Tag Archive for SQL Community

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.

Once Upon a Time, In A PASS Summit Far Away

Once upon a time, in a PASS Summit far away, there was a princess named Buttercup. When she turned twenty something her father introduced her to SQL Society in grand style. There were many sessions that she had to attend and many parties. Everyone loved her.


One night there was a wonderful party full of singing and dancing. Everyone was having such a swell time.


Princess Buttercup had heard about the party. Her father had forbidden her to go because it was well known that SQL Hippo was known to hang out there. Princess Buttercup didn’t listen to her father though. She set up some Powershell scripts to make it look like she was doing homework and headed out. When she arrived at the party she met three suspicious looking attendees. They were asking her all sorts of database questions.


After a few hours had passed, Tim heard the three attendees talking about princess Buttercup, so he went looking for her. He couldn’t find her anywhere and became concerned. He tried to get everyone’s attention and said, “Hey everyone! Where’s princess Buttercup? Has anyone seen her? Maybe the notorious Oracle gang has made off with her! We should send someone out to find her!”


At that very moment, the notorious Scary DBA himself entered the party. He sauntered over to Tim, looked down at him, and said, “I’ll go search for her!”


And without another word he jumped into his really cool car to head out!


Tim ran after him, and yelled, “WAIT!” you have to get your eyes checked first so that you don’t miss any clues”


So, before the Scary DBA could head out in his really cool car, he stopped to get his eyes checked by Dr. Emmett Brown. He told the Scary DBA, “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… You’re gonna see some serious shit.” Then he put his hand on the Scary DBA’s shoulder and told him, “So if you don’t want to go blind, keep it under 88 miles per hour son.”


The next morning, the Scary DBA headed out looking for clues, and he found some scribbled on the sidewalk. He knew they would lead him to the infamous SQL Gator.

SummitStory2013_-008SummitStory2013_-008 SummitStory2013_-008

EdThe Scary DBA followed the clues to a little bar in UpTown where SQL Gator was known to linger on Sunday nights. He wasn’t disappointed either. In the very back of the bar, he found SQL Gator. With a great big knowing grin on his face, SQL Gator said, “I hear you’ve been looking for GrantPrincess Buttercup.”

The Scary DBA replied, “Why yes I am. Do you know anything? I’m not leaving until you spill the beans.”

SQL Gator chuckled and took a sip of his drink. “Your execution plans might be the fastest in town, but this is my town and you don’t scare me. “ He paused for a moment. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll help you out this once, because I like Princess Buttercup.“ SQL Gator looked behind him to make sure he wasn’t being watched and whispered, “Go see the Quiz Bowl council. They’re overseen by The SQL Agent Man and Dr SQL. Maybe they can point you in the right direction.”

The Scary DBA looked SQL Gator in the eye and said, “You better not be leading me astray, or I’ll sic my parameter sniffing dogs on you.”

The Scary DBA jumped into his really cool car and headed over to the see the council. It took two hours, but he was finally brought before them.


They told him in order to finish his quest, he would have to find the Knights who say Ni.


After many nights of searching, he stumbled upon a great battle and watched with much interest from above. The battle seemed to stand still at times, but finally it came to a gruesome conclusion.


He walked down to the battleground searching for the survivors of the Knights Who Say Ni. The Scary DBA came across seven knights in kilts and asked, “Are you the Knights Who Say Ni?”

Knight one replied, “We are now no longer the Knights who say Ni.” Knight two hastily added, “NI.” The other knights shushed him. Knight one ignored his brethren and in a strong voice announced, “ We are now the Knights who say… “Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-Ekki-PTANG. Zoom-Boing. Z’nourrwringmm.”


The Scary DBA was very confused and started to get frustrated when he was approached by a Jedi Microsoft Certified Master. The Jedi whispered in a haunting voice, “These are not the kilts you are looking for.”


“Look to the east where the SQL Sisters live. They lured princess Buttercup away from the party with promises of chocolate and faster queries.” Then he vanished.


It took some time, but the Scary DBA was able to track down the kidnappers. He cornered them in the community zone and had them arrested.


The Scary DBA was so pleased to see that Princess Buttercup had not been harmed. Princess Buttercup had him kneel before her and she dubbed him Sir Knight of the Red Gate.


That night there was much rejoicing at the return of their beloved princess Buttercup.


The End


No Database Developers were injured in the making of this tale. 99% of the pictures were taken by Pat Wright. Please visit his website for the originals and other great pictures.

PASS Summit 2013 in Summary

PASSFlagMy second PASS Summit concluded a week ago. It was just as amazing as my first, but also completely different. It’s like trying to compare an orange and a mandarin. The differences weren’t just related to the different locations. The differences came with how many people I already knew, even if I only knew them as a twitter friend. Last year I knew less than 10 people at the beginning of the conference. This year I knew over a 100 people personally before the conference started and by the end of the conference I had at the very least doubled that.

Side note: Please don’t be bummed if I don’t list your name below. If I listed everyone I met at Summit, this post would look like the book of Numbers in the Bible (and be just as exciting). I enjoyed my time with everyone, but can only mention a few.
Summit BuddyMelissaAndMickey

My absolute favorite part of PASS Summit is meeting people and networking with them. With 5000 people attending Summit this year and 1400 of which were First Timers, I had ample supply of new people to meet. Last year, I participated in the First Timer’s program as a First-Timer. Joe Fleming (t), my “Summit buddy” really helped me get my bearings before attending the Summit and helped with questions that I had throughout the Summit. I so strongly believe in this program, that I signed up to be a “Summit Buddy” myself this year. I’m so glad that I did, because it let me start networking before I even arrived in Charlotte. I was assigned five First-Timers and immediately started sending them emails on how to prepare for Summit. I also had them send a bit of information to our little first-timers team including a picture so that we would be able to recognize each other all week. Along the way, I even picked up two others.

I did find it difficult for us to coordinate meeting each other as a group though. Mostly due to my various volunteer duties and meetings that were during the prime time to meet. While the whole group couldn’t meet, I did run into half my group throughout the week, and was able to hang out with David Maxwell (b|t) and Melissa Chen at various events. Melissa even shared with me that she loved the emails I sent her so she shared them with her team at work who were attending Summit, but didn’t have a “Summit Buddy”. (Loved that!)

Side note: I do think we need a different name than Summit Buddy. I think Summit Mentor, or SQL Big Sister and SQL Big Brother sound a bit better.
SushiNightExisting Relationships

PASS Summit is a wonderful place to spend more time with SQL Family. The downside is there is not enough time to spend quality time with EVERYONE. So, I decided before Summit that since there was no way I can see and talk to everyone, that I would try my best and leave it at that.

This year I really enjoyed meeting all my Twitter friends. You know, the ones you have been talking to for months, but have no idea what their real names are and half the time you don’t even know what they look like because they have a coffee cup for a “mug shot”… Speaking of Father Jack (b|t), I really enjoyed getting to hang out with him all week with all of our Australian friends. It’s funny how some “in person” time can alter a relationship and make it more meaningful. I also enjoyed spending time with Richie Rump (b|t) and tweeting with him during the Keynote speeches on the first day.
This year I found myself hanging out more with my international SQL Family members, than I did last year. I shared many meals and drinks and had wonderful conversations with Julie Koesmarno (b|t), Martin Cairney (t), Father Jack (b|t), Rob Farley (b|t), Scott Stauffer (b|t), and Mladen Prajdic (b|t) . I miss them all terribly. I also enjoyed my time with Maria Zakourdaev (b|t) from Isreal. I remembered having breakfast with her last year on Friday morning and she was so quiet. This year it was like watching a flower bloom. I can’t wait to see her again next year.


One of MANY favorite memories in Charlotte was getting to spend some time with my mentor Grant Fritchey (b|t). We rarely get to see each other since we have three time zones between us and are usually with a large crowd of people when we are at the same event. I enjoyed having dinner with him and a few friends Monday night after SQL in the City, getting to say “hi” here and there all week, and finally getting a whole, uninterrupted hour of his time on Friday for us to talk shop.

New Relationships

I don’t want you to think I spent the whole week just hanging out with people I knew. I purposefully found people I didn’t know and introduced myself. I now have many new friends on my SQL Family list. Here are some of the highlights.

· I was introduced to Paul White (b|t) and had the pleasure of talking to him about SQL Sentry Plan Explorer.

· Someone introduced me to Ola Hallengren (b). We enjoyed a couple of different conversation, but our first conversation was at a Karaoke bar and it was about the song Mickey by Toni Basil which was also sung by Swedish popular music singer Carola Häggkvist. (Tim, put that in the Quizbowl next year!)


· I actually met Bradley Ball (b|t) and Ben DeBow (t) two weeks before Summit. All three of us presented at Dev Connections in Las Vegas with several other amazing speakers, but at Summit I got to attend both of their sessions and spend some extra time getting to know them.

· I also enjoyed several great conversations with JK Wood (b|t), Jamey Johnston (t), and Wayne Sheffield (b|t) just to name a few of the amazing people I met.


I will admit, I was bummed we were going to be in Charlotte this year, but looking back, I’m glad we were there. I still miss Seattle and can’t wait to go back next year, but there were some great advantages to Charlotte. It was easy to find dinner fairly close to the evening events and I only needed a taxi on one night. The down side was the places to eat were more expensive, and their scotch selection was dismal… Except at The Black Finnthey have Oban (pronounced “Oh-bin”).

I did absolutely love the two places I went to for SQL Karaoke, especially since they had room to dance. I even danced with my good friend, and fellow SQL Cruiser Neil Hambry (b|t).

Getting InvolvedJulieAndMickeyMentors

You may have noticed that I’m an extrovert and I doesn’t sit still. This year I was asked by Tim Ford (b|t), to be on a team with Julie Koesmarno (b|t) in the Quizbowl. We paired up with Mike Donnelly (b|t). We had such a great time, even when we were down by -1700 points and Tim put me on a time out for answering a question (very) badly. The good news is, we bounced back laughing all way and ended up coming in second place which won Mike a gift card.

I also enjoyed being a Summit Buddy, which I wrote about above. I plan on doing that again next year.

I didn’t stop there either, I volunteered in the Community Zone on Friday which I think was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I wish I could hang out there all day! The community zone is a great place to hang out while you charge your electrical devices. It’s set up to encourage talking. Anything from find out where the closest User Group is in your area for engaging with Andy Warren (b|t) about mentoring programs. I even participated in a Star Wars Flash Mob at the Community Zone.

PASS_Summit_2013_WIT-1But the cherry on top of my volunteering at Summit, was moderating the Women in Technology (WIT) panel. Our WIT Virtual chapter spent months preparing for the luncheon which hosted over 750 attendees. This was all possible due to our sponsor SQLSentry. (Thank you!) The topic was Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity. This topic is near to my heart since I’ve been excluded for various reasons throughout my career and even in my childhood. The panel discussion was streamed on PASStv so there is a 60 minute recording that you can watch here. I truly enjoyed moderating the panel and hope that they will let me do it again next year.


I did actually attend sessions, and I enjoyed all of them. My favorite one was Skewed Data, Poor Cardinality Estimates, and Plans Gone Bad by Kimberly Tripp (b|t) whom I admit to now having a Geek Crush on. She spoke on my favorite topic and I can’t wait to listen to it again here.

I took both of Jes Borland’s (b|t) classes. I took Index Methods You’re Not Using to validate what I already knew about indexes and I’m glad I did, because I learned a few new things.

I also took a class that was out of my comfort zone. Data Internals Deep Dive was given by my friend Bradley Ball (b|t), who incidentally is a great speaker and I am in total awe of his knowledge. I learned about extents and I watched him teach us how to decode Hex and binary data. I found the session quite fascinating.

Thanks for All the FishJulieAndMickeyFriday

I do want to take this time to thank all the volunteers, speakers, and sponsors that help make PASS Summit educational, fun, affordable, and just plain awesome. I also want to thank my SQL Sister, Julie Koesmarno for being an awesome roomie and friend.

Side note: I’ve been going through Summit withdrawals all week and am eager to attend all the SQL Saturdays I can to feed my SQL Family addiction until next year’s PASS Summit.

Prelude To My PASS Summit Summary

Captain’s Log, day one (beep, beep). I have landed on a strange planet. Scotch is
not served with the evening meals and singing out loud is forbidden by the young
red-head who keeps calling me “mom”. No one seems to speak our home
language of SQL, so I must translate my stories from the PASS Summit mother
ship. I have been informed that tomorrow I am supposed to operate a machine
called a “car”. I am to take to take another young female (who looks just like me)
to her school and then proceed to a place called “my job”. I hope they speak SQL

Fall Speaking Engagements

A year ago I had no intentions of speaking this year. I didn’t think I was mentally ready for public speaking once again. Boy was I wrong. Not only was I ready, but I’ve become addicted to speaking at various SQL Events. I even found a SQL Saturday to speak at on my family vacation in Louisville, Kentucky. Between September and October I will be speaking at 5 venues and moderating two Women in Technology (WIT) panels. That will be a total of 8 sessions. Here is a bit about each of them.

SQL Saturday #249 takes place in San Diego, CA on Saturday, September 20th. This year, instead of a pre-con the day before , Red Gate will be hosting a half day called SQL in the City Seminar.

Dev Connections takes place in Las Vegas, NV between September 30th and October 4th at Mandalay Bay. I’m very excited about my two brand new presentations.

SQL in the City takes place in three different cities in October. I will be speaking at two of them. I’ll be in Pasadena, CA on October 9th and I’ll be in Charlotte, NC on October 14th the week of the PASS Summit.

PASS Summit takes place in Charlotte, NC between October 15th and 18th. This is the most amazing conference for the SQL community. While I’m not speaking at it this year, I am participating in other ways including being a buddy to a new attendee or two.

SQL Saturday #237 also takes place in Charlotte, NC on Saturday October 19th.

  • This is my last SQL Saturday of the year and it is the “BI Edition”, so I had to do my session, Scalable SSRS Reports Achieved Through the Powerful Tablix.

I’m looking forward to these sessions and to meeting new people as well as reconnecting with my old friends. I hope to find you in my sessions and that you have the time to introduce yourself. I really enjoy meeting new people and sharing the knowledge that I have.

SQL on my friends.

T-SQL Tuesday #45 Summary–Follow the Yellow Brick Road

This is the summary of blog posts for T-SQL Tuesday #45 – Follow the yellow Brick Road. I was the lovely host this month with the topic being Auditing. As always, I enjoyed all the posts. It reminds of what Forest Gump once said:

 “It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

So, let’s meet up with Dorothy to find out what kind of auditing related advice and stories she found on her journey.

TSQLTuesday45 - YellowBricks


Jason Brimhall had a wonderful post about using the information that SQL Server automatically gathers for us. He used the  sys.FN_TRACE_GETINFO function to find out when and who executed the DBCC SHRINKFILE command  in his environment.

Rob Farley wrote a thought-provoking post about how you should think about your auditing data you do have and how you shouldn’t make excuses when you don’t have it.

Boris Hristov wrote a piece about the impact of external auditing entities on our activities. In this case, it was a story about unintentionally scaring the client about database security levels and how that could have impacted a SOX audit. Side note: I always enjoy Boris’ enthusiasm about T-SQL Tuesday. (keep it up Boris. Smile )

Chris Yates wrote a great summary piece about what to audit and a list of various tools to use to accomplish the auditing.

Steve jones wrote a wonderful piece on why auditing is important and how he caught a “cowboy coder”.

Steven Ormrod wrote an excellent piece on how to use a DDL Trigger to not only find out who modified the database, but from what IP address and application they did the deed. This is definitely one to bookmark.

Glenda Gable shares with us how she learned about writing triggers that audit. She then goes on to share with us how she had an opportunity (and seized it) to learn and implement Change Data Capture (CDC).

Jeffrey Verheul wrote about taking the initiative at a new company and creating a baseline on the system health of the 70 databases he was responsible for… and it paid off in a relatively short amount of time.

Dave Green wrote a thought-provoking post about what to do with the audit data during a data migration. I particularly enjoyed this post, since I get to ask my clients those very same questions next week. (Can we say perfect timing?)

Robert L Davis wrote about a type of auditing that I hadn’t even considered, and I’m happy he did. He wrote about a new feature in SQL Server 2012. SQL Server 2012 will automatically audit the execution of your SSIS package. He goes on to share how he was able to use the feature.

Mickey Stuewe (that would be me), wrote about a simple way to audit at the data level. She also made a plea at the end of her post to all the women bloggers out there. She asked them to contact Adam Machanic (b|t)  about being a T-SQL Tuesday blog party host.

…And That’s A Wrap

Thank you to the 11 bloggers who participated this month. We couldn’t have T-SQL Tuesday without you. Thanks also to Adam Machanic who put this brilliant idea in action and makes sure it continues each month. … Only 14  more days until the next invitation goes out.

T-SQL Tuesday #41–It All Started with A Flower

T-sql Tuesday
Bob Pusateri (B|T) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. (Thank you Bob!) The party was originally started by Adam Machanic (B|T) just over three years ago. The topic this month is “Presenting and Loving It”. This is an interesting question for me, because it touches most of my life.

For those that know me, I’m very artistic, in fact I have an art minor and even tried to be a full time artist for a couple of years. The first time I remember teaching others about a topic, was in 6th grade. I taught my class how to make paper flowers by cutting out individual petals. Answering the class’ questions was my favorite part of the presentation.

Jump to 1994, which is when I graduated from college. Jobs were not the easiest to find. Probably because Dice.com hadn’t been written yet. So my first job out of college was teaching Microsoft Office to professionals, and within six months I became an MCT. I taught Visual Basic for two years before the travel got to me. I had some great classes and some boring classes, but I don’t think it was as exciting as presenting at SQL Saturdays.

At the beginning I found that most of the students in the classes were not very engaging. It was like pulling teeth to get them to ask questions or even to voluntarily answer the review questions. So I devised a plan. I brought a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures and I tossed them to the students who asked questions. Let me tell you, by Friday they were all asking questions. As time went on, I tried other things. I brought in monopoly money and handed out a pink $5 for leading questions. They loved that too, but the best idea was my version of Jeopardy. I divided the class into two teams and they had to name each other. Then they answered the review questions and any questions I made up as a team. Now I had team spirit, cooperation, and fun in my class. The best was the class that named each other “The Banana Slugs” and “The Sage Hens”. (Why sage hens? Because if you scare them, they can die. True story.) That one week class had so much fun that one of them wrote me a letter thanking me. But speaking at SQL Saturday is still better.

In 2002 I was so fed up with the way I was treated as a programmer that I tried to leave the field. I had always wanted to teach math, so I went back to college that spring and taught high school algebra that summer. (What was I thinking?) Presenting at SQL Saturdays is WAY better than that.

Which brings me to 2013 and SQL Saturdays. At SQL Saturday I get to present on whatever I want, providing they pick my abstract of course. At SQL Saturday the only people in my class are people who want to hear what I have to say. When I was an MCT, some of my students were there because their boss made them. Nobody is forced to attend a SQL Saturday. At SQL Saturday’s I can be me because I’m representing myself, not the company I work for. This also means I can give my friends hugs, eat lunch with my friends, and not talk for five days straight.

When it comes right down to it…

The number one reason why I like presenting is the same reason as 30 years ago, I like to answer questions and teach people. (And I still like to bring chocolate to my sessions too…all though I might try bacon.)

Speaking Engagements–Engaging Speaking

71 VetteThis past September (2012) I attended my first SQL Saturday in San Diego. After the SQL Saturday event I went to the after party where I had the opportunity to network with some wonderful people. One of them being Benjamin Nevarez (b|t). He asked me if I had thought about speaking at a SQL Saturday. I told him that I wasn’t considering it for another year. He told me, “Why wait? Speak at the next SQL Saturday. There will be one in Orange County in the spring.”

I thought the idea was insane. I hadn’t done any technical speaking in years, like over 15 years….and I’ve never written my own content.  OK, once I wrote my own content, but that was also over 15 years ago.

But he got me thinking…

By November I had decided I would submit an abstract to TWO SQL Saturdays one in Orange County, and the other in San Diego in the fall. By December I had bought myself a laptop and had decided to speak at FIVE events in 2013. It’s the end of March, and guess what? I’ve already spoken twice, I will be speaking again on Thursday, and then I finally get to speak at the Orange County SQL Saturday. I added up all the possible engagements and I have a possible NINE events for the year (4 User Group Meetings, 4 SQL Saturday Events, and if I’m a lucky ducky the coup de grace… PASS Summit). I’ve also just agreed to organize and moderate a Women’s In Technology (WIT) panel for the Orange County SQL Saturday. I’ve very excited to have a panel of women talk about how to get our youth involved in STEM programs (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

I’m addicted

I’ve enjoyed myself so much speaking at the events. Yes, I was nervous, but it is so gratifying to share knowledge, to help solve problems, and to watch the light bulb go on when they see how they can leverage their new found knowledge.

Where to find me this year

If you would like to hear me speak about SQL Server Reporting Services, you can find me at these events.

My Come Back From The Speaking Grave

I started my career in 1994 at a training company, QuickStart Technologies (now QuickStart Intelligence). I spent my first 2.5 years there as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) teaching Visual Basic 3.0 and 4.0 amongst other classes. I was one of their best trainers and I can thank them for that. They didn’t just hand us our Microsoft curriculum and told us to “Make it so”. They invested time and money into us. We took classes each year from outside trainers on how to give presentations. They were some of the most helpful training I’ve ever had, boring as hell, but incredibly helpful.

In 2006 I helped start and become the president of The Southern California Glass Guild for LA and Orange Counties. The training I received at QuickStart paid off. I was able to lead the monthly meetings and occasionally present on a topic.

This last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting my first SQL Saturday Session (#177) up in Silicon Valley. My presentation was on the tablix controls (Table, Matrix, List) in Reporting Services and was entitled Tablix – The Rubik Cube of Reporting Services.

When I first finished the session, I thought I had done so poorly. I had technical difficulties with my monitor which meant I had to present with my back to my audience, which I hated. …. But then something happened. My students smiled at me. They thanked me. They asked questions. They didn’t leave in the middle of my presentation.  And my friends who attend my class told me I did well. So now when I’m asked how it went, my answer is it went great.

The biggest difference between being an MCT and a SQL Saturday trainer, is the materials that you teach from. As an MCT, my materials were created for me, even my demos.  As a SQL Saturday trainer, my materials were typed by my own fingers and my demos came from my own imagination. Which meant, I had to buy a laptop because I didn’t own one. I had to think up what I wanted to talk about it and how I would get my points across. I spent 2 months on and off preparing for my one hour session, probably about 30 hours of time.

What advice would I give to a new speaker?

I would actually give this advice to anyone who wants to improve their speaking.

  • Invest time into your presentation skills. I was lucky to take classes on speaking, but if cost is an issue, then there are other ways.
    • You can join local Toast Masters group.
    • You could also have an experienced speaker critique you and give you pointers.
  • Go watch other experienced speakers, even if you aren’t interested in their topics. You are there to watch how they present and how they engage their audience. I have three favorites and if you ever get an opportunity to watch them speak, take the time to do so.
    • Grant Fritchey (b|t) – He is lively, he LOVES questions, and he has great demos.
    • Kevin Kline (b|t) – He has the best voice which means he speaks clearly, he looks at home while speaking, and I swear he uses mind control to get the slides to change. You don’t even see his hand move.
    • Jason Strate (b|t) – Jason has the same attributes that Grant and Kevin have. The first time I took a class from him, I was so impressed that I changed my schedule to take the other two classes he was teaching that day. That wouldn’t have happened if he was a bad presenter.
  • Video tape one of your presentations (make sure to get permission first). I will warn you, you won’t like looking at it, but you need to.
    • Look at your posture. Are you standing up straight? Do you look like you want to be there?
    • Look at your clothes. Are they distracting? Are they neat and clean?
    • Listen to your speech. Are you loud and clear? Do you use filler words like “um” or “like”?
    • Look at the use of your mouse and/or pointer? Are you moving it so much that a cat would pounce on it?
  • Make sure you know how long you will be speaking. (For some reason I thought I had 90 min. Nope, I had 60 min.) Bring a clock. The one on your phone is fine. I wrote down the following times on my cheat sheet. That way I didn’t have to do math in my head between remembering the next step in my demo and changing slides.
    • The time the session Started
    • The half point time
    • 10 minutes before the session ended
    • The time the session ended.

More pointers

My mentor gave me some great advice before I gave my first presentation, and on Wednesday when we meet, I know he’ll have some more for me. I’ve also observed from other great instructors some tricks that I used that worked for me.

  • Make 3 backups of your slides and demos, including the databases you need. Store them 3 different places you’ll have access to.
  • Install ZoomIt by Microsoft and practice with it.
  • Be prepared if ZoomIt doesn’t work (that is what happened to me).
  • Practice with your screen resolution at 1024 by 768.
  • Have a cheat sheet with any special code or numbers that you will be typing in your demo. Allen White (b|t) uses notepad in the background so that he can copy and paste. I LOVE this technique. It worked great for me. Nobody wants to watch you type a formula out. They want you to explain the different parts of it.
  • Look and sound confident, even when you’re nervous.


I know there are things I need to work on, but there always are. I enjoyed coming back from the speaking grave and teaching other’s technical content that I use and they might need. I hope that someday you can attend one of my classes.

T-SQL Tuesday #38 – There Is No Spoon

T-sql TuesdayJason Brimhall (B|T) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. (Thank you Jason!) The party was originally started by Adam Machanic (B|T) just over three years ago. The topic this month is “Standing Firm”. Jason had a great list of New Year’s words for this topic: Resolve, Resolution, and Resolute. I immediately thought of the word “Resolute” and how I am determined to have my blog be successful on my terms.

I have been given many talents, but writing “proper English” is not one of them. A simple blog post can take me hours not only to write but to reword, correct grammar and spelling, and make sure I’m consistent with my personal pronoun usage. But I am determined and Resolute about having a blog to share my knowledge and to proudly call my own. Thinking of my challenge I thought of Neo from The Matrix. He meets a prodigy at the Oracle’s home and she is bending spoons with her mind. Neo tries to bend the spoon by staring at it, but nothing happens. She tells him the secret is, “There is no spoon”. After he realizes she was correct, he is able to bend the spoon with his mind. Would he have been able to bend the spoon if he had never met her? Most likely not. He had to learn to see his reality differently so that he could achieve what he thought was impossible. Being able to write when it is not “my talent” can be approached the same way.

The first thing the “Resolute Writer” needs, is to determine where the weaknesses are and find tools to help overcome those weaknesses.

Tools For Planning

The first thing I do when I know what I’m going to write about, is I create a mind map. A mind map is a diagram that illustrates the ideas I have on a subject. All I need is a piece of paper and a pen, but since I’m a geeky girl…I use my iPad. I have this great program called Grafio. It allows me to create mind maps and save them as images. Here is the mind map for this blog post.

Mind Map T-SQL Tuesday 38

Since I love color as much as I love SQL, I color coded my mind map. The pink circle is my main topic, and the purple and aqua circles are used as my grouping mechanisms for the gray circles which contain the ideas.

Outlines are a great tool for working out the flow of a blog post. There are even products out there that turn mind maps into outlines, but I have not used them. Microsoft Word and simply numbering the circles on a mind map are other tools for creating outlines.

Ginger is a tool I use to correct not only my spelling, but also my grammar and word usage. However, it isn’t perfect. Technical languages like SQL can be challenging for Ginger, but overall I find Ginger to be a wonderful tool for me.

Help Beyond The Borders

When Neo was stuck in the train station in the third Matrix movie, he tried to will himself out just like he willed the spoon to bend. He found it difficult. I’m sure if he had been given more time, he could have willed himself out, but Trinity was willing to help get him out. Writing is no different. I can ask just about anyone in my life to proof read what I write, and sometimes I do. I had my husband Dan proof read my last blog post on Mentoring, and I had my daughter Victoria proof read this blog post.

Another way to improve my writing skills, is to write for someone else, because they will definitely have an opinion on my writing ability if it’s not up to par. For me, my first post for MS SQL Tips came out yesterday (Working With Multi-Select Parameters for SSRS Reports). I also try to visit different SQL forums to answer questions. This allows me to test my own knowledge as well as allow me to explain to someone else, with written words, how to fix their problems.

Finally I have a goal to participate in as many T-SQL Tuesday’s as possible. This gives me two things:

  1. A topic that I didn’t have to think up.
  2. A time frame to write (1 week) with a deadline ( 2nd Tuesday) that is manageable.

Follow the White Rabbit

The best thing I can do for my writing, is to be true to myself. If I’m true to myself, and my SQL code is sound, then a couple of misspelled or badly placed words won’t matter to the readers. They will remember my posts for the content.

In the end, writing is as scary as deciding between the blue pill and the red pill, but I choose the red pill and I plan to see how far down the rabbit hole I can go.

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