Back to Work

It’s strange to be back to work on a Monday, with kids still in the house (they start school tomorrow), after being gone for the last 10 days  from work. It was really gone, as I didn’t process email or mess with work in any meaningful way. I did clean some spam over vacation when others were gone, and I added a few Database Weekly links last week, but I didn’t check SQLServerCentral, edit articles, or do anything really SQL related.

About the only computer tasks I’ve done since the day before Christmas were a few hours on the Advent of Code stuff I’ve been working on in my spare time, and even that was minimal. I got stuck on a few puzzles, and didn’t have much time to work through them. I’d give it 20-30 minutes, but then break for family time.

It’s a new year, and I’m starting slow. At least slow this week as I take stock of the publishing queues and start to plan how I’ll proceed forward. As I left last year, there were a lot of new technologies coming from Microsoft in 2016 that I felt I needed to get up to speed on. Some are out, some coming, but they’re a point of emphasis. Like Buck Woody with his Data Scientist work, and Grant Fritchey with R, I’m proceeding to learn more about analytics, including data lakes and statistics, as I move through the year. Particularly I’m focused on Python as the language to use, though from what I see with R, lots of the same libraries and formulas apply.

I’m also looking to continue forward with the #SQLNewBlogger posts and see if I can inspire some of you to move forward with your own skills and thoughts on how SQL works for you. I’m going to look to get at least 2 posts a month out here, and perhaps more.

Travel starts quickly, with a week long trip to the UK in two weeks and then SQL Saturday Austin, but other than that, it will be a light quarter for me. Just one event in Feb, and none in March. I am looking forward to that slow beginning.

Travel Confusion

I confused myself. Twice apparently in October. Let’s hope that this one works out as well as the last one.

Jones is a Good Name

I flew to Orlando on Oct 8. I got a car, and drove up to my hotel in Lake Mary, near the SQL Saturday pre-con. I checked in, the lady asked for me name, acknowledged "Jones" and confirmed I was there for one night.

I was slightly confused, but thought I might have booked a different hotel for the next night closer to the SQL Saturday. There are times I’ve got events in two places, so I stay near them. When I got to my room, I checked, and my phone showed a reservation for Oct 9-11, at the same hotel.


I went back downstairs and we determined I didn’t have a reservation for Oct 8, but there was another Jones coming. Apparently I got his or her room. We fixed things, I kept my room, and then promptly double checked the rest of my hotels in the UK.

Check In is Available for Your Flight

That was the message I got today when I came out of yoga. At first I started to check in, then realized today is Friday. I planned on going to Seattle on Sunday and I can only check in 24 hours in advance.

A check confirmed it. I’d messed up reservations again. I called United and they said there was a bunch of space on a couple flights Sunday. If I changed today it was US$300. However if I want until tomorrow morning and call within 24 hours of the flight, there’s no change fee. The benefits of flying a lot are there, but not without some caveats.

I created an appointment for myself in the am to call and change my flight. Let’s hope a bunch of people don’t book DEN->SEA between now and then.

Traveling in Wales

It’s SQL Relay Cardiff day today. This is my first time in Wales, and it’s a busy day at SQL Relay. It’s a bit of deja vu with me delivering the same session on Version Control today that I presented 18 ours ago at SQL Relay Bristol.

It’s interesting being on part of the SQL Relay tour, with some of the same speakers, some different, the rapid travel from one city to the next, and orienting myself in a new environment. The venues are much different, with a set of hotel conference rooms yesterday and a large arena facility (the Motorpoint Arena) today.  It’s surprisingly confusing trying to find toilets, speaker rooms, and more.

However the people are nice, and friendly, although quiet. I got lots of good questions both days, on a semi-confusing topic, and that will help me revisit the session and make some changes over the next few days.

I get to help on a second session today as we have a speaker that’s ill. Then it’s some work as I prep for travel back to London and SQL in the City in London on Friday.


A Long Trip Ahead

This is my last day at home for a long time. At least long by my standards. I head to the airport tomorrow for a ten day trip, not returning to CO until Saturday, Oct 17. I rarely travel more than 4 or 5 days at the most, so this is one of my longer ones.

My first stop is Orlando. I’m heading over to help teach a DLM workshop for Redgate Software on Friday. This is our Database Source Control workshop that covers some in depth work with SQL Source Control and version control systems. I’ve done a few of these, so this should be easy for me.

Saturday is SQL Saturday #442 in Orlando. I haven’t been to a SQL Saturday in Orlando in a long time, so I’m excited to get back to the place where these all started. I’ve got one talk on Saturday, talking Encryption, around which I’ll be hanging out with friends and trying to learn a few SQL things along the way.

Sunday I travel, though at a relaxed pace. I’ll spend the day making my way to Houston before an overnight flight to London on the Dreamliner. It’s a leisurely day, where I’ll probably spend time catching up on Python work because Monday is crazy.

Monday is a day I dread a bit. I land in London and immediately drive to Cambridge for a few meetings. I’ve got some SQL in the City rehearsals planned before I turn around and head back to London to catch the fun bus to Bristol for SQL Relay. If you map this out, it seems silly, but that’s what I got myself talked into somehow.

Tuesday is SQL Relay in Bristol. I’ll be previewing my talk for SQL in the City, so I’ll apologize in advance if things aren’t 100% set. However after a day at the conference, I’ll be heading over to Cardiff where I’ll get dinner and try to fix all the things I did wrong during the talk.

Wednesday is SQL Relay Cardiff.  A repeat of Tuesday in a new city. I’m not sure if everything is the same, but I’ll be (hopefully) delivering a better talk on Wednesday. Wednesday night Grant and I aren’t doing anything, so it’s a few hours to unwind.

Thursday morning we make our way back to London. Hopefully we manage the train system fine because we have lunchtime and afternoon meetings with people coming down from Redgate during the day. This is the final SQL in the City prep time, as well as a few other in person events, including seeing my boss for only the 3rd time this year.

Friday is SQL in the City 2015 London. Redgate puts on a great event, and I’m looking forward to another exciting day. Three times on stage for me, so I’m sure when things wrap up around 5 I’ll be quite tired. However no rest, I head to Heathrow for a night in my 5th hotel on this trip.

10 days. Orlando, Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, London.

I have the feeling I won’t be doing much on Saturday night or Sunday when I return.

SQL Saturday #403–Louisville

This weekend I’ll be attending SQL Saturday #403 in Louisville, KY. If you’re in the area, think about taking a few hours out of your Saturday and coming to learn some SQL Server stuff. There’s a great schedule, with 6 tracks and 6 sessions per track.

That’s 36 opportunities to improve your skills and career!

I’ll be delivering two sessions during the event. I have my Branding Yourself for a Dream Job first thing in the morning at 8am. I know it’s early, but I like to give you some ideas for networking and planning your career for the rest of the day.

My second session is Continuous Integration for Databases at 10:30. I’ll give you a taste of how to improve your software development process by using version control and a build server to verify and test your database code.

There are some great afternoon sessions, but I likely won’t be there as I have family in town and want to spent a few hours with them. However come grab me in the morning and say “hi”. I really enjoy meeting the SQL Server community and look forward to another great SQL Saturday in Louisville.

The Company Meeting

I’m leaving today for a trip to Cambridge, UK. I do this 2-3 times a year, but this one is a little different. I’m being joined by most of my American colleagues at Redgate, all of whom are being flown over to attend a company meeting and a company day out on Friday. It’s one of the rare chances, and quite possibly the only one that will happen again, to get everyone together in the company.

It’s an expense, arguably an unnecessary one, but it’s also a treat. Spouses and partners have been invited to come along and participate in some fun on Friday. It’s something that stands out in my mind, and it solidifies that Redgate is a great company.

It’s the kind of company I’d want to build, and it’s run as I’d want to run a company.

That might be the highest complement I can pay to an employer. They run a company as I would want to do so. They treat people fairly. They treat people with respect. They try to treat customers well, as well as participate in the community. The company is not perfect, but they acknowledge mistakes and try to do better. They work to make a profit, but profit isn’t the most important thing. Perhaps best of all, the management work alongside employees and set good examples. They don’t treat themselves as above or more important than the other employees.

I’ve worked at a lot of companies in my career, and almost none of them have been companies that I thought were well run with respect for employees balanced with the profit motive and participation in the community. Most were unbalanced in some way, often with respect to profit meaning much more than individuals.

I’m proud to work at Redgate and am looking forward to the trip with my wife, and a nice weekend in Dublin.

A Week to SQL Saturday #393 – Redmond

Only my second SQL Saturday of the year (wow), but SQL Saturday #393 is next week in Redmond, WA. This is my first time at a SQL Saturday in Washington, though I’ve been to the area many times. I’m looking forward to the trip up with a couple days in the Seattle area and getting the chance to catch up with some friends.

I’ll be talking tSQLt and testing at the event, and the full schedule has a lot of great sessions to choose from. If you’re in the area on May 16, 2015, I’d urge you to register and come by for the day.

If you can’t make it, hopefully I’ll see you at another event soon.


It’s amazing to think I’ve been gone 10 days, out of the country. SQL Bits was amazing, and still is the best SQL Server conference in the world I’ve seen. I haven’t been to them all, but this is the best of those I go to.

Ireland was fantastic, and a very warm welcome for a day of training and then a talk at the Dublin SQL Server User Group. Some really interesting questions for me to blog about and answer in the next few weeks.

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I saw some neat SQL Server tips, tricks, ideas, and inspirations, which is always a good thing as it motivates me to do more and learn more as my career progresses.

And I got a new shirt:

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An amazing gift from the crew at SQL Bits. My own speaker shirt. I was quite touched and I really appreciate the effort they went to. I know what I’ll be wearing next year.

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A few people were jealous, since the "regular" speaker shirts were blue polos. I guess I stand out a bit from them. The Friday night party was fun, with the Captain making an appearance.

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All in all a great trip.

Now back to work.

10 days, 3 cities, 4 talks, 6 flights and 6 hotels

I’m off today for Europe, on the longest trip I’ve taken for Red Gate. It’s stretching me a bit, but it should be fun. It will be a whirlwind as well. I’m flying to London (2 flights) and then driving to Cambridge for a couple days (1 hotel) at the Red Gate office. Then I head back down to London on a bus for SQL Bits (3 days, 2 hotels).

On Saturday, I return to Heathrow (1 hotel) as I have an early Sunday flight (1 plane) to Dublin. There I get a day off, and I booked my hotel (1 hotel) near some of Dublin’s sights. I’m hoping for good weather to rent a bike and wander around. It’s only one day, and them I move (1 hotel) near the DLM Workshop seminar that I’ll be delivering in Dublin on Tuesday, along with a visit to the user group there.

Then I head back to London (1 flight) early Wednesday morning, changing planes and heading back to the US (2 flights) and home.

It’s a bit of a crazy trip, and with my costume for the event at SQL Bits, I’ll be checking a larger bag than I ‘m usually do.

I’m looking forward to it, and while I’m sure I’ll be tired, it will be great to see so many #sqlfamily in the UK.

The Dreamliner

I flew on the Boeing 787, the Dreamliner last week on my travels to London. United flies a few of these new planes, and the IAH-LHR is one of the routes. Since I go this way often, I decided to try and see how the plane compared.

My wife was wondering what was special about the plane, and if it was huge, like the Airbus A380. It isn’t, and is actually designed to be a mid range plane. Boeing didn’t try to outdo the 747 with this plane. It was built to connect more airports around the world on a point to point basis, rather than the hub and spoke method many airlines use. Hub and spoke works well, but there are times that it isn’t as efficient as schedules get delayed trying to get people to a hub.

I didn’t figure this out. I heard about it at a tour of the Boeing Factory in Washington. That’s where I saw some of the innovative, additive manufacturing they used for the plane. I also saw one of the huge DreamLifter planes they use to get parts from around the world to the assembly plant.

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Not to diverge too much, but those place are huge. There are only 4, and they are needed to bring some of the huge pieces of the Dreamliner to Seattle in one piece, inside this plane. That was a piece of engineering all on its own, converting and enlarging a 747.

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My flight on the Dreamliner started when I got to Houston last week. I had booked a window seat, which I rarely do, but I wanted to see what it was like on this plane.

Normally when I fly overseas, I like a side seat, since the plane is rarely full and I have a good chance of getting the two side seats to myself. However when I got into the Dreamliner, they had a 3-3-3 configuration in economy. Not what I wanted, and the downside was that I had the window, but someone else had the aisle. I had a little space, but not a lot. However, it did seem to be a bit more front-to-back room than I normally see on United’s 757 and 767 planes.

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One thing I did notice is that it’s a tall plane. On most planes, even if my 6ft head isn’t close to the ceiling, I can often reach up and touch it. I try to stretch a bit, and I’ve noticed this. One the 787, I wasn’t close. The ceiling is high. That added to an open feeling.

The windows are also larger. They don’t have shades, using electronic shading to dim, but not close.

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It was dark, and I was tired as we left Houston for the overnight flight to London. However I did notice that the wings were unusual. They are curved, bending in a shape that’s unique. They flex more than I like, but they are also new. Shinier than any plane I’ve been on. I could see the lights of Houston reflected as we flew.

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It wasn’t amazing, but it was a better trip for me. Especially when I turned around in Heathrow and flew on an old, Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt a couple hours after landing.

The way home was more interesting. I got on the plane at 11:10 or so, ready for an 11:40 departure.

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I was thinking that this would be an easy flight, but that wasn’t the case. I had a book on my iPad I was reading with headphones on. After a bit I noticed that we hadn’t taken off. It was 12:00 and we were at the gate. We got a few announcements that there was an actuator on one of the wheels that controls the brakes. The pilot didn’t want us to worry, and let us know multiple times that there were a number of actuators (I think he said 12) on each wheel, and we could fly fine without a couple of them working. However we had one that was reporting seized.

I’ve had numerous plane issues in the past, on multiple airlines, but mainly United. I chose the 787, thinking it was new and unlikely to have issues. I had a somewhat tight connection in Houston that I thought I’d make.

Time went on. The pilot reported that they thought it was electronic, since most of the plane is electronic. They couldn’t clear the indicator, and decided they’d need to check the actuator. We heard, and I’m not kidding, that they needed to jack up the plane to relieve the weight on the actuator and release it. They didn’t need it to work for the flight (or landing), but they did need it released. They did that, and found the actuator was fine.

It was getting later, and they couldn’t clear the issue, so they rebooted the plane. I’m not kidding. They told us they needed to power down and power up, which meant that they turned everything off. No air, no lights, nothing. It was strange to see the plane power down and then reboot, which took more than 10 minutes, and may have been as much as 20. I was reading and semi-watching the time.

Eventually they cleared the light with the reboot and we took off. Two hours late. We made up time, coming in only about an hour later, but I missed my plane. Fortunately I’d tweeted United during the delay and they had rebooked me while I was in the air.

It was an interesting flight to be sure. All day, we flew with the sun over us and to my left. However the windows were dimmed the entire time, making it seem like twilight. I could see the sun and clouds, but the flight was pleasant.

It was a long journey back, and the equipment issues were annoying, but I enjoyed the plane more than others. I hope I don’t get delays again, and I worry about the software and electronics a bit in modern planes as we might be a bit overconfident in how we build them, but certainly the plane was a better built one for me as a passenger than previous ones.

Now if I can only figure out how to get a first class ticket for one of these flights…