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!

Posted by: sqlswimmer | November 17, 2017

New Session: Data Types Do Matter

I started speaking on a semi-regular basis this year after many years of trepidation.  You can read about my first speaking experience here.  It’s three years later and I have discovered that I love speaking.  I always wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, but it didn’t work out that way.  I have taught swim lessons off and on for over 20 years as well as coaching a swim team, things I am very passionate about, so speaking about SQL Server seemed like the next step.

I am mainly a BI developer now, using the Microsoft stack, but my roots are in DBA land.  There is one thing that I have run across time and again doing my BI development work and it’s something that surprises me every time.  People constantly using the wrong data type for their data.  So I decided people are either lazy or they aren’t educated on the pitfalls of using the incorrect data type.  Hence my new session was born, Data Types Do Matter.

I’m test driving it at the January 30, 2018, Triad SQL User Group meeting.  Come on out and say, “Hi”, if you’re free.  I’d love to see you and get your feedback on this brand new session.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | October 5, 2017

girls + data is coming to SQL Saturday Charlotte

I am so excited to be part of the organizing team for SQL Saturday Charlotte again this year, the CBIG folks are always a pleasure to work with and I am honored to be able work with them.  I am proud to say that this year we are raising the bar in community outreach, specifically for young women who are interested in technology.

We have added a session targeted at young women grades 6 – 8 who are interested in data analytics.  We are partnering with girls + data to bring a session to SQL Saturday Charlotte.  Cost is only $20 for a three hour session and the session is offered once in the morning and once in the afternoon, but hurry, seats are limited.

You can register for the sessions from the SQL Saturday Charlotte website or you can register using the links below.

Data Stories – Morning Session

Data Stories – Afternoon Session

See you on October 14, 2017!

Posted by: sqlswimmer | October 5, 2017

Visual Studio 2017 Irritants From the SSIS Developer View

I was among the many Integration Services (SSIS)/Database (DB) developers out there that cheered when Microsoft finally announced support for SSIS in Visual Studio 2017.  I mean really, VS2017 was released back on March 7, 2017, but if you wanted to develop any SSIS packages in VS2017, you had to wait for the release of SSDT on August 23, 2017.  That’s more than 5 months.  All the other kids got to play with the shiny new toy right away, but we had to wait.  I know there are a ton of reasons for this, but it still sucks.

That being said, I was very happy.  I could finally do ALL my development in the same tool: DB, SSAS, SSRS & SSIS.  But after only 30 days of using it, I have discovered a few things that just irritate me.  I always thought of myself as open to change, but maybe I’m not as open to change as I thought I was.

1 – ISO Is No Longer An Option

That’s right, you can’t just download an ISO and stick it on your network, you have to essentially create your own if you need to do an offline install.  As the title of this post says, this is an “Irritant”, not a deal breaker, but definitely an irritant.

2 – Start Page – It’s Baaack!

There is NO WAY to turn this annoying page off once you close a solution.  You can turn the Start Page off when you first open VS2017 (Tools | Options| Environment | Startup), but as soon as you close a solution, it shows up – ARGH!  See this thread, I’m not the only one annoyed by this behavior.  I’m a very visual person and seeing a list of projects with really long paths don’t help me.  I need my Source Control Explorer to make sure I’m opening the right solution in the right branch.


3 – Work Items Open in Browser By Default

One of the cool things about using VS as your IDE is that it has this great add-in for source control, especially if you use VSTS, it’s almost a seamless integration (and everyone IS using some kind of source control, right?!).  You can open your list of User Stories based on iteration.  Once you have your list of User Stories, all you have to do is double click the one you want and it opens right there in your VS environment.  Well, the default behavior for where your work items has changed.  Your work items no longer open in VS, they open in a web browser.  You can change this default behavior back to opening in VS (Tools | Options | Work Items | General), but this behavior will be deprecated in the next major version of the product.  There is nothing more irritating than having to switch back and forth between applications when doing development work.  Pro Tip:  If you want folks to use Source Control, make it easy and all in ONE location!!!



4 – With Each New Update, Something Breaks

Okay, this is not new behavior in VS2017, unfortunately, it’s continuing behavior from previous versions of VS. <sigh>  I was really hoping that this behavior would stop, but sadly it still persists.  For example, since SSMS is now based on the VS Shell, if I update VS, it usually horks up (yes, that is a very technical term) the settings in my SSMS.

5 – Closing Solutions Take FOREVER!

Holy cow, in previous versions of VS, all I had to do was click File | Close Solution and in a split second my solution would close.  Now, it takes forever.  I have a solution with two projects in it and when I click File | Close Solution it takes anywhere from 15-30 seconds to close (I feel really bad for those that have more than 2 projects in their solution).  Not only that, it says it’s unloading 3 projects, not the 2 that I actually have!  WTH?  According to this thread, the problem has been fixed, but I can confirm that it most definitely has NOT been fixed as of version 15.3.5.  Maybe they only fixed it for Non-SSDT project types?


Okay, my rant is over, nothing to see here, move along.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | August 30, 2017

Speaking at SQL Saturday Spartanburg (#681)

I am so happy to announce (and honored to be selected) that I will be speaking at SQL Saturday Spartanburg (#681) on September 23, 2017.  I will be presenting my What is Power BI? session at 8:30am.  I know it’s early, but I’d love to see you if you are in the area.

I’ve only been to Spartanburg once and that was a few years ago.  I attended the US Masters South Carolina LCM State Championships, where I walked away with a second place medal in my age group for overall meet performance.  It was an exhausting two days, but so worth it.  I’m hoping my SQL Saturday trip will be just as successful.

Hope to see you there!

Posted by: sqlswimmer | August 22, 2017

SQL Saturday Charlotte (#683)

I am so excited to be helping out with SQL Saturday Charlotte again this year.  This is the 6th year that Charlotte BI Group (CBIG) has put this event on and the 3rd year that I’ve been asked to be part of the organizing team. 

We have a great lineup of speakers and sessions, including two great pre-cons from Leila Etaati and our very own Melissa Coates.

We have worked really hard to put together this event together and hope that you will take the time to come out and get your SQL learnin’ on!

I hope to see you Saturday, October 14, 2017.

Posted by: sqlswimmer | July 28, 2017

Speaking at SQL Saturday Denver (#673)

Wow, I can hardly contain my excitement.  I was selected to speak at SQL Saturday Denver on September 16, 2017.  I’ll be presenting my Intro to Integration Services session.  I’m excited for so many reasons, but firstly, this will be my first trip back “home” in seven years.  We planned this trip back in February so that we could see Muse at Red Rocks.  I lived in Denver for 15 years and never once saw a show at Red Rocks, so I was super excited when I found out they were playing there.  Secondly, I get to talk about Integration Services, which is my favorite piece of SQL Server.  It’s an introductory session aimed at folks who want to learn more about that it is and how it can be used.

So, if you’re in the Denver area on Saturday, September 16, 2017, stop by and say “Hi”, I’d love to see you and chat for a little while.

#SQLSatDenver here we come!


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