Thursday, 30 December 2010

Round up of 2010

2010 was my first year as a blogger, after finally pulling my finger out back in February. I learnt an early lesson in naming/tagging posts appropriately after my first search engine hits came in via the term "pull my finger". Not exactly the kind of search term I was hoping to bring up my site - things have improved now so I've headed in the right direction with a focus on SQL Server and .NET related posts.

Top of the Pops

The top 3 posts in terms of views have been:
1. SQL Server 2008 - Table Valued Parameters vs XML vs CSV
2. High performance bulk loading to SQL Server using SqlBulkCopy
3. Sorting a DataTable - LINQ performance

In terms of feedback/comments, the top post was: Rise of the SQL Server DevBA - I particularly enjoyed writing this post as it's something I feel particularly strong about and so it was fantastic to receive the feedback on it.

I Came, I Saw, I Learnt

2010 was also a year where I set myself a resolution to get out there and attend more conferences and community events, and what a great year it was in that respect.

March: QCon London
April: SQLBits 6
June: SQL Server Master Class
December: First SQL Server Southampton UserGroup

Add to that a handful of other SQL Server/.NET usergroup attendances in London, Reading and Southampton and it all adds up to a successful year for that particular goal. Through these various events, I've had the pleasure of putting a number of faces to names. It hasn't always been easy to do that - trying to play "spot the tweep" while hovering next to a breakfast buffet table was at times challenging; a) because there was food at hand to focus on and b) because trying to recognise someone you follow on twitter based on some their profile pic can be difficult. Being recognised myself for the first time was a nice surprise - thanks to Dave Ballantyne (Twitter | Blog) for being my first "spotter" at the SQL Server Master Class! (Sorry, no prize)

Who's The Daddy!

Aside from professional goals, 2010 was also an amazing year on a personal note as I became a dad for the first time to a beautiful baby girl. That is my excuse for a decline in blog posting rate in the latter part of this year!

Group hug

Community, community, community. That's where it's at. I've learnt a lot from the community and been lucky enough to be a part of some awesome events, something I very much look forward to more of in 2011. One of my goals will definitely be to put more faces to names. Thanks to all who have viewed, commented on or RT'd my blog posts and of course thanks to all those out there who have provided first class blog posts which I have enjoyed following (too many to name!). Happy New Year!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

SqlBits 8 - Upcoming SQL Server event

So SQLBits 8 has been announced and is going to be beside the seaside (so maybe it should be called SeaQLBits) in that there Brighton at The Grand, from Thursday 7th April to Saturday 9th April 2011. If you're reading my blog, then there's a pretty strong chance you use SQL Server in which case without a doubt, SQLBits will have a lot to offer you. Chalk it down in your calendar.

As if you need any convincing, but check out my post on SQLBits 6 from April this year and of course the SQLBits site for full details on the upcoming one. Unfortunately I was unable to make SQLBits 7 due to circumstance, so no post from me on that but the sessions videos/slides etc are available so check those out too.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

SQLSoton UserGroup Jan 2011

After the success of the first ever SQL Server Southampton UserGroup this month, the next is planned for Wednesday 19th January 2011 with Christian Bolton (Blog| Twitter) doing a talk on "Exploring SQL Server's Architecture". Followed by SQL Supper - a chance to eat pizza and discuss anything SQL Server related. Got a niggle at work you'd like 2nd/3rd/nth opinions on? Perfect opportunity. Just want to network and have a casual chat? Ditto.

The full agenda and location info can be found over on where you can register for the meetup. Even if you can't make it this time, please spread the word!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

SQL Server Southampton UserGroup

Last night was the first SQL Server Southampton UserGroup (#sqlsoton for those on twitter) organised by Mark Pryce-Maher (Twitter | Blog). It's a difficult job trying to get a local usergroup up and running especially when it's difficult to reach out to local professionals and get a firm idea of who's going to come, and so credit to Mark for making it happen.

Cap'n, we have no power

Despite projector/power lead problems (and there being a million and one kettles in the hired room, none with suitable lead!), it was a great first gathering. Matt Whitfield (Twitter | Blog) kicked off with a session on "SQL CLR Demystified", a look into CLR integration within SQL Server and how it can be used to implement CLR types, stored procedure, functions, aggregates and triggers, with examples on how it can offer better performance over pure TSQL. A great start to what hopefully will become a regular local meetup. Job well done.

It didn't form part of his talk, but having recently tried out one of his free SQL Server related tools (Schema Surf), I think it's worth a shout-out to the tools available from Atlantis Interactive. A number of them are free, so give them a try - I've only had time to try out Schema Surf as yet, but found that to be a very handy tool that can really improve productivity, especially if you're working with an unfamiliar database. Good stuff.

Pizza supplies arrived - an essential part of any usergroup and followed with informal discussions including ones on nice looking features of SQL Server Denali as initiated by Mark.

Support your local groups

For me, it was good to put a real face to those I know through reading blogs and twitter and who I haven't met in person before, namely Christian Bolton (Twitter | Blog), Andrew Fryer (Blog | Twitter) and Mark Pryce-Maher.

Usergroups like this are a great way to learn new things, and get involved with the community around you. Personally, I really enjoy the informal nature of it and the chance just to meet up and have some banter as much as the technical session aspect. It's always interesting to see how other people are using SQL Server, to what extent and hearing their experiences. And I think the benefit of this kind of chance to get together with like-minded people was well and truly demonstrated by the fact the usergroup overran by around 35-40 minutes, showing how immersed we became. That's a big thumbs up in my book.

So, if you don't already attend a local usergroup, why not give it a try?