Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I’m Speaking at SQLSaturday #156–Providence

I’m excited to be back on the speaking circuit.  I was able to attend SQLSaturday #122 – Louisville thanks to Idera and the ACE program.

Now I’m on the schedule for SQLSaturday #156 – Providence.  I’ll be presenting Transitioning from SQL Trace to Extended Events.  This has been a very well-received presentation at SQLSaturday #142 – Waltham, SQLSaturday #122 – Louisville, and Rochester PASS.

This event has a great lineup of speakers.  Here are the sessions I’ll try to attend, although I’ll probably be stuck at the PASS table most of the day:

  • Andy Roberts – DB Development ALM with SQL Server Data Tools
  • Alex Papadimoulis – Database Deployment Done Right
  • Andy Novick – BIggest Loser Database Edition
  • Andy Roberts – SQL Server 2012 Availability Groups
  • Aaron Bertrand (Blog|Twitter) – The Ins and Outs of Contained Databases

If you are there be sure to stop by the PASS table and say, “Hello”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Restarting

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything.  I have lots of excuses for not writing, but none of them are rally valid.  There are 2 real reasons for why I haven’t been writing:

  1. Writing is hard work for me and I wanted to be lazy. 
  2. I don’t want the blog just to become a place where I announce events I’m involved with and where I comment on things PASS is doing that I don’t agree like.

My plan is to try to get at least one blog post out a week that hopefully teaches someone something and also post what I’m up to.  To try to keep up with that I’m working on getting a head start by scehduling educational posts in advance.  I hope to stay 3-5 weeks ahead so there isn’t pressure to get a post out today.

I know there are a ton of blogs out there, and odds are, my posts won’t be anything earth-shattering, but it is a way to share what I’m learning, and if I learned it recently I’m sure someone else out there hasn’t learned it yet either.

Thanks for reading and I hope that, my future posts will be of help to you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

OT: Goodbye Dad

This is a bit of ramble.

At about 2:15AM November 21st, 2011 my dad, Arthur Corbett, went home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I got the call from my mom at about 2:25am. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know that this is not an unexpected event, but I've just learned that waiting for it didn't make it any easier. As you can tell from the first line of the post we are Bible believing Christians and we really do take comfort in the fact that the Bible teaches that those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ go to be with Him in heaven when they die, so that, while I titled the post, "Goodbye Dad", it is really more accurate to stay "See you later, Dad". I hope you'll indulge me and allow me to share some history and what I was thinking early this morning after getting the news.

The First Time He Was Dying

Back in 2000, my dad was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and there were 2 times we thought he was going to die. During this time, I had the opportunity to "make my peace" with him. There were decisions he made that I had held against him for many years, and though they weren't bad decision, in fact, they were good ones, I selfishly blamed these decisions for the problems I had in my life. As you can tell, he made through this time because of the marvels of modern medicine. He went to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and, after being rejected from the heart transplant list, was placed in a study comparing the effectiveness of medication vs. the use of an LVAD Heart Pump. My dad got the pump and within 6 months enough people in the study who had not gotten the device had died, that they stopped the study and gave everyone a pump. Two years later his LVAD failed (that was about the anticipated life span) and he was back in Brigham & Women's. This time they qualified him for a heart transplant and in early 2003 he received a new heart.

This Time

Fast forward 8 years, and he is struggling with skin cancer partly related to the anti-rejection drugs he's on. He's had several "minor" surgeries to remove tumors. This past spring he started having trouble opening his mouth, the skin cancer had gotten into his cheek and was invasive enough to be inoperable, at least for a 79 year old man, who'd had enough surgery to not want a full facial reconstruction. At that time we were told he'd likely have 6-12 months although the doctors really couldn't say. In September he fell and had a broken hip. Turns out the cancer was in his bones and his hip broke and he fell. He only made it out of the hospital on hospice care, and was never really out of bed again. Once again, the family came to him as we had in 2000 and made sure he knew we loved, honored, and respected him and had that love returned.

What I felt when I got the call

When the phone rang as 2:25am today, I knew why immediately. Honestly, my first thoughts were, "Thank you, Lord" and "Please help my mom deal with this". Then as I lay back down in bed memories of life with dad started to flow. This is why I struggled sleeping the rest of the night, the most vivid memories were the ones where I was fighting/arguing/angry with him. That really hurts. I told my wife and as I cried and thought about it, I realized, as only a dad can, how when in each of those memories, he had done nothing to deserve my anger, but that my pride and self-centeredness was what caused each of those incidents. Even though I had apologized, twice, been forgiven both times, and know there is nothing but love and respect between us, it still hurts. Here's why it hurts even more, I have son who is just like me, and I don't want him to have the same flood of memories about me when I die as I had last night. My dad did make mistakes just like I do, but I know he was making decisions because he believed that they were the best decisions for the family, just like the decisions I've had to make for mine. Just like I now know that I my attitude was what caused the friction between my dad and me, I know that much of the friction between my son and me is due to his attitude. I don't want my kids to make the same mistakes I did. I couldn't sleep because I know that's the road we are on, at least with this one son. Guess what, I woke him up at 3am, I told him I love him, like I've done many times. I also told him how I was feeling about my dad dying and what my memories were, and that I don't want him to have the same memories of me. I told him that there's not a lot I can do to change what his memories of me will be, but that I'll do what I can, and he needs to think about his attitude because I know he'll have those same memories if things don't change and it will hurt. This is why the Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 (ESV):
"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,"
God doesn't want us to have regrets, and I really don't because I know I made things right with my dad and that memory really trumps the others.

So what would your memories be if one of your loved ones dies?
I know if I hadn't made things right, as small as the problems were between my dad and me, I'd feel worse today.

What would your family's/friends' memories of you be if you were to die today?
Do what you can to make those good memories. Work, leisure, and community will always be there, you have a limited time to create memories with your kids.

If you have any problems with family or friends, think about the root of those issues and find a way to forgive or ask for forgiveness, and make it right. It'll be worth it.

I'm going to close with one more Bible passage, that is really helping me today.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18(ESV)
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Me an MVP? It Really Happened

Yes, I was named a SQL Server MVP the most recent round of awards.  I honestly can’t believe it.  It is a great honor to have been recognized for the things I’ve done in the SQL Server community.  This isn’t the reason I participate, but it is exciting to have been recognized for my contributions.

I’d love to mention everyone who helped me get to this point, but there are too many to list and I know I’d leave someone out, but there is one person I have to thank specifically because I’d never have gotten involved were it not for Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter).  I probably wouldn’t have met all the rest of you without his encouragement.

I met Andy at the first SQLSaturday pre-con (Joe Celko) in 2007.  I don’t know what he saw in me back then, but he took me under his wing and encouraged me to get involved by blogging, speaking, and becoming a leader in the local community, then regionally and even nationally through PASS.  I really don’t think I’ve done anything exceptionally well, but I have been willing to volunteer and whatever I know about SQL Server I’m willing to share.

SQL Server does have a true community.  You can see it on Twitter where we are able to share personal as well as technical problems.  The SQL Server community is full of people who want to help and there are a lot more MVP’s out there that have not been officially recognized.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PASS SQLRally Orlando–We took the Checkered Flag

We did it!  SQLRally happened and, from everything I heard, it was a success!  That’s not to say that there weren’t some glitches and lessons learned, but we accomplished our goals:

  1. Provide a low-cost, high-quality regional training event
  2. Fill the space between SQLSaturday and the PASS Summit
  3. Provide a taste of the Summit

It was interesting because I had some people tell me that the event had a SQLSaturday feel, and others say that it had Summit feel, so I definitely think that we filled in a gap nicely.

Practice Laps (Day 1)

The first day was pre-con day.  We had 260+ attend one of the 4 pre-cons.  I arrived at the event at 7am so I could do my job at the check-in desk.  Check-in went very smoothly and we only had 1 complaint repeated several times, “Where’s breakfast and coffee?”  We did not do a good enough job letting people know that there would not be coffee or breakfast served at the event.  This was a actually a pretty big oversight as anyone who has attended a SQLSaturday is accustomed to seeing something for breakfast.

I heard no complaints about any of the sessions and the volunteers at registration, in the rooms, and during lunch were fantastic!

For the evening we announced a meet-up at Buffalo Wild Wings and also the opportunity to continue networking at a local mini-golf place.  We had a great turnout of over 100 at Buffalo Wild Wings, and you could see people moving from table to table connecting and having a good time.  I actually felt bad for the wait staff as it had to be nerve-wracking to deliver drinks or a meal to a table and the next time you returned to the table, either no one was there or it was someone new.  From what I heard only a handful of people made their way to play mini-golf, mainly because everyone was enjoying the interaction at Buffalo Wild Wings too much.  Around 10pm a group of about 25 made their way to the Celebration Town Tavern to continue the social time until about 2am.  Needless to say it made for an short night.

Qualifying (Day 2)

After having been out until 2am, I arrived shortly after 7am to help with check-in.  Once again, check-in ran smoothly due to the hard work of the event staff and volunteers.  Since over half the attendees had checked in on Day 1 for the pre-con’s, we only had about 180 people to get through the line.  It was great to be part of check-in as I was able to greet most people at the start of the day.

We did have a couple of minor glitches during day 2.  The first occurred just before the second session of the day (9:40) when I was informed that there was a missing speaker.  As the person in charge of the program, I was a little peeved by this as I had NOT been notified.  I called the expected speaker, who had not checked-in, and got no answer, so I left a message and then moved on to plan B.  Plan B was to find a speaker from later in the day and ask them to move their session in to this slot, then I’d try to fill the slot later in the day.  The first speaker I found was Patrick Leblanc, who not only agreed to speak at that time, but chose to do a different session, so he could still do his session later in the day.  This is one of the things I love about the community, someone is always ready to jump in and help.  So I went into a full (100+) session room, announced that that scheduled speaker had not arrived, and that Patrick would be filling in.  I heard nothing but good things about Patrick’s emergency session, and had one person tell me it was the best session they attended in the conference!  Way to go Patrick!

The second glitch happened in the same room and track!  The speaker for the 90 minute deep-dive session got lost on the way to the location.  Fortunately Kendal Van Dyke and Karla Landrum were able to talk him in and he made it just in time for his session.  Needless to say I was also working to find a fill-in, just in case.  Fortunately the speaker made it, and from what I heard, the session went very well!

Thursday evening we had our SQLRally Overdrive panels sponsored by OPASS and MagicPASS, which were another of my responsibilities for the event.  I have to say I was concerned about the type of attendance we’d have for informal panels after people had spent a full-day in training.  Due to cost we could not provide food, but we did have 2 cash bars setup, to encourage people to hang around and network.  The three panels were, Speed Networking hosted by Kendal Van Dyke and Chris Shaw, Birds of a Feather tables organized by Jorge Segarra, and Conducting an Interview moderated by Kevin Kline.  The panels were scheduled to run from 5:45 to 7 and when the last session of the day let out, I have to admit some concern as only 3 or 4 people made there way to each panel.  My concern was unneeded as each session had over 20 attendees.  I did not get an exact count but we had between 70 and 100 attendees stay around and delay dinner for another hour of training.  In each of the panels we had to close them out at 7 because people wanted to continue the discussions!  Who says that SQL Server geeks don’t like to be social?

After the Overdrive panels we headed to Old Town for dinner and then SQLKaraoke.  75-100 people went for dinner and 50+ made it to the Blue Wave for SQLKaraoke.  I hung around and watched people sing, and, honestly, I was a bit disappointed because most of the singers were good!  I like to go to Karaoke to see people who can’t sing, but think that they can!  Sort of like the auditions for American Idol.

The Race (Day 3)

I actually arrived at around 8am on Friday because all but about 10 people had checked-in so I wasn’t needed to help with check-in and I knew all the 8:30 speakers were at the event and ready to go.  I was pretty exhausted at this point, so I spent the day just talking with people and also had a couple of meetings about SQLRally 2012 with the groups that are in the race (Dallas, Nashville, and Denver).

We had the sponsor raffle during the 4pm break, with one session following it.  Because we didn’t have one large room in the facility we had the raffle outside on the Solaris deck.  Andy Warren made some announcements, Mark Ginnebaugh talked a bit about chapters, SQLSaturday, SQLRally, and the Summit, and Kendal Van Dyke made some announcements and announced SQLRally Nordic coming up in Sweden this November.  Then I got to emcee the raffle.  Our sponsors came through with some great stuff (IPad, IPod, software, gift cards, and more).  I was pleased with how quickly we got through the raffle and announcements in about 20 minutes as that gave the attendees some time to make it back to the last session and grab a drink.

Final Thoughts

Other than having one speaker not show up, without any notification, the event went very smoothly.  This was due to the great job done by the event staff from PASS HQ, the volunteers, and the speakers.  I received a few “pats on the back”, but, honestly, it was an easy event to organizer because of the people listed above, without them the event would not have been successful.

Thanks to all who attended and were involved in making the inaugural PASS SQLRally a great event.  I hope to see you all at the Summit and the next US SQLRally!

Monday, May 2, 2011

PASS SQLRally is Next Week!

It’s hard to believe, but after months of planning and hard work, PASS SQLRally is next week!  I admit that, as one of the planners, I may be biased, but I think we’ve put together an exciting event.

Here’s a quick overview of the week:

Tuesday

Early arrivers can kick things off with an informal get-together at Johnnies Hideaway from 5-7pm.  So we have an idea of the room that’ll be needed please RSVP here.  Or, if you are little more ambitions you can start off your week by heading north to Lake Mary for the regular May OPASS meeting.  It’s about an hour drive through Orlando, but I think it’ll be worth it.  Visit the OPASS web site for details and an RSVP link.

Wednesday

Our pre-con day with 4 great pre-cons from Grant Fritchey (Blog|Twitter), Kevin Kline (Blog|Twitter), Plamen Rachtev (Blog|Twitter), & Patrick LeBlanc (Blog|Twitter) (and his Pragmatic Works co-workers).  You can get the details on each session here.  There is still limited space in each seminar, a great deal at only $199!

While we don’t have the budget for a full welcome reception like at the Summit, we have setup a couple of meeting opportunities, You can start the evening on the patio at Buffalo Wild Wings (RSVP) and then make your way to Pirate’s Cove for some min-golf (RSVP).

Thursday

In addition to a great day of sessions we have special WIT Luncheon sponsored by SQLSentry planned with Karen Lopez (Blog|Twitter), Adam Jorgensen (Blog|Twitter), and Melinda White, Mentoring Women in Technology: How to FInd or Become a Better Mentor.  Seating is limited so you must RSVP to shannon.cunningham@sqlpass.org on a first come, first served basis.

Thursday evening we are also offering SQLRally OverDrive panels from 5:45-7:00pm sponsored by OPASS and MagicPASS. 

Birds of a Feather discussions organized by Jorge Segarra (Blog|Twitter)

Sit down with a group of people who are interested in the same SQL Server and BI topics as you are. Interested in SSIS? Gather with your peers to discuss the problems you’ve encountered and solved. Each table will be moderated by an expert in that area.

Conducting an Interview moderated by Kevin Kline (Blog|Twitter)

Conducting an interview can be intimidating and confusing.  What makes a good interview?  How do you differentiate candidates?  This workshop style session will consist of 3 short interviews.  After the interviews are complete the attendees will discuss how the interviews were conducted.  Your moderator, Quest SQL Server Expert Kevin Kline, will demonstrate three different, but common interview strategies used in the marketplace with volunteers from the audience.  We’ll ask questions about the interview strategies, like did the interviewer ask the most appropriate questions?  Did the interviewer conduct a good interview?  With the information the interviewer gathered, which candidate would you hire and why?  Let’s kick back, watch the show, critique the performances, and have a fun discussion!

Speed Networking conducted by Kendal Van Dyke (Blog|Twitter)

Do you have trouble meeting people? Need help starting a conversation? Based on the speed-dating model, you’ll spend a few minutes with several different people with a set of pre-defined questions to ask and answer. Take the time to exchange business cards as well. When moderator Kendal Van Dyke says, “Go!” be ready to make some new contacts.

Finally after the OverDrive sessions we are scheduling some time hanging out at Old Town, which has rides, restaurants, bars and more!  RSVP for this so we can help plan transportation.

Friday

We finish up with another set of great sessions and the sponsor raffle in the afternoon coffee break.  Be sure to drop your pre-printed raffle tickets in the appropriate sponsor raffle box and then be there to find out if you’ve won.  Here are the prizes:

DELL

Dell Mini
Confio   Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Headphones
Entrinsik   iPad 2
Enterprise Software Solutions Western Digital TV Live Plus HD Media Player
Idera      $200 Amazon Gift Card
Melissa Data  iPod Touch 8g
Red Gate Software   SQL DBA Bundle License & SQL Developer Bundle License
SQL Sentry  Power Suite-Performance Monitoring and Optimising Solution
Quest Software    $100 Amazon Gift Card

Thanks again to the sponsors.  Without them the event would be much more expensive and not as fun!

What I am looking forward to?

I can’t wait to meet many of the PASS HQ folks who have helped put this event together.  I’m also looking forward to getting some time in Kevin Kline’s, Leadership and Team Management Skills for the Database Professional, Professional Development pre-con.  All the pre-con’s look great, but I think leadership is where my career is headed.  I haven’t maxed out my technical skills by any means, but I know many people better equipped technically than I am.   

I’m pumped for the OverDrive panels on Thursday night.  Those have been my baby, if they aren’t any good that’s on me, if the rock that’s due to Jorge, Kevin, and Kendal for the job they do in holding them together.

I’m really pleased with the way the event has come together, from the seed in Andy Warren’s (Blog|Twitter) mind, to the proposal we (Andy, Kendal, and I) submitted to PASS and then the execution by the entire team (too many to mention).  If you’ve ever been involved in planning an event you know how great it feels to see all the pieces come together, even when you don’t necessarily think they will.

There are still seats left for the event, so register today!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Have You Heard? You Can Get a Mentor

Steve Jones and Andy Warren are at it again.  The founders of SQLServerCentral, SQLShare, and SQLSaturday have started a new program, The Mentoring Experiment, to try to match professionals (SQL Server only to start), with a more experienced professional as a mentor.  One of their goals is to learn more about what makes a mentoring relationship work so that they mentor others to become better mentors.

I can’t think of more qualified people to do something like this.  Both Steve and Andy have been mentors to many people in the SQL Server community, myself included, so they have experience and a real desire to see others grow.  I don’t know who Andy and Steve have selected to be the mentors, but I’m sure that they have selected people who have been successful, and have the desire and ability to see others succeed as well.

My recent reading has included several books on leadership and mentoring so I’m very interested in seeing how this experiment works.

If you are a SQL Server professional who would like to see your career grow I highly recommend visiting thementoringexperiment.org and applying.  You only have until April 30th to get your application in.  Were I not in the midst of a job search and move, I’d apply myself, but I can’t put the time in to be a proper mentee.