PASS Summit & Game Night

A few years ago, Mike Donnelly (b|t) & Andre Ranieri (t) hosted a Game Night at PASS Summit. At the time, I thought this was a great idea. It was small yet very successful.

This year, PASS Summit 2016, PASS decided to forego the usual Thursday night Community Appreciation Event. This opened up Thursday night for a wide variety of options. Steve Jones (b|t) and Andy Warren (b|t) stepped up to the plate to help attendees, and they set up a Game Night at the Convention Center. Check out Steve’s recap blog post to hear how it went!

I’m blogging about this because I think this is a fantastic alternate event that has great potential and appeal to PASS Summit attendees. I’ve met many in our industry, who are less comfortable in crowded social situations among strangers. But give people a smaller scale, quieter space, with a simple & fun “common ground,” and you give those people a fantastic opportunity to network in ways that they never would have before.

I happen to have many non-SQL friends who fall into this category. And I want to share two brief stories about offering games as an alternative.

When I got married, our venue was split into two distinct rooms: a dining room and a bar/dance floor room. We liked this because it allowed those who wanted to dance it up to hang in one area while others could mingle & chill out in the dining room. After dinner, a few of those friends came up to my wife & I and asked if we minded if they broke out a table top game. We said “yes, absolutely!” We wanted them to have a great time that night and by letting them do an activity that fit them, we were able to enable that! I still think back to that with fond memories.

Earlier this year, two of our gamer friends got married. For their wedding, they had set aside a dedicated gaming room, where folks could have a quieter place to convene and still enjoy themselves. And it was absolutely a hit! Those of our friends, for whom dancing and drinking aren’t their thing, enjoyed themselves. The groom happened to spend a good portion of the night there too, doing what he loved, with his wedding guests! It was great!

I share these two stories, to try and help drive home the point that offering alternative events like Game Night, can really work at any kind of event. And I’m thrilled to see that it again worked at PASS Summit. I would love to see this expanded and continued by PASS. Let’s try to offer something to those of our PASS Summit colleagues who don’t care for hard partying. This can be it!

Post-PASS Summit 2016: Presenting Every Byte Counts

Four years ago, I attended my first PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC. Never did I dream that I would get the guts to begin presenting. And if presenting was not even on my radar, someday receiving the honor of presenting at the PASS Summit was completely unfathomable to me.

Yet a week ago, that’s exactly what I did!

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I was fortunate to be assigned to the very first session slot on Wednesday, the first full day of PASS Summit. I was effectively part of the lead-off team, immediately after the opening Keynote. The night before, I was not feeling all that nervous or anxious. My priorities were just to get a good night’s rest, and to make sure I was set up and good to go (I’m always paranoid about A/V issues). Leaving Denny Cherry’s party early bummed me out, as it was rocking, but this wasn’t about me – it was about the PASS Summit attendees!

I took a pass on the morning Keynote and got into my room early. It allowed me to get set up and into the mental zone. I was pumped and ready to have fun. I was not keeping track of time, but early birds started to straggle in, including a few people I knew. Chatting with them helped to pass the time until the Keynote wrapped up and attendees really started to stream in!

I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of friends show up as well. I honestly had no idea who would come see me. While I was in one of the smaller rooms, I still managed to pack them! I chatted up the crowd for a few minutes. I did ask who was a First Timer and was stunned when over half the room raised their hands! I thanked them for joining me and letting me help kick off their first PASS Summit experience!

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To be perfectly honest, I really don’t remember much about my presentation itself. I was jazzed, excited, and dropped immediately into my zone and rolled with it. I had spent a great deal of time preparing and rehearsing for the past month, to make sure my presentation was polished, and I believe that hard work paid off.

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Afterwards, I had a bunch of people coming up to ask questions. As a speaker, that is very rewarding, as it shows that people were engaged and want to know more. Knowing I did not have another speaker after me (lunchtime), I took my time chatting with everyone who had lingered. It was a good way for me to start coming down from the high.

I received numerous complements over the subsequent days, from both friends and attendees. One random attendee went so far as to compare me against some very well-known, experienced speakers. That particular complement will really stick with me I think.

I really hope that this is not my last time presenting at PASS Summit. As others have taught me, one must never rest their laurels. I’m already thinking about next year’s submissions and what new sessions I want to develop.

Hope you all had a fantastic PASS Summit. I sure did!

T-SQL Tuesday #84: Growing New Speakers

TSQL2sDay150x150Welcome to another edition of T-SQL Tuesday! This is the monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (b|t). I have the honor and pleasure of returning again as this month’s host.

This month’s topic is going to be about Speaking & Presenting with a focus on Helping New Speakers! 4 short years ago, I attended my very first PASS Summit and never did I think I’d ever dare to become a Speaker and present. But a year later, I got coerced into a lightning talk. Since then, I’ve presented at several dozen User Groups & SQL Saturdays. Tomorrow, I have the honor of presenting at PASS Summit 2016! And what an adventure it’s been!

For T-SQL Tuesday, I am giving differing topics if you are currently a Speaker or have never have spoken. And if you’ve never spoken, this T-SQL Tuesday comes with a challenge and a twist.

IF YOU ARE A PRESENTER: HELP NEW SPEAKERS

If you’re a Speaker, that’s great! Your T-SQL Tuesday topic will be to write about something to Help New Speakers. Write something about Speaking to aid new Speakers.

To give you all some ideas:
• Share insight about developing a presentation
• Share some advice about Speaking
• Write about your first Speaking experience
• Share beginner tips & lessons learned

IF YOU HAVE NEVER PRESENTED: WILL YOU TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE?

If you’re not a Speaker, then this month’s T-SQL Tuesday is a challenge to start that journey. Start thinking about your first presentation. Think about technical topics that either you’re very comfortable with, really love, or are eager to explore, and pick one.  Presentations aren’t always about sharing knowledge from an expert perspective. Many effective presentations are told from the point of a learning journey!  Keep in mind that your first presentation doesn’t have to be an hour long public presentation.  A 10-15 minute presentation to your coworkers is also a great way to start off!

For your T-SQL Tuesday blog post, take that topic and write about it. It can be the basis for your future presentation. Write up an outline about something you learned about recently. Or explore a problem you recently resolved at your workplace and write a starter post about it. Perhaps try your hand at writing your first demo script and blog that.

Remember, this blog post doesn’t have to encompass your entire prospective presentation. Think of it as a first draft, an exploration your idea. No need to be fancy, in-depth, or comprehensive.

If you are having difficulty deciding on a first presentation topic, no problem! Why not write about the topic(s) you are considering? Explore each one at a high level, and why they interest you.

Still on the fence about Speaking? Feel free to write a non-technical blog post about that too! You could explore and share your thoughts about presenting and even explore any concerns you may find yourself having.

This T-SQL Tuesday is all about helping you to start your journey to giving your first presentation.

THE TWIST: I WANT TO HELP

Here’s this month’s T-SQL Tuesday twist. If you’ve never presented before and take me up on this challenge, I or another experienced speaker volunteer, will take the time to privately provide feedback to each and every one of you.

• If you want help developing your first presentation out, I will help you.
• If you are wary of putting your first PowerPoint together, I will help you.
• If you need ideas on how to write demo scripts, I will help you.

I will do whatever I can to help you begin this journey. Feel free to reach out to me prior to T-SQL Tuesday, if you want feedback on where to start. Otherwise, I will reach out after your blog post goes live, to keep the fire alive and help you take the next steps!

ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?

  1. Want to Participate?
  2. Write a blog post about the topic. Don’t have a blog? Start one!
  3. Include the T-SQL Tuesday Logo and link it back to this post.TSQL2sDay150x150
  4. Publish your blog post Tuesday, November 8th, between 00:00 GMT & 23:59 GMT.
  5. Leave a reply below with a link to your blog post (for the round-up).
  6. Share you post with the community! Tweet it out using the #tsql2sday hashtag!
  7. If you want personalized feedback, e-mail me at SQLBek at gmail-dot-com.

EVERYONE

Please help promote this on Twitter, using #sqlnewspeakers hashtag, in addition to the #tsql2sday hashtag!

P.S. Existing Speakers – if any of you also want to get in on the Feedback party, you’re more than welcome to join me!

October of Awesome!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway through October! This month has simply flown by. But the best is yet to come!!!

This Tuesday, I will finally be presenting at my own Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group! I will be debuting my new and improved Why Your Datatype Choices Matter presentation.

Then a week from today, I am honored to be back at SQL Saturday Oregon. There, I will be presenting this year’s flagship presentation: Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse. I’ve had a lot of fun presenting this session over the course of this year, and it’s been a fantastic way to also showcase my sp_helpExpandView tool.

Finally, a week and a half from now, I will be making my debut at PASS Summit 2016, presenting Why Your Datatype Choices Matter! This improved session is a 200 level session, with some splashes of 400 level content thrown in! There’s something for everyone! I’m blessed to be in the very first speaking slot, Wednesday morning at 10:15AM in Room 2AB! Come see me after the introductory keynote!

I’m really looking forward to seeing friends, new and old, at PASS Summit. And if we’ve never met, do come find me and say hello!

PASS Board of Directors Elections

It’s that time of year again. While we may all be glued to the POTUS elections, there’s another election that impacts all of us members of PASS – the annual Board of Directors election.

I am generally not one to take sides publicaly. But I did write a Statement of Support for Wendy Pastrick, and decided to publish it here.

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

I have known Wendy for a number of years now. I’ve worked with her to organize several SQL Saturday Chicago events now. While she has operated as our committee’s leader, she has also formed a strong, dedicated team of individuals that have made this a very successful event.

Additionally, she also gave me the opportunity to take over and reboot the Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group. She provided guidance and mentoring in helping me start a new User Group.

Wendy Pastrick’s actions and support truly embody what I believe PASS is all about. She continues to give selflessly, to help our community grow, strengthen, and flourish.

In the end, we’re all faced with a choice – to participate and vote in the PASS BoD election, or exercise apathy and not. I choose to participate, and I hope you do too.

Please vote!

Summer of Presenting!

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24 HOURS OF PASS
It’s been a couple of months since I was honored with an invitation to speak at PASS Summit 2016. I’m still overwhelmed, amazed, and grateful, when I reflect on my career journey since my first PASS Summit in 2013. Speaking at the PASS Summit is an opportunity that I never imagined that I would receive.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I received an e-mail from PASS, inviting me to present at 24 Hours of PASS: Preview Edition!! This special event highlights select speakers from the upcoming PASS Summit.  It’s one thing to be picked just to speak at PASS Summit, but is a double-honor to be asked to present at 24 Hours of PASS!

Because I’ve presented my Summit Session: Why Your Datatype Choices Matter, at 24 Hours of PASS: Community Edition in 2015, it was suggested that I present another session to highlight myself as a speaker.  I decided to offer my new Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse session, which I debuted earlier this year.  If you work with developers who favor an Object-Oriented approach to developing T-SQL, then this session is for you!
USER GROUPS & SQL SATURDAYS
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve spoken at 6 SQL Saturdays and 2 User Group meetings!  At SQL Saturday Iowa, I debuted my 3rd session, Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse, with great success! I’ve presented it 3 times thus far and have gotten rave reviews every time! I’m just thrilled that attendees are getting a lot of out of it and enjoying it!

But the fun isn’t over!  In addition to 24 Hours of PASS, I have 3 more User Groups (and hopefully 1 more SQL Saturday) lined up!  I’ll be presenting at the Chicago Downtown User Group in early September, followed by MADPASS in late September.  I’ll be presenting my Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse session at both.  In mid-October, I’ll be presenting my new and improved Why Your Datatype Choices Matter session, at my Chicago Suburban User Group.  That’ll be a week before I present it at PASS Summit.

 

Things are really exciting for me right now, and I couldn’t be happier to be sharing the things I’ve learned with all of you.  Hope to catch you somewhere soon!

DIY Standing Desk: Part 2

It has been just over a year since I built and blogged about my DIY Standing Desk. These days, I work from home 2 days a week and work from my standing desk probably 80% of the time. When I first built my standing desk last year, I considered it an experiment and chose not to sink much money into it. But after a few months, I knew I had done the right thing, and over time I added more upgrades.

 

Standing Desk: V1

Standing Desk: V1 (@April 2015)

 

Standing Desk: V2

Standing Desk: V2 (@July 2016)

One of the first things I added was the AmazonBasics gel mat. My feet were getting fatigued and I knew that a good gel mat would help that out dramatically.  $40 well spent!

Then I added a set of Cyber Acoustics 2.1 speakers & subwoofer, as I love to listen to tunes while slinging T-SQL. This was just an inexpensive set that I had bought years prior and for my garage workspace.  And it works well enough to jam out tunes and give me that touch of bass.  At some point (probably around Black Friday/Cyber Monday), I’ll probably invest in a nicer more powerful 2.1 speaker set and a FiiO E10k DAC. I use the latter at the office with my headphones and love it.

Last fall, I became fed up with the scavenged wire shelves that held my monitor & laptop stand. I knew I was satisfied with my standing desk by that point, so I made another trip back to Ikea to add on a proper monitor shelf. I borrowed another idea from the Internet, purchasing Capita brackets & a Lack wall shelf. An hour later, I had a super sturdy & solid monitor shelf!

When the 2015 holiday season rolled around, I decided to finally upgrade my ancient 22″ monitor. While I’m normally a dual-monitor fan, I decided to go with a higher resolution, larger single monitor solution instead. Additionally, I knew I wanted a monitor greater than FHD (1920.1080) to enhance my workspace. After much research, I settled on the 27″ Acer K272HUL. I really liked the idea of WQHD (2560×1440) and preferred a 16:9 aspect ratio vs 16:10.  And I definitely do not regret the decision to try this.  The monitor is beautiful.  It is mounted at the proper height and distance, and I feel that it gives me a tremendous amount of screen real estate to work on.

To complement the new monitor, I also invested in some Antec LED bias lighting that was conveniently on sale. If you’re not familiar with bias lighting, this How-To-Geek article is a fantastic introduction.

Additionally I added an APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3 protector. Prior, I’d only been using a cheap power strip, but between two laptops, an iPad charger, phone charger, & monitor, I’d run out of room. I wanted more peace of mind, especially since I would now be keeping a second laptop there at all times. And of course, it was conveniently on sale.

A second laptop? Back in 2010, I purchased my first gaming laptop – a Sager NP8690. Sagers are the US rebrand of another company called Clevo, which make fantastic modular gaming laptops. My first Sager had served me well for 4 solid years, but the graphics card finally couldn’t keep up with the latest games, so I purchased another Sager in 2014.

Except for a dead battery, my first Sager was still a solid machine. I swapped in an SSD and it was back in prime condition. It has a great deal of horsepower underneath the hood, making it a fantastic base for my SQL Server VMWare Workstation lab. Now it lives as a underneath my standing desk, with its own dedicated keyboard & trackball. I just use Duplicate Screen to run it exclusively on the 27″ monitor, with its own dedicated HDMI connection.

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So that’s my DIY Standing Desk as it is today. Usually I have my work laptop hooked up on the stand, with its own dedicated keyboard & trackball. And whenever I feel like switching to my personal laptop, I just hit the power button underneath, shift around keyboards, then switch the Input on my monitor.

My original investment was about $115. All of the above upgrades, minus monitor & second laptop, ran me about $120? So about $235 for my entire setup? Amusingly the monitor cost about $300! Nonetheless, I look at it all as money very well spent!