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: , , , |

PASS has a great slate this year – all of the candidates have strengths that will bring value to the PASS organization. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Allen Kinsel since March of this year and thought I’d take the opportunity to share why I think that he would be an excellent Board Member.

 

Professionalism – Now this isn’t to say that Allen can’t fully appreciate a ‘colorful’ joke or that there aren’t times that he needs to rant. He’s human like everyone else. In the dealings (that I’ve been a part of) with vendors, Microsoft, volunteers, etc., he’s listened and been respectful. He is able to ask the tough questions and make the comments that need to be heard without coming off as aggressive. While that should be a quality that we should expect of professionals, unfortunately it isn’t always the case. I feel that it’s important for leadership to know the difference between reactionary venting about a perceived wrong and providing the community with comprehensive, balanced information.

 

Transparency – I know that this is a big issue for most of the PASS community. Allen’s blog posts show a consistent effort to keep the community aware of what the Program Committee is up to, the decisions that have been made and the reasons for those decisions.

 

The status quo – Throughout the process of putting together the Summit, we’ve been asking ourselves questions: Does this work? Is it efficient/effective? Is it necessary? Do we need to change it? Allen’s definitely not going through the motions here and I doubt that he would on the Board of Directors either.

 

Involving the community – It should be apparent from Allen’s latest posts (here and here) that he has been striving to increase community involvement in the PASS Summit. The latest experiment, with the community choice sessions, seems to have been extremely well received. Without putting words in Allen’s mouth, I think that he feels that it’s the PASS Summit, so the PASS community should have the opportunity to make some choices about the content delivered there.

 

Working with volunteers – We can start with this – I was and still am a noob as far as the Program Committee is concerned. I had attended one PASS Summit (last year) and my volunteer experience with PASS was negligible. Why was I given the opportunity to work on the Program Committee in the capacity that I am now? I asked to help. He recognizes the need for volunteers and the value that they provide. After the abstract selection teams were finished and the selected abstracts had been announced, Allen went back and had conference calls with all of the teams to get their input on what worked, what needed to be changed and what would make this process better.

 

Allen doesn’t walk on water. He doesn’t travel to the Summit by way of a winged unicorn. His supply of pixie dust is paltry or maybe non-existent. I may have seen him consume bacon, but it was way too late in the night (or early in the morning) for me to be sure. I do know that I have respect for Allen. I’m constantly impressed by his continued enthusiasm about the possibilities of PASS to make a difference for data professionals. Don’t take my word for it – read his blog; read his answers on the election forums. Without question, I’ll be voting for him in the upcoming elections. I think you should, too.

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

Who is PASS, really?

20 August 2010

After attending the PASS Summit last year, I made a decision to become more active in the PASS Community. During the Summit, I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from the community – chapter leaders, regional mentors, speakers, board members and just normal folks like me.

As many of you know, I’ve been a part of the Program Committee for the last six months. Originally, I was tapped to head up a task team – a group that would work on projects that had been on the radar, but hadn’t had the manpower to get them completed. Along the way, I became more involved with other aspects of the Program Committee – the things that need to happen so that the PASS Summit can occur.

I think I was sucked in by the vision of the weekly meetings being wonderful opportunities in which we were magically transported to a beautiful meadow with full-on double rainbows, prancing unicorns and woodland nymphs presenting us with bacon-wrapped treats. It was that, sometimes, but it also was long hours, endless emails, looming deadlines and seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. Even with those, the thought of being involved in pulling together a valuable, enjoyable event for the community pushed us forward. I had the opportunity to work with a huge number of volunteers (many of whom I’ve never met face to face) that put in extraordinary effort and working with members from PASS HQ that were very helpful and hardworking.

Reading the tweets and blogs over the last few days makes me wonder if I’ve been duped. I’m continually seeing that PASS has failed and that PASS doesn’t want to get it right and how people are frustrated with PASS. Apparently PASS is some evil, faceless organization that has committing mayhem and creating obstacles as its sole agenda. I’ve listened while people close to me have become disenchanted with PASS as a community, not because of decisions that have been made, but by the reactions of the community members in these last few days.

I’ve been accused of being a pollyanna before and probably will be now, but I thought PASS was more than the BOD and committees. I thought PASS was the people that lead and contribute to user groups and virtual chapters, speakers, volunteers, Summit and SQLSaturday attendees and all of the rest of the people that participate with PASS in some manner. Things have happened that I disagree with and missteps have been made. I’ve voiced my opinion when I thought it was necessary and tried to address issues with the people that inolved – I strive to listen and understand the reasons behind decisions just as I hope that they listen and try to understand my points. In any large group of passionate, intelligent professionsals, there will always be disagreement. The only difference is how that dissent is expressed and handled.

If I were a data professional that was just beginning to read blogs and get involved with Twitter, I seriously doubt that I would join PASS. I definitely wouldn’t volunteer for anything PASS related. So if you really believe that PASS is irrevocably broken, walk away – people will stop joining and stop volunteering and PASS will eventually fade away.

For me, PASS is the community of its members. That community is valuable to me, so for now, I will continue to volunteer and continue to suggest changes. I will continue to believe that the vast majority of PASS is committed to making this community a valuable organization.

 | Posted by tledwards | Categories: 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.

The SQL Server community never ceases to amaze me.  The number of people that are willing to take time out from their jobs and families to volunteer is especially impressive.

 

I’ve had the good  fortune to be able to volunteer for the Program Committe this year.  My job is to pull together special projects and whatever other slave work Allen thinks up for me.   I’ve had a number of volunteers that have put great work into our current project.  This project has multiple steps and has required a ton of coordination between the volunteers – but it is all coming together.   It’s something that’s been needed for awhile  and now it’s going to be a reality.   I’d name names, but I know that I’d forget someone.   So thank you to everyone that’s helped out.

 

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

A big (virtual) cake for all of you!

It’s not just me, though.  Tim’s in the process of re-starting the Performance VC.  He had mentioned the need for volunteers through our blog, Twitter and Blythe Morrow(Blog/Twitter) put out a call for volunteers on the PASS blog.  He’s been overwhelmed at the number of people that have asked to help out.

 

For all of you that volunteer for PASS – kudos to you!  For those of you that are thinking of volunteering, but haven’t yet,  get ahold of Tim or me or go here for additional volunteer opportunities.

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…

I had been thinking of writing a blog post on the SQL Server community for the last couple of weeks.  Seeing Brent Ozar’s blog post “What Community Means to Me” helped me decide to go forward with it.

In my first draft of this post, I went into great detail about the beginning of my career, my quest for meaningful, reliable sources of information and my wish for a view of a larger community.  Unfortunately, I’m trying to get ready for a birthday party, Halloween, soccer games and, oh yes, the PASS Summit.  So that’s another story for another time.

 

When I first signed up to attend the PASS Summit, my hope was that my darling husband would be able to attend with me.  Regardless of what Tim might say, I’m not outgoing enough to walk up and talk with people I’ve never met.  Yet I know that those conversations will probably be the parts that I remember most and best from the Summit.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for Tim and I’ll be attending solo.   I pictured three days of wandering around, trying to make conversations and going back to the hotel room to eat room service.

 

Enter the happy-happy-joy-joy land that is Twitter.  Tim and I both started using Twitter in April of this year.  It was interesting getting started – kind of like walking into a conference – you all have the same interests, but you don’t know anyone.  Slowly but surely we got involved.  Had some lively IM conversations at the spring SSWUG vConference in the Quest chat room, tried to write a rap song, got involved with PASS Virtual Chapters, started a blog, shared meals with a couple of great DBAs and got the kind of SQL Server advice and help that you can’t pay for.

 

Twitter is obviously not the only method for getting involved with the SQL Server community, but I’ve found it extremely helpful for becoming familiar with other people that do what we do.  By reading tweets and blog posts throughout the day, I’ve picked up tips and tricks as well as become exposed to features and functionality that I might not have been aware of.

 

Now, in addition to attending some excellent sessions, I’m also looking

It's not quite this, but close...

It's not quite this, but close...

forward to meeting a number of people that I’ve ‘met’ through Twitter.   I’ve felt more a part of the SQL Server community in the last six months than the previous 5 1/2 years of working as a DBA.  It’s a great community and I talk about the benefits of being involved any time I can.   I still wish Tim could have come along, but I also know that I won’t be feeling as alone.    Maybe when I’m there, I’ll meet someone who hasn’t yet had the chance to get involved in the community and be able to pass this along to them.

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