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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).


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

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


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!