Pensacola in June–SQL Saturday #491

One June 5, I’ll be back in Pensacola, FL for SQL Saturday #491. It’s been a few years since there was a conference in the area, and I’m excited to go back. I really like the area, and am looking forward to visiting for a few days.

I’ll be presenting my dive into Always Encrypted in SQL Server 2016. I presented this in Phoenix recently and the session was well received. I like this feature, but there are some caveats and gotchas, as well as various items you should consider before making the decision to implement it. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you there and you’ll enjoy the talk.

However if you’re nearby, there are pre-conference sessions on both Thursday and Friday that you can attend. Both are inexpensive training and the chance for you to quickly improve some data skills.

There are lots of great sessions from other speakers, and Pensacola is a great place to spend a weekend. Lovely beaches, not too large, not too expensive, and a beautiful area in June. If you’re anywhere from Houston to Florida to Tennessee, consider combining a little learning with a vacation on the gulf coast.

Off to SQL Nexus

This week begins my two city, two conference journey across the Atlantic. I arrive in Copenhagen today, after traveling overnight from Denver. I wrote this before leaving, knowing that I’ll likely be a bit worn out as I make my way from Denver to Washington D.C. to London to Copenhagen.

This is the most relaxing part of my trip, with a day to adjust in a new country before the SQL Nexus conference starts tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting some coffee and exploring the city.

Tomorrow is a conference day, hanging out and learning a bit before I speak on Wednesday morning. I’ll be talking about SQL Server 2016 Encryption, and I expect that if SQL Server 2016 hasn’t RTM’d by this time, it will either Tuesday am at SQL Nexus or Friday am at SQL Bits. I could be wrong, but as I write this, I expect those are the likely dates.

I’m looking forward to Nexus, which has lots of SQL 2016 content scheduled. I just hope all the sessions are in English Winking smile

SQL Saturday #492–Phoenix

It’s almost time for SQL Saturday #492 this weekend in Phoenix. I haven’t been there in a few years, but I’m heading back for a quick trip to the desert.

I’ve got two sessions scheduled this weekend, and if you’re attending, I’ve love to see you at one of my sessions:

The event has grown quite a bit, with 13 tracks. I’m hoping a lot of people in the Phoenix area are coming out for a free, exciting SQL Server conference.

SQL Nexus in Copenhagen

The Nordic SQLNexus conference is taking place in Copenhagen on May 2-4. I’ve never been to the event, or the country, but I was accepted to speak, so I embark on another multi-city, multi day trip.

SQLNexus has quite a lineup, and I suspect a few of these people will be travling alongside me, in Copenhagen at the beginning of the week and Liverpool at the end.

  • Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft Vice President
  • Troils Peterson, Professor of Particle Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute
  • Allan Hirt
  • Itzik Ben Gan
  • Denny Cherry
  • and more

I’m looking forward to the event, and if you want to come to a SQL Server conference packed with content, think about making your way to Denmark on May 2-4, 2016.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

SQLBits in Space

It’s coming in May. The official UK SQL Server 2016 launch event is SQL Bits and the conference returns to Liverpool on May 4-7.  With a fun theme.

Check out the launch video here: SQLBits XV

Update (Mar 24): The agenda is live. I’m speaking Saturday at 2:30pm.

There are two days of pre-cons, packed with some great sessions, as well as two additional days of fantastic content and a fun party Friday night. You can register today, and I’ll see you there.

Now, to find something to wear…

Chips and Margaritas at SQL Saturday #461

It was a few years back that my wife and I planned a trip to the Austin City Lights music festival to see Stevie Wonder. This was a bucket list item for us, and we thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend in the city. I’ve been for SQL in the City as well, and each time I’ve gone, I’ve enjoyed a lunch at one of the Mexican restaurants South of the river. My kids always joke that my wife and I will fill up on chips and margaritas at Mexican restaurants, and it’s somewhat true. Often dinner becomes lunch the next day.

It’s just two weeks to SQL Saturday #461 in Austin, and I’m looking forward to going back. In fact, I’m going to make it a point to at least go get chips and a drink at the same place. I can’t remember the name, but I know how to get there, so I’ll be fine.

However the main event is the free, one day SQL Saturday event taking place. I’ll be there delivering my Branding for a Dream Job presentation, but there are tons of other great talks. From AlwaysOn to Power BI to Azure to Writing Faster Queries, you’ll have a great day of learning on all sorts of SQL Server topics.

If you’re anywhere near Austin, register today and come join us in Austin for a fun day that kicks of my SQL Saturday 2016 tour.

Changing Scales and Creating Disappointment

I got an email recently that notified me that session feedback from the Summit was available for my talk. I’d had a lot of people in the room, and was curious how things went. I think the session was OK, a little off on time, a few too many questions I tried to answer, and perhaps a bumpy flow.

However when I got my scores, I had a 2.85 for the session overall, with various aspects of the talk being rated from 2.5 to 2.9.

Well, I sucked.

That was my first thought. I’ve been getting rated, and evaluating speakers on a 5 point scale for quite a few years at PASS events. I was surprised, and disappointed, and then a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t delivered a good talk at the Summit. Since I hadn’t delivered that talk in public anywhere prior to the conference, I thought I had made a big mistake. Apparently my practice that week in my hotel room had been for naught.

However then I saw this note in another email: One of the changes this year was to move from a five point rating scale to a three-point scale.

Hmmm, I missed that in my email somewhere, and didn’t notice this as I filled out a couple of session evaluations.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing the scale. Personally I like the 3 point scale, but it wasn’t a change I noticed. The first communication with speaker feedback didn’t mention this.

Scale matters. Many of us know that by manipulating scales, we can make data look different, We can prove a point that might not be supported by a different presentation of the data on another scale.

Our clients and business users come to know and expect the various ways we present data. They will start to internalize scales and interpret data based on their expectations. We can change scales, but we need to make it clear and visible that we have changed scales.

Personally I would have appreciated the results being reported as:

Overall Session Score: 2.85/3.00

instead of

Overall Session Score: 2.85

That little extra information can mean a lot. Keep this in mind as you make fundamental changes to the way you present data.

Back to SQL Saturday Washington DC

I’ve been to the SQL Saturday in Washington, DC a few times and I’m looking forward to going back. It’s a good event and since I have family in the area, I can usually take a day or two of vacation and visit.

This year the event is on Dec 5, 2015, and it’s SQL Saturday #470. Wow, we’re closing on #500, which is amazing.

I’ve got two talks I’m giving, both of which I really like. I’ve revamped them both a little, incorporating a few new items in there and I hope everyone enjoys them.

  • Branding Yourself for a Dream Job
  • Get Testing with tSQLt

The room I’m in will be the room for the day, with both myself and Brent Ozar giving two sessions around Wayne Sheffield talking T-SQL window functions. I know there are other great sessions, but feel free to camp out in this room.

If you’re in the area, come join us for a free day of training. The event is in Chevy Chase at the Microsoft building.

Webinar: Unit Testing with SQL Server and tSQLt

I ran into Sebastian Meine at the PASS Summit a few weeks ago and we were talking testing. Sebastian is the founder and developer of tSQLt, which I really like using. We’ve done some teaching together and I’ve delivered a number of sessions on tSQLt at various events, but we wanted to get more people interested in testing code.

I had a session at PASS, which was very well attended. 150+ people came, which was stunning to me. I was expecting to see 20, and afterwards Sebastian and I started talking about what else we could do.

We’ve decided to do a webinar, but one driven by you. We are looking for you to ask questions about code you’d like tested, or which you’re unsure of how to approach. Leave a comment here, or put your question in the webinar registration. The details are:

Unit Testing in SQL Server with tSQLt
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7623481833734658561
Thurs, Nov 19, 2015 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Join unit testing experts Steve Jones and Sebastian Meine for this exciting opportunity to learn about unit testing and the tSQLt framework to improve your T-SQL code quality and maintainability. If this day/time is not good for you, register anyway so you receive a link to the recording when it is available.

Looking Back at Summit 2015

Last week was the 2015 PASS Summit in Seattle. It’s the largest SQL Server specific gathering of data professionals in the world, and it’s an exciting week. If you work with SQL Server in the US and have the opportunity to attend, I’d recommend you go. If you’re in Europe, I prefer SQL Bits, but either of these events is exciting and inspiring.

The week began for me with SQL in the City 2015 – Seattle. As I work for Redgate I was tasked with presenting the event. The day started with my helping our CEO deliver the keynote. We’d done this a few weeks earlier in London, so we’d had some practice. I think the opening went well, and I enjoyed it.

Photo Oct 26, 4 46 43 PM

Immediately after I had a session on database version control. There were lots of great questions, so many that I ran a bit long. However it was good to see some great advocates of VCS in the audience as well as people interested in the topic.

Photo Oct 26, 9 05 53 AM

I also ran a panel on DevOps and smoother database development. I often don’t like panels, but this is a great topic, and with a number of consultants on stage, we had some good discussions. I would like to see more of these at events, especially with people that are building software successfully. They have great stories to tell.

The Monday night networking dinner went well. It was a bit crowded at the Yard House, but Andy and I spoke with the managers Tuesday and we have some different plans for next year. However we had over 150 people stop by, which is a great crowd.

Photo Oct 27, 8 22 43 PM

It’s always a pleasure catching up with friends who I rarely see in person. Especailly the great Pinal Dave, one of the few that’s been to the ranch.

Tuesday was a quiet day for me. I went to the SQL Saturday organizer meeting, seeing some changes coming to the SQL Saturday site as well as concerns and requests from organizers. With most of the people in Seattle at a pre-conference session on Tuesday, things were quiet. I also had some rehearsals for my testing talk to go over, so I spent the afternoon in my room going over demos.

I did take a break for #sqlyoga with Daniel de Sousa. I have come to enjoy yoga, and would like to see some organizations at other events. It’s just as enjoyable as a #sqlrun. It was the two of us and lots of young people in downtown Seattle, but a great break.

Speaking of which, Wednesday morning I met up with Allen White and a few others for a morning #sqlrun along the water. This has been a bit of a tradition for many people, and we had a good group of 20 or so jogging along.

The rest of Wednesday was a few lightning talks at the Redgate booth and a couple live practice sessions of my talk in my hotel room. Not very exciting, but this was the end of a stressful month with lots of travel.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday night have evening events at the convention center. Tuesday is the opening reception, with lots of people milling around a large room with some appetizers and drinks. Wednesday is in the expo hall, with dinner and drinks and the chance for vendors to meet attendees. It was a large crowd both nights, with the chance to see lots of friends in the SQL community and meet new people.

Thursday had me watching Dr. Dewitt and Dr. Nehme’s keynote on my laptop while I did a little other work. I have to say that the live keynote was probably better, but this was an interesting topic on IoT. You can rewatch it if you missed it. Then I went to a DocumentDB session, supposed to show case studies of who’s using the technology. We heard a little of that, but not much technical detail, and the session went sideways with lots of antagonistic, almost angry, questions from the attendees. I really wish SQL Server people wouldn’t be so upset about NoSQL technologies. They work in places, so let’s discuss where things work well.

Lunch had me in the expo hall for a bit before taking our Argenis Without Borders 2.0 picture. We raised $25k for Doctors Without Borders, which is amazing. Thanks to everyone that participated.

Photo Nov 01, 8 02 33 AM

My session on testing T-SQL code went well. Lots of questions, lots of people. I walked in a few minutes before my start time to find 150 or so people in the room, which was amazing. I thought I’d get 15 people to talk testing, and I’m glad so many people are interested in the topic. Hopefully I inspired a few people to start testing code.

Photo Oct 29, 4 19 47 PM

That was really the end of the event for me. I had missed most of lunch, so I went for a short snack before the Friends of Redgate dinner. A late night hour with the Varigence Biml crowd before getting to bed. Then I was off Friday for home, capping off 18 days of travel for the month.

Photo Oct 30, 8 47 59 AM

This was a quiet conference for me. With pressures to deliver a good presentation for the first time, I spent more time than I expected getting prepared. However it was great to see so many friends and fellow #sqlfamily people at the event, and I enjoyed the conversations and pictures on Twitter throughout.

I missed being there Friday, hearing about everything online, but I was also worn out from the month. My apologies if you wanted to say hi and couldn’t find me. Thanks if you took a few minutes to chat with me.

The event comes back to Seattle next year, and hopefully I’ll spend more time at the event.