SQL Nexus

I was lucky enough to be accepted to speak at SQL Nexus in Copenhagen and I attended the event a few weeks ago. This is the new Nordic SQL conference that seems to be replacing the SQL Rally. I’d never been to Denmark, but the trip was easy, and I had no problem getting from the airport to the area downtown where the event was held. Surprisingly (for me) everyone I met spoke English, which was nice, considering I didn’t even know how to pronounce many words, including the train station I was trying to get to.

Being on the water, the speaker dinner was appropriate and quite enjoyable. I’ve had some good ones, but I think this was the best of them all.

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The event was held in a movie theater, which I think is very interesting. The spaces were large, theater style room with big screens. Our computers were hooked to the projectors, which worked well. You can see the keynote in the IMAX room below.

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The keynote was interesting, from Joseph Sirosh (Microsoft) and Troels Peterson (physicist at the Neils Bohr Institute). The same keynote from Joseph was at SQL Bits, but I don’t think Dr. Peterson went over to the UK. I want to write on Joseph’s a little later, so I’ll just take a few moments and show some highlights of how data is managed at the Cern Hadron collider.

Dr. Peterson works with the ATLAS detector. He had a few nice stats on the hardware.

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If you do some math here, you’ll see that when they run the detector and conduct an experiment they produce a lot of data. In fact, this was the next slide:

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That’s serious data. It was interesting that he said that’s an unmanageable amount of data. In fact, they need sensors to make decisions on the raw data because they can’t even use computers to analyze this level of information. However, they do have computers. In fact, they have:

  • 1127 racks
  • 10,070 servers
  • 17, 259 processors
  • 90, 948 cores
  • 75,718 disks
  • 113, 852 TiB raw disk
  • 312 TiB of memory capacity.
  • 120 tape drives
  • 52000 tape catridges
  • 75 PiB data on tape.

In all their analysis, searching for the secrets of the universe, they’ve learned a lot and gotten better at finding anomalies and problems with data. They know all their data is flawed, so they must use algorithms to try and find the data they can rely on in the entire lake of bits that is captured and stored. They use a lot of machine learning to comb through data.

In fact, he said their research actually showed that there was a reason certain data was altered in line with the phase of the moon. In fact, Dr. Peterson said that they determined that the length of the collider tunnel actually lengthened by 1mm because of the moon.

There were lots of other interesting SQL Server 2016 talks, including the ones you’d expect on machine learning, R, one on IoT (a bit of a wreck of a talk) and a great one showing MitM and other attacks against a SQL Server from a Linux machine.

The event was two days long. I spoke on encryption and security changes in SQL Server 2016 that went well. I’ll do some writing on my demos, showing more Always Encrypted, RLS, Dynamic Data Masking, and more.

The theater was right next to the river, with a nice walkway. A few of us were able to run alongside in the morning. Plenty of people walked or biked along the river each day, and the weather was amazing.

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I think this was a really nice conference, at a good cost for those of you in Europe. If you can get to Copenhagen, it might be worth the two (or three days with a pre-con) to try SQL Nexus next year. I’m hoping they do the event again next year and I’d certainly like to go if I can.

Pensacola in June–SQL Saturday #491

One June 5, I’ll be back in Pensacola, FL for SQL Saturday #491. It’s been a few years since there was a conference in the area, and I’m excited to go back. I really like the area, and am looking forward to visiting for a few days.

I’ll be presenting my dive into Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2016. I presented this in Phoenix recently and the session was well received. I like this feature, but there are some caveats and gotchas, as well as various items you should consider before making the decision to implement it. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you there and you’ll enjoy the talk.

However if you’re nearby, there are pre-conference sessions on both Thursday and Friday that you can attend. Both are inexpensive training and the chance for you to quickly improve some data skills.

There are lots of great sessions from other speakers, and Pensacola is a great place to spend a weekend. Lovely beaches, not too large, not too expensive, and a beautiful area in June. If you’re anywhere from Houston to Florida to Tennessee, consider combining a little learning with a vacation on the gulf coast.

Off to SQL Nexus

This week begins my two city, two conference journey across the Atlantic. I arrive in Copenhagen today, after traveling overnight from Denver. I wrote this before leaving, knowing that I’ll likely be a bit worn out as I make my way from Denver to Washington D.C. to London to Copenhagen.

This is the most relaxing part of my trip, with a day to adjust in a new country before the SQL Nexus conference starts tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting some coffee and exploring the city.

Tomorrow is a conference day, hanging out and learning a bit before I speak on Wednesday morning. I’ll be talking about SQL Server 2016 Encryption, and I expect that if SQL Server 2016 hasn’t RTM’d by this time, it will either Tuesday am at SQL Nexus or Friday am at SQL Bits. I could be wrong, but as I write this, I expect those are the likely dates.

I’m looking forward to Nexus, which has lots of SQL 2016 content scheduled. I just hope all the sessions are in English Winking smile

SQL Saturday #492–Phoenix

It’s almost time for SQL Saturday #492 this weekend in Phoenix. I haven’t been there in a few years, but I’m heading back for a quick trip to the desert.

I’ve got two sessions scheduled this weekend, and if you’re attending, I’ve love to see you at one of my sessions:

The event has grown quite a bit, with 13 tracks. I’m hoping a lot of people in the Phoenix area are coming out for a free, exciting SQL Server conference.

SQL Nexus in Copenhagen

The Nordic SQLNexus conference is taking place in Copenhagen on May 2-4. I’ve never been to the event, or the country, but I was accepted to speak, so I embark on another multi-city, multi day trip.

SQLNexus has quite a lineup, and I suspect a few of these people will be travling alongside me, in Copenhagen at the beginning of the week and Liverpool at the end.

  • Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft Vice President
  • Troils Peterson, Professor of Particle Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute
  • Allan Hirt
  • Itzik Ben Gan
  • Denny Cherry
  • and more

I’m looking forward to the event, and if you want to come to a SQL Server conference packed with content, think about making your way to Denmark on May 2-4, 2016.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

SQLBits in Space

It’s coming in May. The official UK SQL Server 2016 launch event is SQL Bits and the conference returns to Liverpool on May 4-7.  With a fun theme.

Check out the launch video here: SQLBits XV

Update (Mar 24): The agenda is live. I’m speaking Saturday at 2:30pm.

There are two days of pre-cons, packed with some great sessions, as well as two additional days of fantastic content and a fun party Friday night. You can register today, and I’ll see you there.

Now, to find something to wear…

Chips and Margaritas at SQL Saturday #461

It was a few years back that my wife and I planned a trip to the Austin City Lights music festival to see Stevie Wonder. This was a bucket list item for us, and we thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend in the city. I’ve been for SQL in the City as well, and each time I’ve gone, I’ve enjoyed a lunch at one of the Mexican restaurants South of the river. My kids always joke that my wife and I will fill up on chips and margaritas at Mexican restaurants, and it’s somewhat true. Often dinner becomes lunch the next day.

It’s just two weeks to SQL Saturday #461 in Austin, and I’m looking forward to going back. In fact, I’m going to make it a point to at least go get chips and a drink at the same place. I can’t remember the name, but I know how to get there, so I’ll be fine.

However the main event is the free, one day SQL Saturday event taking place. I’ll be there delivering my Branding for a Dream Job presentation, but there are tons of other great talks. From AlwaysOn to Power BI to Azure to Writing Faster Queries, you’ll have a great day of learning on all sorts of SQL Server topics.

If you’re anywhere near Austin, register today and come join us in Austin for a fun day that kicks of my SQL Saturday 2016 tour.

Changing Scales and Creating Disappointment

I got an email recently that notified me that session feedback from the Summit was available for my talk. I’d had a lot of people in the room, and was curious how things went. I think the session was OK, a little off on time, a few too many questions I tried to answer, and perhaps a bumpy flow.

However when I got my scores, I had a 2.85 for the session overall, with various aspects of the talk being rated from 2.5 to 2.9.

Well, I sucked.

That was my first thought. I’ve been getting rated, and evaluating speakers on a 5 point scale for quite a few years at PASS events. I was surprised, and disappointed, and then a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t delivered a good talk at the Summit. Since I hadn’t delivered that talk in public anywhere prior to the conference, I thought I had made a big mistake. Apparently my practice that week in my hotel room had been for naught.

However then I saw this note in another email: One of the changes this year was to move from a five point rating scale to a three-point scale.

Hmmm, I missed that in my email somewhere, and didn’t notice this as I filled out a couple of session evaluations.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing the scale. Personally I like the 3 point scale, but it wasn’t a change I noticed. The first communication with speaker feedback didn’t mention this.

Scale matters. Many of us know that by manipulating scales, we can make data look different, We can prove a point that might not be supported by a different presentation of the data on another scale.

Our clients and business users come to know and expect the various ways we present data. They will start to internalize scales and interpret data based on their expectations. We can change scales, but we need to make it clear and visible that we have changed scales.

Personally I would have appreciated the results being reported as:

Overall Session Score: 2.85/3.00

instead of

Overall Session Score: 2.85

That little extra information can mean a lot. Keep this in mind as you make fundamental changes to the way you present data.

Back to SQL Saturday Washington DC

I’ve been to the SQL Saturday in Washington, DC a few times and I’m looking forward to going back. It’s a good event and since I have family in the area, I can usually take a day or two of vacation and visit.

This year the event is on Dec 5, 2015, and it’s SQL Saturday #470. Wow, we’re closing on #500, which is amazing.

I’ve got two talks I’m giving, both of which I really like. I’ve revamped them both a little, incorporating a few new items in there and I hope everyone enjoys them.

  • Branding Yourself for a Dream Job
  • Get Testing with tSQLt

The room I’m in will be the room for the day, with both myself and Brent Ozar giving two sessions around Wayne Sheffield talking T-SQL window functions. I know there are other great sessions, but feel free to camp out in this room.

If you’re in the area, come join us for a free day of training. The event is in Chevy Chase at the Microsoft building.