The Two Best Things Paul Randal Taught Me #DevIntersection #SQLintersection

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Several years back, I had the pleasure of working with Paul Randal (blog@PaulRandal) – first in the Microsoft Certified Master program, and then later at SQLskills with Paul & Kim. I had a phenomenal time – they’re truly wonderful people – and I want to share two of my favorite lessons that still come in handy every week.

1. When answering, be comfortable saying “I don’t know.”

When someone asks you a question that stumps you, be honest immediately and say:

“I don’t know, but here’s where I would go look: ____.”

Paul Randal never did teach me the secret of the two-spoon trick

If you try to fake it, and the other person knows the real answer, then they’re going to know immediately that you’re faking. Even if you stumble into the right answer, your answer delivery is going to give you away.

If the other person doesn’t know the right answer – like if it’s a client asking you a technical question to solve a problem – you might be able to bamboozle them. However, when they go to put your answer into practice, they’ll hit roadblocks, and you won’t look good.

By explaining where you would go look, you’re showing that you’re the kind of person who won’t just ¯(ツ)/¯ and call it a day. Interviewers aren’t just checking what you already know – they’re also checking how you learn, and how you test solutions.

2. Before you ask, build a test.

When you ask someone a question, you’re making a demand on their time. Before you take their time from them, do them a favor – spend a few moments building a test.

Don’t try to figure out the answer, necessarily – that might be hard – just figure out how you’d test the answer.

For example, in SQL Server, trace flag 1117 grows all data files at the same time so they remain the same size. SQL Server 2016 has that behavior by default for TempDB – but what about user databases? Does it handle that for me too? Say the manual isn’t clear enough for me.

Before asking someone, I could just build a test:

  • Create a database
  • Put four data files in it, all 1mb in size
  • Set up a loop script of inserting data into a table
  • Watch the files grow as the script runs

If you can describe the test in thirty seconds, then you need to build that test rather than asking the question. It’s not just about respecting the time of others – it’s also about teaching you how to find things out for yourself. The act of building tests like this will teach you all kinds of things about the tools you use.

Lessons like this are why I love SQL Intersection.

DevIntersection is a twice-annual conference with some of the best speakers in the development, IT, SharePoint, and SQL Server industries. It’s people who work for Microsoft, Google, Rackspace, SQLskills, and, uh, me.

Sure, the sessions are awesome, and the venues are great (the Walt Disney World Swan this time), but for me, the big draw is the ability to have conversations with the speakers. These are people with inspiring real-world experience that can teach you all kinds of lessons, and at Intersection, they actually have enough time & space to do it.

Wanna come hang out with me, Paul, Kim, and the like? Register now. See you in Orlando.

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GroupBy: We Did It!

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12 Comments is off to an awesome start:

  • Dozens of speakers submitted abstracts and collaborated on ’em
  • Hundreds of readers voted to pick their favorites
  • The winning speakers put on a heck of a show
  • Almost 700 of you showed up to watch live
  • Our A/V team kicked butt and got the recordings up on YouTube the very next day
  • And I have to say the site looks pretty spiffy these days

Preliminary podcast artwork

I’m really proud of what you and I built over there. Here’s what’s coming next:

  • Friday, we’ve got another 6 live sessions
  • Our A/V team will launch the podcast feed with the full recordings
  • We’ll be launching mobile apps to make it easier to listen to these on the go
  • Submissions are open now for the April events
  • March 15-31 – voting will be open, and this time around, attendees will just pick their top 10 favorites (rather than rating individual sessions)

From here on out, I’ll blog GroupBy news over there, like today’s post about GroupBy Live Webcast Notes & Lessons Learned.

But here on my personal blog, I wanted to stop for a champagne moment. In that post, Scott Adams writes about how it never really feels time to pop the champagne because there’s so much he’s still working on, and I can totally identify with that. I’m juggling a whole bunch of things in the air, but I’m going to take a second to stop to celebrate what we did together.

In 2016, I had to hit pause on my community efforts when we bought out Jeremiah & Kendra, and I had to take on a bunch of company duties. This year, I’m back in a comfortable rhythm, and I’ve been able to carve out a certain amount of time per week to tackle community initiatives. I’m really loving it already.

However, my community stuff has to be sustainable. I’ve written about what sustainable community initiatives mean to me, and I’ve been careful to build GroupBy in a way that I can sustain it. I don’t do the A/V work, I’ve been doing the site work so that I can hand it off to volunteer organizers, and I don’t do private help – all support questions need to go through public channels like the GroupBy forums or Slack channel.

If we can do this together with just a few hours of our time per week, I can’t wait to see what it looks like by the end of 2017. Here’s to us, dear reader.

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Early Thoughts About the 2017 Data Professional Salary Survey Results

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The 2017 Data Professional Salary Survey is going on now, but with over 1,300 2,400 results in already, I’ve noticed some interesting trends in the raw data. (I did this analysis on Friday, so if you redo it, you’ll see even higher response counts and possibly different results.)

2017/01/06 responses by job title, count:

A good chunk of the responders are DBAs (no surprise, is a DBA-focused blog.) Since DBAs are near and dear to my heart, I’m going to filter for just them, and then analyze responses by country:

Good! We’ve got just over 500 responses from US DBAs. (Update Monday: over 800!) Let’s filter for that (because I’m Merican), then look at their primary database platform:

Again, no surprise here – mostly SQL Server. (Although when you step back, this means the majority of responses (887 of 1378) are not SQL Server DBAs from the US. That’s kinda cool.

Team Size and Management Duties

Filtering just for US SQL Server DBAs, let’s see how many of them manage other staff:

About 20% do. On average median, do they make more money?

Yes, managers make more money. But what about people who aren’t managers – if we filter them out, and only focus on the 395 non-managers, how many other people are on their team, doing the same job?

162 DBAs work alone, and 84 more have just one coworker. I’ve long believed that there’s a huge population of DBAs who work in solitude, and that that’s a big driver behind the strong online community for SQL Server DBAs. We see each other as our virtual coworkers.

Alright, back to the 491 US SQL Server DBAs.

Is Certification Still Relevant?

How many of the 491 US SQL Server DBAs hold certifications?

Only 31% of the audience hold current certifications. (Interestingly, if you rule out managers, only 22% do.) But surely those who are certified make more money, right?

It turns out that the best way to make money is to get a certification – and then let it expire. BWAHAHAHA

Does Higher Education Help?

How many have post-secondary education:

Wow, more than half of the responders have a 4-year degree! I’m stunned. Doesn’t seem to affect salary much, though. (And maybe that master’s or PhD isn’t such a good idea.)

And of those who have a degree, is it computer-related? Maybe that helps.

HAHAHA, computer-related degrees actually earn less than non-computer-related degrees. Ah, data.

Want to Ask Questions About the Data?

Don’t even think about leaving a comment here, buddy – I’m not your personal data scientist. Go get the answer yourself. Take the 2017 Data Professional Salary Survey, and grab the raw data in Excel format from that same link. Encourage other folks to take it, too – it closes this Sunday, and the more responses we’ve got, the more valuable it is for all of us.

Blogger heads-up: the survey will close Sunday night, January 15th. Monday morning, I’ll update the above link to include the final set of raw data in Excel. That’s like a starter pistol: use that data to write whatever analytics post you want on your own blog, and leave the URL in the comments. I’ll post an official survey results announcement post on on Thursday, January 19th. In that post, I’ll include a list of YOUR analytics posts, so you’ll get a nice bump of traffic. If you want to show off your skills in Power BI, Tableau, Access, whatever, go ahead and grab the current raw data set, rehearse your method, and be ready to jump into action on Monday, January 16th with the final raw data set. Enjoy!

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Specialized Input Devices: The MacBook Pro Touch Bar and the Ergodox-EZ

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For the last month, I’ve been using two different keyboards:

Both of them forced me to slow down and look at my hands for a while.

The Ergodox EZ: Wildly Ergonomic

I type a lot (and quickly), and maybe fifteen years ago, I started having wrist pains. I switched to ergonomic keyboards, and the pain disappeared pretty quickly. Thing is, most ergonomic keyboards have craptacular key feel and they don’t promote great posture.

There’s a better way. I first learned about Ergodox keyboards through Massdrop, a group purchasing site. Turns out there’s a whole community of hard-core keyboard enthusiasts, and they seem to congregate on /r/ergodox. The easiest way to get this keyboard is from, where you can order it with the color, keycaps, and switches of your choice. (Brace yourself: we’re talking a $300 keyboard.)

Switches are the little mechanical internals that dictate key feel and noise. If you decide to go for an Ergodox, get a key tester first to learn which style of resistance & noise you prefer. In the keyboard world, better feel generally equates to more noise. I can’t have super-loud clackers since I take fast, extensive notes on conference calls while I’m talking, so I went with Gateron Brown switches for a balance of good feel and a minimum of noise.

Here’s how mine looked at first:

Ergodox EZ, keycaps not so EZ

Ergodox EZ, keycaps not so EZ

Yes, it’s ugly. Very ugly, like something out of a low-budget hacker movie. But the benefit is that the keyboard halves can be placed far apart, letting your arms fall into a more natural stance instead of cramped together.

A whole lot of the keycaps are black, and it’s not because I bought some l337 hacker model – they all come this way whether you like it or not.

They’re blank because the keys are programmable so you can set the layout you want. Never use caps lock? Map that key to something else. Do a lot of backspacing? Put that key closer to your fingers. Here’s my layout for now (I have to change it soon, forgot to include an apostrophe, so I’m relying on autocorrect for that):

My keyboard layout (link on Ergodox)

Ergodox’s Weakness: Odd Key Sizes + Programmability

You get to pick which keys do what, but you’re supposed to memorize their functionality. You can’t buy a stock set of interchangeable keycaps, either. Notice how the keycaps are a few different sizes and orientations? That means a manufacturer would have to produce a whole lot of keycaps in different sizes.

That sucks.

My solution: an old-school $40 labelmaker. It works – but it just makes the Ergodox look even crappier. I started with grand ideas about building the perfect layout for what I do most often, but after three rounds of keyboard programming in the first day alone, I just left the labelmaker on my desk for a while.

After labeling the keys, I liked the Ergodox a lot more and got more comfortable with using my programmed shortcuts.

Until I went on the road, where my laptop now has a completely different layout. I’d grown used to hitting enter with my left thumb, backspacing with my right thumb, and so on. Ugh. Because I jump back and forth so often, I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it. If I stayed at home full time, or if I traveled with the Ergodox, sure, but this context switching is rough. I can’t just remap my laptop keyboard, either, because the Ergodox’s available keys are so very different than my laptop.

So let’s talk about the new laptop.

The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar

An overcast day on the road

I wouldn’t have bought the new MacBook Pro except Erika needed a laptop for travel, so I gave her my old MBPr. I had a MacBook 12″ as my backup laptop – I carry two laptops in case I have a presentation problem – so getting a new MBP let me get down to a single set of USB-C cables for everything.

Let’s set aside all the other controversies – yes, the new MacBook Pro only has USB-C ports, it’s still capped at 16GB RAM, it’s overpriced, yadda yadda yadda. The keyboard is fine – I’m a fan of Apple’s thin butterfly keys – and the huge trackpad is fantastic. Let’s focus on the most controversial input device: the Touch Bar.

With a normal laptop, your eyes look at the computer screen.

Your fingers rest on the keyboard and get tactile feedback in memorized areas.

The Touch Bar is a stupid hybrid idea that doesn’t work for either your eyes or your fingers. You have to look down, away from your work, in order to figure out where to touch on a tiny strip. Even if you memorize when/where the Touch Bar will display something you want to touch, you can’t reliably touch in that place every time, so you have to look down to use it.

Either disrupt my eyes, or my fingers, but not both.

If the screen was just a touchscreen, then I could move my hands up to where my eyes focus. Touchscreens are huge, and I can interact with any app – not just apps coded to support it.

The lack of an ESC key is even a problem if you don’t think you use the escape key. I’m used to clicking on things – say, a Twitter link to an animated gif from @Swear_Trek – and while it loads, moving my finger over toward the escape key. Unfortunately, merely by touching my finger on the escape key area, I’m hitting the key. The gifs disappear before they even load. (Which, frankly, was great for my productivity initially.)

Touch ID sounds fantastic at first – I love using my fingerprint to unlock my iPhone instantly – but it’s not quite as compelling for Apple Watch owners. My Watch is already set to unlock my computer automatically when I walk up to it, so I haven’t typed a password in a while anyway. Right now, the only thing TouchID really helps with is unlocking 1Password.

But even if I loved the Touch Bar – which I don’t – it presents a problem because it’s laptop-only. Even if Apple goes wild and crazy and builds a desktop keyboard with a Touch Bar, it’s not gonna be ergonomic – which means I’m not going to use it.

The way I figure, Apple built this because it’s hard to copy, not because it’s a better idea than a touchscreen. Since Apple controls the OS and dictate application development standards, it’s easy for them to get Touch Bar support across all their apps. At that point, marketing can say things like “only we have a Touch Bar.” It’s kinda like when Microsoft switched the Office UI over to the Ribbon – it wasn’t necessarily better, it was just patentable.

Recap: Specialized Isn’t Necessarily Better

Both of these input devices required me to break habits and take my eyes away from the screen for a while.

Both of them purport to make me a better user long term – but unless I have the same input devices available everywhere, then it just doesn’t hold up. I keep breaking habits every time I switch contexts.

For a long time, I’ve wanted touch screen support on OS X. These experiments only make me even more certain that it needs to happen. Give me the same interaction mechanism everywhere – home and on the road and on my phone. Let me touch my damn screen.

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April Fool’s Blog Posts I Couldn’t Develop in 2016

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All year long, I pile up blog post ideas and work through them. Somehow, the vast majority of my ideas are actually April Fool’s Day posts. I can’t possibly write all these, so I’m tossing ’em out in my end-of-year housecleaning. Enjoy. – a dating site for database administrators. Someone who understands the constant on-call lifestyle. You’ll never have to do tech support for your partner. Use the power of data to find the right match.

Powerless BI – new product for disenfranchised line-level employees that want to correlate metrics to employee dissatisfaction.

DBA Job Candidate Verification Service – For $29, we’ll check your job candidate’s background to see if they’ve ever shrunk a database, dropped a table, or run an UPDATE without a WHERE clause in production.

Actually seen in a data center. I had no idea what to do with this.

DBA in a Can – new product, an air horn that just screams “NO!”

T-SQL Millennial Support – In an effort to appeal to today’s youth, SQL Server will support text slang such as CR8 ┻━┻.

Gaseous State Drive – now, code smells really do.

DMZ – like TMZ, but for sysadmins. Think “Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp Sex Tape Leaks,” that kind of thing.

Activity Monitor Play-By-Play Plugin – text-to-speech code that gives you a sportscast of your server’s activity. It automatically switches between sports based on your server’s load – a boxing match, soccer, and for the quieter servers, golf.

Books Online Acquires America Online – documentation will henceforth be distributed as free CDs in your favorite magazines. When a new article is published, you’ll get a friendly voice notification.

Database Beauty Products – rub this cream on your cursors and take the years off.

Proper Hard Drive Maintenance – Just as cars need oil changes every 3,000 miles, your hard drives also need oil changes after a certain amount of rotations. Here’s where to check how many rotations your drive has had, and here’s how to open up the hard drives to apply the grease. If you don’t see grease in here, your hard drive has gone too long without maintenance, and it’s time to replace it.

New Brent Ozar Unlimited Headquarters – we’re buying a building and putting our name on it. Given our sense of humor, it would totally be a former Pizza Hut building. (That page has some beautiful examples, just scroll down.)

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THE Sales Question: “What Does Success Look Like to You?”

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Most of my sales work involves a productized service: the SQL Critical Care®, a package of consulting work with a defined set of steps and a finish line.

But sometimes on introductory calls, prospective customers just start venting.

They complain about performance, management, capacity planning, architecture, upgrades, downtime, cost, staffing, the last guy, and a litany of stuff.

As a consultant, though, I can’t write a Statement of Work for that. Or to be more specific, I can’t write it up in a way that an executive will actually sign the contract to let us start work.

So when I’m not sure where things are going, here’s what I say:

What does success look like to you? At the end of the gig, I want you to be able to say, “Thank goodness we called them because they were finally able to ____.” What’s in that blank?

What failure looks like

What failure looks like

The answer helps us all:

  • Understand what the first project’s finish line looks like (not necessarily the end of our entire working relationship, just the first finish line that we need to cross together)
  • Understand if I can help them cross that line (because sometimes it’s not a good fit for me)
  • Set things out of scope when they’re not related to the finish line (it doesn’t mean we’re never going to do that work – it’s just not part of this first race we’re running together)

If you don’t have a productized service yet – or even if you’re just applying for a full time job – success is so much easier when you understand what success means to the other person.

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How I Handle Weekend and Holiday Work

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Vegas, baby!

Vegas, baby!

When you’re independent, sooner or later, somebody’s gonna want you to work on the weekend or on a holiday.

Or, they may say something like, “Is there any way we could get into your calendar earlier, or get this done faster?”

Here’s how I handle that: any money I make on weekends or holidays goes directly to my wife as purely discretionary income.

This has an interesting effect on negotiations: it takes away all of my emotions from the negotiations process. Normally, when there’s money at stake, I’m interested in getting the deal signed, but since none of the money’s going into my pocket, I am totally chill about this whole thing. I can even be honest with my clients and say, “My wife and I have this agreement that she gets to keep the money I make on the weekends, so here’s the price that it takes to buy me out of family happenings.”

When I decided that, I went to my wife and said, “What’s a price number where you would be happy having me working on a weekend day? What’s the number of dollars that you’d want to have in your pocket where you’d be totally happy that I was working instead of hanging out with you?” She set a number, and now I’m able to just quote that anytime someone asks. I don’t have to ask her what we’re planning – at that price, she’s completely happy canceling anything we’ve got going on.

That was some expensive champagne

That was some expensive champagne

When deals are signed, everybody’s happy:

  • The client gets me faster (although at a significant cost)
  • Erika gets fun money to spend on stuff she’d never consider buying otherwise
  • I get the warm, fuzzy feeling of making everybody happy while doing what I love

To make it work and keep a good work-life balance, the price has to be high enough that Erika’s truly excited, and high enough that clients aren’t willing to fork it out every single weekend and holiday.

When I first got started, I thought I’d have to say yes to every client demand. “Work with us over the weekend and you’ll earn our business over time.” I learned that the kinds of clients who want me to work every weekend and holiday aren’t really the kinds of clients I want to work with long term.

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The Tools and Services I Used to Build

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About a month ago when I announced my plans to build, I wrote:

And I bet I can do this whole thing for free, without charging attendees or speakers. Although I’m not betting too much – I’m a huge believer in the Lean Methodology, which means you risk as little as possible when you’re building something up from scratch.

Here’s the tools I used to do it.

GroupBy’s Infrastructure

WordPress – it’s free, powers something like 25% of the web, is crazy extensible, and has an amazing number of plugins available. Pretty much anything I build online involves WordPress in one way or another. We host at WPengine.

Group By

Gravity Forms – WordPress plugin to build forms and do stuff with the output. I’m using it for:

  • The account registration page because I wanted to optionally capture the user’s location in case we start notifying them about nearby in-person events like user group meetings.
  • The session submission page uses it for form field validation, and then to combine several form fields into a WordPress post, and email me for a heads up. I wish I could just instantly publish every submission, but I’m worried about spam initially.
  • The attendee registration page, which calls a web hook at Zapier, which fires off an API request to GoToWebinar.

Impreza Theme – WordPress theme that I also use on and Very customizable, responsive, frequently updated.

bbPress Forums – I was originally going to try to use Slack rather than forums, but if I’m committed to doing everything in the open for this conference, then the discussions need to be easily searchable and browsable even without accounts. Forums make that easy.

Fancier Author Box – the author box is the speaker’s profile. Right now it just shows their bio and their latest posts (abstracts), but we’ll be enabling more features in that over time, like showing how to contact them.

Buffer and WordPress to Buffer Pro – whenever a new session is posted, tweet it. Right now, it’s set to tweet the instant a post is approved, but as more sessions start to come in, they’ll just get added to the queue so that a new session is tweeted every, say, hour.

WordPress Plugins for Session Reviewers

Search results with ratings

Search results with ratings

Multi Rating Pro – WordPress plugin for ratings. Can do multiple different rating forms, each with different criteria – this was important because I wanted to be able to have one set of rating criteria for session abstracts, and then another for videos after they go live. (Neat benefit – the ratings even show up in search results.)

wpDiscuz – comments made fancy. This is the first time I’ve used this plugin, so the jury’s still out on this one.

Default Widget Extensions – the session rating page needs to show only posts in a specific category (the current abstracts list), not abstracts from prior events, or site news.

WordPress Plugins for Session Submitters

Adminimize – reduces the number of WordPress options that session submitters see when they log into the back end to edit their posts.

Peter’s Collaboration Emails – turns out there’s a whole niche market for guest post tools. This one emails guest posters (in our case, session submitters) when one of their posts has been accepted. Right now, I’m manually moderating incoming posts just to watch out for spam or offensive material. In a later milestone, I’ll let the posts go straight through, but readers will be able to flag stuff for review to remove it from the site.

Instant Images – speakers can include a featured image for their post, but if they don’t include one, the Instant Images plugin makes it easy to grab a beautiful free picture from Unsplash.

Services & Tools We Use for the Podcast

One thing I hear over and over from international folks is that they want a podcast version of user group sessions because their internet connection just isn’t stable enough to support streaming. Therefore, right from the start, I wanted all of the GroupBy sessions to be available in downloadable form.

Preliminary podcast artwork

Preliminary podcast artwork

I called on, the same team that produces the Brent Ozar Unlimited Office Hours podcast. This is the most expensive piece out of the whole setup – they record the webcast as it happens, edit it into individual podcast episodes, upload it to YouTube and the podcast feed, transcribe it, and put the transcriptions into the GroupBy session pages. We’ll be releasing the podcast episodes twice per week, trickling them out after the live event.

In theory, we could have organized all this through volunteers, but it’s just not worth it – we only get one chance to capture the recordings, and Pavel’s crew are complete pros.

To pull it off, we’re using Libsyn for podcast hosting, Blubrry PowerPress to show the recordings in WordPress, and of course YouTube for video hosting.

Bottom Line: Cheap & Quick

If it wasn’t for my insistence on a snappy logo and a professionally produced podcast feed, it would have been around $500 out of pocket to get set up. With the logo and the podcasts, we’ll be at around $2k of setup costs, and just shy of 40 hours of spare time invested in choosing & configuring the plugins/design/site.

I’m really pleased with the results. WordPress’s lively ecosystem makes it so easy and cheap to build useful projects that make a real difference – without writing a line of code or buying a server.

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What Sessions I’m Attending at AWS re:Invent This Week

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Richie and I are at the AWS re:Invent conference because:

AWS Reinvent 2016

AWS Reinvent 2016

  • A good number of our customers run SQL Server on Amazon Web Services
  • We use AWS ourselves (our first project, PasteThePlan, was built on AWS because we wanted to keep costs low)
  • Clients and friends kept telling me how awesome the conference was
  • We’re recruiting clients (this isn’t a marketing event for us at all – we’re just there to learn, and Richie jokes that it’ll be fun to walk around at a conference where Brent Ozar isn’t BRENT OZAR)
  • Vegas, baby (and in March 2017, I’m attending Google Cloud Next in SF)

Here’s some of the sessions I’m attending, and why:

Serverless Data Pipelines, Event-Driven ETL, and Stream Processing (BDM303) – When files land in S3 (like when PasteThePlan saves execution plans), you can use Lambda to process them. Down the road, I’d love to email you with a list of prioritized suggestions for your plan. I’m also attending Building Complex Serverless Applications (GPST404), Real-Time Data Processing Using Lambda (SVR301), and What’s New with Lambda (SVR202).

Serverless Authentication and Authorization (MBL306) – How to use Cognito (AWS’s identity management system) in combination with Google and Facebook authorization. Right now, our subscribers are stored in a few different places (Mailchimp for the newsletter, WordPress for comments, another WordPress for their training courses, and not at all for PasteThePlan.) Centralizing that would help some of the things we want to do going forward.

Design, Deploy, and Optimize SQL Server on AWS (WIN306) – they’re trying to go deep and cover multiple HA/DR features, and I don’t think you can do both of those in a single session, but I’m curious. Also attending Turbocharge Your .NET Developments with AWS (DEV309).

Using Lambda to Build Control Systems for AWS Infrastructure (SVR401) – When CloudWatch fires off monitoring events, you can have Lambda code run to respond. I’m interested in this for SQL Server reasons. For example, if I know a SQL Server running in an EC2 VM is having a specific set of problems (say, sustained slow storage throughput due to undersized IO capacity), and it’s been happening for quite a while, I could make a judgment call about moving it to a higher-memory or higher-bandwidth instance type.

Getting Started with AWS Aurora (DAT203) – AWS’s RDS option that’s MySQL-compatible (but managed and much easier to scale). Ticketmaster’s data architect will explain how they use it. Also attending Aurora Best Practices (DAT301) where they’re covering 2bn row tables, and Aurora Deep Dive (DAT303) to see how they’re handling the storage layer.

I’m not giving up SQL Server, just keepin’ on expanding my horizons, learning new stuff.

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GroupBy Conference is Now Accepting Session Submissions

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Last month I announced my next crazy idea, a free online conference, and then I asked for your help picking the logo. Now it’s time to take the wrapping off.

GroupBy Conference

The first GroupBy Conference is now open for session submissions!

November 20-Dec 15 – Open call for abstracts, and readers can vote on which sessions they like.

December 16 – Voting closes, winners are announced, and registration starts. (No big mystery here, since your votes choose the winning sessions.)

January 13 – The first online event. We’ll be recording the sessions live, then uploading them to YouTube afterward for permanent archival.

I’m announcing it here on first because I wanna give you, dear reader, an early chance to get in on submitting abstracts. I’ll announce it next Tuesday on, which has a much higher readership audience, and at that point, sessions that are already in the running will have a much easier chance of getting high vote counts.

Head on over to and check it out. For questions, feel free to use the forums over there. Let’s do this!

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