SQL Saturday Madison

This might be my shortest post ever!   I had a wonderful time at SQL Saturday Madison last weekend.  My photo’s are all located at the link below.   I would love to write more about my experience but I’m already off to another SQL Saturday in Las Vegas.  The following weekend after that event i’ll be organizing and presenting at Big Mountain Data(www.utahgeekevents.com).  So I might not get a chance to blog too much before then.  Have to catch up later!

http://asylumphotography.smugmug.com/Events/SQL-Saturday-Madison/38247733_zKF7zC

SQL Saturday #271 Albuquerque New Mexico

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Seems like just last weekend I was heading off to New Mexico for my First SQL Saturday of the year.   It was actually 2 weeks ago but who’s counting.  :)

I arrived really late Friday night unfortunately so I missed the speaker dinner.   I checked in did some double checks on my presentation and headed off to bed.  The event started at 8:00 so it was an early morning for me.  I picked up Gabrielle (blog|Twitter) from his hotel at about 7:00  a.m. so we could get over to the event early and help setup.

This was the first SQL Saturday I had attended where I had not organized the event or been part of the organizing committee.   It’s very different in the morning to not have nearly as much stress that comes with putting on an event.   Not that the SQL Saturday team had anything to worry about they put on an excellent event and took great care of the attendees, speakers and sponsors.  I was really impressed with how they did and how smooth it ran.

What a Speaker Room!

What a Speaker Room!

We had a great space for the speaker room so I quickly got in and started to test my presentation and get my computer setup.  I recently moved to a new computer and it only has 8GB of ram since I was running a VM and SQL server I wanted to make sure I only had open what I needed.

My presentation time came around and I felt I was ready to go.  The presentation really went well in my opinion even though my demo did fail.  The issue of not having enough ram came back to bite me. When I was trying to run my Sqoop import the computer froze on me.  I couldn’t get back to my Power point or anything with the VM.  Luckily we had enough questions and discussion to get around the issue.  The rest of the presentation went pretty well after that.  Overall I was satisfied that everyone learned something in the presentation.

Lunch Time!

Lunch Time!

The rest of the afternoon I attended some other sessions but also spent some time hanging out in the speaker room catching up with friends I usually only see once a year at the PASS Summit.  It was really nice to just sit and chat with them.  I made sure to spend some time at lunch chatting with people I didn’t know as well so that I can make new contacts in the future.

Cocktails and Food

Cocktails and Food

The end of the day giveaways went well and then we headed off to some cocktails/food for an after party.  It was great to sit down and chat with others and talk about all the various projects they have going on.

Sunrise

Sunrise

I woke up early Sunday morning and went out to greet the sunrise I ended up with a few good shots. Overall it was a great weekend and I can’t wait till my next SQL Saturday weekend at a future event. I’ve submitted to SQL Saturday Las Vegas and SQL Saturday Madison hopefully I will be able to speak at both.  I really want to make it back to NM next year as well

All my photos of the event are located here.

What to do when the demo goes bad

ABGNMSunrise

An Early Morning sunrise at SQL Saturday 271

This weekend I attended and spoke at SQL Saturday #271 in Albuquerque, NM.  This was my first time speaking outside my own events so it was a new experience for me.  I spent some time in the speaker room during the morning getting my computer setup for the presentation later that day.

I started out with my presentation and slides and everything was going well. Very interactive group (I like questions throughout the session) and lots of good discussion.  I only had about 60 minutes worth of content in a 75 minute session so I knew I had to get some good questions going.  I started into my demo and was showing some of the key points and then started on my Import using SQOOP.  It started up just fine and then just stopped on one step.  Not only did it stop my whole computer froze.  I thought for sure I was going to see a BSOD or it was just going to shut down.  Luckily I was able to handle this and continue the presentation without it causing too much damage. I didn’t get to show the process I originally wanted to show but I was able to explain and go over with the audience all the pieces I still needed.

This got me thinking about some key things you need to do WHEN the demo goes bad.  It is not a matter of IF but when. Sooner or later you will have it fail on you.

Be calm and cool!

Be calm and cool!

When things go bad!

  1.  Don’t Panic!  Apologize for the issue and keep moving with the presentation work on the next step.  Letting it throw off your focus or send you down a tangent will not end well.
  2. Fix it, if it is a quick fix then take a quick 2-3 minutes to resolve it.  See next point about communicating if you are fixing something.
  3. Keep communicating.  The last thing you want is a long silence in the presentation while you fight your demo issues.  Ask more questions of the audience or find out how things have gone so far.
  4. Don’t apologize too much.  I actually failed this one in my presentation.  Apologizing over and over isn’t going to change anything.  Apologize for the issue move forward and keep going.

Some ways to avoid the problem.

  1.  Have a backup, this can be easy for some things and hard for others.
  2. The backup can be static content/hidden slides with images that you can show what the demo is supposed to be doing.
  3. Test and re-test your demo’s many times.  Even if you have presented this 100 times testing the morning before is a good idea.  ( I didn’t and look what happened to me)

These are just my simple suggestions and I would love to hear if you have additional suggestions as well.

Overall I received good marks on the presentation and my fellow speakers said I handled the issue well some suggested just removing that part of the demo from the presentation.  This is something I’m considering but I’m also working on solutions to fix the problem so that I can avoid it in the future.

I hope future demos for you go well but in case they don’t keep these things in mind and it may make the pain a little less!

Upcoming Speaking Events

This is going to be a very busy next few months for me. Besides putting on some really cool and rocking events in the next few months I will also be speaking.  Hopefully in several different states.  I’m working on blog posts to go along with these presentations but for now here’s what I’m currently presenting on and when.

Building a Cost Effective Reporting system.

This presentation is all about using the right tool for the job.  At my current company we moved from a vertical scale system to a horizontally scalable system.   SQL Server does a lot of things really well but scale horizontally is not one of them.  Using a mix of open source technologies and SQL Server we were able to get a highly scalable system at a much better cost.  If you have been looking into #bigData technologies and what you can do with them(or what all the buzz is about) this is a great presentation to get you started and show you what can be done when you use the right tools for the job.

I will be presenting this at SQL Saturday #271 in Albuquerque NM coming up on the 25th of this month.  This is going to be a really fun event with lots of great presenters.  Check out the schedule to see the great lineup.   It will before the First SQL Saturday that I am presenting at that I did not in some way organize or help put on so this should be very interesting for me to observe just as a speaker and attendee.

I’ve submitted this same topic to Sql Saturday #287 and Sql Saturday #295.  I hope to be able to present at both of these events in the next few months.

Along with presenting I’m working on 2 other Major events coming up in the next few months.  Utah Code Camp will be held on March 15th 2014.  This will be our largest event to date and the most diverse with many varied topics all related to technology in some way.

Big Mountain Data is coming up April 12th 2014.  This will be an event all about Big Data.  Whether you are an expert in the field or just getting started and want to know how to work with big data we will have something for everyone.  You can register now and we hope to have the schedule up very soon for this event.

I’m looking forward to a very busy next 4-5 months and hopefully I will see many of you at one of these events.

Startup Weekend Ogden Edition

The Night started with an ultimate Pitch! A Marriage Proposal

The Night started with an ultimate Pitch! A Marriage Proposal

This weekend I was able to make just one day of the Startup Weekend event in Ogden Utah.  If you have not heard about Startup weekend’s in the past you can visit http://startupweekend.org/.  This particular event was in Ogden and the site for it is. http://ogden.startupweekend.org/

I sponsored the event through Utah Geek Events and was very happy to do so.  The event was exceptionally well put together and had a great space and energy about it.  I spoke with a friend that was at the event all week and he really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.  Personally I know that I’ll be supporting them more in the future not only through helping to advertise but finding ways I can volunteer and attend myself.

I took some notes of the pitches at the end and thought I would share my favorites here.  Keep in mind all the proposals were applications/ideas put together in about 2 days.  Fully functioning apps and sites done in two days!

Story Twist

This one was the overall winner of the Startup weekend.  Just a great idea for bringing back choose your own adventure books combined with teaching kids to read and technology.  This simple concept is to allow young readers to build an adventure/book by themselves by picking some key pieces of information and then the IPAD app will generate the story for them.  They even had a working site and app ready in the 2 day time frame!  Check them out at www.storytwist.co

Not Dead Yet

The Friend I mentioned above worked on this team and I really liked the idea of the app. To try and make sure someone knows where you are or where you are supposed to be in case you are lost or stranded in the wilderness.   This sends out a message to a group of friends you setup and lets them know how long you are supposed to be gone.  When you don’t check in the app sends out more alerts. Check them out at http://www.notdeadyet.co/

Statiq

The goal here is that they are trying to make it easier to build Static blogs.  It sounds very difficult right now and this group put together a basic UI that allowed you to put in some simple information and then it would build the pages/site for you.  I liked it because it seems like a great idea, although the team did seem a little heavy on the technical side and the presentation needed a little more polish.  I think if they can make this interface user friendly and simple to understand that will be a huge step forward. Check out Statiq.io for more info.

Overall if you get a chance to attend a startup weekend do it! Regardless of your skill level you just need a desire to create something and have a good time.  You will network with some of the best, get a chance to really contribute and possibly be part of the next big thing!

PASS Suggestions #1 Giving Feedback

Board Q&A 2013

PASS Board Q&A 2013 Summit

This year at the PASS Summit the Board held an open Question and Answer session.  They have done this for the past few years and it’s been very helpful for us to ask questions of the board.  I wanted to extend those ideas after the summit but wasn’t sure the best ways to give feedback to the board. 

Now don’t get me wrong I’m good friends with several board members and I have no doubt that I can send them an email (I already have) with this information and they can consider it.   But what if you are not in my position?  What if you are member of PASS that just wants to make suggestions to the organization?  Perhaps you have worked with other large volunteer organizations and you have great ideas on how to make things better.   Well unfortunately your only choice from the website is to email a member of PASS HQ on the about us page.  So who do you email?  From the titles you can probably figure out the right area that might help you but what then? How do you know what happens with your suggestion from that point? My suggestion to PASS is to start giving us a way to easily give feedback and to track that feedback until completion.  A simple ticket tracking system.

As DBA’s and Developers we track all sorts of things through ticket tracking systems.  Bugs, Projects we are working on and feedback from end users.  I’m suggesting the same thing here.  PASS needs to get a simple form we can use on the website to give feedback.  That is then assigned to a Board member/portfolio and worked on till completion or if the task is not appropriate then it can be closed in some manner that gives a reason why it can’t be done.  The requestor would get the feedback from the ticket so they knew the status of the suggestion.  We would have ownership and accountability as a Board member/portfolio would own the tickets.

This process would allow us to talk about specific items in the future events and PASS meetings.  We would be able to track progress exactly and what items are being worked on.  Overall it would make management of the many projects going on much smoother.

One suggested tool could be Trello, we use it in two different organizations that I volunteer in and it’s a great way to create simple stories and put them on a board to be worked on.  I am sure lots of tools exist for this sort of thing the important thing is getting something in place to capture feedback in the future and to give the end user knowledge of where that feedback stands.

Another suggestion that Thom made as well is User Voice.  Looks like a good site that could have some great tools as well for managing the projects.

As I mentioned above I have sent this to the PASS  Board already and hopefully they will consider it as a future project.   If you think this is a good idea perhaps sending an email to a board member of your choice mentioning this idea would be good.

I put a #1 at the top of the post since I have a few more suggestions for the PASS organization as well and they will show up as future blog posts.

2013 PASS Summit Trip report

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2013

Welcome to the PASS Summit 2013

My company requires a trip report after we go to a conference to talk about lessons learned and what we can bring back and use at the company.  So I’m using this post to share with the community and to fulfill the company requirement.

I have my notes arranged day by day so I’ll take that approach for the post. At the bottom I’ll talk about the networking/community aspect of things I did at the summit.

Day 1 (Monday SQL in the City)

Build automation

They were using continuous integration to identify issues as soon as possible.  I used a similar type of system at a previous company and am working hard to get that in place at my current company.

They did mention a great idea I had not thought of before for unit tests. If you create a Db unit test and say it can’t take more than X seconds to run then you can have a simple way to check for performance problems.  Couple key things, you’ll need an environment with consistent performance and the ability to control outside forces so you can validate this is a true performance change.  Can be a great way for some simple performance tests though.

Database Design

I enjoyed this presentation and he re-iterated many of the things I already knew about database design.  I really liked how explained the different models and what should be in each model.  My take away that I wrote down during the session was a role change we need to make to our current system.

“Users are Evil but they have checks” – Was my favorite line from this presentation.

Performance tuning

Grant gave some great tips about performance tuning some of the key ones that I wrote down.

Have a baseline, this can be generated from the previous data over time so you can understand and define “Normal”.

Currently in my world I use qlikview to put my stats together and then compare hours to previous hours or days to previous days.  Frequently I’ll compare this week to last week.  For me this is how I typically define “normal” and try to compare what’s going on.  I’ve recently added table size data into my reporting system so in the future I’ll be able to tell large growths and compare them to days without large growths.

Day 2 (Tuesday)

This was all PASS Meetings during the day and I’ll have a separate Blog post about that.

Day 3 (Wednesday)

Periodic Table of DMV’s

Tim did a great job of explaining the Dmv’s that were out in the system. The primary item I took away from this session was a need to monitor my Dmv’s closer particularly the Io Virtual File stats.  I’ve had perfmon counters on my disk’s but in my current performance monitoring set I don’t get down to the detail provided in the IO virtual file stats and I need to add that. I’ve added a task on my list to get that done.

Profiler to Extended Events

Erin Stellato did an excellent presentation of migrating and working with some of the changes between Profiler and Extended events.  I unfortunately had another PASS meeting and had to leave this session early but I did take some items away from it.  I have lots of detail notes about how the extended events work so when I get to sit down and start working with them I’ll have all the info I need.  We need to make a push to 2012 to really make this an easy change to extended events.  We can and will work on this in 2008 but we will have to put a lot more time and effort into the change.  We have a task on the books to migrate to 2012 in our organization.  I need to check out the tools and GUI that Jonathan Kehayias has for 2008 so I can get started on our project now and then continue with it into 2012.  We currently have a server side trace that always runs and collects the data we need so we have a very robust system to already do this but need to work on updating it now so we are ready for the changes.

Big Data for Business Intelligence Professionals

Jen Stirrup and Allan Mitchell did a great job of presenting the topic. This was a longer spotlight session as well  it was 1.5 hours.  I liked the original overall talk and discussion they started out with explaining big data.  I think they missed the mark when they started to talk about PIG instead of hive first.  PIG is a good tool to use but this audience is much more geared to sql queries and SQL ideas which hive fits into a lot better.  They did circle around back to hive at the very end of the talk but I think many were confused by then.  They showed HDinsight and what was available in the windows/hadoop ecosystem which is something I really wanted to understand since my Big Data implementation is using Linux and Cloudera so I wanted to understand the windows side.  The console and commands looked basically the same just the OS was different.  Key take aways that I have, Big Data is an approach to a problem.  Think of it as Volume, Veracity, Variety, Veracity and Value.  I have a feeling I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the future.

Why are things slow

Brent never fails to disappoint when it comes to a session.  He showed us a new sp_blitz with some new features and what I really liked was the open source monitoring system in place at StackExchange.  I really liked what I saw with the monitoring system and already started to get it installed here at the office.  I intend to work on running the Blitz scipt more frequently as well to start adding it to my comparisons of what things looked like before and after releases of our code.

Community

I spent a good amount of time in the community section and talking with many people about the community.  Here is some of the notes from just general discussions.

  1.  I explained frequently that I’ve gotten to a larger point with my community work that I formed a not for profit to handle everything and several people asked me about that process.  TODO: blog post on this.
  2. Mentor programs were a big discussion and something I’ve been focused on for a long time.  I’ve already picked up a domain for this and have worked on some documentation around it but I still have a lot of work to be done.  Andy Warren shared a lot of great ideas on this as well and I think this could be a great and needed program.  This is one of my highest focus’s currently that I’m working on in my spare time.
  3. SQL Saturdays were a huge discussion of course as well. I mainly listened in these discussion as I don’t have a lot of issues in running a SQL Saturday. I run events frequently and don’t have a ton of problems with my SQL Saturday.  I want to see SQL Saturday expand past SQL and focus more on data and the ever changing data world but that’s a much larger blog discussion.  TODO: Blog Post.  J
  4. A discussion on my comment of “Done and Done” from this blog post/comment.  This was not at the community tables but from a friend that I highly respect and intend to have a future blog post on. Not one that the friend will necessarily like but just because I respect the person doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with them.  J