How to Start Speaking

Published On: 2018-10-17By:
At the last few events I attended, I’ve gotten into conversations on how to begin as a speaker. So I thought I’d share some of my advice that I provided to them. First and foremost, get your first talk scheduled. Reach out to your local user group and ask to be “penciled” in for a meeting a few months out. Giving yourself a goal and deadline is essential to putting yourself out there to speak. Next, write down ten topics you may want to speak on. Narrow down that list to five by thinking about what you would be most comfortable speaking about. Next look at your five topics and really think about what kind of experiences you can talk about and what kind of examples you can talk about. Jot those ideas down under each heading. If you come up a little lacking in ideas scratch that topic off your list as there probably is not enough content to do a talk. The key is to narrow it down and keep going down levels of detail.  You’ll notice after you get down a level or two that you can begin to see a slide deck constructing itself. Each topic and sub topic become and individual slide with bullet point for each side. Example (randomly streaming ideas while I type this) Query Store
  • Forcing a plan
    • How to figure out which plan
    • When not to do this (how can it hurt)
  • Query Regression
    • What is that
  • Configuration
    • Proper Settings
  • Top Consuming Queries
    • Standard reports you can use
    • How to identify which ones
  • What not to do
Performance Tuning
  • Best Items to change to get biggest results
    • RSCI
    • Statistics
  • Memory
    • Proper Settings
    • Issues I’ve seen
    • Multiple Instances
    • Extra Services Running
  • Indexes
  • 3rd Party Tools
  • Key Metrics
Now that you have a topic, it’s time to write an abstract and come up with a title. An abstract is what you will submit to the event and tells the attendee what your session is about. For events outside your user groups this is also what they will use to determine if your session is one they wish to have presented. I advise you to read some abstracts on SQL Saturday sites to get an idea of how people write them before you get started writing your own. This can be the hardest part of building a talk, and that’s why I come up with a list of topics first.  I then utilize the list of topics to help create my abstract.  Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of words in an abstract to try to convey the full message of the talk. An abstract is much like a movie preview.  The preview has to capture the attention of the audience in a short amount of time and inform them of the plot of the movie. Once you get the abstract written be sure to get a second set of eyes to review it. What sounds good to you may not convey a clear message about your topic. Having another person read it and give you feedback is an important part of the process. After building a list of topics, creating an abstract, getting it reviewed,  it’s time to build your slide deck. Using your bulleted list, create a slide for each item and fill in any missing items that comes to mind. You’ll find it comes along pretty easily since you have already created talking points. Be sure when you create your deck to add lots of notes for each slide it will help you keep on track and know what to cover or even what stories to tell. Some speakers, myself included, can blank out or get off topic easily, these notes will help guide yourself. For an hour presentation, try to create 20 slides as a starting goal, not including your title and about me slides. Approximately 2-3 mins spent talking on each slide is a good rule of thumb and that will give you a 50-minute presentation with a buffer for introductions, questions and tangents. Now the VERY most important part before giving your first session is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Set a timer in PowerPoint and go through your slides over and over. Once you feel comfortable, try to give the session to a family member or friend. Ask them to take notes like the things below. They need know nothing about your topic, they are just there to help you hone your presentation skills. What is your go to word?

Do you say umm to many times?

Did it seem fluid?

Could they follow along?

Are the slides too distracting?

Did you fidget?

Use these notes to make improvements. After you give your session for first time to the User Group ask for feedback and session evals. Speakers are constantly improving their sessions and slide decks each time they give that session. You may not knock it out of the park the first time, but as long as you keep building on to your skill you are well on your way to being a great speaker. All speakers had to give their very first session once. We all had to bite the bullet and face the fear of no one wanting to hear us talk, what if I teach something wrong, or I what if throw up because I am to nervous. We’ve all been there. You’re not alone in your journey of becoming a speaker.  I know many speakers within the SQL community that would be willing to review slide decks and listen to give notes.

PASS Summit 2018 Speaker Idol Judges

Published On: 2018-10-15By:

It’s with great fanfare that I’m able to announce our PASS Summit 2018 Speaker Idol Judges. Our judges this year are folks we’ve had has judges before, and I’m thrilled that they’ve all agreed to be judges of all four speaker idol events.

Our Judges this year are:

Allan Hirt

Joey D’Antoni

Kendra Little

Mark Simms

All of our judges are seasons speakers who have spoken in front of audiences large and small.  I know that I’m personally grateful to all the judges for taking on the hardest job at the PASS Summit that there is.


The post PASS Summit 2018 Speaker Idol Judges appeared first on SQL Server with Mr. Denny.

How do you setup Disaster Recovery for people?

Published On: 2018-10-08By:

Normally large companies invest in Business Continuity (BC) sites, hardware, and people to keep companies up and running in the event of a disaster. But what happens when your working with a small company and the CEO is suddenly unavailable for 2-3 months because of a medical emergency or other disaster? Small companies don’t have BC plans. In some cases the CEO has to be available to do lots of tasks that would regularly be done by HR department might deal with such as running payroll, setting up new employees, health insurance, etc.  Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting had this exact issue in October 2017.

With about three days notice towards the middle of October (right before a trip to a client, two conferences and a SQL Saturday) I had emergency surgery. DCAC had a new member of the team who would be starting of November 1st, 2017 (John) during the PASS summit and suddenly the guy who had to do all the setup (not to mention run payroll) wasn’t going to be availabile for an unknown amount of time.

Thankfully there were a few days between finding out I need surgery and the actual surgery, so I was able to work John and the insurance broker to get John setup with health insurance, and get payroll setup for John as well.

All this happened just after I had already run payroll and the regular checks came out on the 15th of October as expected. After my surgery, there was a new problem. Kris (my wife and business partner) only had a couple of hours a day that I was useful because of the medication I was on directly after surgery. As the end of the month approached, processing payroll became an issue. What ended up happening in that I walked Kris through the process. She already had a login that could get to the payroll site, but she hadn’t ever had to process the payroll before, so this would be a first for her. I was able to walk her through the process then I was done for the day.

After recovery was on the way, this process (or lack of process as it were) brought up a good point; Kris didn’t know everything that I had to deal with to keep everything running. If I (or any person that runs a company) had had a more immediate emergency then payroll might not have happened on time (which can lead to lots of other problems both legal and for everyone the works for the company), the company might not have been ready for our new team member to start.

All of this goes to show DR (or BC as it’s known for people) isn’t just something that large companies need to setup and plan for. Even smaller companies need to have a plan so that if something critical happens, the company can keep functioning. Some of the conversations around this aren’t pleasant, and they can be downright scary, but they need to happen.

Larger companies need to plan for this as well, and not just if the call center has to close for three months. What happens with the HR person, or the buyer, or the person who handles payroll, or the CEO is out of 2-3 months?  Can the company keep running and doing all the internal and external things that it need to do in order to meet it’s obligations to the team?

Thankfully we were able to meet all our obligations to the team, and everyone kept going what they needed to do in order to keep everything goes. We found some flaws in our process, but they were things that everyone could work around and we did. Now we just need to make sure that everyone knows how to handle things if there is another problem (and stay healthy so that hopefully this doesn’t happen again).


The post How do you setup Disaster Recovery for people? appeared first on SQL Server with Mr. Denny.

SQL Server Data Collection and Management Data Warehouse

Published On: 2018-10-03By:

We all have the need to collect system and performance information regarding our SQL Servers. Some of us use third-party tools, SQL Trace, or a homegrown solution.  Did you know Microsoft has a built-in tool to help you accomplish this? It’s called Data Collection and the data it collects (collection sets) is stored in a relational Management Data Warehouse. The data collected is used to generate reports giving us in with very readable and useful insights to our servers. Not only can you get performance information, but you can also use SQL Profiler to export trace definition and create custom collection sets. This is not a new SQL Server feature, it has been around for some time. I find however that it is not used as much as it should be and that could be just because many don’t know it there or how to use it.

Let’s quick set one up and show you how easy this is to configure.

First steps to setting this up is to create a Management Data Warehouse to store the information in a collection. You can accomplish this by using a very simple wizard.

Under Management you will find Data Collections. Right click and choose Tasks then Configure Management Data Warehouse.

Here you need to choose your server you want to store your Data Collection Data. Then choose a database for your data. In this case I choose to create a new and named it MgtDW. Also, one Management Data Warehouse can act as central collection store to house all collections sets for multiple servers.

Next you need to grant access to users. This is done by Roles.

Once you have set up your DW now it’s time to setup your data collecting.

Data collection uses SQL Agent and SSIS to collect data and populate the data. I am not going to dive into the details of exactly how it works in this blog. Data collection either runs constantly or on a user-defined schedule.  After you complete your setup you will see new jobs.

If you go back under Data Collection you can now see that it is collecting data on your server.

Looking at logs you can now see that data is being collected.

Now that you are you collecting data you can see what’s being collected easy in Reports. To get to these reports you Right click on Data Collection. Not the System Data Collection Set.

Here is a link to find all the information you will need on what these reports will show you.

You can see how easy this was to setup and start using. Keep in mind I would expect a performance hit on the server are you are collecting data from (target server). Though minimal, keeping impact in mind is always important. SQL Server Data Collection is a great way to get important system information on your servers and is part of your STANDARD edition of SQL Server.


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