Brent Ozar

Feedback On My #SQLSummit 2016 Abstract Submissions

Today, PASS announced the lineup for the 2016 Summit. I like sharing the sessions I submitted, and the feedback my abstracts got, because it gives you a view inside what it’s like to be a speaker.

Before I share this, a word of thanks to the PASS Program Committee. Allen White and his team of volunteers bust their humps to review hundreds of abstracts, and he’s written about the incredible work that goes into it. They are charged with building a top quality lineup of sessions that will get great feedback, and it ain’t easy. Anytime there’s a decision, somebody’s gonna be pissed. They volunteer regardless, and kudos to them for that.

500-Level Guide to Career Internals (Accepted)

Length: Half-Day Session (3 hours)
Track: Professional Development
Topic: Consulting
Level: 500

Abstract:
This is not yet another career session that tells you to be friendly and network. Forget that – this is about using your IT skills to reinvent the way you get paid. Brent will explain how he went from DBA to MVP to MCM to business founder.

Brent will show you simple techniques to build a blog, a brand, and a business without that pesky personal networking stuff. He will explain why you have to give everything away for free, and why you cannot rely on the old methods to make money anymore.

It will not be easy – and that is why this session is level 500. This session is about radical methods that achieve radical results.

No pressure.

Prerequisites:
You are a geek who has found your calling, and you are willing to work after hours and weekends to take control of your career.

Goals:

Reviewer Feedback:

My Thoughts:

If you’d have only shown me the feedback, I would have thought this session was declined. (It’s been turned down before.) Going in, I was 100% positive this session wouldn’t be picked, but this year I just decided to submit sessions I love to give, not sessions I thought would get accepted.

The level 500 comments reveal an insight: you, dear reader, are way more advanced than you give yourself credit for. Just by being here, you’ve already absorbed dozens of blog posts from me about why you need to blog, why marketing is important, and how to present. Now granted, you’re probably not actually doing that stuff, but you know my thoughts on the subject.

The vast majority of community folks out there don’t know that stuff. We’ve gotta reach them, get them up off the bench, and into community volunteer positions to connect, learn, and share.

Intro to Internals: How to Think Like the SQL Server Engine (Accepted)

Length: General Session (75 minutes)
Track: Application & Database Development
Topic: Indexing
Level: 100

Abstract:
When you pass in a query, how does SQL Server build the results? Time to role play: Brent will be an end user sending in queries, and you will play the part of the SQL Server engine. Using simple spreadsheets as your tables, you will learn how SQL Server builds execution plans, uses indexes, performs joins, and considers statistics. This session is for DBAs and developers who are comfortable writing queries, but not so comfortable when it comes to explaining nonclustered indexes, lookups, sargability, fill factor, and corruption detection.

Prerequisites:
You should be in your first 1-5 years of working with SQL Server, and never taken an internals class or read an internals book before.

Goals:

Reviewer Feedback:

My Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite sessions, and I’ve given it all over the world to great reviews. Whenever I think everyone must have seen it by now, I see reviewer feedback like this and go, “Yeah, I still need to keep giving it.”

The level discussion is really interesting. I think everyone should know this material – but it’s not taught to us as we get started with databases. You wouldn’t believe the furious, intensive note-taking I see from DBAs with a dozen years of experience who never really got this material until they had database pages in their hands. At the same time, I don’t want to write an abstract that sounds like it’s for everyone, so I restrict this to level 100. (Levels are BS anyway.)

Performance Tuning When You Can't Fix the Queries (Not Accepted)

Note: Yes, the ' is verbatim, because PASS’s web site apparently has problems with apostrophes. Just wait until you read the full abstract. Yes, this is the year 2016. Yes, they are still on DotNetNuke. The sp_Askxxx isn’t an error, though, because they strip names out of abstracts to review them independently.

Length: General Session (75 minutes)
Track: Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
Topic: Performance Monitoring / Tuning / Extended Events / Waits
Level: 200

Abstract:
Your users are frustrated because the app is too slow, but you can't change the queries. Maybe it's a third party app, or maybe you're using generated code, or maybe you're just not allowed to change it. Take heart – there's still hope.

xxx does this every week, and he'll share a simple cheat sheet to his proven performance tuning methodologies and free tools.

You'll learn how to diagnose your server's bottleneck with sp_Askxxx, then how to find the bottleneck-causing queries with sp_BlitzCache, next figure out whether you can fix them with indexes using sp_BlitzIndex, and then finally, figure out whether hardware, Enterprise Edition, or configuration switches can help.

This session is for developers, DBAs, and consultants who have to make SQL Server go faster. You should be comfortable writing queries and creating tables, but not as confident about interpreting SQL Server's DMVs and diagnostic data.”

Goals:

Reviewer Feedback:

My Thoughts:

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Watch “XXX” Tune Queries (Not Accepted)

Note: PASS anonymizes abstracts to review them independently of speakers. This title is obviously Watch Brent Tune Queries, and I take delight in being equated with XXX. 

Length: General Session (75 minutes)
Track: Application & Database Development
Topic: Optimizing Queries / Execution Plans
Level: 200

Abstract:
Ever wonder how somebody else does it? Watch over the virtual shoulder of Microsoft Certified Master xxx as he walks you through the Stack Overflow public database export, shows you queries, and then tunes them to make them dramatically faster.

Prerequisites:
You should be comfortable running queries in SSMS, but wildly uncomfortable reading execution plans

Goals:

Reviewer Feedback:

My Thoughts:

My abstract was too short, but reading this feedback, a longer one wouldn’t have saved it. PASS has long been anti-personal-branding – this year’s mess around the speaker contract is a great example – so I knew this session wouldn’t fly with the reviewers, but I had to try it.

It’s a shame, because it does phenomenally well at our training classes, SQL Intersections, and SQLSaturdays. This one usually has people crammed into the aisles and sitting on the floor in order to get space.

Recap

This year, I only submitted sessions I passionately love giving.

I would have been happy if one got accepted. Two did.

Now the next round of hard work starts: polishing the sessions more.

Update: want to read other speakers’ feedback?