Monday, May 14, 2007

DevTeach pre-conference

Today I attended the pre-conference session with Paul Neilson.

I sat in on one of Paul's one-hour sessions last year and found him to be one of the more entertaining speakers - so I knew he could keep me awake for a full day long session. He is a SQL MVP and the author of The SQL Server Bible. I have not read his book, but I expect it would be a worthwhile read.

He did an excellent job, although it was challenging to fit everything into a day. Paul normally does sessions that are 2 days to a week long. That said, I think he gave everyone plenty of things to think about. Brad McGehee (SQL MVP and the guy behind SQL-Server-Performance.Com) sat in listening all day, so you know Paul's opinion is respected.

Paul does some original thinking. He breaks performance down into logical layers in something he calls 'optimization theory'. I think his optimization theory is one of those useful tools that world be helpful to anyone getting started in optimization. It clearly shows where to focus to get the most benefits, then you could build on that foundation.

But once you understand the concepts, I don't imagine anyone would think in these terms anymore. Like Codd's normal forms (which Paul himself says he doesn't really think about), these are tools you can use to help you understand what needs to be done. Once you really grasp the concepts, these tools really become less important.

So while I personally won't spend a lot of time thinking about optimization theory, it did provide an excellent outline from which to build his presentation for the day.

Some of the mistakes he pointed out are one that I personally have made - and they have come back to haunt me. So I know he isn't making stuff up. I think soon I'll write up a list of rookie mistakes I made. Too bad I didn't sit in on one of Paul's sessions 10 years ago!

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