A Rendezvous With Destiny: PASS 2009 (#sqlpass)

Rendezvous With Destiny
Forty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan aka Ronaldus Magnus spoke to Americans of our rendezvous with destiny.

In a few short days the SQL Community will rendezvous in Seattle for the PASS 2009 Summit.

This time last year, eager & anxious, I was preparing for my very first presentation at PASS.  Those who know me will affirm I talk fast & my speech is littered with dysphonias.  Yet when I was on stage, filled with enthusiasm, well-prepared through practice, & possessing a modicum of competence, I was able to deliver.

I’ve been honored with a nod to speak again at this year’s PASS Summit.

It’s an encore presentation of my presentation at last year’s Summit.  Here’s the abstract:

Disk Partition Alignment: Increase Disk I/O Throughput By 10%, 30%, or More - The Best Kept Secret in SQL Server Disk I/O Performance

SQL Community Speakers
We’re blessed with a plethora of great speakers, so good that, like Cher, Bono, & Prince, they’re known simply by their first names.  There are too many to list all of them but here are a few:

I remember how thrilled I was when I received the affirmatory email last year.  Speaking at PASS—the pinnacle of public speaking opportunities in the world of SQL Server.

I blogged about last year here.  The session was SRO, people were turned away at the door, & there was talk of scheduling a second presentation.

Jimmy May (tiny head left of center) discusses his Disk Daffynitions slide, photo by Brent Ozar

PASS 2008 Top 10%
The evals provided additional reason to smile.  Here’re the results where you’ll find a number of community luminaries—& hey, look—me too, right there at #15—right at the cusp of the top 10%.

Session Code Session Title Session Speaker Eval
DBA-420-C CSS - How it Works - Filestreams Bob Dorr 4.88
PD-200 Team Management Fundamentals Kevin Kline 4.87
DBA-302-M Advanced Powershell and SQL Server Buck Woody 4.81
DBA-416-S Corruption Survival Techniques Paul Randal 4.81
DBA-304-S End-to-End Troubleshooting for SQL Server 2005 Kevin Kline 4.79
BI-407-S Building an SSIS Management Framework Rushabh Mehta 4.79
DBA-305 Interpreting Perfmon and Profiler Results with Cloud-Based BI Brent Ozar 4.79
BI-403-A SQLCAT - World Record ETL and ELT (SS2005/2008) Thomas Kejser 4.75
DBA-312 A SQL Server DBAs Guide to CLR Integration Greg Low 4.74
DBA-319-M Performance troubleshooting using SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Bill Ramos 4.71
DBA-410-A SQLCAT - SQL Server 2008 Virtualization with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Michael Ruthruff 4.71
PD-201 Are you cut out to be a consultant? Rick Heiges 4.71
AD-001-PC Advanced T-SQL Querying and Programming in Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and 2008 (App Dev Track) Itzik Ben-Gan 4.71
BI-207-M The future of analysis Donald Farmer 4.70
DBA-301-M Disk Partition Alignment: Increase I/O Throughput by up to 10%, 20%, 30% or More Jimmy May 4.69

But Wait, There’s More!

Among the most gratifying acknowledgements were from these from two newly minted MVPs.

First, Brent blogged about my session:

Brent Ozar (blog|twitter)
Jimmy May explains Partition Alignment (#sqlpass)

He subsequently posted this:

Brent Ozar (blog|twitter):  The Best Thing I Learned at #SQLPASS

…They say there’s no /faster switch for SQL Server, and they’re wrong. The SQL Server world is chock full of sorta-kinda-barely-official things that don’t get enough press, yet make a very real performance difference.  The classic example from last year was Jimmy May’s session on partition alignment…

Separately, Jeremiah Peschka (blog|twitter) posted Why are you going to the PASS Summit?

...This is going to be my second PASS Summit, so I’m not an expert on picking sessions, but I have an idea based on what worked well last year. Last year, I had an exhaustive list of sessions picked out. Then, when I arrived at the Summit I marked them all on my program, which I promptly lost. Brent was kind enough to give me his program. I drew stick people on it. I also didn’t attend a lot of the sessions I was planning on attending.

I grossly underestimated my own abilities and ended up leaving sessions because I thought I could gain a lot. Don’t underestimate yourself. Challenge yourself. Pick sessions that you think there’s no way you can understand them. I attended Jimmy May’s presentation on Disk Partition Alignment with Brent. I thought I would be completely lost. Then I realized that a lot of the low-level disk information bore at least a passing similarity to inode structures in the ext2/ext3 family of file systems on Linux systems. Once I translated that knowledge I was able to follow along, roughly, and be challenged in my thinking.

A lot of very smart, really great people gave me suggestions on sessions to attend. The friends I made at PASS helped me find sessions that would better fit what I wanted to learn about. They were right.

Trudging a Long Road

It doesn’t get much better than this.

So how’d I do that?  Well, I am a lucky fellow.  My niece even calls me “Lucky Uncle Jimmers”.  Yet as Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind”.

As I described when I delivered the Indianapolis ITT Commencement keynote (text), since my inability a decade ago to muster the courage to toast my best friend’s wedding, I vowed to improve my public speaking skills & worked hard to do so.

An important milestone for me was Dale Carnegie training.  There’ll you’ll find opportunities to get your own free copy of Success Secrets & subscribe to the weekly newsletter—brief, to-the-point, & effective.

Here’s one of my favorites, posted by my buddy, Microsoft Architect Alik Levin: Basic Skills For Effective Public Speaking

Brent Ozar’s Triple Presentation Play
One of my favorite rising stars (yes, his ascent has not begun to slow) is Brent Ozar (blog|twitter).  He seems to have something useful to say on anything worthwhile, & speaking is no exception.  Here are three links from him:

How to Deliver a Killer Technical Presentation
How to Pick Blog & Presentation Topics
Brent Ozar's presenting Bookmarks (on de.licio.us)

With the possible exception of that reference to Steve Jobs, Brent provides excellent info.

Paul’s Public Speaking Primer

Another MVP we all know & admire is Paul Randal (blog|twitter).  In a post published on St. Valentine’s day & dedicated to Kimberly (whom we all  know & adore), he amalgamated the finest collections of tips-&-tricks on the topic I’ve ever seen: Public Speaking: A Primer.  Here’re his topics:

  • Choosing a subject

  • Know the audience

  • Demos

  • Nervousness

  • Putting together a slide deck

  • Powerpoint

  • Using humour

  • Co-presenting

  • Why are you there?

  • Self-promotion

  • Projection

  • Tech Check

  • Dress Code

  • Practice

  • Getting a mentor

  • Feedback

  • Take-aways

  • Writing an abstract

  • Tangents

  • Whiteboarding

  • Props

  • Clickers

  • Movement

  • Dealing with questions

  • Timing

  • Eye contact

  • Thinking of a word

  • Hesitation

  • Confidence. Passion. Enthusiasm.

  • Honesty

  • Arrogance

  • Empathy

  • Total no-nos

You’d think on St. Valentine’s Day he’d’ve had better things to do with his time, yet we’re all better off for his efforts.

Rendezvous With Destiny Redux
Gentle reader, if I can score onstage, anyone can.  If you, too, aspire to be a speaker, I invite you to avail yourself of the resources I’ve cited here.

Good luck.  I look forward to rendezous with you in Seattle!

Principal Performance Engineer: SQL Server
A.C.E.: Assessment Consulting & Engineering Services

Don’t practice in front of the CIO. A professional prepares ahead of time.
Pond's 12th Law




Comments (2)

  1. Paul Randal says:

    🙂 Looking forward to seeing you next week Jimmy.. it’s been a while!

  2. Jimmy May says:

    Dittos, Paul!  I’ve not yet checked, so I hope our sessions don’t conflict so I can actually sit in this year.

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