SQLSaturday, Uncategorized

You Betcha SQLSaturday Minnesota Was Great!

Make sure to read the title in a Minnesota accent if you haven’t already.

I wonder how many blog posts are written in airports? Add another one to the list.  Sitting here waiting on my flight and thinking about what a great time I had at the Minneapolis SQLSaturday.  I flew in on Friday and got to the hotel with no issues.  Relax for a bit and get Kalamazoo blog post done and head over to the speaker dinner at Don Pablos.  This beer gal does on a rare occasion enjoy a margarita so had one and chatted with some excellent people.  They gave us our speaker shirts and a nice suprise, a super soft throw with SQLSaturday embroidered on it.  They are very nice!  Thank you so much organizers!


Then comes the day of the event.  I ride over with Ted Krueger (blog|twitter) and the whole family.  The little Kruegers were cracking me up the whole way.  They had the event at the University of Minnesota.  The site was really nice and it was a gorgeous day out.  The venue was split between 2 buildings so was a little sunshine break in between sessions.  I find my room and get ready for the shared session with Ted, Consulting – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.  Was really fun doing this session again and under better circumstances than the first time.  It was a last minute creation for SQLSaturday Indianapolis due to a speaker who had to miss the event.  We had time to actually prepare so it felt more fluid this go round.  We had a really nice turnout and fantastic interaction with the audience which is always key to making it great.  We ended up being dead on the money timing wise too which was good.


Then I head over to catch Lara Rubbelke’s (blog|twitter) session, Big Data.  She had some internet connectivity issues but was prepared with a slideshow with screenshots.  I was super impressed with the way she handled it.  I know very little about Hadoop so learned a lot in her session.  She has a wonderful presence that brings to mind like a term that not sure is a real thing but will make up one…technical grace.

Lara talking Big Data

I had to leave a few minutes early to get over to prepare for the WIT panel discussion.  That went well but am kicking myself a bit for that one.  I have been on the panel plenty but I had never been in the role of moderator and I think it showed.  The discussion was really good though. We talked about work life balance or as Microsoft terms it “work life integration”.  I had just fantastic ladies who agreed to be on the panel: Jes Borland (blog|twitter), Amanda Bates (twitter), and Lara Rubbelke.  The audience participation and comments were great! There was one comment from a participant that really stuck with me “Work is not who I am”.  She said she wasn’t willing to let her work be the sole definition of who she was as a person.  I think I need to keep some more of that in my mind when I determine my own balance in my life.  My kids always come first but I feel sometimes outside of them I teeter on the edge of being driven and driving myself too hard.  Thank you to the panel and audience again!

PASS WIT lunch discussion

Then after wandering around unable to find the room for a bit I finally find Ted’s session on merge replication.  I brought the rest of my lunch with me as didn’t have a chance to eat much during the WIT discussion.  So felt like giant jerk disrupting the session trying to open my bag of chips and then even better when my phone starts vibrating during it.  Ted’s of course good at giving me grief and I totally deserved it.  So from then on I catch great info on merge replication and watch his son heckle him a bit during his session.

Ted talking about merge replication

From there I go watch Joe Sack’s (blog|twitter) presentation on “Resolving Cardinality Estimation Issues”.  I definitely knew of Joe but had never seen him speak.  I am so glad I did, he’s definitely one to go on the super human smart, intellectual crush list.  He gave a lot of exceptional information.  There was a great moment when he was discussing correlated column statistics when someone in the audience said “Oh crap!” when realized that auto statistics are only on single columns.  VERY good session!

Joe Sack session on cardinality estimation issues

Then was super excited to catch Robert Davis (blog|twitter) give session on corruption.  I really had been looking forward to meeting him in person.  I knew him by his reputation and on Twitter.  He gave a lot of wonderful information in his session and went through some corruption scenarios and resolution to them.  He’s also one of those many folks I have met that have me just floored by the amount they know of SQL Server.  They are called MCMs for a reason.

Robert Davis talking about corruption

I then head over to the closing ceremony which took a very long time due to the amount of top notch stuff from sponsors they were giving away.  Paul Timmerman (twitter) and folks did a fantastic job!  I’m sure it wasn’t as flawless as it appeared to me but I think that’s a excellent measure of a successful event.  Big props to you guys and all the volunteers.

Tons of great stuff to giveaway – thanks sponsors!

From there we then go to Elsie’s for dinner and karaoke.  They bought a ton of appetizers but after my lesson learned in Atlanta (see blog post) I order a yummy burger with a fried egg on it and enjoy some Bell’s Two Hearted Ales.  And of course we were in Jason (blog|twitter) and Sarah Strate (blog|twitter) country so the SQLkaraoke began shortly after that.  I am still holding strong on not singing but god bless them all, they keep trying.


I had a wonderful time with my SQLFamily as I always do.  Thank you all for just being so damn great!  So I am a bit sad to think that’s my last SQLSaturday until probably spring next year.  But there are some super exciting things coming like PASS Summit!  So excited for the mass invasion of SQL folks in Seattle in just a few weeks!

PowerPivot, Presentations, SQLSaturday, Uncategorized

SQLSaturday Philly – Another Great Event

Coming pretty quick off the heels of SQLSaturday Chicago, shifted my focus to Philly!  I was really pumped for this one.  There was a lot of folks I consider my SQLFamily presenting at this event, some I hadn’t seen since the Summit.  There were also a lot of people there I had never met before which was exciting too!  I also have one of my best friends, Amie, who lives just outside Philly so was going to be staying a day late and visit her while out there. So I pick up my trusty sales sidekick, Kandy, and we head east! We went out on Thursday night. We had a client meeting we tried to get going out there but it fell through so we had some time to relax before the festivities started. Thursday night we had chance to go to Flying Pig Saloon. Was a nice little place with a good beer menu. Then Friday during the day we put our uber tourist hats on and went to go get a cheesesteak from Pat’s. We also got our first taste of the lovely Philly traffic 🙂


After worries that traffic would make me late and some issues with Kandy’s iPhone navigation, I make it to the speaker dinner. It was at McKenzie Brewhouse. This was a great place for the event. It was great weather to be outside and they had us out on back patio. Food was good and the space was great for chatting with folks.

Speaker dinner

I had the first session of the day. I definitely like having a morning slot. I can get my game face on and then relax the rest of the day. So we get to the venue bright and early. This SQLSaturday was actually held at a Microsoft building in Malvern. It was a beautiful facility and things were going just fine with registration. They had just an army of volunteers helping which must have made things easier on organizers. I always go find my room first and I get there and it was like a sauna. The building wasn’t geared toward weekend activity and they didn’t have air conditioning going at first. I am normally one to try to buck stereotypes but I am very much the typical freezing woman complaining about how cold it is. For me to be just melting hot in a room, normal folks must be on the verge of heat stroke. It got better after folks got air going but seemed the upstairs rooms stayed pretty toasty all day. Another slight drawback to the venue was that wifi was a no go 😦


So then session time comes. I had a great group in for my session. Lots of good discussion and people telling about how they are implementing PowerPivot in their shops. I had a slight hiccup in one of my demos but I got it worked out and was only a bump instead of a disaster. We ended up doing Birkram PowerPivot but it was fun and made me appreciate my audience even more than I normally do.


I then caught up for just a few minutes with the so fun Josef Richberg (blog|twitter). I was bummed I missed his session and he had to leave early to get back for son’s baseball game. He was in the zone with someone from his session going over SSIS so I then snuck into Karen Lopez’s (blog|twitter) session “Career Management for Data Professionals”. There was a lot of great info in this session. If you have a chance to catch it you should. Things such as keeping metrics on what you support but don’t break any rules or NDAs at the same time. One thing I am definitely going to start doing in interviews is ask “who do you follow?”. I think that is just a great simple question that can tell me a lot of who that person is as a DBA/Developer.

Karen laying knowledge on the folks.
Then came the WIT session. It was a bit different than most as it was in an actual session slot. I was always worried about those that are set like this as they go up against technical sessions. We had a small gathering for the session but it really was one of the best WIT discussions that I have ever been involved. Joshua Lynn was there and had a lot of great insight into motivating next generation into STEM fields, boys and girls.  He works with kids in competitive robot events. I also liked Erin Stellato’s (blog|twitter) “Lean Into It” mantra she shared that she uses with her kids when handling challenges.
WIT discussion

Then I was finally able to catch a session from Christina Leo (blog|twitter) and I mean FINALLY! It had become a recurring thing at all the SQLSaturday events we were at together that we always had same session time so never got to see each other present. We did have one session at the same time at this event but she luckily had 2 sessions. So I caught her session on server side traces. She is such a warm person and it shows in her presentation style I think. She also is a perfectionist and that shows as well.

The lovely Christina Leo

Next up I had a title catch my eye and went to see John Sterrett’s (blog|twitter) session “Performance Tuning for Pirates”. Not being from east coast and also not a baseball fan I totally didn’t even consider that his reference was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. So I expected more “Arrghs” and eyepatches but didn’t receive any. It was a really good session though and there was a lot of good references to tools to assist folks such as PAL tool on Codeplex.

John Sterrett’s session – See no eyepatch.

The last session of the day I went to Adam Belebczuk’s (blog|twitter) session on Service Broker. I started following Adam on Twitter and knew he was fairly new to speaking. I was intrigued to see his style and skeelz. He didn’t disappoint and was a really good session. Very engaging with the audience and you could tell he knew the subject very well.

Great new speaker Adam Belebczuk

Then on to the after party which was hosted by Joey D’Antoni (blog|twitter) at his own house! I know right?! He and his lovely wife, Kelly, hosted a wonderful party at their house for the speakers. They were just superb hosts! I had a ball with everyone as I normally do. Then I had a bit of an odd event happen. My friend Amie I mentioned earlier, she came and hung out for a bit at the after party. She is a friend I have known since college but like most of my friends and family, they only know my career as that I do “computer stuff”. It was an odd crossing of the streams but I survived and was kind of cool to have her see that side of my world.

The after party host by Joey and Kelly D’Antoni

Thank you guys in Philly for throwing a really great event! Thanks for having me! Thank you to my SQLFamily for just continuing to show me how friggin amazing a set of people can be!

Look at great crowd! Thanks Philly!
FreeCon, Uncategorized

I So Got My FreeCon!

Ok before I get into what a fan-friggin-tastic event this was I have to tell everyone about the office drama that lead up to it.  I come back from SQLSaturday Atlanta on Monday and start attending to a very neglected inbox.  I find an odd email from a Brent Ozar (might have heard of him).  It was a second email to an invitation only event called FreeCon! Yeah I know! So I get super happy and doing little office chair dances while I keep reading it over and over to make sure I wasn’t reading something wrong.  Then it dawns on me it was sent on Friday which was beginning of my neglect due to SQLSaturday festivities.  My heart sinks south into my stomach and an audible “Oh no” is heard in the office.  The crying/cussing that followed pulled the whole office into my woes.  I immediately respond and start to pray my seat wasn’t gone since I didn’t get a response back yet.  Then after a couple hours of fretting I get a response back that I was in time! Hooray I get to go to FreeCon!

So this is crazy right! I was super excited to be going to this event after seeing who was coming to this one and also past attendees.  See what I mean with the list?

  1. Argenis Fernandez (Blog@DBArgenis)
  2. Bill Lescher (@BLescher)
  3. Bob Pusateri (Blog@SQLBob)
  4. Christina Leo (Blog@ChristinaLeo)
  5. Eric Harrison (LinkedIn)
  6. Garima Sharma (LinkedIn)
  7. Hope Foley (Blog@Hope_Foley)
  8. Jason Fay (Blog@JFay_DBA)
  9. John Mazzolini (LinkedIn@JMazzolini)
  10. Josh Fennessy (Blog@JoshuaFennessy)
  11. Louis Fritz (LinkedIn)
  12. Norman Kelm (Blog@NormanKelm)
  13. Ramin Surya (LinkedIn@RSurya)
  14. Scott Ellis (LinkedIn)
  15. Tim Ford (Blog@SQLAgentMan)
  16. Tim Radney (Blog@TRadney)
  17. Tom Norman (LinkedIn@tjnorman57)

Former Free-Con attendees include:

See?  So the day finally comes and despite my horrible driving I get myself, Argenis, and Tim in one piece to Catalyst Ranch in downtown Chicago.  We get there and you can’t tell from the outside what kind of place this is by no means.  Recheck the address and go inside.  We get out of the elevator and it’s the cutest place ever! It was this hippy artsy chic super cute venue.  I get some food and settle in with my tablet and ready to roll.

Looks only slightly like me. Just one of the many cute pieces of art at the venue.

One of the first topics was marketing methods in SQL community. We watched a Red Bull advertisement showing folks doing things they love to do with some Red Bull logos scattered throughout. There was never any in your face, “drink this” going on in the video. This draws parallels to what some of the vendors are doing now. The Idera Ace program was one of the examples. They are hitching their wagons to passionate, accomplished speakers in the community.

Tim Ford: You have charisma or expertise. Or you’re lucky and you have both.

Conversation then went on to discuss consulting a bit. How things change when you become the product. A lot of this portion spoke to me. I am a consultant and I don’t know that I could go back to a corporate role. There are a lot of reasons for this but one that has to be toward the top is:

Slide quote: I used to be afraid to build stuff because I’d compete with my employer. That all changes when I’m the product.

I think I probably go into a schpeel about this in each interview I do anymore. I like being the product. The better I get, the better product I am for the company to sell. It feels like a win win to me. How often does that happen in the working world?

More FreeCon-ites

We then moved into discussing some concepts from the book “Outliers: The Story Of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the main themes of that book is that you can master any skill if you put in 10,000 hours. I haven’t read the book myself but the concept is intriguing. Putting a hard number to what it takes to master something….makes me wonder how many hours I have in of SQL Server (not enough). This then lead to an exercise doing a timeline resume. You take yours skills and flip them to where you can see them and the years you have doing them. I plan to continue working on mine and expanding out the skills and details more. I’ll post up a view of it when I get it a bit more together. It was pretty interesting to see your skills and career laid out like this. Helps see what skills you are on the path to hitting 10,000.  Also helps to see what skills you have left behind, need to develop more, or just ditch all together. The ones to ditch lead to Lean methodology discussion. That focuses on getting rid of the waste so you can focus on your 10,000 goal skill.  This got me to thinking that I need to stop obsessing over conquering the inbox monster.  Of course I have to pay attention to it but I don’t think I can win and I’ve wasted a lot of time I could have spent for things like blogging.  Just slice my time better and focus a bit differently.

Check out these lovely people checking their electronic devices.

After that was about the time our gracious host had some wonderful Giordano’s pizza brought in for everyone. I, of course, tried to eat my weight in it. I LOVE Chicago style and this is some of the best. I fight through a pizza coma and we move on with discussion.  Next we talked about some ways to find your passions and let those drive you a bit. This then lead into building a product from your passion whether it’s presentations, blogs, white papers, training, etc. Then attempting to create your “least viable product” and ways to sell it, market it, and test success in how you market it. Brent seemed to have a product or example for everything which was nice.

Brent Ozar: Posters are like crack with DBAs

We then got into Tufte and how visuals can be great or horrible. They can quickly tell you so much when done well. Doing something graphic such as a poster or visual concept is something I had never really thought of doing but is an interesting one. I know I have a lot of posters on my wall selling a lot of vendor products.


We then went on to discuss items we can do to help make SQLSaturdays better.  A few of the examples brought up are below:

  1. In the minutes before your presentation, have folks introduce themselves to people near them.  Be prepared to squash all the lovely conversation at go time though.
  2. If the venue allows it, setup whiteboarding areas for discussions.
  3. Point everyone in session to the local user group.
  4. Encourage them to be on Twitter and use things such as #sqlhelp.

Toward the end of the day I kept waiting on the sales pitch but it never came. I was waiting to be sold a timeshare or Ginsu knives or something but it never happened. It was a fantastic day and I learned a lot. I’m still not convinced that I’m not going to get a mafia style favor asked of me one day but I can live with that. I got a lot of ideas stirring now and I did have a LOT of that pizza. Not sure it’s enough to have to bump off Fat Tony but will evaluate if that day comes 🙂

No Sicilian can ever refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day.

Thank you Brent for being a gracious host and inviting me to this incredible event! I ate up every last minute of it and am honored to have been a part of it!

Presentations, SQLSaturday

SQLSaturday Chicago!!!

Time is flying by and it’s getting really close to SQLSaturday Chicago (#sqlsat119).  If you are anywhere remotely close on May 19 you do not want to miss this one!  Go here and register.  I got much love for this particular SQLSaturday.  This one really solidified my love for these events.  It was the second SQLSaturday that I had presented at ever after my first one in Nashville.  I had such a great time and met so many great folks.  I ate up every minute of it…all of them till 4:00AM in fact.  Everyone continued to encourage me and welcome me into this lovely, wonderful sqlfamily…I was just blown away!  So go…go now and sign up!  There’s even a session from Eddie Wuerch (blog|twitter) titled “Join Us! Getting Started as a Technical Speaker”.  Go and catch the bug like I did then make sure to come speak at my hometown SQLSaturday in July in Indianapolis (#sqlsat126).  Shameless…I know 🙂


Indy TechFest was the bomb!

Well it was for me anyway.  I attended some great sessions and a really interesting discussion on women in technology.  My presentation on spatial data went pretty well.  Even though it was advertised as “special data” or “spacial data” a few folks showed up.  Definitely wasn’t a packed house but got some good feedback.  The speaker dinner afterward was really great!  I ate up every minute of discussions with Jimmy May, Brad McGehee, Kevin Kline, Rob Bogue and John Magnabosco.  They were all very gracious and encouraging of this young newbie.  So I am trying to take their advice and up my game a bit.  Here I am blogging away and just submitted some sessions to Nashville SQL Saturday (http://www.sqlsaturday.com/51/eventhome.aspx).  Here are my slides for the presentation.


Sharepoint Saturday

No I have not been abducted by aliens, just really really terrible blogger and haven’t updated it in forever.  I have now been motivated to get back into the swing of things and begin posting again.  This past Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting at the SharePoint Saturday event.  I think things went pretty well in my session and I got to see a couple really good sessions from other presenters.  I met some really nice folks there as well.  I wanted to go ahead and post the slides from our session (joint session with Jim Grabinski).   Click here to get the slides.


Logging in Powershell…Oye!

Hopefully karma will repay me for this post.  I always visit so many blogs for general perusal but mostly for fixing issues I’m running into at the time.  Maybe I can save some poor soul out there some time and energy looking through Googled-Results-Land.  First of all…I’m really digging Powershell.  Since reading details of what was to come in SQL Server 2008 I was intrigued.  Then when I started wading through it and creating scripts, I dig it even more.  As with everything though I ran into some bumps in the road.

I was setting up some Powershell scripts to run through the SQL Server Agent for the first time ever.  I tested them, and tweaked them, and tested some more.  Hooray I’m done, let’s really quickly schedule this bad boy to run through the Agent….what tha?  I first tried to use the Powershell subsystem since it was the cool new toy in SQL Server 2008.  Well I get the error:  This host does not support transcription.  Ok…appears to be a bug as far as I can tell so I move on and try issuing the command to run the script via cmdexe.  I got to thinking that would be better anyway so it would pull in changes to the script and I only have to update the script file and not remember to update the syntax in the job step (I’ve been bitten by that one before).  Ok so moving on, still can’t get it to work right that way either.  Ok so what next, hmm, what is this tee-object thing?  That’ll work and even better so as it will pull in files to be deleted without the whatif…fantastic!  Doing my testing and it’s working great after I figure out the syntax of the tee-object -variable does not use the $ like you’d think it would.  Ok fabulous, lets add multiple instances into the mix…wait…oh no don’t tell me.  It seems tee-object at this time does not have -append ability.  Dangit!  Ok after going to vote to add this into next version of Powershell (I’m using 1.0 by the way)  I have to think again.  How am I going to do the logging for this script looping through multiple instances through the Agent *banging head on desk*?  Ok out-file does have ability to append.  Then the skies part, the sun shines through, and the angels sing 🙂  Below is what I had to do to get logging to work with a script that is scheduled with the SQL Server agent:

$now = Get-Date
$logfile = “c:\logdirectory\LogName-” + $now.ToString(“MMddyyy”) + “.log”

Stuff doing | tee-object -var temp | other stuff doing (ie. remove-item)
$temp | out-file -filepath $logfile

Then on the next iteration and any subsequent ones you’ll have to add the -append to your out-file operation.  I also included my way to add a timestamp to the log as well as that took me some digging into as well.  Double karma brownie points perhaps?