Friday, November 11, 2011

SQL Family is...

...not having to explain what your job is when you tell someone you're a DBA
...being a more valuable asset to a company because of the readiness of others to share their expertise
...meeting a friend for the first time in person
...having a shoulder to lean on when things get tough
...knowing there is someone out there who has encountered this problem before and they are willing to share their experience
...discovering new things about people you've known for years and that you share some common backgrounds (I recently learned that both Kendal and I served as Corps Commander for our respective ROTC groups in High School)
...never worrying about walking around Seattle alone
...never eating dinner alone
...knowing that if you screw up, there will be people there to let you know it but they will also get you to the right answer back and paying forward where and when you can

(This post written in the tradition of the Love Is... comics which I always enjoyed reading and now have been sharing them with my children)

Thank you to Thomas LaRock for another great #memeMonday theme!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ada Lovelace Day, October 7

It's become an annual tradition, on October 7th to celebrate Women In Technology and honor the legacy of Ada Lovelace. This year, many are talking about the women who have influenced them in their careers.
I plan to do the same in this post, but probably not honoring the people you would at first think.

As a member of the SQL community, there are the women who are at the top of all of our lists: Kalen Delaney and Kimberly Tripp to name the first two who come to mind (followed closely by Karen Lopez and Kendra I the only one sensing a trend with the 'K' names here?). However, the women in our community who have influenced me most are not household names, but deserve recognition, if only from me.

First, is Denise McInerny. A long time member of the SQL PASS community, I met her on my first day of my very first Summit (see Summit Memories post). Denise has been quite an inspiration to me over the years and not just because of her involvement with the WIT community. I admire her drive and sense of perspective in so many ways! She is not afraid of challenging the status quo and has no problem standing up for what she believes is Right. As much as she is an advocate of WIT, she's also a great person to go to when I'm not sure how to interpret events or resolve conflicts. Thanks, Denise for all the years of support and guidance, it's truly appreciated!

Next, I'd like to bring your attention to Kim Tessereau. I don't think she knows it, but she's been a big influence on me, inspiring me to take the stand and speak at a technical level. I've always loved teaching, and her easy-going style and ability to break concepts down into manageable chunks is something I aspire to reach. You can catch Kim at SQL Saturday events in the Midwest, so don't miss her if you get the chance!

Finally, for service with a smile no matter how crazy things can get, I'd like to recognize Sanjeet Gandham from PASS HQ. Sanj is always on top of things. She keeps absolutely everything organized. I wish I had 1/10th of the organizational ability she displays. Sanj, thank you for inspiring me to take on the tasks I have and give me the faith that I *can* get it all done.

Thank you all - I'm happy to not only know you and have the opportunity to work with you, but also to call each of you 'friend'.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Links for Presentations

Read Dirty To Me...Isolation Levels in SQL Server (Kendra Little - FREE Poster!) (Excellent reference page) (Transaction Phenomena)
Nolock info:

Visualizing Your Indexes: The Science Behind The Art (Grant Fritchey's Series on Indexing) (Jason Strate, finding missing Indexes) (Paul Randal presentation) (Michelle Ufford) (MidnightDBA) (Indexed Views) (Reading Pages) (Clustered Indexes) (Fill Factor) (Filtered Indexes)

Friday, September 16, 2011

PASS Summit Memories

Another #memeMonday

Yeah, I know...It's Friday. Deal.
**Authors note: I scheduled this to post last Friday, apparently that did NOT happen.

All week, people have been posting some of their favorite memories from the PASS Annual Summit. I am fortunate that for me, there are many to choose from. Some, people have heard me tell a few times, others I'm under strict NDA, so you'll just have to hang out and catch those as they happen!

My first, and still my fondest Summit memory is from my very first Summit, back in Orlando in the Year of the Hurricane. The Summit was actually delayed a day, but I had no trouble arriving on schedule, so I did what any Midwesterner would do when in Florida in November...I went to Epcot!  That evening, it was time for the Welcome Reception at the resort, so I spruced up, pushed the elevator button and waited to descend 30-some-odd floors to the party.

It was on that fateful elevator ride I met my first other attendee at the Summit*. A nice-looking guy with glasses and a mischievous smile was wearing a badge and reading it, I happened to notice he was from Kansas City. Having grown up in St. Louis, and having spent a few years just outside of KC and visiting family there often (my home-away-from-home, truly), I felt an immediate kinship with this fellow Missourian, so I introduced myself. Being horrible with names, I was happy that his was easy to remember: Bill. Whew, nothing like trying to meet new people and forgetting their names...Bill would be easy enough to commit to memory. So we chatted for a minute or two about KC and the Summit and he learned this was my first time attending. I was really excited when he mentioned he would like to introduce me to some other people he knew attending, as I wasn't much looking forward to standing around at a big party with no one to talk to.

As we enter the party, my new friend looks around for his other 'people' and spots them several feet away.

"Hey DENISE! I have another one for you!" I hear him call. Now that made me giggle :) This wasn't my first technical conference, so I get it that women are few and far between at these things**. Plus, I could tell this guy was being genuine and he really was excited to help the ladies network. I spent the rest of the evening, and the Summit that year hanging out with my new found friends.

And, that, dear reader, is how I met Bill Graziano and Denise McInerny at my very first Summit!

*Okay, that's stretching it a tad, I did meet some other folks on the bus to Epcot.
**It's impressive how the percentage of female attendes has grown at Summit over the years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Tour...Hope to Meet You Soon!

There have been a number of changes in my career these past few months, and one of the more exciting things for me was being picked to join five other SQL Server community members as part of Idera's ACE program! I am very happy that they will be assisting me and the others in making it out to more community events around the country.
So, where can you find me? Take a look!

Saturday, September 17th - SQL Saturday Kalamazoo
I'll be presenting TWO sessions and sitting on the Women In Technology panel during lunch

Tuesday, October 4th - Suburban Chicago SQL Server Users Group
Join us for a presentation from Microsoft on the new version of SQL Server, Denali
You will be able to RSVP the week prior to the event.

Thursday, October 13th - PASS Summit, Seattle WA
For the first time, I will be presenting a session at the flagship Summit event!

Saturday, October 29th - SQL Saturday Kansas City
The schedule has not been posted yet, so not sure if I'll be presenting, but I will be there anyway. Be sure to stop and say 'Hi!'

Tuesday, November 1st - Suburban Chicago SQL Server Users Group
*If you are interested in sharing your SQL Server knowledge with the community, send me an email and we can work you into our schedule!
You will be able to RSVP the week prior to the event.

Also, I'm working on making it out to Mountain View, CA or Phoenix, AZ early next year.

Finally, keep your calendar open for SQL Saturday CHICAGO, coming your way again Spring 2012!

Monday, April 4, 2011

#memeMonday - SQL Style

Fun idea for a blog/twitter meme today from Tom LaRock!

"Requirements" should (must!) mean more than air-quotes can convey.

Tagging: Kim Tessereau, Bill Fellows (aww, you already did it!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SQL Saturday #67 Chicago - Take a Bow

Closing the books on our 2nd annual SQL Saturday in Chicago, it's evident this one was a resounding success!

There are so many great posts out there already, let's take a different look here...

Sponsors - THANK YOU! Without your support these events just couldn't happen in a city such as ours. At the very least they wouldn't be the great events they have grown into and we certainly wouldn't be able to accomodate up to 400 attendees! Please check out our Sponsor Page and try a free trial of some of the products offered (some ARE actually free!)

Speakers - THANK YOU! Without the incredible knowledge you share and the sacrifice of your time, the community would not be as strong as it is. The selfless act of donating not only your time but your knowledge as well makes the SQL community a force to be reckoned with.

Volunteers - THANK YOU! As much planning as the staff can manage ahead of time, it's those extra hands that make it all come together at the end, and the day-of the event. Without your sacrifice of time - which you could have spent attending a session - you manned a table, checked people in, handed out t-shirts, helped people find rooms, etc etc etc. Our gratitude goes out to you a hundred-fold.

Venue - THANK YOU! A huge thanks to DeVry in Addison, IL. Your facility made our event first class education for our attendees. Having a technical facility for these kind of events really steps it up in a BIG way. We are very much looking forward to working with you again next year.

Staff - I've already thanked the great staff assembled this year HERE and apparently did such a great job of making sure they were recognized, that people keep forgetting I was on the staff too! Having a larger number of people involved definitely made it easier. The whole 'divide and conquer' attitude worked very well and allowed people to delegate. Is there still room for improvement? Definitely! We already have more ideas for next year, so stay tuned.

Okay, so when I originally wrote this, I had another particular group in mind to give a big THANK YOU to, and I can't believe I forgot!

To the Spouses and Familes of everyone involved - THANK YOU! The time and dedication of so many people is invaluable and without your support it just wouldn't be possible. Everyone has a busy life at home and obligations to meet. Your contribution hasn't gone unnoticed and is very much appreciated!

Things that defintely worked better:
  • Speed Pass for check-in
  • Nice bins for collecting Raffle Tickets
  • Much nicer event t-shirts
  • Chapter table
  • End of the day Raffle Drawing

Things that still need a little work:

  • Event Evaluations
  • Speaker Evaluations / prize giveaways
  • Chapter table

The biggest red mark for us was the evaluation process. I tried to model the prize giveaways after the Kansas City SQL Saturday method, but it fell flat. I believe moving the Chapters table (where the prizes were waiting for the winners) to a more central location would have helped that out significantly. Also, communicating to the speakers about how to handle the evals at the close of their sessions - I spoke to many of them, but it would have been nicer to have something at each podium as reminder. Alternatively, we could have had designated room monitors for each session. That's a lot of people, but something to consider for next time.

Overall, the event was amazing! We had top-notch everything from Sponsors to Speakers to Attendees. My biggest surprise was how excited our out-of-town guests were to get Dunkin Donuts - I had no idea they didn't have those at home! I like to give the event a home town feel, as if we were inviting people into our home, I hope we were successful in that and we look forward to seeing you again.

C'mon Back Next Time, y'all!

Some blog posts already out there:
Grant Fritchey
Aaron Lowe
John Pertell
Nic Cain
Jason Strate
Jes Schultz Borland
Bob Pusateri
Gill Rowley
Christina Leo
Mark Vaillancourt
Doug Lane
Kim Tessereau
Hope Foley

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pre-Event Thank Yous

As SQL Saturday Chicago comes screaming around the bend ready to cross the finish line, there are a lot of people you should know so when you see them at the event, you can thank them personally. Without their dedication to a successful (and fun!) day for everyone, Chicago would not be able to present this great resource to the community. Let me introduce them to you in case you weren't aware.

Norman Kelm - the man with the connections and SQL Saturday Superman! Norman has been both the grease and the wheel this year and he deserves majority of the credit for bringing it all together with DeVry and all of our great sponsors!

Ted Kreuger - not many can single-handedly tackle close to 150 submitted sessions and pull together a varied and top-notch schedule for a one day event. Bravo, Ted, and thanks again for wearing this hat!

Bob Pusateri - Lunch this year will be provided by a local downtown food vendor - Mr. Meatyballs! Bob has put in many hours pulling together a scrumptious lunch for everyone, and we get a local celebrity to do it to boot! Move over, Wolfgang Puck....

Bill Lescher - Bill, I'm going to thank you now because I know what's coming. Being in charge of Registration for such an event is a big job with little prep time. With help from my co-worker Rich Rousseau (who actually can't even be at the event and just welcomed a new addition to his family!) I know you will have everything going smoothly.

Aaron Lowe - another of my fabulous co-workers, Aaron has been behind the scenes keeping things in check and making great recommendations.

And, not officially on the staff, but always willing to step in and help out whenever needed, I'd like to thank Jes Borland for coming through with the t-shirts for us! Thanks for your ideas and your perseverance with helping us pull together something people will be much happier with this time around.

There will be (and are) many more Thanks to come, but these people have really been hitting it hard here to make this happen and I hope you find time to thank them when you see them at SQL Saturday in Chicago in just two short weeks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wrapping up WIT Week at SQL University

It's been a great week at SQL University once again! Several prominent women in the SQL community have shared with us their love of technology, thanked those who have inspired them or showed them an opportunity and expressed a desire to mentor their daughters and other young women in their lives. With such a great resource of posts, I hope you have found inspiration, perhaps even renewed your inspiration, for your own role in the WIT community. Man or woman, you can make a difference in a young person's life!

My story isn't much different from others' - I had an opportunity to work with 'Basic' as a 7th grader (honestly, that didn't do it for me), and ended up working in PASCAL my Freshman year of High School (THAT was way cool!). However, it was my love of aeronautics which drove me to the Math and Science classes early on. Everything NASA and flight related made me smile and want to learn more. Alas, that path was not to be, but the inspiration laid a great foundation of research and logic methodologies.

A Few Good Men
Of course, there were great mentors along the way even though I never realized it until much later. One of the most influential was Col. Massie at the Academy of Math & Science. As the head of our Air Force Junior ROTC unit, he was instrumental in assuring I applied to quality Universities and pushed me to pursue an Electrical Engineering degree. Those of you who know me also know that didn't pan out so well either, but again, the experience of sitting in classroom after classroom of highly intelligent people (and they were ALL guys) was very valuable. What I learned the most at that time was that I still had quite a lot to learn if I was to keep up (much less compete) with kids who had grown up programming since they were 12 or 13 years old. My experience was limited to a few special labs and short sessions a handful of times in school. I was seriously behind the curve and it was both devastating and demoralizing - I quit. I gave up. I failed.

Fast forward several years, armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, I was once again ready to tackle the world. After a few jobs here and there, my love for things technical was still evident. I ended up taking a job with a technical training company and met another of my mentors - a fellow trainer who specialized in Lotus but was also a fantastic VB programmer. He taught me a lot about teaching programming to others and introduced me to Object Oriented methodology. Thanks, Bruce!

Paying It Forward
Now that I'm entrenched in a technical field and excited about what I do, I want to inspire others to find happiness in similar roles. Also, I want to inspire my kids to have a love of technology and science and math. Both of them: my daughter AND my son. Right now, my efforts are mostly limited to my own children and those of my friends. Plans in the future include working with either a local school group or maybe the Girls Scouts; I'm not really sure still. The important thing is to show young people that I'm in a career I enjoy, I make a pretty good salary and opportunities in my field are wide and varied.

To wrap up this week of inspiration, I leave you with a final assignment (don't worry, it should be easy!) I challenge you to share your enthusiasm with a child or group of children. It doesn't matter if they are your own, or those of friends, or a group of strangers. See if you can reach out and spark an interest in someone else and then please SHARE that experience with the community. Write a blog, or post something to your FaceBook account, whatever you find easiest. Whether you feel like it or not, YOU are a role model to others. Use it well!

Friday, March 4, 2011

SQL Community Celebrates Women's History Month

It's March - that means spring is coming (or has already started depending on where you live) for North America and we're celebrating Women's History Month!

The SQL Community is certainly taking advantage of the theme and there are a host of opportunities to learn more about Women In Technology and to learn from women. Check out this awesome roster of events coming up in the next two weeks:

March 5th - SQL Saturday Philadelphia. Sharon Dooley hosts a WIT Panel

Tuesday, March 8th Jes Borland hosts T-SQL Tuesday! Join the blog party and share your favorite use of Aggregations

March 7-11 SQL University hosts Women In Technology week. We have five amazing women posting throughout the week on WIT topics.

March 15-16th It's 24 Hours of PASS Spring edition featuring all women speakers. Sign up for great training, all day long - FREE - at your desk!

March 19th - SQL Saturday in Columbia, SC. Sandra Mueller host a WIT Panel and discussion.

March 26th - SQL Saturday in Chicago. I'm hosting a WIT Panel and discussion!

If you're interested in becoming involved in the WIT Virtual Chapter of PASS, please check out our website. Currently, we are just beginning the planning for our premier event, the WIT Luncheon at the PASS Summit. We also assist with WIT sessions at SQL Saturday events so there's plenty of opportunity to become involved.
It's entirely possible that there are more events happening in our community this month, so please feel free to let me know and I'll be happy to add them to this list!
Oh, and Erin Go Bragh to my fellow Irish descendants (which technically is EVERYONE in the month of March)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thank YOU, Amazon!

Last week, I came into work, sat down to run a few processes, and while those were chugging away, thought to peek at my email for a minute.

Delete, Delete, Delete, Delete, Del...whoa? What's this? Now, normally, if I see an email from a resource I use frequently that says something like "Attention Required" it's an automatic delete, and then I'll go to that source and see if there is something on their site or a message actually sitting in my account somehow. For some reason, however, this one DID grab my attention and I figured it was at least worth opening, knowing I would never click any links to "fix my account settings" or anything of the sort.

I still don't know what it was about seeing just the sender and the title of the message, but I did open it. Scanning through, it honestly sounded legit. So I started actually reading the message.

Wowza. Okay, this really sounds legit, so I immediately log into my bank account. There is a single $1 charge from Amazon. I didn't make any Kindle purchases on that date or anytime near that date. Time to call the bank. They cancelled my card, issued me a new one and I'm back in business only being out a single DOLLAR (at the most, the charge will be removed after a dispute period). THANK YOU AMAZON!

What's even more strange is that I don't normally save my credit card information on any websites. I did have the card information saved with Amazon, mostly because I have a Kindle. It was an extra stroke of luck that the theives tried to use it on Amazon. Had they gone elsewhere to use it, I might actually be in much more dire straits. So then I start to wonder, when did they get my number? Unfortunately, I used it a lot over the holidays. It could have been from just about anyplace: stores, gas stations, food purchases, you name it.
I refuse to live my life in fear, though, and I will be using my new card in about the same way as always. You can bet my new card number will be stored with Amazon, though!