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 ‘myaddress@mymaildomain.com’ 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.

I’m Speaking at #SQLSatBrisbane

I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, in fact we have a trip planned for Martin’s 60th birthday in a couple of years.  But with all that’s happened in this social distancing world, we’re not sure if it will even be possible by then.  So, when SQL Saturday Brisbane (986) decided to go virtual, I jumped at the opportunity to attend and possibly even present.  I submitted my sessions and crossed all my fingers and toes.  I am excited and honored to announce that I’ve been selected to speak at this event on May 30, 2020!

I will be delivering my Intro to Azure Data Catalog session.  I really like this session, so many people have no idea that it exists, let alone what it can do for you.  To be able to see the light go on in their eyes during this session is the absolute best.  Even though I won’t be able to see their faces, because it’s a virtual event, I am still super excited.

Join me “down under” for what will be a fantastic event with 28 different sessions being offered by some really great presenters.  There’s still time to register.

I’m Speaking at #DataWeekender

With all our in-person events cancelled for the foreseeable future, I was so excited to find that some community folks are not sitting back and waiting for the social distancing to end in order to have a technical conference.  There is a new virtual technical conference created by some wonderful community folks in Europe, called Data Weekender.

I am so excited and humbled to have been selected to speak at this conference.  I will be presenting my Data Types Do Matter session on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

There are so many great sessions being offered by so many brilliant community people, take a look at the schedule and see for yourself.

If you’re not too busy washing the car in the drive or removing gum from that tangled mess of toddler hair, come join us.  I’d love to “see” you.  There is still time to register, so what are you waiting for?  Register now!

I am a #DataWeekender Supporter!

I’m Speaking at #SQLSatRVA

I am super excited, and humbled, to have been selected to speak at the very first PASS virtual SQL Saturday, SQL Saturday Richmond, on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

I find it very fitting that my first virtual SQL Saturday will be for Richmond.  As some of you know from previous posts, Richmond holds a special place in my technical heart.  It is the first SQL Saturday I was ever accepted to speak at three years ago.  It was the first SQL Saturday to allow me to do a pre-con.  But most importantly, Richmond is where I got to drive a go kart for the very first time in my life.  All these firsts are thanks to Wayne Sheffield (B | T).  He’s the lead organizer for SQL Saturday Richmond.

I will be presenting my Intro to Azure Data Catalog session.  It was a huge hit with our local user group when I presented it back in January this year.  If you’re “jones-ing” for a SQL Saturday fix, then get registered and stop on by.  There are some great sessions being offered and I’d love to “see” you.

I’m Speaking at #DataPlatformDiscoveryDay

We are living in some very interesting times and the technical conference community is facing some challenges like it never has before.  So many in-person events have been postponed or cancelled.  For those who are speakers, like myself, this have been very challenging.  I have worked from home for over eight years, so the new “norm” is just the same old same old for me.   But I used my speaking engagements as a way to connect with others in the tech community on a fairly regular basis.  Now that this has been put on hold for who knows how long, I’m having a tough time staying connected.

I am very fortunate that I work in an area that is still very much in high demand and still employed, unlike many others who have been furloughed or laid off.  With so many people unemployed now more than ever in the world, many of those folks are contemplating a career change.  Thankfully, I have a fellow Data Platform MVP in the US who has partnered with a colleague in Europe to bring a new kind of tech conference to those who are looking to break into the data platform arena.  Oh, and it’s virtual – and it’s free! So you don’t have to leave your home and if you are on a tight budget, you don’t have to spend a thing.

I am so honored to have been selected to speak at this first of it’s kind, beginner-virtual-free conference, Data Platform Discovery Day.  I will be presenting my What is Power BI session, so if you’ve ever wondered about Power BI and have some free time on your hands, then come join me on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.  There are lots of great introductory sessions out there, here’s the US sessions list and the European sessions list.  There’s still time to register for the US Sessions or register for the UK sessions.

I hope you are all doing well and staying home and staying safe.

I’m Speaking at #SQLSatSpokane

I am super excited to announce that I have been selected to speak at SQL Saturday Spokane on March 21, 2020.  Not only have I been selected to speak, but I’ve been selected to give a pre-con on Friday, March 20, 2020 as well.

I will be delivering my Power BI Zero to Dashboard pre-con.  This is a full day introductory session to Power BI that focuses on: introducing the Power BI eco-system, what it can and cannot do for you; the importance of data cleansing and modeling;  and data visualization best practices.  My target audience is those that have little to no experience with Power BI, but want to learn more.  If this sounds like something you could benefit from you can Register Here.

I will also be delivering my What is Power BI? session on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

If you’re in the Spokane area on Saturday, March 21, 2020, stop by and say, “Hello”.  I’d love to see you and chat.  There are still registration slots open, so register now.