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GroupBy April Sessions are Out – Register Now!

You voted, and here’s the lineup you chose for GroupBy April:

Friday, April 21:

  • 8AM Eastern – How to Use Parameters Like a Pro and Boost Performance by Guy Glantser
  • 10AM – Introducing the SQL Server 2016 Query Store by Enrico van de Laar
  • Noon – Worst Practices & Less Known Limitations for Columnstore Indexes by Niko Neugebauer
  • 2PM – Gems to Help You Troubleshoot Query Performance by Pedro Lopes
  • 4PM – Crash Course on Better SQL Development by Vladimir Oselsky

Friday, April 28:

  • 8AM Eastern – SQL Server 2016 Features for Performance Tuning Lovers by Matan Yungman
  • 10AM – SAN Primer for the DBA by Doug Bernhardt
  • Noon – Bringing DevOps to the Database by Steve Jones
  • 2PM – Azure SQL Databases: A Guided Tour by Mike Walsh
  • 4PM – Hacking SQL Server by André Melancia

If you’ve attended GroupBy in the past, you’re already registered for the April events, and you’ve gotten a confirmation.

To register, head on over to the home page of GroupBy.org. Wanna be a presenter in the next round? Abstracts are open for the June event!

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Vote Now to Pick the April GroupBy Sessions

Heads up! Voting is now open – you get to pick the 10 sessions that will be the next GroupBy event.

Open one browser tab with the list of GroupBy abstracts, and then pick your favorites.

To vote, you have to log in – when you’re viewing this on our site, you can log in or create an account on the right hand side. Voting closes March 15 – good luck!

Update 2017/03/15 – voting is closed! Here’s the results. The top 10 sessions will be run in April. Pedro scored two sessions in the top 10, so we’re only taking the top-voted one, and then adding the 11th place session in as the final 10th.

Which 10 sessions do you want to see?

  • Hacking SQL Server by André Melancia (6%, 179 Votes)
  • Gems to help you troubleshoot query performance by Pedro Lopes (5%, 156 Votes)
  • How to Use Parameters Like a Pro and Boost Performance by Guy Glantser (5%, 142 Votes)
  • SQL Server 2016 Features for Performance Tuning Lovers by Matan Yungman (4%, 123 Votes)
  • Enhancements that will make your SQL database engine roar - 2016 SP1 Edition by Pedro Lopes (4%, 116 Votes)
  • Crash Course on Better SQL Development by Vladimir Olselsky (4%, 116 Votes)
  • Worst Practices & Less Known Limitations for Columnstore Indexes by Niko Neugebauer (4%, 115 Votes)
  • SAN Primer for the DBA by Doug Bernhardt (4%, 114 Votes)
  • Azure SQL Databases: A Guided Tour by Mike Walsh (4%, 110 Votes)
  • Bringing DevOps to the Database by Steve Jones (4%, 100 Votes)
  • Introducing the SQL Server 2016 Query Store by Enrico van de Laar (4%, 100 Votes)
  • In-Memory Tables with Natively Compiled T-SQL: Blazing Speed for OLTP and More by Andrew Novick (3%, 86 Votes)
  • Keeping Up with Technology: Drinking from the Firehose by Eugene Meidinger (3%, 85 Votes)
  • So You Want to Be a Data Scientist? by Dave Wentzel (3%, 81 Votes)
  • Green is good, Red is bad - Turning your Checklists into Pester Tests by Rob Sewell (3%, 80 Votes)
  • SQL Server and Continuous Integration by James Anderson (3%, 76 Votes)
  • Architecture and Customer Case Studies with In-Memory OLTP by Jos de Brujin (3%, 74 Votes)
  • Linux OS Fundamentals for the SQL Admin by Anthony Nocentino (3%, 72 Votes)
  • Optimizing your SQL Server for Azure VMs by Parikshit Savjani (2%, 66 Votes)
  • Successful production deployments with columnstore index in SQL Server 2016 by Sunil Agarwal (2%, 63 Votes)
  • Power BI for the C-level Suite by Jen Stirrup (2%, 58 Votes)
  • Alleviating database consolidation pains by Alexander Arvidsson (2%, 56 Votes)
  • Operational Validation of SQL Server at scale with PowerShell and Jenkins by Cody Konior (2%, 56 Votes)
  • SQLDockit - SQL inventory and best practices on steroids by Frane Borozan (2%, 54 Votes)
  • Save Time and Improve SSIS Quality with Biml by Andy Leonard (2%, 53 Votes)
  • T-SQL for Beginners by Andrea Allred (2%, 51 Votes)
  • NoSQL Server: JSON superpowers! by Davide Mauri (2%, 51 Votes)
  • SQL R Services: Start Working WITH Your Data Scientists by Dave Wentzel (2%, 50 Votes)
  • Measuring the Overhead of the Query Store by Jason Hall (2%, 48 Votes)
  • Level Up Your Biml: Best Practices and Coding Techniques by Cathrine Wilhelmsen (2%, 44 Votes)
  • Apache Zeppelin and SQL Server: two best friends by Davide Mauri (1%, 42 Votes)
  • Dapper: the microORM that will change your life by Davide Mauri (1%, 41 Votes)
  • An (Advanced) Introduction to DAX by Eugene Meidinger (1%, 39 Votes)
  • Get Spatial With It by Michael Henderson (1%, 33 Votes)
  • (Withdrawn) (1%, 31 Votes)
  • TFS Database backups/restore by Uche Okoye (1%, 30 Votes)
  • Analysis Services Development with Biml Studio by Reeves Smith (1%, 29 Votes)
  • Make your R script production-ready with SQL Server R Services by Neillie Gustafsson (1%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 327

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What Should We Change About the Next GroupBy?

The first event is over, the recordings are out, the podcasts are being downloaded, and now it’s time to take a deep breath to think about what we wanna do next.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the April event will work:

  1. Speakers submit sessions. Anyone can submit a session on any topic. The deadline is February 28th.
  2. Readers collaborate. Anyone can leave a comment on your session abstract to suggest changes or ask for clarification. The deadline here is also Feb 28th, which means you could theoretically submit a bad session on that day, and not get enough feedback to improve your session. That’s what you get for procrastinating, ha ha ho ho.
  3. Everyone picks the top 10. On March 1-15, the home page will show the list of submitted sessions, and you can check up to ten of them. You’ll have to be registered & logged in to vote, and a live leaderboard will show the current vote tallies.
  4. On March 16th, the winners are announced. It shouldn’t be a surprise – we’ll just be showing the top 10 folks from the leaderboard. The winners start working on their slide decks if they’re not already done.
  5. The live event will happen April 21 & 28. This time, the sessions will be spread a little further out (every 2 hours instead of every 90 minutes), giving folks a better chance to do bio breaks and set up. During the breaks, presenters can have their webcams & audio on, take questions from the audience, and have an open mic discussion. (We’ll likely record this as outtakes and throw it into YouTube just for fun.) In April, we’ll also have the Brent Ozar Unlimited team on during the breaks – we’re used to running GoToWebinar sessions, and it gives Brent a chance to run out and do bio breaks.
  6. Afterward, recordings go out. They’re uploaded to the GroupBy YouTube channel, the session detail pages, the podcast feeds, and BitTorrent. Our transcriptionist goes to work writing out the text, and our volunteer editors put in section headings and screenshots.

Now, how can we kick this up a notch? What should we change or add to the next round? We’ll take your feedback for the next couple of weeks, and based on that, announce a list of changes on Feb 21.

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GroupBy Videos Now Available on BitTorrent

We’re committed to making the community training available in as many ways as possible.

In some parts of the world, Internet connections just aren’t reliable enough to stream YouTube videos at high resolution. However, folks want to be able to watch the full videos in detail so they can see things like demos. We wanna make that happen – the world needs more freedom right about now.

All of the GroupBy session details pages now include BitTorrent torrent & magnet links.

Enjoy the sessions, if you like ’em, don’t forget to leave the presenters a comment or a rating. They love hearing your feedback.

And be kind to one another in every way that you can.

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Wanna Read Rather Than Watch? Check Out the Session Transcripts.

This is gonna sound funny coming from a guy who sells video training, but I hate watching videos.

Bob Ward doing a CMEMTHREAD demo at GroupBy

I have no idea if they’re gonna be any good, or what they’re going to cover. I don’t want to invest my time without having at least a rough idea of what’s going on, and the video title/abstract/description doesn’t always reflect that accurately.

So I’m the kind of person who’d rather skim the transcription first.

I figure I’m not the one out there, so we’re doing killer session transcriptions of everything.

For an example, check out Bob Ward’s session, SQL Server 2016: It Just Runs Faster. It’s over thirteen thousand words. (Bob talks really quickly.) Our heroic transcriptionist does the bulk of the work, giving us a huge wall of text.

The next step, editing, is adding section headers and a few screenshots. That’s where you come in, dear reader: I’m looking for volunteer editors who can help with that from time to time. It’s roughly a 1-hour task per session, and the nice part is that it can be done at any time that works for you.

If you’re interested, leave a comment in this forum thread, where we’re discussing it in more detail.

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Wanna Listen on the Road? The GroupBy Podcast is Now Live.

Voila:

The first 3 episodes – Bob Ward on why SQL 2016 is faster, Drew Furgiuele on PowerShell’s practical applications, and Greg Bray on Stack Overflow’s infrastructure – are available now. We’ll be trickling out the rest one per week to give you time to soak ’em up.

If you’re new to podcast listening, I’d recommend the free iOS app Overcast, which automatically speeds up podcasts to skip slower parts. In the coming weeks, we’ll be unveiling our own Android and iOS apps to make it even easier to find and download the podcast.

If you’re thinking about launching or improving your own podcast, I’d highly recommend Digital Freedom Productions. Pavel produces the Brent Ozar Unlimited Office Hours podcast, and he’s handled everything with the GroupBy podcast launch too. He’s fantastic.

The intro music (because I know somebody’s gonna ask) is the Inspiring & Uplifting Summer Pop Kit by BlueFoxMusic. When I picked that, I had it on endless repeat for days.

If you like the podcast format, help the project out by leaving a rating on your podcast platform like iTunes or Stitcher. Ratings help us reach more folks and get the word out about the community effort. Thanks for your help, and I hope you enjoy the sessions!

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GroupBy Live Webcast Notes & Lessons Learned

Whew – it’s over! The first live GroupBy webcast is in the books. A few things to know:

Now, let’s talk about last Friday’s event.

How Registration and Turnout Worked

1,758 folks registered. Here’s how attendance looked during the morning sessions (up to lunch):

GroupBy morning attendance

Attendance climbed and then held steady through the first 3 sessions. We closed the webcast for a minute at lunch because it makes it a little easier to deal with the GoToWebinar recording files when they’re a little smaller, and then reopened it immediately:

Afternoon attendance

Afternoon attendance popped right back up to 400 – the first hour was just lunch, so no meetings were happening – but then steadily trailed off through the day. We finished at around 7PM Eastern, so I’m not surprised that people left for their drive home. (International attendees talked about how early/late it was at their place.)

I didn’t schedule sessions based on popularity at all, but just speaker availability. I sent a poll to the speakers asking what times they couldn’t present, and then worked backwards from there, filling out the jigsaw puzzle.

I’d closed out registrations when we hit 1,500 because I was worried about banging up against GoToWebinar’s 1,000-attendee limit. We only had a 40% attendance rate, though, so we were fine. I won’t put a cap on registrations on the April GroupBy, but we’ll have to keep an eye on this.

How the Presentations Worked

The volunteer presenters did an incredible job. Great material, great demos, great delivery, and great job of making their materials available before the presentations were even over. I can’t thank them enough.

I got several comments about how the video & audio was great – that’s due to the speakers all picking up webcams and good-quality microphones as recommended in the Speaker FAQ. Again, fantastic job by the speakers there.

We did have one hiccup with one presenter’s internet speed – it simply wasn’t fast enough for a remote presentation with audio & video. I’m up for ideas on how we handle that – for example, should we require that presenters include a bandwidth test with their submission?

How the Attendee Interactivity Worked

Lively discussions happened in three places:

I do wish we could make it all happen in one place – it’d be more vibrant, and I’d really love to have it happen in a searchable, archived place – but that’s not realistic in early 2017. A lot of folks only want to use one communication method, and Twitter and Slack are blocked at some offices. For 2017 at least, being a co-host is going to mean having a lot of open windows and doing a lot of context switching.

How the Scheduling Worked

I went into this expecting to do a lot of co-hosting work. I thought I’d be filling a lot of gaps between sessions, talking to the audience, doing demos of concepts.

Talking PowerShell with Drew and Aaron

Nnnnnope. As Andy Mallon told me, sessions are made of gas – they expand or contract to fill all available space.

At the same time, I got a lot of feedback that the between-sessions casual banter between me, Aaron Nelson, Aaron Bertrand, and the other presenters was super-fun to watch. Attendees felt like they were going backstage.

So for the April GroupBy, we’ll run sessions every 2 hours. Speakers will still get a max of 80 minutes, then a 10-minute bio break, then 30 minutes for the next presenter to set up and talk shop. Other presenters can also have their webcams & audios on during that time. (Several presenters stayed online the whole day.)

This does mean we’ll have less sessions – only 4-5 instead of 6 – but I think the shop talk is valuable for a bunch of reasons:

  • It makes the presenters more relatable to attendees
  • It further builds the presenters’ brands and reputation in the community
  • It encourages an open discussion between the presenters (because we don’t get enough chances to talk to each other face-to-face)
  • It might encourage attendees to submit sessions and become part of this club

Anything else you think we should tweak about GroupBy so far?

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GroupBy April 2017 Open for Session Submissions

Wanna submit a session for the next GroupBy event? The time is now.

Submit your session. Don’t be scared to click the Submit button – your abstract is a living, breathing thing that will continue to evolve over time. You’re encouraged to tweak it based on community feedback.

A moderator will double-check to make sure there’s nothing offensive, and then publish it. You’ll get an email confirming its publication.

Readers will suggest tweaks to the abstract, and you’ll get emails each time someone leaves a public comment. You don’t have to do everything they say – but talk to ’em to get more details about what they’re thinking.

We’re here to help make this a fun event for you, and I believe it’s the easiest way to get started on a journey of giving back to the community that’s given you so much along the way. Let’s do this!

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Poll: Pick the Next GroupBy Conference Dates

With your help in a previous blog post, we narrowed down GroupBy’s next dates to these four options.

When should the next GroupBy conference be? Pick your favorite 2.

  • April 21 and 28, Fridays back to back (36%, 49 Votes)
  • April 27-28, Thursday-Friday (26%, 35 Votes)
  • April 3-4, Monday-Tuesday (13%, 18 Votes)
  • April 24-25, Monday-Tuesday (13%, 17 Votes)
  • I'm fine with any of these dates (12%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 89

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You can only vote when you’re on the blog post itself, and you must be logged in to vote. (The login form is on the right side of the blog post page.) Voting closes Saturday.

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When Should The Next GroupBy Event *NOT* Be?

For the first couple of iterations, we want to run one GroupBy per quarter. (Later, we may speed it up to monthly depending on demand.)

We’re thinking about the following dates for the next GroupBy:

  • April 3-4, Monday-Tuesday
  • April 6-7, Thursday-Friday (ruled out due to SQLbits, SQLSaturday Madison)
  • April 21 and 28, Fridays back-to-back
  • April 24-25, Monday-Tuesday
  • April 27-28, Thursday-Friday

Are there any of these dates that we should totally avoid? (Like is there a conference or an online meeting on those dates?) We want to avoid stepping on anybody else’s events.

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