Blog Post

PASS 2005: Day Three


Day Three of PASS had a decidedly better start than did the previous day.  After finally figuring out the effective functionality of a hotel room digital alarm clock, I woke early and arrived at PASS in time for breakfast.  To the detriment of my attempt at healthy eating, the definition of "continental breakfast" at PASS includes nothing but pastries.  Since I can't find any fruit or cereal anywhere, breakfast consisted of two glasses of orange juice and a hot coffee.

This morning's keynote was delivered by David Campbell, a Microsoft GM over the SQL relational engine.  His breadth and depth of knowledge about SQL Server is highly impressive, and his casual style of speaking helped to make this speech enjoyable by all.

The first breakout session of Day Three was a big disappointment.  I attended "Implementing Row Level Security in SQL Server 2005", and I can honestly say that this is one of the worst experiences at a breakout session at any conference I've attended.  The material presented was very shallow, the presenters were completely unprepared, and the presentation was delivered very badly.  Several of the sample scripts did not work properly, which led to several long pauses in the presentation.  My hope is that this experience in an exception rather than the norm.

After lunch, I found myself in a session entitled "Writing .NET Code in SQL Server 2005" with Peter DeBetta from Wintellect.  As one who straddles the line between DBA and developer, this section was very interesting and useful for me.  I found the discussion about the CLR integration, comparison on data types, and the development of stored procedures using .NET language to be of particular interest.  DeBetta attacked the material from the perspective of a DBA and a developer, and I came out of this session with knowledge I can immediately put to use when I deploy SQL 05.

Next on the docket was "Best Practices for Structured SQL Server Development" with Adam Machanic.  Having seen much of the presenter's work on and trading several messages with him about this session, I was very much looking forward to this breakout.  I was not to be disappointed; we dove into some material that seems to have been overlooked in most other SQL Server primers.  He walked through some elemental issues (stored procedures vs. dynamic SQL, among others) and showed examples of some "worst practices" SQL development.  Next, we tackled exception handling in SQL Server.  Machanic covered this topic from a pre-2005 perspective, as well as discussing the new TRY...CATCH constructs available in SQL 2005.  Also covered in this session was unit testing, currently one of the hot buzzwords in software development.  This is the first example I've seen of using unit testing on SQL code, and the discussion was very useful.

Due to a last-minute addition, I ended up attending a session on the mechanics of execution plans during the last time slot of the day.  The presenter obviously knew this subject well, but there was a great deal of material presented in a very short time.  Since no printed handout was available, I had a hard time keeping up, and ended up leaving the session a little early.

Today's sessions were not as effective as those from the past two days, but from everything else I've seen this week, it appears that that the conference will still be a success.  With one more day to go, I am looking forward to three more good sessions.  For tonight, there were no more conference activities after the last session, so it was a solo night back at the hotel for me.  Hopefully, the maintenance staff fixed my room air conditioner, which started making a godawful grinding noise about 2am this morning. Perhaps I'll wrap up this blog and get some much-needed sleep.  On second thought, I could stay up a few more hours and play with the September CTP for a little while instead...: )  More tomorrow....