Category: PASS

PASS Summit 2012–Register Now And Save

It’s the end of January and the price of attendance to the PASS Summit 2012 is about to go up.

Today you can register for $1,095 (that’s 50% off the full price). Tomorrow that price goes up. Get in now and save some bucks. The price only goes up by $100, but with you having the option of pre-purchasing the Summit DVD set for $125 when you register. That means by registering today you can get all the sessions delivered to you for only $25. Now THAT is a bargain.

PASS BoD–Who I’m Voting For

Hopefully everyone who reads this is a member of PASS and has received a ballot for voting in this years Board of Directors elections.

There’s a really strong candidate turnout this year, it makes for tough choices when it comes to voting. I was able to pick my three, I’m going to tell you who and why.

*None of the following is endorsed by any candidate, nor have I mentioned that I am writing this post to any of them. The thoughts and feelings expressed as regards each candidate are my own. I am not being negative towards any of the other candidates either, and nor should you be. I am just looking at the positives for these three as I perceive their value on the Board.


Rob Farley

I first got to meet Rob at the PASS Summit a couple of years ago and found him to be an all round nice guy (despite the fact that he is an Arsenal supporter). He’s worked very hard to build his business back home in Australia and by all accounts been very successful in doing so.  Rob has already shown great dedication to the community which can be shown by virtue of his being an MVP for the past 6 years.

Rob brings a great many things to the table. The one thing that I really feel makes him a standout candidate is how he fits into the future of PASS. A great deal has been talked about how PASS needs to grow internationally. Rob is a part of the international market. Indeed his different perspective was acknowledged by the current Board when they brought him in as a non-voting member earlier this year.

Rob really seems to care about this stuff. Enthusiasm is infectious and I believe he will kick start some different thinking.


Adam Jorgensen

I don’t know Adam. I’ve never met him, but I know of him. He’s the President of Pragmatic Works; on the board of their foundation for getting teachers and veterans back to work in technology; SQL MVP and PASS regional mentor.  Community really seems to be at the core of everything that Adam does (highly commendable stuff).

Again, Adam brings a lot to the table, the key thing for me is his financial experience. There were delays in getting the PASS budget approved this year. It’s not something that the Board wanted to happen or intended. Budgets are always tight and with planned international expansions and additional things like SQL Saturday and SQLRally events I think someone with a firm understanding and great experience with business financials would be a bonus to the Board.


Kendal Van Dyke

I’ve met Kendal a couple of times briefly (you know how PASS can be crazy that way).  He started MagicPASS down in Orlando and was on the planning team for the first SQLRally event. Kendal deservedly received his first MVP award this year (he was one of those guys where you go “wait, he’s not an MVP?”)

There were a couple of things that really piqued my interest as regards Kendal’s platform. Firstly his wanting to work with the virtual chapters. I feel that they are very neglected right now from a Board perspective. I think a great push needs to be made for those. We get hundreds of people for every 24HOP presentation but the numbers are very low for the Virtual Chapters. Getting the word out about them and having a solid push in that direction from the Board would go a long way. Second was his desire to work with PASS partners and work on mutual benefits with them. I think it would be a good thing for PASS membership to go beyond folks just getting a vote. We really need to find a way to grow membership and engage people further. I feel that this may be a way to do achieve that.



Get out and vote

Or rather sit on your rear and click some buttons. If you have a ballot go and vote. It’s important you help put people in place that are going to affect how PASS will impact you in the future.

You have until December 20th to get your vote in.

While I’ve stated who received my vote there are other candidates, I encourage you to check them out and see if they might be a better choice for you:

Summit 2011–Getting A Seat At The Table

If you’ve attended the Summit then you might have seen a bunch of tables near the back of the room with a whole bunch of reserved seats. The tables are manned by crazed looking folks, laptops lit up, fingers flicking over the keyboard as events unfurl on the stage in front of them.

These fine folk are bloggers and they have been presented with the opportunity to get comfy chairs and write about the keynotes. Liveblogs update and tweets flutter their way into the ether as they get incensed about Tina Tuner impersonators or wowed by the straightforward technical awesomeness and presentation skills shown by David DeWitt.

This year PASS opened up the opportunity for folks to enter into a raffle to get one of these coveted seats.

I was lucky enough to get one of those seats, so on Wednesday, the opening keynote I get a seat at one of the tables. I’ll have my tablet setup, tweetdeck running and will be hoping that the keynote will not be a repeat fiasco of last year (although it’ll be great fodder if it is).

Look for something interesting coming to my blog Wednesday and follow me on twitter (@sirsql) to see what I have to say.


Such fun.

Being Inappropriate At The Summit

Last year Sean & Jen McCown (you might also know them as the Midnight DBAs) put on a little event called “Inappropriate PASS”. It was a smallish gathering of 30 or so folks who wanted to give and watch presentations that were a little on risque side. 

There were drinks, noms, curse words a plenty and enough stuff to make you laugh that your sides hurt. A fun time was had by all in attendance.

With the Summit coming up in a little over a month planning is well underway for this years event. To help with the planning Jen is asking for some feedback for possible attendees (those of you that will be at the Summit and those of you that live in the local area. Please go to and fill out the 30 second survey. 

I think you should seriously consider joining us for a couple of hours of craziness and should put some serious thought into something that you would like to talk on for 5 minutes. Nothing is off the table or out of bounds so bring your worst. It’s going to be a blast.


Such fun.

Presenting at SQLSaturday #89–Atlanta

I’m very excited to be going to Atlanta on September 17th and presenting at the SQL Saturday event being held there. I was lucky enough to get two submissions accepted.


Centralized auditing of permissions with SQL Server

As a DBA it can be a challenge to know who has permissions to what SQL instances and what objects. The more instances you have the more complex that task. In this presentation I’ll share a method using PowerShell and TSQL that can be used to capture permissions from all of your SQL instances and load them into a centralized location. We’ll even take it a step further by auditing those permissions so that we can quickly and easily identify any that might have changed.


PowerShell: Are you checking out my profile?

PowerShell is a very powerful management tool and you can spend hours writing magical scripts to provide automation for frequently run tasks. Often forgotten is the PowerShell profile, a place you can add your own functions which can provide you lightning fast access to information. In this session we’ll talk about the power a profile puts at your fingertips. I will also demo (and share) several PowerShell functions that I use frequently for common tasks like checking database backups and disk space. I’ll show you my PowerShell profile if you show me yours.



There are a grand total of 17 MVP’s presenting that day. I’m frankly stunned I have to opportunity to be in rarified company and be able to speak myself (in fact my first session I’m up at the same time as 7 MVP’s so I’m expecting a quiet room). It should be a blast though, be sure to say hi if you’re there. I might even sneak in a preview of my PASS Summit Lightning talk.


Such fun.

Speaking At PASS Summit 2011

I’ll be speaking at the PASS Summit 2011 coming up in just over a month.

“Wait…what?” I hear you say, “you said in your blog post that you were not going to be presenting”.


Well a couple of weeks ago PASS opened up the opportunity for folks to submit lightning sessions (5 minute talks on a subject). I submitted 4 of those and one of them was selected:


PowerShell: It’s your new BFF

PowerShell wants to be your bestie. Please accept PowerShell’s friend request and put it in your circle. Find out why you should.


Mine is just one of 24 lightning sessions that have been selected, check out the others at


Hope you’ll find the time to swing by at least one of the lightning sessions. They are a lot of fun.


Working on a PASS abstract review/selection team

A couple of days ago I posted how I was disappointed not to have either of my sessions accepted for presenting at the PASS Summit 2011. While I was saddened, I understood how not every session could be picked and understood completely how difficult it is in choosing what would be the winning abstracts. A large part of this understanding was because I worked on one of the PASS Abstract Review/Selection committees this year.

I was one of three committee members who had it in our hands to help choose 29 Business Intelligence sessions. These were broken down to just a single half day session, 7 spotlight sessions and 21 regular sessions.

That’s just 29 sessions to be chosen (plus 6 regular and one ½ day alternate) out of over 180 submitted. Only 16% of the BI sessions would be accepted. Wow! That made things tough. Tacked on top of that there’s no speaker who could have more than 2 sessions, oh and anyone that got a pre-con is required to present regular or spotlight session. That’s a lot to tally and manage.

Tim Ford (blog|twitter) already talked about how this year the speakers were ranked by a team of volunteers. With these numbers in a nice new tool our committee went about scoring the abstracts (and abstracts alone).


Abstract scoring

Here are a few of the key factors that I looked at when scoring:

  • A title and abstract that matched
  • Well outlined pre-requisites and takeaways from the session
  • Appeal to a good sized audience
  • Well written and clear abstract
  • Not a sales pitch
  • Scores from the speaker preference tool


Each committee member individually scored a 0-5 for every session on three criteria and those scores were averaged and saved in the tool. As an example:

  • Topic – 4
  • Abstract – 5
  • Subjective – 4
  • Abstract Score: 13/3 = 4.333


The abstract score was added to the speaker score to give a final score:

  • Speaker score: 4.600
  • Abstract score: 4.333
  • Total Score: 8.933


Session choosing

Once all of the committee had entered scores, we got together on the phone and via email to try and figure out which sessions would get picked. Even with the scoring this was not an easy task. Ensuring there was a broad range of topics as well as the other requirements on speaker limits made for some good discussion around things that should or should not be considered. In the end we completed our deliberations and finalized our decisions. All the sessions were chosen and everything returned to PASS for final approval. To their credit we only had a single change to make and that was because a speaker already had a couple of sessions in another track. That forced us to move up an alternate into a slot and promote another contender into the alternate position.

Overall it was a time consuming process and the general quality of the submitted abstracts was very high. The difference between a session being chosen and one not was very small. Be assured though every single session was given due consideration and thought. I made comments around each and every abstract I reviewed so that when it came to decision time I could quickly see why I gave the scores that I did. Believe me when I say that it was not an easy task and I know that there were sessions left out that I would have loved to have seen included but there were just not enough available slots.


Why I volunteered

This process was difficult and time consuming. So why did I do it? Last year I worked on the PowerPoint review committee and wanted to volunteer in some fashion again this time around. If you’ve not volunteered at something like a SQLSaturday event, PASS Summit or helped someone on Twitter or a forum then you’re missing out. The SQL community is one of the largest connected vibrant tech communities around. There are people from all walks of life from all over the world who work on different aspects of SQL and who have different skills and weaknesses.

When you first started out working with SQL Server was there someone that helped you? Guided you? Gave you advice, taught you the basics? Was patient with you while you worked your way through things? Have you gotten anything from reading blogs, books or attending events? Why do you think folks write those books? Trust me, it’s not for the money. Why would someone blog? I’m not getting a dime for this and rarely get feedback comments, yet I keep doing it. Why would someone speak at a SQLSaturday? Why would they travel to do so given that they don’t get paid? I’ve already travelled to Chicago to present this year and plan on hitting Atlanta in September. Why do these things? Because it is all about community.

Community: it’s why you read blogs (and why you are reading this post). It’s the reason you attend a SQLSaturday event or try to go to the PASS Summit. It’s the reason that local User Groups exist and that there’s a #SQLHelp tag on Twitter. It’s a large, passionate group of people that come together so that they can improve the collective knowledge. There are some great people with great ideas who’ve become great friends through the power of SQL.

Given that there’s this community rather than ask why I would volunteer to help out I’d like you to ask yourself why you wouldn’t volunteer.

Think about it and the next time you get a chance to help out at a local event put yourself out there. Trust me, it’s worth it.