Tag Archives: SQLPASS

Speaking At SalemSQL, A Kind Of Homecoming

I am so excited to announce that I will be giving my Data Types Do Matter session for the SalemSQL user group in Salem, OR on Thursday, November 1, 2018.

After being selected to speak in Seattle at the PASS Summit, I decided to reach out to the newly formed SalemSQL group to see if I could speak for them while I was in the neighborhood. They normally meet on Wednesdays, so I am very grateful that they were willing to shift their meeting day around to accommodate my travel schedule allowing me to present.

One of the reasons this is so exciting for me is that I spent a lot of my formative years in the Willamette Valley, just outside of Salem. My family moved around a lot when I was younger, but this is where I learned to drive, graduated from High School and got my very first job (no, it was not IT related). I have so many fond memories of the area and still have loads of friends and family there. I used to make the trip to visit at least once, and sometimes twice a year when I was lucky. My trips have dwindled off as the youngest members of our family have graduated, gotten married, had children and moved away, but I still welcome any chance I get to visit. Mostly for family and friends, but it’s also the only time I get to eat fresh Marionberry pie for breakfast. And who doesn’t love to eat pie for breakfast?!

If you are in the Salem, OR area on November 1, 2018 and have no plans for lunch, please stop by and say, “Hi”. I’d love to see you.

SQL Saturday Charlotte is Coming!

That’s right, SQL Saturday Charlotte is coming September 17, 2016.  Next to the annual PASS Summit, this is my favorite SQL Event!  This is the fifth year that the Charlotte BI Group (CBIG) has put on this great event.  They’ve expanded the event this year to include two Pre-Cons on Friday, September 16, 2016, one from BI and data analytics queen Jen Underwood and the other from performance guru Adam Machanic.  While the Pre-Cons aren’t free like the event on Saturday, they certainly are a bargain for an entire day of training with well known experts in their respective fields.

If you haven’t already registered, I’d suggest you do it now before they go to a wait list.  This event is always jam packed full of great sessions from great speakers, both local and national.

Oh yeah, I will be there.  I’m helping out again this year with registration, so be sure to say hello if you see me.  I am always happy to see my #SQLFamily.

Did you know?

Did you know that the call for speakers for PASS Summit 2016 opened on February 3, 2016?

Did you know that the call for speakers for PASS Summit 2016 ends on March 2, 2016?

Did you know that there’s a Speaker Resource Page?

Did you know that you can have your abstract reviewed confidentially BEFORE you submit it for the Summit?

Did you know that your abstract is being reviewed by members of the SQL community?

Did you know that this is the second year the Program team has offered this service?

Did you know that only 32 people took advantage of this service last year?

Did you know that even experienced speakers use this service?

Did you know that you only have until February 26, 2016, to submit an abstract for confidential coaching?

Did you know that you have nothing to lose?

So what are you waiting for?  You’ve been thinking about submitting for a while now but were unsure if your abstract was good enough.  Well, now you have no excuse, use the confidential coaching service and find out.

What Do You Want?

It’s that time of year, planning for PASS Summit 2016.  We’ve already put out the Call for Volunteers, which closes today, January 22, 2016, so get those applications in and be part of the team that helps determine content for the Summit.  Don’t want to volunteer but still want to help determine content for the Summit?  Then take the survey to tell us what you want to see.  It’s a quick survey, less than five minutes and you only have until Wednesday, January 27, 2016 to tell us what you want.  What are you waiting for, get to it!  You may even win a USB of the session recordings.

What would you like to see at Summit 2016?

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.

Becoming a PASS Chapter Leader – Challenge Accepted!

My first real introduction to PASS was back in 1998. I was an “Accidential DBA” and needed some training. I heard about this conference in Chicago and my boss agreed it was the best place to start. Little did I know how that conference would influence the rest of my career.

Fast forward to 2010, after taking a slight hiatus from SQL Server, I was ready to get back into it. What better place than a local user group? After moving over 1,600 miles (a couple of years earlier) from where I started my career in SQL Server, I needed to make some new local connections. That’s when I was introduced to the Triad SQL Server User Group. At the time, Miguel Cebollero (B | T) was the chapter leader. Miguel was so friendly and welcoming and I remember Kevin Goode was presenting a session on CLR and how it really is NOT the devil’s work, but a great tool if used correctly. I was hooked.

In early 2011, Miguel decided to move back to his home state of Florida and handed the reins over to Kevin. Kevin moved the meeting location from Winston-Salem to Greensboro and I attended meetings on a semi-regular basis, but let’s face it, life just gets in the way. By 2012, our meeting attendance started to drop off and a new BI Group had started up in Winston-Salem. It became obvious that something had to change. Kevin had the foresight to work with the new BI group and asked for volunteers to help him out with the chapter. I decided to step up as “Speaker Wrangler” and we worked out a schedule with the new BI group that would be mutually beneficial.

Now it’s 2015 and Kevin has taken on a new role in his company which means he has less and less time to devote to the user group. When Kevin approached me about taking over the user group I was both honored and excited (and a little scared) that he considered handing the reins over to me. I have accepted the challenge and I hope that I can continue to lead the group as well as both Kevin and Miguel did and provide a much needed resource to local SQL Server professionals.

We will be a little more active on social media, we tweet at @TriadSQL and use the #TriadSQL hashtag, and welcome any suggestions that will make your user group more useful to you.

Achievement Unlocked: 24 Hours of Pass Session Submitted

I have finally submitted a session for a speaking engagement. Those who know me know that this is a very BIG deal. I have a horrible fear of public speaking, but I am slowly starting to embrace that fear. Last year I presented at the Triad SQL BI User Group and I didn’t hyperventilate, no one was more surprised than me.

I submitted the same session that I did at the Triad SQL BI User Group, Introduction to Integration Services (SSIS), to the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS: Growing Our Community.

I wanted to be a teacher when I was in college until I discovered my fear of public speaking. Now, more than 20 years later, maybe I can finally reach that goal.

Fingers crossed that my session is accepted.

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?

Data Driven Subscription On A Budget, Part 2

Data Driven Subscriptions On A Budget – Part 2

Yes, this is Part 2, you can find Part 1 here to get background information.

This blog will talk about Point 3 – Distribute a report to a fluctuating list of subscribers.

Distribute a report to a (fluctuating) list of subscribers

When using email as your method of delivery for a Data Driven Subscription, best practice is to use metadata to drive that process. Usually a simple table that contains the email address of the recipient and the report name does the trick. This part of the process is no different if you don’t have Data Driven subscriptions. I usually create a table similar to this:

CREATE TABLE dbo.SSRSEmailSubscribers
(
EmailAddress varchar(128) NOT NULL
,ReportName varchar(128) NOT NULL
)

Let’s say I have a sales report that needs to go out on a daily basis and the standard format for this report is Excel. Because we don’t have data driven subscriptions, we can’t just query the table and use the resulting list to email the report. Instead we need to create a File Share subscription that generates this report and saves it to a file share. From there we can “pick up” the newly generated Excel file and email it to the recipients.

  1. Create a subscription to your Daily Sales Report in Report Manager, schedule it for a one time execution at a time just a few minutes in the future, and remember the execution time. (This creates the SQL Agent job in SQL Server.)
  2. Take a look at your SQL Agent jobs in SQL Server. If you have never seen or noticed a job created by SSRS, then you will be wondering where your job is because SSRS does not use human readable names for its jobs, it uses those pesky GUIDs as names, ugh! If your server has lots of jobs you may need to sort your jobs by Category to get all the “Report Server” jobs together. Find the job that executed at the time you scheduled (this is why you needed to remember the time!), this will be the job you will need to reference in the next step.
  3. Create a new SQL Agent job and add a step for Transact SQL script. In this new step you need to execute the SQL Agent job that you created back in step 1:

exec msdb.dbo.sp_start_job N'B514C05F-07D5-4C0B-9600-666E9980C7C3'

    where B514C05F-07D5-4C0B-9600-666E9980C7C3 is the GUID from the job that SSRS created.
  1. Next you will need to add a new job step for PowerShell. In this newly created step write your PowerShell script to get the file that was generated (as a result of executing the previous step) and retrieve your list of email addresses. Once you have this information you can send the email with the report attached. There are several ways you can do this, but I chose to use PowerShell. Since PowerShell requires a double quoted semicolon (;) delimited list of email addresses when using SMTP, I wrote my SQL query to return a double quoted semicolon (;) delimited list of the email addresses. You could have just as easily used PowerShell command-lets to format your list. Here’s my PowerShell script:

cd c:

$FilePath = "c:\temp\"
$smtpServer = "10.0.0.4"
$smtpFrom = noreply@email.com

$AddressQuery = "DECLARE @List varchar(MAX);"
$AddressQuery = $AddressQuery + "SELECT @List = COALESCE(@List + '"";""', '') + EmailAddress "

$AddressQuery = $AddressQuery + "FROM dbo.SSRSEmailSubscribers "
$AddressQuery = $AddressQuery + "WHERE ReportName = 'Daily Sales Report'; "
$AddressQuery = $AddressQuery + "SELECT '""' + @List + '""';"
Invoke-Sqlcmd -Query $AddressQuery -ServerInstance "MyServer" -Database "MyDatabase" -Variable $smtpTo

$messageSubject = "Daily Sales Report was executed"
$latest = Get-ChildItem -Path $FilePath -Filter "*.xlsx" | Sort-Object CreationTime -Descending | Select-Object -First 1

$FullFileName = $FilePath + $latest
$body = "Attached is the Daily Sales Report"
send-mailmessage -from $smtpFrom -to $smtpTo -subject $messageSubject -body $body -smtpServer $smtpServer -Attachments $FullFileName

Now schedule this newly created SQL Agent job for the time you need your Daily Sales Report to be executed and Wa-La, you now have a data driven subscription that distributes a report to a fluctuating list of email addresses.

I Didn’t Hyperventilate!

I gave what is officially my second presentation this week. I presented at the Triad SQL BI (Twitter | PASS) user group meeting and I didn’t hyperventilate! That’s a huge deal for someone like me, who is petrified of public speaking.

It started out a little rough though.

Timeline
Friday, 8/22 (just 4 days before presentation date) – I met Katherine Fraser (SQLSassy) for lunch and she mentioned that their scheduled speaker had just cancelled on them the day before. I asked her what she was going to do and she said unless I wanted to present for her, she had no idea. I jokingly said, “Yeah, sure, I’ll present”. Do not EVER, tell a chapter lead you will present, even if joking around because they will pounce on you! Lesson learned there. I agreed to present a very introductory session on SSIS. I then went home and started to panic.

Saturday, 8/23 – I woke up with a horrible sinus headache and thought I was in the beginning of nasty sinus infection. Now I really started to panic. I sent Martin to the drugstore to buy every sinus medication they had on the shelf. There was no way I could be sick, I could not cancel on Katherine after I had just agreed to present the day before. I proceeded to pound down some Emergen-C and drink about a gallon of water an hour for the rest of the day.

Sunday, 8/24 – I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to take part in the upgrade of major system at work. I felt about the same as Saturday. I pounded some more Emergen-C and worked until 11:30am. After we got the green light from the testers at 3:30 p.m., I went to bed and collapsed.

Monday, 8/25 – Woke up feeling much better, but not great. Pounded more Emergen-C. Started to work on my presentation. Did I mention that I didn’t have anything prepped for a presentation? I’m not a speaker, why on earth would I have a presentation ready to go? Got a call from my boss that the system upgrade wasn’t going so smoothly and had to start firefighting in production.

Tuesday, 8/26 – Presentation day. Got the word from my boss that the system upgrade was still up in the air, but none of the pieces that were broken were anything I could help with or fix. I started to work on my presentation. Just before lunch time I was told I had two conference calls I needed to participate in. Great, another two hours I don’t get to work on my presentation! Finally done with conference calls, when I got a call from my boss, we are rolling back the upgrade and I need to bring the old server back online. Luckily I had been able to create the content of the presentation and test it. I just didn’t have any time to do a practice run through. That was going to have to be enough, it was time to go to Winston-Salem.

I arrived in plenty of time, but I forgot: the power supply for my laptop, my external mouse, speaker evaluation forms and my list of things I needed to take with me to the meeting. Luckily my laptop was fully charged and didn’t die during the presentation (in fact I could have gone on for another 2 ½ hours, thankfully no one wanted to stay that long!). A mouse was provided by our wonderful host, Matt Clepper of Inmar, but not before I had a slight mishap using that @!#$%^& embedded mouse on my laptop. Katherine was well prepared and brought speaker evaluation forms. As for my list of things I needed to bring with me, well, I just had to “adapt and overcome”.

The presentation went pretty well, I didn’t hyperventilate. Sometimes you have to have a very simple goal, just survive without a trip to the ER.

Wrap up
Overall it was a good experience. I think I did a good job of presenting and the feedback I got reinforced that. There were some great ideas on what I could have done better and some great comments on what I did well.

Will I speak again? Probably. I’m not sure I’m ready for a SQL Saturday quite yet, but maybe another couple of times at UG meetings and I’ll think about it. A huge “Thank you” goes out to Katherine for taking a chance and believing in me.

Of course I didn’t sleep at all Tuesday night. I kept thinking, “I forgot to tell them…”