Tag Archives: Code Camp

Upcoming Presentations

It’s an honor to always be able to give back to the SQL Server Community. I would never be where I am today with out others helping me along the way.  I look forward connecting and sharing with everyone at the following events.

Top 4 ways I will contribute to the SQL Community in 2012

One of my friends, Tom LaRock asked, “What do you want to do for your #sqlfamily in 2012?” Below is how I plan contribute to the SQL Community, and my #sqlfamily in 2012.

  • Bring  SQL Saturday to a new city
    Anyone who knows me in the community knows I am a huge fan sucker for a SQL Saturday. I have had the pleasure of being a host, attende, and a speaker. This year I am looking forward to being a volunteer and sharing all my knoweledge to bring a SQL Saturday to a new city.  With that said, there is a city very close to me that has never hosted one.  The ball is already rolling and I look forward to helping this chapter host their first SQL Saturday in 2012.
  • Help Chapter Leaders
    Being a chapter leader I personally know it can be hard running a user group. I was very lucky and thankful to get a lot of help.  I look forward to helping other chapter leaders who can use a hand. I am willing to help connect leaders to a sponsors; help leaders find swag, find books, find a speaker or anyting else. I am game and looking forward to helping.
  • Give Virtual Presentations
    Typically I do at least four presentations a year.  To this point I have never done a virtual presentation. This will change shortly as I am speaking  at the Columbus User Group virtually this week.
  • Mentor
    I have been blessed with having good mentors in my career. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. There advice and guidence has been very valuable.  I reciently started mentoring a DBA but would more than willing to help others out. If you would be interested please shoot me an message.

Un-SQL Friday #2 – My Tech Giants

UnSQL Friday #2

The second round of UnSQL Friday is here and the topic is so good I am typing while I eat lunch rushing to beat the deadline to get this in. UnSQL Friday was created by Jen of @MidnightDBA’s to provide an avenue for SQL Bloggers to focus on a non-technical topic. The topic is as follows:

Read this blog, and then write whatever you want about Tech Giants. Be sure to mention in your blog that you’re writing for Un-SQL Friday, and link to this post. Oh, and have it up any time before the weekend (Saturday Jan 22) hits, mmkay?”

Jen said, to write about whatever I want so here we go!  I am using this venue as an opportunity to say thanks to a bunch of people who have helped become who I am today. I will also explain how they fit into my definition of a Tech Giant.

There are several other people I could include but I have a deadline so I will have to find another way to thank them later.

What is a Tech Giant?

This definition is subjective and will be defined differently from blogger to blogger so here is my definition. To me a Tech Giant is someone I look up too within IT; someone who has helped me out; someone who is mentoring me; someone who is mentoring me without even knowing that they are mentoring me.

In no particular order here is a list explaining why these individuals peeps are my tech giants:

David Hoerster, Eric Kepes & John Hidey

David Hoerster, Eric Kepes & John Hidey: These are three stand up .NET developers who are highly involved in Pittsburgh .NET User Group and the Pittsburgh code camp for years. To this day I will always remember my first code camp four years ago. The next year they gave me my first public speaking opportunity. Every year the Code Camp in Pittsburgh gets bigger and bigger. This year there were two code camps with over 150 attendees.  David, Eric and John showed me first hand how important it is to give back to your technical community.

Side Note: How the heck are none of these guys a Microsoft MVP? This almost makes me question the MVP program. I am going to do my part in correcting this by nominating them at the Microsoft MVP site.

Thomas LaRock aka SQLRockStar

Tom LaRock: Last year Tom asked the community if anyone wanted to have a mentor on his blog.  I jumped on this opportunity and we have been skyping (is this actually a word?) monthly. His book (check out my review) and those sessions have shaved years off my learning curve moving from a developer to becoming a valuable Production DBA.

I finally meet Tom in person at the 2010 SQL Pass Member Summit. He introduced me to almost everyone in the community that week. It’s weird, in a way I feel like he is my older brother from another mother.

Tom also has a great blog. In my opinion it’s one of the most entertaining technical blogs out there because he does a good job teaching with stories. A perfect example is “Everything I Needed to Know about Waits and Queues I learned From the TSA.”

Side Note: Other than his addiction to bacon and being a Patriots fan he is a great guy! Can you tell I am a die hard Pittsburgh Sports Fan?

Brent Ozar

I love this book!

Brent Ozar: I ran into Brent virtually two years ago at the Pittsburgh SQL User Group. At the end of his presentation he challenged the crowd to start blogging. I found his intro to blogging series and gave it a try.  A little later I was hooked.  Brent made me a syndicated blogger at SQLServerPedia. People will see this blog post because he took a chance on a new blogger.

Its amazing how much time and energy he puts into the SQL PASS Community with his presentations and blog posts.  His blog is a great resource for SQL Server, Professional Development, Speaking and Blogging.  Did I mention that he also co-authored one of the best SQL Server books (its the image on the left side)?

Side Note: I am working on creating a VMWare Workstation image right now due to his blog post on “How to rehears a Presentation.” Brent, I will be shooting you some question soon 🙂

Andy Warren

Andy Warren: The first SQL Saturday in West Virginia wouldn’t have happened without Andy’s help.  Andy and I had several phone calls where he gave me the guidance I needed to make it happen. He helped me from the point where I wondered,can I make this happen up to the week of the event.  Now, I have spoken at three SQL Saturdays and am adding another one to the list next week.  I don’t think this would have happened without Andy’s support.

Side Note: At SQL PASS Summit I learned that Andy is referred to as the godfather of SQL Server. I am not sure why this is true. I will have to follow-up with more at a later date.

Justin Siebert

Justin Siebert: There is no way I am going skip the great state of West Virginia. And there is no one better qualified than Justin. He started his own consulting company to provide Online Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. He now does business with Fortune 500 companies.  He is a big supporter of LAMP and is doing great things with WordPress.  His website is a perfect example.

Once he found out I was interested in blogging he talked me into using WordPress. Justin gives me several tips on WordPress and SEO and has never asked for money.   He also pulls me aside every once in a while to make sure I am focused on my goals and heading down the right path.

Side Notes: some people call Justin by his name. I call him the SEORockStar.  Justin and I might be the only remaining die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fans left in Wheeling (Yes the owner Bob Nutting also lives in Wheeling).

Pittsburgh Code Camp – SQL 2008 for Developers

This past weekend I presented SQL Server 2008 for Developers at the PGH.NET Code Camp.   You can download the slides here if you would like a copy.  You can also check out my scheduled speaking engagements.

The PGH.NET 2010.2 Code Camp was organized very well.  I want to give a big shout out to organizers as they did a great job.  My favorite session of the day was Scrum 101 with Eric Kepes (Blog | Twitter).  Personally, I knew very little about Scrum coming in to the presentation so this was a great opportunity for me to see how others have implemented it in their shops.  The presentation lead to some great debates.

If you would like to see Eric’s presentation or download a Scrum worksheet check out his blog post.

Recap: Mid-Atlantic Community Leadership Summit

Last weekend I attended the first annual Mid-Atlantic Community Leadership Summit (#MACLS) held for user group leaders. I would like to thank Andrew Duthie (Blog | @DevHammer)  for inviting me.  He did a great job putting the event together at the Microsoft Offices in Reston, VA. 

The following are some notes for everyone that didn’t get a chance to make it out. In general the purpose for the event was to get user group leaders together to share what’s works and what doesn’t work.  There is no order to the post just some notes with some random comments from my experience running the Greater Wheeling Chapter of AITP and hosting SQL Saturday #36.

How do you measure your user Group?

Your user group doesn’t have to be huge to be successful. I learned first hand that 20 attendees is not considered a small group from the consensus of user group leaders.  Sometimes leaders get lost in user group stats. Stats being the number of new members or attendance per meeting.  I will admit that I have been guilty. These stats really don’t hold water towards determining if a user group meeting is successful.  If you have a lot of people attend but no value provided to the attendees the meeting is not successful.

How does the user group get better?  You have to ask the members.  Its hard to meet the attendees expectations if you don’t know what they are expecting. Doing so could be a rewarding exercise for the leaders of the group and the attendees.  It helps the attendees feel like they are part of the group and it helps the leaders provide value by implementing the missing pieces. 

When should I hold that event?

BatmanWhen should I hold that event? This is a question that is asked by many user group leaders during the planning phase of an event or startup phase of a new group. Andrew Duthie created a website known as Community Megaphone to help solve this problem.  There are several user groups which means you might be competing for speakers and attendees. The Community Megaphone cannot predict when another group is going to have an event but if everyone adds their events it is a great system to see if anything else is planned.

Just like the Batman cartoon try to have your events on the same bat day, same bat time, same bat channel.  From my experience I think this works well for user groups.  Its easier for members to attend if you hold the meetings monthly on the same day (number of month or day of a week), same time and same location.

Speakers and Topics

User groups need to communicate with their members and make sure the topics are covering what the needs of the user group.

When you decide to bring a speaker in to talk have them submit multiple topics.  This allows the user group leader to follow-up with its members to decide which presentation will be a better fit for the members.  This benefits both the group and the speaker.

Instead of always having one speaker talk during the meeting or a time slot consider having several speakers talk for a short period of time.  This will light a fire and motivate some new speakers to step forward and give their first presentation because they only need to present one small topic.  The PGH.NET User Group does a good job of doing this a couple times a year.  I really enjoy them check out my thoughts on the five guys with code meeting.  The SQL Server community is also doing this at the 2010 PASS Member Summit with their lightning talks series.

The general consensus of the group is that user groups need more real-world examples during presentations and more beginner (101) sessions.  More lights go off in attendees heads when they see something they can or should implement when they go back to the office.

Liability and Coverage

First of all I am not an attorney so everything covered in here is just notes from the meeting not my opinion.    If you are in a metro area you might want to combine user groups into one non-profit organization.  I learned that the DC area is currently doing this and it seams to be working out for them.  I also believe that the Pittsburgh area does the same leveraging the Pittsburgh Technology Council (This is not verified so don’t quote me on this).  If you are in a rural area then you can look at legalzoom or try to find an attorney who might be interested in doing a little pro-bono work.

It seams like a lot of small user group start off without incorporating.

If you are a lawyer or are friends of a lawyer ask them to do a white paper on the legal side of starting a user group.  It seams like there isn’t a lot of information out there on this.

Vendors (Sponsors)

One of the most surprising things I learned this weekend is that vendors want relationships not just sales.  Okay I you caught me, I knew this but sometimes its great to be reminded because it can be easy to forget.  Anyways, ComponentOne and Infragistics had evangelists at the meeting.  They both wanted all the user group leaders to know they are willing to help they just need to know what you need.

Vendors can also do more than provide swag, pizza and money.  A real world example is SQL Saturday #36.  I had no idea where I should put the sponsors.  I called Andy Warren (blog | twitter) my mentor for the event and he reassured me that this was a common problem.  His advice was very helpful.  Andy said, “Ask your platinum sponsor Confio they have sponsored SQL Saturday’s in the past they will know the best spot for the sponsors.” I followed Confio’s advice and the rest was history. The moral of the story is that vendors are not evil they can be helpful if you choose to ask them for help.

Hosting an All Day Event (SQL Saturday, Code Camp, SharePoint Saturday etc..)

The following advice was given about hosting a big event like Code Camp, SQL Saturday, SQL Saturday (or any other all day multi-track event) but I believe it also is good advice for running a user group.  You need to treat the event like a business and get a core team together to make it happen. A core team doesn’t have to be a huge team but it has to be more than one individual.  Treat the event like a business means assign action items and have people be responsible for the detailed action items and assign due dates. The group needs to have a task manager who can get things running and make sure everyone is meeting deadlines.

Always put your attendees in charge of giving away their information. Allow sponsors to have raffles where they can collect business cards or information.  At SQL Saturday #36 we printed out cards with everyone’s contact information and gave them to the attendees in their welcome kit.  This sponsors could get contact information from attendees who don’t have or forgot their business cards.

Don’t do individual sponsorship as it can be too complicated. For example, you might think to have a lunch sponsor, snack sponsor, after-party sponsor and so on. This can be complicated because one group had an after-party sponsor but found out after the fact that the sponsor would only cover non-alcoholic drinks.  The group had to pay out of pocket for half of the dinner bill. So what’s an easier way to handle sponsorship?  Divide up sponsorship by using levels.  Break sponsorship levels out into Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze and then assign values and benefits to them so that the sponsorship will cover your total budget and still get value out of their money.  Remember that you should build your sponsorship plan like a pyramid and have only a few Platinum level sponsors.

This covers everything I have in my notes.  If you attended and I left anything out feel free to add it in the comments section.

PGH.NET Code Camp Review

This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping out David Hoerster (bio, twitter) with the setup of PGH.NET Code Camp.  Why, would I want to get up before the crack of dawn to help?  Well for starters David is a die hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan like myself.  Okay the real answer, is that I wanted to help with the code camp before I ran my first SQLSaturday in West Virginia.   This was a great practice before the game starts on May 1st.

In short I learned that if you have good volunteers it’s actually not too hard to have a great event.  If the event is free there will be people who just don’t show.  I guess mowing their lawn is more important than free training?  People will also leave before the event is over.  I could be wrong but I thought about half of the crowd left before the last session ended.  Finally, if a speaker doesn’t show you could replace the session with speakers panel.  This was a great move and actually was my favorite session of the day. 

SQL Server 2008 for Developers

During the day I also did a presentation on SQL Server 2008 for Developers.  I presented right after lunch and expected the majority of the crowed to have a food coma from the free burritos but this was not the case.  It actually was a nice interactive session. The following are a few quick facts from the presentation. 

About 40 people attended this session and only five of them are currently using SQL 2008.  I know this is a small sample size but it makes me believe that there are a lot of people out there still on SQL 2005 or SQL 2000.

The majority of the people awake (yes,  a few experience the food coma) were really impressed with using the real-time debugger to debug stored procedures, using merge to replace truncate table insert into table and use TVP to pass a data table in as an input parameter.

Follow-up Answers

The following are answers to some questions that were asked after the session.  Thought I would answer them here so others could find them in the future.

Can I create an index to filter based on dates?

Yes, you can.  I believe this is a new feature added in SQL Server 2008.  The following script will execute.

    ON Production.BillOfMaterials (ComponentID, StartDate, EndDate)
WHERE StartDate > '20000801' AND StartDate < '20010801';

Checkout this MSDN link for more on Filtering Indexes. 

How can I make my database run faster? 

This is always a fun question and a hard one to answer without looking at the database and the server it resides on.   I recommended that this individual start with the free performance boosts.  This is also known as managing your indexes.   To do this checkout the following great links with video from SQLServerPedia.

Can I find the last time database objects were modified?

Yes, check out this link for a script that does the following task

December events to attend in Wheeling, WV

Hello everyone,  I want to share some cool events going down in Wheeling, WV in December. 

If you like wine or technology I highly recommend catching the Greater Wheeling Chapter of the Association for Information Technology Professionals meeting on December 9th.  This meeting is open to the public. We will meet on the forth floor of Wheeling Central High School at 6pm.  All attendees will have the change to share their 2009 accomplishments while we chow down a pizza dinner.  Dinner will be followed by a wine tasting at the Good Mansion Wines store. Check out the event page to signup for the 2009 December meeting.

Are you a young superstar go getter? If so, OVConnect is the group for you.  The mission is to bring young professionals in the valley together.  This months installment includes a holiday toy drive with a happy hour twist.  On December 17th at 5:00pm we will socialize and get our drink on at River City.  In order to attend all you have to do is signup and bring a toy or make a ten dollar donationAll donations benefit Catholic Charities.

Bonus Pittsburgh Technology Event

Are you a .NET programmer and interested in what’s going on with MVC?  If so, this months installment of the PGH.NET User Group is a must attend free event.  The PGH.NET meeting is on December 8th. You can find more info here or register here.