Tag Archive for SQL Family

Year in Review for 2015 and Future Goals for 2016

AdobeStock_96432559This has been another spectacular year in the SQL world. Unfortunately, I can’t find my list of goals, so I’ll have to wing it. I can say, that I have had some unexpected surprises this year.


Level up!
  1. I have two favorite activities in the SQL world. One of which is speaking. This year I presented 14 times to over 1300 people. I spoke at two conferences, one of which was my second year at PASS Summit in Seattle. I spoke at 6 user groups, one of which was presented remotely in Australia. I also spoke at 5 SQL Saturday’s and once for Pragmatic Works.
  2. My second favorite activity is writing. This year, I started writing for SQL Server Central. I wrote two articles for them, which had more than 20K views. I have my third post scheduled for Jan 4th/5th, so keep your eyes open for it. I also had 17 blog posts on my website. My metrics for the year were off the wall. An 82 % increase in sessions, a 403 % increase in session duration, a 97 % increase in page views (that’s 23K page views!), and my favorite, 52% increase in Users, which yields 9.5K users. Thanks viewers!
  3. I created my meet and greet list for PASS Summit and I was able to meet most of the people on my list. Some of them I knew through conversing on Twitter, like Pinal Dave. I (finally) had an opportunity to give Buck Woody a big hug too. I also met some people that I didn’t know: Wawrick Rudd, Mellisa Lord, Michael Upton, Denis Horner, and many more.
  4. This is my second year co-leading our local BI user group with Rob Hatton.
  5. I had the honor of being part of the Friends of Red Gate program again. This is my third year.
  6. My husband granted me my wish for our 20th wedding anniversary of going on my second SQL Cruise in the Caribbean AND he went with me on it. When I mentioned I had been on a SQL Cruise in my interview for my current job, they thought I was kidding. If you have never heard of SQL Cruise, I highly recommend checking it out. There is no where else you can get 6 amazing instructors for 30 students. Those speakers are trapped on a ship with you, so you can actually spend time with them over drinks or dinner asking them any question you want. I had that opportunity with Jes Borland, Grant Fritchey, Kevin Kline, David Klee, Tim Ford, and Amy Ford.
I have some new goals for 2016 as well
  1. I was hoping to speak at least once a month again, but after looking at 2014 and 2015 it will be easy to speak an average of twice a month. I have a goal of of 9 SQL Saturdays. Hopefully, I will get another opportunity to speak at PASS Summit. And I plan on speaking over the inter-webs as many times as I can. Here are some of the speaking engagements, I already have planned.
    1. SQL Saturday 461 in Austin, TX, Janurary 30th, 2016.
    2. Pragmatic Works on Feburary 9th.
    3. Profession Development Virtual Chapter in March.
    4. SQL Saturday 497 in Huntington Beach, CA April 02, 2016.
    5. DBA Fundamentals Downunder Virtual Chapter in May.
    6. All the others will slowly appear on my Speaking Engagements page.
  2. I plan to continue writing for my own blog and for SQL Server Central with a goal of one post each month for each site. That is a lofty goal for me since almost all my writing is done on Sunday’s, in a little coffee shop with my daughter. (I also spend that time writing abstracts.) Wish me luck!
  3. I’ve enjoyed speaking on SSRS, but I’m going to change it up. I’ll continue speaking on writing better SQL, but I’m also going to take up another SQL subject. Stay tuned!
  4. I’ll continue co-leading our local BI user group.
  5. I plan on mentoring one of my colleagues, Ly Nguyen. He has a goal of becoming a DBA or a Database Developer. I’m super excited about this, since he is eager to learn.
  6. This next year, I want to spend more time on forums, helping others.
  7. Hopefully, I’ll be part of Friends of Red Gate for another year.
Stretch goals

I think it’s a good idea to have some stretch goals to help push yourself past your comfort zone. Here is mine.

  1. Create a full day session to present. This seems so overwhelming, but I was a Microsoft Trainer for two years at the beginning of my career, so I know it’s possible.
  2. Speak (physically) in another country. My Australian friends, have been pushing encouraging me to speak in Melbourn, AU. I’m not sure if it will be possible, since my oldest daughter will be attending college next year, and most of my speaking money will be redirected to her tuition. If I accomplish the first of my stretch goals, then this might be possible.
  3. Writing another book. This is a big commitment of time. The good news is, my family is willing to support me in this endeavor. This is great, since they would hardly see me, except at dinner, until the project was completed.
I want to thank…

There is no way I could accomplish what I do without the support of friends and family. Here is this year’s shout out.

  1. My husband is definitely number one on this list. Whenever I have a really bad week, or I get bummed out about something, his first question is, “When is your next SQL Saturday”? Also, he is encouraging me to speak and write until my heart’s content.
  2. I always say, my first language is SQL and my second language is English. Luckily I have my daughter Victoria to help with my grammar and spelling. She is now one of my official editors and will continue to be my editor through college.
  3. Ben McNamara is my second editor. While Victoria can catch my English mistakes, Ben can catch the technical ones. He is also one of my touchstones when I get nervous about speaking or am taking criticism personally.
  4. Jes Borland, Chris Yates, Julie Koesmarno, and Nghi Nguyen are my other touchstones in my life. They are great at keeping me grounded.
  5. Steve Jones asked me to write for SQL Server Central and I was very honored. He also has the most relaxed manner that I wish I had. I can learn how to be more laid back from him, since I see him at SQL Saturdays and at Summit.
  6. I want to thank you, my readers and those that attend my presentations. Without you, I wouldn’t be having any fun.
Now it’s your turn.

My question to you is, what are your technical goals for 2016? Do you have some achievable goals and some stretch goals? Here are some ideas.

  • Start a blog. Most people start writing a blog for themselves, to remember how to do something in the future.
  • Start speaking. This can be very scary, but there is always someone out there who needs to know what you know. It can be as simple as rewriting a cursor or as complex as setting up replications.
  • Mentoring. Speaking might be too scary, so instead take someone under wing. Not only can you mentor them in a technical capacity, but you can also mentor them in how to deal with different parts of a team or how to gather requirements.
  • Volunteering: Every organization that is run by volunteers, needs more volunteers. You can help out at your local SQL Saturday or at PASS Summit to name a couple of places. (I volunteered at Summit this year. I directed people to the WIT lunch or to the normal lunch. I had a blast!) You can also volunteer at local community centers that have programming classes for kids. We need to help encourage the next generation.

My Eleven Day PASS Summit 15 Experience

“STUEWE!” This is how I knew PASS Summit was about to begin. I was walking to the Friday night SQL Saturday Portland speaker dinner, prior to PASS Summit, when I heard my name being called, well, yelled. Since it was already dark, it took a minute to spot the black SUV with Mike Fal hanging out the window waving at me.

But wait, that is not when my Eleven Day Summit Experience started.

Day One – Thursday

It actually started on Thursday before Summit at LAX. I was there bright and early to pick up two of my Australian friends, Martin Cairney and Ben McNamara, who would be traveling with me to Portland and then on to Seattle. Despite the 14 hour flight, they wanted to go see the Endeavor space shuttle at the California Science Center in LA.


Day Two – Friday

Friday was spent flying to Portland where we would be attending SQL Saturday Portland. We stayed in an Air B & B house. This is a great way to save some money for lodging and to feel like you’re at home. There is always a coffee machine with decent coffee and the best…no rambunctious kids on the floor above you. WIN!

Friday night, we attended a wonderful speaker dinner (This is when Mike Fal yelled my name out a window of an SUV). Speaker dinners are always fun to attend. You get to catch up with friends and make new ones. Portland is always a bit special, because it’s full of speakers from around the world who made a little extra time to speak at a community event before PASS Summit.

After dinner, we found an amazing restaurant. It had the most scrumptious gluten free bread. I think it was made of clouds.


Day Three – Saturday

Saturday was spent at one of my favorite SQL Saturdays. Ok, I’ll be honest. ALL SQL Saturdays are my favorite. It’s a great time to do a little extra networking, get to see SQL Family, and meet new people in the community. I also love speaking and that is what I did in Portland. I spoke on SSRS.

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I was able to attend several wonderful sessions. My favorite was given by Julie Koesmarno and Cindy Gross: Moving beyond Unconscious Bias. I really liked their approach to this topic. Throughout the presentation, they strongly emphasized that we are all good people.

They spoke about how everyone categorizes everything in our lives, but sometimes we have a bias in our categorization, an unconscious bias that we are unaware of. They told us about a study by Harvard called the Implicit Association test, which tests how we categorize various topics. Julie and Cindy then showed us a video of Allen Alda taking the Harvard test. I strongly recommend learning about unconscious bias.

No Portland trip is complete without going to my two favorite places in the evening. We put our names in for our two hour wait at the Multnomah Whiskey Library, and then we headed over to Cassidy’s. They have great food and AMAZING bacon. I ordered enough bacon for all sixteen of us. (And there was much rejoicing). Afterwards we went to the Whiskey Library, where I was finally able to try some Scapa Scotch. I really liked it (Thanks for the recommendation Grant!).2015 PASS Summit13

Day Four – Sunday

One of the cheapest ways to get from Portland to Seattle is the train. When we bought our tickets, they were around $25. Little did we know it would be an unexpectedly amazing day. My friend, Ted Stathakis, was really looking forward to this day too. He loves trains; neither of us realized how amazing it would be.

Last year, there were only five of us on the train. Martin Cairney and I spent the majority of the trip troubleshooting a problem with my VM. Not this time. This time it was completely non-technical. There were sixteen of us in our car, and two who (foolishly) purchased tickets in a nicer car. Why do I say foolishly? Well, we were having so much fun, that they spent the majority of the trip in our car…eating our Voodoo Donuts. Next time, I think they will buy the general tickets. Next time, I’m also going to try getting the WHOLE car too. So if you want to ride with us, keep an eye out for a post from me in the summer.

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For more details on the fun we had, go look up the twitter handle #SQLTrain.

Day Five – Monday

Monday was a red day. Red Gate day that is. Red Gate puts on a free event called SQL in the City. They have put it on each year on the Monday before the PASS Summit for several years now. They bring quite a few people from the UK to talk about their tools, and they have amazing presentation. This year, they went with a common theme: Continuous Integration. I participated in the Lightening Talks. I spoke on how to use their DLM Dashboard. This is a great tool that keeps an eye on the databases you connect to the DLM dashboard. You can monitor who modified the database and which scripts they ran on the database. Did I mention this is a free tool?

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Monday night is the annual Networking dinner put on by Steve Jones and Andy Warren. This is a “must attend” event. Why? It’s all about networking and integrating 1st timers into the community. This year, a bunch of us crammed into a booth with four 1st timers. At least two were from Europe. I enjoyed getting to know them and they enjoyed being introduced to all the people that came by our table to say hi.

Note: Remember, networking isn’t just about talking tech. It’s about building relationships so that you can ask technical questions in the future. If you need ideas on how to meet people, take a look at my blog post, Top Ten Ways To Create Your Meet and Greet List For Summit.

Day Six – Tuesday

Tuesday was a relaxing day before the busyness of Summit. I started the day off with breakfast with Chris Yates. This is a rare pleasure. Chris and I met through the SQL Community on Twitter. We now blog together occasionally and I speak at the SQL Saturday in his hometown.

Before I took time to prep for my Wednesday morning presentation, my apartment mates and I went to the Starbucks where they roast all of their coffee beans. I had my first french press, and, I must say, I’m hooked. 2015 PASS Summit2-001

After I was done with my presentation preparation, it was time for the opening event for PASS Summit. This is a whirlwind event. I feel like a butterfly, fluttering from conversation to conversation. This year, I felt like a match maker too. I had three people from my company attending with me. I haven’t had that happen since the mid 90s! I enjoyed introducing them to a number of people.

I also did something different. I went looking for the lone 1st timers. The wallflowers who don’t know who to talk to. I found one. He was eating by himself near a wall, watching everyone by himself. I went up to him, introduced myself, and got to know him. I then asked if there was someone he wanted to meet. He wanted to meet Pinal Dave from India. Pinal and I know of each other, but we’ve never had the pleasure of shaking each other’s hands. So that’s what we did. Luckily, Pinal was standing nearby. Pinal and I finally shook hands, and I introduced him to the 1st timer. That made me very happy. Win!

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Day Seven – Wednesday

This was my day <deep breaths inserted here>. I was first up to bat <deep breaths inserted here>. I’m nervous as I walk to my room. I see my room and I get calmer. I climb up on the stage and I get calmer. I get my laptop set up and I’m ready to go. Boom.

As you’ve probably noticed, I really believe in networking. My class filled up with plenty of time to spare before the presentation, so I did the same thing I did last year. I had everyone stand up and introduce themselves to their neighbors. I stood on stage with a huge grin on my face, then I stepped off stage and introduced myself to people in the front row.

200 hundred people came to hear my presentation on Sophisticated Techniques in SSRS. I enjoyed every minute of the session. We did have a couple of exciting moments in class though. There was a laptop on the table (not mine) that started beeping. I thoroughly enjoyed slamming nicely shutting the laptop lid. There was also a crash of dishes behind me in the hallway. I said “Opa!” in my head and kept on presenting.

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With my presentation done, I was able to enjoy classes the rest of the conference.

One class I took was not found in a classroom, but on the edge of a planter on the ground floor. I started talking with this guy (sorry I can’t recall his name, but he was awesome). He was telling me how he had submitted his session, but wasn’t selected. After he told me his topic, I told him I would have taken his class. His presentation was right up my alley. So he asked if I would like to see it. I said yes and we had a wonderful one-on-one discussion, complete with demos on his laptop. Right there. On the edge of a planter. It was my favorite class. THAT is one the many special things about PASS Summit.

One of the things I was really happy about this year was the change in how special diets were handled. In the past, they have always messed up my meals. I have a lot of food sensitivities, so I understand it’s difficult to accommodate my diet, but I still need to eat. This year, they had our names on our meals, and they had the more common special requests handled in the regular food line. (Thank you)

Day Eight – Thursday

I was invited again to live-blog the keynote on Thursday. You can see my comments here. I was very sad to hear that this would be the last keynote for PASS Summit given by David DeWitt and Rimma Nehme. I’m happy that I’ve been able to see two of their keynotes.

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Before lunch, I thoroughly enjoyed directing people to lunch (I’ll tell you a secret. I think I enjoyed twirling my sign a little too much. Open-mouthed smile).

Thursday is the Women In Technology Day (WIT). WIT puts on a great lunch, and I was in the perfect place to direct people to the regular lunch and the WIT lunch. One of the traditions of WIT day is for men and women to wear kilts. This tradition was started by Grant Fritchey many years ago. This was my fourth year participating.

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Day Nine – Friday

Friday is full of sessions and bitter sweet goodbyes. Now, I don’t want you to think I only had fun this week. I did attend sessions. I have proof. I also took notes.

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… And I had fun.


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Summit is not complete without at least one night hanging out with Jason Strate at Bush Garden participating in SQL Karaoke. I was super happy to make it there multiple times this year. Last year, I wasn’t able to go at all due to all the commitments I had at Summit.

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Day Ten – Saturday

Saturday was a vacation day. I spent the day with my Australian friends. These are friends that I’ve made through Summit. I even worked with a some of them for a few months. In the evening, Julie Koesmarno and I threw a dinner party for a few of our friends who were still in town. We were even able to invite some friends we met this year.

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Day Eleven – Sunday

Sunday I had to come back to reality on my flight home. While I had an amazing time in Seattle speaking, learning, networking, and reconnecting, I was happy to see my family and they were happy to see me.


OC SQL Server Meeting: Jason Strate & Bradley Ball Presenting at QuickStart

DSCN4178This past September I had the privilege of speaking at Dev Connections in Las Vegas where I had the opportunity to hang out with several members of our SQL Family. Two of which were Bradley Ball (b|t) and Jason Strate (b|t). Bradley and I were chatting about how they were going to be visiting Irvine in early December and they wanted to speak at the local User Group Meeting while they were here.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t arrange the presentation during the User Group Meetings, but that didn’t stop me. Many moons ago, I worked at QuickStart Technologies (now QuickStart Intelligence). I gave them a call and they were very happy to host a presentation from Jason and Bradley.

If you will be in Irvine, CA on Monday Dec. 9th, then please come join us for FREE pizza and a FREE presentation by both Jason Strate and Bradley Ball. If you have never heard these two gentlemen speak, then now is your chance. I have attended presentations from both of them and am looking forward to seeing them present again next week.

Seats are limited, so sign up soon at Eventbrite: OC SQL Server Meeting: Jason Strate & Bradley Ball Presenting at QuickStart

If you’ve never heard of QuickStart, then let me give you the inside scoop. QuickStart has been training professionals in Microsoft Technology for 25 years. Their classes are great for learning SQL Server and many other products. Each student is given their own computer for the class where they will be given hands on labs to work on throughout the 2 to 5 day classes. Their classes are also great for preparing for any of the Microsoft Certifications.

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