Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Goals Review

I started the year with 10 Goals for 2010 and now I'll end it by looking at how many of those goals I met.

1 . Start A PASS Chapter
I filed the paperwork with PASS HQ in November and MagicPASS's first meeting will be Jan. 19, 2011. More details to come, but consider this one done!

2. Implement a BI solution
Earlier this month I talked with someone at work who was running queries from Excel to generate reports. She would start them in the morning and if she was lucky she'd have the data for the reports by mid afternoon. Spotting an opportunity to solve a major problem, I built a cube that had the report data waiting for her when she got to work each morning. It was a temporarily solution - just something to get through the holidays - but it was enough to get me put on a new project in 2011 to build the next generation of my company's data warehouse and reporting platform.

3. Present 6 times
Here's where I presented this year:

  • SQLSaturday #33 - Charlotte (Mar 6)
  • Orlando .NET Code Camp (Mar 27)
  • SQLSaturday #41 - Atlanta (Apr 24)
  • OPASS (Jun 15)
  • SQLSaturday #49 - Orlando (Oct 16)
  • Sarasota SQL Server Users Group (Sep 21)
  • PASS Summit 2010 (Nov 9-11)
  • East Iowa SQL Server Users Group (Nov 16)

4. Write 4 articles
I fell short here, only writing one published article:

5. Meet 50 new people in the SQL community
I said I'd use my LinkedIn connected count as a measuring stick for this. I started the year with 155 connections and I'm at 298 as I write this. I have no doubt I've met many more than 50 SQL People this year.

6. Answer 100 forums questions
As best as I can tell I had 20 posts for the year on, though half of those were either multiple posts within the same thread or not answering a question at all. I've answered a lot of questions on Twitter posted to the #sqlhelp hashtag, but I don't know how to go back for the entire year and measure how many. In all likelihood, though, I probably fell short of answering 100 questions in all.

7. 100 blog posts
This post makes #46 for 2010. That's less than I had in 2009 (65). Hmm, I guess this year was about quality, not quantity.

8. Go to the 2010 PASS Summit
I went. You can read all about it here if you want to know what the experience was like.

9. Redesign this blog
I didn't overhaul this blog like I really wanted to but I did make one subtle change that you might not have noticed - I switched the domain name to Perhaps a redesign is in the works for 2011. 

10. Lose 10 pounds
I'm still at 180, plus or minus a few pounds at any given time. I need to do better with this in 2011.

Closing Thoughts for 2010
For those keeping track that's 5 goals met and 5 goals I came up short on. Am I disappointed? Not at all! To quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"…and that's how I'll look back at this year. Although I started with some achievable goals my priorities in life shifted along the way and some of those goals got bumped down the priority list. For starters, shortly after 2010 began my role at work changed and I spent much of the year doing other things not entirely focused on SQL Server. In August my wife and I had our third child (a girl); I spent the first half of the year preparing for the new arrival and the rest of the year trying to adjust to life with another baby in the house. Oh and somewhere along the way I became involved with this little thing called SQLRally. None of those things were on my list at the start of the year yet all three of them were life altering (some in more ways than others) and none could be ignored for the sake of meeting the goals I started with.

As the year comes to a close I'm happy with what I've accomplished and I'm looking forward to all the things that 2011 has in store. See you all next year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PASS Summit 2010 Session Eval Results

Speakers and bloggers alike crave feedback (good or bad) so I was excited to see my session evaluations from the 2010 PASS Summit arrive in my inbox this week. First I'll show the results, then I'll share some thoughts about them.

Eval Format
Eval forms had 6 questions with a scale of 1 on the low end and 5 on the high end (i.e 1 = bad, 5 = good) plus a section for comments. The questions asked were:

  1. How would you rate the usefulness of the information presented in your day-to-day environment?
  2. How would you rate the Speaker's presentation skills?
  3. How would you rate the Speaker's knowledge of the subject?
  4. How would you rate the accuracy of the session title, description and experience level to the actual session?
  5. How would you rate the amount of time allocated to cover the topic/session?
  6. How would you rate the quality of the presentation materials?

Here's a summary look the three sessions I was a part of rated:

  Transactional Replication: Beyond The Basics Getting Started In Blogging & Technical Speaking Lightning Talk (Wednesday)
Attendance 145 77 Not Reported
Responses 87 51 30
1. Usefulness 4.22 4.18 4.23
2. Presentation Skills 4.47 4.59 4.63
3. Subject Knowledge 4.57 4.51 4.63
4. Title Accuracy 4.48 4.51 4.67
5. Time Allocation 4.07 4.35 4.5
6. Quality of Materials 4.34 4.18 4.57
Avg. Rating 4.36 4.386 4.539
Overall Rank 101 / 185 97 / 185 51 / 185

My Comments
I previously blogged that I felt a bit overwhelmed at the Summit this year and I think the scores reflect that. Also, the comments I received (which I'll share at the end of this post) demonstrate that there's a wide variety of experience levels attending the Summit and it's hard to please everyone in the room. One person will be thrilled with what you talked about and another will be underwhelmed. Someone won't like the questions that other people asked (or in my case the "observations" that someone kept making. I had one of "those guys" in one of my sessions - I recognized it and did my best to move on but other people weren't to happy about it). It's the nature of the business.

I spent a lot of time analyzing the numbers and there's certainly places that I can improve upon, however it's also important to step back and look at the forest rather than the trees. I presented three sessions at the Summit alongside the best of the best SQL Server Professionals. I'm proud of that, and I hope that I get the opportunity to present again next year.

Attendee Comments
I saved these for last since they're lengthy, but if you're interested here are the comments from each session:

Transactional Replication: Beyond The Basics

  • Too Sql 2000/Sql 2005 rooted.  Good for mixed environments though.
  • Topic was over my head.  Seemed to be helpful to others in attendance.
  • We don't use it.  Over my head.
  • Useful session!
  • Very good overview of a common repl type.
  • Very good!  Great speaker!
  • Was a level 100 presentation.  Was expecting something more deeper.
  • Was true to the title.
  • This could be pre-con seminar.  Lots of stuff.
  • Well organized slides and live examples.
  • Wish we had more time on troubleshooting.
  • Well spoken and focused.
  • Wish we'd held questions to the end.  There were a lot of questions and it really hurt the flow of the presentation.  Plus, some of the questions were really "observations" (people showing off their product knowledge) and those are just annoying.
  • With all the questions, needed the time we had.
  • With just a bit of orientation info, lots of practical info.
  • Would advise Kendall to limit the amount of questions he answers during the workshop.
  • Would have been better to go a little deeper.
  • Would have liked to hear a few case studies.
  • would love more time
  • Thank you!  Great presentation!
  • Well prepared and clear.
  • Straight to the point presentation.  Excellent job by Mr. VanDyke.
  • Good, a much bigger screen was needed.
  • Showed obvious experience.
  • Great practical experience on this topic.
  • Great
  • Good slides and demos.
  • Good pace, very clear, repeated audience questions.
  • Good info, but I'm just getting started with replication.
  • I did expect little more deeper content.
  • Glad he took questions, but needed to control that more, so.....real world examples left in last 10 minutes.
  • excellent session, could even benefit from more time for session
  • demos not set up
  • Cutting into lunch made the crowd leave which I found distracting.  Why does the audience make excessive observations.
  • Clear and concise, nice job.
  • A little better job aboout holding questions and getting through the presentation.
  • fantastic presentation
  • Speaker can presentation on point 5 interesting.'
  • I expected more advanced topics
  • I'm mostly interested in this topic but do not use it frequently.
  • Rated between 4 & 5.  Very good.
  • probably a little long
  • Plenty of time.
  • Please provide more topics on replication.
  • Overall very good.  Would like to learn more.
  • I thought the session would cover a lot more troubleshooting but it only covered 15 minutes.
  • Obtained a couple bits of new info, but majority was information I already knew.
  • Nice to see two real experts.
  • Need more time.
  • Kendal was excellent.
  • Kendal is just awesome!
  • IMHO he could engage audience more.
  • Not very advanced given the title/abstract.
  • Found some things I can use right away.

Getting Started In Blogging & Technical Speaking

  • Some actual blog posts would have helped showing negative and postive comments.
  • This has nothing to do with my dailyenvironment
  • This is a great topic and would make a very interesting series for the Prof. Dev. VC, or even a pre/post con allwoing some of the nuts and bolts of blogging to be covered.
  • :)
  • Wasn't needed as it as a very interactive session.
  • A little to long
  • Slightly chaotic, but I liked all of the different opinions.  Good interaction with the audience.
  • Very fun and informative session-thank you.
  • Round table/Panel was a good idea.
  • Really great session, hit the nail on the head o waht I was looking for.
  • poor lighting on speaker
  • "Expert panel was nice, but not on Kilt day :)
  • Feedback; Probably a few too many MVP's"
  • Great forum with all the speakers, awesome feedback
  • Great Session.
  • Great sessiopn.  Best so far. I like the panel format.
  • Great Stuff-Thanks much!!! Tom
  • "Great to meet the speakers/bloggers
  • I will definately be checking some of them out."
  • Could of gone on longer.
  • Great! the stories told were most helpful in confidence.
  • I didn't really hear anything new that I hadn't heard before.
  • Lots of additonal people giving excellent info!
  • Love the variety of viewpoints from the Panel-added depth.
  • Mostly Useless
  • No handouts,
  • Panel was perhaps too large at first, but enjoyed the panel.
  • "I came for the talk, I stayed for the buck woody show! The buck woody left and I stayed anyway! Great talk."
  • Did a great job keeping things moving.

Lightning Talk (Wednesday)

  • Some good, some bad. Would love to see more, though overall escellent! I really think this could be amazing - 5 mins can be a deep dive...but the fun talks were really cool. I thought the virtualization was a great 'dive' but all were awesome.
  • One of the best sessions i've been today.
  • Joe Webb - indexes - good. Denny Cherry - DB Shrinking - a bit too short. Andy Leonard - SSIS - excellent impromptu. John Sterret -Profiler - good; Chuck Heinzelman - Excellent; Jonathan Kayhaias - Good; Kendal VanDyke - PROF. Dev - Excellent; Allen White - Things change - excellent.
  • It really is too brief for day-to-day but can give ideas of topics to look into.
  • i love lightning talks! great concept. need more!!
  • I like the 'lightning' format very much.
  • Some of it was useful, some was not. All was interesting. What about a similar thing where a first session would highlight later sessions to give people an idea of what to expect beyond the abstract?
  • I enjoyed it but the bar could probably be raised.
  • Hot in here!
  • Great selection of speakers and topics. Great format.
  • great format. perfect time slot right after lunch when it's hard to keep awake; the short sessions keep attention.
  • Fun. Enjoyed.
  • fun!
  • and hilarious
  • i didnt expect much in this aspect.
  • this was a great idea! it was g9ood yesterday but even better today. allen may need to do everyone's deck.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Social Leadership And The SQL Community

2010 is rapidly coming to a close and in retrospect this has been a fantastic year of growth for the SQL Server Community. Many well known people have made the move to new jobs. Even more SQL Server professionals have joined the community on Twitter. On the PASS front there have been 32 SQLSaturdays, 3 24 Hours of PASS events, and the "Best Summit Ever". That all these things have happened during the worst economic times this generation has seen is remarkable.

Unfortunately 2010 has not been as kind to others. We probably all know someone who has been let go from a job, has a house in foreclosure, or is experiencing some kind of financial or personal difficulty due to the economy. Food bank resources are lower than ever with more and more people turning to them to keep food on the table. Every day at the Summit I noticed people resorting to makeshift cardboard shelters and begging just to survive a cold Seattle night while I walked to get breakfast or attend a vendor sponsored dinner. Chris Shaw noticed it too. It's heartbreaking to see and I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in their position.

Social Leadership
During the 2010 PASS Summit keynotes it was stated that PASS wants to be looked to for thought leadership. Given the success that the SQL Server Community has had despite the current economic downturn I think it appropriate that we also be looked to for social leadership.

I believe every event that PASS holds should include some way of giving back to the immediate surrounding community. The team behind SQLSaturday #52 in Colorado held a food drive where every attendee that donated a can of food was entered into a special prize drawing. I learned today that SQLSaturday #62 in Tampa (Jan 15, 2011) will also include a food drive. These are two excellent examples of social leadership in action and I challenge every SQLSaturday event team to consider doing something similar.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
As I thought about Chris's comments and my own experiences at the Summit I came to one conclusion: at next year's Summit we need to do something. I've reached out to Chris and he has agreed to help me. We're brainstorming on different things we can do; for example, there's an organization in Orlando that makes care packages to distribute to the homeless which include daily essentials. Maybe we do the same - how much do you think someone would appreciate a gift card for dinner and a blanket to keep warm during the cold night? I would gladly give up a free beer or trip the the buffet line if it meant someone in need would get a warm meal instead. Unfortunately that's not practical but here's an idea that is: if everyone who attended the Summit donated $1 we could assemble 200 packages at $15 each to give out. What a huge difference that could make!

A Call For Your Help
This isn't about politics, race, gender, or religion. This is simply about being socially responsible. I believe there are other people in the SQL community who feel the same way that Chris and I do and want to do something too.

What we are asking for right now is simple - ideas.  What can we do to help the local Seattle community at next year's Summit? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Of course we'd also love for you to commit to joining us in doing something. If you're interested, let me know by leaving a comment below, send me an email, or reach me on Twitter (@SQLDBA). Whether it's an idea or a bigger commitment, I look forward to hearing what you think.