SQL Saturday Chicago Wrap-Up

Yesterday, I had a fantastic day at SQL Saturday #291 in Chicago.  I had the privilege of teaching a packed room – thanks to all of you who came to my session!  It was a very diverse group with a lot of great questions, which always makes giving the session fun.  I’ve uploaded a new version of the slides and the complete set of demos to both the SQL Saturday site and my Presentations page.

Thanks also to all of the organizers and volunteers!  As always, all of your hard work is very much appreciated.  Events like this wouldn’t happen without all of your efforts.

I’m Speaking: SQL Saturday Chicago

It’s spring, and that means that speaking season is starting up again!  My first presentation of the year will be at SQL Saturday #291 in Chicago on April 26.  I’ll be presenting “SQL Server Features That Will Blow Your Mind!”, a new developer-focused session that covers four features added by Microsoft in recent versions that are sure to elicit “WOW! How’d you do that?” from the uninitiated:

  • window functions, which add new dimensions to aggregates (and new aggregates!) by dividing your query’s data into partitions (or “windows”) on-the-fly;
  • sparse columns, which allow you to store large numbers of nullable columns in very little space – and allow you to interact with them using XML;
  • filtered indexes, which enable creation of indexes that ignore unneeded values (such as nulls), thus reducing the size of the index and improving performance; and
  • snapshot isolation, which can eliminate blocking by reads without the dangers of dirty reads introduced by NOLOCK.

I plan to have a lot of demos to show you just how easy it can be to use all of these.  It’s going to be a fun hour!

In addition, SQL Saturday Chicago has almost 50 other sessions by top-grade speakers – and it’s all free.  See you there!

Summer and Fall SQL Saturdays

Thanks to all who attended my sessions at recent SQL Saturdays! In July, I presented two sessions at the SQL Saturday in Iowa City; this past weekend, I presented at SQL Saturday in Kansas City. My slides for both are now on my presentations page.

On October 12, I’ll be doing my last SQL Saturday for the year, this time in Minneapolis. I’ll be speaking about how you can use service broker to enhance your applications. The abstract is on my presentations page, and you can register here. I hope to see you there!

Thoughts about Microsoft’s retirement of the MCM

I was quite surprised, to say the least, to hear today of Microsoft’s sudden retirement of its advanced certifications. (For those who haven’t heard, Microsoft sent an email late Friday announcing its decision to retire the MCM, MCSM, and MCA certifications on October 1, just one month from today.)

For many of us, this is a huge disappointment. In the world of their certifications, the MCSA is like an associate’s degree from college; the MCSE is like a bachelor’s degree.  The tests for both are challenging, but still readily available, and thousands of people get these certifications every year.

An MCM, on the other hand, was more like a graduate degree from a university. It was expensive. It required experience, and a lot of study, both of which took a lot of time. It was definitely not for everyone. And that was precisely its allure for the small percentage of us who aspire to be the best at our craft.

I’m sure the advanced certification programs were not cheap to operate. But not everything can be distilled to a number on a balance sheet. The intangible benefits for this program were huge. For those who desired to attain it, it was a way to prove ourselves. For Microsoft, this was (or should have been) another way for them to find their most dedicated supporters and the next generation of those ready to solve the hardest problems.

I, for one, am sorry to see this program go. I’m not ready for it yet – my goal is to obtain my MCSA and MCSE by year’s end – but I had planned to try for a MCSM in a year or two. Hopefully, there will be something else to take its place by then.

Spring SQL Saturday Sprint!

If any of you are in the Midwestern US, you can come see me speak both of the next two weekends. Both are new sessions, and they should be great!

On April 6, I’ll be presenting “Get Involved!” at SQL Saturday #206 in Madison, WI:

SQL Saturday is a great place to learn more about SQL Server. But did you know that it’s just the tip of the iceberg? There are a number of places you can learn about SQL Server and just as many ways to share what you’ve learned with others. Most don’t even require a lot of time or money. The SQL Server community is vibrant and growing, and it needs your voice. Come to this session to find out how you can get involved!

And then on April 13, I’ll be presenting “Service Broker: The Queue Continuum” at SQL Saturday #211 in Chicago:

Pop quiz: How can SQL Server help developers build scalable, distributed, and asynchronous applications? Service Broker is the answer! In this presentation, I’ll show you what it is; talk about when and why you might want to use it in your applications; walk through an example of how to set it up; and share a few lessons learned from our successful implementations.

There are a ton of other great sessions from great speakers scheduled for both events, too. Come get some free SQL Server training!