T-SQL Tuesday #118 – My response to COVID-19

T-SQL Tuesday #118 – My response to COVID-19

The May 2020 edition of T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Glenn Berry (b|t). On the surface, his topic is about “Folding@Home”. But if you read closer, you’ll see that Glenn actually asks: “what are you doing as a response to COVID-19?”

And while Glenn does suggest that zooming in on how we optimize our hardware for Folding@Home might be a good idea for this round of T-SQL Tuesday, the topic allows for more freedom. I’ll grab that freedom and use it to talk about something else I do as a response to COVID-19.

Execution plans? Yes, execution plans

It should not surprise me. When I do something, it is very often related to execution plans. This is no exception.

Over the past years, multiple people suggested to me that I should make my knowledge available in video form. I succumbed to their pressure and started work on “The Execution Plan Video Training” last year. And when I started, the plan was to work in silence until I have at least a significant part of the total planned content done, and then release.

And then COVID-19 happened, and forced me to rethink.

Lockdown and layoffs

Many countries had to go on lockdown. Many people lost their jobs. Some careers might even be lost forever, or for a long time.

In short, may people have a lot of time on their hands, and a lot of uncertainty about their professional future. If you were already working with SQL Server, then you might want to use the spare time thrust on you due to the lockdown to increase your knowledge. If you are in another career and unsure about your professional future, you might want to start learning SQL Server as a possible future career, post lockdown. Either way, now is the time to learn, you have time available, you are motivated, you just need the access.

So I decided to publish early. Even though I had not nearly as much content as I wished I had, I figured that making it available NOW, now that people have time, is more important than making it available all at once.

Giving it away

I also decided to make the videos free. Why, you may ask. Well, it was not my original plan. the content release so far has a play time of approximately two hours. In order to create that amount of content, at the level I consider “good enough”, I have invested almost 80 hours. I value my time, so I was not planning to give away 80 hours of work for free.

But I changed my mind.

I am lucky. I already worked remotely most of the time. During the lockdown, my paid work is continuing unchanged. I can still bill my customers. I’m still making money.

As mentioned above, part of my reason to release my content early is because it might benefit those who are less lucky. Who, perhaps, currently have no job, no income.

My response to COVID-19 was to make my content available sooner than planned, because people have time on their hands to peruse it at this time, and also because people may need the content for future job security.

My second response to COVID-19 was to make my content available for free, because that group of people that need the content for future job security probably don’t have a lot of money to spare right now. If I really want to help them, I should not ask them to hand over their last paycheck. I should donate that help for free. So that’s what I do.

Some numbers so far

At this time, a few hundred people have watched part or all of my videos. According to my tracked, the amount of time watched is over 90 hours.

That’s awesome. Really. But … it’s not enough.

Seriously. Why are the rest of you not watching this yet?

What’s next?

So, what’s next? Of course, I am already working on the rest of the planned content. The next major release of new content will be the advanced chapters of block 1, where I go a lot deeper than in the basic chapters that are already available. I am working on these, and will release them all when they are ready.

I am also doing small fixes and changes as I go. When SQL Server Management Studio 18.5 released, a small part of the content I had already published was no longer correct. I have already released an updated version of the affected video, so if you watch the videos now, you will see content that is accurate for the current version.

And while I was working on the advanced chapters, I noticed that some of the content I was creating was actually more suited to the basic level. So I am now working on a sixth chapter for the basic level, that I hope to release this month.


There are several things I am doing in response to COVID-19. Some of those are purely on a personal level, to help keep the people around me safe. And yes, I have also signed up to contribute to the Folding@Home project, and I encourage everyone reading this to look into it and see if you, too, can contribute.

But what I want to write about here, is my little COVID-19 contribution that also can directly benefit some of my readers. Please use the opportunity I have created to learn about execution plans. I know that there isn’t much content available yet. But what is there is good (it better be, after investing almost 80 hours). So please, use it! All it costs you is some time. And as long as this lockdown lasts, time is not at a premium for most.

Row counts and arrow width, a primer
Row counts and arrow width, ignoring execution count

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Bryant McClellan
    May 13, 2020 16:57


    Thanks for considering everyone. I’ve been tinkering with SQL Server beginning with v4.2.1 so I have a bit of experience and still I am watching this video series. It never hurts to be reminded of something you’ve forgotten or learning a new take on something. I sincerely hope those less fortunate can take advantage of this and make a better future for themselves.

    I’ll also back folding@home. I’ve run rosetta@home for many years. It is a program with aims similar to folding@home. When I first heard about folding@home I installed it immediately and both are running continuously. One feature of folding @home that I like is the ability to reduce processing requirements while allowing it, and you, to continue working.

  • Hi

    These videos are great. I specialise in performance tuning and just watching the first block made me realise that the more I learn the less I know. Really looking forward to seeing the rest of the series



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