Archive for February, 2011

PASS Bylaw Changes


We published a set of changes to the PASS bylaws yesterday.  Seeing as how Bill Graziano already wrote everything possible and more about these changes and what they mean to the organization I figure Ill save the bits and say that he does a good job summing everything up nicely.  Since a lot of this was done before I joined the board, I wasnt involved in some of the discussion about these changes but, I will say that the discussions I was involved with were very detailed and often labored on the finer points of making sausage.  Needless to say, I agree 100% with these changes and think they make sense.

Whats next?

Ive got far too many PASS irons in the fire currently so I know I wont have time to do the necessary background work to push for a few additional changes but, at some point I’d like to see PASS go to a fully elected Executive committee.  Id like to see the executives be elected board members serving regular two year terms who are then elected by the board for the executive positions.  As part of that I also think Id also like to see a general election of our President.  How better for the membership to guide the organization than to have a direct say about who should be providing the overall direction.

Last Chance to volunteer for the 2011 PASS Summit Program Committee

Today is the last chance if you wanted to lend a hand to the 2011 PASS Program Committee.  I wrote about all the gory details two weeks ago here.  If your interested please get the survey filled out today before 9PM PST.  You might as well do it now though, no sense in putting it off until the last minute!

PASS Summit Speaker Agreement revisited

Speaker Agreements… Legal, Necessary, but awfully sticky

Every year PASS asks the speakers at the Summit to agree to some relatively simple terms and conditions. I don’t consider them to be anything overly involved or overbearing. For those who haven’t seen them they basically establish that a speaker owns the content they are going to present, that the speakers act as professional as possible, don’t market their products, or their companies products, and allow PASS to record the sessions.

This year the hangup for me is related to that last tiny bit. For regular conference speakers asking them to allow recording of their 1 hour session isn’t a big ask. However where Im reevaluating what we’ve done in the past is related to the all day preconference sessions.

Last year PASS recorded the preconference sessions and offered them for sale to PASS members. Just like the preconference sessions where the speakers get a portion of the admission fee, the contract called for the speakers to get a portion of the sales from the DVD’s. At the time this seemed like a fair way to do things and I still believe that the revenue share is fair.


Ive heard from several different people that if these preconference sessions are recorded that it may become more and more difficult for PASS to attract the top tier SQL Server speakers to do precons. I can appreciate the position of some speakers on this, if they are giving their best content and we are distributing it digitally for what amounts to a few hundred dollars they run the very real risk of loosing actual sales of training material, or potential clients.


On the other side, I need to weigh the risks of potentially shrinking the pool of available speakers with the benefits to the community of being able to offer these recordings. The other benefit is of course the money PASS makes from these DVD sales. To be perfectly clear, the amount of money PASS makes off of DVD sales in general is merely a pittance in the scheme of things. Having the DVD’s available and leveraging the content however is very valuable to our members and something that I think is important enough to at least explore what can be done to hopefully find a good balance

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The way I’m leaning on this is to leave things the way they are and see if we see an overall drop in the quality or quantity of our preconference presenters in 2011 onward.  I have however thought a lot about possible ways we could create a workable model, where we allowed certain preconference speakers to opt out of recording. This could get really messy administratively, and cause some confusion/anger with attendees not knowing which sessions will be included in the recordings. The other alternative is to just stop recording preconference sessions totally, although I dont think this is a good option.

I guess what I’m trying to do here is expose an internal debate that Ive been having with myself. Ive found that often if I spend the time to write something out it helps me organize my thoughts. As a bonus occasionally, I get great comments/ideas from the 2 of you who read this.

The 3 most important words for a DBA

Occasionally I’m asked what the most important thing for a DBA to know is.  It seems some people want to know what 1 thing to focus on in order to be successful long term as a DBA.  I’ve pondered this question for quite a long time and I’ve given various answers over the years.

Reality intervenes

Ive come to the conclusion that there really is no one special thing or “skill” that its important for a DBA to know.  Sure, there are lots of qualities that tend to make a successful DBA.  Things like attention to detail, thirst for knowledge, and an uncanny love of BACON…  The problem is as huge as the SQL Server product is becoming it is also becoming increasingly difficult to be an expert in everything.  I am actually of the opinion that it is impossible to be an expert in everything SQL Server.

Knowing what you dont know

The most important thing for a DBA to know can be summed up in 3 simple words ” I Dont Know”  Why is that important?  Because, knowing what you don’t know, and being able to admit it to those around you is by far the most valuable skill that you can poses as a DBA at any skill level.

When in doubt its always good to remember that its ok to say “I don’t know” The Corollary to this statement is of course “Ill find out, or find someone who does know”.  Ive seen many small issues blow up into large problems over the years because someone didn’t really understand what was going on and they were afraid to let their coworkers (or boss) know that they don’t understand.  In many cases if we’ll just learn to say “I don’t know” some further pain can easily be avoided.

SQL Azure track at the PASS summit

Is the cloud real or hype?

With SQL Azure (& the cloud in general) becoming more and more mainstream, I’m seriously considering creating a new Azure track for the 2011 Summit.  I’m still pulling the attendance & session evaluation scores together from 2009 and 2010 azure sessions to try and determine if its truly a good idea or not.

There’s always a tradeoff: we have a limited amount of sessions available, so creating a track would mean shifting allocations from the other tracks to cover the sessions given but, considering the future it seems to be the right move.

Just thought id throw this quick post out looking for thoughts & feedback

This is the first minor change I’m considering for the 2011 Summit

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