Archive for the ‘News’ Category

SQL Saturday Changes

Posted: July 27, 2016 in Events, News
Tags: ,

If you keep up on all the news coming out of PASS then you might have seen the recent changes that are going to be made to the SQL Saturday offering starting Jan 1st, 2017.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the news yet, you can take a look at it here:  Making SQL Saturday Sustainable.

In short there are a couple things PASS is addressing with this post, one is related to how PASS will sponsor SQL Saturdays in the future. The second has to do with event timing…  Taken from the PASS Blog the statement says:

“The event timing restriction means that events within the 600-mile radius cannot occur on the same weekend or one weekend prior or after.”

The timing restriction is what concerns me. I have been working with SQL Saturdays for some time now, in a few different roles, I have been an Organizer, a Sponsor, a Speaker and an attendee.  My thoughts are pretty jumbled up (much like this blog post), so I decided to look at each of these roles and consider what my goals were at SQL Saturday from each perspective.

As an Organizer – I wanted to bring SQL Saturday to Colorado Springs.  Denver is not far away (60 miles or so), however, we are considered a large city and have a number of SQL Server Professionals in the area. We could have had our own event, and my goal here may have been somewhat selfish, but I wanted to have an event that was local to my city I wanted an event where we could learn, network and have a bit of fun.  If you ever attended one of the early Colorado Springs SQL Saturdays, I think you would agree we tried to bring all those things together.

As a Speaker – I have a few reasons why I speak at these events. Speaking is a great way to improve myself professionally. Being able to address an audience has helped me a lot in my career. I am also a firm believer in the best way to know a subject is to teach it.

As an Attendee – I think this one is self-explanatory, I go to the events as an attendee because I want to continue to grow my skill set.

As a Sponsor – I had two goals when I sponsored SQL Saturday events.  First, I wanted to generate new sales leads. Second, I wanted to get my branding out there in front of potential customers. Developing new leads was a very short term goal, while branding recognition was a longer term goal.

 

Need some intro here to transition. Maybe something like: In each of these roles I faced different types of challenges. These vary from role to role, but here are my experiences.

 

Organizer Challenges

There are many challenges that face the organizer today: volunteers, space, and time to work on the event.  However, based on the policy change and my opinion, the biggest challenge is the money. There are so many things that need to be paid for.  Speaker shirts, speaker gifts, the space, lunch, swag and even insurance. Granted your event does not require you to have a speaker shirt or a speaker gift, but you do need a space to have the event. There are also other management costs that need to be considered. Currently, there are only a couple ways that an organizer can bring in money. Charging for lunch and finding sponsors.

 

Speaker Challenges

As a speaker, my biggest financial concern is getting to the event?  There are a few ways I can get to an event as a speaker.  I could pay for my own travel, however, if I were to do that it would really limit how many of these events that I could attend.  My company could pick up the travel, but in a similar fashion as an individual, the money bucket isn’t bottomless.  There is the option of a presenting a pre-con but then there is a risk that there may not be enough attendees to cover my travel expenses.

Granted, as a speaker, I am one of many people willing to go to an event, so if I can’t afford to go, there are others that might be able to.  The end result is, as a speaker, I can reach my goals. I would like to go to more events, but there are enough that are close enough to me that I can stay pretty active.

 

Attendee Challenges

In the time that SQL Saturday has been around there have been over 400 events so far. In my mind it is really easy to see why. The platform has great education quality for little to no cost to the attendees.

Consider this, a new movie is about to be released and the quality of the entertainment is top notch with great actors, writers and directors. Would you go?  Maybe not if you don’t like movies, or if you are not a fan of the actors in the movie, but if the movie was free would you go then?

I think when you look at the fact that quality education is being delivered for little to no cost, you would have to consider the event a success.  You know what they call a free movie with great actors?  Television, and even if you pay for television, you are going to get the commercials.

 

Sponsor Challenges

As a sponsor I want to be involved with as many events as I can, however, very few companies have the marketing budget that can allow for sponsorship of every event.  This means that the sponsors have to pick and choose.  As a sponsor with a limited budget, it is my responsibility to the company I work for to ensure I get the biggest bang for my buck.  If I know there were three events in Colorado last year, I would think there will be at least three events this year.  If each of the event’s demographics for attendees is close to being the same, why not pick the largest event and sponsor that event?

The reality is these events cost money.  The more I think about this, the more I think that PASS may have taken what they believe to be a proactive step.  This move is going to force events to plan more with other nearby events (not a bad idea anyway), but I am not sure this is the right way to go about it.

If we go back and look at the movie example that I mentioned before, what PASS is doing is saying we can’t run the same program on channels near each other at the same time.  I am not sure I understand that rational.  In like fashion does this mean they should consider moving the dates of the PASS Summit so that it is not located distance or time-wise with other conferences that may be going on at the same time?

I am sure there were a lot of discussion about this before making the decision, but I can’t help but think that there are options out there other than making this policy change.  Some of the items that come quickly to my mind:

  1. Why not charge a small fee for each attendee? If you had a SQL Saturday with 150 people and they charged $25.00 for the event this would add an additional $3,750.00 to the budget. That alone could pay for an event if the belt is tightened a notch or two. Add in a few sponsors and you have plenty of money. With a small fee, each event could be run without the need of so many sponsors yet the goal of SQL Saturday is still reached by providing low cost education to the technical community.
  2. Maybe there are ideas out there to help get sponsors more visibility.  As a sponsor I might be willing to pay more for SQL Saturday brought to you by XYZ Company. Look at how many organizations are going to new ideas so they can get the company name out there.  The Broncos use to play at Mile High stadium, but not any longer.  All I know about basketball is the Lakers play at the Staples Center.  Maybe it is time for events to help the sponsors engage with the attendees better.  Yes, I know the organizers have a lot on their plate already, but companies have to pay the bills.
  3. Maybe we just tone the whole thing down a bit.  Remember the point of a SQL Saturday? Education, not sales and free gifts.  Go with smaller events, meet at free locations, and don’t provide a lunch. Who says a SQL Saturday can’t have two speakers and twenty attendees?  Would an event that small be considered a failure if the cost was small to nothing and everyone learned one new thing they could use at work on Monday?

I have to say, I disagree with PASS on this one.  Each of these events need to look at what the goals of the event are, and what they consider a success.  I can see why there might be an event in Denver and an event in Las Vegas on the same day. I think we may all need to come back to why we do this, what is our goal.

 

All Day Pre-Con Event

Posted: June 25, 2014 in Events, News

 

John Morehouse and I were sitting around during a recent SQL Saturday talking about what experiences we learn the most from and how we can use that to help us when we are speaking at an event of some sort. We found that being able to relate the topic that we were teaching back to an example that attendees can relate to worked really well for us. So have some crazy brain storming we came up with this idea.

We both are sitting down with some requirements and some data. We will both have the same environment yet we are going to work independently to see who can come up with the better solution. The goal will be something measurable and when we meet at the PASS Summit in November we will see who as the best solution. Here is where you come in… If you want to see what solution wins and why it does you will be able to. We will be presenting this as a Pre-Con to the 2014 PASS Summit.

As we talked about the idea more and more we decided that we can make the session a bit more realistic, so we are going to spend the afternoon making changes to our environment and to the winning solution to see how it works with the requirement changes that always jump into projects. We will test things like versions of SQL Server and when you change the hardware. So if you are ready, come join us, I can assure you there will be a lot to learn and we are going to have a lot of fun doing it.

In the red corner representing Colorado Springs, standing tall at 5 foot 6 nothing but attitude. Armed with a staggering 17 years of experience for a right hand and striking fast wit for the knock out on the left. Your 5 year SQL Server MVP, Pass Regional Mentor, and Colorado Springs User Group leader… Chris Shaw.

In the blue corner, backed by corn huskers and fire fighters, a true hero dedicated to destroying poor database performance and the sharing of database knowledge. Lighting fast reflexes and in depth knowledge is unleashed to deliver lethal blows. The towering, the intimidating and the inspirational to so many… John Morehouse.

In case you wanted to see the official Abstract we included it here. We hope to see you there. To register check out this link.

Real World End-to-End Performance Solutions

Do you ever wonder how other people approach real world business objectives from start to finish? The success of a project can be hampered from decisions that are made before a single row resides in a database, and yet often there is no one single best solution, because different people will approach a problem from different angles and there are countless variables along the path that are critical to success. If you make a mistake at the beginning, costly redesigns may haunt you for years to come.

 

In this powerful yet entertaining full-day pre-conference session, we will start with two different database professionals with two different skill sets. The speakers both have very different ways of approaching a project (and are both set in their ways!), but both have the same measurable goal. Whose process runs faster? Join this session and see the results.

 

In other words . . . “Let’s get ready to Rumble!”

 

What may appear as the end of the session is really only the beginning as variables and limitations are added and various questions are answered: What happens to our project when we are forced to use GUIDs (Globally Unique Identifiers), or when we push our solution to the cloud? Does the introduction of new hardware improve the overall outcome of our test? Do we see faster performance with SQL Server 2014 over SQL Server 2012? Join us and find out!

Time to Vote

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Events, News

Some of you may know that I am pretty passionate about the PASS community. The community has had its up’s and down’s over the last few years, maybe this is why I have become fascinated with who is severing on the Board Of Directors (BOD). I have considered running for the board a couple times in the past, I have determined that as much as I think I would enjoy serving on the BOD, I just don’t think I am the right person. For me to make the determination that I would not make a good BOD member I had to do a lot of soul searching. I had a lot of fears such as the unknown if I could even get past the vetting stage. Many of my fears I believe are based in the reality of it just isn’t good timing for me. However this post isn’t about me, the reason I tell you about my path of self-review in considering running for the BOD, is so that you might consider a few things before you cast your vote. During my time of self-consideration I determined that certain traits should be considered:

  • A BOD member needs to be a person that instills trust. There are a lot of items that are discussed in the Board Room. Sometimes we may or may not know all the facts around what was discussed. The Board is asked to vote on many items during the year, and it is important to me that the people we have in office are those that I know will consider all the facts, review the positives and negatives of each decision and then they will cast a vote in the direction that is best for the health of the PASS organization as a whole. I don’t want a board member that is out for their own gain.
  • A BOD member is NOT a lemming. Each one of our Board members need to make a decision on their own. Voting because that is the way everyone else is going to vote does not make the vote right nor does it make it wrong. A BOD member is someone who determines what is best for the community and uses that as the driving factor on who they vote.
  • A BOD member knows how to listen, if you watch them and watch them closely the board members are talking to the PASS members, they want to know what issues are important to us. They may not always be able to comment on different topics but that should never discourage you from telling them what is important to you as a member of PASS.
  • A BOD member is in it for the long haul. If you look into the history of what they have done you should see many interactions with the community. The people that have been vetted have a lot of experience with PASS and the SQL Community.

I am sure there are a number of other traits that I could add to this list, I am sure that you have a few of your own that you might add. The important thing is that you take the time to identify what those traits are and what it means to you. When I see the list, I know almost all the names a couple of them jump off the page at me at who I think would be a great Board Member…

Allen Kinsel

When I first started working with the Colorado Springs SQL Server users group, our relationship with PASS was a little unknown, we were not sure how this relationship worked. After a lot of growing, not only by PASS but our local users group I had the opportunity to work with Allen. He was the board member who was responsible for working with the chapters. I can tell you personally I never saw as much growth with the way PASS works with the local PASS chapters as I did when Allen was working with local chapters on the board. Granted he had a lot of help from Karla Landrum (one of my favorite people involved with PASS) and a number of other people as well. It was under Allen’s watch when I have seen the most progress. When I heard Allen was not going to be back working with the chapters, I can tell you it felt like a body punch being delivered by Tyson himself. Now this has a happy ending because the next board member to work with the chapters is a good friend Wendy Pastrick, and I believe she carried the torch well. When I look at what Allen has done, and I watched as Allen walked away with his head held high I knew that if his name ever came on the ballot again, I was going to do everything I could to support him. I can tell you without hesitation that Allen meets all the criteria and expectations I have for a Board Member. Allen you got my vote, you earned it.

Amy Lewis

When I saw Amy on the ballot I was thinking about all the interactions that I have had with her. I tried and tried to come up with some catchy way that I can tell you how she has influenced the community, and has motivated me. Every time I keep coming back to the same thing. When I look at how I have organized user group meetings, or SQL Saturdays I always feel like there is something else I should have done. Things like making sure the speakers know how much they are appreciated, or the consistent communication with the chapter. Amy does that, she has some of the best follow through that I have ever seen. Then I look at how she is involved. Her dedication to Women in Technology (WIT), or the PASS Summit serving as a committee chair. She just doesn’t stop. There are a number of what I would call example chapters around the world. Chapters that are strong, chapters that are growing, chapters that if you can use as an example to make things better in your chapter. I can say without a doubt that the Phoenix chapter is one of those, and I believe a lot of it has to do with Amy. When she is involved in something, no matter what it is I think that something just got a whole lot better. I would be proud to have her as part of any event that I worked on.

It is important to me that I say I support each of the candidates that are running. I applaud the Nomination Committee for providing us with such qualified candidates. This is going to be a very difficult decision, and I don’t want to take away from anyone who is on the ballot. To all the candidates, I wish you good luck, I know you will do well. We have had many great leaders in the past, and we have great leadership on the board now. I am excited to see what the coming years have in store for us.

 

Quick Flood Water Update

Posted: September 12, 2013 in News

 

First Photo taken around 7:30 AM this morning. Note this is a high water level already, this is normally very small maybe around 10 feet wide. The Second photo was taken around 11:45 AM. Notice the island in the middle is starting to disappear, and the waters are turning red. I have some better photos taken with my Nikon that I will review and post later. I think the water is close to a foot to a foot and a half higher in the second photo.

Please keep in mind this is a few miles from where it is getting pretty bad.

 

 

Heavy Heart

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Career, News, SQLServerPedia Syndication

About 12 years ago I sat down with a couple of the guys that I work with. We had an in depth discussion about starting a User’s Group in Colorado Springs, I am not sure if we knew how big it would get, or what we really expected. But we knew we wanted to give people who do the same SQL Server work we did the opportunity to learn and share ideas, experience’s and just overall network together. Over the course of time I have been a leader of this group, for all but a year or two, I have been the President and the Vice-President of events, most recently a Co-President. I can tell you I have gotten just as much from the group as I have given it. If you have ever considered starting a group or joining a group I cannot tell you how much I recommend it.

My wife and I have always dreamed of living in our 5th wheel full time. There is nothing like waking up with the deer hanging outside your door when you get up each morning and going to bed each night after I hang out with the Foxes. About 6 months ago, we were able to make this dream come true. The other aspect to our dream is to stop dealing with the snow, and for me the pain that comes along with the snow. As of October 15th this year we will be spending our winters in warmer weather. Seeing that we will be out of state close to 6 months a year, I do not feel like I can contribute as much to the group as voted in board member. I will not be seeking reelection for the Colorado Springs SQL Server Users Group.

Does this mean I won’t be back? No.

Making a decision like this has been really difficult for me, I am so vested in the group but I can rest assured knowing that the current leadership is some of the finest I have ever worked with and I have a lot of hope with the group and the group’s future.

What about being a Regional Mentor?

I have not been doing a very good job on keeping up with posting everything that is going on, here on my blog. I have accepted a role to be one of two RM’s for PASS for Canada. I am really excited about this and many aspects of it are well under way. This will continue, and there is no plan for it not to as we complete our travels.

What is coming my way?

  • In November I will be at the PASS summit, and I think this one is starting to look like this one will be the best yet.
  • In October I will be headed over to the SQL Saturday in Nebraska.

     

As a new chapter starts and an old chapter closes I can’t help but reflect on friends, events and all the great people and things that we have done with the group. There is more to come and I am really looking forward to the new focus and the future.

 

 

 

Exciting News

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Career, News

I mentioned earlier this week that I had some really exciting news. Today I have the opportunity talk a little bit more about that exciting news.

About a year ago someone had asked me what would my dream job was. I had given thought as to what jobs that I have done and what I liked, and then I thought a lot about the things that I don’t like to do. As I worked through the process in my mind I kept coming back to the same few points.

  • I like to work with SQL Server – This is the core of my career. I love this tool, and the community could not be better.
  • I like working with organizations, and creating solutions for HA and DR scenarios. My job is to see those obstacles, and then provide solutions.
  • I enjoy solving real world problems, being able to cross that hurdle of this is the problem we are having and here are the business limitations, now how do we accomplish this.
  • I really like to teach – It doesn’t matter if is at a conferences, classes or even one on one.

I was thinking about what my experience brings to the table as an industry trusted Microsoft SQL Server Professional I am aware of the challenges surrounding organizations in today’s marketplace when searching for effective database solutions. I enjoy helping organizations bridge that gap from databases are something needed to support your businesses to databases are a tool that can be utilized to grow an organization.

It was then I had an idea. I start to think about some of the projects I have done in the past, and some of the people that I have worked with and have trusted for many years. I looked for a company who has a great track record, and understands that working with a client is not just completing a statement of work, but it is helping them accomplish goals, solve problems, and prepare for the future. It is about customer service, it is all about doing the right thing.

I talked to a friend of mine, Mark. An idea emerged where I could help Xtivia and work with some of the organizations they work with and add to the benefits they bring to their clients. This was a perfect match because Xtivia is providing solutions and supporting those database management needs by helping organizations use Microsoft SQL Server. After some discussion and looking at some of the options, this looked like it could be a great fit. So on July 11th Xtivia and I have started working together, they have expressed that they support my desire to stay active in the community and they can see the benefits of working with SQL Server experts around the world.

I am excited because I have the opportunity to work with a great staff, and to help with creating some solutions. I look forward to helping them expand the benefits they bring to clients.

PASS Votes

Posted: December 11, 2011 in Interviews, News, SQLServerPedia Syndication

I always wonder how many people actually know who they are voting for.  I am sure you are really busy as am I.  So making sure that I keep up on everyone’s campaign is really difficult to do.  This year when I was thinking I would run for the Board of Directors for PASS, I decided I was going to make it very clear on not only the reasons that I was running, but the opinions that I had.  This way if someone voted for me, they would know where my mindset was and where I was coming from when I was representing them as I voted on issues.  A few months ago I decided that I could be more of an impact at this time on the SQL Server community if I worked on the local level or even an RM level than what I could on the Board of Directors.  Now this does not mean that I won’t ever run for the Board, it’s actually quite opposite; I do plan to run in the next few years.  But as for me today, I want to see how I can help the User Group Chapters because that is what I am the most passionate about.

So last week when I came across the Forums where I could ask all the current candidates questions in a public forum I had to jump at the chance.  I believe that all the candidates are very well qualified for the role.  As a matter of fact this is the first year where I am really having a difficult time trying to decide who I am going to vote for.  I posted 4 questions to candidates and to my great surprise I have been getting answers from them.  In addition I believe all the candidates are either planning to answer or have already answered.  I thought I would take a few minutes to post the responses here on my blog.  Please remember my questions come from my paradigm, so these are directed to get the opinions of the candidates so when they are voting on a topic I know they know where they are coming from.  I have included comments below each question so that you might know where I was coming from when asking them.

  1. I am really passionate about the User Community of PASS, can you tell me what do you think can be done to build a strong relationship between PASS and the Chapters? How can PASS support the chapters and really help the chapters grow?

    In my humble opinion and take it for what it is worth, I think that SQL Server Professionals may not understand all that Pass does for us, and can do for us.  I have had a number of discussions with the Board of Directors and I think that they have the same goal for User Groups that I do.  Make the groups more productive for the current members, and help increase the outreach into the community.  There are a lot of business items that the BoD have to cover each time that they meet.  So I wanted to know if anyone has ideas to help the chapters grow, and are they as passionate about them as I am.

  2. What does PASS mean to you, and what do you think PASS should be? Is PASS living up to the potential that it has or is it doing well just the way that it is? If you had no obstacles how would PASS be different?

    For someone to be on the BoD I think they have to have a great understanding of what PASS is today. Even more important than that, I want to know where they want PASS to go.  I want to be very clear when I say I am not unhappy with PASS.  I think they are doing a good job in what they do.  At the same time I am a firm believer in the fact that PASS can do more.  Sure there are some areas where I think PASS has to change what they are doing, but I believe we have the same goals. 

  3. As a SQL Saturday organizer, my job would be easier if I had a pre-set list of sponsors that would be added to my events vendors list. I am thinking along the lines of a group sponsorship where small companies could be a vendor at many events with one cost, in addition smaller events would not have to fight with larger events for money, based on attendance. What do you think of this idea? Why would it or would it not work?

    When I am working on organizing a SQL Saturday event I feel like there are a number of tasks that need to be completed, one of the more difficult tasks is finding vendors for the event.  I firmly believe that PASS and Andy Warren have created a great base for us to spring off of as we organize our events.  But as we look at making sure there are events in many more towns around the country and around the world we need to make it easier for the people who are willing to help host these events.  The big question is: How do we do that?  I think if you have a dedicated volunteer, a supporting RM and people willing to go and speak at these events, then I think we need to help each event as much as we can. I may not understand the complexity of what I am asking, and I am sure there are a number of rules that need to be put in place, but I want to see if someone has addressed the idea.

  4. You are qualified and very capable of being on the Board for PASS, but so are the other 5 candidates. But the candidate that I vote for will represent me. Please tell me why I should trust you will represent me and what I can expect out of your term on the board? What ideas are you going to champion?

I think this question really explains itself.  I don’t want people trashing each other, that is not the goal. What I want to hear is what areas do they really have a draw to, do they like SQL Saturdays and want to make them bigger and better, or is their heart in working on a relationship with Microsoft?  One is no more important to the other, in the big picture.  But, if someone is going to represent me during a vote, and that is what I expect of a BoD that I am supporting then I want to know that they are aligned with what is important to me.  If they know where I am coming from, and they vote against something I would have voted for then this is exactly where my trust needs to come in.  I need to know that my BoD has my interest and my concerns in mind when they cast the vote.  They will have more information than I do, and they will have looked into it more than I have, so I need to believe they will make the decision that is right for the organization, even if that means it is not the same way I would vote.

I know there is a lot of information here.  This is a big responsibility for the people who are putting their beliefs out there for the community to review and scrutinize.  I know that I will make a good decision for me, but can I make a good decision for you?  I challenge you to read the answers,  and if you have a question make sure that you post it on there, and see what they have to say.  But no matter what you do, if you feel passion for your community and you feel passion for your work, make a stand and support someone.  Be informed on who you vote for.  For the answers to my questions, you can follow the thread here.  I was going to repost answers, and considered even asking them for an interview.  But I want you to see how they answered in words that they choose.