Tag Archives: data professional

The Whirlwind That Is October – Part 3

October has been such a whirlwind of PASS activity for me. Two SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. This post is about the PASS Summit in Seattle, October 27 through 30. You can read about my SQL Saturdays here and here. Settle in, get a cup of <insert caffeinated beverage of choice>, this is going to be a long one.

I arrived in Seattle on Saturday, October 24th. Since I spent a lot of my formative years in the Pacific Northwest, I usually go early and have family and/or friends meet up with me for the weekend, but this year life just got in the way so I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday wandering around Seattle alone doing touristy things and stocking up on souvenirs for those left at home.

Monday morning came bright and early and I headed over to RedGate‘s SQL in the City event. This is the fourth year that I’ve attended this event. It mostly showcases how to use RedGate products, but there are some other useful sessions as well. One that I particularly liked was the workshop that called on SSDT users. They broke us up into two groups and had a RedGater leading the conversation. I got to meet some new folks like Phil Helmer (B | T) and know that I wasn’t alone with some of my frustrations when using TFS in SSDT. Of course Bill Fellows (B | T) was there providing valuable insight as well. And yes Bill, I will blog about my build and deploy process sometime in the near future. I also got to meet Andrea Allred (B | T) in person. We had connected over Twitter via our musical interests and really hit it off in person. Andrea I can’t thank you enough for encouraging us to drive 4 hours to see The Struts (B | T), it truly was an experience I will never forget. I also got to officially meet Sheila Acker (T). She has been a familiar face for the last five years, but we officially met this year. So nice to finally meet you Sheila.

I ended my Monday by catching up with my dear South African friend Martin Phelps (B | T) at Rock Bottom Brewery. He has a lot of work ahead of him, he and his teammates are trying to make it to the World Championships of sky diving in April 2016. Good luck Martin!

I got to sleep in a bit on Tuesday before I hit my favorite hole in the wall eatery, Blue Water Taco Grill (BWTG). Let me just say that I LOVE BWTG. I live in High Point, NC, where they think that a good breakfast burrito is what you get at Chik-Fil-A during their breakfast hours – NOT! I miss my breakfast burritos from Pete’s Kitchen in Denver and while the one that I get at BWTG is not smothered in green chile, it does have chorizo in it – food fit for a king (or queen as it were). But I digress, on with the adventures of Tuesday.

Tuesday was a day for meetings, the SQL Saturday Organizer and Chapter Leader meetings. These were fabulous, got some great ideas for ways to advertise SQL Saturday and my local chapter. After my meetings I hung out with Andrea and her husband Ryan Allred (T) for a while talking music. We exchanged some of our favorite band names, which I am still going through. Then it was off to be a PASS Ambassador for the Welcome Reception. For those that don’t know me, this is my “Most favorite-est” (as my youngest niece would say) thing to do at Summit. I can’t stand up in front of a room of thirty people and present a session without almost hyperventilating, but I have absolutely no problem standing in a crowd of people and greeting them with smiles and assistance when needed.

If you couldn’t tell, I am a big music fan, so it was no contest when I found out that Florence + the Machine (B | T) was playing in Seattle on Tuesday night. After my PASS Ambassadorship ended, I skipped the volunteer party and headed straight to Key Arena. Florence did not disappoint, she performed barefoot (as usual) and was very “twirly”. After a very long day of nonstop action, I headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

Wednesday started off very early with being a PASS Ambassador once again. Did I mention that this is my favorite volunteer job at Summit? I was at the top of the escalators at 6:45 a.m. greeting attendees, speakers and sponsors. One thing that was new this year was the Ask Me! hand sign. I still haven’t found out whose brain child that was, but when I do, look out, you will be getting a serious #SQLHug from me. Most IT folks are such introverts that they seldom make eye contact with people, so the fact that I had a sign giving them permission to ask a question was AMAZING. I even had one attendee ask if he could have his picture taken with me and my sign (and if this was you, please share that pic, I didn’t get your name and would love to see how it turned out).

Since I was manning the top of the escalators until the start of the Keynote, I missed breakfast completely, so I headed over to BWTG for my morning burrito. I sat there eating my burrito and watching the Keynote – streaming live – Thank you PASS TV! After that I was able to attend the Microsoft Foundation Session on Business Intelligence. Man oh man, I can’t wait for SQL 2016, the enhancements to SSRS alone are enough to make me want to skip over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Lunch time came around and it was time to say fair well to outgoing Director Amy Lewis (B | T). Amy has been the Director with the Program Portfolio for the last two years and prior to that she was heavily involved in the Program Committee, so I have worked with Amy directly or indirectly for five years. I was sad to see her not run for the Board again, but I understand that life just gets in the way. We have a new fearless leader in Ryan Adams (B | T) and I can’t wait to work with him. I was able to make it to two more sessions in the afternoon, then it was on to the Exhibitor Reception. It was nice to get a chance to chat with some of the vendors and see their products. I also ran into more #SQLFamily than I can name here. I was also “coerced” into giving an interview for PASS TV. If you were unfortunate enough to see that take place, you now understand why I am not a speaker. If you did not witness it, be thankful and leave it at that.

The night ended with SQL Karaoke hosted by Pragmatic Works at Hard Rock Cafe. This is always a good time and this year was no exception. I only wish I could have stayed longer. I retired early as I was to be a PASS Ambassador once again at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

The highlight of Summit came when Lance Harra (T) was presented with the PASSion award during Thursday’s keynote. This was long overdue, Lance has been on the Program Committee in some shape or form for eleven years, being a Program Manager for the last three or four. As a member of the Program Committee for the last five years and now a Program Manager, I see how hard Lance works. Next time you see Lance, be sure to congratulate him. We are very proud of him.

Unfortunately this is the point during Summit when I come down with a nasty virus and miss Thursday afternoon and all of Friday. I ended up sleeping in my hotel room for the rest of the conference, missing out on some cool sessions and most importantly #SQLFamily time. I so wanted to catch up with Sebastian Meine (B | T) in the Community Zone to talk about tSQLt. I was also looking forward to hanging out with AZ (T) and so many others during the Community Appreciation party. But in true #SQLFamily fashion, AZ checked in on me every day until I made it home. Thank you AZ!

I ended up at Urgent Care on Sunday morning after I got home.  Needless to say my poor excuse for a respiratory system was in dire need of medical attention.  Four prescriptions and one shot in the butt later, I was sent home to rest and recuperate.

While my experience at Summit ended way too early, I still had a great time. If you’ve never attended a Summit, what are you waiting for? If you’ve attended before, I am so glad you came back and I hope to see you next year.

One last reminder – you can still submit session evals online until November 6, 2015 via the Guidebook app. So do it now! The speakers and the Program Committee need your feedback so we can continue to make Summit a success.

The Whirlwind That Is October – Part 2

October has been such a whirlwind of PASS activity for me. Two SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. This post is about the second SQL Saturday I attended in Charlotte, SQL Saturday #452, on October 17, 2015, where I was a member of the organizing team. You can read about my first SQL Saturday here.

I have been an attendee and volunteer for the SQL Saturday in Charlotte that is put on by CBIG for the last 3 years. This year I was approached by one of their fearless leaders, Rafael Salas (B | T), to help out as one of the organizers. How cool is that?!

Let me start by saying I love, absolutely love, helping out as an organizer.   But with that said, wow, it’s a whole lot of work! So the next time you attend a SQL Saturday, be sure to find the organizers and thank them for the event. They do this on their own time and don’t get paid for any of it.

Since I’ve volunteered for registration at several SQL Saturdays (in addition to Charlotte) over the past 4 years and I’ve been on the PASS Program Committee for six years, I decided I could be of most use helping out with speaker selection, session scheduling and registration on the day of the event.

We had a great team of organizers this year, Rafael Salas (B | T), Javier Guillen (B | T), Jason Thomas (B | T), Elizabeth Ricks (T), Don Sparks and me. In the past Melissa Coates (B | T) has been one of the organizers and even though she is not on the team this year she definitely deserves an honorable mention as she put a lot of the processes in place to help make sure things run smoothly. Thank you Melissa!

One of the reasons SQL Saturday was developed was to encourage local speakers. Well, the CBIG team believes in that mission wholeheartedly. We were able to accept sessions from all the local speakers plus some great regional/national speakers.

The event was held at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) again this year. It’s a great venue with lots of light and room. All the sponsors were wonderful and had great give-a-ways for the attendees. We only had one speaker cancel in the last week prior to the event and that was beyond his control – clients, what can you do?! Andy Leonard (B | T) was so gracious and stepped up to fill the empty slot without hesitation, Thank you Andy!

We changed things up for the speaker dinner on Friday night. Instead of having just speakers, we included our sponsors and some of our very dedicated volunteers and called it our Appreciation Dinner. The food was delicious and the venue was perfect. I had the opportunity to talk with some speakers and sponsors I’d never met before. Thank you to both groups for all that you do for the community, we wouldn’t be able to put on such a great event without your support.

There were 588 people registered and 328 people actually attend. That’s a 55% turn out, which isn’t great, but it is pretty good. We had some amazing volunteers there helping us out both the night before for setup and during the event on Saturday. This is the fourth year I’ve been involved with this SQL Saturday and it really does just keep getting better every year.

Needless to say the day of the event went by in the blink of an eye. One minute my alarm was going off at 5:45 a.m., the next we were headed out the doors to the after event party. Several speakers and volunteers joined us at the after event party at Grapes Bistro & Wine Bar. The food was spectacular and the setup of the venue allowed for an easy flow of conversation. Slava Murygin (B | T) was there to take lots of pictures too. BTW – You can view them here for the Appreciation Dinner and here for the Event and after event party. Thank you Slava for all the pics, you did a great job.

I’m kind of sad that it’s over, but I really do need to catch up on some sleep. I am looking forward to next year and hope that we will see you there.

Well done CBIG!

The Whirlwind That Is October – Part 1

October has been such a whirlwind of PASS activity for me. Two SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit. This post is about the first SQL Saturday I attended in Raleigh, SQL Saturday #445, on October 10, 2015, where I was both volunteer and attendee.

This event is put on by the Triangle Area SQL Server User (TriPASS). Brett Tomson (L | T) has long been the leader of this group but recently handed the reigns over to Kevin Feasel (L | T). Kevin and Brett did a great job. They had awesome speakers, great sponsors and wonderful volunteers (yes, I am including myself in that).

This year’s event was at a new venue, William Peace University. It was a smaller venue than last year, but it worked. It’s a beautiful campus with very friendly staff who were willing to help out in any manner they could.

Being the morning person that I am, I got up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday to make the 90+ mile drive to Raleigh. I helped out with registration in the morning, which is always one of my favorite volunteer activities. You get to see EVERYONE that’s attending; speaker, sponsor and attendee alike. It gives me a chance to give #sqlhugs to my #sqlfamily to start the day off.   What could be better than that?!

I was able to attend two sessions, which were fabulous. Then I finished off my volunteer duties by taking lunch tickets at the Dining Hall. That’s right, I said Dining Hall. Because we were at WPU, the organizers were able to take advantage of the campus Dining Hall and the people that staff it. There was quite the selection from the salad bar, sandwich bar and dessert bar. The only bar missing was the bar with alcohol, but we still had afternoon sessions, so I guess that was for the best. This is the first SQL Saturday that I’ve attended where lunch was not brought in. I’m sure it was nice for the organizers because they didn’t have to worry about getting volunteers to help with lunch setup, wrangling coolers for soda/water or clean up and attendees had a very wide selection to choose from.

After lunch I was able to go visit the vendors and chat with them while attendees were in session. I even snagged one of the coveted bacon scented T-shirts from Micron (be forewarned, even after three washings it still smells like bacon).

After getting up so early, I was spent, and since I had to make the 90+ mile trip home, I decided to head home early. I missed the end of the day raffle and after event party, but I hear they were both entertaining, to say the least.

Huge thank you and congratulations goes out to the organizers of SQL Saturday #445, job well done.

Summit 2014

It’s hard to believe it’s over.  It felt like a whirlwind while I was in Seattle for my 7th PASS Summit, but now that I’m back home it feels like it was ages ago.  I think time moves more quickly when you’re with friends and that’s where I was, with friends.

I got to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.  I didn’t attend nearly as many sessions as I would have liked, because let’s face it, cloning technology isn’t quite where it needs to be as Michael Keaton found out in Multiplicity.  With my luck my “Number Four” would have attended one of Paul Randal‘s sessions and I would have wound up doing God knows what to my servers when I got back.

I also got to meet people that I have “worked” with for quite a while virtually, but never met in person.  I must say it’s always refreshing when their “in person” exceeds your expectations.  There are so many genuinely nice people in our community, I am truly in awe.

In years past I have not been able to participate in most of the after-hours activities due to Summit happening right before a big annual swim meet, which meant I couldn’t take a break from training.  This year, my swim meet was the week before Summit so I didn’t need to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to make it to practice before breakfast.  I got to see how the “other half” lived at Summit this year.  I must say it was eye opening and entertaining.  They don’t have next year’s swim meet on the calendar yet, but I have the Summit dates, so next year’s meet just may have to go on without me.

If you’ve ever attended a PASS Summit, you know what I’m talking about when I say I’ve already started the count down until next year’s Summit.  If you’ve never attended a Summit, what are you waiting for?

Summit 2012 is over, but not forgotten

What a whirlwind last week was.  There were so many sessions to attend and only one of me.  I needed to clone myself a couple of times over in order to catch all the sessions that I wanted to see.  Unfortunately, that technology is nowhere near ready, so I had to choose wisely.

I attended Jason Strate’s (@StrateSQL) session on Extended Events, which was awesome.  I have used extended events in the past, but not to the extent in which he covered.  Wearing the DBA hat again after so many years of not wearing it, this session will be a time saver for sure.

I attempted to attend Bob Ward’s (@bobwardms) session on SQLOS, but was turned away 10 minutes before the session started because it was already full.  Lesson learned here:  Stake out my spot in Bob Ward’s sessions even earlier next year.  He is a smart dude and a great speaker.  Looking forward to the recordings being released so I can see it.

I attended a couple of sessions with Matt Masson (@mattmasson), including the BI Power Hour, which are always fun and educational – Thank you Matt (& Mr Wiggles) for making learning so much fun!

I was also able to attend one of my SQL Heroes’ sessions, Kalen Delaney (@sqlqueen), on the internals of columnstore indexes.  Kalen Delaney is so smart it makes my brain hurt.  I started out as a fan of hers when I purchased my first SQL Internals book about a million years ago.

After all these years, I finally got to attend a session with Kevin Kline (@KEKLINE) and David Klee (@kleegeek) on Virtualization.  Wow, the depth of knowledge between these two surpasses the Mariana Trench.

Wrapped up my Summit experience with a couple of sessions on Visual Studio 2012, a.k.a., SQL Server Data Tools.  I was looking forward to seeing Gert Drapers of MS, but his cohorts, Barclay Hill & Adam Mahood, did just fine without him.  Also picked up a few new things from Robert Cane (@arcanecode) on the GUI.

Thank you to all the speakers for taking the time to share your knowledge with the SQL world.

Thank you to all the volunteers and PASS HQ staff.  It would not have been as successful without you.

Paying it Forward

My company has recently put forth an effort to hire fresh college graduates and interns.  I think this is a great thing.  A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I was a fresh graduate, with no real world experience and my first employer took a big chance in hiring me.  I was really lucky with my first employer, I had a couple of fabulous mentors that taught me not just technical skills, but life skills, that I still use today.  Employers are getting in on the ground floor and it’s in their best interest to invest resources in what will hopefully be a long, successful and rewarding career.  “Paying it forward”, as it were.

As a data professional, there are some essentials will make your life so much easier down the road.  The first one is Standards and Best Practices.  Establish these early and they will become habit.  Now I could drone on forever about particular Standards and Best Practices, but that’s not my point.  My point is that if you start off your career by adhering to standards and best practices, it won’t come as a shock to you later when they are forced upon you.  You may not like the particulars of them, but it won’t feel so icky the first time you have to use them if you are used to following something.  In working with our new employees, I always take the time to point them to our standards and explain why we have them.   They are always appreciative of this, especially the explanation.

Another essential is code review.  This is a big bang for your buck.  It’s a learning experience for everyone involved.  We use an Agile Methodology in our development life cycle.  So our teams are fairly small, they usually consist of two to three general developers a technical architect and a data architect or DBA type person.  Following the Agile Methodology, anybody should be able to work on anything in the product/iteration back log.  For the general developer, they can usually write T-SQL, but most times it won’t be nearly as efficient (or dare I say pretty) as if the data architect/DBA type person wrote it.  Code review allows for the team to become familiar with a task they are not directly involved with and provides valuable feedback to the person who wrote it.  They may not be as familiar with the subtleties of the business rules or have no idea that when you use three nested select statements in the predicate you will most likely end up doing a table scan on that table with 30 million records, three times!  All they know is that their query returns and it returns the correct answer.

Take the time to “pay it forward”, it can only benefit you in the long run and the person you “paid” will be that much better for it.