What I Learned, SQL Saturday #118 Madison (Part 3)

I learned quite a few things at SQL Saturday. I learned that presenting can be fun, there is some great beer in Madison, reporting services still loves me and I can get rid of all those extra pages, Bill is a real Scotsman, Erika cheats at WordsWithFriends (SQL Edition), I don’t know anything about SQL Merge Replication, road construction is a universal truth, being normal is a good thing (but not too normal), there is a long line for breakfast at Mickies Dairy Bar, and mostly I learned that the folks in Madison put on a great event.

I made it to four sessions during SQL Saturday.

  • (Way Too Much) Fun with Reporting Services – Stacia Misner (B|T) and Erica Bakse (B|T): Talk about truth in advertising. Stacia and Erika walked us all through a version of words-with-friends that they built using SQL Server and SSRS. I learned how to do cool things with Go To Report Actions. Seeing this Mother/Daughter team working together with SQL Server prompted me to return home and horrify my own daughter with the prospect of working together someday.
  • Merge Replication for Offline Data Mobility – Ted Krueger (B|T): I’ve used Transactional Replication before, but never delved into the world of Merge Replication. I’m not sure Ted convinced me to dive in any time soon, but I did learn some interesting uses for SSIS and I found out that CDC (which I am a fan of) is built on replication technology. As an added bonus I got Ted to sign his chapter in my copy of SQL Server MVP Deep Dives 2 and I was “randomly selected” to receive a copy of Ted’s co-authored book, Troubleshooting SQL Server: A Guide for the Accidental DBA.
  • Practically Normal – Ed Leighton-Dick (B|T) : I was glad to see what I think is a much needed presentation in the SQL world. We all talk about normalization and comment on how important it is, but there doesn’t seem to be a baseline to send new DBA’s to. Ed had a great interactive presentation where the audience helped him normalize a data set that started out in a spreadsheet. He threw Snickers and Reese’s to anyone who participated. There was a lot of people raising their hand.
  • Devs are from Mars, Report Servers are from Venus  – Doug Lane (B|T) : I missed parts of this while I was out looking for a solution to Doug’s technical issues, but even with only seeing part of the presentation I learned some new things about SSRS. Doug couldn’t show us his demo’s, but it didn’t feel like there was anything missing. It is a great themed presentation helping all of us understand and appreciate Reporting Services like we used to back when we first met in college.

As a participant it was a great event. There was never any confusion on where and when to find things and the hardest part was not being able to go to two presentations at the same time. At lunch they had set up “Cows of a Spot” tables (WI version of Birds of a Feather). I split my time between the SSIS table with Bill Fellows (B|T), who wore his kilt that day, and at the Career Development table. I know I keep talking about all of the great people I met, but lunch was one of the highlights of the trip for me so I am going to share. I sat at a table with just me, Karla Landrum (B|T) and 4 (count ’em, 4) SQL Server MVPs : Jason Strate* (B|T), Ted Kreuger* , Jes Borland (B|T), and Tim Ford (B|T).  While I ate my Wisconsin brat they gave me some good advice on how to balance the SQL Life with the rest of my life.

After a day of learning I there was an after party event where I got to meet even more great SQL people, but I am told that what happens at the SQL Party stays at the SQL Party. If you want to find out what happens there you’ll just have to join us at the next SQL Saturday.

*If you want to have lunch with Ted or Jason you are in luck. Head over to the SQLFriends website to get details and sign up.


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