Archive for January, 2011

Reflections of a Board Meeting

Ive officially been on the Job as a Director for PASS less than a month and already I’ve had the chance to participate in 2 in person Board meetings.  1 at the summit (non-voting) and 1 this past week in Dallas.  Ill be the first to admit, I didnt really know what to expect going in but, I had some ideas.

Going in to the 2 day meeting last week I figured there would be some good conversations, a bit of brainstorming, a fair amount of arguing, and at least  touch of indecision.  What I found was roughly what I expected in that regard.

The Specifics of the actual meeting were by in large important but boring for the casual observer, so I wont be spending countless bytes that you wont want to read rehashing everything.  After the meeting minutes are published (2 weeks im told) I may revisit this post with thoughts but until then I figure I can wait a few months to rock the boat on details that werent overly “interesting” to the community at large.

Things I learned at last weeks Board Meeting

  • When you have an Ipad in the meeting room, expect plenty of offhanded comments
  • We’re doing a whole bunch of really good things in a piss poor less than optimal way
  • The SQLRockstar who brought bacon to breakfast on the BOD wont eat it as he’s a Bacon Snob
  • That a person can be a Bacon snob
  • The ability to give a backhanded compliment is an art form best demonstrated during meetings
  • Takeout Mexican food consumed in a hotel lobby will get strange looks
  • Coups have been attempted (successfully??) in some user groups
  • Getting 11 people to agree to a place for dinner is sometimes harder than getting them to agree about PASS Direction

What I was surprised the most by wasnt the funny quips, or the amount of good discussions, nor was it the ability of the board to identify problems.  Nope, I was totally expecting to find that the board really does “get it”, and for the most part on whole I think they(we) do.  What I was surprised the most by was the fact the hotel we were meeting at was channeling its inner Bush Garden:

Couch & Mens Room Meet again

no SQLKaraoke to be found but, Serious business instead

What is PASS to me, what is it to you?

For all of the years Ive been involved with PASS it seems like one of the struggles has always been in defining what PASS is. From the very early days, I don’t think PASS has always done a good job describing in words that we can all understand what the goal is.  Sure theres lots of management speak, and other marketingspeak on the PASS site but, it has never really done a good job of actually explaining it.  I thought id take a quick try at it

<the views that follow are mine alone>

In a single sentence I think Id sum it up like this:

PASS is all about enabling our SQL Community to grow via education and networking.

Details details details

PASS has essentially one job, that job is to enable the many dedicated volunteers across the SQL community to execute on those core values we hear PASS throw about “Connect, Share, Learn”  Unfortunately, enabling these volunteers isnt always the most exciting work, and sometimes its down right benign.

PASS Enables this connecting, sharing and learning several different ways

  • PASS Summit
  • PASS SQL Rally
  • 24 Hours of PASS
  • SQL Saturday
  • Virtual Chapters
  • Regular Chapters

Every one of these has at its core a very strong group of (generally) under recognized volunteers working to make them happen.  PASS has varying levels of involvement in making these different “community events” happen.  Some like the Summit require an extreme level of involvement, others like chapters get very little help.  Sometimes the ratio of “glue” used to hold these things together is incorrect and we try to structure things too much in some places and too little in others.  I think this is a normal occurrence in most established organizations, the pendulum swings to far one way or the other and needs to be pushed back a bit.

PASS divided

PASS the organization is merely the infrastructure that holds all of these pieces together.  PASS the organization is nothing without the community volunteers that put their mark on these different community events.

PASS the community is all of the volunteers that support the organization from the BOD, Speakers, SQL Saturday leaders, chapter leaders, etc.  In many cases the same people serve many of these different roles.  PASS is not the SQL Community, its merely a single player in the community but, it requires a large part of the active members in the community to be successful.

What do you see PASS as?

Hopefully, Ive done a decent job with this quick explanation of what I see PASS as but, as always Id love to hear from you if you have different views of what PASS is, or more importantly where it should be headed

Best of PASS Summit 2010

The results are in!!!

After tabulating over ten thousand distinct session evaluations for the 2010 PASS Summit we are pleased to release the top 10 sessions overall and the top 5 sessions per track.

What it feels like after doing this for a while

Getting these session results generated and out to the speakers in a timely manner is always challenging.  After taking until the second week of January 2010 to return Speaker Evaluations for the 2009 Summit we put in sweeping changes to prevent that from happening again in 2010.

Fortunately we were very successful in getting the data, We (Community Volunteers) designed and built a database to house the eval info, and designed a system that could be used to enter the evaluations quickly during and shortly after the Summit.  This was a resounding success.  Unfortunately where we fell short was in executing on delivering the data to the speakers and the community.  When we designed these systems, the process to send out the evaluations wasnt really discussed, or possibly just wasnt finished (the perils of distributing work include less insight into exact issues).  Either way, I wound up in the 23rd hour reworking last years SSIS package to fit the new database schema.


We delivered Speaker evaluations to the speakers a full 3 weeks earlier than last year.  This included additional info about overall speaker scores that we had never provided in the past.  I realize a success to me (3 weeks sooner) is still a failure to others (4 weeks after the summit to get the data to the speakers)  We’re going to be working on improving this for next years summit but for now, Ill take the wins where I can get them!


Getting the top 10 sessions posted has taken an extra 3 weeks.  I take full responsibility on this one.  I had the data on my laptop for the entire time, at first it was the holidays, then it was something shiny, after that I kept running into issues trying to make queries that werent just usable for this years summit, but would be able to generate similar results for any event we enter into this database.  In the end though, I have a set of queries for this process that will be reused.


This database/process was one of the projects a large group of OUTSTANDING Community members chipped in and worked on under the umbrella of the program committee in 2010.  I have big plans to round up another set of volunteers and put a web based front end on the db and push its use out to all SQL events that would like to use it.  The information that we’re gathering will be invaluable to both the speakers and to the community in the future.

Oh, Hey, Dear reader if you’re still reading this far into the babble I guess your looking for the Best of PASS Summit 2010 Link right?  Without further ado…..

PS: No, Adam Machanic it didnt take 257 weeks to get this out 🙂

Changing the owner of nearly anything in SQL Server

The other day we were going through some old scripts and had a huge discussion about changing object ownership in SQL.  Forever the only answers were to recreate the objects or use the stored procedures: sp_changeobjectowner or sp_changedbowner.  Alternatively at times there were those of us who used some other undisclosed hack of system tables but, I’ve never done anything like that…

Since SQL 2005 Alter Authorization has been the right way to change ownership of nearly anything

This is the most common use of alter authorization but there are many more.

sp_changeobjectowner would look like this

sp_changeobjectowner 'Products.Description','AllenK'

While the updated syntax would look like this

ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON OBJECT::[Products].[Description] TO [AllenK]

What really brought this post about was because I was working with certificates recently and at the time I needed to change who the owner and I just exported/imported & recreated them.  It was easy and what I knew would work.  After looking through the syntax for alter authorization I realized I could & probably should have done it this way.  I guess old habits die hard.


Some out there might question why I’m rehashing syntax changes that happened nearly 5 years ago, The reality is that even in 2011 a lot of the installations of SQL Server I look at are still 2005 and many of the people I run into still use old ways of doing things, this is for you (and me)!

ALTER AUTHORIZATION ON OBJECT::[Products].[Description] TO [AllenK]

This year I resolve to…

If you hadn’t guessed, today’s post is part of this months TSQL Tuesday.  This is an interesting topic for me since as a matter of principle I usually refuse to make resolutions and the like around the start of the new year.  I like to set goals, and work towards those goals but, I think “resolving” to do something has this nagging way of never turning out how I’d like.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I track goals but, typically only think about resolutions at a point in time.

So, this year Ill resolve to document a few of my goals for the year.

This year I only have a few professional goals.  Actually, quite a few less than usual.  I decided to trim down my professional goals this year to only a couple since they are quite large and very open ended.

  1. Id like to make PASS as responsive as possible to the needs of our SQL Community.  This is simply to say that I plan to do what I feel I was elected to do.  Of all the directors I am as well positioned as anyone to make real change that can be seen to the average user of SQL Server.  I will need lots of help to make this happen, and I have no problem asking for that help (watch this space SOON for details)
  2. I want to learn to be a better “manager/leader”  It takes a different set of skills to lead people than it does to be a DBA and do technical work.  I love the technical work, actually more than the management stuff but, my current roles are requiring more leadership and less technical.  I need to do better with the details of this and learn to inspire greatness in my teammates.

That’s it, 2 whole goals for the year, not much by count but, by effort I’d say these might be the some of the loftiest goals I’ve set in a long time…

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