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The Plan: 7 Days to OLAP

November 2, 2012

One of the formative impressions on my tech career was Douglas Coupland’s novel “Microserfs“. The depiction of the isolation and focus as the developers eschewed everything and poured themselves into writing code sounded exciting… in a very nerdy way.

For the past 4 years, PASS has been my annual adaptation of that immersion experience (it’s also as close to living on a campus in Redmond as I’m¬†comfortable¬†with). I live and work in Toronto, Canada, so coming to Seattle means putting some real distance between myself and home/office life. While I’m here I pour in a lot of hours and energy, and always come out ahead: diagrams sketched on the back of bar napkins, chunks of pseudo-code written in Notepad and saved on the desktop, and poorly formatted TSQL clearly written after midnight.

It’s not just the keynotes, seminars, and demos – it’s the dialogue with my SQL Server brethren at the conference, the time spent at the hotel hacking it all together, and lack of distractions that really make it a productive experience. There’s great coffee on every block, a gym in the hotel, and a bed three feet from my desk. I never see any sights or come home bearing gifts. I eat the same takeout from about two different buritto spots and get scolded by my wife for not inviting her along year after year. But I love it – once a year, the immersion works for me.

This year, I’m upping the ante.

Instead of spreading myself over several different tracks, wandering promiscuously from sessions on index tuning using DMVs to sessions on formatting pie-charts in SSRS, I’m focusing exclusively on OLAP. I’ve got zero experience on that aspect of SQL Server, but I can’t wait to dive in.

So, here’s what I’m gunning for: it’s Friday night in Seattle. I have 7 days before I fly back to Toronto, and I want to fly back with an OLAP solution on my laptop. It’s not going be pretty: I’m not going to plan it very carefully, or document it, or commit it to source code, or anything like that. It’s a frantic sprint, to use the Agile (and running) metaphor. The kind of sprint where you’re wearing jeans and dress shoes, and haven’t done any stretching. I’ll surely trip, stumble, and fall, but with any luck, I’ll make it to the proverbial finish line anyway.

Away we go…

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