No In-Person SQLBits For Me

I am saddened to report that I will not be able to attend SQLBits in person this year as originally planned. I was involved in a terrible car accident on 9-February, that has left me (hopefully) temporarily immobile and unable to travel for 3-6 months. I am on the road to recovery, but it will be a very long road.

This makes me sad for so many reasons. I will miss:

    1. All the hugs from my #SQLFamily
    2. All those smiling faces of delegates
    3. The excitement that comes with travel
    4. The anticipation of presenting live and in-person
    5. Pub Quiz night
    6. Fancy dress party night
    7. Catching up with all my #SQLFamily
    8. Impromptu conversations over hot chocolate or beers
    9. Meeting new people
    10. Stroopwaffles
    11. Austrian Chocolates
    12. Australian Chocolates
    13. Hanging out in the Community Corner
    14. My fellow Bits Buddies
    15. Did I mention Stroopwaffles?
    16. And so many more

    The most excellent organizers of SQLBits have been amazing and have accommodated my request to present remotely on very short notice, so I will still get to present my session, it will just be from my bed, instead of in-person. While I will miss the (famous) Fancy Dress party, I will be wearing my costume during my session, but you have to attend my session to see it (not even going to give any hints as to what it is!) There may even be a prize for who guesses correctly.

    My session is Identifying and Preventing Unauthorized Power BI Gateways. It’s a 20-minute session, check the agenda for the most accurate date and time.

    SQLBits 2023

    Super excited that I was selected to speak at SQLBits 2023. The conference is taking place 14-18 March 2023 in Wales. I have never been to Wales and am really looking forward to it. The conference will be a hybrid event, just like in 2022, so if you aren’t able to travel, you can always attend virtually.

    I will be delivering a brand-new session, Identifying and Preventing Unauthorized Power BI Gateways. The current agenda has my session scheduled for Saturday, 18-March, but that is the provisional schedule and is subject to change.

    Hope to see you all in Wales in March!

    Power BI Learning Opportunity at SQLBits

    If you’ve been thinking about learning Power BI, I have a wonderful opportunity for you. I will be presenting, along with my friend and colleague Michael Johnson (Blog | Twitter), a full day of training at SQLBits on 8-March-2022. Our Training Day session is called Zero to Dashboard.

    Our session assumes you have no knowledge of Power BI, so if this is your first encounter with Power BI, no worries, we’ve got you covered. We will cover the Power BI ecosystem, talk about the importance of data cleansing and data modeling, introduce visualization best practices, and review governance considerations. We reinforce all these concepts through hands on labs that we go through as a group. By the end of the day, you will be able to create a dashboard. If you are one of those folks who need to do things multiple times before they “stick” (like me), you will walk away with the lab manual used in class so you can go through the labs again to help solidify what you have learned.

    SQLBits is a hybrid event this year, so if you cannot attend in person, no worries, you can attend virtually as well. If you are interested in attending, there are still registration slots available, but seats are limited, so don’t wait to long to register.

    Michael and I hope to see you there.

    Unable to Validate Source Query in Tabular Editor

    I recently encountered the error, “Unable to validate source query” when trying to refresh the metadata for the tables in my tabular model using Tabular Editor. I immediately googled that at came up with a great post by Koen Verbeeck (Blog | Twitter). I had never seen this error before and since my metadata refreshes had been working flawlessly for weeks, I was so excited when I found this post.

    Long story short, this post did not help me. I tried everything suggested, I ran my partition queries wrapped in SET FMTONLY ON and they came back instantaneously in SSMS. I added the TabularEditor_AddFalseWhereClause annotation from this thread. Neither worked. So wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

    My last-ditch effort was to add a new table to my model to see if I was even getting a successful connection to my data source. I was prompted for the password, which it had not done before when adding new tables or refreshing table metadata (for weeks). I was using a legacy data source (Azure SQL Database) w/ SQL Server Authentication. Once I supplied the password, I could see a list of available objects in my database. I cancelled out of the new tables dialog and clicked Refresh Table Metadata and winner-winner chicken dinner, no more “Unable to validate source query” error. Turns out my password “mysteriously disappeared” from my connection string.

    The moral of the story is: It’s not always zebras when you hear hoofbeats, sometimes it is horses.

    Hopefully, this post will help someone else waste significantly less time than I did on fixing this error.

    Bits Buddies

    SQLBits is fast approaching, in fact, Training Days start 2 weeks from today, on March 8, 2022.

    I’ve attended SQLBits before, as well as other large conferences, but I still remember the first conference I attended. I was attending on my own and didn’t know anyone at the conference. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I felt a bit ill at ease. Just seeing one friendly face would have made a world of difference.

    With this in mind, the good folks at SQLBits have created a program called Bits Buddies. It’s a program where first timers or those thinking about attending but aren’t quite sure yet, can reach out to a few folks who are not affiliated with SQLBits to provide insight into what SQLBits is about. It also gives you an opportunity to meet someone BEFORE you attend, so once you arrive, you will see at least one friendly face (actually we are all very friendly, but this is someone you will know!).

    I have volunteered to be part of the Bits Buddies program and would love to be that one friendly face for those that may be ill at ease. We are holding a few virtual drop-in sessions and would love to chat with you, so stop by and meet some friendly faces.

    I hope to see you there.


    I Still Can’t Believe It!

    I received my MVP award letter from Microsoft today.

    MVP Award 2021

    This will make the fourth time I’ve been awarded and I still can’t believe it.  I just wanted to help others on their technical journey the way others have helped me.  It was never a goal of mine to be an MVP, but it is so humbling to be recognized for my efforts.

    Thanks to all who came before me to set an example of how to give back and to those that find value in what I share.  I wouldn’t be receiving this award if it wasn’t for you.

    Data Saturday #8–Southwest US

    I am very excited to announce that I will be speaking for Data Saturday #8 – Southwest US, coming up on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

    I will be delivering my Profiling Your Data session.  I love this session, data profiling is a passion of mine and is too often overlooked.  Come join me to find out why you should be profiling your data and how to do it.

    This is a free virtual event with lots of great sessions by wonderful speakers, so come join us, I’d love to “see” you.

    Data Weekender v3.1

    I am super excited about this new version of Data Weekender, coming up on Saturday, May 15, 2021.  This will be the third time I have been selected to speak for this event.  It is truly humbling that the organizers have selected me once again.

    I will be delivering my Getting Started with Data Modeling session.  So, if you are interested in how to get started with modeling data for analysis and/or building out a dimensional model, this is the session for you.

    Data Weekender is a free virtual event and there are some really great sessions being offered by some fantastic speakers, so what are you waiting for?  Go register now and I’ll see you on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

    I hope to “see” there. 

    It’s Not Horrible, It’s Just Very Sad

    This is a non-technical post, but a necessary one for me.  If you’re only interested in technical content, that’s okay, you can stop reading, I won’t be offended (heck, I won’t even know).

    I have been a bit silent lately, the global pandemic has hit lots of folks hard; emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially.  I am no exception to those blows.  I come from a very stoic line of Brits (I’m second generation American), so I had been holding it all in and trying to put one foot in front of the other to make it through.  I was doing a good job too until something very sad happened to our family in June and I went almost completely silent.  I didn’t share it with anyone in the community, because that’s how I was brought up, stay stoic, be silent, chin up and move forward.

    A few years ago, I decided to take a step back from some of the Community work I had been doing (you can read about that here) so I could spend more time with my mom.  She has Alzheimer’s.  It runs in our family and it started in my mom at a relatively young age.  I wanted to be able to make as many new memories with her before should could no longer retain those new memories.

    We had some great adventures the last few years.  There were weddings, new babies in the family, and even a few road trips here and there.  She became more prolific in her quilt making.  She wanted to make sure everyone in the family had a quilt while she could still remember how to make them.

    We were trying to keep my mom living as independently as possible for as long as possible, so we bought the house across the street from ours for her about three years.  That way, she could live independently but I could also “keep an eye on her” from a distance.  From my office I could see her house and know that she was safe.

    Then the unthinkable happened in late May this year.  A medical emergency landed my mom in the ICU of the local hospital for a week.  Turns out, she was not taking her medication and hadn’t been for at least six months.  We almost lost her.  Her Alzheimer’s-y brain told her that she wasn’t sick and didn’t need to take medication.  Well, when you’re a Type 1 diabetic and don’t take your insulin, bad things happen.  It was made very clear to us that my mother had reached the point where, not only could she no longer live independently, but she would now need 24/7 care due to the complications of not taking her medications.

    We looked at all of our options for 24/7 care.  We even tried having one of my sisters live with her for a few weeks after she was released from the skilled nursing facility.  But it quickly became clear that none of us possessed the necessary skills to care for her.  I kept beating myself up for not being able to care for my mom, after all, she cared for me as a child, it was the least I could do.  But it came down to the fact that I do not have the skills necessary (nor do my sisters) to care for my mom in the manner that she needed to be cared for.  We needed to be sure that she was safe, getting her medication on a regular basis, and not wandering away.  Our only solution was a  memory care facility.

    As if this wasn’t a hard enough fact to accept, we also had to navigate this through the current global pandemic.  Not being able to visit when she was in ICU was hard, not being able to visit the potential memory care facilities to ensure my mom was in the best place possible was hard, but not being able to visit my now that she is in a memory care facility is the worst.  She doesn’t understand why we can’t visit or why she can’t leave and having to explain it to her over and over again breaks my heart.

    Throughout all of this, I had the voice of British stoicism whispering in my ear, but I was barely keeping it together.  I didn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat most of the time, and was generally very hard to live with.  Until one day, when I was going through my mom’s things in her house, getting it ready to sell.  I came across notebook after notebook where she was writing notes to herself so she wouldn’t forget things.  One of them had the names of all the people in her family along with all the names of the people in our family and what their relation was to her.  This broke me.

    I left the house and went to sit on the front porch, I couldn’t stand to be in there one moment longer.  As I came out, one of our lovely elderly neighbors was passing by.  She saw how distressed I was and wandered up to the porch to check on me.  I told her about my mom and how horrible it was that we had to move her to a memory care facility.  She looked at me and said, “It’s not horrible, it’s just very sad.”  She told me that cancer is horrible (she should know, she survived it) but memory care is not.  She said I made the right decision for my mom.  She was safe, she was getting her medications on a regular schedule, she was eating nutritious meals, and she was protected from wandering away.  She said my mom would make new friends and adjust.

    My neighbor was right.  The first week was a bit rough.  But now, six weeks into it, it’s her new “normal”.  We talk on the phone a few times a week, actually, I do most of the talking.  She often times can’t remember things when I ask questions or articulate what she wants to say, so I just talk about random stuff in my life.  We have had a new baby join our family since my mom moved to memory care.  We’ve told her several times about the new baby and every time is a surprise for her.  Most people would think of this as very sad, but I’m choosing to think of this as one of great joys of this disease.  She’s so excited and happy every time she learns she has a new great-grandbaby, even if it is the same one over and over again.  Can you imagine being that happy about the same thing every time?!

    I struggled for a long time on whether or not to write this post.  That British stoicism kept telling me to just keep marching on.  In the end I decided not only would it be cathartic, but after hearing my neighbor’s take on it, I thought I needed to share that with my #sqlfamily, just in case someone else is or has gone through this.  It’s been a very difficult three months for me, but I’m feeling better about it, and life in general, and am ready to start engaging with the community again.

    When Your Azure Data Catalog App Won’t Connect

    This year I created a new presentation for introducing Azure Data Catalog.  I love this product and think it has so much potential and everyone should be using it!  But I digress, so on to the matter at hand.

    Recently I was going through my demos prior to a presentation and discovered that some of my demos weren’t working, specifically the Azure Data Catalog app and the console app I wrote to demo the REST API.  Thankfully I had the foresight to create pre-recorded videos of my demos a few weeks earlier, so my panic level was quickly downgraded from Henny Penny to Eeyore.

    The thing that was throwing me for a loop was the error that I was getting,

    “We are unable to confirm that ‘’ is enabled for the Azure Data Catalog.

    If you believe you have received this message in error, please contact your catalog administrator with this code: 9fadc895-5ebf-4760-905c-88d4f707e708”.

    I could connect to the Azure Data Catalog portal with the same credentials I had been using for the ADC app and my console app, so I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  A semi-quick internet search revealed the answer, The OS updates that had been applied to my laptop a few days prior were the culprit as you can see in this forum question.

    I applied the accepted answer steps, rebooted and now my Azure Data Catalog app and console app using the REST API work once again.  Just in time for my next session this Saturday, 3-May-2020 for SQL Saturday Brisbane.  There are still registrations slots available, so go register now and hopefully I’ll “see” you Saturday.