Tuesday, November 8, 2011

PASS Board Of Directors Interview

I had my telephone interview for the PASS Board of Directors this afternoon and I'm cautiously optimistic that I did well enough to make it on the final slate. We had an hour booked but ended up only taking 30 minutes - I'm not sure if that's good, bad, or just is what it is. I prepared by brushing up on the PASS Bylaws and 2011 & 2012 budget (available on the governance section of the PASS website) which certainly helped with some of the questions I was asked. Overall I think I did OK; I'll find out for sure November 18 when all the candidates are notified of their rankings.

In the interest of full disclosure I'll point out that I know everyone on the Nomination Committee at some professional or personal level, though I suspect that's the case for most of the other candidates as well. That said, I'm confident that they'll be able to put relationships aside to provide a fair assessment of all the candidates. It's not an easy task, especially if it means there's a potential for delivering disappointing news to someone you know.

With the interview over I've done everything I can to make it onto the ballot. Make it or not, I'm satisfied with the changes in the process made by the Election Review Committee earlier this year. Hopefully that means PASS election controversy is a thing of the past!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I'm Running For The PASS Board Of Directors

If you read this week's onnector email you may have noticed that I'm one of the six candidates who have applied for the PASS Board of Directors this year. Campaigning hasn't officially started yet - the Nomination Committee is still in the review process - but I'd like to at least share a little bit more about who I am and why I made the decision to apply.

Meet Me

Born, raised, and still a Florida native, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Florida State University in 1999. I started working as a VB 6 developer where I was first exposed to SQL Server 7.0. It didn't take long before I shifted from writing VB to writing TSQL. The more I learned, the more I got hooked, and from that point on I've always considered myself a DBA. Over the years I've managed both servers and people and learned a ton both technically and professionally.

Married for 12 years, my wife (also a Florida native, a rarity these days!) and I have been blessed with 3 kids. I'm a huge space geek and living in Orlando - just 45 minutes from Kennedy Space Center - helps feed my hobby. When I'm not in front of a computer or chasing rockets I'm either busy doing something PASS related or helping out with Cub Scouts where my wife and I run our son's Webelos den.

Now that you know more about me...

Why I Want To Serve On The PASS Board

Going back about six years ago, I had no idea who or what PASS was except that their logo was on the SQL 2005 system views poster from SQL Server Magazine. In 2006 I moved to Orlando and a coworker introduced me to Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter). That introduction opened the door to start attending OPASS, speaking, and blogging. Between then and now I went from being a consumer - your everyday average DBA who gets the job done - to being a contributor by speaking at SQLSaturdays, User Groups, and the PASS Summit, starting a User Group (MagicPASS), helping plan a brand new conference (SQLRally) bearing the PASS brand, and most recently was recognized as a Microsoft MVP.

Along the way I've had the chance to open doors for people in the same way that Andy opened the door for me. There is an incredible sense of pride and fulfillment in seeing the same spark ignite in someone the way it did for me. PASS has been an enabler for me to get where I am today and I feel like I'm ready to pay it forward by helping to give as many other people those same opportunities as I can. So with that in mind I'm running to help carry the torch forward - to help PASS do what it does even better.

What's Next

If you haven't visited the 2011 election portal yet I encourage you to do so. Between now and November 22 everyone who submitted an application has to complete a personal interview. Once the interviews are done the Nomination Committee will recommend a slate of candidates to the current Board of Directors. Upon approving the slate campaigning and voting is scheduled to run from December 6-20 and the election results will be announced on December 28.

I hope that you pay attention to the elections and cast your vote when it comes time!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My PASS Summit 2011 Experience

The 2011 PASS Summit is in the rear view mirror (has it really been almost three weeks now?)...and as always what an incredible week it was! Here were some of the highlights of the week for me:

The People

The number of old friends and new people I see at the Summit every year is at the top of the experience list for me. There's simply no other time or place where so many SQL people from all walks of life are gathered together. DBAs tend to be few in number at most shops so when we all get together at the Summit it's a great opportunity to talk shop, share stories, and build valuable friendships.  I was hard pressed to go anywhere without running into someone I knew from a SQLSaturday, user group meeting, previous Summit, or who I've gotten to know on Twitter. The running joke is that it takes you 30 minutes to go 50 feet at the Summit, but it's really not a joke; with that many people there it's easy to get wrapped up in an engaging conversation with someone and lose track of time.

The Sessions

I was privileged to be selected to deliver two sessions this year and really enjoyed giving both of them. I didn't count how many people came to each (hoping that the program committee will be able to provide that when all the session evals have been tabulated) but the rooms were 3\4 full for each session so I know I had a decent turnout for both. I received positive comments from people after both so I think I did OK...but like all the other speakers I'm anxious to see the evals.

The Announcements

To me announcements  are like getting presents at Christmas - you know they're coming, don't always know what they are, and most of the time you're really excited about what you discover. There were no shortage of announcements from Microsoft at this year's Summit: the SQL 2012 name and launch date, the new features for working with Hadoop (including a Windows based Hadoop distribution), an ODBC Linux drive, a new SQL Azure CTP, and Power View (aka "Crescent").

Not to be left out, Red Gate launched one of the coolest contests I've ever seen: DBA in Space. I grew up a space geek so you'd better believe I'm excited about the chance to win a suborbital flight!

The Donations

IMG_4565_800x600Last year I left the Summit with mixed feelings - one of the reasons being that I saw a lot of homeless and needy people around downtown. I committed to doing something to try and help in some small way this year and the result was SQLGive, a campaign to collect toiletries and clothes. With help from Chris Shaw (Blog | Twitter) we were able to set up collection bins at vendors' booths in the expo hall on Wednesday & Thursday and at the bookstore on Friday. Thanks to the generosity of many attendees we had close to 50 lbs. of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, socks, gloves, and even some food that were donated to Seattle's Union Gospel Mission.

I want to thank Idera, Quest, Perpetual Technologies, SSWUG, and SQLSentry again for letting us put collection bins at their booths. I also want to thank Tom Roush for his help delivering everything to the UGM dropoff point. I think the best way to relay the appreciation that people feel from receiving even a small amount of help is the story that Tom shared with me afterwards:

When I went there to drop the things off – there was a guy standing out there who helped me to get the stuff into the place - he looked nice, clean shaven, and I asked, "do you work here?" – he laughed, said no, then helped me get the stuff in. Later, he wanted me to know how much it meant for me to have asked that question.  Seems he'd only been off the streets less than a week, and was just amazed, and obviously touched, that I'd think he was a "regular" person.

The End

OK so this wasn't a highlight, but it could be next year. I don't like how the Summit ends; There's so much excitement at the beginning but barely a whimper at the end. On any other night it's easy to find a group of people to go to dinner with, hang out with, etc...yet I had a hard time finding people to go to dinner with on Friday night. I think we need some kind of closing event as a way for people who are still there to say goodbye to everyone and end on a high note.

I'd like to see everyone get together in the dining hall for some final words from the PASS president and a champagne toast to say goodbye. Maybe next year I'll convince someone to give this a try. :-)

Final Thoughts

The Summit is one of the highlights of my year. I meet so many people and learn so much that I don't want it to end. I'm already excited about the 2012 Summit, and I hope that you are too!