Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TSQL Tuesday! Learning new things

We are all constantly learning. It's a life long endurance race to collect knowledge, learn facts, perfect processes and build on the foundation of our early childhood education. The mountain of knowledge can become overwhelming if you try to look at it from too high up. I think about all the things I know regarding SQL Server, and then sometimes all it takes is a single conversation with a colleague to realize how much I still have yet to learn!

So what have I learned recently? Certainly plenty of technical one-offs; some great NDA stuff from the MVP Summit; and always something more about myself...but for this blog post I want to write about networking.

This year at PASS Summit I made a point to spend more time with people I don't typically have much opportunity to hang out with. I decided to let the setting or the occasion determine the people around me and it was really a lot of fun! I had the chance to make several new friends, and even bonded with a great vendor/sponsor who is going so far as to help out with the local SQL Saturday venue. It's incredible what can happen when you just say 'hi' and start a conversation. We all have our inner circle, and it's tough when we mostly see each other only once a year to give up some of that time to meet more people and make more connections. Just a few of the folks who I had time to get to know better, or meet for the first time (in no particular order and my apologizes for those left off, long list!): Jamey Johnston - love the new twitter handle!, Jim Murphy - would you like another umbrella in that drink?, Catherine Wihelmesen - we need to hang out more!, Elysia Barber - next time I'm in Texas, watch out!, and certainly Kirsten Benzel - muahahahaha. In addition to being just crazy fun people, we managed to have some great conversations along the way and I'm looking forward to seeing you all again at the next event we happen upon.

Lastly but in no way least, while my time in the Exhibitor hall was limited, I really enjoyed meeting the great teams of people at Kroll Ontrack and Solarwinds. People, you just never know who you are going to meet and what kind of impact or impression they may leave upon you. It's worth having that conversation, even giving up your email address because great, and sometimes amazing things and partnerships can come out of it.

So what did I learn? I learned that I have an amazing group of friends in #sqlfamily and PASS. I also learned that by continuing to add to my network, more things are made possible.

To those of you whom I did not get to spend our typical dinner/lunch/afters with, I did miss you but I know there will be future opportunities to meet up....and I'll bring a new friend along, too!

Thanks to Chris Yates (b|t) for hosting this edition!

And totally unrelated, some pics from Summit :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ada Lovelace Day 2014 - My Heroes - #tsql2sday

 Well here it is, Tuesday again and another installment of #TSQL2sday this time brought to you by Tracy McGibben (t|b) in honor of Ada Lovelace Day! Many bloggers today will write in honor of her accomplishments and where we are in technology today because of her work. Cool stuff :)

While Ada is certainly one of my personal Women In Tech heroes, there are many others who have paved a path more recently contributing to my career in tech. I couldn't write about heroes without a significant nod to my Mother who raised two girls on her own in a time when being a single parent was seriously frowned upon and without a higher education. Mom, you will always be the pinnacle of inspiration for me!

This year, I want to honor those wonderful women I have worked with in the past 12 or so months. Whether you realize it or not, you all have inspired me in one way or another, specifically professionally. Without further ado, my list of inspiring women:

Hope Foley (@hope_foley) - Hope's work ethic alone is enough to inspire anyone!
Kathi Kellenberger (@auntkathi) - Kathi's ability to take any technological problem and break it down into understandable pieces is something I aspire to do!
Ginger Grant (@DesertIsleSQL) - Ginger can tackle any problem put before her with finesse and polish!
Melissa Coates (@SQLChick) - Melissa loves what she does and it shows in everything she presents!
Kim Hathaway - Kim knows her stuff and she is never afraid to share her expertise!
Kathy Vick - Kathy knows more about SQL Server (the whole stack) than anyone I've met. It doesn't matter what questions I come up with, Kathy has an answer!

Thanks, ladies for being an inspiration and making me want to be a better Woman In Technology.

Monday, October 6, 2014

SQL Server in Azure : Additional Storage

When you provision a SQL Server virtual machine (VM) in Azure, by default you are given two drives:

The C:\ volume is, as you would expect, where all of the system files and system databases have been created. As a DBA, I know I don't usually want to store my database and log files on the root directory. Call it habit, but it still doesn't seem like the right thing to do, even in Azure. Plus, there is only about half the drive available anyway. That is not going to scale as my database files grow. Time to look elsewhere.

The D:\ volume looks very tempting at 192 GB of free space! To be fair, the size varies depending on the server size you choose - this example used a D4 VM allocation. Officially, MSFT states that this drive is used to save the system paging file. While you can save files here, it is at your own risk. Since this drive could and likely will be recreated on occasion, anything you save there will be lost. Remember these are VMs, and any reason for the VM to move to a different host will cause the D:\ drive to be rebuilt. Full details regarding the "Temporary Storage" can be found on the Microsoft Azure Support Team Blog.

Okay, so let's create our own, persistent storage for this server. This way, we can determine what allocation to use. It is very simple, just locate your VM, and select it. You can do this from either the Virtual Machines dashboard, or the individual VM dashboard. 

Just make sure you have the correct machine selected before you "Attach". You will be prompted to choose a size for disk, and that's all you need to go! Now, when you connect to your SQL VM, you will see the additional Data drive on E:\. You can attach multiple drives, so if you want to isolate your log files and TempDB as you would normally on-premises, you can.

So, how much is this going to cost? At the time of this writing, storage in Azure is really on the reasonable, if not downright cheap, side.

Depending on how much Azure-related redundancy you want to configure for your additional drives, you can pay as little as $0.024 per GB (up to 1 TB). Yes, that is UNDER 3 cents per GB - per month. So, let's say you need 100 GB, over a year's time, that will cost you $7.20 x 12 months = $19.20. That's it!

Full pricing on Storage and information on redundancy can be found here: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/storage/

I hope to continue my SQL Server in Azure series over the next serveral months, so thanks for stopping by and check back again!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

PASS Summit 2014....here it comes!

Once again, the PASS community will come together in Seattle for the annual Summit. If you haven't registered yet, there is still time (the countdown is on)!

For those who have not attended previously, there are some things you should know about visiting Seattle and making it through Summit with the best possible experience. To that end, PASS is putting together a series of 'Get to Know Your Community' sessions throughout the event. Hear from these great SQL Community voices on how to get the most of out Summit and your PASS membership! Full details can be found on the PASS Summit Schedule page.
Kevin Kline  |  Mark Broadbent & Buck Woody  |  Jose Rivera  |  Wendy Pastrick
Jes Borland & Kendal VanDyke  |  Ryan Adams  |  PASS Program Committee 
 I also have some tips and thoughts to share. Before you leave home, a little prep work will make your trip better. There are a few things I like to do before Summit:

  1. Get a flu shot. It's a long week of shaking hands and making new friends, so I'm scheduling my flu shot for 2 weeks before Summit arrival.
  2. ELECTION TIME! In the USA, it's time to vote, so make sure you do your civic duty and get that Absentee ballot in. You will be in Seattle on election day.
Packing Tips
  1. Shoes - you will be walking. Bring comfortable shoes. Bring a spare pair of shoes. The Convention Center is massive and just about everything in the evenings is a short walk.
  2. Don't bother with an umbrella. Many of the buildings downtown have awnings for the misty, drippy substance that falls down most of the time. It is rare to have a full downpour, although it HAS happened and if you need to go more than a few blocks, just catch a cab. Best idea - bring a coat with a hood!
  3. Ladies - consider a small purse you can wear under your jacket, or opt for pockets only when going out for the evening. 
Seattle is a really awesome city. My father lived there for several years and I got to know the area well over that time. This year will make 11 (12?) years I've been attending Summit. There are some tips and info I'd like to share to make your stay more enjoyable.

  • Take the train! When you arrive at SEATAC airport, you could hop in a cab and it will be about $40-60 to your hotel and will take about 30 minutes. Another great option is the Central Link Light Rail which will run you $2.75. The ride is about 40-45 minutes and if you come in on Sunday, you might get to witness all the Seahawks fans going to watch the game.
  • Pike's Place Market is a Must See. After your full day of brain stuffing, walk down the short 6-7 blocks from the Convention Center toward the Sound, and you can't miss Pike's Place area. Tons of food options (watch out for flying fish!) and catacombs of shopping to explore here! This is the perfect spot to pick up those souvenirs to take home. 
  • A host of other museums and fun spots abound (Space Needle, Science Museum, etc). Check them out here and learn how to access them via the Monorail!
  • Eat Seafood! You are in Seattle, and many awesome restaurants are along the piers - just down, down, down the stairs from Pike's Market. Grab a group of your new SQL friends and have a nice dinner out.
  • Go off the beaten path and hit up some clubs in the Pioneer Square area, or check out some local breweries, or - you do know that Seattle has awesome bands, right? A host of spots can be found on Seattle Nightlife.

Nightlife around Summit is the best time to meet people in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. There are a few places you are bound to see many Summit attendees.
  • Tap House Grill, not even a block from the Sheraton, is open late and anyone still out after midnight often will congregate here.
  • Bush Garden is the #sqlkaraoke spot. This one is a good walk for those so inclined, but many take a cab. Singing not required. Just go and have a good time!
  • Speaking of #sqlkaraoke, Mr. Denny Cherry and SIOS host another party on Tuesday night.
  • Many vendor parties spring up as the dates draw nearer. If you don't hear about them beforehand, don't worry - many give out wristbands or tickets at the Exhibitor Reception or just by stopping in at the booth before the evening festivities.
  • A whole list of After Hours Events are posted on the Summit site, too! This is updated frequently, and some require RSVP, so check back now and then.
Get out, meet people, enjoy the evenings; this is what makes Summit the best conference for SQL professionals! 

Final note - as with any major city, keep your wits about you as you are getting around. Don't walk around with your nose and eyes in your smartphone. There are a lot, and I mean a LOT of homeless people in the downtown area. They will constantly hit you up for a dollar, or whatever. Mostly they don't cause any trouble, but it's always best to walk with purpose, keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.

I'm looking forward to meeting you in Seattle. Just stop by the Community Zone and say "Hi!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thanks for the support!

Running for the PASS Board of Directors is always a process. There are forms to complete, interviews, online and virtual events to attend...it's a lot of time and effort and hopefully it serves the community in helping make the ballot choices clearer. One piece of the process, though relies on others providing statements of support and recommendations for your spot on the Board. This year, I had several people willing to speak on my behalf. While you can find those in the application online, they have been copied here for convenience. Also, there were some which couldn't be used on the application due to limitations so those are here, too.

Check out what these people had to say about my candidacy below.
Angela Dugan (t|b)
Allan Hirt (t|b)
Kathi Kellenberger (t)
David Klee (t|b)
Tim Mitchell (t|b)
Allen White (t|b
Andy Yun (t|b)  

I'm always incredibly humbled by the words of my peers - thank you so much for taking time out of your day to support me.

When you have your ballot arrive in your inbox today, please take a moment to vote! Thank you!

Anglea Dugan
I have known Wendy for about 6 years now, and we have interacted at the MVP Summit, at Girls in Tech Chicago, and at a number of other community events in the Chicagoland area.
Wendy’s enthusiasm is contagious, and she brings a lot of energy to any event she attends. She is also deeply technical with an amazing network, and has been able to connect me with a lot of great people in the Chicagoland technical community when I needed assistance. I would recommend her to any group looking for an active member or leader. 
Allan Hirt
I have known Wendy Pastrick for eons and would also consider her a friend as well as a colleague. Those of us that are acquainted with her know that her personality always shines, and she would be the first person lending a hand or even just providing a smile if someone needed it. If you looked up either selfless or volunteer in a dictionary, Wendy would fit the definitions in every way, shape, and form.
One thing about Wendy besides her warm personality is that she can bridge diverse groups together. I have seen that at play not only in the SQL Saturdays that she has helped to organize, but in social situations as well. She has a natural way of making everyone feel comfortable which is a great quality to have in a role of leadership. Wendy treats everyone the same – newbie or veteran.
At the same time, Wendy is not a pushover or unrealistic. For example, she states in her application, “As much as the organization has pushed toward transparency, the speed at which some decisions and directions are chosen can be difficult to relay to the community at large in a timely manner.” As long as I’ve known Wendy, she’s always strived to improve herself both personally and professionally, and I know she wants the best for PASS even if it will not be an easy road to get to the brass ring. Wendy is certainly a straight shooter, which I appreciate. I would rather have someone be up front with me than skirt around the issue. PASS certainly needs people who want the organization to be better, are also honest, and not just wanting to be a figurehead. She’s also not someone who is afraid of rolling up her sleeves and get down to hard work.
Besides her devotion to her family, I know Wendy’s other passion is her dancing group. I know I strive for work/life balance, and I think anyone in a leadership role needs to do the same. It is always clear to me that she has her priorities in order.
Wendy has also served many roles with PASS over the years. From my vantage point, she’s given each one her all. I would expect nothing less of her in this position as well. 
Kathi Kellenberger
Wendy Pastrick has been a dedicated PASS volunteer for several years and has served on the PASS Board for the past two years. I have worked with Wendy on the WIT Virtual Chapter and WIT panels at many SQL Saturdays. Wendy not only works for PASS at the organizational level, she is also very involved with her local user groups and has organized several SQL Saturdays in Chicago. Wendy even won the PASSion award a few years ago and is a SQL Server MVP. She is always ready to assist PASS in whatever way is asked of her.
To me, the best thing about PASS is the wonderful community we have formed. When I think about community, Wendy is one of the first people who comes to mind. Making sure that everyone feels welcome is very important to Wendy. Wendy is just one of those people who makes others feel comfortable and accepted. She also encourages new speakers which is very important for the health and growth of PASS.
Because of her many contributions to the SQL Server community and dedication to PASS, I would like to recommend Wendy Pastrick for the PASS Board of Directors. I am certain that she will continue to serve the best interests of the organization and faithfully represent the membership.
David Klee
I truly cannot think of anyone more deserving to be elected to the SQL PASS Board of Directors than Wendy Pastrick. She is easily the most dedicated PASS volunteer that I personally am aware of, and her eagerness to involve herself in the PASS community is second to none. From contributing leadership and guidance to the Chicago SQL Server User Groups, WIT Virtual Chapter, and WIT sessions at SQLSaturday, all the way to being the chief coordinator for the most successful SQL Saturday in the last two years that I attended, Wendy works very hard to contribute to the success and growth of PASS and the community that has evolved around it. 
On a personal level, Wendy is one of the sweetest and most vibrant people that I know. Her warmth and ease at which she can make anyone - from the most senior professional to the newbie attending their first SQL Server Users Group meeting - comfortable and eager to contribute to the community is unparalleled in our technical communities. Her personal attributes are guaranteed to positively reinforce the professionalism that Wendy exudes 24x7 to help the Board of Directors continue to be even more successful as PASS continues to grow. 
Because of her passion for PASS, strong involvement in the community, years of experience, and fantastic personality, I would like to wholeheartedly and without hesitation recommend Wendy Pastrick for the SQL PASS Board of Directors. 
Tim Mitchell
I have had the pleasure of working with Wendy Pastrick in various capacities during the past four years.  In that time, Wendy has always exemplified the qualities I would expect to see of a community leader.  She has demonstrated a selfless work ethic and a strong desire to help others.  As a prior PASSion Award winner, her passion for the SQL community is second to none.  Further, I have observed her in her current board service as a true community leader, willing to tackle difficult matters in the interest of community harmony.

In short, Wendy is exactly the type of person I want to have representing me on the PASS board.  I am happy to endorse her candidacy.
Allen White
Wendy and I first worked together as part of the Election Review Committee and were partners on the PASS Quiz Bowl a few years ago. I've also spoken at SQL Saturdays she organized, and have spent a good deal of time with her at SQL events where she was always active in helping out in any way she could.  On the ERC there were times where issues caused people to "get their dander up", and Wendy was instrumental in keeping the discussions professional and focused, and helped us get to an outcome we could all agree upon.  She not only did a great job getting the Chicago SQL Saturday off on a great foot, but set up the organization so that it could continue successfully after she moved on.  That is a skill that many leaders don't understand - that of leaving the organization stable and healthy when passing the baton to someone else.  I believe she's done a great job with her past two years on the PASS Board of Directors, and will continue to do so on reelection.

Andy Yun
I am writing today to provide a Referral Statement of Support for Wendy Pastrick.  

For PASS, I worked with her to help organize SQL Saturday #291 Chicago.  She was the event's team leader & primary organizer.  In her role, she exhibited exceptional organizational skills, along with smart delegation capabilities.  She knew when to let other team members continue to complete work, and when to step in if someone needed assistance or fell behind.  Her communication was also very strong.  Wendy operated with an open ear, welcomed feedback and acted upon suggestions and areas that needed improvement.  
Wendy Pastrick's strong leadership played a critical role in making SQL Saturday #291 an extremely successful event.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PASSion for PASS

I am running once again for the PASS Board of Directors. One of the questions in my Board interview by the Nominations Committee was "What is the biggest challenge currently facing the Board?" My answer could have included many things, but the top issue I see was highlighted by the current slate of candidates you have for this year's election.

Why are there only four candidates for the Board?
Why do people not want to run for the Board?
Why would you not want to give back to your community or become more involved in an organization that has given you so much be it training or networking or opportunity?

If you base perception of what it means to be a Board member on reading many of the more vocal critics of PASS, I can see how that can make it daunting. It is not easy to have your character, your motives and your decisions picked apart by people for every communication or path which is chosen. In that vein, I would like to clear up a few misconceptions about my involvement in PASS and my work status.

1. I am a DBA. My title is Data Platform Consultant. Majority of my work relates to performance tuning, high availability and more recently delving into the realms of APS and Azure. Yes, I do sometimes work in SSIS or (gasp!) SSRS and have even had some exposure to Analysis Services, but primarily and foremost I am still a SQL Engine DBA.

2. I have been very fortunate over the years to build an amazing network of friends, colleagues and technical experts. This is what PASS is to me - not an acronym but a community sharing their knowledge and supporting each other. I regret not blogging about my decision to accept the PASS name as it stands, without the words behind it. It had nothing to do with dropping SQL Server out of the name. PASS is a global organization - did you know that in some countries, it is actually illegal to call yourself a "Professional" anything unless you have been granted that designation by the local government? Trying to manage different org names for various countries is not a good use of our resources. I would have preferred we come up with another name, but PASS has so much branding already behind it, that route didn't stand a chance. I did make the suggestion, more than once, to come up with a separate entity name for the BA focus. No, I didn't have anything in mind but I did share my thought with the Board. (Example: Coinstar bought Redbox, but they now operate under an umbrella called Outerwall) I'm hopeful that using PASS is only a first step and we can come up with a more meaningful naming.

3. Yes, I now work for Pragmatic Works. Many of you who know me know that this was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make in a long time. From afar, it may appear that I was wooed away but alas, that is not the case. I found myself in a position where I needed to find new employment. Every person I talked to over a several week period suggested I really look at what I wanted to do. I want to work with PDW. "Have you talked to Adam?" No, I didn't - not for several weeks until it became clear that it wasn't fair of me to exclude them as a potential employer. I love consulting. I love learning. I've found a place to work that promotes both, while also supports my efforts to maintain involvement with the PASS community. There is a reason there are so many amazing people who work with PW! I can assure you that Adam and I understand working on the Board has nothing to do with our employment at the same company. We were on the Board prior to my employment here and I will not be changing the way I think or involve myself just because I've changed jobs. If Adam didn't respect me for my own decision making ability and thought leadership, then PW would not have hired me anyway.

4. Groupthink. This one is tougher. As a Board member, each person has their own portfolio. We don't micromanage the other portfolios. We come together at Board meetings and give each other status reports or present ideas. I take the criticism for anything that comes from "PASS" whether I had any direct involvement or not. Not everything is a vote. Not everything is a discussion. Sometimes, things happen and I find out about it maybe hours or days before the rest of the Community. If there is any groupthink happening, it would be between a portfolio owner and the HQ counterparts. I can tell you that my Community Evangelists know what direction I'm planning and they make suggestions and have questions and we involve others, too. I was very open with the Chapters and Regional Mentors during the Chapter Agreement rewrite process. I moved my deadline back three times to ensure they had ample time to respond and we made a lot of additional changes based on that feedback. Was I swayed by groupthink? Absolutely - from the community.

I will always be involved with PASS in some fashion or another. With any luck, I will be able to continue to encourage people to step up and become involved. PASS needs volunteers. PASS needs YOU - yes, YOU. This organization is more than the sum of its parts, it is #sqlfamily. I am forever thankful for the support and encouragement I get (especially in these past few days) from those friends and colleagues.

As with everything else politically related, I want to encourage you to make up your OWN mind about who you want to vote for and why. Each candidate has their information and application posted on the Elections website. Check us all out. Decide who you want on the Board, but make it your decision.

Just make sure to Vote!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#Tsql2sday - Passwords

It's another installment of the always fun and informational #TQL2sday series! This time, I'm going to share my super secret method of creating passwords AND being able to remember them. I know, it's impossible, right? How can you possibly have a unique password for every account, plus keep it secure and at the same time fulfill all those darned requirements? Well, dear friends, it can be as simple as KISS.

Yes, there is is: Keep It Simple Stupid Silly

No actually, that it only part of the story. Here is the key: come up with a meaningful sentence that you can recall easily. 

Here is my recipe:
Step 1: "I cannot remember my password for this site!" 
Step 2: Take the first letter of each word: icrmpfts 
Step 3: Substitute captials/numbers where it makes sense: Icrmp4ts
Step4: Add punctuation if needed: Icrmp4ts!

This way, you are really recalling a phrase instead of a word or a series of characters. I have a few key phrases I like to use and they have, so far, served me very well.

Thanks again to our Host Sebastian Meine (B|T) and Adam Machanic (B|T) for coming up with this idea in the first place!