SQLPam's Blog

January 27, 2013

SQL Saturday Tampa #192

Filed under: Community,SQL Saturday — sqlpam @ 1:17 pm

It is that time of year again.  This is the sixth year I have geared up for a new SQL Saturday in Tampa.  I am very excited this year.  I hope you are planning on attending.  (register

For the last 4 years we have been generously sponsored by K-Force at their national headquaters in Ybor City.  They bent over backwards in an attempt to make us feel at home.  As a result, we have grown to the point we have out grown them.  My deepest gratitude to K-Force for their continued support of the technical community. 

This year we are moving on.  We will be hosted by Hillsborough Community College at the Ybor Campus.  They are graciously supplying us with a number of rooms which will allw us to bring our attendees more session selection than ever before.  The rooms will be split between two buildings.  We are just a few blocks away from K-Force – so no need to learn a new area.  I am hoping our attendees will enjoy our new location.

The new location has a number of benefits for us.  First, we have more rooms which means more sessions resulting in more options for our attendees.  Next, we are able to open our sponsor pool to local recruiters – something that was not allowed at K-Force for obvious reasons.  My hope is this will take some of the pressure off from our nation sponsors who are starting to feel spread pretty thin.

We will also be hosting 3 pre-cons this year!

For the DBAs: SQL Server Internals from the practical angle by Dmitri Korotkevitch

The session covers how SQL Server stores the data and works with indexes; how to design efficient indexing strategies; how different database objects types implemented internally and what are pros and cons of them; explains why do we have locking and blocking in the system and how to deal with concurrency issues and, finally, shows a few methods that can help with performance troubleshooting of the system.

For the BI enthusiasts: Taking the Next Step with Reporting Services by Jessica Moss

In this full day session, Jessica teaches you how to enhance your basic reports to make them more appealing, flexible, and user-friendly.  You will learn how to create advanced reports using expressions and actions, and finally, you will learn how to use best practices to administer your reporting solution with ease.  Jessica’s extensive industry experience will be apparent as she shares best practices and case studies while improving the AdventureWorks sample reports as her examples.

For Professional Development: Creating Your Best Technical Presentation: A Speaker Workshop by Buck Woody

This is a workshop-style session. That means that each attendee will be required to prepare and deliver a mini-session that will be refined throughout the day. Laptops and Internet Connectivity is required.  This is very hands on – so rgistrations on tis session are very limited.

Register today to assure your seat!


May 2, 2012

Speakers with too many choices

Filed under: Community,SQL Saturday — sqlpam @ 11:39 am

I just got thru reading Eddie Wuerch’s ( B | T ) blog on Cross-Submitting to SQL Saturday Events. I consider myself both a seasoned organizer and speaker when it comes to SQL Saturdays. I do understand both sides of the event very well – which is why I am thrilled every time I am selected to speak. There are choices the organizer has to make and some of them are very difficult.

When selecting sessions, I usually go for a 2 step process. The first step is to narrow down the speakers. This has only been truly painful one year where I had 55 speakers submit and only 42 slots. Sending out the “sorry you were not selected but may be an alternate” emails really hurt. Once I select the speakers, I send an email that they have been selected. If they only submitted one session they know what they are speaking on immediately – otherwise there is a delay. I ask them to commit at this point and only assume the commitment after I receive the response. I had one exception to that – but that won’t be applied next year. In my mind, until there is a 2 way commitment – there is no contract. These speakers are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts at their expense. If I do not get a commitment – they do not go on the schedule and someone else may be added or another speaker gets multiple sessions.

I now know who my speakers are going to be and can organize them into a schedule. My speakers also know – so they can get travel scheduled early enough (hopefully) to get a break on the cost of travel. They may not know what they are speaking on yet – but they know they need to arrange to be here. I now have a little breathing space with the schedule.

This is where the time consuming piece is for me. It is a good thing to have choices but sometimes the number of choices can be overwhelming. As part of the “You have been selected” email, I ask my speakers if they have time constraints on when during the day they can speak. I have a number that need to either leave early in the day or will arrive late in the morning. They are paying for their travel – so whatever it takes works for me. I found this avoids a lot of last minute changes to schedules. I also have a little time to get the local group involved in making some of the choices.

Once the final decisions are made the speaker gets a notification of the session selected. If they need to cancel – I hope and pray they cancel before everything goes to printing. I usually at this point just ask someone already on the schedule to add a session – I usually don’t get complaints about that. Cancelling the day of the event is where I get frustrated. There are legitimate reasons – death in the family, car accident, or travel delays are several that have actually happened. I have had no shows with no notification or inadequate notification – these are issues that place the speaker on a special list for future events. This is not to say they never have a chance at any of my future events – just that a backup will be in place ahead of time if they are selected.

So for me – if a speaker lets me know early in the process – it is not an issue. It would be nice to know which speakers are cross-submitting so that I can be prepared for a back out. But having them back out before the final session selection does not hurt my feelings or my pride. This is about community. If they are backing out of my event for another SQL Saturday – the community is still winning. As long as I know before the schedule is printed – it is no skin off my nose.

Having so many SQL Saturdays that this is becoming an issue for some is not a bad thing. Sometimes it feels like we just need more Saturdays in the year.


April 18, 2012

SQL Saturday #111 recap

Filed under: Community,SQL Saturday — sqlpam @ 2:50 pm

I was very honored to be accepted to speak at SQL Saturday 111 in Atlanta. There were so many submissions and such well-known names that I was grateful to be included in such company.

I took Friday off – since this was supposed to be a shoe string trip. I left early and drove up stopping at my to visit a longtime family friend in Buford – about 45 minutes from the event. I had a nice visit and changed into SQL Saturday gear for the speaker dinner. My GPS got me there with no mishaps.

I got to the dinner and there were so many familiar faces it was hard to know where to start. I won’t even try to ID them all here. I got my hugs from Karla (Twitter ), Stacia ( Twitter ), Jessica ( Twitter ), and Aaron ( Twitter ). The room read like a who’s who list for the SQL community. I sat down to a delicious dinner sharing the company of Stuart ( Twitter ) and Laura – a volunteer for the event. We discussed the in’s and out’s of organizing a SQL Saturday and family while enjoying a sumptuous dinner. I had prime rib – but it was a tough decision.

After eating, I touched base with a number my SQL Family – so many I usually only see at Summit. It had been a very long day. Although the party moved on to parts untold here – I opted to go straight to the hotel. I still had to pull together last minute stuff for my presentation.

The next morning, I arrived a little late, checked in and decided to check out the sponsors. Some were old friends and a few new friends before it was over. As a SQL Saturday organizer – sponsors are very important to cultivate. They are the backbone of the event. So I make sure they know I appreciate the efforts they are making. Atlanta had a wonderful setup for the sponsors – they had 2 rooms with snacks to draw the traffic and room to move around. Have I yet said I was envious of their venue? For the record, I would love to have one like it here in Tampa. I got tied up meeting with sponsors and new faces that went with well-known names so I ended up missing the second session. But it was such great SQL family going on I was OK with that.

I had lunch with some friends and got everything I needed together so I was ready for the next presentation and then mine. I sat in on Andy Leonard’s ( Twitter ) session on SSIS Framework. He blows me away with his ability to make it seem simple while all the time showing humility. He is one in my SQL family that I really look up to – there are few that I really admire. Thanks Andy for setting a wonderful example.

Then it was time for my session. It had been discussed earlier that this was the dreaded time slot. Everyone was settling into a stupor with lunch hitting bottom and the previous All Star time slot finishing up. I had prepared. I had even presented the session twice before. Both times I felt good after the presentation was over. But this time nothing flowed easily. The timing seemed awkward. The material was presented – I got a number of thanks afterward. Several who had seemed bored in the session actually let me know the parts that were aha moments for them. It might have been that I was so tired – whatever it was – I was glad it was over when it was over. I am going to have to spend some real time with this session to make it more comfortable.

Moving on – I was glad to attend Jessica Moss’ presentation on Report Parts. I learned a lot. I have not done any Report Builder. But it is something I need to get familiar with so it is an option I can offer my clients. I am impressed with Jessica. We both took a class on presenting way back when – prior to SQL Saturday #1. I have watched her grow and far exceed any level I aspire to achieve. She engaged the room and knew her material inside out. It was a pleasure to attend her session.

That was the last session so we all moved outside. The sponsors pulled raffle tickets. Many of us were very thrilled to see so many volunteer shirts running up to claim prizes. They deserve more than most to take something tangible home from the event.

We moved to the after event. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that showed at the after party. In thinking back – the die-hard partiers were those that had to head back to the hotels. I think Aaron was the only local to hang out to the next location – what a trooper?

In all it was a wonderful day. I learned a lot. I met many new people – some I have followed or seen on Twitter – while others were brand new to me. I got to connect with cherished friends and SQL Family I usually don’t see outside of Summit.

A special thanks to Audrey Hammonds ( Twitter ) for heading up the organization of SQL Saturday 111 as well as the entire team of people who worked to make this happen. Thank you one and all.


March 22, 2012

A renewed experience

Filed under: Community — sqlpam @ 6:31 am

Last night I did something I have not done in a long while – I visited a SQL User Group other than one of my local groups. You tend to forget how different we are until you step outside your box. Last night I drove the hour and a half from my place over to MagicPASS in Orlando. This is a SQL group run by Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter). I was a little surprised when I saw in the announcement that the meeting start at 5:00 pm with a video presentation. Driving over – I thought about it. Having a time when people can feel comfortable just dropping by – without feeling they were dissing a speaker – might get that bit of the group that I lose because they have an hour to kill between work and group. Arriving – I found that it was also a great opportunity to network / reconnect with those members as well.

Kendal amazes me with his depth of knowledge and more – his ability to always seem to remember names with faces. This is a major failing of mine. In his group, I saw he helped this out by having everyone wear a name tag – another note to consider for future meetings. As time came for the main presentation – Kendal started with the announcements. This was the time when everyone should be there – right? The announcements were lengthy – but full of very useful – relevant information. He started with the supplied PASS slide deck and worked from there. Additional information included new information on certification – along with the announcement of forming study groups. All great info. Somewhere in all of this the food arrived – nice and hot – delivered by his wife and children. By this time in my group – the speaker was half way thru the presentation if not really warmed up. We took time to eat and network – that critical piece – network. When everyone had their fill – I was asked if I was ready. Oh no – the panic set in. But these were friendly people – it won’t be an issue.

I got a wonderful intro by Kendal and explained that this was the debut of this presentation. I got a little more than half way thru my material and Kendal informed me that it was 8:45 pm. I almost freaked – how did the presentation get so long? I know there were lots of questions – which is good – but really – almost 9:00 pm? I had been in this room for almost 4 hours at this point – but it was a full 4 hours.  Lots of information exchanged and not all of it from me.  I wound down. We finished with raffles and distribution of shirts and lapel pins left over from my SQL Saturday. We rearranged the room and headed out to the local watering hole for even more networking.

I am not sure what of this I will incorporate back home – but I know my comfortable view of the home meeting has changed. It was great to meet some wonderful new people. I even joined a certification study group to assist me with one of my goals for the year. They will be held via live meeting – so the distance is not an issue it would be otherwise. I came away much richer than I arrived.

Thank you Kendal!

October 24, 2011

Give Camp Tampa – 2011

Filed under: Community — sqlpam @ 4:13 pm

This past weekend I had a new experience.  Although I have frequently been involved in work for charities, I found a new opportunity.  I was able to use my technical skills for a deserving group. 

David Liebman organized the GiveCamp Tampa.  He worked with DeVry University to supply the location and a number of sponsors to provide food and swag for the participants.  He was able to coordinate with 2 groups for us to supply services.  The first effort was to build a web site for the Conrad schools out of Orlando.  They are a school that assists special needs kids.  The second effort was a BI Proof of concept project for the FL Children’s Services Council.  This group advocates on behalf of children across most of the larger counties in the state to provide assistance for kids and their families.

We split the group into teams. we had 4 developers and charity sponsor on each team.  The developers who knew .Net took on the web page.  They developed a site that the sponsor was extremely pleased with.  When finished – they trained her on how to maintain it.  They seemed to have the easy project – but I heard there was one grumble about not writing much code since they used Dot Nuke for the site.

I went with the BI team.  It was an ambitious project.  Just getting things set up to start work took all of Friday evening and most of Sat morning.  We then hit our stride and split the ETL up so that each of us created at least 2-3 SSIS packages to transport the data into the warehouse.  Jose Chinchilla then led the effort to build the cube.  We started on Shore Point and reports on Sunday morning.  As usual, the reports reveals issues with data and structures – but these were worked thru quickly.  The proof of concept was begun – but it needs more work.  The sponsor was very pleased to have such a great start of the project.

I learned a lot from the process.  There are so many ways to approach any task.  Pulling together a team of volunteers lets each see the approach their fellow volunteer takes and expands future options.  I will definitely look forward to next year’s Give Camp.

A big THANKS to all who participated in their local GiveCamps across the US and rest the world.  I hope it grows bigger next year to assist many other organizations.

November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving musings

Filed under: Community — sqlpam @ 2:34 pm

It’s that time of year when we are more aware of what we are thankful to have in our lives.  Family, health, a roof over our heads and food on the table are the basics.  I am grateful for each of these and as the years go by – I am even more aware of how precious each can be.  I have a loving husband.  After watching Mom loose Dad, I cherish him more.  I have a 14 year son that is turning me grayer on a daily basis – but as I think of him leaving home – I almost (note almost) look forward to seeing what bucket of trouble he falls into next.  As I get older, my health is less of a given and more of a gift to protect.

As I think of the roof over my head, I think of the skills that allowed me to earn the money to put that roof there.  I am grateful that I happened into the programming trade and eventually into SQL.  The skills have allowed me to expand my mind and meet challenges that many could not overcome.  This makes most days on the job, at least as I go home, satisfying.  I slayed the dragon for the day and I usually learned something new in the process. 

But more importantly of late is the community I was introduced to by being part of the trade.  The people in this community really amaze me.  These are techie people – where growing up I was told techie people are cold and insensitive, they work with machines – not people.  And yet I have watched this community open their hearts and wallets to assist fellow developers that have been ill and unable to care for their families.  I have watched as they celebrate the joys of fellow developers, snickering and a little jealous at new love or commiserate with sleepless nights of a new mom.  I have watched as they lose all fear of embarrassment and get up and belt out a tune – having the time of their lives.  SQL community has become family of sorts.  I am grateful.

I recall when I was much younger my grandmother asking me if I considered why Thanksgiving was when at this time of the year.  I was stymied.  I grasped at an answer with “the harvest had just come in and food was plentiful” – something I had heard in a description at school.  She smiled and said that had something to do with it.  This was the time of the year when most of the chores were indoors because of the weather.  People had a chance to sit down and think.  They were thankful thoughts that heavy muscles were not as required.  They still had work – but it was not the back breaking, harvest related labor required in the heat of the summer. 

We no longer have that down time.  Our toils are less strenuous, but usually more stressful.  I still think we need to take the time to think thankful thoughts and show our appreciation to those we are thankful to have in our lives.  This is not for them – but for us.  It is a means of fighting self-pity and depression.  It is hard to be either if you are busy being grateful.

So thank you to all who touch my life.  You give me a reason to get outside myself and enjoy what is around me.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!!

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