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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

PASS Summit 2010 Survey Results

As I have done in previous years, I’m going to post the results from my sessions at the PASS Summit. Feedback is a gift. I received a great many gifts this year and I’m extremely happy about all of them.

There are a set of questions with ratings, the higher the rating, the better you did. One exception to this rule is the question on time for the session. I think there, somewhat lower scores are better. There were 183 technical sessions rated during the Summit. I’m very honored to have been included in that list.

Identifying and Fixing Performance Problems using Execution Plans: 286 Attendees, 172 Responses, Avg Score of 4.23, Placed 136th

How would you rate the usefulness of the information presented in your day-to-day environment?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
3 1 18 83 67 4.22

I’m a little disappointed with this score. Maybe people are just dealing with fewer and fewer queries these days.

How would you rate the Speaker’s presentation skills?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
5 1 9 68 89 4.37

Again, I’m a little disappointed on this score, but I think it’s partly explained in the comments, some of which I posted below.

How would you rate the Speaker’s knowledge of the subject?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
4 1 2 45 120 4.6

As my kid says, giggity!

How would you rate the accuracy of the session title, description and experience level to the actual session?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
9 0 11 64 88 4.29

Not sure what was expected. I said we’d go through common problems and execution plans, we did.

How would you rate the amount of time allocated to cover the topic/session?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
5 2 43 85 37 3.85

This was partly because I had more material than I had time for. But, it was also partly explained in the comments.

How would you rate the quality of the presentation materials?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
4 7 24 80 57 4.04

This one, I understand, partly. I only had about four slides. Other than that, all the time was spent in TSQL playing with code. I think most people are looking for slides as documentation. I don’t entirely understand that myself, but I’ll try to improve my slide deck in the future.

Comments (responses in parenthesis):
  • Not Good. Talks about to read other material.
  • no microphone-couldn’t hear him-couldnt see screen (I had a mic, I did sound checks before we started, but there were a ton of these comments, so there’s something for me in the future, double-check sound levels, especially once the room is full)
  • A little to fast.
  • A little too basic for what i was expecting. (yeah, they bounce like that)
  • Couldn’t hear or see presentation. Too many people. Couldn’t hear questions. Worked at bottom of screen too much. (another lesson learned, exec plans are at the bottom of the screen, it’s hard for people in the back to see. I need to figure out how to post them up higher)
  • I felt that Grant needed to pull in the adhoc questions at times, just a little distracting after a point. (noted, there were several of these. I might encourage audience participation too much, or I need to restrain questions more to the end. I just enjoy the conversation so much.)
  • A lot to cover in 75 minutes. (there were a ton of these too. I’ll take it as a mixed blessing, one, they wanted more, two, I need to control the questions a bit more)
  • this would be better in an all day session in Pre/Post. (a bunch of these comments. I’ll see how SQL Rally goes & I might submit)
  • Excellent and very useful session. Presenter was very engaging. (several of these, thank you)

Overall, a decent session. I’m not excited about the results, but the feedback is excellent. I’ll have to work on some skills to deal with low screens in large rooms (other presenters who don’t already have this problem licked, take note).

DMV’s as a Shortcut to Procedure Tuning: 235 Attendees, 122 Reviews, Avg. Score of 4.626, Placed 31st

How would you rate the usefulness of the information presented in your day-to-day environment?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
1 1 1 26 96 4.71
How would you rate the Speaker’s presentation skills?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
1 0 4 17 100 4.76

How do I square this rating with the one above? I don’t know. Better room? The screen was higher & I was working on code mostly that I could keep near the top. I’m not sure.

How would you rate the Speaker’s knowledge of the subject?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
2 1 3 26 90 4.65

And again, giggity! But seriously, I don’t know everything about this topic, I’m constantly learning, I learned during the presentation, but if I can get info to people that I have & they don’t, mission accomplished.

How would you rate the accuracy of the session title, description and experience level to the actual session?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
2 0 7 28 85 4.59

Why so many 1’s and 3’s? I’m not sure. Based on comments, I think it’s the 300 rating the session has. I’ll tell you true, I’m not sure it should be 300, but then again, I don’t think it’s a 200. So if it’s a 249 or a 251, where does it go? Tough question.

How would you rate the amount of time allocated to cover the topic/session?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
2 1 0 50 69 4.50
How would you rate the quality of the presentation materials?
1 2 3 4 5 Avg
3 2 4 30 83 4.54

Clearly a bit of a weakness of mine. I’ll try to work on it.

Comments (again, responses etc.):
  • One of the best presenters I’ve seen in the years I’ve attended PASS. Good material presented in a very lively and informative manner. (can’t help it, you get a comment like that, you share it)
  • More like a 200 level course. (several similar comments. I’m not sure where to go with it, but if I present this again, I’ll try marking it 200 to see how it goes)
  • Not sure about the legs! :-) (it was Kilt Wedensday)
  • Very interesting topic…and the presentation got better over time. (there really were a ton of comments of this type. Everyone, really, thanks)
  • There were lots of “I don’t knows” from the presenter.
  • Would say if he didn’t know something. That’s good. (yes, this was the reversal commentary this time. Fact is, I did say, I don’t know, at least three times that I recall. One time the answer came from the audience. I’m good with that, but it clearly bothers people who expect the presenters to be all knowing. People, with the exception of Paul Randal, we’re not)
  • Used lots of humor (some self-deprecating)throughout. Well applied. Engaged the audience. (I think I used “I’m stupid & lazy” a few too many times. I am lazy, which is why learning how to use DMOs is so wonderful. It enables my laziness)

I’m very pleased with this one, obviously. Some details to work on, but overall, a pretty good presentation that seems to have been pretty well received.

That’s it. I have results from the lightening talk that I did, but they’re aggregate across all the speakers and don’t provide much in the way of good information beyond the fact, that most people seemed to think the lightening talks were a fun thing.

Comments

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 24 December 2010

Interesting feedback is what I would take from all of that.  

Posted by Steve Jones on 27 December 2010

Sounds like a good session. I'll have to listen to the DVD and send some comments.

A lack of slides is good, but I'd ensure you have a good reference slide or two, as well as perhaps a link to blogs you've written as more info. Make it clear there are downloads coming.

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