Speaker of the Month: September 2013

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This is my second post in what I hope will be an ongoing series. You can see the rules for this, such as they are, and the last winner here.

I didn’t travel this past month, so I’m pulling my speaker of the month from a session that was recorded at 24 Hours Of PASS. I love the topic of database design. I love the topic performance tuning. So, my speaker of the month is Audrey Hammonds (b|t) and her session Design Matters! The Performance Impact of Database Design.

I’ve known Audrey for a few years now, but I’d never sat through one of her sessions. What’s wrong with me? I don’t know, but I finally did and I’m really happy that I took care of it. I loved how she started, talking about design. Shocking I know, but it’s so important to do a design up front because doing it later, changing it, is so incredibly hard. Audrey was very correct to start out this way. Wonderful geek that she is, she built the structure around the concept of time travel because databases are designed in the past while queries are written in the future. It works. Since this is an online presentation, I can’t get too much into her presentation style. She sure isn’t meeting the eyes of the people in the room (kidding, who knows, we can’t see her, maybe she is). Audrey delivered in a clear, careful manner. She worked smoothly between slides and example code. She assumed an introductory level of knowledge on basic database concepts, but beyond that, she didn’t assume anything. Her explanations were very clear and accurate. Audrey’s general approach was to show a best practice, define exactly what she meant through examples, and then show the consequences of missing that best practice. Her slides were a mix of bullet points and data models which accurately illustrated each of the design concepts that she was talking about. She didn’t emphasize just one aspect of performance, but instead showed execution time, I/O and the execution plan (yay!).

I enjoyed Audrey’s presentation. I love the topic and I think she delivered something that is absolutely going to have a positive impact on the knowledge and skill of those who watch it. We should talk a little bit about how you explain your execution plans. You didn’t say anything wrong, at all. But some of your statements were mildly unclear (although, that could just be me). I don’t think the time travel quotes worked. Not because they didn’t apply well to the slides in question. They did. But because they were down at the bottom of the screen, in small font, and you didn’t point them out at all. If anything, maybe making the quotes the title or headline on each slide, but still not reference them as you talk would help them work better for you. I loved the examples. They were excellent illustrations of your topics. It was a really good presentation. Luckily for everyone it’s available online at the link above.

Audrey is speaking at the PASS Summit 2013¬†where she’ll be doing a more complete and thorough version of this same presentation. I don’t know where else. I couldn’t find anything on her blog and she’s not in Lanyrd. If she were to post anything on her blog about future speaking engagements it would be here, I think. Help me, help you people.

Thanks for the great presentation Audrey.



OK, fine, but what do you think?