The second day pre-conference that I attended was by Kalen Delany, all about query plans.
The first part of the session was an overview of the various methods of getting a query plan, from the showplan options for estimated plans, to the profile options for actual execution plans, the graphical options and the usage of SQL Profiler to get both actual and estimated plans.
She then briefly covered sub-optimal plans, without going into detail on query tuning. Stuff like cardinality estimation errors and potentially slow operators (scans, sorts, hashes)
After lunch we delved into details on the plan cache, including what constitutes a plan, how to view them and what conditions there are around plan reuse. This covered adhoc plans, prepared plans and object plans (stored procedures), as well as recompiles and the downsides of plan reuse.
Finally there was a section on query hints and plan guides, for use when the optimiser just won’t do what you want it to do.
The evening was a great deal of fun, with the opening reception and the SQLServerCentral party. I had the opportunity to take part in the quiz bowl. Got eliminated in the first round (damn movie questions) but was still good fun. Won a couple books. More reading material is always a good thing.