OK, I tried my best to attend as much of the "24 hours of PASS" virtual conference last week as I could. I was teaching a virtual classroom session myself 9:30am to 5:30pm all week and I did need my sleep but I managed to catch 10 of the sessions which I am quite proud of. The sessions were great.
The idea was to whet our appetites for the PASS Summit in Seattle in November. It certainly did that. I think it was a very successful PR event with its own benefits.
I attended the first session at 00:00 GMT "10 Big Ideas in Database Design" hosted by Paul Nielsen and Louis Davidson. This was very entertaining. "Entertaining" is not the first word I see in my own virtual class evaluations. I was making notes, believe me.
First of all, Paul and Louis took on the co-host challenge very well. Both were connecting from different locations. (I don't remember where they were and it really doesn't matter does it?) They traded off effortlessly and with good humor when the video was on the wrong person so they created a very relaxed friendly atmosphere. I must admit, I was surprised by the value of the video which I rate as a luxury, based on the bandwidth it usually costs, but it did add to the friendliness of the session. Here were these guys taking time out of their evening to chat to us about SQL Server for free. And the slides were awesome! They must have scoured the internet for amusing photographs that enhanced their 10 Big Ideas. For instance, "Denormalization is for wimps!" backed up by a comic strip with a DBA getting sand kicked in his face. Very funny. The audio and video quality was very good and the guys were saying that Office Live Meeting was switching the video based on who was talking. Hard to believe but they made the result very amusing.
Another session I really enjoyed was at 11am GMT "Reporting Services Inside Out the Things You Should Know" with Simon Sabin. Simon made his demos very entertaining. That word again. (Note to self: must do better). He is a real wizard with Report Builder and showed his expertise by making everything look very easy. Each of the sessions I attended had that element of watching a real expert in action. I took note of his preference of the latest version of Report Builder over Report Designer. Very interesting.
At 8pm GMT I made sure I attended "What's Simple about Simple Recovery Model" with Kalen Delaney. She always reveals undocumented features of SQL Server which are incredibly useful. This time it was DBCC LOGINFO. Kalen explained how to use this utility to find out what really is going on when your database is in SIMPLE Recovery Model. This was a great pre-cursor to her pre-Conference session in Seattle "Care and Feeding of the Transaction Log" where presumably she'll talk more about FULL and BULK_LOGGED. She already touched on some key differences but I am looking forward to even more detail when I am in Seattle. One thing I learned was that a database with FULL Recovery Model behaves the same as one in SIMPLE, if you have never ever performed a Full Backup on that database. You learn something every day.
All in all, the 24 hours of PASS was a great success. I am hoping the future of the PASS Summit will continue with this direction of Virtual sessions in tandem with the live in-person sessions. I would prefer to be there in person but if I cannot be, I would love to be a fly on the wall. And I would gladly pay for it this time.
Brian D. Egler, MCITP/MCSE/MCT 2009, is currently an instructor with Global Knowledge, teaching various Microsoft training courses. He is a SQL specialist with a focus on SQL Server, Windows, .Net and XML. Egler has been a technical instructor for over 20 years and has more than 10 years experience with SQL Server, data modeling, database design, application development including IMS, DB2, Sybase. Every year he runs the Boston Marathon for cancer research.