Heading To PASS Summit 2015 – Now What?

PASS_2015_200x200You’ve heard about it for some time now, and you finally got the gumption to ask your boss if the company would send you to PASS Summit 2015. A few days or weeks elapse and you get word that you were the chosen one from the company to attend – FANTASTIC, you say….but wait – – what in the world am I supposed to do? What should I expect? Will someone throw a fish at me in Seattle?

First off, relax. I want to share some advice with you that may help ease your mind and make your trip a ton of fun. Pull up a chair and stay a few minutes; this is a blog post and not a dissertation so I won’t take to long.

What Can I Expect?

PASS Summit 2014Simple question with profound meaning. I can only tell you of my experiences and what I’ve been through as alumni to the conference.

My first PASS Summit was back in 2011 (documented here) and it was one that changed the outlook on my career forever. I was green to the community thing and come to find out I was not the only one.

A ton of sessions, a ton of speakers, a ton of people – with all that said the experience was hands down  the best professional work conference I’ve attended.

Fruits of Attending?

Community ZoneWhat can I gain from attending? Beside the knowledge of sessions you have a plethora of opportunities to network with speakers, vendors, and other data professionals on a daily basis?

Do you have a question for Microsoft? If so, head on over to their triage center to get some direct help or visit the community zone.

Even better; this last trip resulted in me meeting an individual at a table. Out of 5 k data professionals I strike up a conversation with this person and we talk over breakfast. This person is from the exact same city I am from – who knew? As I get back into town I had a position become available; guess what I ended up hiring the individual after an interview process and it has worked out very well for both of us. You never know what may come out of attending this conference.

What Do I Bring?

Everyone is different; normally what you will find with me at the conference are (but not limited to):

  1. Business cards
  2. Laptop or Surface
  3. Battery Stick
  4. Mifi (although they have WiFi there)
  5. Chargers
  6. Cell phone
  7. Batteries
  8. Mouse
  9. Thumb Drive (cause you know, why not)
  10. Pens
  11. 3×5 cards (some form of paper in case I need to jog something down real fast)
  12. Hand Sanitizer

I tend to keep a second bag in my back pack of other essentials. Be creative, this is just a list to help you get started.

The Sessions

You won’t be able to see all the sessions you want to. I suggest you create your schedule online at the PASS site. This gets you a head start, but keep in mind that part of the fruits of being there is to meet people and talk.

You can purchase all the sessions for the conference; just ask one of the many volunteers where you need to go. It’s fairly inexpensive and most companies I know will reimburse you for it as you bring them home to the team or the ones who could not go. Plus it helps you see the other sessions you didn’t get to attend.

Have Some Fun

Lastly, as I bring this to a close, have some fun. It’s easy to get overwhelmed I get that. Just enjoy yourself and embrace the journey you are about to embark on. You won’t regret being involved with something so great within the PASS Community.

I look forward to seeing you there; if you run into me say hi. I don’t mind stopping and talking to new and old faces a like.


SQL Prompt 7 by RedGate

SQLPrompt7UpdatedRedGate unleashed their newest version of SQL Prompt recently. It is no secret to those of you who know me that, where I work, we are a RedGate shop. Needless to say, even if I was not at my current employer I would still want this type of utility in my arsenal.

A lot of data professionals are always looking for ways to “save time” or “get ahead” in their day-to-day activities and this is one utility that will help provide some lift in those areas.

Why would I want to use this utility you may ask? Below are some of the highlights that this product offers that have helped me streamline some of my day-to-day activities:

  • Tab History – being able to save or preview work that was done in SSMS allowing me to jump right back into where I left off is a huge benefit.
  • Actions List – this new feature that allows you to select your code and provide hot keys so-to-speak if phenomenal
  • SQL Formatting – enough said on this one. That’s right; I don’t have to go into detail; ever find that nasty code and you wonder who anyone can read it. Quick and easy option to format the code base you are working with.
  • Auto Complete – if you’ve ever used something similar to this you’ll learn quick that this auto complete feature of joins etc. are pretty awesome. I always hear colleagues, co-workers, other community members that when this portion becomes unavailable they quickly realize how good they had it.
  • Snippets – sharing snippets with other team members is huge.

I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with this utility greatly and would recommend it as a viable option to improve efficiency. Don’t take my word for it though; as with anything try it out.

Go check out the product here you won’t be disappointed.



SQLSat403 – Recap


The doors close, lights turn off, and cars begin to pull out of the parking lot. Another SQL Saturday event has come and gone, but this time it was different. The reason for this was from the hard work, effort, countless hours, and collaboration that took place.

This past year I wanted to embark on a journey that I hadn’t done before which was volunteering for a SQL Saturday event. Malathi Mahadevan (B|T) afforded me this opportunity to get involved along with John Morehouse (B|T) . Little did I know what I was about to embark on.

Listen, most attend these events by showing up and listening to a talented speaker pool. After the event attendees stick around for a raffle, and share some laughs with friends. I know because I’ve attended several of these events; I’ve also spoken at a lot of events other than SQL Saturday’s and given presentations. In those times you get to talk with other speakers, attend some nice dinners, and kick back with some deep conversations. What is missing?

SQLSaturday403 in Louisville, Ky changed my mindset drastically. If you have never been apart of something in this nature then I would recommend it; I don’t care if you are a speaker or an attendee at a user group. The hard work and effort that goes into pulling an event such as this off is phenomenal. I walked away with a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes along with learning a few things:

  1. People are hungry to learn
  2. It takes a strong team behind the scenes to pull something like this off
  3. Dedication and determination are prevalent
  4. Organization is key

We had a very talented speaker pool come in to town this year who provided attendees with a number of good sessions. The vendors on hand were second to none and put on a great show for everyone to see. What really got my attention was seeing all the hard work we, as a group, put into it. As we crossed that finish line and the day of the event came we saw a record crowd which maxed out our venue with people beating the door down on a waiting list to get in. That means two things to me:

  1. Shows just how eager people were wanting to learn
  2. We were doing something right

Twitter wall

Enter stage left > the twitter wall.

Something new that I have not seen before was, what became, the infamous twitter wall. The idea stemmed from a colleague/friend of mine John Morehouse.

The wall was located in our eating/silver sponsor area and was a big hit throughout the day. It also provided a glimpse into some of the fun we were having:

Photo provided by John Morehouse

Photo provided by John Morehouse

One of the cool things that I liked about this idea was seeing all the attendees thoughts as they were sitting through the sessions. The #SQLSat403 was generating quite a buzz, this was proof that what was happening in Louisville was a great thing. The vendors located in this area were pretty stoked about the twitter wall as they were getting some love as well!


All of the above shows signs of success, or so I thought, until I got blindsided again by feedback I received from the attendees, vendors, and speakers. Some of the comments that will remain anonymous are:

“I apologize; I’ve been doing this wrong for so long with my code and I am rejuvenated to fix it and make it more efficient

“This event is free; how is that possible?”

“I am missing out on #SQLSat403; that seems like it is the place to be today”

“I definitely will be coming back to this next year”

Those are some pretty encouraging comments. As with anything, our group realizes that we had hiccups. Some may not have even been noticeable, but the organizers noticed them. Guess what, we are making a list and looking for ways to continue to improve on this event. There is a buzz going on here in the city of Louisville around this event; know that we have a dedicated team in place that will continue to work hard in order to make this one of the best events around.

What can you do?

If you attend one of these events in the future, anywhere in the world, I implore you to walk up and thank the volunteer. I know the group I am associated with are an amazing bunch, and that will go for the rest of the organizers worldwide. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve; looking forward to many more.

How about you? Will you volunteer? Will you speak? You can check out a full schedule on the SQL Sat website here.

Thank You

To my fellow organizer – it truly was an amazing ride and I thank you for the opportunity.

To the attendees – it was a blast to see you all along with seeing a lot of light bulbs go off and discussions we had. Hope you guys had as much fun as I did.

To the speakers – spent a lot of quality time with a lot of you and I look forward to coming to your venues to speak in the future. Thanks for investing time in our community so others may learn.

To the vendors – we couldn’t have done it without you; look forward to cultivating that relationship with you as we move forward.

It’s game time folks; let’s get it done. If you reach one then it is a success.

Addicted To Busy

payattentionOur world is made up of technology and being plugged in 24/7. As you walk down the street you may notice on either side of the sidewalk people walking and looking at their phone. Texting, emailing, social media, and the like is all the buzz. I fall victim to this very thing quite often; so much so that I will admit running into people and then having to apologize for not watching where I was going.

It reminds me of the movie I saw with my kids, Wall-E, where all of a sudden their screens go down on their motorized vehicles that takes them back and forth, and they see the swimming pool for the first time. They had no idea it was there, oblivious to the things going on around them.

In reality, we find ourselves in this same mindset whether it is with work, family, or friends we are plugged in 24/7. Have you ever been talking to someone, a colleague for example, and while talking you or them are answering emails – I have. Have your kids been running up to you in your house to ask a question, and you are half listening because you are answering a text you got from a family member or friend – I have.


I heard this statement last week and it got me thinking about this topic, “Wherever you are, be there”. Simple enough statement; being the analyzer that I tend to be I had to study that and think on it over and over again. As I type this my mind even wondered to the daily activities I need to get done at work, the 2 articles I am behind on in writing, and the countless blog posts I want to get out the door.

Am I addicted to busy?



John Sansom (B|T) gives a good example of character traits of what an Outstanding DBA looks like. It is a great interpretation of my mindset with one I’d like to add as a bold point – listening. This past week I realized that it is okay to put the phone down, to spin the chair around from your busy day and have a conversation with others. When you are approached at work with an issue listen to that issue. It is then when you can apply some of these character traits to the conversation and be a difference to someone.

Wherever you are, be there

phoneCall it the “aha” moment or something else, but I’ve come to realize that having meaningful conversations with colleagues, family, and others is just as important in cultivating relationships on all levels. There of course will be times when we all will stumble – heck I do it daily; in the end don’t be so addicted to busy that you miss opportunities.

Now don’t take this blog post and twist it in a way to say we shouldn’t be responding to SLA’s, or if you are on call not answering alerts in a timely manner. That’s not my point and hopefully that comes across. It’s okay to step back from time to time, re-evaluate, and make adjustments.


Addicted To Busy

It’s hard not to be this way; I encourage you to cultivate those relationships and pick up on some of those missed opportunities that might have passed you by before. A fine balancing act it will always seem to be; being involved on a call the other day for work the person on the other end told me that they were so glad I took 15 minutes out of my day to call them to discuss the issue without sending an email.

Be that difference maker; be that game changer.

Without Borders – Getting Involved

One of the things I enjoy about the SQL community is the many people that you come into contact with. Whether it is speaking, interacting, listening, or collaborating one can meet many data professionals from all walks of life. With that you get to know, invest, and follow individuals. Two people that I’ve come to know this past year via the SQL community is Argenis Fernandez (b|t) and Kirsten Benzel (b|t).

An initiative that they started last year at PASS Summit was Argenis Without Borders. When I first heard about this I was enamored and intrigued; both individuals are stellar data professionals and pillars in our SQL community so I decided to check this out and see what it was all about.

This year they are back at it with a new initiative and new goals. I encourage you to check out what this new initiative is all about, and if you decide to get involved – fantastic. If not pass the information along so we can continue to spread the word.

“People making a difference one day at a time”

SQL Saturday Field Notes


As you walk toward the entrance the door opens and there stands a volunteer smiling welcoming you in. You make your way into the building where you are ushered toward the sign in table; there is where you are greeted by more volunteers who help you get checked in and situated. After you get checked in you begin to look around and see some renowned vendors set up where they have additional swag and want to talk to you about some products. As you walk through the venue you notice speakers that you either follow their blogs or you’ve seen them speak at different locations. You sit in some awesome sessions which are free, and get a nice lunch. A great cost-effective way to learn.

All the above is pretty normal, this year though it is a bit different for myself and it has changed my view drastically. This year I decided to get involved more locally; I’ve always traveled elsewhere to attend, speak, and network but this year it hit me that the community in my own backyard is something I’ve never been involved with. This is where it all has changed for me; I have a new-found respect for the organizers and volunteers that go into pulling the above off. Sitting in speaker rooms prepping, seeing old friends, or listening to sessions that are interested in has always been beneficial, but I’ve never taken the time to thank each one of the volunteers individually.

I’m thankful this year that Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) has allowed me to be a part of something great that is going on here in Louisville. There is definitely a rising of top-tier talent here and we are on the verge of blowing the socks off this town. I’m also thankful I get to work alongside John Morehouse (b|t) who has taught me a great deal; not just from an event standpoint but a SQL standpoint in general. This dude is a complete work horse and I’d go to battle with him any day of the week.

My mind drifted back to PASS Summit and remembering the people standing near the escalators or the door ways; have I ever stopped and thanked them for helping with the event?

I realize now what it takes to put something like a SQL Saturday on and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I’m humbled by the fact that so many volunteers give selflessly to make these things happen; I want to be around a long time in this venue and arena and help make SQL Saturday 403 one of the best venues around.

If you are in the area in August make sure you register and come see me, John, Mala, and others. Stop and introduce yourself, we would love to talk to you and get to know you more. Together we can do some great things and we can keep giving back to the community that has helped shape most of us.

I challenge you if you have not ever been involved in helping put one of these events on then please do so. It is a ton of work, time, and coordination, but the people you meet along the way is well worth it.

It takes one to be a game changer and difference maker; will you be that one?

For details on our SQL Saturday event here in Louisville you can go here.

To visit the upcoming SQL Saturday events you can go here.

To visit the SQL Saturday event home page you can go here.





thNP3V0VT4It’s one small word, but that one word can pack an awful powerful punch. I got a severe dose of it Friday night. No, I won’t go into the great detail that provoked this word to come to light. What I will do is recognize that it has taught me some valuable lessons especially in my every day work life.

We live in a fast paced society. Work will never cease that’s a given; when is the last time you truly stopped, looked around, and appreciated where you are at in this point in time?

I used to struggle a lot with not blogging enough, not giving back to the community enough, not submitting to speak enough, arguments with other data professionals on what is the right way to do things versus the wrong way to do things, and the list could go on and on.

I look at SQL Family and what does it truly mean to me? I take great pride in my work, the people I am involved with daily, the many issues that come up that provide new solutions waiting to be found, but SQL Family is much more than that. It is shown daily by the likes of you and me. You see it in the generosity when one of our own passes away, you see it in others who rally around a good cause, you see it when a seasoned community member takes a newbie under his/her wing to guide them, and yes you see it shown when you receive heart breaking news that we all endure through the journey we call life.

There are intervals in life when you stop and asses priorities; nothing wrong with that. You start to look at if the he said she said argument was even worth it, you blast a newbie because he made a dumb mistake due to the fact that they just didn’t know, or you get on some ego trip because you believe you are entitled to something.

There will be things you can control and there will be things you can’t control; as a data professional and proud DBA I will continue to do the best I can day in and day out. I come from the school that you work hard regardless of the situation. You won’t find perfection, you won’t find a guy who knows it all; what you will find is a guy who has a passion for the SQL Community and a passion for learning and honing is craft.

To the new community member the days will not always be perfect; heck the days you will sometimes wonder what the heck you got yourself into; enjoy the ride. Don’t beat yourself up for things you think you could have done better; learn from them and move on. Realize that SQL Family IS the people, the interaction – it is what makes it thrive.

For the ones who have been around for a long time, with as much respect as I can muster, I just implore you to realize that when life does happen outside of our SQL walls; don’t let that time go by wasted. You need to cherish every minute of it; we (me included) rush around getting to the next event, next speaking engagement, next post and if we aren’t careful we will let those outside moments pass us by.

Some will take this post as me saying not to worry about the security breach that was caused by a pointless mistake, and some will read too much into it and be wondering if I’m speaking at anyone in particular. I get how it all works, these are just intended thoughts of mine that if I can take to heart myself, then it might help me in the future to become a better data professional and DBA.

Work hard, cherish the moments, and realize that taking one day at a time is okay.


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