Posted by: sqlswimmer | April 4, 2018

I Am Speaking At Music City Tech

I am excited to announce that I have been selected to speak at Music City Tech held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, May 31 – June 2 2018.  Music City Tech is a multiday event with three simultaneous conferences, Music City Code, Music City Agile and Music City Data.

The schedule has not been posted yet, but I will be presenting two sessions, Data Types Do Matter and What Is Power BI? for the Music City Data Conference.  This is the first year for Music City Data and I am so honored to have been selected to be part of this inaugural event.

This will be my second non-PASS speaking event and I couldn’t be more excited.  There are some great sessions being offered by some really great speakers and I plan to attend as many of them as I can when I am not speaking.  If you are in the Nashville area May 31 – June 2 2018, I suggest you stop by and check it out.  They are even offering early bird pricing for registration through the month of April (while supplies last).

Please stop by to say, “Hello”, I’d love to chat with you.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | March 29, 2018

Speaking at SQL Saturday Atlanta (#733)

I am so honored and humbled to have been selected to speak at SQL Saturday Atlanta (#733) on May 19, 2018.  I will be presenting my Data Types Do Matter session.  This will be my second time speaking for this event in as many years.  I was so thrilled to be selected last year, but to be selected again is truly amazing.  For those that aren’t familiar with SQL Saturday Atlanta, it’s a HUGE event with speakers from all over the world.  The organizers do a great job of selecting a mix of speakers, from first timers to MVPs that have been around since almost the beginning of the MVP program.

If you’re in the Atlanta area on May 19, 2018, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.  They also have some great pre-cons on Friday, May 18, 2018, from Tim Radney (B|T), Jonathon Stewart (B|T), Joey D’Antoni (B|T) and Robert Cain (B|T).

See you in Atlanta!

Posted by: sqlswimmer | March 19, 2018

SQL Saturday Iceland–What an Adventure!

Two Saturdays ago, I was in Reykjavik, Iceland, speaking at my very first international SQL Saturday.  WOW!  Is all I can say.  While this SQL Saturday is one of the smaller events I’ve spoken at, it definitely made an impression and will most likely go down as one of my all time favorites.  Why?  There are so many reasons…

First, it’s in Iceland.  I mean really, is there any place more beautiful?!  Even in Winter it’s beautiful.  Best part about Iceland – no trees to obstruct your view!  I know some of you might think I’m crazy, but coming from the desert of Arizona where you can see for miles in every direction, it makes a huge difference.  I moved to North Carolina 11 years ago and there are lots of trees, I mean LOTS of trees EVERYWHERE.  You can’t see anything, it almost makes me feel claustrophobic at times.  So for me, no trees is a huge plus!  I got to take in some of the major tourist sites via the Golden Circle and saw some truly amazing things.  There is so much history in Iceland it’s hard to comprehend at times.  From the Vikings to the Summit between super powers that brought about the start of end of the Cold War to being the first country to have an openly gay female Prime Minister.  So much history.

Second, the people of Iceland.  Everyone one I met from the time my plane landed until my plane departed five days later, everyone was so nice!  This goes doubly for the organizers of SQL Saturday Iceland.  Asgeir Gunnarsson and his team did an incredible job of making me feel welcome and offered assistance with anything I needed.  I couldn’t have asked for better hosts for my first international SQL Saturday.

Third, the speakers.  OMG, the speakers at this event were so awesome.  It was a huge melting pot of international speakers, there were folks from the UK, Ireland, Belguim, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, the list just goes on and on.  Every single one of them were so friendly.  Being a fairly new speaker and being surrounded by such tremendous speakers was an experience I will never forget.

Fourth, the event itself.  I mentioned that this was one of the smaller events I’ve spoken at.  This meant that it was very personal, you could talk with attendees, organizers and sponsors and not feel overwhelmed.  You felt like you were talking with neighbors not strangers.  They also had two of the best raffle prizes of any event I’ve ever been to.  The first was an oversized “typical” Icelandic chocolate Easter Egg.  Holy cow, I’ve never seen so much chocolate.  I would have had to purchase another suitcase just to get this thing home if I had won!  Then there was the case of beer (2 actually).  Not sure if we could get away with that in the US, but it sure made an impression on me.

Fifth, my session.  I had a good mix of attendees in my Data Types Do Matter session.  Lots of interested faces, but not too many questions until I started bribing them with Girl Scout Cookies.  Let me tell you, nothing breaks the ice like a Thin Mint or Caramel Delite!

Lastly, it’s in Iceland!  Yes, I know I said this already, but it was so beautiful.  So beautiful in fact, I’ll leave you with a few of my photos so you can see for yourself.


Posted by: sqlswimmer | March 19, 2018

SQL Saturday Richmond

SQL Saturday Richmond is just 5 days away and this will be the second time I have been selected to speak at this event.  SQL Saturday Richmond holds a special place in my heart as do the event organizers.  They gave me my first opportunity to speak at a SQL Saturday.

Last year at this time I was so stressed out and worried that I didn’t sleep well leading up to the event.  I had been sick in the weeks leading up to the event and was worried my voice wouldn’t hold out for the entire session.  And this was my first ever SQL Saturday, so no pressure at all.  Turns out my voice made it through the entire session and I didn’t hyperventilate or pass out.  I did forget to touch on a few of my talking points, but the crowd seemed pleased and I got very good feedback so I put it down as a win.

This year I was honored to be selected to speak again, and I am giving two sessions, Data Types Do Matter and Intro to Integration Services (SSIS).  These are both beginner level sessions and I really love both of them.  They are both things that I am passionate about and am a firm believer that if you start with a good foundation, it only makes you a stronger DBA/Developer/Analyst.

If you are in the Richmond, VA area this weekend (Mar 23 & 24) stop by and say “Hi”, I’d love to see you.  Also, they do have some great pre-cons this year, one with Grant Fritchey and the other with Andy Leonard and still have seats available, so check it out!

Posted by: sqlswimmer | March 2, 2018

Using the Analysis Services Execute DDL Task

My grandfather used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  I always thought it was a disgusting saying, I mean who would ever want to “skin a cat”?!  Gross!  But the underlying meaning was clear, there’s always more than one way to do something.  And no my grandfather never actually skinned any cats, he was just a country boy from a small town in Iowa, where you quite often had to come up with creative ways to get things done.

There are often times when we get so focused on what we are doing, we forget to look around.  This happened to me a few weeks ago.  We were in the middle of a big upgrade at work, not only where we upgrading our ERP system, we were changing platforms as well (read this as:  no one got more than 3-4 hours of sleep per night for about two weeks, including myself).  We also have a BI solution that uses SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) to pull data from our ERP system, stores it in a data warehouse on SQL Server then has a multi-dimensional SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) cube that sits on top of the warehouse.  Pretty common scenario.

Last part of our ETL process is to process the Dimensions and Facts for the newly loaded data.  I have always used the Analysis Services Process Task in SSIS to accomplish this.  Works great, it’s stable and easy to use.  Just click a few items and you are off and running.

My ETL code had been stable for so long, I hadn’t needed to make any changes since I upgraded from Visual Studio 2015 to Visual Studio 2017.  Little did I know that there was a bug in Visual Studio 2017/SSDT 15.5.2 that will not allow you to use the Analysis Services Process Task if your target version of SSIS is 2016.  You will get a couple of different errors depending on what you are doing.  If you are trying to modify an existing package that uses an Analysis Services Process Task and your target version of SSIS is 2016 you will get the following error:


If you try to create a new package using an Analysis Services Process Task and your target version of SSIS is 2016 you will get the following error after it allows you to configure your processing tasks and you click OK:


In both of these scenarios you will not be able to save the package.  So what the heck are you supposed to do?!  Here’s where my tunnel vision (and panic) sets in.  How was I supposed to get my SSAS objects processed?

I could always script out my processing tasks using SSMS and drop them in a SQL Agent job step.  But I have multiple environments and multiple cubes so each one would have to be hard coded.  Not a great idea, so scratch that.


I could just create a new SSIS project, targeting SSIS 2014, just for the processing tasks.  (Thanks to Teo Lachev for the idea.  And yes, you can deploy SSIS 2014 targeted packages/projects to SSIS 2016.)  It’s better than my first idea.  I could parameterize all the connection managers so nothing would be hard coded, but now my code lives in two different projects.  Not ideal, but it would definitely be better.

Then Gerhard Brueckl pointed me to the Analysis Services Execute DDL Task.


I did some quick research on it here and turns out, this was exactly what I needed to “skin this cat”.  It would allow me to keep my SSAS processing packages in the same project as the rest of the ETL and I could parameterize it to my hearts content (queue beams of light from above and singing angels).  Why hadn’t I thought of this before?!  To be honest I had never paid attention to this task.  It had the term DDL in it, and I wasn’t writing DDL, so why would I ever need it, especially since I was dealing with SSAS.  Yes, I know, need I remind you about my lack of sleep and my tunnel vision.


The cool thing about the Analysis Services Execute DDL Task is that you have a choice when it comes to your source for the DDL.  I opted for the variable because I needed to parameterize it with the SSAS database name.


I was able to script my processing tasks, dump that code into a variable that I built with expressions so that it could be parameterized.  Now one thing to keep in mind is that the XMLA that is produced for SSAS processing tasks has double quotes in it.  You will have to either a) escape the double quotes or b) create a variable for the double quote to use in the XMLA in your expression to build your variable.  I opted for b, create a variable to hold the double quote, it seemed cleaner to me.  Here’s a good post on StackOverFlow on how to do both.

As you can see below, it looks very intimidating with all the XMLA & expressions, but it creates a very pretty XMLA processing task in the end.


I created one task for processing dimensions and one task for processing facts.  Mostly because I want to be able to track performance respectively, but you could create one task to do it all.

I was able to add these new packages to my SSIS project and deploy it without issue.  They’ve been running ever since with no problems.

I hope this post helps someone else break out of their tunnel vision.

PSA:  No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | February 6, 2018

I’m Speaking At SQL Saturday Richmond

I am so excited, I was selected to speak at SQL Saturday Richmond on March 24, 2018, in Richmond, Virginia.

SQL Saturday Richmond has a special place in my heart, it was my very first SQL Saturday as a speaker.  So this will be my second time speaking at this event.  It’s a huge honor to be selected by such a great group in Richmond, but to be selected to return is an even bigger honor.

I’ll be presenting my Data Types Do Matter session and my Intro to Integration Services session.  If you are in the area on March 24, please stop by and say, “Hello”.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | February 6, 2018

Lessons Learned From SQL Saturday Cleveland

I can finally breath a sigh of relief, my first time of presenting two sessions back to back is finally over.  I was so honored to have been chosen to speak at SQL Saturday Cleveland on February 3, 2018.  When I got the email notifying me of my selection, I did a little happy dance.  That is, until I realized that they had selected TWO of my sessions.  Then my happy dance became some sort of spastic panic attack.  When I looked at the schedule and saw that my sessions were back to back, I think I may have gone catatonic for a few minutes.  After I realized that the world would not end and that this was a challenge that I was up to, I replied to the organizers with my confirmation to speak.  Note to self:  If you submit more than one session, be prepared to speak more than once.

I started working on my sessions based on feedback that I had previously received, with small tweaks here and there.  I rehearsed them with my Great Dane as my audience, but his feedback wasn’t too helpful.  However, it did let me know what it would feel like if someone fell asleep during one of my sessions.   Note to self:  Use organisms with thumbs as an audience.

Now, I am originally from Arizona but I did live in Colorado for fifteen years, so I do know what cold weather and snow are, but Holy Cow!  Those years in Colorado did nothing to prepare me for the bitter cold in Cleveland.  It was 9F with a wind chill below 0F.   How far below 0F doesn’t really matter, once you hit that mark, IT’S COLD!!  Note to self:  Bring long johns next time traveling to Cleveland in the winter.

Saturday arrived and I was ready.  I have helped organize a few SQL Saturdays and have always had to arrive before dawn and never had to worry about parking.  But I was not in the first speaking slot, so I decided to take my time and show up after the rush of attendees.  Note to self:  Be prepared to walk a ways if you do not show up early to a SQL Saturday event.

I found the speaker room and started prepping my laptop for the sessions to come.  It was finally time, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed out.  My first session started off great, until I hit the first demo when the A/V equipment started to go wonky.  I had a backup A/V converter, so I switched to that one, thinking it would resolved the issue.  No luck.  By this time the screen is flickering and non functional.  My proctor was kind enough to go find tech support for the facility while I pushed ahead with no projector.  Tech support showed up and still couldn’t get it fixed.  I started unplugging everything, video adapters, mouse & clicker.  We finally got it working again and I was able to carry on with my session.  Note to self:  Keep your cool and sense of humor, both go a long way when things aren’t going well.

After my first session ended, I had fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom, get more water and figure out the A/V issue.  I got them all done.  Turns out it was my clicker causing a conflict with the A/V.  Note to self:  It’s not always the A/V that’s the problem, it can also be the clicker!!

My second session went off without a hitch, almost.  I think I was still a little flustered with my previous session’s A/V issue and I went “off script” for my first demo.  It turned out okay in the end, but not before I went through three different schemas to get to the object I wanted in a query window.  Note to self:  Use the demo text you prepare for a demo, don’t change things up “on the fly”.

Overall I got very good feedback for both sessions that was very valuable and I’m already putting it to use.  I’ve been selected to speak at SQL Saturday Richmond on March 24, 2018, and I’ll giving two sessions!  Hope to see you there.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | January 31, 2018

I’m a Speaking Mentor!

I am so excited to announce that I have been accepted as a speaking mentor on!

I struggled for so many years with my fear of public speaking and now is my chance to help someone who may have those same fears.  Huge Thank You goes out to Alex Yates (Twitter | LinkedIn) for creating  You can read the full story about how this came here.

I’m really looking forward to being able to help others achieve their public speaking goals.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | January 4, 2018

MVP Data Platform

Holy Cow!  I still can’t believe it, I was awarded the Microsoft MVP – Data Platform today.  I guess I really am starting the New Year off with a Bang!

I am so honored and humbled by this.  I wanted to Thank everyone for their support over the last several years, there’s no way this would have happened without all of you.  To be nominated by your peers is the greatest feeling.  #SQLFamily is awesome!


Posted by: sqlswimmer | January 3, 2018

Kicking Off The New Year With A Bang

Back in 2015, I said would think about speaking in my #TSQL2sday #61 post.  Well here it is 2018 and I have finally embraced speaking.  And as it turns out, I love it.  I spoke eight times in 2017, from my local PASS group to Denver’s SQL Saturday.  I even spoke for the PASS WIT virtual group, which was a HUGE deal for me.  It’s hard enough to speak in front of an audience, but it’s even harder to speak when you can’t see the faces.  You have no idea if people are confused, sleeping or even interested in what you are saying.  But I digress.

I am kicking off 2018 with three speaking gigs already lined up.  One in January, February and March.

In January I will be speaking for my local group, presenting Data Types Do Matter.  This will be the first time I present this particular session and am looking forward to getting feed back on it.

In February, I am happy to announce that I was selected to speak at SQL Saturday Cleveland.  Not only am I speaking, but I am speaking twice!  I was honored to have both my What is Power BI? and my Intro to Integration Services sessions selected.  I’ve been to Ohio before, but never Cleveland, so it should be fun.  I plan on arriving a day early so I can take in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the infamous A Christmas Story home tour.  Not sure if I’m more excited to see one of my all time favorite bands, The Cars, memorabilia or to see where Ralphie almost shot his eye out!

In March, I am speaking at SQL Saturday Iceland.  Yes, Iceland!  I still can’t believe I was selected to speak.  I am so honored.  I submitted with the attitude “Never in a million years will I be selected, but it would be by FAR the coolest thing EVER if I was.”  Low and behold my new session Data Types Do Matter was selected.  I can hardly wait.

If you are in the area of any of my speaking engagements, please stop by and say, “Hello”, I’d love to see you.

Here’s to a great 2018!

Happy New Year!

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