SQL Server with Mr. Denny

December 10, 2014  5:00 PM

Session’s Are a Specific Length For A Reason

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
Business presentations, Conferences, SQL, SQL Server

Nothing irks me more when I walk into my session room than the prior presenter still standing up there doing his thing eating into my 15 minutes of prep/setup time. Conferences have fixed length sessions for a reason. So that the audience knows how long the session will be, so that the presenter knows how much material to prepare, and so that the speaker knows how long they have before their session to get setup.

When a presenter runs over their time into the next presenters setup time this shows that the presenter didn’t have a good enough grasp of their session to set the right cadence, and they didn’t have good time management skills to know when they should have skipped some slides so that they’d finish on time.

Vendors are the worst at this at their lunch sessions. Lunch sessions at events like SQL Saturday’s typically don’t have much prep time between the lunch session and next session, so when the vendor runs over they are eating directly into the next presenters time.

Giving a session which runs short isn’t good either. As presenters we like to pad a sessions with 5-10 minutes of questions that we think are going to show up during the session. But when they don’t we need to have enough material to fill the time slot fully. After all that’s what the audience came to see. If you’ve got a 60 minute session slot, and 45 minutes of material and no questions, you’d better have some extra material to fill the extra 15 minutes with. When I was a TechEd Europe this year I wondered up to my session room very early, while the prior speaker should have still been presenting. I figured that I’d stand at the back and catch the last few minutes of his session before I got setup for mine. However when I got there his session was already done, with him standing at the front with a small group of people asking him questions. He finished easily 15 minutes early (I’m guessing).

Time management is hard. Especially when giving a presentation to a group, as you may not have a clock running to tell you how much time you have left. But there’s apps for your phone, or you can use the timer in PowerPoint (as long as you don’t close PowerPoint to do a demo), or a room monitor who can give you a signal at 5,10,15 minutes before you end, etc. There’s lots of ways to fix the problem so that the attendees get the session of the length that they are expecting while still getting the information across to them.


December 5, 2014  7:19 PM

Recommended reading from mrdenny for December 05, 2014

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
IT conferences, SQL Server

This week I’ve found some great things for you to read. These are a few of my favorites that I’ve found this week.

This weeks SQL Server person to follow on Twitter is: SqlFreccia also known as Marcos Freccia

Hopefully you find these articles as useful as I did.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter where my username is @mrdenny.


December 3, 2014  5:00 PM

Never Tempt the Demo Gods

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
Business presentations, Presentation software, SQL, SQL Server

Demos are one of the most fun parts of presenting, and one of the riskiest. This is because the demo gods have two options. They can smile upon you and give you a perfect demo, or they can piss all over you and your demo can crash and burn. How you handle those demo failures shows how good of a speaker you really are.

If you are able to recovery from the failure and fix the problem without anyone noticing the problem, you are a master speaker. If you point out the failure, then work around it, you’re pretty good (this is where I usually fall in the demo failure recovery event). If you stumble from the failure and get stuck and can’t continue, you need to practice your demos more (or not use demos if you can get away from it).

There’s a few ways to avoid demo failure. The easiest is to avoid demos. If possible stick to screenshots, they can’t fail you and you don’t have to drop out of the PowerPoint to get to them. Many demos out there don’t really need to be demos. If all you are doing is showing code, and the output I can do that with screenshots. Or at the very least have screenshots handy in a hidden slide so that if the demo fails you can toss them up on the screen to show how it’s supposed to work.

Another way to avoid demo failure, is to not type in the demo. People laugh when I (and others) say to never type in a demo, but we aren’t kidding. When you are on stage presenting you are nervous and odds are you’ll hit a key wrong and get a lovely error on the screen when you shouldn’t. Have all the code you’ll be using pre-written (and tested) so you can just open it and show it, then run it. The same goes for T-SQL scripts, PowerShell scripts, etc. Just open the script, show it, and run it. (And when showing PowerShell scripts don’t use the PowerShell prompt, use the damn ISE so the audience can read the screen.)

My final suggestion is to use something like DemoMate to record the demos ahead of time. This way if there’s a demo failure you can show the recorded version of it working. Now don’t plan on just using DemoMate and never showing an actual demo because that won’t fly with your audience. But if the demo blows up you need a way to get your point across.


November 28, 2014  5:00 PM

Recommended reading from mrdenny for November 28, 2014

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
IT conferences, SQL Server

This week I’ve found some great things for you to read. These are a few of my favorites that I’ve found this week.

This weeks SQL Server person to follow on Twitter is: ssslug also known as SQL Server Sri Lanka

Hopefully you find these articles as useful as I did.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter where my username is @mrdenny.


November 25, 2014  5:00 PM

Your Attendees Don’t All Want 400 Level Sessions

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
IT conferences, IT conferences and events, SQL, SQL Server

I’ve heard some talk from SQL Saturday organizers that they only want advanced sessions at their SQL Saturday, for some reason or another.

This probably isn’t what your attendees want. Sure, some of them do. But a lot of people who attend these sorts of sessions want more introduction sessions. Have you polled you attendees on what they are looking for in the sessions at your event?

How do I know this? I’ve given many intro level sessions at SQL Saturdays to a full rooms. I am a fairly well known speaker, so one could assume that people are coming to see me present. However, the very first time that I gave my session entitled “I’ve got a SQL Database, Now What?” was because I was filling in for another speaker who had a family emergency, my name was not on the session, and there was still a packed room.

At TechEd I’ve given the same session multiple times, and a good example was this year in Houston when I had over 800 people in my session room.

This shows that many attendees are looking for these types of sessions—SQL Saturday attendees, just like Code Camp and PASS Summit attendees have a wide mix of skill sets and job roles. Not everyone at a SQL Saturday is looking for information on spin locks, index internals, Hekaton internals, wait stats deep dives, etc. They are looking for sessions on how to do backups, how to index tables, the kinds of things that they can take back to the office on Monday, and use to fix problems. Some are Accidental DBAs, some are Production DBAs who know their job responsibilities are always expanding. Some are Production DBAs who’ve recently switched jobs and now have to use SQL Server in ways they didn’t have to do before. Some are famous database celebrities who want to learn more about parts of the expanding surface area of SQL Server features.

So if you are a SQL Saturday organizer or run other SQL Server conference (or really any conference), remember that not all your attendees are looking for the same 400/500 level sessions that you are looking for. Some are, while others are looking for 300 level sessions and many are looking for 100/200 level sessions. There’s nothing wrong with helping all those attendees. As the organizer of the event your job is to ensure that all your attendees are getting what they need from your event. It isn’t your job to have the first all-400-level session SQL Saturday, because odds are that isn’t what your local community needs. Even if you think it does.


November 25, 2014  4:55 PM

1000 Blog Posts Down, Who Knows How Many More To Go

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
SQL, SQL Server, statistics

Well, today is a bit of a milestone for me. As of today, I’ve published 1000 blog posts on IT Knowledge Exchange which is hosted by TechTarget. I’ve blogged about a lot of stuff over the years, including PASS, EMC World, SQL Server, Storage, Exchange, etc. Here’s some highlights from my posting over the years.

My first Post: Getting the right disk config for your SQL Server (from all the way back in October 2007)

My most popular article: How to configure DTC on Windows 2008 (which according to my Google data has been read in 7 different languages)

Number of page views (ball park): 800,000 (this is just a guess based on ad views and google stats)

Number of Blog Posts that I’ve gotten 1/2 way through and tossed because they sucked: Countless

Anyway, thanks for reading my rants and ramblings over the years.  If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing.  Now go create an account on the site, and leave me some comments!


November 21, 2014  6:04 PM

Recommended reading from mrdenny for November 21, 2014

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
IT conferences, IT conferences and events, SQL Server

This week I’ve found some great things for you to read. These are a few of my favorites that I’ve found this week.

This weeks SQL Server person to follow on Twitter is: retracement also known as Mark Broadbent

Hopefully you find these articles as useful as I did.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter where my username is @mrdenny.


November 19, 2014  7:00 PM

Moving a Multi-TB Database From One Disk To Another

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
Database instance, Database migration, Server migration, SQL, SQL Server, SQL storage, Storage

Recently a client brought me a challenge. They wanted to more a database from one LUN to another. So far this is pretty straight forward. The trick here is that this is a multi-TB instance with several databases which are about 1TB in size, and the instance has a two hour per night maintenance window.

So the trick here is how to move all the databases (including the system databases) to the new disk within the acceptable outage window. Making things more complex, the database instance is a Clustered SQL Server 2014 instance.

Log shipping would work, but that’s a pretty complex migration strategy for a simple LUN migration.

The easiest solution in this case was to add new database files and let SQL Server move the data. How I did this went something like this.

1. Mount the new LUN to the cluster and format it. In this case as the F: drive (the databases are currently on the E: drive).
2. Robocopy everything except for the database files to the new drive. This has the nice side effect of creating all the folders which are needed.
3. Add a new data file for each of the large databases on the F: drive.
4. Use the DBCC SHRINKFILE command with the EMPTYFILE parameter to remove all the data from the main data files to the new data file.
5. Once the DBCC SHRINKFILE command is done (it actually throws an error because the system objects can’t be moved). Shrink the main database files down as small as possible. I got most of them down to a few megs in size.
6. Change the auto growth settings on the existing file to be disabled so that it can’t grow beyond this small size.
7. Repeat this for all the databases in question.

At this point we wait for the maintenance window.

8. Stop the SQL Server service.
9. Robocopy the database files to the new drive.
10. Remove the drive letter from the old volume.
11. Change the drive letter on the new volume to the new drive.
12. Start SQL Server
13. Log into SQL Server and use the ALTER DATABASE … MODIFY FILE command to change to filename from the new drive letter to the old drive letter.
14. Restart SQL Server
15. Use the DBCC SHRINKFILE command with the EMPTYFILE parameter to remove all the data from the new data files to the main data file.
16. Drop the new data files from the database.

Using this approach I was able to move several terabytes of databases from one LUN to another with about 20 minutes of total outage to the system.

Now this does require that there’s a good amount of free space on the new volume as you have to be able to have the two database files on the volume at the same time. But a little drive space is a small price to pay for a short maintenance window.


November 14, 2014  5:13 PM

Recommended Reading for November 14, 2014 by mrdenny

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry
Data compression, SQL Server

This week I’ve found some great things for you to read. These are a few of my favorites that I’ve found this week.

This weeks SQL Server person to follow on Twitter is: ciscoDC also known as Cisco Data Center

Hopefully you find these articles as useful as I did.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter where my username is @mrdenny.


November 13, 2014  5:00 PM

PASS Speaker Idol 2014 Review and Notes

Denny Cherry Denny Cherry Profile: Denny Cherry

This year the SQL PASS conference held their first Speaker Idol contest with the goal of getting new speakers into the PASS Summit on the strength of their presentation skills instead of their abstracts.

And I think I can safely say that it was a resounding success.

We started with 40 people who applied (38 fellas, and 2 ladies) which were cut down to 12 people who would actually compete during the PASS Summit. Some people noticed that the 12 people who competed were all guys, which was strictly by chance. When selecting people for the 12 spots they were selected based on their answers to the sign up form, which I read and scored without looking at the speakers names. This review cut the list down to about 18 or 20 people. Those 20 were ranked based on speaking experience (were checked against PASS speaker lists from prior years) and the top 12 were invited to present in the speaker idol sessions during the PASS Summit. Sadly one speaker got sick during the summit and couldn’t compete, and there wasn’t enough time to fill the empty stop so we ended up with 11 people competing.

And present they did. All 11 presenters did a fantastic job, as did our judges in providing feedback to them.

Not only did the 11 speakers all do a great job, but they all took the feedback and the four who competed in the finals were even better the second time. The jokes were perfect, the timings were perfect, and some of the speakers took major risks which were so bold that I never would have taken them in a 5 minute session, but they nailed them perfectly.

In the end we had a winner. That winner is our first PASS Summit 2015 speaker (though we don’t know what he’s going to be speaking on yet), and his name is Pieter Vanhove.

Personally my biggest fear this year was that the room would be empty during the speaker idol sessions. My worries were set aside during our first session when the room was basically full. It was a little emptier the next two sessions, but for the finals session, the room was packed. With standing room only.

PASS Summit 2014 Speaker Idol Finals

Now I’ve heard a little bit of a rumbling about the judges selection of the wild card spot. People assumed that the wild card spot would be filled by one of the three runners up. The instructions to the judges was to select anyone that they wanted to see a second time. It could have been anyone from the competition who they felt could have done better than they did. In this case the judges opted to move Rob Volk to the finals in the wild card spot. For next year, I’ll work with PASS on how we want to define the wild card spot, and ensure that the selection criteria for that spot is better communicated to the contestants and the audience. So basically I’m going to fall on the sword on this one. I didn’t define that well, and I didn’t do a good job communicating what the rules around the wild card spot were to everyone.

I hope that next year we can get the speaker idol sessions recorded and included on the USB drives as well as made available for viewing on the PASS Website. The sessions were all informative, entertaining and the judges feedback was very useful for those listening as well as those competing. I know that I got a lot of great tips from the judges, which I hope to include in my presentation style in future presentations.

Overall, I think that the format worked pretty well. I think we need to get regular seats in the rooms so it’s more session like, and he had a little problem with the schedule (the app and my announcements said one time for the finals, but the printed signs in the convention center said a different time) but everyone was able to deal with the change (which actually is a realistic situation as room changes and time changes can happen at the summit).

For everyone that applied to be in Speaker Idol, I thank you. Hopefully PASS will let us do this again, and hopefully I’ll see your name on the list next year. Keep presenting at your local and regional events to improve your skills, and hopefully I’ll see you at the 2015 PASS Summit as a speaker.

For everyone that came to the Speaker Idol sessions, I thank you as well. The 11 speakers who were there did a great job, and it makes it a lot easier to present to a full room compared to an empty one (trust me, I’ve done it).

Also, a big thank you to the judges who were willing to give up a decent chunk of their week to sit and listen to people give 5 minute sessions.

Without everyone coming together like they did, this wouldn’t have been the big success that it was. Personally I hope to see a bunch of the 11 people who presented as speakers at the PASS Summit 2015 so that we can get a bunch of new people into the speaker idol in 2015. And to Luan who got sick this year, I hope to see you at the PASS Summit next year; just this time healthy enough to present a session.

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