PASS Summit 2013
After taking a year off, I’m heading back to the PASS Summit in Charlotte. This year will be a little different for me since I’m attending to help represent my company, SQL Sentry. I’m looking forward to seeing some people that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. I’m also looking forward to seeing a bit of Charlotte – SQL Sentry is actually located in Huntersville, close to Charlotte, but I’ve never really been there.

The first year that I went to the Summit in 2009, I went as a regular attendee. I met some people, attended a ton of sessions, went to some evening events, most notably a very late night breakfast on the last day of the Summit where I met Allen Kinsel (Blog/Twitter).

As a result of that meeting, I worked on the Program Committee for the next two years. Working on the Program Committee is great, a ton of work, a smidge of stress, but I had the opportunity to meet so many people including wonderful volunteers. It’s also one of those volunteer experiences where you actually get to see the results of all of your hard work. Unfortunately, since there is still work to do during the Summit, I probably only went to one or two sessions those two years.

This year, I’ll be working at our booth throughout the Summit. I’ll be demo-ing our awesome software, spending time with our team and talking with Summit attendees. We’ll probably also spend a decent amount of time trying to get Kevin (Blog/Twitter) into a kilt. I’m excited to talk with the folks that come to our booth, to let them know how SQL Sentry might help them, but even to pass on some knowledge that I may have gathered during my time as a production DBA. One of the things that I love best about my job is that – the opportunity to help people out. I doubt that I’ll even make one session this year, but I know that, once again, the Summit is going to be a great experience.

Before attending my first Summit, I had read that meeting other database professionals was equal in value to the knowledge that you get from the sessions. Admittedly, I was skeptical. The Summit has a huge number of great sessions by great speakers. That was the reason that I wanted to attend. Now, though, heading into my fourth Summit, where I know that I’m not going to be attending sessions, I’m just as excited as my first Summit. I’m going to have the opportunity to see old friends and meet new people. The learning, while not in a session hall, continues during discussions with other professionals and hearing the challenges that they experience in their jobs.

The word community, as much as it gets passed around, really applies at the Summit. I’m glad to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to participating in this new role. When you have a moment, come by and say hi to me and the rest of our team!

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: DBAs, Discussion, PASS | Tagged: , , , |

PASS has a great slate this year – all of the candidates have strengths that will bring value to the PASS organization. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Allen Kinsel since March of this year and thought I’d take the opportunity to share why I think that he would be an excellent Board Member.

 

Professionalism – Now this isn’t to say that Allen can’t fully appreciate a ‘colorful’ joke or that there aren’t times that he needs to rant. He’s human like everyone else. In the dealings (that I’ve been a part of) with vendors, Microsoft, volunteers, etc., he’s listened and been respectful. He is able to ask the tough questions and make the comments that need to be heard without coming off as aggressive. While that should be a quality that we should expect of professionals, unfortunately it isn’t always the case. I feel that it’s important for leadership to know the difference between reactionary venting about a perceived wrong and providing the community with comprehensive, balanced information.

 

Transparency – I know that this is a big issue for most of the PASS community. Allen’s blog posts show a consistent effort to keep the community aware of what the Program Committee is up to, the decisions that have been made and the reasons for those decisions.

 

The status quo – Throughout the process of putting together the Summit, we’ve been asking ourselves questions: Does this work? Is it efficient/effective? Is it necessary? Do we need to change it? Allen’s definitely not going through the motions here and I doubt that he would on the Board of Directors either.

 

Involving the community – It should be apparent from Allen’s latest posts (here and here) that he has been striving to increase community involvement in the PASS Summit. The latest experiment, with the community choice sessions, seems to have been extremely well received. Without putting words in Allen’s mouth, I think that he feels that it’s the PASS Summit, so the PASS community should have the opportunity to make some choices about the content delivered there.

 

Working with volunteers – We can start with this – I was and still am a noob as far as the Program Committee is concerned. I had attended one PASS Summit (last year) and my volunteer experience with PASS was negligible. Why was I given the opportunity to work on the Program Committee in the capacity that I am now? I asked to help. He recognizes the need for volunteers and the value that they provide. After the abstract selection teams were finished and the selected abstracts had been announced, Allen went back and had conference calls with all of the teams to get their input on what worked, what needed to be changed and what would make this process better.

 

Allen doesn’t walk on water. He doesn’t travel to the Summit by way of a winged unicorn. His supply of pixie dust is paltry or maybe non-existent. I may have seen him consume bacon, but it was way too late in the night (or early in the morning) for me to be sure. I do know that I have respect for Allen. I’m constantly impressed by his continued enthusiasm about the possibilities of PASS to make a difference for data professionals. Don’t take my word for it – read his blog; read his answers on the election forums. Without question, I’ll be voting for him in the upcoming elections. I think you should, too.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: PASS | Tagged: , |

Who is PASS, really?

20 August 2010

After attending the PASS Summit last year, I made a decision to become more active in the PASS Community. During the Summit, I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from the community – chapter leaders, regional mentors, speakers, board members and just normal folks like me.

As many of you know, I’ve been a part of the Program Committee for the last six months. Originally, I was tapped to head up a task team – a group that would work on projects that had been on the radar, but hadn’t had the manpower to get them completed. Along the way, I became more involved with other aspects of the Program Committee – the things that need to happen so that the PASS Summit can occur.

I think I was sucked in by the vision of the weekly meetings being wonderful opportunities in which we were magically transported to a beautiful meadow with full-on double rainbows, prancing unicorns and woodland nymphs presenting us with bacon-wrapped treats. It was that, sometimes, but it also was long hours, endless emails, looming deadlines and seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. Even with those, the thought of being involved in pulling together a valuable, enjoyable event for the community pushed us forward. I had the opportunity to work with a huge number of volunteers (many of whom I’ve never met face to face) that put in extraordinary effort and working with members from PASS HQ that were very helpful and hardworking.

Reading the tweets and blogs over the last few days makes me wonder if I’ve been duped. I’m continually seeing that PASS has failed and that PASS doesn’t want to get it right and how people are frustrated with PASS. Apparently PASS is some evil, faceless organization that has committing mayhem and creating obstacles as its sole agenda. I’ve listened while people close to me have become disenchanted with PASS as a community, not because of decisions that have been made, but by the reactions of the community members in these last few days.

I’ve been accused of being a pollyanna before and probably will be now, but I thought PASS was more than the BOD and committees. I thought PASS was the people that lead and contribute to user groups and virtual chapters, speakers, volunteers, Summit and SQLSaturday attendees and all of the rest of the people that participate with PASS in some manner. Things have happened that I disagree with and missteps have been made. I’ve voiced my opinion when I thought it was necessary and tried to address issues with the people that inolved – I strive to listen and understand the reasons behind decisions just as I hope that they listen and try to understand my points. In any large group of passionate, intelligent professionsals, there will always be disagreement. The only difference is how that dissent is expressed and handled.

If I were a data professional that was just beginning to read blogs and get involved with Twitter, I seriously doubt that I would join PASS. I definitely wouldn’t volunteer for anything PASS related. So if you really believe that PASS is irrevocably broken, walk away – people will stop joining and stop volunteering and PASS will eventually fade away.

For me, PASS is the community of its members. That community is valuable to me, so for now, I will continue to volunteer and continue to suggest changes. I will continue to believe that the vast majority of PASS is committed to making this community a valuable organization.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: Discussion, PASS | Tagged: , |

I’ve never had the opportunity to be on the abstract selection committee, so it was interesting to see the process in action. To be clear, I was not on one of the selection committees, but I am on the Program Committee so I was still involved in the process.

The abstract selection committees are chosen out of the group of people that apply to volunteer for the Program Committee. We work to ensure that each team includes at least one person that has been on an abstract selection team in the past. Our hope is that they can provide some additional guidance. We also provide at least one training session to go over the tools and answer any initial questions.

Prior to the call to speakers, the number of allocated sessions are set. They are allocated in total to fit the number of rooms that we have available. That total number is then split between the tracks (Application and Database Development, BI Architecture, Development and Administration, BI Client Reporting and Delivery Topics, Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment and Professional Development) to help make certain that we provide a balanced Summit selection.

Once the call to speakers closed, we knew that the abstract review committees were going to be in for a lot of work. Here are the numbers that we were looking at:

Total # of regular session abstracts submitted: 513
# of regular session community slots allocated: 72

Doing the math, that means that only 14% of the abstracts submitted were going to be selected. Within the tracks, that percentage ranged from 11% to 18%.

During the review process, the individuals on each team go through the abstracts in their track and rate them on 4 different areas – Abstract, Topic, Speaker and Subjective. Each of these areas are rated using a 1-10 scale and there is an area for comments. The abstract section has to do with, among other things, whether the abstract was complete (were session goals identified?), clear (was it easy to understand what the session would be about?) and interesting. The topic referred to the interest in and relevancy of the chosen topic. As far as the speaker – the abstract review teams had access to a report that provided previous Summit evaluation data for previous Summit speakers. They could also draw on personal knowledge or other information that they had access to. All of the individual scores added up to a total rating per abstract for the team.

Once the individual team members were finished with the evaluations, they came together as a team to rank the sessions. Along with looking at the total rating, they also looked at the different topics that were covered to ensure that the sessions covered a broad range of topics. Once the abstracts were ranked, the teams updated the session status to Approved, Alternate or Considered (Not accepted). If the status was Considered, the teams provided a reason as to why the abstract was not selected.

At that point the list of sessions came back to the Program Committee managers. We made certain the correct number of sessions per track were chosen and that no speakers had more than two sessions. There were a couple of cases where speakers had more than two sessions – for these cases, we went back to the teams for additional selections.

That’s it. Well, I guess I mean, those are all of the steps – it’s a ton of work and I’m grateful to everyone involved for all of their hard work. We recognize that there are probably ways to improve the process and we’re in the process of setting up meetings with all of the teams to get their input. I hope this provides clarification to some of the questions that people might have about the abstract selection process.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: PASS | Tagged: , |

July is definitely a painful time to be in Tucson.  It’s hotter than all get out and monsoon season has usually started, so for awhile we have heat AND humidty.  Oh joy.  Fortunately we have some SQL

At least this calendar has green on it...

At least this calendar has green on it...

Server based events coming up to take our mind off of the disagreeable weather.

 

Tim’s heading up the new incarnation of the PASS Performance VC.  On July 6, Jason Strate (Twitter/Blog)  is going to be presenting a webcast for them entitled: ‘Performance Impacts Related to Different Function Types’.  It should be a great session.

 

On July 17, Phoenix is having it’s first SQLSaturday.  That in and of itself is pretty exciting, but Tim and I are going to be presenting two sessions there.  This is our first time presenting, so it’ll be a great learning opportunity for us and a potential opportunity for up and coming hecklers.   If you’re somewhere around Phoenix, you should take advantage of the opportunity.  If you’re not around Phoenix, but want to see what it would feel like to step into an oven, come on out.  (see note below)

 

Then on July 21st, Quest is holding another Virtual Training Event on Performance Monitor and Wait Events.  Brent Ozar (Twitter/Blog), Kevin Kline (Twitter/Blog), Buck Woody (Twitter/Blog) and Ari Weil (Twitter) will be presenting.   It should make for an interesting and potentially hilarious training event.  Aside from it being a great training event, it’s relevant here because they’ll be presenting live from beautiful Tucson.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet them for dinner and take them to another top-notch Old Pueblo eatery.

 

One final note – the final session lineup for the PASS Summit 2010 will be finalized in July.    This is due to a huge amount of great work by the volunteers from the Program Committee.  If it’s June and you’re reading this, send some good thoughts their way – they’re busy.

 

 

Update:  The SQLSaturday in Phoenix has been postponed until Jan/Feb 2011.  Hopefully many more people will want to come to Phoenix when it’s not 110 degrees out.

The SQL Server community never ceases to amaze me.  The number of people that are willing to take time out from their jobs and families to volunteer is especially impressive.

 

I’ve had the good  fortune to be able to volunteer for the Program Committe this year.  My job is to pull together special projects and whatever other slave work Allen thinks up for me.   I’ve had a number of volunteers that have put great work into our current project.  This project has multiple steps and has required a ton of coordination between the volunteers – but it is all coming together.   It’s something that’s been needed for awhile  and now it’s going to be a reality.   I’d name names, but I know that I’d forget someone.   So thank you to everyone that’s helped out.

 

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

It’s not just me, though.  Tim’s in the process of re-starting the Performance VC.  He had mentioned the need for volunteers through our blog, Twitter and Blythe Morrow(Blog/Twitter) put out a call for volunteers on the PASS blog.  He’s been overwhelmed at the number of people that have asked to help out.

 

For all of you that volunteer for PASS – kudos to you!  For those of you that are thinking of volunteering, but haven’t yet,  get ahold of Tim or me or go here for additional volunteer opportunities.

Not-for-profit organizations can be awesome and extremely tough at the same time.   About 15 years ago, I joined a not-for-profit community service organzation.  Much like PASS, there were local groups, regions and  an international level.  On all three levels, this organization was definitely able to make a difference. I was fortunate to serve at both the club and regional levels and take part in an international event in Japan.  It was definitely a life-changing experience.

 

One of the problems that I noticed while I was serving on the regional board was that the more that we were able to accomplish, the more that was expected of us.  That was great and it was exciting to see the possibilites, but the problem that we faced is that our resources hadn’t changed.  Because of our tax status, we had to be very careful about how we used the funds raised during our fund raisers and the vast majority of that went to other non-profit organizations that we supported.  In order to give the regions and clubs more funding, we had a couple of options: raise dues, raise conference attendance costs or have more fundraisers during our conferences.  Raising dues and raising conference attendance had the possible side outcome of fewer members or fewer people attending conferences.  Additional fundraisers at the conferences took time away from what we were meeting about.  So we made the decision to make better use of what we had and revisit those ideas in the future.

 

I see a similar issue with PASS.  We’re incredibly fortunate to have an organization that provides as many resources as PASS does and with a free membership.  While there is a great staff at PASS, much of what gets done here is because of a community of dedicated volunteers.   I’ve been fortunate enough this year to be a part of the program committee and that has allowed me the opportunity to understand more of what goes on at PASS.

 

There have been many discussions about what PASS does well and less well along with what they should be doing.  The latest discussions have been about the PASS Summit survey results.  There have been a number of blog posts about it - Brent Ozar (Blog/Twitter), Tom LaRock (Blog/Twitter), Steve Jones (Blog/Twitter) and Andy Warren(Blog/Twitter), to name a few.  I’m not picking on these particular bloggers or even this particular discussion topic.  They all make valid points. 

 

The questions that I found myself asking (and answering) are:  Is this survey the best possible survey?  Probably not.  Did it provide PASS with valuable information?  Yes.  Are there people in the community that might be more skilled in writing/interpreting survey results?  Possibly.  Is paying for a company to write and interpret surveys for PASS the best use for our funds?  I don’t know.

 

If I were to look at the wish list for PASS, I’m sure that it would be huge.  Especially when it comes to items that require funding.  If there are additional things that are needed that will require additonal funding, that money needs to come from somewhere.  Do we increase the registration cost at the PASS Summit?  Do we institute dues?  Both of those choices have a direct affect on PASS membership and the members that are able to take part in the PASS Summit.  Short of that, we have to look at either companies or individuals that are willing to donate their time and resources.   Anyone that has volunteered for not-for-profit organizations know that getting companies and/or people to donate isn’t always the easiest thing.

 

I believe that members should continue to provide (constructive) criticism of PASS when it’s needed.  I don’t believe that there should be a step up or shut up attitude.   But if you can’t volunteer, then understand that PASS can’t continue to grow without also growing its resources.  If you have ideas, provide them.  If you have time, volunteer.  If you find that leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, take him out, steal the pot of gold and donate some of it to PASS.

 

I think most of us will agree that PASS is a pretty amazing organization.  It’s up to us to make it even better.

 

 

The Professional Association for SQL Server is restarting a Virtual Chapter focusing on SQL Server performance.  The goal of the PASS Virtual Chapters is to provide free and timely training focused on a particular SQL Server area or set of functionality (in this case SQL Server performance).  I have been honored to have been chosen to lead this particular Virtual Chapter, but, as you can imagine, this can’t happen without volunteers from the community.  We are looking for individuals to serve on the Performance Virtual Chapter steering committee that are:

 

  • Passionate about SQL Server (and who isn’t right? ;)
  • Interested in helping and serving the SQL Server community
  • Either have a blog or a Twitter presence
  • Willing to put in a couple of hours of work a week on such things as arranging speakers, putting together presentations, etc.  Generally, working to help get good education out to our SQL Server community on performance related topics.

If this sounds like you and you are interested in serving on the Performance Virtual Chapter steering committee, we want you!  Please contact Tim Edwards at sqlservertimes2@gmail.com.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: PASS, SQLServerPedia | Tagged: |

I was tagged by Jorge Segarra (BlogTwitter) who had been tagged by Thomas LaRock (BlogTwitter) in his post about his goals and themeword for 2010.  I was going to try to remain blissfully ignorant about being tagged, but then Tim went and posted his goals.  So I guess I’m on the line now.  My theme word for this year is:

 

Recharge

While there are many things that I want to accomplish this year, I don’t know that (m)any of them will occur until I can figure out a way to recharge.  I’m typically a self motivated type of person, but it seems like, during the previous year, I’ve hit the wall.

 

I’m not entirely sure what has caused this, but I’m guessing that it is some combination of the cyclical nature of job satisfaction, having a boatload of things going on at home and the disconnect between the amount of things that I would like to learn and the amount of free time that I have.

 

recharger

Is there a human connector on that thing?

I realize that there is no magic button that will instantly recreate the hunger for knowledge that I had when I began learning to be a DBA.  What I can do, though, is set some goals, work hard to follow through on them and be patient.   My hope is that in the process of achieving these goals, I’ll rejuvenate my love of this career path.

 

Goals

Pick one or two topics to focus on

I have at least three SQL Server books sitting on my desk and more at home that I haven’t done much more than flip through.  Rather than setting a goal to read all 3000 pages (doable, but daunting), I’m going to pick a couple of subjects to focus on and learn them as thoroughly as possible.  This is ongoing – if it’s March and I know everything there is to know about database corruption (or whatever it is I end up focusing on), I’ll move on to the next subjects.

 

Blog more

My first love is teaching.  It invigorates me and gives me purpose.  Blogging provides me an arena to hopefully teach people that are learning to be DBAs and the chance to share what I’ve learned.

 

Become more involved with PASS

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and as Tim mentioned in his goals for 2010, we’ve talked often about starting a PASS chapter in Tucson.  This ties into my love of teaching and will help us to connect with folks locally who have similar interests.  I would also like to take part in other committees within PASS as needed.    This will definitely require a balancing act with work and family, so I’ll be taking baby steps to ensure that I don’t shortchange other areas in my life.

 

What does this all mean?

None of these individual goals are earth-shattering and that’s intentional.  I have a tendency to swing for the bleachers, but end up hitting to the pitcher and it makes me grumpy.  My hope here is that I make some good, solid line drives and then I’ll be set up to hit it out of the park.

 

I’m tagging a couple of people that have unknowingly helped me to recharge (some thank you, eh?) 

TJay Belt (BlogTwitter)

Wendy Pastrick (BlogTwitter)

Kendal Van Dyke (BlogTwitter)

PASS Summit Kool Aid

9 November 2009

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the PASS Summit in Seattle.   As I had mentioned in a previous post, I was fairly anxious about attending, because I knew that there were going to be around 2,000 people there and I had met two in person.  Yep, 2 out of 2000.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t worrying about how to fit in time for catching up with those folks.

 

I knew that the PASS Summit would be a great learning opportunity.  I’ve attended Tech-Ed, SQL Server launches and other similar SQL Server events – the learning that occurred at those events was extremely valuable.  In looking at the sessions for the Summit, I knew that it was possible (probable) that my head would explode with newly gained knowledge.  There are plenty of folks that will be blogging about the sessions and all of the excellent speakers – I may be doing that in a future post, but that’s not my focus here.

 

koolaidman
Ohhhh yeeaaaahhhh!

My focus is on the PASS community.  While I already knew that there were helpful, friendly people that were already a part of PASS, I never thought that it would would pervade the entire conference.  I had the opportunity to meet an incredible number of people – those whom I was familiar with through Twitter, blogs or forums and those whose faces and names were new to me.  In every instance, they were accessible and welcoming.  In turn, these experiences encouraged me to go seek out and introduce myself to others.  This was truly a community in the best sense of the word.

 

Tim and I have been talking about getting more involved and have discussed starting a PASS chapter here in Tucson.  The experiences of last week have made me see that this is not only doable, but necessary.  I’ve supped of the PASS kool aid and it was not only yummy, it’s my new favorite drink.

 

I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with the people that I was fortunate enough to meet and becoming more involved in PASS, both locally and virtually.   My hope is to share this community with others and help it to grow.

 

On a more personal note, there were a few individuals that went above and beyond the call of  (professional) duty last week.  I hope that I’ve let you all know personally how much your thoughts and prayers meant.  Tim and I were pleasantly surprised and touched by your willingness to listen and help.  We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

On a completely unprofessional note, I was overjoyed to be a part of the karaoke jollification (yeah, it’s a word) on Thursday night.  I was impressed with the singing (and dancing) talents of this crew.  I’m just hoping that there are no incriminating pictures…