Goodbye old friend

You know that grumpy old man that yells at you to get off his lawn?  And that protective person that goes after people who are threatening you?  And finally, the one who comes in for a cuddle at the most inconvenient times and usually steps on important parts of you that you’d like to keep unstepped on?

Yeah, that was this loveable old bastard, Pluto.

yes, I’m almost 20 lbs and lying on your chest, what of it?

A friend at work was at a conference across town, and coming in from a smoke break, saw a box on the security desk with people crowded around it.  A guard had found a litter of kittens wandering around screaming their heads off because it was 101 degrees outside and they were burning their paws.  The mother had been hit by a car and thankfully, the guard had gotten them all into a box and brought them inside.  My friend took one, but getting home, she and her husband decided they had enough pets already.  (Not sure how many, but it was a lot).  My wife, a certified, card-carrying dog person, had heard the story and something pulled at her.  She went to my friends’ house to ‘just go meet him’ and called a little while later saying she had another passenger on her way back.

We had a dog at the time, and he was very young, so he followed her around and literally became a dog.  He’d fetch, and meet you at the door and other things like that.  Ornery, especially if he didn’t know you, he loved and protected his family well.  He was already fifteen, so we knew that his time was limited, but after bringing him to the vet, they told us it was going to be soon.  He had heart problems and probably wouldn’t last more than a week or two.  She was right, unfortunately.  We couldn’t pick him up because it made him freak out, so we scrambled as to what to do. He finally calmed down and let us get him to the Animerge where I just lost it.

I’m the kind of person who is seen as stoic at times.  Like things like this don’t seem to affect me.  I think I was trying to hold it together for everyone else.  When we walked into the place, I had to go outside I was crying so hard.  Not tears and whimpering.  Full on, screams of panic and despair.  I knew what we were doing was right.  We couldn’t let him just drown, which is what was happening because of his heart failure.  His lungs were slowly filling up with fluid and we couldn’t just sit there and let it happen.  We were easing his passing and making sure he wasn’t in pain anymore.

God, I miss you so much already my friend.  I’m so fortunate that we had so much time together, for us to love you and for you to return it in spades.  I know we saved you, but I think you saved us just as much.

Small steps

I’ve tried to get into an exercise routine forever.  I’ve had some success with things that involve a class or a team, but I’ve never been able to maintain something when it’s just me.  Tried running, tried bodyweight stuff in my house, nothing really stuck.  It wasn’t until I sat down recently and really thought about it that it came to me.

I love learning new technologies, especially programming languages.  At one point in my career, I was bouncing around through so many that it actually bit me in the butt during a review.  I wasn’t focusing on the thing that would make it possible to get me contracting work – nice little wake-up call.  Okay, focus on what can sustain me, just do that.

But then I got bored and started doing it at night and on the weekends and after adjusting my schedule so it didn’t interfere with my family time, I came to a happy medium.  I could dabble here and there, and when possible, try to bring those solutions or at least the idea to use at work somehow.

The ‘AHA’ moment for me was that I could approach exercise like I did programming.  When I build a PHP page or figure out how to get Ruby to compile, I HAVE something.  I’ve accomplished something with little to no thought of ‘should I’, or ‘what else could I be doing’.  Last night was a perfect example.  My boss was looking to do something to pull groups from AD into a report, and I remembered a few things from one of the sessions I attended at Pass Summit and realized I could do it in Powershell.  So I started doing it and hit a few blocks, but I got it to work.

This morning I took the same approach, I just started doing it.  I opened my eyes, realized it was an hour before my alarm, and instead of rolling back over, I got out of bed, shut off the alarm, got into my clothes and out the door without thinking about what else I could be doing instead.  Let me tell you, it was chilly this morning, but I got in my car and drove over to campus and did my 20 laps in the pool.  The fact that I don’t mind swimming is probably more help than I’m acknowledging, but the fact that I thought about it, I approached it differently than any other routine is the AHA moment for me.

Think about something you really want to do, and if possible, just take a stab at it.  Then do it again.  If it’s exercise, listen to your body!!!  I had cramps all up and down my left arm so I gave it an extra day and felt better, so I went this morning.

If you’ve always wanted to see if BIML will work for you, or looked into being a BI developer instead of what you’re doing now, go for it.  Carve out some time where you won’t be bothered and just take a stab at it.  It’s small steps like this that will move you down the path, or in my case, get me out of the weeds, through the trees, across the pond, and onto the path.

Good luck!

TSQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

I’m really excited to be participating in this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, the monthly blog party that has been running since 2009. This one was started by Ewald Cress.

This is my first post for T-SQL Tuesday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  I just returned from Pass Summit where I had a chance to meet and talk with people in person that I’ve been conversing with online through Twitter in some cases, for years.  It made me really understand something that I understood subconsciously, how amazing #SQLFamily really is.  This community is unlike any other development community, in its participation from so many different backgrounds, it’s inclusion, it’s passion for the technology we all work with and the compassion for people.

I’d been active on Twitter in 2011 when I was first getting into Data Warehousing, but mostly from a development point of view.  Even then, it was more of a question and answer thing.  My company didn’t look favorably on using Twitter as a development tool, but they couldn’t argue with the results.  I fell off the map when I took a new job in the city as a business analyst, and Twitter/Facebook/Most social media were all blocked.

Fast forward to 2014 when I Tweeted for the first time in a while, asking a question and tagging #sqlhelp.  Reading posts of some people I’d followed a while before, I saw some of the people I followed using a hashtag that I didn’t understand – #SQLFamily.  The response to my question was of course, almost immediate, and I struck up a 140 character conversation with someone named @grrl_geek.  Solved the issue I was trying to solve, and her expertise led me to look up some of the stuff she’d written, quickly learning just how much I didn’t know about a lot of things.

I followed her, enjoying her banter with several others whom I quickly followed and all of a sudden the conversations, the discussions, the direct messages with people started making me see something I’d never seen anywhere else – a sense of inclusion.  I’ve always been big into bushido and the way of the samurai, studying various martial arts on and off for the last 25 years.  If you’ve ever posted on ASP.NET or some of the other popular development forums, you can almost expect that someone will couch their answer dripping with sarcasm and “How could you NOT know this already” attitude.  Everything I was reading on people’s blogs and their tweets was supportive and positive, even when they disagreed.

I’ve always been into martial arts, loving Japanese culture especially.  The word samurai comes from the Japanese verb saburai, which means to serve (someone).  I’ve always been a big proponent of sharing what I know, giving back whenever and wherever I can, and doing it because it makes me feel good to help, not because I expected anything back.  I felt more and more; that I was in the company of like-minded people the more I interacted.  Took a chance and tried to answer some #ssrsHelp and #ssisHelp questions as best as I could, wanting to help the community as a whole by giving something back.  It felt good because I’d gone out of my way to do a bit of research before I piped in, and in a few cases it was helpful to the person on the other end.

Without going into too much detail, I came to a crossroads at work.  I had been chasing the almighty dollar and the coveted title of ‘Director of IT’ for so long, I didn’t really look at how miserable I was becoming as I moved farther and farther from development.  I was managing a few people, and we were doing a good job, but I wasn’t happy.  I discussed this with several people, but it was the same @grrl_geek, Jes Borland, who really convinced me that I deserved more, that I deserved to not only be doing what I wanted to do but that I was capable of doing it.  We talked about how she was so happy because she was doing what made her happy, which took a bit to get through my skull but felt so resoundingly right.  She encouraged me to build small projects to dust off my SSIS skills that had been mostly dormant from misuse.  After a while, I came out of my funk.  I had managed to convince myself that I had no alternative, no opportunity to pursue because my skillset as a developer was woefully behind.  Now I felt a glimmer of hope for me and mine.

I put together a pilot project that automated a few of our manual processes and implemented it as a test to see what kind of improvement we’d be looking at.  Showed it to my boss, who quickly diverted my focus to adding a few things and beefing it up a bit with logging and such, and all of a sudden, my confidence came full circle.  Wait, I can do this!  What was I thinking?

I’d spent so much time applying for jobs that I wasn’t qualified for, mostly because I spent most of my energy on applying for positions that were around the same as my management salary.  Yeah, not a good idea, wouldn’t recommend it.  Problem was, I wasn’t sure what my skills were any more, wasn’t sure what I was qualified to do.  Put the Indeed.comApplyFor15JobsANight plan on hold and worked on this project for a bit.  Broke open some old reports written in VB, updated them to use SSRS, dug into PowerBI and PowerShell and there it was – the developer in me never left, I just stopped listening to him.

I got lucky in many ways.  I was able to build some projects that helped me work on both skills and self-esteem, and I was able to move to a job that allowed me to do that fulltime in a less stressful environment (less than 65 hours a week ;)), and build up ‘Me’ to be healthy in so many ways I hadn’t realized.

The real luck was that connection with one person – Jes Borland – and through her, to all of the wonderful people in #SQLFamily.  That’s the concept behind why it works – we’re all here to help one another, to share what we’ve learned, and help people out of the bad, and into the good.  She’s the reason I pushed to go to Summit, to meet her and connect with so many people who had become my friends.  Okay, some of them were the wise-ass brother or the smarter-than-me sister putting me in my place; good people and good friends.  Learned a few weeks before that she was having to attend another event.  So I’ll have to wait to buy her a cup (or ten) of coffee, but it’ll be worth it.  Until then, I try to contribute as much as possible, where I can.

To that end, I’m using this as the inspiration to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I’m going to submit an abstract to a SQLSaturday on “Social Networking 101 – how to Tweet your way to career success through helping others”.  Well, that’s the title that’s in my head 🙂  The abstract is only half done, but I’ve given myself a deadline of this Friday before I go home.

#tsql2sday

SQLFamily Album additions – PASSSummit 2017

I never realized I was an introvert.  As a kid, I was super quiet, something that concerned my mother, so whenever we’d have company, she would set a rule for me.  I had to pick someone there who was not immediate family, someone I had not engaged in a conversation, and talk with them for at least 10 minutes.

I think I was probably about 8 at the time, and for me, it was about as close to torture as possible, but in hindsight, I am really glad she had me do it.  I’m still nervous about reaching out to people, but I have found in almost every single case, the butterflies are worth it.

I was at Pass Summit in Seattle last week with my wife and her friend, they were planning on going out and about for the week while I was in sessions and at after parties ;).  We spent most of Sunday running around town as Monday was my first session.  I was planning on setting things up beforehand to meet people I knew from Twitter for breakfast/coffee/lunch etc, but I didn’t reach out early or often enough so Monday was just sitting down and engaging people at tables, which in hindsight, was actually pretty cool.

In the evening, I was tweeting back and forth with Matt (@SqlAtSpeed) about meeting for breakfast and in my head, we were going to meet Tuesday morning.  I hadn’t realized he wasn’t coming in until that night, but I wanted to make it easy for us to meet up so I tweeted a picture of the sweatshirt I was wearing – had a big Applegate Logo on the back, hard to miss – and that I was sitting near the community zone.  Waited around a bit, when I hear someone behind me say, “Matt?”.  And my connections began.

It was Cathrine (@CathrineW).  “Hey, I saw your tweet and wanted to come say hi!”

This is what started it all, this one connection.  Sure, knew a lot of people from twitter and have been involved in conversations with them there, but this was the first time I met someone I followed, and as a bonus, it was what I thought of as a SQLebrity!   I had always been wanted to take a page out of Slava’s (SlavaSQL) book and take lots of pics with people so I got my first pic!  (I’m 6’1″, she’s not.  I bent down quite a bit for this shot, but it’s my favorite!)

We chatted for a few minutes when she said, “Wait, here’s Mal!” and I was quickly introduced to Malathi Mahadevan and got a shot with the three of us…  Mal is not 6’1″ either 🙂  I’ve been following her for a long time, so it was wonderful to meet in person.

We chatted for a few minutes and Cathrine saw Allen White and took pity on me.  “Allen, take a pic with Matt so he doesn’t have to bend down” and I met another member of #SQLFamily.  He’s also one of the Directors for Pass, so not only did I get to meet someone I’ve been following for a long time, I also met a BigWig! 😉

I heard about a group that Pass was offering called SQLBuddy, so I signed up and was assigned a mentor and a group.  We met up at the Welcome Reception on Tuesday evening, got a chance to take a pic with Lance (@Lance_LT), my group leader and someone he knew who it turned out I also talked to a lot online – Jim (@SQLFlipFlopsDBA).  Lance is in the hat, and yeah, that’s TOTALLY Jim’s hair 😉

One of the things you’ll notice at Pass Summit is that on everyone’s lanyard are tags/flags/small signs – not really sure what to call them.  They’re to note things you’re involved in.  Here’s a pic of Cathrine who is involved in just a few.  Yes, it’s down to her knees:

So, I was feeling pretty good, met a few people, had a bunch of great conversations, met people I hadn’t come across on Twitter, and Tuesday was turning out to be a really good day.  I REALLY wanted the #SQLFamily badge, so I tried tracking down Alexander (@ArcticDBA).   I’d been tweeting back and forth about the badges with Ginger Grant (@DesertIsleSQL) and practically bumped into her going to a session, so I took a pic.

After several misses to try and meet, finally found Alexander in an excellent session with the Guys in a Cube – Adam Saxton(@AWSaxton) and Patrick LeBlanc (@PatrickDBA)

 

I got the chance to meet someone I’ve been following for a while and realized as much as I enjoyed his banter online, he’s SO much cooler in person.  Kevin Kline had an Intro to Pass Summit session which was really informative, glad I went.  Reiterated a lot of stuff I’d been thinking.  Got to talk to him afterward and get a pic with him.

Got pics of several speakers I enjoyed sessions with, and met several other people that I didn’t get pics with, but all in all, I think it’s a pretty good start to my #SQLFamily family album.

Make sure you make your way through exhibitor booths, you never know who you’ll run into!  I’ve been following Monica (@SQLEspresso) and John (@SqlrUs) for a long time, and now they both work for the same company!

I even got a chance to take a pic with someone who wasn’t even there!  Lance’s wife Angela  (@AngelaTidwell)came in spirit!

PassSummit 2017 First Timer – Recap & Thoughts

I posted about each day I was at Summit, here are the links to the daily posts –

Day 1Day 2  |  Day 3  |  Day 4  |  Day 5

I’ve read a lot of stuff on Pass Summit from previous years, and all of it was helpful.  It was my hope that putting together my own recollections and tips might help a few people who are thinking about going to the Summit in future years.  As I think of things or people comment, I’ll update this list.  Please feel free to comment!

Planning on posting more on how to prepare, etc, once it gets closer to  Pass Summit 2018.  (Boss liked a lot of it and was really glad he came with me.  Hoping that means I’ll be back!)

General Thoughts/Tips/Advice

First and most importantly – if you’re thinking of coming to Pass Summit, find a way to make it happen.  They have so many different sessions to offer and I’m finding so many things that I can start planning and so many things I can implement immediately just based on things that I learned in sessions, meeting with vendors, and talking with other attendees.  If you’re having problems convincing the powers that be, Grant Fritchey put together a great post on it in 2016 that covers a lot of great points.

Second – prepare accordingly.  Work on making some connections through twitter or slack and I can almost guarantee you they’ll introduce you to so many more.  I tweeted a pic of me and my location in the convention center so someone I was meeting for breakfast could find me.  Ended up meeting two people I was acquainted with from Twitter because they saw it and found me.  Pass Summit and SQLSaturdays are important for the content that they bring to the table, but in my opinion, the real benefit of these events are the people and the conversations you can get into at the events.  When are you going to be able to discuss an idea with so many people in the same boat?  When will you have access to the clinics and the vendors that are onsite the whole time at Pass or possibly at the SQLSaturday event?

Third – Talk to people, sit down at a table that has some people you’ve never met and introduce yourself.  Tell them who you work for and what you do.  Focus on asking questions about them if you aren’t comfortable talking about yourself.  Discuss the food, the weather, SQL, how much you love MS Access!  (yeah, okay maybe not).

Fourth – Pace yourself.  I’m an outgoing, gregarious introvert.  I love talking to people and being at this event, but we all have limits.  I realized quickly that I do need to take time to be alone, or recharge, or just get enough sleep.  I took a flight in on Sunday and had plenty of time to adjust to the time change and the hotel.  Went out, had a nice dinner, and got plenty of sleep that night.  I took the Red-Eye out on Friday – don’t know if I’d do that again, Saturday was a complete wash.  Someone I ate with on Friday called over to someone she knew and said: “Hey, come join us, or are you done?”   He definitely was, but appreciated the invite and smiled at us.

Fifth – BRING LOTS OF CARDS!  I had mine printed up right before I went and on the suggestion of several, kept some in my lanyard, some in my backpack and some in my room.  If you can, write down what the conversation was about on the card and giving it to them helps remember who and what.

Lastly – enjoy yourself.  Know your limits, and where you can push them at times.  When it comes to alone time or sleep, I had to be careful.  When it came to my propensity to not want to walk up to people and introduce myself, I pushed myself.  I think I got a picture with about 10-20 people I follow/chat with on Twitter and posted them.

Network, Network, Network

Preparing for Summit or SQL Saturday:

  1. First – you’re probably already signed up for an account since you’re thinking about Pass Summit, but if not, go to Pass.org, sign up for a free account, and look for Local Groups and SQLSaturdays near you.  SQLSaturdays are like the Pass Summit, but it’s local, they’re all over the place, and it’ s one day.  The entry is free – lunch is usually a few bucks but it’s worth it.
  2. Get a twitter account.
  3. Go to Tweetdeck and sign in.  Create a search column and use #sqlhelp as the criteria.  This hashtag is used when you have a question about things SQL Related.  It’s not a free for all so word your question properly and do your homework.
  4. Find people who are posting things and follow them.  I found that following one person I connected with what they tweeted/blog led me to 10 more who had just as much to say on other topics.  Pretty soon I was off to the races.
  5. Feel free to follow me – @sqlkohai – and look at the people I’m following.  There are a lot of really amazing people I follow, too many to name, but you can’t go wrong starting with @AndyLeonard ‏, @patrickdba@grrl_geek @BrentO, I can go on and on.  You might have different people you like to read blogs of or enjoy their tweets.  Follow them for a while and see what they have to say.
  6. Some people also have websites for blogs, videos, scripts, tips, etc.  As you refine your online profile and figure out what you like, check out their stuff.  Smart, smart people. 
  7. Slack is also another great resource that’s becoming more and more viable.  There are channels for a lot of the events besides Summit.  The specific site you want is https://sqlcommunity.slack.com
  8. Engage people, see if you can add to the conversation, ask for advice.  The #SQLFamily community is an amazing example of people who are going to help you in any way they can and encourage you to do likewise.  I lost track of the number of times people talked about volunteering or speaking or just lending a hand.
  9. Try to take some of the people that you’ve gotten to know from above, and see if you can plan to meet them at some point for something organized – Welcome Reception, First Timers Networking reception, Sponsors Reception -, or unorganized – for breakfast before, coffee during, lunch, etc.
Sessions
  1. There’s a difference between regular sessions and pre-con sessions.  Pre-con tend to be longer and more intense on the subject.  I did both days at Summit this year and my brain almost exploded I learned so much.  Just a note – I don’t think the Pre-cons are recorded at Summit or Saturday events.
  2. If it’s the Summit or SQLSaturday, check out the schedule ahead of time, and see what is being offered.  If possible, have a backup for each timeslot.  The descriptions are really good at telling you what to expect, but if you find yourself not feeling it for the session you’re in, bounce and hit your alternate.  (For one timeslot, I had 4 things marked, and by word of mouth, attended a 5th that was not even on my list – no regrets, learned tons!)
  3. Take the time to talk to people while you’re there.  If you get into a good conversation about a topic, keep the conversation going – don’t run off to a session.
  4. In response to the last point at Summit – get the recordings, it’s worth it.  If you get the All in One package, the recordings come with it.  Regardless of how you get the recordings, you can pick and choose and won’t lose out if there’s more than one thing you want to see.
  5. Make sure you fill out the evaluations and give feedback.  “That was awesome” or “That sucked” doesn’t help the speaker improve their technique/slidedeck/delivery.  Be honest, but give actionable advice.  “More demos like the one with the chart” or “Dude, there’s a typo on the slide for This or That” or “You’re so excited which is great, but at times you sped through what I thought were important things” are much more helpful.

Lessons Learned

  1. There are a bunch of events that are going on connected to the event, as well as sponsored by vendors.  There’s a SQLKareoke event sponsored by different vendors just about every single night, and plenty of pop up gatherings and bars and restaurants around Seattle.  I volunteered to help at SQLGameNight, which was a great gathering of people to play board games and talk.
  2. If it’s your first time, sign up for both the First Timer event as well as the SQLBuddy program.  Both REALLY excellent opportunities for you to meet people and have someone to sit and eat with.
  3. Someone told me to bring cards, so I got them set up so they had my Twitter handle on the card.  Bring lots, and give them to people you’re talking with.  Might want to highlight your twitter handle, it helps people identify you.  Hat tip to Kevin from DallasDBAs.
  4. Don’t be afraid to approach someone you are in awe of.  They’re all very cool and chill and welcoming as hell.  Bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet Brent Ozar or Pinal Dave, but from what I gleaned, they’re very nice and totally approachable.  Grant Fritchey mentioned in the Thursday keynote and mentioned that people should really just come up and introduce themselves.  He really meant it!  Couldn’t find him, but again, heard from others that he’s super nice.
  5. Put your badge somewhere you won’t forget it.  Getting to the convention center only to have to walk back and get it, is annoying!!!  Especially when it’s early and your starving!
  6. If you’re taking notes in a notebook, put your name and contact info on the cover or first page.  I thought I’d lost mine (was buried in my bag), but I freaked out for a while thinking of all the great stuff I’d put into it over the week, only to lose it.
  7. If it doesn’t come with your registration, buy the recordings!
  8. The PreCon sessions are all day on Mon and Tue.  SOOOOOO worth it.  Those two sessions alone were worth the price of the convention.
  9. Be careful, you might end up getting what you asked for.  I was really nervous to go and meet all of these people I’d been talking with, and in some cases – in awe of, but when it all panned out, I had a really great time with some really amazing people.

For the Foodies

  • (caveat – I have celiac disease so I have to eat gluten-free, which makes things interesting, to say the least.  Also, my wife and her best friend came with me for the trip, they bounced all over the city doing stuff while I was working!!! 😉  They had a ball trying to track down the best Dungeness crab eggs benedict.  From what I gathered, the restaurant in the Four Seasons, Goldfinch Tavern, had the winner.)
  • If you’re like me and grateful that your company sent you and are trying to keep expenses down, the food in the convention center was really good and had everything allergy related clearly marked – gluten, lactose, nuts, etc.  Made eating really easy for me.  (Should see if we can get my company, Applegate Farms, to sponsor part of the convention! :))
  • Capitol Cider – Would go back for as many meals as possible, would walk if I had to.
    • Haven’t had fish and chips in more than 6 yrs, and this did not disappoint.  The whole kitchen is gluten and nut free, and DAMN that was good.  First time I’ve been able to get app, entree, and dessert at one place for a meal.  Hushpuppies were excellent.
  • Cafe Yumm – Would not go back
    • It is just fast food, but really Not a fan.  We were so tired from walking around on Sunday that it was okay to get something quick.  Added grilled chicken to my rice bowl with veggies.  The chicken was like jerky, tough as hell.  Wife and her friends’ meals seemed to be decent, but wouldn’t recommend unless you were like us and had really sore feet, and didn’t want to go far.
  • Blueacre Seafood – Would go back
    • Had brunch here on Sunday when we got in.  Nursing a major headache, the eggs benedict was really good (yeah, that seemed to be the breakfast theme for the week).
  • Wild Ginger – Would go back for as many meals as possible, would walk if I had to.
    • Great food, great service.  Wings were nice and spicy!  We fell in love with this place when we were here in 2007 and it’s still just as wonderful.
  • Blue C Sushi – Would go back
    • Stuff on big screen was entertaining as hell, cool conveyor belt sushi
    • Met up with a SQLFamily member, Andy, and a few people he knew.  It’s fairly good sushi, but the chance to get conveyor belt sushi was too good to pass up.  I know, weird, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

Stuff to look at, investigate, etc.

  1. I didn’t even know about Pass TV, well I think I’d heard of it but I’d been so focused on going to the event, I didn’t look at it much.
  2. 24 Hours of Pass – want to see what’s up with that.
  3. Work on first Abstract to speak.  Yeah, all of the talk about volunteering and giving back, I want to put several together.  I believe that Cathrine Wilhelmsen gave me the idea for the first one – Event Networking 101.  This post is making my brain spit out lots of content for it I think.
  4. BIML & Powershell – two things I knew zip about before attending, but sessions during make me want to see where I can use both.

PassSummit First Timer – Day 5

Woke up a little earlier than the rest of the week to meet some people for an early breakfast.  The sessions are at slightly different times since there’s no keynote, and there’s no session after the last one ends at 4:45.

Got to listen to Andy Leonard for a talk on BIML and SSIS, which truthfully I thought I’d be lost in, but everyone told me I had to attend at least one session with him.  I know ZIP about Biml, but even not knowing more than what it stands for, I was able to follow along with him and learned quite a bit.  His delivery is really excellent, you really want to check out anything he might be presenting.  Funny guy too – his accent took me back to being in college in Virginia if nothing else 🙂

Went to a great session on becoming the next Speaker that was really well presented by Eddie Wuerch.  Really great breakdown of how to prepare everything for your first time speaking.  Tips like how to prepare abstract to the most important thing – go to the bathroom 20 min before your slot! 🙂  Good tidbits that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Ended with an ETL best practices session that confirmed a bunch of stuff I’m already doing and picked up a few things that will definitely help.  If nothing else, it was validating in that some of the extra stuff I do regularly is helpful in the long run 🙂

All in all, a really satisfying, educational and successful networking event.  It was really great to put a face to a lot of the people I’ve been following for a long time on Twitter.

I’m going to put together another post to link each of the days, general thoughts, lessons learned and food recommendations section for me to refer to if/when I come next year.  Being able to come was amazing, but to have my boss come and really ‘get it’ as well was really rewarding.  My hope is that this was just the first trip in a long string of events I’m fortunate enough to attend.

 

PassSummit First Timer – Day 4

“Good morning girls and boys.  Today’s lesson is all about Volunteering and Making Connections.  Can you all say that with me now?”

Went to a lot of great sessions, especially at the end of the day for Effective Report Authoring Using Power BI Desktop with Miguel Llopis and Will Thompson.  Coined a new phrase in the session in relation to Natural Language Query – “Clicky Clicky, Asky Asky”.  Some seriously cool stuff to check out.

Aside from the content, I had the chance to meet SO many people here that I’ve been following forever and some for a few weeks and the welcome I’ve received from so many has been really wonderful.  I realized today that I love it here and I don’t want to give it up.  One of the ways I can help give back a fraction of the wonderful-ness I’ve been a part of is to get off my butt and start participating.  I’m helping out at a Game Night event tonight, but more than that, I want to speak.  I want to be one of the people up on stage encouraging others to learn and go outside their comfort zone and share what they know and are passionate about.

Do I know what I want to speak about?  No.  Do I have some ideas?  Yep, and some of them are only mildly ridiculous.

By contributing to an event like Pass Summit, or SQLSaturday, or a local user group, I can challenge myself to understand more and train myself in conveying what I’ve learned to others.  I’ve found that I really love teaching my Database class at the community college near me.  This would be a much more responsive audience!!!:)

I’ve made so many connections today…..That’s actually not true.  I’ve made so many connections through Twitter over the years, I’ve STRENGTHENED those connections by finally getting a chance to sit down and talk, to just shake hands, or even just get a hug while I’m running late to a session, or trading cards so we can meet after at an event or at a bite to eat.

If you’re thinking of coming to Pass Summit, do it.  Aside from the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained in a very short time, I’ve gained so much more in networking with people who are all really wonderful.

PassSummit First Timer – Day 3

Wednesday was a busy day!  Keynote speaker and guests were all wonderful.  Needed to turn the AC on, but lots of really cool stuff.  Want to see the new SSMS studio, believe they said it’d be released fairly soon.  Looking forward to it looks pretty slick.

Some good sessions yesterday, some formal, some informal.  Getting a chance to talk to both Guys in a Cube was pretty cool.  They had a really great session.  I’ve been following a lot of people on twitter since I got into it, realizing that it was an excellent way to connect with an amazing community of like-minded people.  I’ve posted on websites and in groups, but I’ve never found such a responsive and supportive community as I have on Twitter.  Starting back in 2011, I realized that the #SQLHelp hashtag was going to save me time after time.  #SSISHelp also pulled my bacon out of the fire more than once and I’m so grateful to the people who have helped me over the years.  Not only with technical issues, but also with helpful support and advice about career moves, and just in general.

I’ve been inspired by people over the years, reading their blogs and following the links they post to broaden my knowledge in the field.  Finally meeting some of them at this conference has been an absolutely rewarding experience.  One of the things I’ve wanted to do since I came to my first BI conference, was to get up and speak.  To share what I’ve learned, maybe give someone a perspective that might be different or exactly like theirs.  I’ve gotten so much out of my interactions here, not just the sessions which have been excellent.  I’m getting so much out of the conversations I’m having with people between sessions, at the First Timer networking event and other planned things.

Finally getting to meet people I’ve been talking to online for years has made me realize just how much this community means to me.  Kevin Kline mentioned in his session on Pass Summit 2017 that this group of people is dedicated to sharing ideas and information and giving back through volunteering and speaking.  I can’t agree more, he and a few other speakers have inspired me to take steps to getting up and speaking.  Don’t know on what, and don’t know where, but I’m already working on a few submissions for topics at SQLSaturdays near me.  Even if I submit and don’t get to do it, it’s the step, it’s the desire and the action forward that gives me a feeling of satisfaction, that I’m proactive and not just sitting back and watching.

So I’m standing here before breakfast on Day 4, waiting for my boss and some others to go eat breakfast, with cold knees.  Women in Technology day is today, and as a show of support, there are a bunch of people who are wearing kilts.  Not sure about the others, but I can honestly say, “MY MOM MADE MINE!!!”, and I’m proud of it 🙂  Hopefully I can get a pic with a bunch of the others and post it in here.

If you’re reading this, and thinking if coming to Summit next year is a good idea, stop thinking and start planning on how you’re going to get here.  I’ve made so many amazing connections here, learned so much, and feel like I’m on fire to get back to the office and start planning on how we can implement what I’ve learned.

Follow me on twitter and look through the people I’m following.  There are some REALLY smart, helpful, wonderful people to connect with, way too many to list here.

PassSummit First Timer – Day 2

Finally met some #SQLFamily!!!

Posted a tweet about where I was sitting waiting to meet someone and 2 minutes later up walks  to welcome me.  This is what it’s all about – reaching out and making people feel welcome.  She really epitomizes the concept of it too, really warm and nice, made me feel right at home immediately.  And in quick succession, introduces me to  and  and Paul Turley.  I’ve been following them all for a while on Twitter, but to finally meet them in person is really nice.

I usually don’t have 9 chins, I had to squat pretty low to get in the pic with these ladies.  I’m 6’2″, they are not 🙂

I think she introduced me to Allen mostly so I wouldn’t have to bend down so much to get the picture! 🙂

Got to talk with them for a few minutes and waited a bit longer.  Realized that I’d mixed up the info and didn’t realize I was tweeting back and forth with someone who wasn’t going to be there until that night, so I went in to get some food.  (By the way, if you have to worry about Gluten like I do, it’s so easy – they have everything labeled really well.  Tho I would like to request some gluten-free desserts.  I appreciate the fruit, but those brownies looked sooooo good.)

I took some advice I’ve been seeing people tweet about approaching first-timers, so I looked for someone sitting by themselves.  Found someone and sat and talked for a while with Lee from Portland, gave him my card too, so hopefully, he’ll see this and shoot me a message either here or on twitter!

Learned all about SSRS 2016/17 in Paul Turley’s precon, picked up a bunch of stuff I’m going to be able to apply as soon as I get back to the office on Monday that I’m excited to implement – Power BI and Mobile Reports.  Good session and got to meet Andy Yun for lunch (didn’t take a pic, I’m bummed) and met some more SQLFamily at Blue C Sushi – recommend it to anyone who wants the whole conveyor belt sushi experience.  I know, a bit lame, but I really liked it.  Plus, if you go, check out the ski jumpers on the widescreen, they’re hilarious.

After the second half of the SSRS session, I attended the First Timers meet and greet.  Definitely a cool opportunity to meet people who are new to the Summit experience.  Funny thing was, there were three other people from NJ, one dude from PA, and a girl from DE.  I did talk to a guy from MN, but otherwise, I felt like I was back in the Tri-state area 🙂  Great event, highly recommend it if you’re coming to Summit for the first time.

At this point, I was pretty spent – my clock is still wonky – but agreed to go to the Welcome Reception based on a few people I’d met during the Meet and Greet.  I think that these two events, more than anything is the thing that a lot of people miss at conventions like this.  The opportunity to network with people you’ve never met, and might end up making friends with or have common issues or anything along those lines.  Looking forward to tomorrow – keynote and multiple sessions all day.

One thing I’d also recommend – there’s a SQLBuddy program that you can sign up for.  They put a bunch of first timers together with someone who’s been here before so you know a few people before you get here.  We all exchanged emails for the few weeks before and after several missed opportunities, I finally met with Meryl, and then with the rest of my group at the reception.

Here’s me with my SQLBuddy Lance and SQLFlipFlopsDBA – (god I look weird in selfies).  Lance wasn’t wearing his cool ass monocle or using his Sherlock pipe!

Lessons learned:

  • Following things on twitter and Slack channels really help.
  • The amount of chatter on Twitter and Slack can also be really distracting :).
  • Take a pic of yourself and send it to people you’re going to meet for lunch or coffee.  Makes it a lot easier to find people if you know what they look like.  This is how I met Cathrine!
  • Don’t be afraid to approach someone and say hi, even if it’s a SQLebrity!  Still wanting to get a Twelfie with Brent O!
  • Get involved with the minor events and happenings, even if it’s just meeting for coffee during the breaks.

Places to eat:

  • Capitol Cider was the bomb!  100% gluten-free (except the beer),  had fish and chips for the first time in YEARS!
  • Wild Ginger was the place we went to multiple times when we were here in 2007 for the original Microsoft BI Conference in 2007.  It didn’t disappoint!  Show your Badge and I think they give 10%.  If you like spicy, get the wings!
  • I wanted to like Cafe Yumm, but the chicken I added to my bowl was dry and like jerky, not a fan.
  • Breakfast at Blueacre Seafood was really good, but I heard the Dungeness crab eggs benedict at Goldfinch was much better.
  • I’ll post more food stuff tomorrow.