Friday, July 30, 2010

Personal or Professional Ethics

Steve Jones had an interesting blog post the other day, Do as I Say, Not as I Do, and I as I read it I thought about the situation I am in now and a situation I went through just over 4 years ago.

Steve talks about how he recommends checking/updating your resume quarterly in his presentation, The Modern Resume, but then mentions on how it doesn’t do that because he has an employment contract so he couldn’t take an offer, at least not easily, without breaking that contract.  I commented on his post about how I am in a similar situation.  I currently serve as a faith-supported missionary with New Tribes Mission (you can read more about what that means on the NTM web site and my ministry blog or contact me via Twitter or email).  My wife and I made a commitment to serve with NTM for four years, and while we don’t have a written contract, we made that commitment and are honoring it.  We are just over three years into that commitment and over that time I have not touched my resume.  Why would I?  Even if the greatest job in the world came along, I’d have to say, “No thanks, unless you can wait a year.”  What are the odds of that being acceptable?  Could I take another job?  Sure, like I said, I don’t have formal contract, but I have my word and keeping that is more important to me than money or having the best job in the world (color commentator for all Red Sox home games, I don’t want to be on the road).

The second situation that came to mind happened about a year before we started out time with NTM.  We had been accepted by NTM and were in the process of raising funds to begin serving with NTM.  In March of 2006, I was informed that my job was being eliminated and that I was fortunate because I was being allowed to continue working through May.  As I said, my wife and I were already working towards a goal of moving to Florida to serve with NTM, but that was still looking like it was at least a year in the future, so I needed to find a way to provide for my family.  So I dusted off my resume and started sending it off to advertised positions and let some recruiters know I was available (I didn’t have much of a professional network at that time).  I ended up getting an interview at a college in southern New Hampshire.  The interview went very well, and I was VERY interested in the position.  The work would have been challenging as I would have been THE SQL Server guy and the main programmer (.NET) as well, with some VERY interesting integration projects on-going between SQL Server systems, Active Directory, and some legacy systems.  Not only that, but they had a Master’s program in Computer Information Systems that I could have taken for free, and really improved my earning potential especially when put along side the experience I would have gained.  Also the boss seemed great, I asked about taking an afternoon off a week to golf with my brother during golf season, and he said, “I don’t care when you work as long as your work gets done on time.”, so I was looking at a great job.  Not great pay, but a step up from where I was, and better then unemployed.  I got called back for a second interview, and I told everyone that I was taking this job if the offer was x dollars or better.  The second interview was more informal and went well, then the question came, “What salary do you want?”.  Well, I tried to play the game, “I’m sure you’ll pay a fair wage”, “Let’s talk total compensation”, and the like.  The manager just said, “I’ve read all the same books and I’m not going to name a number, you have to”, so I caved and gave a number, and he countered with the exact number I had told everyone I’d take, but he also said this, “We are looking for the person who takes this job to be here for 3 to 4 years”.  I was taken aback by that statement because I knew I was planning the move to Florida as soon as we had enough money coming in.  I told him I had to think about it and made a long 2.5 hour drive home.  On the way I decided I couldn’t take the job, as badly as I wanted it.  I couldn’t tell them that I’d be there for 3-4 years.  When I called the next day to turn down the job, he asked if I could give them 2 years, and I had to tell him I couldn’t.  I told him I was sorry for wasting his time, but that if he hadn’t mentioned the commitment they were looking for I would have taken the job, but my conscience wouldn’t let me take it knowing their expectations.  It was a hard decision to make because it was a really good job, especially for that time in my career.  But once again my reputation and word meant more than the job.  We did end up moving to Florida about 14 months after I got this job offer, which meant I would have only worked there for about a year. 

I’m sure that there are people out there that would have taken the job in 2006 and others that would take a job now, since I have no contract.  I’m not going to tell them that they’d be wrong, but I know that if I were to do either of those things, I’d be wrong.   My personal value system wouldn’t allow it. 

So there you have it, my personal/professional ethics on display.  I’m not perfect and I’m sure that there are other areas where people have a higher standard than I do, but I value my word and my reputation. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interviewed by Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is posting interviews of all the candidates PASS Board of Directors on his blog and mine is up today, check it out.

I also want to thank Andy for taking the time to provide this service to the community.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Speaking at SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida

I finally get to head down to Miramar to speak at SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida.  I really wanted to go last year, but I was in New England at the time, so I couldn’t make it.  So this weekend, July 30-31, I’ll be making the drive down to attend the speaker dinner and the event on Saturday.  I have one session titled:

Don’t Be Trigger Happy:  Safe Use of Triggers

This is a beginner level session that will give an overview of the different types of triggers available in SQL Server and then will focus on specifically on the safe use of DML triggers. We will talk about when to use triggers and touch on other options. I will demonstrate of both safe and unsafe triggers

If you didn’t notice already, I do struggle with titles and abstracts although my abstract writing has improved since I wrote this one because I read over 150 as part of the 2010 PASS Summit Program Committee.  You can’t help but get better when you read that many abstracts.

I hope to see you there.  If we haven’t met and you read this blog, be sure to find me and introduce yourself.  If we have met, you hopefully won’t have to introduce yourself again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

How I Prepared to Run for the PASS Board

The Boy Scouts have “Be Prepared” as their motto and, while I was never a scout, I think it’s always a good idea.  So when I started thinking about running for the PASS Board, I decided to find out what being on the board entails and what characteristics make a good board member. Well, the only way to find out is to ask.  So I put together an set of questions that I asked several past and present board members.  Here are the questions I asked and common answers:

  1. How long did you serve and it what capacities? – Most served for multiple terms and had opportunities to serve beyond being a director-at-large
  2. How much time did you spend on PASS tasks (use whatever interval you want)? – It depended upon the portfolio or position they were in.  During slow times about 4 hours per week and busy times up to 20 hours per week.
  3. What did you like about serving on the board? – There were 2 themes in the answers I got.  The first was that you get to work with intelligent and passionate people.  The second was the feeling of accomplishment when something you worked on happened.
  4. What did you find to be the most challenging part of being on the board? – The theme here was about how there were so many good ideas and so little time and resources. 
  5. What would you recommend a prospective/new board member do to prepare for serving on the board? – 2 themes emerged here.  The first was make sure you work on your soft skills (communication, cooperation, collaboration) and the second was to get as much experience and knowledge of PASS as possible.
  6. What type of personality do you think is needed to be a successful board member? - The common themes in the answers I got to this question were:  passionate, team player, collaborative, knowing when to hold firm to your principles and ideas and when to compromise.
  7. What was/is the process for determining priorities?  Then ways you think it could be improved. – Answers were really varied on this one depending on when you were on the board.  A general theme is that the Executive Committee sets the guidelines for discussion and priorities are managed by the board within the confines of the budget.  Most were happy with the way it worked.
  8. If you could make one change to the operation/structure of the board based on your experience what would it be and why? – A common theme here was that the board is currently too involved in the implementation details and not doing enough strategic planning.   Essentially the board should be setting strategy and goals and HQ should be implementing the strategies and goals determined by the board.

In addition to these questions I also am good friends with Andy Warren who is completing his first term on the board, so we have talked extensively about what it takes to be on the board and I’ve seen first hand the time he puts into the board.  I did not want to just jump into running for the board without knowing what it took in terms of time and effort.  So I made the effort to understand what the board is involved in, how much time it takes, and how much work it is.  After all this research, much thought, prayer, discussion with my wife, and discussion with my boss, I decided that I have the qualities it takes to be a good board member and that PASS is important enough to me to make the time to do it. 

If I’m make the slate and am elected, do I expect it to always go smoothly?  Of course not, but I’m going in with my eyes wide open because I’ve done the research to know what it’s like.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July OPASS Meeting Wrap up

Last Tuesday, July 13th, we had our monthly OPASS meeting.  The meeting was sponsored by RedGate who were kind enough to also provide licenses for SQL Prompt Pro and SQL Compare Pro as raffle prizes.

We had about 20 people in attendance which is about average.  Andy Warren (@sqlandy) has posted his thoughts about how OPASS is not growing and, honestly, we aren’t sure what we can do create interest and increase attendance.  We are open to ideas.

I opened the meeting with the PASS Chapter Deck and enjoyed announcing the PASS Spring Event, now officially named SQLRally, discussing the PASS elections, and the progress we have made with SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando.

I also did a demo of SQL Source Control 1.0 for RedGate.  I think it’s a nice product and it definitely generated some interest among the attendees who already have their databases in some version of source control, but none of the solutions they are using integrates with Management Studio like SQL Source Control does.  As usual Andy asked the most difficult questions, and, not being an expert in the product, ones I couldn’t answer adequately, but overall the demo went well.

Our featured presentation was Performance Tuning Part 2 by David Pless, Senior PFE with Microsoft.  He covered statistics, performance counters, PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs), and how to use many of the DMV’s available in SQL Server.  The live meeting recording can be found on the resources page of the OPASS site.

Afterwards I spent some time with one of our attendees discussing the current job market and how to try to get back into the field after taking a few years off.  Hopefully I was helpful.

As usual I had a good time hanging with the OPASS group, and hope to see you out next month, when one of own, Tim McAliley, will be talking about VS2010 Team Foundation Server for the DBA.  See the OPASS site for details.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I’m All In – Running for the PASS Board

Poker Chips

Yes, I’m going to run for the PASS Board of Directors.  I have my application and will be sending it out to the nominating committee today.


My reasons are very similar to Steve Jonesreasons for running.  I have not been involved with PASS as long as Steve, but the SQL Server Community, including PASS, is where my passion lies.  I love to attend my local PASS Chapter (OPASS) and being a leader of the chapter.  You can see how my involvement with PASS has grown over the last three years in my blog post, Being Involved in the Community.  I have also been outspoken when the PASS Board has made decisions that I disagree with.  Here are a few of my posts where I either talk about what PASS should do or criticizing what they have done:

  1. PASS Summit 2010 Content Survey
  2. Growing PASS Step One – Communication
  3. PASS, Microsoft, and Certification
  4. PASS Releases Survey Results & Summit Location – Reactions
  5. A Swing and a Miss by PASS
  6. SQLSaturday Acquired by PASS – Reactions
  7. What Should PASS Strive to Be?

I was taught that you are either part of the solution or part of the problem, well, I want to be part of the solution.  I also believe that if you are going to publicly criticize volunteers, you need to be willing to be one of the volunteers.  Finally, I think the SQL Server community is great and that the community deserves a great professional organization and, while PASS has a great conference in the Summit and is moving in the right direction, I don’t think it is there yet and  I think that my ideas can help get PASS there sooner.

I’m excited to take this next step in my involvement in the SQL Server Community and in my personal and professional growth.  Keep reading this blog to see more about what I think PASS should do and become.  I’ll also post a longer post about how I came to my final decision.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July OPASS Meeting

OPASS will be holding it’s July meeting this evening from 6pm – 8:30pm at 225 S. Westmonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, FL. 


Red Gate Software offers a wide range of eBooks for SQL Server developers and DBAs. Broaden your skills and download our latest releases here.

Live Meeting:

Speaker: David Pless, Senior PFE with Microsoft

For the past three years, David has been a Senior Premier Field Engineer with Microsoft. As a PFE David performs health checks, conducts chalk talks and full training workshops, David also works on reactive and proactive engagements on SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008. David mainly supports the Southeast focusing on Florida, but can be anywhere in the world.

David's core areas are SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization, Database Mirroring SQL Server 2005 / 2008, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), and other topics such as consolidation, Table Partitioning, Resource Governor, Performance Data Warehouse, SQL Server Auditing, and more.

Prior to Microsoft David was a freelance consultant and also worked for Intellinet as an MCS Partner Consultant starting the SQL Server practice at the Atlanta based consulting firm. Prior to Intellinet David was a DBA for CheckFree Corporation in Norcross, Georgia for over 6 years. David has worked with SQL Server since version 6.5 and has been an active member of the SQL Server community for years.

Topic:  Performance Tuning and Optimization Part 2 (Part 1 was in March, Recording, Here)

This discussion will continue to cover how to troubleshoot performance issues on SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008. In this discussion I cover performance impact analysis using DMVs, SET options in SQL Server, and Profiler and perfmon analysis. In this discussion I will cover SQLNexus, PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs), RML Utilities, SQLDiag, and other tools. Finally I discuss reading query plans graphically and what you can learn from reading the XML plans.

I will also cover Performance Data Warehouse in SQL Server 2008, new features in SQL Server 2008 regarding missing indexes, viewing query plans, and Extended Events if time permits.

RSVP to so we can make sure we have enough food and drink for everyone.

I have already received a box of swag from RedGate including single user licenses for SQL Prompt Pro and SQL Compare Pro.  All the swag is for in-person attendees only.  Sorry, we don’t have a good way to involve remote attendees in our drawings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando Pre-Conference with Louis Davidson

The planning team of SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando and OPASS are proud to announce that there will be a pre-conference seminar for only $99 featuring Database Design expert, Louis Davidson (@DrSQL), on Friday October 15th.  The seminar will run from 9am to 4pm with lunch provided.  You can register here.  Here is the abstract for the seminar:

Database design is a seemingly natural process, lending itself to everyone trying to do it themselves, from an administrative assistant with a spreadsheet to a C# programmer with a copy of SQL Server Express. Unfortunately the finer points of excellent database design are not intuitively obvious and the difference between building a spreadsheet and a solid enterprise database is similar to the difference between building a doghouse and a 2 story house, or even the Empire State Building. In order to design a database correctly, there are several things you need to understand, including some basic understanding of relational theory, gathering and applying requirements, normalization, etc. Even then, while having the knowledge of fundamentals is more than many database designers have, it only the start. In this workshop, we will go to the next level and get our hands dirty designing databases too. We will structure the day with an extended session of database design fundamentals followed by designing several databases as a class, in groups, and individually. This will be followed up with another extended session on some advanced topics about database design patterns and practices and more design time.

In the past we have just selected someone to come and do the pre-conference seminar, but this year we opened it up to anyone who could present a full-day seminar and had the OPASS membership vote on the topics submitted.  We had 7 topics submitted and each one was excellent, but Louis’ submission was the winner in a very close vote.

I know Louis and have sat in on his database design sessions at the 2009 PASS Summit and SQLSaturday #41 – Atlanta and I learned something new at each session.  Louis is a knowledgeable, funny and seasoned presenter, you won’t be bored and you’ll learn something that you can take back to the office and use.  I hope that you’ll have the opportunity to attend this seminar and then come to SQLSaturday the next day as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PASS Summit 2010 Program Committee Experience

I had the opportunity to serve on the Program Committee for the 2010 PASS Summit.  My job was rating and selecting abstracts for the Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment track.  Steve Jones did a good job explaining how the process works in his post, Rating PASS Abstracts.

Overall I had a very good experience during the process.  I have had the opportunity to select and schedule sessions for SQLSaturday before and that was actually a more painful process for me.  The reason that was harder was because I WAS the committee and I had to put together the schedule.  For this I was part of a team and I didn’t have to do any scheduling.

The hardest part of the process was having to “reject” some very good abstracts.  I say “reject” because it wasn’t that the committee looked at the abstracts and said, “Nope not picking that one”, it is more of a process of rating and picking the top rated submissions while also providing a variety of topics and speakers.  For instance the ratings were done on a scale of 1 to 10, and I don’t think there was an abstract I rated lower than a 6.  The biggest tip I can give those of you planning on submitting an abstract next year is to make sure you provide a clear description of what you will cover and specific takeaways for the attendees.

The best part is getting a preview of what the Summit will be like this year, and I have to say, it’s looking very good.

Honestly, I think if you are looking for a way to become involved with PASS then being on the program committee is, in my opinion, a pretty painless way to do it.  I spent about 2 hours a day for about 2 weeks working on rating abstracts and then we had a couple of conference calls to discuss how we wanted to work the ratings, to update on progress, and then to make the final selections.  I didn’t really track my time because I enjoyed it so it didn’t seem like it took very long.

PASS Summit Banner

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I have few speaking engagements this month that I want to let you know about:

Thursday, July 8 6:00 PM PST – SQL Server Society of Las Vegas

I’ll be delivering my Introduction to Profiler session remotely.  I don’t have the Live Meeting link yet, when I do I’ll post it.

Wednesday, July 14 10 AM MST – PASS DBA Virtual Chapter

I’ll be delivering my Why I Use Stored Procedures session.  You can see my abstract and get the Live Meeting link here.

Saturday, July 31 All Day – SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida

I’m actually just assuming I’ll be presenting at this event as they have not officially posted a schedule yet.  I have submitted 2 sessions:

Don’t Be Trigger Happy: Safe Use of Triggers 

Getting Started in Blogging and Technical Speaking – I’m borrowing this one from Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA) as he can’t make this event and it has been a popular session.  I’ve been part of his “panel” for this discussion twice and he has graciously given me permission to present it in South Florida, if it is accepted.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PASS Spring Event in Orlando

It’s official!  There will be a PASS Conference in the late April or early May in Orlando.  Andy Warren (@sqlandy) blogged about it in his PASS Update #34 post and Kendal Van Dyke (@sqldba) blogged about it in his post, PASS 2011 Spring Event in Orlando.  I’ve mentioned it before as well, but now it is officially going to happen.

I’m excited about it for several personal reasons:

  1. It gives me another opportunity to contribute to the SQL Server community while also gaining great experience in planning and organizing an event. 
  2. I get to work with other great people in the community including Andy, Kendal, the PASS board, and PASS HQ.
  3. I get to have some great SQL Server training right in my backyard.

The SQL Server community should be excited for several reasons as well:

  1. Another opportunity to get great SQL Server training, and it’s inexpensive.
  2. Another opportunity for professional development through presenting that will be a step up from SQLSaturday.  There’s now a path from speaking at a user group all the way up to speaking at the Summit, the premiere SQL Server conference.
  3. Another opportunity to practice and use your networking skills.  You never know when someone you meet will be the person that solves your next problem or provides you your next job (see this posts, 1 & 2, by Tom LaRock (@sqlrockstar)).

Details, like an official name, are still being worked out, but it won’t cost more than $400 (we’re trying to do it for $299), it will involve volunteers (probably from several Florida user groups), it will be in Orlando, and it will be a great time. 

Stay tuned for the official announcement and keep late April/early May free!