Dec 18 2013

Speaking in 2014

I love that I get to travel around and learn from my #sqlfamily. We’re still filling in the majority of the 2014 schedule, but the plans are to go to as many events as Mrs. Scary will let me. I’d like to alert you to a couple coming up in January, and then I should be able to get a fuller schedule for the first quarter posted soon (that way you can complain to me in person about Managed Backups).

On Friday, January 10th, I’ll be presenting a SQL in the City Seminar on Database Deployment in Cambridge, UK. Presenting in the UK is just fantastic. And this is a live event. And it’s at the stately Red Gate Towers. Oh, and this is a free event, but seating is limited. Make sure you follow the link and register soon. I can’t guarantee you a seat otherwise.

At the end of the month I’ll be speaking at SQL Cruise. I’m pretty sure that’s sold out at this point, so I’ll see you there if you’re going. If not, you missed out. Keep an eye on Tim’s web site for the next one. For a lot of people, this trip changes their lives. You’d think it was just an excuse to work on a sun tan and ride on a boat, but Tim makes it an Event by bringing together great speakers and knowledgeable engaged people who interact, guide, teach and just plain chat about all things SQL Server and all things SQL Family. Get on the next boat.

Sep 26 2011

Book Review: Smarter, Faster, Cheaper

In my continuing quest to not get personal visits from Buck Woody (blog|twitter) I’m making sure that I make good on my commitment to read 12 personal development books in 12 months. We’re up to #4 (again demonstrating the degree of fear that Buck can put in a person) and the book is Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business by David Siteman Garland (blog|twitter).

The extended title on the book covers what it’s about quite well. David Garland is considered one of the top marketers these days and he seems to follow the processes laid out in his book. I say this because I received a tweet from him after I tweeted that I’d finished reading the book. One of the processes laid out is to set up search routines to keep an eye out for your name, your companies name, your book’s name, and go to where those things are being posted and respond, in person.

I can sum up a huge part of the book in those last two words, in person. He’s very much about the concept that what you’re selling is not a widget, but yourself and that the more and better you sell yourself, the more and better your widgets will sell. The focus of the book is on marketing and selling, which is good, that’s what I expected and wanted. I’m just still having trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that I’m in sales & marketing. But, the good news, for me anyway, is that David Garland’s idea of sales is to generate useful content. Wait, what was that? You mean writing books, blog posts, articles, recording videos and presenting online & at user groups is sales & marketing? Sweet! I’m in favor.

The point is, you have to move away from the ideas of marketing the old way, buying commercial time on TV and move into using the intertubes to do your marketing. That marketing is done by becoming a trusted advisor, or as Seth Godin has it, a linchpin. You do that by generating material, like this blog, and handing it out for free. You take part in discussions in forums, twitter, whatever, and grow yourself into a trusted resource THEN, you carefully sell. I’m sold. Of course, I’ve been sold. I got this message a year ago, right before I changed my career path. The book goes on to discuss various mechanisms of engagement and production you can use to build up that material which will turn you into a trusted resource. There’s a lot of great advice about how to manage your online presence, how to overcome fear (of failure, success, what have you), produce video, and probably most importantly, building a community. The book is all about building out a community of people that you help and who in turn help you. A real community, not just a bunch of readers or viewers, but an interactive group of individuals. Again, I’m in favor.

Unusual enough for a modern book, he has an Index. In fact, he has a good index. When I saw that I had to check to see if I was reading one of my history books or a technical book. No one puts indexes in books any more (apart from historians & geeks). Excellent.

So that’s what the book is all about, how did it affect me, personally? I have to say, I’m a bit… meh, about it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a very well written book and I believe in what David Garland is pushing here. I think he’s 100% correct and I think the book would be very useful to others. Unfortunately, I’ve read several of Seth Godin’s books and I’ve been pursuing this line of approach already, so… while the book reinforced the things I know, the approach I’m taken, the beliefs I’m working under, it didn’t add a lot to them. But I think the fault here is the reader, not the book. However, I still found it useful, if for nothing else the reinforcement that I’m at least striving in the right direction (which is very nice to have).

I did find the chapter on reputation, “Your Reputation in the Transparent World We Live In” … scary and useful. I’m sure that doesn’t sound good, but it is. I’ve made several adjustments to how and what I do online over the last year and I suspect I’ll be making a few more changes based on this. I’m just nervous about going too far and becoming boring (right, right… more boring).

Anyway, on to the next book, Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself by Daniel H. Pink.

Jun 20 2011

Make the Optimizer Work Harder

One of my favorite indicators for whether or not you have a good execution plan is when you see the “Reason for Early Termination” property in the TSQL operator like this:

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The optimizer considered this particular plan “Good Enough.” which is what you want to see. When you see “Timeout” as the reason, that’s an indication that the plan you have may be sub-optimal. The question is, can you make the optimizer spend more time on your queries. Well, actually, the question is, should you make the optimizer spend more time on queries. During my session on SQL Cruise I answered the original phrasing of that question, no. As usual when I present in front of people smarter than I am, I was wrong. Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) pointed out that there was a trace flag for forcing the optimizer to spend more time on queries, 2301.

According to Microsoft you can set this trace flag on your system or per user session. Either way, it doesn’t simply make the optimizer spend more time. In fact, what it does is turn on a whole new set of possible optimizations, which causes the optimizer to spend more time. What optimizations you ask? Here’s an excellent article by Ian Jose (blog) outlining exactly what you’re enabling by turning on this traceflag.

Do I recommend that you enable this trace flag if you’re looking at Timeout as the early terminator for your execution plan? Nope. Not at all. I recommend you spend time tuning that query. Break it down into smaller pieces. Not that I like hints, but see if a query hint will solve the issue. If none of those approaches work, I’d at least consider testing trace flag 2301. But even before you do that, I’d validate that any of the additional optimizations outlined by Ian Jose are applicable to your issue. If you are not facing those specific situations, setting this trace flag could hurt your performance.

There’s surprisingly little documentation on this out there. The one story on it I found comes from Brent (which is why he evidently knew about it). He turned it on which solved a problem and then had to turn it back off because it created others.

This particular trace flag definitely sounds like you need to apply primum non nocere as your guiding principle.

Jun 08 2011

SQL Cruise Alaska 2011

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Yes, I went on the SQL Cruise to Alaska. Yes, it was as grand as you’ve heard. Yes, I’m going to be putting up a series of blog posts about it. This is the first. It’s also part of my class work done during the cruise.

Three Reasons for Choosing to Cruise

1. My first, and most important, reason for coming on the cruise is because I thought it would be good for Red Gate Software. I’m still figuring out how to do my job as a product evangelist, so I’m experimenting with contacting audiences in as many ways as I can. This is one way to make that contact.

2. Frankly, I thought it would be fun. Fun because I knew a bunch of the people running the show and I’d get to hang out with them. Fun because getting to tour through Alaska and see things I’ve never seen would be fun. Fun because it’s a different adventure and I like to have as many of those as I can.

3. I also came because Red Gate wanted to send someone to see what this Cruise business was all about, explore the space, see what’s there and what people are doing.

Just so you know, the above was written, in class, during the cruise. I have tons & tons of notes I took during the cruise. I’m putting together another posting assessing what happened during the cruise, along with posts on my upcoming reading lists, new personal goals, and a number of technical questions that came up during my presentation on the cruise. I suddenly have a big fat writing list in front of me. Yee ha!

Oh, and that admitedly dull photo up there was taken using my Asus Transformer, which I used to take notes during the whole week, so I have a review of that to post soon. Short version: I’m impressed and quite happy with it.