PASS Summit 2013
After taking a year off, I’m heading back to the PASS Summit in Charlotte. This year will be a little different for me since I’m attending to help represent my company, SQL Sentry. I’m looking forward to seeing some people that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. I’m also looking forward to seeing a bit of Charlotte – SQL Sentry is actually located in Huntersville, close to Charlotte, but I’ve never really been there.

The first year that I went to the Summit in 2009, I went as a regular attendee. I met some people, attended a ton of sessions, went to some evening events, most notably a very late night breakfast on the last day of the Summit where I met Allen Kinsel (Blog/Twitter).

As a result of that meeting, I worked on the Program Committee for the next two years. Working on the Program Committee is great, a ton of work, a smidge of stress, but I had the opportunity to meet so many people including wonderful volunteers. It’s also one of those volunteer experiences where you actually get to see the results of all of your hard work. Unfortunately, since there is still work to do during the Summit, I probably only went to one or two sessions those two years.

This year, I’ll be working at our booth throughout the Summit. I’ll be demo-ing our awesome software, spending time with our team and talking with Summit attendees. We’ll probably also spend a decent amount of time trying to get Kevin (Blog/Twitter) into a kilt. I’m excited to talk with the folks that come to our booth, to let them know how SQL Sentry might help them, but even to pass on some knowledge that I may have gathered during my time as a production DBA. One of the things that I love best about my job is that – the opportunity to help people out. I doubt that I’ll even make one session this year, but I know that, once again, the Summit is going to be a great experience.

Before attending my first Summit, I had read that meeting other database professionals was equal in value to the knowledge that you get from the sessions. Admittedly, I was skeptical. The Summit has a huge number of great sessions by great speakers. That was the reason that I wanted to attend. Now, though, heading into my fourth Summit, where I know that I’m not going to be attending sessions, I’m just as excited as my first Summit. I’m going to have the opportunity to see old friends and meet new people. The learning, while not in a session hall, continues during discussions with other professionals and hearing the challenges that they experience in their jobs.

The word community, as much as it gets passed around, really applies at the Summit. I’m glad to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to participating in this new role. When you have a moment, come by and say hi to me and the rest of our team!

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: DBAs, Discussion, PASS | Tagged: , , , |

July is definitely a painful time to be in Tucson.  It’s hotter than all get out and monsoon season has usually started, so for awhile we have heat AND humidty.  Oh joy.  Fortunately we have some SQL

At least this calendar has green on it...

At least this calendar has green on it...

Server based events coming up to take our mind off of the disagreeable weather.

 

Tim’s heading up the new incarnation of the PASS Performance VC.  On July 6, Jason Strate (Twitter/Blog)  is going to be presenting a webcast for them entitled: ‘Performance Impacts Related to Different Function Types’.  It should be a great session.

 

On July 17, Phoenix is having it’s first SQLSaturday.  That in and of itself is pretty exciting, but Tim and I are going to be presenting two sessions there.  This is our first time presenting, so it’ll be a great learning opportunity for us and a potential opportunity for up and coming hecklers.   If you’re somewhere around Phoenix, you should take advantage of the opportunity.  If you’re not around Phoenix, but want to see what it would feel like to step into an oven, come on out.  (see note below)

 

Then on July 21st, Quest is holding another Virtual Training Event on Performance Monitor and Wait Events.  Brent Ozar (Twitter/Blog), Kevin Kline (Twitter/Blog), Buck Woody (Twitter/Blog) and Ari Weil (Twitter) will be presenting.   It should make for an interesting and potentially hilarious training event.  Aside from it being a great training event, it’s relevant here because they’ll be presenting live from beautiful Tucson.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet them for dinner and take them to another top-notch Old Pueblo eatery.

 

One final note – the final session lineup for the PASS Summit 2010 will be finalized in July.    This is due to a huge amount of great work by the volunteers from the Program Committee.  If it’s June and you’re reading this, send some good thoughts their way – they’re busy.

 

 

Update:  The SQLSaturday in Phoenix has been postponed until Jan/Feb 2011.  Hopefully many more people will want to come to Phoenix when it’s not 110 degrees out.

Unfortunately, it has been awhile since I have posted a blog up here, but having spent several hours last night on Twitter with a number of esteemed members of the SQL Server community trying to educate a blogger, John Dunleavy [Twitter/Blog] about the proper way to credit authors when you use their work inspired me to get this post up.  Unfortunately, the issue of bloggers or web site operators using other people’s work without properly crediting them is becoming an increasingly more frequent occurrence.  Earlier in the day yesterday, Aaron Bertrand [Twitter/Blog] had a very similar issue with a SQL Server MVP (you can read Aaron’s blog post and the associated comments here). 

So, the point of my post today is not really to rehash the issue of plagiarism (intended or unintended), but rather to discuss why most of us give back to the community in the form of informative blog posts, volunteerism, and answering questions on the forums and to extend that a little bit, if I may, by offering the services and knowledge of the SQL Server community to educate new bloggers about how to get started, what is acceptable, and what is not.

 

First off, why do we do what we do?  Speaking for myself and,  I think,  many members of the SQL Server community, we do this because a) we were all in a position where we were just starting out and needed help; b) someone helped us, answered our questions, and we feel honored to be able to do the same; c) we take great pride in having one of the most open, collaborative, and philanthropically motivated communities in the world of technology.  These services are provided free of charge to anyone who visits any of the hundreds of great SQL Server blogs out there.  The number of books that you would have to purchase or expensive courses that you would have to attend to get anywhere near the content that is freely available on blogs in the SQL Server community would set you back many, many thousands of dollars and it still wouldn’t provide you with all of the benefit of the experience that this community writes from.  Through our discussions last night, some barbs were thrown our way such as “how can you help if your[sic] linin[sic] your pockets” and “You guys are being selfish.”  I would like to address those as I believe there must be a huge misconception about the motivation behind what we do.  First off, there is “no pocket lining” going on here.  Speaking for our site, http://sqlservertimes2.com, we pay for the domain registration and hosting out of our own pockets which, in my eyes, is an investment back into the community.  We receive no revenue from our site as there is no advertising or services sold from the site.  Now, that is just our choice and I want to be clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with hosting ads offering services from your site, if you so choose, to help pay the bills, as long as the content of your site is original or you have at least obtained the permission of the original authors or copyright owners to host non-original material.  Our motivation is strictly a collaborative one.  Lori and I post issues that we have come across in our jobs and the solutions that we have come up with to solve them.  Throughout our careers, we have relied heavily on others’ blog posts for our professional development and feel honored to now be able to participate in that and provide something back.  Our compensation is solely the feedback we receive from readers that lets us know that we provided something that saved someone some time somewhere down the road, nothing more, nothing less.

 

So, where does this leave us?  As I have said many times, I think the SQL Server community is one of the greatest technical communities around.  One of the main reasons for this is the lack of egos and willingness to share.  The majority of us are not insecure and welcome new bloggers with open arms because all of us are constantly learning.  If a day goes by where I haven’t learned something new, it was not a very good day in my book and the more people out there sharing knowledge, the more likely I am to learn something new.  This is a very forgiving community and I believe that if you are a blogger who has or is plagiarizing the work of others because, for some reason, you didn’t realize that it was wrong or you don’t know how to get started blogging, reach out to the community and ask for help.  There are many of us who will gladly help you start sharing your own knowledge and gifts with the community, all you have to do is be willing to understand that plagiarism is stealing and wrong and be open to feedback from the group.  I know most technical professionals are proud and do not like to admit being wrong, but  many times being wrong is the first path to learning.

I was tagged by TJay Belt (Twitter/Blog) in this latest series of blog stories.  I believe that it was started by Paul Randal (Twitter/Blog), carried on by Tom LaRock (Twitter/Blog) and then went viral.  Since ‘New Year’ seems to be synonymous with ‘everything going to heck in a handbasket’, it’s taken me awhile to respond, but here goes.

 

I’ll start by saying that if anyone would have told me that I’d be a DBA (or anything computer related for that matter)

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

when I was in college, I would have fallen down laughing.    My step-father was a biomechanical engineer and one of my main goals in life was not to be a geek like I thought he was.  I majored in Communications with a minor in English.   At the time of my

graduation I had never touched a computer or even wanted to.  So, how did I get to be a DBA?  Sheer coincidence.

 

IBM

Back in my kid-free days, I worked for IBM.  I actually had to use a computer (odd for me), but my responsibilities were working with IBM’s resellers and the maintenance plans they resold.  It was all about soft skills and I spent a ton of time on the phone with resellers.  All of the information that we gathered was stored in a(wait for it…) DB2 database.   After awhile, I took on the responsibility for putting together reports.  While there was definitely no administration going on, it was kind of fascinating to play with all of that data.  That all stopped, though, for my next life changing event.

 

And they looked so sweet...

And they looked so sweet...

Kids

I left my job at IBM just before I gave birth to my first child and became a stay-at-home mom.  Around the time my

 second child was born, I started to feel the desire to go back to school.  The odd thing is that the field that I was drawn to was computer science.  I’m not sure if it was due to some strange chemical imbalance or the need to spend time with something that actually had logic behind it, but I began my computer science degree shortly after my youngest son turned one. 

Going back to school with two little ones running around was definitely a challenge.  Getting to the end of an 800 line assembly language project and have my son smack his hand on the keyboard deleting it, helped me learn the value of saving and saving often.  I’m sure that trying to learn recursion while dealing with a cranky toddler helped my ability to persevere.   Eventually, though.  I completed the program and became a computer science instructor.  Teaching was and is still the field that provides me with the greatest amount of satisfaction.  I enjoyed it immensely and felt that I was good at it.  Unfortunately, though, by that time I was a single mother of two boys and job satisfaction doesn’t exactly pay the bills.

 

My first *real* job

After leaving my teaching position at the college, I was able to get a job teaching the medical staff at our local hospital the new order entry/documentation application.   I knew that this had to be temporary and that I needed to become a part of a more technical division.  During the process of keeping our training environment up to date, I ended up interfacing with our DBA group on a regular basis.  One of the DBAs left and that provided me the opportunity to join the team.   Our lead DBA was pure awesomeness and provided me with a good solid platform of knowledge.  That was back in 2003, completed my MCDBA in 2005 and the rest is, well, the rest is now.    Still working, still learning.

 

It was a crazy, twisted road to get here and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.  I’m not tagging anyone with this, but I’m thankful to TJay for giving me the chance to share my story.

Going with your gut

11 January 2010

This post is a response to Tim Ford’s Whose Blog Is It Anyway  challenge.  The opportunity to use the words: pony, nude and bong in a blog post about an actual experience was too much to pass up.

 

I’m a DBA and I’m logical – coldy logical, if you listen to K. Brian Kelley - but I’m here to tell you that sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  Most of us have an inner voice that clues us in on the things that you know but can’t rationalize or aren’t ready to deal with yet.  That’s the voice that lets you know that the URL in your son’s internet history with the word ‘PussyCat’, probably isn’t a site featuring live, nude cats.  Not everyone trusts that voice – just ask George “Let’s Have Padme Die Of A Broken Heart Instead Of Anakin Crushing Her To Death” Lucas – that would have been a far more awesome scene.

 

I’m here to talk about such a time, early in my career.   I had a great DBA to learn from, but he had moved on to another position.  I felt pretty firm in my knowledge and knew that, whatever came up I could fix or handle by simply using some magical tool, library or bong.

 

That’s when I ran into it – the problem that I couldn’t fix, but was going to cause me pain.  On a Friday evening I started seeing error messages in the SQL Server error logs that indicated that we were having disk issues.  Of course the error message didn’t read ‘Your disks are failing’, but everything that I was reading seemed to indicate that.  One thing that bears noting – this was the central order entry/documentation application for the hospital that I worked at – there was no acceptable downtime.  I contacted our system administrator who did some research and let me know that all of the disks looked fine.  Now, this was an SA whose knowledge I respected – he’d been in the field forever (not like ENIAC forever, but pretty close).   He alluded to the fact that I was still a newbie and probably didn’t diagnose the problem correctly.  At this point it was around noon on Saturday and even though I was getting tired of looking around, I figured that I’ve started, so I’ll finish.  I wasn’t able to find any information that was clearer than I had provided before, but I knew, in my gut, that we were about to have problems – big problems.  I called the SA again and tried to encourage him to look a little more closely.  I asked him to pretend that the RAID array was a horse stable.  From the outside, it might sound pretty happy.  On the inside it might look good initially, but as soon as he looks down he’s going to be very sad about the pony.  For some reason, that analogy didn’t work…

 

As the afternoon progressed, I kept with my gut feeling and bugged the heck out of that SA.  The disks actually gave up the ghost and 40 hours later (non-stop), with our application vendor and Microsoft on the line, we finally got the disks replaced and the application back online.  At the post-mortum, once everyone had gotten a few hours sleep, that same SA wanted to know how I knew what the problem was since none of the errors were absolutely clear about the cause.  I just told him that I knew in my gut that something bad was about to happen.  He said, “Well, if you’d told me that in the beginning, I would have done more research!”.

 

While the story above is true, some of the particulars have been changed to protect the innocent.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: Administration, DBAs, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , |

I was tagged by Jorge Segarra (BlogTwitter) who had been tagged by Thomas LaRock (BlogTwitter) in his post about his goals and themeword for 2010.  I was going to try to remain blissfully ignorant about being tagged, but then Tim went and posted his goals.  So I guess I’m on the line now.  My theme word for this year is:

 

Recharge

While there are many things that I want to accomplish this year, I don’t know that (m)any of them will occur until I can figure out a way to recharge.  I’m typically a self motivated type of person, but it seems like, during the previous year, I’ve hit the wall.

 

I’m not entirely sure what has caused this, but I’m guessing that it is some combination of the cyclical nature of job satisfaction, having a boatload of things going on at home and the disconnect between the amount of things that I would like to learn and the amount of free time that I have.

 

recharger

Is there a human connector on that thing?

I realize that there is no magic button that will instantly recreate the hunger for knowledge that I had when I began learning to be a DBA.  What I can do, though, is set some goals, work hard to follow through on them and be patient.   My hope is that in the process of achieving these goals, I’ll rejuvenate my love of this career path.

 

Goals

Pick one or two topics to focus on

I have at least three SQL Server books sitting on my desk and more at home that I haven’t done much more than flip through.  Rather than setting a goal to read all 3000 pages (doable, but daunting), I’m going to pick a couple of subjects to focus on and learn them as thoroughly as possible.  This is ongoing – if it’s March and I know everything there is to know about database corruption (or whatever it is I end up focusing on), I’ll move on to the next subjects.

 

Blog more

My first love is teaching.  It invigorates me and gives me purpose.  Blogging provides me an arena to hopefully teach people that are learning to be DBAs and the chance to share what I’ve learned.

 

Become more involved with PASS

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and as Tim mentioned in his goals for 2010, we’ve talked often about starting a PASS chapter in Tucson.  This ties into my love of teaching and will help us to connect with folks locally who have similar interests.  I would also like to take part in other committees within PASS as needed.    This will definitely require a balancing act with work and family, so I’ll be taking baby steps to ensure that I don’t shortchange other areas in my life.

 

What does this all mean?

None of these individual goals are earth-shattering and that’s intentional.  I have a tendency to swing for the bleachers, but end up hitting to the pitcher and it makes me grumpy.  My hope here is that I make some good, solid line drives and then I’ll be set up to hit it out of the park.

 

I’m tagging a couple of people that have unknowingly helped me to recharge (some thank you, eh?) 

TJay Belt (BlogTwitter)

Wendy Pastrick (BlogTwitter)

Kendal Van Dyke (BlogTwitter)

A few days ago, in his blog Goals and Themeword for 2010, Jorge Segarra (Blog - Twitter) tagged Lori and me to write a blog about our goals and theme word for 2010.  While the title of my blog is somewhat sarcastic, it really reflects facing a year that will be full of immense opportunity and challenges as the result of a successful 2009. 

 

In 2010, I face opportunities on all fronts in my life, professional and personal, so here I outline some of those and end with what I feel will have to be my theme word for the year.

 

Professional

On the professional front, 2010 is going to be a year full of many opportunities.  The biggest challenge will be to take full advantage of these opportunities without letting everything else slip.  Here are the major opportunities, as I see them:

  1.  It is starting off with me shifting my focus in my position with my employer from more of a support role (production DBA) to more of a strategic role by leading a team of DBAs and System Architects and striving to make them stronger as a team as they take on what seems to be an impossible list of projects.  As anyone who has made this shift knows, the key to doing it is learning to delegate effectively, however, as most that have made this transition also know, you never get completely out of the support role.  As part of this, I have the unique opportunity to get to mentor someone who has recently shown a great deal of aptitude on our help desk and help mold him into a junior DBA, something I know will be extremely exciting and rewarding to participate in.
  2. As I move out of my DBA comfort zone, I will be required to learn a ton of technologies that my team will be responsible for that I haven’t really had to worry about up to this point.  Some of these technologies (SharePoint, SCOM, PowerShell, SSRS) I find to be extremely exciting opportunities and will be a great chance for me to learn and grow.  Some of the technologies I will be required to learn (i.e., SSIS) are technologies that I have tried to avoid and would rather not deal with, but circumstances dictate that I must and I know they will end up being growth opportunities for me, nonetheless. 
  3. Getting to attend the 2010 SQL PASS Summit.  Unfortunately, I missed the 2009 PASS Summit and, consequently, missed many great opportunities to learn and network.  I have promised myself that this year I am going if I have to beg, borrow or steal (okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but you get my point :) ).
  4. Starting a PASS chapter in Tucson, AZ.  This is something that Lori and I talked about for a while and that we are going to be very passionate about in 2010.

 

Of course, this new focus and need to learn these new technologies means a huge investment of time which leads me to my next challenge/opportunity – work/life balance. 

 

Personal

Throughout 2009, one of the biggest things that I never thought I could get right was balancing the needs of my job with the needs of my family.  In 2010, this challenge will become exponentially more difficult.  If 2009 taught me anything it is that I need to go into 2010 with some sort of system or plan to try to make sure that I give my family the time that they deserve while still living up to my work commitments.  This is a challenge that I am still working on cracking.  Some of the personal opportunities and challenges I face in 2010, other than spending more time with my family include:

  1. Dealing with some personal issues of one of our kids as he strives to find out who he is on the way to adulthood.  We have had some challenges with this over the last year and are seeking some supplemental help, but the challenge will be to define and stick to a plan that will help our son become a happy, productive, well-adjusted adult.
  2. Getting more involved in our church.  This has actually been on the list for a while now, but it needs to become a priority.  This is where we lead by example, not only for our church, but for our family as well, and is something that I see as essential for us to get to where we need to be spiritually.  I know that we have been blessed with many great gifts and talents in our family and it is time that we use those to give back.
  3. Continuing to grow the relationships that we have cultivated with our many friends in the SQL Server community.  I have to say that getting to network with the SQL Server community around the world in 2009 via virtual conferences and social media was one of the most unexpected and rewarding professional experiences of 2009 and, probably, my career.    Most people would put this as a professional goal, but as I have interacted with many of you, I see the friendships that are cultivating as much more than professional connections and feel blessed to have been able to have these friendships.
  4. Blogging more.  Again, this could be go either way, professional or personal, but I consider it a personal goal as it isn’t something that is really required by my employer (or something that probably a lot of my coworkers even know I do) and our blogs aren’t always technical in nature.  If you told Lori and me at this point last year that we would we start a blog in 2009 and be syndicated by SQLServerPedia, we would have laughed and said that would be ridiculous because we couldn’t come up with enough to write about that anyone would want to read.  Fortunately, we did get the blog off the ground in the last few months of 2009 and wrote some articles that people had some interest in, so the next challenge for us is to keep putting out content from our professional and personal experiences that, hopefully, people will want to continue to read.  In this way, we can feel like we are contributing something back to the great SQL Server community that has helped us out so much.

 

Theme word

So, all of this leads to my theme word for 2010, management!  In order to have a shot at accomplishing all of these goals, it is going to require management; management of time, priorities, expectations, and resources.  This is going to be probably the biggest challenge that I have faced so far, but if I am successful, the rewards will be great and have an impact on my life and my family that will pay dividends for many years to come.

Here is hoping that all of you have a successful and happy 2010!

PASS Summit Kool Aid

9 November 2009

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the PASS Summit in Seattle.   As I had mentioned in a previous post, I was fairly anxious about attending, because I knew that there were going to be around 2,000 people there and I had met two in person.  Yep, 2 out of 2000.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t worrying about how to fit in time for catching up with those folks.

 

I knew that the PASS Summit would be a great learning opportunity.  I’ve attended Tech-Ed, SQL Server launches and other similar SQL Server events – the learning that occurred at those events was extremely valuable.  In looking at the sessions for the Summit, I knew that it was possible (probable) that my head would explode with newly gained knowledge.  There are plenty of folks that will be blogging about the sessions and all of the excellent speakers – I may be doing that in a future post, but that’s not my focus here.

 

koolaidman
Ohhhh yeeaaaahhhh!

My focus is on the PASS community.  While I already knew that there were helpful, friendly people that were already a part of PASS, I never thought that it would would pervade the entire conference.  I had the opportunity to meet an incredible number of people – those whom I was familiar with through Twitter, blogs or forums and those whose faces and names were new to me.  In every instance, they were accessible and welcoming.  In turn, these experiences encouraged me to go seek out and introduce myself to others.  This was truly a community in the best sense of the word.

 

Tim and I have been talking about getting more involved and have discussed starting a PASS chapter here in Tucson.  The experiences of last week have made me see that this is not only doable, but necessary.  I’ve supped of the PASS kool aid and it was not only yummy, it’s my new favorite drink.

 

I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with the people that I was fortunate enough to meet and becoming more involved in PASS, both locally and virtually.   My hope is to share this community with others and help it to grow.

 

On a more personal note, there were a few individuals that went above and beyond the call of  (professional) duty last week.  I hope that I’ve let you all know personally how much your thoughts and prayers meant.  Tim and I were pleasantly surprised and touched by your willingness to listen and help.  We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

On a completely unprofessional note, I was overjoyed to be a part of the karaoke jollification (yeah, it’s a word) on Thursday night.  I was impressed with the singing (and dancing) talents of this crew.  I’m just hoping that there are no incriminating pictures…

Getting started

11 May 2009
Any stalkers out there better watch out!

Any stalkers out there better watch out!

I was in the car a couple of weeks ago and the Beach Boys song “All Summer Long” came on.  The first verse is “Sittin in my car outside your house” – inspiring my 11 year old son to ask “Is this a song about a stalker?”.  That got me thinking about how much things have changed over the last couple of decades.

It used to be that you learned a skill, found a job and then used those skills to work until you retired.  That’s not the case now.  According to a Department of Labor study , people born in the later baby boom years have an average of 10.8 jobs between the ages of 18-42.  That breaks down to folks putting themselves out into the job market about every 2 1/2 years.  Doing that means keeping your skills up to date and relevant.

This is especially vital in the IT world.  If this is the profession that you choose – then you’ve set yourself up for a lifetime of learning.  As DBAs, we’re fortunate in that we have so many different sources to learn from.  Blogs, forums, newsletters, Twitter, etc. provide more information than any normal person could assimilate.

And that brings us to our blog.  Our hope is that we’ll be able to provide some useful information, bad humor or some combination of the two to other DBAs.   Enjoy and we’ll see you soon

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , , , |