Saturday with four so multiple that by the standard four weekends in a month and there you have his response to me of “let’s say sixteen”.

Since 2011, there have been several days where there were more than four events in a day, a couple of days with even six. September 14, 2013 was the last one with six in the same day, and just speculating that maybe that is why some of those moved to October this year. We have a record total of 18 SQLSaturday events this month, and tomorrow ending out the month with seven.

Even though I am onsite for SQLSaturday #338 Barcelona (can you believe Spain’s first, thanks to Ruben Pertusa), I will be thinking of the others on this amazing day in SQLSaturday history. Best wishes and giant #sqlhugs to SQLSaturday #352 Sydney, #329 Rio de Janeiro, #348 Ica, Peru, #326 Tampa BA, #332 Minnesota, and #349 Salt Lake City.

Bursting at the Seams

This spring we tried out a gardening idea that we learned at Epcot’s annual Flower and Garden Festival. Simple idea using nothing more than shipping pallets, burlap material, and staples. You basically take a few different sized shipping pallets, to create tiers, and staple the burlap around all sides and the bottom of each. Then fill with potting soil, and plant your seeds. It was a fun little project, and I actually think I’ll probably never bother with planting my garden directly in the ground ever again.


I’m sure you are asking “why not just plant them in the ground”? Well normally I’d agree, but I’ve found that in some parts of Florida, the soil is just not very rich in nutrients. In some places, it seems to be nothing more than just very dry dirt. Granted, this is my first attempt at a garden since moving to this part of Florida, and my rose bush thrives here, but I didn’t want to take a chance on investing my time and energy into something that might just fail miserably. This took much less time then what is typical when starting a garden.

Another benefit to this gardening style, it’s mobile, and good thing. Where we first set it all up, the sprinkler system wasn’t reaching all of it. Easily resolved being we could just pick it up on both ends, and move it.

I don’t know that it was so much the structure, but within just a few weeks it was bursting at the seams. Within two weeks, we already had tomatoes sprouting. Then at the four week mark, we enjoyed cucumbers, green beans, and a variety of hot peppers (pablano, jalapeno, and hot banana peppers). The bell peppers don’t get very big before they start to go bad, so tried one before it hit that stage, and it just was too bitter. Not sure what to do about that. It’s actually my first time ever getting a bell pepper plant to produce anything, so I’m OK with at least getting something to show for it. The watermelon and cantaloupe seeds grew into some very long vines, and we were hopeful to enjoy some sweet delights from those, but unfortunately our lawn guy managed to whack them to pieces before they could bear any fruit. (By the way, those seeds were courtesy of SQLSaturday Colorado Springs, part of their very successful food drive).

2 week mark:


The tomato plants have all since died, just too hot this time of year here (that’s my story anyway), so planting some various lettuces in their place. Due to some of the great plant growth (and probably all the rain here contributed), will have to do a few burlap repairs, but overall the structure is still very much intact.

For those with limited yard space, I highly recommend this well contained, easy to maintain garden.

4 week mark:


Interview with David Pless, presenting “Enterprise Management and Monitoring Solutions with SQL Server 2012/2014” Training Seminar for SQLSaturday Orlando

Last week I posted up an interview with Jason Horner [b|t], our seminar speaker for the Friday prior to our next SQLSaturday here in Orlando. This week’s post is an interview with our Thursday seminar presenter, David Pless [b|t]. 

One of the main reasons why we split our seminars (aka precons) into two different days is because we’ve found that many of our attendees want to be able to make it to both training sessions. This helps make the choosing easier for the attendees, as they can make it to both.  Another way we keep the two events from competing for attendance is choosing subject matter that is focused on different audiences. Thursday’s training typically being targeted to the DBA, and Friday’s training being more in line for the BI professionals. While each of these will get a good amount of single sign-ups, having them on adjacent days helps those DBAs out there who are being leaned on to know more about BI and the data within the companies they work for.   


Covering the DBA training this year will be David, who has presented for our local user group earlier this year (Orlando PASS), but I was able to get to learn more about him last week.    

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

I have been working with SQL Server since 6.5 / 7.0. 

I worked for an external Help Desk company in Atlanta and was one of the guys doing general help desk support. I started report development with Seagate Crystal Reports which was my entry into the database world. I had to figure out how to take data from McAfee Help Desk and compare it to other stores of data for internal and external reporting. I was amazed with what you could do with data and even more excited to see how you could create formulas and expressions to make the reports dynamic. The next step was getting involved with the SQL Server / database level as there wasn’t a DBA at my small company. At the time we had a mix of SQL Server 6.5 and 7.0. I started with the basic DBA tasks and started writing reports to take advantage of the queries I found useful as a DBA. At my next company, I was the DBA supporting application databases, primarily SalesLogix where I also supported the application. The SQL Server environment grew dramatically over the next seven years where I got experience rolling out and supporting replication, clustering, working on performance issues, and building monitoring systems on SQL Server 2000 / 2005. My next step was consulting for two years where I came to Microsoft through a relationship I established with a Technical Account Manager (TAM) from Microsoft. 

So, I have been working with SQL Server since 6.5 / 7.0 and was brought to SQL Server through reporting and my fascination data. 

The training you are doing, Enterprise Management and Monitoring Solutions with SQL Server 2012/2014, what do you hope attendees will gain from it? 

The class we are doing is all about enterprise management and performance troubleshooting. We wanted to focus on the tools and processes we use in support and at the same time show some creative uses of monitoring SQL Server. We will walk through the key tools we use and will walk through what you should look for when troubleshooting SQL Server. I am going to go into detail on creating your own custom counters, creating SSRS dashboards for monitoring, troubleshooting concurrency issues, Reporting Services performance, Resource Governor, and more. 

My colleague Pankaj Satyaketu is going to cover enterprise management with policy based management and PowerShell. Scripts will be provided for both scenarios! We are looking forward to it. 

I see you are an MCM (Microsoft Certified Master). How long and what exactly did it take to get this high level industry recognition? 

I started the MCM in the beginning of last year. So, I was one of those that started the MCM a bit late though I had done the MCSE certifications in the past. I really liked the idea of a certification built by the industry’s best that gave folks a pinnacle to work toward. My study efforts were centered around using the videos that were provided online and building as many labs I could think of around the scenarios described. I did a lot of breaking, tearing down, and troubleshooting, though I can say there isn’t much that could prepare you for the lab exam except for experience with SQL Server. 

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

It’s hard to narrow it down to 5 since there has been so many awesome features in the past several releases. In no particular order these are the ones that come to mind: 

1). PowerView / PowerBI

2). AlwaysOn Availability Groups

3). SQL Server on Azure / IaaS

4). Columnstore Indexing 2012 / 2014

5). In Memory OLTP 

Being local to Florida, what are some things you like to do for fun here at home in the Sunshine State (the non SQL side of David Pless)? 

Sports. My kids are all in soccer, I have 4 kids in 3 different soccer clubs. So we are pretty consumed with tournaments, fund raisers, and more. Of course, I can’t just watch.. so, I have built websites and even created logos for my kids soccer club. I think fishing is a requirement in this state so I am also fulfilling that obligation as much as I can. 🙂 

I also love my dog. I try to do fun stuff with her. She is a good partner to take with me on trips with the family and especially the beach. 

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

I am an artistic type though opportunities to use that aren’t plentiful in our field. So, I make them happen. I love drawing and enjoy creating logos and cartoons. I have a little Bob Ross in me, so even when I am creating a report I feel like I am creating ‘happy little clouds’. I like the attention to detail. 

Thanks David for your time, and we look forward to seeing you here in Orlando next month! 

On a personal note, I’ll have to find out from David just where the best fishing is down in Central Florida, because Rodney and I have not had very good success since moving from Pensacola.   

Get full details here on David’s seminar on Enterprise Management and Monitoring. For Jason’s training on Dimensional Modeling, visit here. You’ll see on these websites that we are offering a $20 discount if you sign for both day’s seminars, but seats are filling fast, so get your seat reserved today!

Orlando PASS – Moving on Up

I listened to this catchy tune from a classic T.V. show, The Jeffersons, the entire time I wrote this post. Feel free to do the same as you read this. You will have it stuck in your head all day long, even with a little skip in your walk. Consider yourself warned.

After two years at the same meeting location, Logan’s Restaurant on Hwy 46 in Sanford, we’ve bitten the bullet and made a tough decision to go ahead and move OPASS to ITT Tech here in Lake Mary. It was a nice steady ride, which the year prior to that we had a couple of changes, so we were feeling quite comfortable with what we had. However, there were two big problems with Logan’s, very limited seating (at max could hold 35) and sound issues.

I first want to thank Logan’s immensely for how accommodating they were to us. They did a great job of taking care of us and our attendees. Free space and we just paid for the food trays, which they would give us happy hour prices on things like the wings as well as carry over the happy hour prices on drinks through the meeting for our attendees; we’d have sliders, tenders, and a great Santa Fe salad with grilled chicken, and really all for about the same price that I hear folks spend on pizza. They always provided us with a dedicated server, (not SQL), for the entire three hour long meeting. They have a “garage style” room, which had a very cool “vibe” to it. Speakers really liked it, as it gave the meeting a more intimate feel to it.

However, the size was limiting us from bringing in some of the speakers that in the past had brought in between 45 – 60 attendees. We typically stick with good local speakers, by local I mean within a two hour drive to us, but of course on occasion you want to be able to take advantage of a speaker coming through that you know is going to pack the place out. We just couldn’t do it with what we had for space, so had to pass up some great opportunities.

There was also the issue with the sound. Not just the acoustics coming off the glass garage doors (was that even glass, maybe it was plastic, I’m not sure now, never touched it), but whenever regular restaurant guests would eat out on the patio. It would get so loud, that if you were sitting in the back of the meeting room, you couldn’t hear the speaker most of the time. (Funny how folks who sit out on patios are loud, wonder if that’s why I like eating outside everywhere I go. I’ll leave that one with you to ponder for a second). Overall it’s probably unfair to say we are “moving on up”, but in many ways, we are.

Two meetings ago we asked the attendees about moving, and the first question was “will ITT allow alcohol?”, which of course we knew they would not. This past meeting we asked again, stressing that the importance of these meetings was the training, and most everyone was in agreement that it was in the best interest for all that we go ahead and relocate. At this point, we hadn’t even contacted ITT yet, we were really just hoping we’d get a good response from them.

Well we did. I finally sent the dean an email about a week ago with a long explanation of who we were and what all we did. To my surprise I got an immediate response, copied in with two other ITT reps, enthusiastically saying that yes they’d love to have us there, and they’d be in touch. That same day one of the reps emailed me back and in a whirlwind of less than 48 hours everything was all set, and bonus, we were asked to come introduce ourselves to some of the students. How cool is that!

I think it was actually put to us as “would you mind doing a brief introduction”, to which I asked if we could present a few slides (15 it came out to be in total, and that was with cutbacks; there’s just so much to talk about in this amazing SQL community!). Then I asked if the whole OPASS team could be there, and that was also approved. Luckily the entire team, all 4 of us, were available for this opportunity. As emails flew, next thing we hear is that it will be recorded for all students to access. Awesome!

Last night was the presentation. They had us open first before their actual class started. We each took a few slides to talk to, for which I thought might take all of 10 minutes tops, but alas, we went over 30 minutes. This is only because the students were so engaged with what we were informing them on (ok, maybe a little of that was just how much we all love this community and what it has to offer). We talked about OPASS, MagicPASS, ONETUG, SQLSaturday, PASS, Professional Development, and touched some on social media. Ben talked about his first SQLSaturday just three years ago. I talked about SQLShots, and the importance of taking a stab at presenting, how important it will be as their careers evolve. One in the crowd was very much against it (typical), but you could see several others nodding in agreement. They know that they can’t just sit behind a computer; that they will at some point have to be able to talk to either clients, their supervisors, their co-workers. Rodney talked about the SQLSaturday Orlando track we’re doing this year “Student to IT Pro”. And el-Presidente Shawn talked about OPASS and the monthly meetings, and our new networking location, the Hyatt Place lobby/bar, just a block down the street.

It was so exciting to see that most of them actually really were “into” this. I’m not sure what I expected, I think I probably imagined it would be just a bunch of blank faces wondering who are these “old farts” and what the heck is SQL Server. They asked some great questions, all of them took the SQLSaturday flyers we brought, and probably half of them took our business cards. One student’s father was with her, and they were already on the SQLSaturday Orlando registration page on her laptop. The teacher got up at the end and said a few words. He himself has only been in IT for the past 4 or 5 years, previously was in healthcare for over 20 years. A comment he made really resonated with all of the OPASS team, and that was that he had wished that a group like ours would have come to his college when he was young and opened his eyes to all the various opportunities there are in the IT community. We realize now that we should be trying to do this at all the local colleges. How many of us wish that someone had told us when we were young about all these opportunities. It’s time to up the ante on this here in Orlando, and reach further.

As we made our way out, I had goosebumps, a tear in my eye, yet a beaming smile over what just occurred. They took our pictures, and Shawn and I met with the dean briefly. They were thanking us so much, yet here we were so thankful for this opportunity and for the meeting space for our meetings.

By the time I got to my car, one had already sent me an invite on LinkedIN. How cool is that! At the beginning of the talk, while we waited for some students from another class to join, Rodney asked how many had heard of SQL Server, and only one hand went up. An ex-military guy who worked with SQL Server some while in the Army. At the end, he then asked how many were interested in SQL Server now and taking the career path of a DBA, and 8 hands went up. Now that is #SQLWinning!

Meet the OPASS Team:

Shawn McGehee (far right) – President

Ben Cork (far left) – Webmaster

Me (the short one) – Community Outreach Coordinator

Rodney Landrum (the tall one) – Local MS MVP (aka, backup to all, including speakers)


“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – I just love this!

Interview with Jason (the Cannonball) Horner, presenting “Zero to Dimensional Modeling Hero” Training Seminar for SQLSaturday Orlando

SQLSaturday Orlando is coming up quickly, set for Sept 27th. We have some amazing speakers coming from all over the state, as well as, outside of Florida. Check out our schedule to see what you can learn this year (for FREE) from our SQL Server 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 the couple of days prior to the event. These trainings aren’t free, but we keep them reasonably priced ($120 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. (ok, maybe a big part of it is their love for the SQL community, something many of us have been bitten by).  

This year we have the DBA seminar being held on Thursday, Sept 25th, and led by MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) David Pless (more on him and his day of training in my post next week). On Friday, Sept 26th, will be our BI focused seminar, and it is being led by another MCM (lucky us, we snagged two MCMs), Jason Horner


I was able to catch up with Jason first this past week to ask him some questions that I think will help folks get to know more about him, and just why his session might be worth their while. 

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

I started working with SQL Server 6.5 / 7.0 back in early 2001 at a regional ISP. I was a Systems Administrator and my first major project was upgrading all our client databases from 7.0 to 2000. We also had a custom ecommerce platform that was based on 6.5. 

The training you are doing here for us in Orlando next month, “Zero to Dimensional Modeling Hero”, what do you hope attendees will gain from it? 

After seeing a lot of Data Warehouses at different organizations, and spending a lot of time talking with others in the industry, I saw that Dimensional modeling was a bit of a foreign concept for most people, yet it is also one of the foundational things you need to get right if the project will be a success. My class is all about helping inexperienced people jumpstart this knowledge and helping more experienced people fill in the gaps in their modeling knowledge while at the same time expose them to some patterns and concepts they may not have yet encountered in their organization. 

I see you are an MCM. How long and what exactly did it take to get this high level industry recognition? 

I achieved my first SQL Server certification MCDBA in 2001, since then I have always tried to stay on top of the Microsoft database related certifications, when they announced the changes in the MCM program in 2010, I was intrigued and began to study up primarily using the videos and setting up a lab using Azure VM’s. The cost of the exams seemed a bit daunting; but eventually I was able to get my employer at the time to help pay a portion of it. Receiving notification that I passed the lab at the PASS Summit last year was one of my favorite career moments so far. 

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

There have been a lot for new features added to SQL Server, I tend to geek out over the smaller TSQL Language enhancements; but I have to say that the clustered columnstore indexes in 2014 and the new cardinality estimation model will help a lot of folks get around there current performance problems. Currently I’m really digging into a lot of the Power BI features including getting up to speed with power query which I think is getting close to making a huge impact on the way we do ETL and the types of data we can reach and surface out to our end users. 

This year will be your first time presenting at the annual PASS Summit. That’s a big event. How excited are you about being selected? 

I’ve spoken at a lot of SQ Saturdays and numerous other events including the PASS Business Analytics conference this past April, but speaking at the Summit will be an interesting experience for sure. There are a lot of other good geospatial sessions as well and I hope I can spark some interest and show folks how they can deliver some geospatial reporting visualizations that push the limits of the SSRS and the other reporting toolsets. 

You will be traveling all the way from Denver for this event. What are some things you like to do for fun in the Mile High city? What made you choose to submit to Orlando’s SQLSaturday? 

Back in Denver I spend a fair amount of time up in the mountains snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer. I didn’t really have much of a choice, Karla (who me?!) told me I was going and that was it. Plus the family was interested in seeing Walt Disney World so in the end there really wasn’t much debate on the issue. 

One last question, as I’m sure inquiring minds are wondering. Your close friends in the #sqlfamily often call you Cannonball. How did you come to earn such an attractive nickname? 

John Morehouse and Dan Hess gave that name to me. I think it’s from the movie Cannonball Run, because I always jump into things full speed ahead without forethought. But you may want to ask them, maybe they are talking about my beer gut. 

We look forward to having you here Jason!  

Get full details here on Jason’s seminar on Dimensional Modeling. Next week I’ll post the interview with David Pless, in the meantime, you can read up on David’s seminar here.  You’ll see on these websites that we are offering a $20 discount if you sign for both day’s seminars, but seats are filling fast, so get your seat reserved today!