It’s 2017 – Where Have You Been Andy?

Hello everyone and Happy 2017!

Yes, it’s Feb 27th – is it too late to still say that? 🙂

I admit that I’ve been extremely quiet in this blog over these past few months. But that’s because I’ve been extremely busy elsewhere! Doing what you may ask? Here’s a brief recap!

* December – Presented at UP (Yooper) PASS User Group: I presented virtually as their debut speaker!
* January – Presented at SQL Saturday Nashville: a great SQL Saturday to kick off 2017!
* February – Presented at SQL Saturday Cleveland: another fantastic event that I was thrilled to be a part of!
* February – Idera Twitter #SQLChat: Idera invited me to host this monthly Twitter event. Was a fast & furious flurry of fun Twitter chatter (say that 3 times fast).
* February – Saturday Night SQL Virtual Chapter: This VC approached me back at PASS Summit and I had a blast presenting. Hope to return again!

So I’d think that that’s a decent amount of community activity, right? But it doesn’t stop there!

SQL Saturday Chicago

In less than two weeks, SQL Saturday Chicago will be upon us. I’ve taken on a new role, running pre-cons this year, in addition to helping keep the lights on with the rest of Team SQL Saturday Chicago.

One thing that makes SQL Saturday Chicago special is that it is the 600th SQL Saturday! In addition to that, ours is the first SQL Saturday to feature the new PASS branding! In fact, our first piece of attendee swag showed up earlier today, which is what prompted me to finally sit down and write this blog post.

Oh, you want to see it?

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We’re pretty jazzed! Our event hit the waitlist TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE! Can you believe it? We couldn’t! No pressure here, right? 🙂

SQLBits

Yes, you read that header right. I’ll be flying to the U.K. to attend AND present at SQLBits – the largest SQL Server conference in Europe!

Speaking at PASS Summit was the first pinnacle of my speaking career, which I attained last year. My next goal was to speak internationally. I just never expected this opportunity to happen so quickly, but the dates for SQLBits 2017 were favorable, so I submitted and was accepted to present not just one, but TWO sessions! Afterwards, I will be spending the week following SQLBits in London with my wife. Never having been before, we are both looking forward to exploring the magnificant city!

On The Horizon

Beyond this, I have a few SQL Saturday’s on my radar that I’m eyeballing. PASS Summit 2017 session submissions will be forthcoming as well. And I still have a new session that I will be developing for 2017, focused around T-SQL tips & tricks, so keep a lookout for that!
Here’s to a productive 2017 of learning, sharing, and SQL Server fun!

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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!

What a Difference a Year Makes!

A year ago, last June, is the last time I wrote a “soft” blog update. Since then, a tremendous amount has changed.

TL;DR

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OMG I’VE BEEN SELECTED TO SPEAK AT PASS SUMMIT 2016!!!!!

 

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And how I’ve felt since getting the acceptance e-mail last night.

 

LONG VERSION

CAREER CHANGES

Since last June, I’ve changed employers. But more importantly I shifted my career path. I’d spent the better part of 10 years in Database Development roles, and felt it was time for a change. So I took an opportunity as an Operational DBA in a company with an extremely large environment. Now I’m working at a Managed Services firm, with a large team of other DBAs, on a variety of clients with some very large infrastructures.

CHI-SUB USER GROUP

The Chicago Suburban SQL Server User Group has continued to be a success. We’ve just hit our 2 year anniversary! We average 20-25 attendees a month, many of whom are regulars. And occasionally, depending on topic, we get more and/or even see new faces, which I always love!

SPEAKING – SQL SATURDAY

I have also spent a lot of time speaking, over the past year. I’ve had the honor of being selected for a number of different regional SQL Saturdays. I was also flattered that SQL Saturday Portland accepted me. Portland was a big deal because that SQL Saturday preceeds PASS Summit, and often attracts many high-end speakers. I like to think of it as PASS Summit pre-partying! 🙂

SPEAKING – NEW SESSIONS

At the beginning of 2015, I developed a new SQL Session: Uncovering Duplicate, Redundant, & Missing Indexes. Like my first session, it has been growing, changing, and maturing, with each subsequent presentation. I’ve been very happy with it, as it addresses a niche of Indexing that one does not commonly see offered in sessions.

I decided to continue my “1 new session a year” rhythm, and spent a good chunk of Q1 & Q2 developing my new session “Performance Pitfalls of Code Reuse.” I wanted to create a session to highlight my sp_helpExpandView (https://sqlbek.wordpress.com/tag/sp_helpexpandview/?order=ASC) community tool, while diving deeper into the technical “why’s” that drove me to write the tool. I presented it for the first time a few weeks ago at SQL Saturday Iowa and it was a huge success!

SPEAKING – PASS SUMMIT 2016

In 2015, I submitted to speak at the PASS Summit for the very first time.  I only had one session in my speaking portfolio.  I figured given the # of speakers & abstracts that get submitted, that I didn’t have much of a chance.  And I was not accepted, but I was okay with that.  I got some interesting feedback and I went on.

For 2016, at the time of Call for Speakers, I had 2 sessions in my portfolio and was developing my 3rd.  So I submitted all three.  I also took lessons learned from my prior year’s submission, refined my abstracts, and provided far greater details in my submission application.  And well, I’d like to think that paid off in spades!!!

I attended my very first PASS Summit in 2013.  At the time, I never thought I’d get into speaking.  But now 3 years later, I’m not only a speaker, but am absolutely flabbergasted, humbled, and blown away that I am been selected to speak!

http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2016/Sessions/Details.aspx?sid=47480

Yes, that’s me… that’s really ME!  EEP!

I will have more thoughts to share later, but I’m still absolutely floored by this honor.  I want to thank everyone on the Selection Committee for all of their hard work!  Congratulations to my fellow speakers, and to those who were declined, I’ve been there too – chin up and carry on, you guys are awesome too!

 

Post 24 Hours of PASS & Other Speaking Engagements

24 Hours of PASS

Last week, I had the thrill and honor of presenting for 24 Hours of PASS. I presented a shortened version of my successful Every Byte Counts: Why Your Datatype Choices Matter session and had a blast.

While I’ve presented this session in person a number of times, I faced some new challenges this time. First, I was presenting a new, shortened version (the original has grown to 70 minutes of content!). The second challenge was presenting online – a much bigger challenge than one might think. I had no crowd to feed off of. Additionally, I had to consciously remember to make eye contact with my webcam, instead of looking at my slides. Finally, I had picked up a head cold the week prior. 30 minutes before my start, my nose decided to start running, so I had to excuse myself a few times to tend to that. A little embarrassing & irritating, but I suppose it’s no different than presenting in person. After all, the show must go on!

Despite the challenges, it was an amazing experience. I was honored to have been given the opportunity and want to thank everyone who worked hard to put another successful 24 Hours of PASS together.

Here is Matt Penny’s (@salisbury_matt) Sketchnote from my session.

PASS Summit

On another note, I also received notice last week that I was not accepted to speak at PASS Summit. I wasn’t upset about this. After all, almost 900 abstracts were submitted, of which only a 15% were accepted? While I know that my Every Byte Counts session is useful information, and COULD be Summit quality, it is also a niche topic that given the volume of other submissions, would probably lose out. And it did, but I’m okay with that. I will not be dissuaded from speaking or submitting, and am still proud to be part of this community!

What Next?

So what’s next? Last week, I was also accepted to speak at SQL Saturday Indianapolis! I’m thrilled to be making my return to Indianapolis & joining a great group of presenters. Additionally, I will be presenting remotely to the Las Vegas User Group. This will be the first time I’ve done a remote User Group session, but I’m hoping that this will be the first of many! And finally, I just submitted for SQL Saturday Minnesota!

The show goes on…

And on and on and on! What have I been up to? Here’s a quick list!

In August, I had the pleasure & honor of present at SQL Saturday Indianapolis and at MADPASS. This coming weekend, I’ll be presenting at SQL Saturday Minneapolis. Then the next weekend, I’ll be travelling to Seattle for PASS Summit!

Additionally, I now have two extremely successful Chicago Suburban User Group meetings under my belt! In September, we welcomed Brent Ozar for our inaugural “reboot” meeting, then had the pleasure of welcoming the SQLSkills crew in October. Both meetings were filled to capacity!

Here’s one anecdote that I want to write about here – more to remember for myself than anything else. Prior to our first meeting, we sent out a Feedback Survey, asking our membership what they wanted out of the UG. One priority was “networking.” I thought really hard about how we could facilitate this – and came up with an idea only an hour before the meeting.

During our announcements, I explained the feedback that we had received. So I asked that everyone simply turn to the person next to them, and simply introduce themselves. All I asked was that they share their name and where they work. I went on to explain that the people in attendance will become faces that we will continue to see month after month. But having names to those faces, will hopefully help people build bonds and relationships over time.

I figured this would maybe last 2 or 3 minutes, before it died down, and we’d proceed to our Q&A segment. Instead people talked… and talked… for the next half hour! It was FANTASTIC! The following month, when I did it again, Paul Randal waved me over and noted that he’d never seen a UG do this before! It really surprised me by made me feel good that my simple idea wound up working out wonderfully.

So things are really looking up right now. I’m super excited about this next SQL Saturday & PASS Summit. If you’re at Summit, do come find me and say hello!

PASS Summit 2013

In my prior post, I talked a bit about my career journey. I think about how attending SQLSkills’ Immersion Event 1, about 3 years ago, was a career milestone. Well, I’ve just completed another – my very first PASS Summit!

For the past week, I’ve been in Charlotte, NC, surrounded by several thousand other SQL Server professionals. I was given the opportunity to attend training sessions on a wide variety of topics. And boy did I fill my brain! Highlights include phenomenal sessions ranging from the Query Optimizer, Hekaton, Data File Internals, & Filtered Statistics.

In addition to all of the newfound technical knowledge, I grew my personal network. Wait, check that… not my “network”… my SQLFamily!

I had the opportunity to meet a number of other industry idols. I’d followed many of these folks on Twitter, and even occasionally interacted with a few. And at Summit, I was now able to shake their hand, put a face to my name. I only had 30 seconds to meet & greet some of these folks, but it was more than enough. Others, I was fortunate to interact more with throughout the week.

But arguably even more important than meeting these “big names,” I met & spent time with dozens of “regular joes” like myself. Sure, the community has some pretty big names, but for every one of those, there’s still 10 “regular joes” who are just as awesome – just “undiscovered” as I like to think. And I had a wonderful time with many of them as well.

Memories? I have many…

I enjoyed being able to wander over to the Community Zone anytime and recognize at least a handful of SQLFamily!

I enjoyed having an insanely difficult time leaving the convention center, always running into more SQLFamily to chat with.

I enjoyed sitting at a park, watching Twitter, and seeing someone tweet a photo from the other side of said park! Walked over, found and met Gina (@AmazingScotch).

I enjoyed partaking in Star Wars #SQLShenanigans, at the Community Zone (who else took photos?!?).

I enjoyed many late nights, getting to know and have fun with SQL Family.

And I enjoyed #SQLCigars with Ryan (@DBAGooner).

I have so many more, but I’ll ramble about ’em all

Back to technical topics, I’m going to list a handful of topics that I need to dive into. I figure posting it here will help to motivate me further to dedicate the time to explore them. And chances are, they’ll fuel future blog posts! 🙂 So in no particular order

  • Paul White’s Pre-Con Optimizer Demos
  • Plan Guides (Templatized)
  • Plan Guides for nHibernate queries
  • Filtered Statistics
  • Statistics Skew (Tripp)
  • Dr. DeWitt’s Hekaton Keynote
  • Rassumen’s Internals Presentation
  • Kendra Little’s demo scripts
  • Hortonworks & Hadoop
  • EQi — Emotional Intelligence for Presenting
  • Review Twitter Favorites for “links”

Time to dive in!