SQL Johannesburg User Group Meeting – 10th March 2015

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Second user group meeting of 2015, nice to start the year with lots of energy and dreams that need to get converted into reality!

It was our first of two SQLSkills webinars for this year and Erin did a fantastic job.

I personally learnt a lot about the wide application of the DBCC command. I believe that was Erin’s opening statement, she wanted to ensure that we all understand that DBCC is not just about fixing database corruptions.

Veronica and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing the interaction we had with Erin and this has spurred me to write about the SQL User Group and our professional development.

When we booked the two sessions with SQLSkills there were several points of view that we need to take into consideration:

  1. Development of local speakers
  2. Applicability to our audience which is made up of 3 major categories BI, DEV and DBA
  3. Effective use of our time

Development of Local speakers

This one is the most difficult, so let’s tackle it first. The session with Erin took the entire meeting which meant that we couldn’t have the other people speaking. This basically means that 2 out of the 11 sessions for 2015 will exclude local speakers. We have a general structure of 3 sessions per event. One SQL 101 session to spend time on the basics. One session on Tools and patterns that focusses on the tools of our trade and recognizing good and bad solutions. And one long session that attempts of add real detail value to our community.

In our first session of 2015 we had 2 new speakers (Veronica and Donavan) which was impressive as during the 2014 session I believe we had around 4 or 5 regular speakers. So whilst I agree that we are removing available slots we have a more fundamental problem and that is we are not doing a great job in growing the local speakers and it is certainly something we need to manage.

We are committed to this process this year and have tackled it slightly differently, we are appealing to our sponsors to play a more dedicated role in this regard by idenfying people that they would to grow in this regard. As contractors and consultants that are providing customers with services, we all need to be stretched in the area of presentations.

Just this week I made an effort in this area and watched the presentation by Boris. It really got me thinking about how lazy we are when it comes to presentation preparation. Basically our presentations are repeating us and doing a bad job at that. It is up to us to ensure understanding and comprehension of the subject we are presenting on. Sales people realize very quickly that if you don’t connect with your customer you are not going to get the business – fortunately for them they get instant and direct feedback as to their performance, unfortunately techies don’t see and feel the impact of bad presentations.

PASS Boris presentation

Applicability to our audience

Once again Erin’s session only directly addresses the DBA and as a DBA this understanding is vital. I can vouch for that as one of my customers was sitting with a corrupt table and I had to go back that evening / morning and make use of what I had learnt.

In discussion with Veronica who is not a DBA and spends her time on SQL training, I realized something important, she enjoyed the session for several reasons:

  1. Another woman presenting who did a fantastic job (Women In Tech)
  2. Presentation with passion
  3. An area of understanding she would never had got to if all she did was focus on SQL language training

Whilst the first two are very important, it was the third one that struck me. We can’t afford to restrict or govern our fundamental understanding of the technologies we are working with every day! Yes we are all busy and we have to make tough decisions on where we spend our time but if for example we are BI practitioners and one day we issue a SQL query and we get the dreaded error, do we spend the next hour trying all sorts of clever tricks to get around the issue or do we with understanding notify the appropriate DBAs or fix it if there are no DBAs?

The hour that we spent listening was well worth it even if we can’t say it was directly career related. The world is certainly moving into a more focussed career direction but that does not mean that we don’t understand what our peers are going through. We will and can switch our careers more regularly these days so none of this time will be wasted.

Erin Stellato’s slidedeck


Effective use of our time

At this stage, the number of free and globally available webinars is unlimited and if you are like me, I cannot watch all the amazing webinars that are available. So I need to be very careful about my choice of learning. Basically what this concern is saying that if all I am doing is listening to a remote speaker I could be doing this at home.

Well, to be honest, I have never interacted so much with a Remote Webinar as I did on Tuesday night. This may have been because I felt that Erin and SQLSkills had given up their time for us / me but that wasn’t the major reason. I believe we are interacting more because Erin invited the interaction and was able to answer most of our questions immediately which is not always possible with a global presentation. Typically this interaction is done after the presentation. In South Africa we typically watch these webinars during after hours, which means we are compromising important family time, so by the time the webinar is finished I am done and can’t wait to switch off my PC.

In Summary

Yes, we did reduce the number of opportunities for local speakers and it was not directly related to everybody and YES, we could have watched a global presentation but NO it was certainly not a waste of time and the value that most of our community got out of this interaction far outweighed the downside.

I feel like I haven’t addressed other benefits like external relationships and input but that can take into another discussion altogether.

I did a quick check with the people at the end of the night and the response was favourable. So well done to all those who contributed and helped make the evening a success and a special thanks to SQLSkills, Erin Stellato and Michael Johnson.

Until next month!

Howard Diesel

First meeting of 2015

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A big thank you to everyone who came out to the February 2015 meeting, there was a great turnout for so early in the season, we hope to continue building on this good start throughout the year. This year we began with a new format having three speakers with two short session and one long sessions. The short session are a great way to start you speaking career so please let us know if you would be interested in filling a slot.

Below are the slide decks from the meeting.

Note: The creators of minion reindex have said that they would be happy to answer any questions about Minion, see here for more http://www.midnightsql.com/Minion/

SQL User Group meeting – 9 December 2014

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SQL User Group 2014 year end

As this is our final event of the year we want to make it a bit of a fun one. There will be no technical presentations this time, instead we will have two event where the audience can take part and win prizes.

# I also have a number of Pluralsight subscriptions that we will be giving to anyone who brings a first timer along with them.

SQL Panel

This month we will be hosting our first ever panel discussion. During this discussion attendees will have the opportunity to ask our panel of speakers a variety of questions ranging from SQL specific questions to general thought on where they think the data world is going. Our panel of speaker’s consists of:

If you have any questions that you would lie to ask please send them to me at this address or ask then from the floor on the night.

SQL Quiz

Our audience will also have to opportunity to take part. We will also be hosting a SQL Trivia Quiz, the quiz will consist of a number of general knowledge SQL questions. The top 5 participants will each get to pick a prize from the following items

  • Microsoft arc mouse
  • Signed SQL Books
  • Microsoft azure branded Kit bag
  • more

2015 Schedule

With 2014 coming to a close we will be opening the schedule to speakers in 2015. If you would like to speak or if there are any topics that you would like to hear about then let us know.

SQL User Group meeting – 14 October 2014

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Meet Microsoft South Africa’s GM Zoaid Hoosen.

Microsoft South Africa’s general manager Zoaid Hoosen is planning to host a session at the next community night to get you know you. He will have a short session and also take your questions between 18:00 and 18:20 so come by a little earlier than usual. If you would like specific questions asked send us your questions and we will forward then on to Microsoft.


This month Gail Shaw will be presenting her PASS session to the user group so if you are keen to see what a PASS level talk looks like make sure you are there. We will also be introducing a new “Beginners” series, this will be a short 10 minute talk where a presenter will talk about a beginner level topic to help our new attendees the opportunity to upskill themselves.

Meeting Agenda:

Short talk 1:

Jan Potgieter – Basics of SQL Server Execution Plans

Short Talk 2:

Howard Diesel – Dynamic Access Control for SSAS

Full presentation:

Gail Shaw – Guessing Games: Statistics, Heuristics, and Row Estimations

Eventbrite - SQL User Group meeting - 14 October 2014

JHB SQL User Group – September 2014

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Following SQL Saturday we were happy with the number of people who attended this month’s regular meeting. Attendance has traditionally been lower than usual but we had over 20 attendees. The Meeting began with Carel demonstrating some of the cool new functionality that SQL windowing functions allow, including a cool de-dupe trick that the audience was very impressed by. This was followed by Michael Johnson who dug out an often forgotten feature in SQL server, SQL spatial. After the presentation we had an opportunity to talk to the attendees about what they would like to see out of the user group, below are some of the common themes

  • More BI Focused topics
  • More beginner\foundational talks
  • Earlier time slot
  • More communication
  • More “soft skill” talks
  • Specific technologies talks.

We will try to incorporate all this feedback into the user group meetings and perhaps offer a revised format for the next year.

Slide from the user group meeting

JHB SQL User Group Schedule – 12 August 2014

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Due to the success of last month’s user group meeting we have decided to change format. Instead of having two full presentation we will move to having one full presentation complimented by two short 10 minute presentations. If you are interested in presenting any of these please let us know and we will schedule you in. This month’s topics are:

Short talk 1: Alain Dormehl – SQL 2014 Resource Governor I/O

Short Talk 2: Greg Nicol – Getting started with BIML using BIDS Helper

Full presentation: Anish Sana – Performance tuning your tabular model

To register for this event, click here

We also have seats available for the SQL Saturday Pre-con to be held on the 29th August

SQLSaturday Precon- Understanding SSIS internals and performance tuning with David Hansen MCM

For more details

Eventbrite - SQLSaturday Precon- Understanding SSIS internals and performance tuning with David Hansen MCM