PASS Summit 2008: Day 3

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Two speakers at the keynote. The first, some guy from Dell, whose name I didn’t catch, presented a few slides on something. The second presenter was Dr. DeWitt. It was one of those moments where I realized just how stupid I was. This man was scary smart. Not only that, he was witty. He went over parallel databases, shared nothing servers, and related technologies. He drilled down and defined the problems around developing a database that does parallel data storage. It was amazing. I can’t properly convey it (I’m flat out, not smart enough), but you should download that video and check it out. One of my favorite quotes from him was “Query Optimizers are fragile.” Don’t get him wrong. He praised the concept of optimizers, but he was pretty clear that they’re rather delicate, which is very true.

I next went to a Microsoft Database Developer Evaluation and breakout session. I’m not supposed to talk about things that were done there in detail, but suffice to say, it was fascinating to see, a little bit, how Microsoft thinks and some of the directions they were headed in. I’d like to do more of that. But, it was another one of those moments where I was probably the dumbest guy in the room. While I love going to PASS, it’s awfully humbling, several times a day.

Next session was Entity Framework Futures. It was good, but a bit dry and I’m very tired. I tried to keep good notes, but I just couldn’t. However, I liked the way the tool worked with relational databases, not object databases.

My vote for best session of the summit was next. Gail Shaw, MVP and one of the top posters over at SQL Server Central, gave a presentation she called “The Dirty Dozen.” It was a dozen query patterns that cause lots of problems. She should know since she answers more posts on SSC than just about anyone (Jeff Moden aside). I enjoyed it all and learned a bit. However, getting publicly spanked by Gail (verbally, verbally) was a bit of a shock. She called me on SELECT (*) vs. SELECT ([column name]), and rightly so. But it was all better in the end. This blog got a plug. Woo Hoo! She told a joke, repeated from Itzik Ben-Gan, that a good question is one that the presenter doesn’t know but an excellent question is one that’s on the next slide. There was a lot of discussion of what she presented and she had several other MVP’s in the audience with whom she interacted. It was great. Once again, I was one of the dumber people in the room (it was a big room, so claiming to be the dumbest might be presumptive). The discussion around collation’s affect on query times is pretty interesting. I’m going to have to do some research and experimentation on that one.

Final session of the day I went to Kevin Kline’s session on troubleshooting SQL Server. This is good stuff. I especially like that he put out real numbers.

This was a terrific PASS. In some ways, the best one I’ve been to (although, I think that’s partly because I presented). I got reunite with a bunch of great people that I had met at previous PASS Summits. I met people like R Barry Young, or Gail Shaw, and others, who I had only every interacted with through emails & newsgroups or posts here on the blog. I also met several Microsoft developers and other MVP’s and authors, all people that make or design or define the tools I work with. I’m tired as hell, but I can’t wait to get back to work and I can’t wait to come to PASS next year.

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