Category Archives: Professional

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!

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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.

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.

Simple rules for attending a conference

I want you to have a great conference!

I want you to have a great conference!

It is just about time again for another PASS Summit.  As I’m getting ready to help out my first timers group and get ready for the summit myself I figured I would put a few tips together.  The amount of first timer posts out in the community is staggering and instead of trying to write yet another 2 page novel with lots of tips and tricks I thought I would keep it very simple.  This should apply to almost all conventions that you want to attend.  I make the assumptions in this post that you are

1. An adult

2. Most of the time you act like an adult.

Here are the rules.

1.  Communicate/socialize.  The best reason to attend a convention is NOT for the training it’s for the networking that you will be exposed to.  Remember you are all at the convention for similar reasons everyone has something to talk about so TALK!

2. Never eat/Drink/Hang out alone.  Conventions take place in some really cool places and places you may be tempted to go see the sites.  If so then go with others from the convention don’t go alone.  See rule #1 always be social always have fun.  If you want quiet/vacation time away from it all do it after/before the convention when everyone is gone.

3. Know your limits.  If you can’t stay up till 2 a.m. and still get up for a 6:30 a.m. session the next day then don’t worry about it.  Don’t feel that you have to see/do/be part of everything.  If you stick to rule #1 you are going to do just fine even if you were not at the fountain at 2:00 a.m. when someone fell in.  Also remember in this day in age most things end up on youtube.

4.  Be respectful/helpful.  Again you are all in this together take care of your fellow attendee.  Help them out when they may have forgotten rule #3.

5. Give feedback; Give it to the speakers, sponsors and organizers.  Conventions thrive on the feedback they get from the attendees.  We can’t make good events without that feedback so be suggestive and helpful in your message.  Things like “I really liked that the presenter was energetic and funny in her session”.  Not “This presentation sucked” that doesn’t help anyone get better.

Ok pretty simple 5 little rules.  This is not a long extensive list to remember or memorize it’s just simple common sense and really that’s the best thing you can do at a convention use common sense and be social.

If you would like to read more first timers post here is a good list and a link to the PASS first timers page.

My Post from last year

Midnight Dba’s Blog for PASS First Timers

PASS Community Blogs for 2013 summit

PASS First Timers

Have a Great Convention!

PASS Board of Directors Election

It is once again that time to vote for our PASS Board of Directors(official election page).  Having been a volunteer in this organization now for almost 10 years this is a process I am very interested in.  I have served 2 years on the board and spent some time in most of the various volunteer committees you will find in the PASS organization.

The most important thing for the election is that you get out and vote!  You need to exercise your right to a voice and vote for who you feel is the best candidate.  I’ve listed my endorsement for candidates below this is my opinion on these candidates but comes from years of experience working with them in a volunteer role.  I’ve worked with both of them closely on many different aspects of the PASS organization.

Allen Kinsel (Blog|Twitter|Candidate Page)

passmemoriespictures-24

I have known Allen since 2004 and we both have been volunteering about the same amount of time with PASS.  He has a proven track record of getting things done in the PASS Organization.  He helped deliver the tools the Program committee now uses to pick sessions and allow for great PASS Summit sessions.  He helped with the Chapter tools we have now as well and forwarded the movement for the chapters as a board member.  He has consistently showed PASSion in the volunteer efforts he has been involved in.  I think his previous time on the Board and previous volunteering gives him excellent depth and experience in this arena.  For me he’s the best overall candidate that knows the organization well and is willing to go the extra mile for the PASS organization and SQL community.

Tim Ford (Blog|Twitter|Candidate Page)

Tim fordTim is truly awesome to me.  He has organization skills, business sense, funny, great photographer and an exceptional volunteer.  He has always helped out the PASS organization in many different roles.  He knows event planning and managing events from the SQL Saturday events he has put on and from founding and running SQL Cruise.  He is passionate about change and about making things better.  Tim is the best newcomer candidate I think. He not only knows the PASS organization well but knows the things that need to get done to keep it going on a path to greatness.

?

My third candidate/vote is yet to be decided for me.  I will be doing research over the next few days to try and determine my last vote.  I strongly suggest you do the same.  Don’t just take my word for it research the candidates and talk to them and ask them questions find out which ones you feel are the right fit.

The one thing I believe all candidates need when on the Board is a PASSion for helping others.  Volunteering at the level of the board is hard work and takes a lot of time and effort and that PASSion is what keeps you going.

Happy Voting

My Road Map….Someone folded it (T-SQL Tuesday #42)

tsql2sday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is brought to us from Wendy Pastrick (Blog |Twitter). She wanted us to talk about the road map in our career or what we have done to get to the point we are now in our career.  

This is an interesting idea for me for 2 reasons.  1.  While you are reading this I’m driving to Las Vegas for a conference for my company.  So you could say I’m driving on my road map now!  The other reason I’ll explain below.

Personally it’s very interesting for me to look back on my Road Map since it’s changed greatly since when I started.  I can still remember being a Customer Service Lead and talking to my manager when she asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years.  I said I was hoping to get a CAN/CNE certification and be a Network Administrator.  6 months later we inherited a Database app from another company and my life changed forever.  I became the accidental DBA we all talk about and from that point forward started a path towards the data world.

Fast forward about 10 years and here I am facing another new path.  For the last several months my focus and time has been on the Hadoop Ecosystem.  1.5 years ago I started with a new company and ran into a similar problem I’ve faced many times.  Reads/Writes contending on the same SQL DB because we had no reporting environment to send the queries against, I set out to create such a reporting environment and both succeeded and failed in a lot of ways.  We’ve decided now to take the good from that environment and migrate it into a Lamp/open source system that can horizontally scale at an excellent cost to the company.  We are about a month out from some really serious testing of the system and I’m about as excited as I have ever been about any technology I’ve used.

What my “Road Map” has taught me through all these years is best summed up by one of my all-time favorite sayings.

“It’s not about the Destination, It’s about the Journey”

I’ve learned that even though I have had many destinations on my road map, the place that I’ve learned the most and grown the most as a Data Professional were the times when I went on a journey to find something.  My suggestion to anyone working on the Road Map is pick out some destinations but make sure you take that road less travelled from time to time.  I think you will find you will look back on those times more than any destination you reach.

Good luck in your Journey!

SQL Family

Thomas Larock aka @SqlRockstar (Blog|Twitter) has put on a monthly meme with a different topic each month.  I’ve decided to participate in this topic as it’s an important aspect of my life.Thom asks “Write about what #sqlfamily means to you.”#SqlFamily started for me way back in 2003.  I was a DBA at a large health care organization and I heard about a SQL users group starting in my area I wanted to check it out since any help I could get in my current role as a DBA would be great.  I started to attend the meetings and found others that enjoyed SQL Server as well.  This then lead me to start presenting and shortly after attending my first PASS Summit.  At the summit I met even more people like me that not only enjoyed SQL Server but gave of their time freely to help others.For me the #SQLFamily has always been about people helping people.  The community is very giving to everyone.   There is no membership in this family, it’s never a question of have you been here before or are you a “regular”  it’s the place that welcomes you with open arms regardless of who you are or what you do.  If you have a problem we’ll help you try and solve it.  It’s that simple it’s that easy.  To me that’s #SQLFamily.

The family extends so much further than a discussion forum or a specific website.  It’s there when your son/family member is in the hospital and you need some positive reinforcement.  It’s there to wish you congratulations when a new baby is born or you celebrating sending your kids off to college.  It’s people taking care of each other and looking out for one another.

To answer Thom’s original question.  #sqlfamily means people helping people.  Something I think all families should strive to do more often.