Hope Foley's Blog

Another day in the life of a SQL Server DBA

SQLFamily, I Have An Idea and I Need Your Help April 22, 2016

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 12:41 pm
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Have you ever had an idea for something and it completely haunts you? Something that pops in your brain all the time and keeps you up at night? Something where it feels like the universe NEEDS you to do it? I have had this idea brewing for a long time and I now have some key pieces in place to finally get it out there so it can stop haunting me.

***

First a little history to understand a portion of the inspiration behind this. Back in middle school and early high school, I hung out with a group who got into a LOT of trouble. There are some situations I look back on where my future was sitting on the edge of a knife. If I had zigged many days, instead of zagging, my life could be completely different. I have a lot of friends who didn’t finish high school and went down paths that are hard to reverse, living paycheck to paycheck. My home town of Anderson, IN and hell my family is completely full of people I’d like to help get on a different path.

1990CokeLobby

If you can imagine, this was an era of questionable judgement.  Photo isn’t the best quality but gets across the point. 🙂

 

So with those folks in the back of my mind, I also see the greatness of the SQL community and the WEALTH of resources out there for free. I also hear over and over that we don’t have enough people to fill these data related jobs. I know that recruiters hit me up all the time. So if I can reach someone out there who is ready to go down a different path and is motivated to put in the work, we can change some lives!

 

 ***

Now SQLSaturdays are already reaching people and changing lives. They changed my life, without a doubt. But I know I have met beginners at those who are intimidated and scared when they attend. Can you imagine going into a SQL internals class when you are brand new to the scene? Hell they may give up right then and say screw it, this stuff is way over my head. So at SQLSaturday Indy I’m going to setup a total beginner track. I’ll be giving the first session of the day where it will be an easy intro into the different data related career paths you can take. Then the rest of the sessions in that track will dig a bit deeper into each one. These sessions will explain high level concepts and the kinds of work you would be doing. And of course, giving details of where they can find more information after they figure out which avenue intrigues them.

 ***

This is where I need your help SQLFamily! I need people to assist with these area focused sessions. Will need 5-6 sessions to fill out the rest of the track. These are the ones I’m thinking now but am open to suggestion (beggers can’t be choosers).

  1. Database Admin
  2. Database Development
  3. Business Intelligence
  4. Big Data/Analytics
  5. Other??

I also want to start a way to help keep in touch and connect with these people as they go out into the world after SQLSaturday Indy. Seeing how well Twitter and some hashtags work, I’m starting another one called #SQLStarter. We can use it to help answer questions, and point these beginners to new resources. I also would like to start making recruiters aware of it as well so they can post jobs appropriate for beginners.

 ***

So there…the idea is out there and hopefully the universe will stop haunting me to do this. Hoping this is the spark and the beginning of something spreads to other SQLSaturdays/User Groups/whatever. And as kumbaya froo froo as it sounds, feels great to put some good out into the world!

 

Let the SQLSaturdays for 2014 Begin! February 12, 2014

After my normal holiday hiatus from speaking, nice to get out to some early SQLSaturdays to begin this year.  First up was Nashville.  The Nashville event is great for so many reasons but it holds an ooey gooey sentimental spot in my heart.  Nashville was where I gave my first presentation at a SQLSaturday.  It was also being led by my dear friend/sqlfamily, Tamera Clark (twitter|blog) so I just HAD to go.  It was about 5 hours from me so I drove down on Wednesday.  Went down little early to do some work on a project.  My BlueGranite colleague, Josh Fennessy, (twitter|blog) was also speaking so took opportunity to work with real live person, in person!

Speaker dinner in Nashville

Speaker dinner in Nashville

SQLSaturday events began with the speaker dinner was at a very funky place called Saffire.  It was in an interesting old factory.  Good food, good beer, and plenty of catch up time.

More speaker party in Nashville

More speaker party in Nashville

Event day comes early to setup the booth for BlueGranite.  So extremely proud that my company helps to support these events!  We meet great people all over for both opportunities but especially for recruiting.  I know the last 4+ people hired at least seem to have been plucked from the SQL Server community.  Just a fantastic thing!

We just have no fun at these events.

We just have no fun at these events.

After time chatting up folks at the BlueGranite booth I head to the WIT panel discussion.  Wendy Pastrick (twitter|blog) was the moderator.  The super lovely panel included Arlene Gray (twitter|LinkedIn), Rie Irish (twitter), Julie Smith (twitter|blog), and myself.  It was a nice refreshing discussion that had very little to do with gender.  The topic was just in general how to keep the young whipper snappers going into IT positions.  One of my favorite points was made by David Maxwell (twitter|blog).  He expressed that folks in IT like to complain and rant.  It’s how we bond and let off steam which is fine.  We should also be aware though if we always are stressing the negative.  We like our jobs and it drives a lot of passion in us.  We need to make sure, especially with young ones, not to let the complaints always take over the conversation.

***

After that was my session on SQL Server server performance.  It went pretty well.  I got some great ideas to tweak that presentation from Rob (twitter|blog) and Julie.  Thanks guys!

***

After my session I was able to catch Denny Cherry’s (twitter|blog) presentation on indexing internals.  He’s on the west coast so not very often outside of Summit that I am able to catch him speak so was excited about that.  Excellent stuff!

Denny going over index internals

Denny going over index internals

People streaming in for the prize drawings to wrap up Nashville.

People streaming in for the prize drawings to wrap up Nashville.

Up next was Cleveland this past weekend.  I missed Cleveland last year and pretty much made up my mind then and there that I would not miss it this year.  As I was submitting, started looking at the schedule and then began to have a bit of organizer envy.  It was really a phenomenal line up and was honored to be a part of it.  So Friday I get some work done in the morning and then drive over in time to make it to the speaker dinner.  The dinner was at an Italian restaurant and they had a nice sit down meal.

Speaker dinner in Cleveland.

Blurry but here is speaker dinner in Cleveland.

Saturday began again very early to setup the BlueGranite booth.  Again very proud for being a sponsor for this event and for such a strong presence of speakers.  Cory Stephenson (twitter|LinkedIn) also helped organize the event.  I spent most of the day at the booth having great conversations.  The booth had a nice spot right next to the curly slide.  Yes I said slide, no typo there.  Hyland Software’s building had a couple slides…how cool is that?!

Opening remarks by Tom LaRock

Opening remarks by Tom LaRock

View from the booth next to the slide.

View from the booth next to the slide.

My presentation was in the afternoon and it went pretty well.  I gave my most favorite session…spatial data.  The conversation during that session gave me a lot of great ideas for making some tweaks to it.  Thank you very much to those who came and gave feedback.  Check out my favorite feedback from David Maxwell’s 11 year old daughter below.

***

What could the speaker do differently to improve? – I saw some confused faces in the crowd.  Check to make sure everybody is on the same page before you move on to the next bit of your presentation. 

***

11 years old!  And excellent advice!  David make sure when she enters the workforce that she sends me her resume!  Also really wonderful you took her to a SQLSaturday as well.  I hope she enjoyed it!  I am hoping to take my daughter to one this summer as well.  Love seeing the little ladies being exposed to great people in the technical field.

Grant goes uni-bomber

Grant goes uni-bomber

The after party was at Dave and Busters.  It was nice to sit and relax after a long day.  Had some very interesting conversation with sqlfamily that included zombies and tilapia (don’t ask).  After that was some Cards Against Humanity.

CAH time!

CAH time!

The next morning catch some breakfast with some SQL Family before heading back home.  The snow overnight made the journey back a little stressful.  The roads were really horrendous through most of Ohio.  Just another hit from the winter without end.  I still would do it again.  Both events were top notch and thank you for having me.  Will be taking some ideas back for the next SQLSaturday in Indy (shameless plug pointer to website here).

 

PASS Summit 2013 – Part 3 November 4, 2013

Filed under: PASS,PASS Summit,Presentations — hopefoley @ 2:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Friday

The beginning of the end day at Summit began and doesn’t take long to start running into people leaving and the good byes begin.  It’s so nice catching up with people that you may only see once a year, definitely sad when it’s over.  I made it in time to catch Lenny Lobel’s (blog) session on spatial data.  He was such a vital role in my learning of spatial data, was very excited to see his session.  He concentrates more on the development side so nice seeing some applications involving spatial data.  And also one of his queries helped to trigger a potential method to help me with an interesting question I got while in Orlando.  After his session I went to the Birds of a Feather luncheon.  It’s a lunch where they have tables that contain topics and assign some expert resources to sit at them.  It’s a great one and I always have good conversation.  I ended up sitting with folks at the replication table.  Interesting hearing some experiences with it and some large applications using it.

PASS Board Q&A

PASS Board Q&A

After lunch I made it over for the PASS Board Q&A.  It is an opportunity to ask the entire panel of board members questions.  If you have any issues or concerns, it’s the one opportunity I know of to get them answered directly.  I didn’t have any grievances to air but it normally is good conversation and nice to hear the thinking behind decisions made.  It was very interesting to hear outcomes of the BA Conferences since it was a new endeavor.  Next I went to a session on Always On that was done by a customer panel.  I love hearing people and their experiences!  This panel contained people who have some very challenging environments.  Enjoyed hearing what they had implemented to assist in those challenges.  After that was the last session of the day and Summit.  I went to see my friend and colleague at BlueGranite, Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) and his session on Excel 2013 for analytics.  It was an excellent session and I’ve already used some of the material I learned there.  Josh always seems so very relaxed in his sessions.  I knew he was a little nervous and it was almost sickening how it didn’t show AT ALL.

Always On Customer Panel session

Always On Customer Panel session

Josh in his session on analytics in Excel 2013

Josh in his session on analytics in Excel 2013

And then it was over!  I went over to the community zone again to make sure to say goodbye to as many as I could.  I then went with a large group of SQLfamily to a nice dinner at Fleming’s.  It was very relaxing to sit down to a great meal where they brought the food to me.  After that went to Dillinger’s for one last drink and called it an early night since my flight was fairly early next morning.

Warning: Mushy Content to Follow

<mush>

It was so great seeing so many wonderful SQL family members!  I have said several times that getting involved in this community has forever changed my life and career!  I couldn’t help reflecting on things at Summit since I got to speak this year after trying for so long.  I am honored to be considered caliber to speak at this wonderful event!  I am so grateful to the extremely long list of people in the community who helped encourage me to get out there and helped stop some of the negative voices in my head.  You know the ones saying things like “who wants to hear what you have to say when they have <insert super smart other speaker> out there giving sessions”.  I am still just amazed at the good nature of this community and I will keep making sure I do my part to make sure it stays that way.

</mush>

 

SQLSaturday 200 Philly June 14, 2013

The other weekend I had the great pleasure of heading over to Philadelphia again this year to speak for the 200th SQLSaturday.  200?!  Just amazing!  This event was great!  So great it got me very amped up about my local SQLSaturday.  So much so that I’m a little later than normal getting this post out due to kicking my planning of SQLSaturday 242 into high gear.  But wanted to make sure to get this post out to document another really great event.
***
Travels over to Philly were pretty uneventful.  My fellow Indy compadre, Eddie Wuerch (blog|twitter) was speaking as well and was on the same flight.  He was even kind enough to drive Miss Daisy Miss Hope to all the events!  Thanks again Eddie…many good SQLSaturday karma points to you!  The speaker dinner was really great!  The weather was good again this year so allowed us to sit out in a very nice patio area at the restaurant.  It was held at McKenzie Brew House which had excellent selection of beers which you know wins points in my book.  AND they had great food!  Excellent choice organizers and thank you again!
SQLfamily congregates at the speaker dinner

SQLfamily congregates at the speaker dinner

So the morning of the event I get up extra early to do one more run through of my presentation since I had added some new things and it had been awhile since I had done this session.  Then head over to the event and catch Brian Moran’s (twitter|blog) session, “Awesome coaching questions every geek, analyst, leader, and consultant must know”.  Being a consultant, I was interested and the title even told me I HAD to know these questions so I went.  It was a really good engaging conversational session.  One of my favorite questions was “What does success look like with this project?”.
"Can't ask good questions if you are not listening well."

“Can’t ask good questions if you are not listening well.”

My session, “My SQL Server is Not Slow for Pete’s Sake! – Server Side Performance Analysis”, went well and got some good constructive feedback.  I made a huge presenter mistake though and I’m still kicking myself!  I have in the past forgotten to plug my laptop in before getting started.  I’m normally very antsy to get hooked up to the overhead and make the words come up on the screen.  Normally I keep talking while I’m getting my power cord situated and it’s not a big deal.  Well remember how I did a run through that morning?  I forget to put my laptop power cord in my backpack!!  Thank the heavens Josh Lynn (twitter|blog) had a Dell as well and was even sitting in a prime location to where he took care of plugging it in while I kept talking!  Josh…my hero!  Thank you so much again!
***
After that was the WIT panel discussion.  The panel included myself, Melissa Demsak (twitter), Kevin Boles (twitter), and Kevin Goff (twitter|blog).  It was led by Sharon Dooley.  We had some great conversation.  I love it when we have someone speak up in the discussion and I feel myself wanting to say “Amen” at end of their statements.  It’s the whole reason I am involved in PASSWIT, for those moments.  I had one in there when one woman stated how she isn’t a “woman architect, she’s a professional”.
The audience at the WIT discussion

The audience at the WIT discussion

Next I caught the wonderful, Mike Hillwig’s (twitter|blog) session on VLFs.  He’s one of those great to talk to folks and his sessions are that way too.  He had some slight bumps in his demos due to last minute change of hardware.  The brave soul was until a few minutes before planning to present from his Surface Pro.  I love his section of disclaimers including “assume I am an idiot” in reference to not trusting content and slapping it into production.
Mike telling us what the VLF

Mike telling us what the VLF

After that session I went to Wayne Sheffield’s (twitter|blog) session, “Table Vars & Temp Tables – What you NEED to Know!”.  This was my absolute favorite session of the day!  Wayne is an MCM and eww buddy it shows! I was so into the content I forgot to get a picture and I don’t think I’ve ever done that.  Normally my ADD kicks in and distracts me enough to snap a picture.  There was so much great information on table variables and temp tables, I was really blown away!  He even cracked open a hex editor!  So with such good content I was able to forgive him when he bout gave me a heart attack when there was an unexpected “boom” sound effect in his slides.  Very well done Wayne!  If you have a chance to see this session, highly recommend it!
***
The last session of the day I caught a little bit of Dominic Falso’s “Introduction to Spatial Data in SQL Server”.  I couldn’t resist a session on spatial data since I have one as well.  The intrigue of seeing how someone else presents the material was too much.  He did a good job as many of the conceptual pieces can be a bit dry.
Dominic Falso going over spatial data

Dominic Falso going over spatial data

Then after the prize raffle headed to Joey’s house for the after party.  Bravo to your bravery again this year hosting the party at your house, Joey!  It was a very nice shindig again this year and thank you again!  Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers for well done event!  Appreciate you all having me out again this year!
 

Sidelines no more! Speaking at the PASS Summit! May 28, 2013

Filed under: PASS Summit,Presentations,Uncategorized — hopefoley @ 12:57 pm
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This time last year I was partaking in a Twitter pity party for fellow folks who had gotten the thanks-but-no-thanks-better-luck-next year letters from PASS Summit selection committee.  I was used to it.  I have submitted to speak at the PASS Summit regularly for the last few years but was denied each time.  This year I am skipping the pity party because I got selected!!!  I will be presenting one of my favorites, spatial data, to the fine folks in Charlotte!  I am so excited but a bit out of sorts since I haven’t been in this spot yet but have wanted to be for so long.  Making me think of dogs who chase cars, they wouldn’t know what to do if they caught one.  This dog caught a car!  I have had this as a top one on my professional wish list, what next?  I will need to come up with some new goals and new cars to chase.
To my peeps having the pity party, keep your heads up and keep on kicking butt out there!  You’ll catch that car next year.  And until then I’ll tip my 40 IPA to my homies!  Well no I won’t tip beer since that’s wasteful but I will definitely drink this one in your honor!
Here's one for you!

Here’s one for you!

 

SQLSaturday 211 Chicago – Finally A SQLSaturday Fix April 28, 2013

Hard to believe but this was my first SQLSaturday of the year! Lately I have done a decent amount of user group presentations which are great, but there’s something special about a SQLSaturday.  Chicago’s was right after the PASS BA Conference so became an extension of some really great SQL goodness. I left straight from the last session to head over to Addison to get to the speaker dinner.  The dinner was at La Hacienda so caught up with friends over margaritas and good food.  We got a really nice, unique speaker gift: a solar powered phone charger.  The tree hugging hippie in me loves that!  Thank you again organizers!

***

Morning comes and I get to the venue at the DeVry campus just a hair before the first sessions start.  I head over to the speaker room and chat for just a few minutes.  Just then an attendee comes in to let us know that they had no speaker show up!  Ross LoForte and Ted Krueger (blog|twitter) rush over to the room to save the day.  Luke Jian (blog|twitter) and myself quickly follow to assist them.  It turned into a really good discussion with the attendees over different aspects of being a DBA.  The session evals were all very good so it worked out and very nice of everyone to jump in and assist.

Ted and Ross stepping in for a surprise spontaneous discussion on being a DBA.

Ted and Ross stepping in for a surprise spontaneous discussion on being a DBA.

From there I head to Erin Stellato’s (blog|twitter) session “Making the Leap from Profiler to Extended Events”.  She is such a stellar speaker and this was a fantastic topic.  I was a bit jealous of the topic that I didn’t think of it since it is a super common issue.  Extended events is one of those features that are great but just is taking the masses a long time to come around to using.  She did a good job showing it’s not such a beast anymore and some great things from Jonathan Keyhayias (blog|twitter) to make it even more helpful like his script to take a trace and convert to extended events.  Bravo Erin!

Erin showing folks there's nothing to be afraid of with extended events.

Erin showing folks there’s nothing to be afraid of with extended events.

After that I caught some lunch with a unicorn!

Who doesn't love lunch with a unicorn.

Lunch with a unicorn is supposed to be magical…not disturbing right?

Next I caught Josh Fennessy’s (blog|twitter) “Demystifying BISM and Tabular Mode SSAS” session.  I was caught off guard right away when he started as he said he had no slides.  Say what now?!  He did full session just talking and writing things out on the whiteboard.  I was really surprised and impressed at how well it worked too.  He had some of the best interaction with the audience I have seen maybe ever.  I feel like I would flounder like a fish doing something like that unless I practiced it like a fiend.  You rebel you, Mr. Fennessy!

Slides?! Josh don't need no stinking slides!

Slides?! Josh don’t need no stinking slides!

For the next session I head to Neil Hambly’s (blog|twitter), “SQL Server 2012 Memory Management”.  I am always surprised at how little presentations there are on memory within SQL Server, at least that I have seen.  He did a good job though there were some quirks in demos.  I knew talking to him earlier he had laptop issues plague him.  Still was a great amount of info given and majority of demos went fine.

Neil going over memory management in SQL Server 2012.

Neil going over memory management in SQL Server 2012.

And last session of the day was when Ted and I gave our session on consulting.  It is always fun to do this one!  I was especially excited after hearing from someone who saw it in Minnesota a few months ago.  He immediately went from our session to a consulting booth who had sponsored the event and began talking to them.  They ended up hiring him and he’s enjoying the change.  How cool is that?!  Someone’s life was made better by a session I gave…there will never be better feedback than that!  Session went really well and we had a lot of interaction.  Always great too when other consultants come and participate.  Thank you Allan Hirt (blog|twitter) and Rick Krueger (blog|twitter) for adding the perspective and experiences of a independent consultant!  And thanks again Ted!

***

Thank you to the SQLSaturday Chicago team for having me as a speaker again and putting on a fantastic event!  Thanks also to my friends and SQLfamily for just being splendiferously (make sure I get credit for that new word) wonderful!

 

Power to the Pivot – Practical Application Intro to PowerPivot 2012 Slides/DAX March 21, 2013

The other night I had the great pleasure to present this session for the CACTUSS Austin SQL Server user group.  I had a great time and really appreciate you guys having me out.  Here are the slides and DAX functions.

DownloadSlidesDownloadDax