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The 11 Must-see Sessions You Missed at 24 Hours of PASS:

The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) has a proven track record for delivering valuable training to database professionals.  PASS has started a new annual tradition by organizing 24 Hours of PASS, something truly unique in IT training.  Twenty-four webcasts, 1 hour each, are webcast back-to-back.  Some of the top authorities in SQL Server present tremendously valuable information.

 This year I attended all 24 sessions, and I know that I am one of the few who did.  I was impressed by every session, but here are my 11 favorites.  I will certainly be watching these sessions again once they are posted on the PASS website.

  1. What’s Really Happening on Your Server? 15 Powerful SQL Server Dynamic Management Objects – Presenter:  Adam Machanic – This session sheds light on very powerful DMO/DMV’s that can be used to quickly troubleshoot SQL Server.  Adam has a knack for combining these objects to get to the root of performance issues.
  2. Exploring SQL Server 2005 and 2008 Security – Presenter: Don Kiely –  The best thing Don said in this session was to establish what your security risks are and take steps to eliminate those risks.  I agree with Don’s thoughts that SQL Server security is very hard to get right, and I think it is common to waste time on security exposures that don’t apply to your environment.  Don provided some excellent advice.
  3. Using Data Compression with SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2  – Presenter: Maciej Pilecki – I really enjoyed Maciej’s topic, especially the in-depth analysis of how compression affects I/O and processor cycles.  I will be implementing more compression in my day-to-day based on what I’ve learned.  I just wish I knew how to pronounce his name. 😉
  4. High Performance Functions– Presenter: Simon Sabin – Simon isn’t shy about sharing his opinion on SQL Server Functions.  He spent time explaining why several functions result in dismal performance (for example, scalar UDFs). Simon also provided excellent examples of how to use higher-performing functions in place of inefficient functions.  This is the sort of presentation you have to watch twice to get it all, so I can’t wait to watch it again.
  5. Manage Your DBA Career, Don’t Let it Manage You – Presenter: Brad McGehee – If you frequent SQL Server Central you almost certainly know what Brad looks like because his picture appears on the Redgate adds that permeate the site.   Brad has a reputation for teaching DBA’s to control their career.  If you haven’t read his book How to  Become an Exceptional DBA (available for free download), this session is a great summary, covering methods to take control of your DBA career.
  6. Top 10 Mistakes on SQL Server – Presenter: Kevin Kline – Holy cow, I couldn’t capture enough screenshots from this presentation.  This session did exactly what it set out to do, and I bet it will help hundreds of DBA’s nail down those nagging probems.
  7. SQL Tuning – Get it Right the First Time- Presenter: Dean Richards -This session covered how Dean uses SQL diagramming to analyze and tune queries.  This presentation is chock full of concepts I will put to use in my day-to-day tasks.  Dean also covered Wait Time Tables, which marks the first time I’ve seen a list of these sys tables all on one page.
  8. Advanced T-SQL Query Tuning Techniques – Presenter: Rob Farley – The best surprise of 24 Hours of PASS, hands down.  Rob kindly filled-in for another presenter the last minute (and spared us a session on yet another give-your-business-users-reporting-control application).  There was no slide deck, no structured plan for the presentation.  Instead, Rob showed us how he approached tuning a mutant query so evil that even Cthulhu would shudder.  Watching a tuning expert reason through his process to tune this query was a real treat.  I would like to see more from Rob at the 2010 PASS Summit.
  9. SQL 2008 R2 How to Manage CPU’s, Cores and CPU Groups  – Presenter: Thomas Grohser – I always enjoy more in-depth technical presentations when it comes to SQL Server.  This session delved deep into how SQL Server works with CPU’s and memory, and how you can optimize this environment.  Since this was in the early hours of the morning (something like 2:00 AM Phoenix time) you can bet I will watch this again once it is posted and I am not so sleep deprived.
  10. Database Design Fundamentals – Presenter: Louis Davidson – Better known as Dr. SQL, Louis Davidson is an iconic authority in SQL Server’s inner circles.  This session touched on smart design, focusing heavily on database normalization forms and how and when to choose each normal form.  A terrific session for all DBA’s no matter what their experience level.
  11. BLITZ! 60 Minute Server Takeovers – Presenter: Brent Ozar – Going into 24 Hours of PASS I predicted that this last session would be my favorite.  Brent Ozar has been on fire lately; he’s widely respected, has a new book (Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting), and just recently gained the MCM certification on SQL Server (which very few people hold).  Brent provided a step-by-step walkthrough of the uber-script he uses for assessing new SQL Servers that he’s taking over.  The session walkthrough covered about half the script, which is massive, and Brent spent several extra minutes answering questions as he went and at the end of the session.  Some of the best gems are discovered when the presenter drifts off-topic, and Brent has real talent for unearthing those gems.  You can bet I run this script on every server I manage in the next week.  I can’t wait!

Thanks to all of the presenters.  Special thanks to Thomas LaRock (@SQLRockstar) for his role in organizing and facilitating the event, and thanks to all of the other hard-working PASS members who put in countless hours to make this event work so darn well.

These sessions were just my favorites, but I learned a tremendous amount from every session.  Several other sessions covered elements I already knew (for example, Jessica Moss gave an excellent SSRS session, but I’d seen most of it before in one of her previous sessions). 

Will I ever attend all 24 sessions again?  You bet your data warehouse I will!


5 Responses to “The 11 Must-see Sessions You Missed at 24 Hours of PASS:”

  1. Hi,

    that´s a good summary and also a good first blog entry. I agree with you that these session really were a must-see.
    Looking forward to you next posts.


  2. Great summary.

  3. I’m on fire AND I’m your favorite??!? WOOHOO! I’d better quit while I’m ahead. 😉 No, seriously, thanks for the compliments, and you’re right, those other sessions were great. I missed Simon’s and I can’t wait to see the recording.

  4. I agree; 24 hours of PASS was great. I saw as many of them as I could…….I’d like to follow any updates you make to your site.

  5. […] Are you unsure which recording to start with?   Read my post on The 11 Must-see Sessions You Missed at 24 Hours of PASS. […]

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