Tribal Awards 2014 Cheat Sheet

I really enjoy what Simple-Talk and SQLServerCentral are doing with regards to their annual Tribal Awards.  This awards concept was based off the book of the same name released this past year and available here.  Highlighting new voices in the SQL Server Community, Tribal SQL (the book) presents fresh views, how-tos and scripts that focus on the core of the DBA role.  The awards were created to allow the SQL Community to lend their voice to what they see are the best of the best across 11 categories:

Article that Saved My Bacon in 2014
Blog of the Year
Person You’d Most Like to Have as a Mentor
Best Presentation at any Tech Conference
Best Tech User Group
Best New Community Voice
Beyond the call of duty / Outstanding Contribution
Best Free PowerShell Script
Best Twitter Account To Follow
Best New Book About SQL
Best Outfit or Costume at a Tech Conference

I see many friends, #SQLFamily and SQL Cruise Alumni represented on the list of nominees that were compiled based upon community votes.  Now the community has the chance again to vote on the leader for each category.  (I refuse to use the word Winner as by the simple nature of being included in the list of nominees each should be a winner.)

To be better informed in some of these categories I’m offering up a summary of some of the category nominees as well as my endorsement below in the order as listed on the voting form.  Voting is accessible here.

Best Twitter Account To Follow

Nominees: @BrentO, @SQLSoldier, @datachick, @MidnightDBA, @PaulRandal

Each of these Twitter streams are quite different:

  • @BrentO provides a mix of technical (focused primarily on SQL Server), travel and humor; offers up many tweets that point back to formal posts from his consulting firm, Brent Ozar Unlimited, and his partners’ and staff’s twitter streams which broaden out to cover topics from development, Reporting Services and training.
  • @SQLSoldier offers a focus on SQL Server performance tweets and is a frequent contributor to the #SQLHelp hashtag on Twitter.  Robert Davis who is behind this feed has a strong DBA-centric and internals knowledge of the SQL product.
  • @datachick produces a tweet stream strong in travel, professional development and data presentation topics.  She also produces a great deal of content regarding NASA and space-related topics.
  • @MidnightDBA has two strong personalities behind it: the wife & husband team of Jen and Sean McCown.  Both are very strong in their SQL Server knowledge and both MCMs.  They balance a mix of SQL Server technical, DBA professional development, running, and snark.
  • @PaulRandal is also a frequent contributor to the #SQLHelp hashtag on Twitter and has intimate internals knowledge of the SQL Server product – primarily in the core product: Database Services.  When it comes to internals in that area of SQL Server there are few better.  This stream also serves up travel and suggested reading tweets as well as links back to the SQLskills pantheon of articles and training offerings as well as his partners’ and staff’s content and Twitter streams which run very deep.

Pick:  @PaulRandal (based upon content and links back to his affiliated SQLskills streams.

Runners Up: @BrentO and @SQLSoldier


Person You’d Most Like to Have as a Mentor

Nominees: Paul Randal, Kevin Kline, Kendra Little, Brent Ozar, Grant Fritchey

I’ve had the luxury to have been either mentored-by, worked with or have had work for me all of these individuals.

  • Paul is a friend as well as someone whose sessions I’ve attended at various conferences or formal training I’ve attended.
  • Kevin has been a mentor in regards to both technical and career concepts for years.  He was the first President of PASS I served under as a volunteer and has been a Technical Leader for me on SQL Cruise since 2011.  He is a trusted source of information and author of the first book I ever owned on the subject of both Transact-SQL and PL/SQL.  I also value him as a very close friend and frequently bounce ideas off of him before they’re seen in the public eye.
  • I was a Founder in the original incarnation of Brent Ozar’s consulting company along with Kendra Little.  Likewise Brent and I originally founded SQL Cruise back in 2010.  Both have innovative and interesting perspectives on SQL and career.  Kendra also has the artistic and creative angle for providing information that may otherwise be rather dry.  Something I really appreciate.
  • Grant Fritchey is very good friend and frequent Technical Leader for SQL Cruise since 2011 as is the case with Kevin Kline.  His books on query execution plans are must-haves and when someone uses the word “driven” his name pops into my head.  He’s also a fantastic speaker, strong leader both in technology and life and now a co-Board Member of PASS which should speak volumes as to what the SQL Community thinks of him.

Picks:  TIE – Kevin Kline and Grant Fritchey.  Both have the respect of the entire SQL Community and the credentials, demeanor and experience to be strong mentors.  I would trust my career, passwords, kids and wife all in their hands without thinking twice.

Runners Up: Kendra Little, particularly if she communicates via cartoons.

Best Presentation at any Tech Conference


  • Rimma Nehme, Keynote on cloud – PASS Summit 2014
  • Steph Locke, Introduction to R – SQL Relay & SQLBits
  • Alex Whittles, Using PowerPivot and DAX to predict and win Fantasy F1 – SQLRelay
  • Mladen Prajdic, SQL Server and Application Security for Developers – PASS Summit 2014
  • Niko Neugebauer, ETL Patterns with Clustered Columnstore – PASS Summit 2014

Picks:  Rimma Nehme. Unfortunately if you don’t have the luxury of a strong and deep travel budget hitting all of these sessions was impossible.  I only was able to see 3 of these sessions but one stands out above all other – and by a great margin:  Rimma Nehme’s keynote at the PASS 2014 Summit in Seattle.  She was able to convey concepts and offerings from Microsoft’s Cloud product line with simplicity and humor better than anyone I’ve seen do to date.  She welcomed Dr. David DeWitt to the stage – her longtime mentor and frequent keynote speaker for PASS in his own right to the stage at the end of the keynote for a final bit of information but she held the audience solely in her hands at that point.  Many of us are looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for us next.

Runners Up: Step Locke, Mladen Prajdic

Beyond the call of duty / Outstanding Contribution

Nominees:  Alex Whittles, David Klee, Grant Fritchey, Steph Locke and Jen Stirrup

I’ve the pleasure of having David Klee provide much mentoring and information at a drop of a hat regarding VMware and SQL alike.  Likewise the same with Grant Fritchey regarding all things SQL administration and performance tuning.  Both are going to be Technical Leads on the Caribbean 2015 SQL Cruise and in doing so are available to all those attending that event for the full week with full access – not just during class.  I’ve specifically invited them to be Technical Leads because I know the content of the information they provide as well as their passion for sharing.  Therefore for that reason alone my picks are…

Picks: TIE – David Klee and Grant Fritchey

Runners Up:  Everyone else

 Best new community voice

Nominees:  Andy Yun, Oz Locke. Ginger Grant, Cathrine Wilhelmsen, Luan Moreno Medeiros Maciel

I am only familiar with three names on this list so I can’t provide details on the other two.  Simply by garnering the top five votes from the SQL Community provides weight to their presence and importance in the community.  Andy Yun is going to be attending SQL Cruise 2015 Caribbean but I’ve yet to see him speak or consume any of his content.  I’ve had the pleasure of discussions in a few SQLSaturday Speaker Ready Rooms with Ginger and I spent the better part of a week with Cathrine in Oslo during the SQLSaturday there as  well as at the PASS 2014 Summit.  Her passion for the SQL Community (and not just in Norway but also throughout her involvement in Europe and the United States) make her the clear winner in my book.

Pick:  Cathrine Wilhelmsen for the reason mentioned above

Runners Up:  Everyone else is a Winner too!

Best New Book About SQL


  • Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Administration by Adam Jorgensen, Bradley Ball, Steven Wort, Ross LoForte, Brian Knight
  • SQL Server 2014 Query Tuning & Optimization by Benjamin Nevarez
  • SQL Server Source Control Basics by Rob Sheldon, Rob Richardson, and Tony Davis.
  • SQL Server Internals: In-Memory OLTP Inside the SQL Server 2014 Hekaton Engine by Kalen Delaney
  • SQL Server Query Performance Tuning 4th Edition by Grant Fritchey

I am not familiar with all of these books so providing a pick is difficult to do based upon the content of the specific book.  Therefore what I’ll suggest is that you consider which book pertains to your specific area-of-interest in SQL Server and use the list of nominees as suggested reading from your peers.  I’ve written books and articles and it’s a difficult task that is definitely not done for the benefits of a big payout.  You’ll not get rich writing a technical book.  These individuals took time from their personal life to provide their knowledge to the SQL Community.  They should all receive praise for doing so.

Picks:  Everyone

Runners Up:  Everyone else who wrote a technical book this year that isn’t on the list of nominees.

Blog of the Year


Anyone who keeps up a blog – particularly one not used to market their company or services directly which would be considered marketing effort central to their business –  in addition to having a career, family, friends and all other commitments deserve praise.  They give up time they could spend elsewhere on any of these (decidedly) more-important areas of their life to provide and share knowledge for the sake of simply being generous.

Anyone, regardless of marketing content, that provides a valuable source of information about a topic that is dependable, factual and a source of truth while at the same time being entertaining and interesting also deserves praise.  Based upon both those criteria I am providing a pick for each area.

Picks:  Non-Core Marketing Blog:  TIE – Thomas LaRock (for DBA and General SQL Server and Professional Development topics) and Koen Verbeeck for BI-centric posts that are extremely interesting and easy to follow along with – even for the non-BI-centric Analyst.

Picks:  Blog tied to Marketing/Consulting:  This one is difficult because Paul’s blog is his alone and is very valuable information to have.  (He also has an amazing ribs recipe he offered up there.)  Brent’s blog is actually a team effort where I see the majority of posts (at least lately) coming from his partners Kendra Little and Jeremiah Peschka as well as staff: Jes Borland and Doug Lane.  The information offered through all those voices is really solid and frequently entertaining but it’s a team effort there whereas Paul is being recognized for his content alone.  While the topic is Blog of the Year it does not mean it has to be just attributed for a single individual so I have to call this a TIE between Paul Randal and the Team at Brent Ozar Unlimited.

Best User Group


  • The Midlands SQL Server UG
  • Atlanta MDF
  • Omaha SQL Users Group
  • Manchester SQL Server UG
  • San Francisco SQL Server UG

Picks:  Their ALL Winners

Runners Up:  Every other User Group serving their various community.

Best Free PowerShell Script


I’m not a frequent user of PowerShell so take my pick here with a grain of salt.  CentralDB is very close to a solution I use daily that I created in SSIS based upon an original concept by Rodney Landrum.  I like the core concept having spent a great deal of time with building a similar solution so that gives it credence in my book.  Likewise with Mike Fal’s nomination on gently growing log files.  He bases this script off of a post by Kimberly Tripp-Randal on responsible growth of transaction logs and the associated underlying VLF impact.  I’ve created something similar as a T-SQL template based from the same blog post of Kimberly’s.  Their posts don’t take into consideration a variable log growth factor – they both base the growth on 8GB increments – which is not always appropriate when it comes to databases of various sizes and transaction activity.  I include that setting as a parameter and I think that would be a valuable add to their code in both T-SQL and PowerShell alike.  SQLPSX is an extension to SMO and therefore back to SQL 2000.   It’s a collection of 160+ functions that allow that extensibility.  Keeping track of what is hitting the SQL error log is critical.  It also can be a complete pain in the ass. (excusez-moi!)  What Allen wrote made me fire up the PowerShell IDE to take it for a spin.  That’s a huge effort for someone who equates learning PowerShell with taking up jogging.)  Finally we have Tim Chapman’s contribution which augments a hole in the Dynamic Management Objects (a dear favorite of mine) for providing detailed memory information from the less-than-consumable DBCC MEMORYSTATUS command.  The output from there is subdivided into separate results sets making it difficult to parse or export for additional needs.  Tim solves that through a combination of PowerShell and T-SQL.

Pick:  This one is hard because all offer great functionality.  Therefore I need to go with which one would be used most-often and that would lead me to choose CentralDB.

Runners Up:  Allen Whilte’s Scanning Errorlog and Tim Chapman’s DBCC Memory Status

Best Outfit at a Technical Conference


I had the opportunity to experience JRJ’s costume in person and the amount of effort that went into it made it a clear winner regarding time and detail.  Argenis and Steve showed their softer side because of their efforts in getting the SQL Community to donate over $11,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières (known in the USA as Doctors Without Borders).  Andrea receives credit because she packed four outfits like that plus all of her regular clothes and all else for a week in a single carry-on bag.

And then there is Bob.  Bob, that a look alright…

Pick:  Everyone.  Even Bob.

Article that Saved My Bacon in 2014


Obviously each of these articles helped a decent number of your peers to warrant collecting the top five spot for the category.  Though not all applied to me – and much of the information I was familiar with already – I wanted to take the time to review the articles to be familiar with their message as well as how it was delivered.  Aaron’s post on using Log Shipping to accomplish “Mirroring” Readable Secondaries was very well thought through and the graphics were impressive as well.  Graphics are a departure for Aaron and that is not a bad thing either.  The sheer amount of work that went into that post and detail presented are fabulous!  Likewise we have Gail Shaw – just about everything she writes is spot-on and this article was no different and touches upon many myths, pain points and gotchas that come up frequently.  It’s a post that I’ve shared to my team in the past.

Pick: Gail Shaw (as it covers numerous topics of interest)

Runner Up: Aaron Bertrand

Voting Closes January 2, 2015

And there you have it.  My first (hopefully annual) review and picks for the SQLServerCentral / Simple-Talk Tribal Awards.  Happy New Year and don’t forget voting closes on January 2, 2015. Results will be announced on January 20th. It should also be noted that in the spirit of Tribal SQL, the awards will also donate £250 to the charity at the close of the event.