Books, Training and Abstracts

May is slated to be a busy month for me, and the first week did not disappoint. This week I:

  • ordered some books on time management
  • signed up for a SQLskills training class
  • finished and submitted abstracts for the PASS Summit

Reading List

You might be thinking, “Really Erin? You’re blogging about ordering some books?” Yes, yes I am. Back in January I wrote about one of my big goals for the year: finding balance. Thus far I am doing ok, but I can do better. On the heels of the leadership training during the last couple weeks, and a conversation with my manager, I took some book recommendations made by our Career Development Advocate (that’s her real title) and reviewed them. In the end, I ordered:

Out of Time: How the Sixteen Types Manage Their Time and Work

Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work

Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled, and Overwhelmed

and the proverbial SQL Community favorite,

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Do I expect life changes as the result of reading these books? Not in one day. It’s a slow shift, which I recognize, but I need ideas and this is the first place for me to start.


If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me tweet a few weeks ago that I received approval to attend both the Summit and another training session this year. I am fortunate to have training dollars, but I realize that it’s my job to then bring that knowledge to my co-workers and continue to add value to my company. I am trying to do my part to defray the cost of the Summit by submitting session abstracts (more below).

As for the SQLskills training, I am attending the second week which is Performance Tuning, one of my favorite topics. When my company had Paul and Kimberly come out for training in 2009, they covered most of the content in the first session, Internals & Performance. While I’m sure I could still learn new things if I sat through the first session again, I also know where to find most of that material, and have put the responsibility on myself to go back and fill in the gaps. I really want to improve my performance tuning skills. I’m most excited to learn about I/O, the SQLOS, Waits and Queues, and Extended Events, and I really need more in-depth knowledge about storage. I rely on our Infrastructure Analyst to handle most of the questions related to SANs, RAID, etc., but that’s a cop-out. I can do better.

My good friend Yanni Robel ( blog | @YanniRobel ) will also be attending in August, and feel free to drop me an email or say hi on Twitter if you’re attending as well. It would be great to get to know other attendees before training begins. The power of Twitter allowed us to do this before we went on SQLCruise last year, and it made the entire week that much better.

PASS Sessions

Last year was the first year I attended the PASS Summit, and I did submit two abstracts. They were horrible, and it’s a good thing I wasn’t selected. I definitely was not ready. Since then I’ve spoken at my local user group meeting and two SQLSaturdays. I am presenting to our user group again next month, and will submit for SQLSaturday in Columbus next month. I’m hoping to add another SQLSaturday in July, August or September…just need to see what’s on the schedule. As a result, I feel I am much better prepared to present at the Summit, if I am selected. I submitted three sessions – two individual and one with Mike Walsh ( blog@mike_walsh ) – we’re hoping for Round 2 of Vendors vs. DBAs. Adam Machanic ( blog | @AdamMachanic ) submitted a session on which I am a co-presenter – I think this session would be a blast, I’m going to busy if I want to keep up with Adam!

Sessions are below with a few comments, good luck to everyone who submitted, and I hope to see you at the Summit in October!

2011 PASS Summit – Submitted Abstracts

Baseline Basics: Where to Start, What You Need

“The system is slow. It was much faster last week! This is taking forever.” Statements like these from users can be frustrating for any DBA, unless you have the data to prove how the system regularly performs. In this session we will cover some of the tools and techniques freely available to SQL Server DBAs for capturing baselines that can be used for measuring performance, capacity planning and understanding usage patterns. We also discuss how these utilities and their data can be used to identify warning signs and troubleshoot performance issues. Long-term collection and storage methods for data are reviewed to help you create a plan for building your own repository when you get back to the office on Monday. Tools covered include: Windows Performance Monitor, PAL, Profiler, ClearTrace, RMLUtils and SQL Server DMVs.

I’ve presented this session three times and I really feel like I’m in a good place with it. Brent Ozar provided some good feedback after SQLSaturday in Chicago, and I have picked up a couple more stories to weave throughout.

Who’s Responsible? The Vendor or the DBA?

Database administrators – you don’t really trust your third party software vendors, do you? Software vendors – you think most of the DBAs out there are hiding things, don’t you? Well guess what, you’re both right! Join Erin Stellato (representing vendors) and Mike Walsh (representing DBAs) for an interactive session where they will tackle some of the toughest challenges that DBAs and vendors face when working with each other. Attendees will walk out with a better understanding of what both parties can do to contribute to a successful relationship, as well as a set of fair questions to ask to set the right expectations from the start. Attend our session to see if a Vendor and DBA really can get along, and listen in on some real life horror story examples of how not to do it.

Mike and I presented this session at SQLSaturday in Cleveland, and I have had some interesting customer interactions since that time. I am always learning, and this session is always evolving.

You’re My Density: Making Sense of Statistics

The Query Optimizer uses statistics to decide how to execute a query. If statistics are out of date, improperly sampled or simply don’t exist, then you could unintentionally deceive the Optimizer. The consequence for such deception? Frustrated users, angry management and a stressed DBA…simply because the statistics do not accurately represent data distribution and the Optimizer is not able to choose a good query plan. As a DBA, you can avoid this problem if you understand the value of statistics.

If you’re not familiar with how to read a histogram, the various options for updating statistics or want to know why sample size does matter, then this session is for you! We will also delve into what happens when a queried value doesn’t exist in a statistic, discuss methods to manage statistics for volatile tables and examine the challenges that exist with statistics on partitioned tables. Expect a session filled with demos and real-world examples that will create a foundation of statistics knowledge, then build on it so you can apply the information when designing maintenance strategies and looking at execution plans.

This is my newest session which I will give at our user group meeting next month and then hopefully tweak over the summer. I’m excited about this session because I love statistics and plan to head off into the weeds in some spots. Good stuff.

One Response to Books, Training and Abstracts
  1. […] included my abstracts in a previous post, along with a few comments which I’m re-posting below.  Good luck to everyone who submitted, and […]

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