Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Christmas Wishlist

With Christmas less than 2 weeks away, I've been diligently shopping for family presents. Finally, just last night, my husband asks "was there anything you wanted for a Christmas present?". Well, yeah. But the things I *want* don't make any sense. Not one of them is anything practical or needed...
  1. Amazon Kindle*. I already own one. It's 1st Generation. It has a nice little slot for a memory card. The new ones don't. There is really no good reason I want to replace it other than it's out of date.
  2. iPad*. I have a smartphone. I have a 32GB iTouch. I have a laptop that lives in the living room. Why in the world would I need an iPad? I have no idea. They're just so....shiny....
  3. Droid X phone. I have a Droid already. Again, 1st Gen...I gotta quit early adopting!
  4. an L-Shaped couch. We had to move around some furniture to put the tree by the street-side window. So now we have a chair with an ottoman at a right-angle with the couch. There's the empty corner where we have a sad little side table, but the setup really would be great - IF we had the right couch. So, for now, it's the Clampet's version, and probably for several more years until the wee ones get older.
  5. A flat screen tv for the playroom. It won't be the playroom forever...right? Besides, where else can we play Kinect?
  6. Karaoke machine. I've been so frustrated with the playlists available when I go out (what, like twice a year?!) and after filching some of Aunt Kathi's tunes in Seattle, I'm planning to buy some of my own as well. Now, I just need a method for playing and singing along with them :)
All completely frivolous ideas. None needed. None practical. So, there Santa (if you're listening) there's my TRUE Christmas Wish List, world peace not included.

*Aside - I think I have entered every contest I can think of to win either of these items.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

T-SQL Tuesday: What a Business Wants...

is not always what a business needs.

Anyone working on or with a Development Team understands there are communication barriers. Like the story of the three blind men describing an elephant, each person has their own perspective on what it is they 'want'. If I have learned anything at all over the years, it's that people (departments) often want things, but they either a) don't understand how to ask for it or b) refuse to listen to other ideas.

A great example is a project I was once handed where an entire process was laid out t-sql. A nightly process would run; a flat file would be generated; a proc would massage the data to a database table; another proc would remove any data that wasn't needed and then copy the data to an Access database on regional servers, which would in turn be copied to local user's machines.

The issue? Sometimes people's databases didn't have the same data. Really? I'm so shocked....

What did the business ask for: Make sure the copy process was working and delivering the database files in a timely manner.

That is certainly NOT what the business needed!

Fortunately, after several meetings and working with Sr. Management people, I was able to show sell them on a better way. This particular story has a happy ending, as the business got a stable process and a repeatable end product. Could I have given them what they 'wanted'? Sure. Would they have been happy with that? Maybe for a short time.

Unfortunately, there are more unsuccessful than successful stories out there. Working with people from different perspectives on any project will surely lead to differences of opinion. The difficult part is to make sure someone is stepping up and verifying what they NEED and not just what they WANT.

This T-SQL Tuesday topic has been brought to you at the prompting of Steve Jones (@Way0utwest | blog) and the T-SQL Tuesday project.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's your PASSion?

It's a little late for a SQL PASS Summit 2010 recap, but I still wanted to share some of my experience from the event.

Each year, an award is given to a single recipient for displaying a passion in working with PASS and the SQL Server Community: The PASSion Award. This year, I was honored and humbled to be that person. Looking back at this past year, I'm dumbfounded to see all the things in which I became involved. It started with a letter sent to my current General Manager trying to justify my attendance at the Summit. What did I do? Started a new User Group in the Chicago suburbs, tried my hand at blogging, brought together Team SQL Saturday for the Chicago event, worked as co-chair for the Women In Technology Virtual Chapter, worked on the WIT Luncheon for the Summit, spoke at a few UG meetings and SQL Saturdays, and became a Regional Mentor for the Midwest. You know what, even looking at that list, I still feel that I didn't do all I wanted. Most of these things were (and still are) hard work, and yes, the ball gets dropped now and then. Looks like Michelangelo's theory is true:
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
I started thinking 'What drives passion'? What motivates any one person to get out there and spend their spare time working on things that may or may not come to fruition? Taking a look inward, I have to say that I never intended to do any of these things with any tangible goals in mind other than "bring people together". As to the question of Why? - honestly it was more the fact that I had a an opportunity to work with really fun people who wanted to do the same things I did - so, I took it. Maybe I just got lucky that those opportunities happened somewhat simultaneously. However, looking at it more realistically, each one grew out of another.

Thank you to all the wonderful people I've met, worked with and studied from over this past year. You make it fun and worth doing!

So, go now, find your PASSion and have fun, plus meet like-minded people along the way! You really can get back out of it, sometimes even greater than, what you put into it.

Consider yourself tagged :)