Help! My computer is dead and I’m supposed to do a demo-based presentation!

You’ve worked for days, weeks, maybe even months on your session. You’ve rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed, triple-checked every single demo, memorized ZoomIt keyboard shortcuts and timed your presentation. You have all your programs open and ready, cleared all personal information from your start screen and turned off notifications. You’ve brought power, USB hub, adapters to HDMI and VGA, mouse, wireless presenter with laser pointer, tablet with stopwatch, water, swag for attendees and even notes on paper so you won’t forget the things you don’t have in your slides. The room is full of people staring at you. You’re all set and ready to present.

…and then your computer won’t connect to the projector.

Your computer does not want to connect to the project with your HDMI adapter. Your computer does not want to connect to the projector with your VGA adapter. Your computer does not want to allow remote connections even when you’ve told it to. Your computer is all “yes, I do in fact notice I’m connected to a second screen, but I’d prefer some personal time right now, thanks”.

HELP! PANIC!

Sheldon Panicking

What would you do? Have you been in the same kind of situation? What did you do?

This happened to me during my second ever SQLSaturday presentation, which was my first SQLSaturday presentation in a foreign country. I was nervous and excited and really looking forward to presenting something I think is truly awesome, and then nothing went as I had planned.

Luckily I had a backup plan. I had hidden slides with screen shots and explanations in my presentation and I could go through the slides instead of doing live demos. However, I had not rehearsed or timed my presentation without live demos. Since I had already lost 10-15 minutes at the start of my session, I rushed through my presentation a bit too fast and had 10-15 minutes left at the end.

I decided to ask who were interested in seeing the demos on my computer, and I was happy to see quite a few hands in the air! I finished my presentation and thanked the attendees for being so patient, and then those who wanted a break could leave early while those who wanted to see the demos came up on stage.

Backup plan: Show demos on your computerIt was not the best way to do a demo, for sure! But it worked out better than not showing anything. I sat on the floor so the attendees could look over my shoulder while I showed them how things actually worked. (And I even got to show my new Zoomit skills!)

I was happy to hear “oh!” and “aaah!” while doing the demos, and I was also happy to get a lot of questions. I think it was less scary for attendees to ask questions in a small group than raising their hands during a presentation. It was also great to hear attendees discuss with each other and share ideas on how to use Biml!

Hopefully the attendees learned something even though things didn’t go as planned. And for me? I definitely learned a lot!

Always:
– Have screen shots of your demos in your presentation
– Have a backup of your presentation on a removable drive
– Rehearse your session without demos to get your timing and transitions right
– Ask organizers if you can try to set up your laptop as soon as you arrive, don’t wait until right before your session

If possible:
– Create videos of important demos and keep them on the removable drive
– Have a second laptop with your presentation and demos
– Team up with another speaker to set up your demos on each others’ laptops

And of course, don’t forget the obvious:
– Power
– Adapters to HDMI / VGA
– USB hub
– Mouse
– Wireless presenter with laser pointer
– Printout or notes on paper
– Water
– Tablet with Stopwatch / Watch / Friend with Watch

Outstanding PASS Volunteer for October 2014

Outstanding PASS Volunteer for October 2014A few weeks ago I received the news that I had been nominated as an Outstanding PASS Volunteer for October 2014, and I’m so happy I can finally share my excitement! It’s hard to find the right words, but this truly means a lot to me. I’m deeply thankful, proud and honored that someone took time out of their busy schedule to nominate me.

Exactly one year ago I wrote a post called A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013. I wrote about my hopes for 2014, and at the time they were just hopes and dreams that some day, some day I would be able to give something back to this great community. At the time I thought I was dreaming big, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would do so much in a year that I would be nominated for an outstanding volunteer award.

Getting involved in the PASS and SQL Server community changed my life. It gave me something meaningful to do, and along the way I have visited new places, made new friends and accomplished things I thought I couldn’t do. I have grown so much as a person this year, and it wouldn’t have happened without PASS events and all the wonderful volunteers who gave me the chance to help out.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, I look forward to seeing you soon at another event! :)

Great event – SQLSaturday #341 Porto

I was honored to be selected as a speaker for SQLSaturday #341 in Porto, Portugal this weekend, and I had such a great time that I hope to come back next year for SQLSaturday Lisbon or SQLSaturday Porto.

First of all I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who organized and volunteered at this event. You guys did an amazing job and I hope you finally got some sleep after working around the clock for a week! Niko, Paulo, Ivan, Rui, André, Pedro, Vitor, Quilson and Nuno – thank you. I also want to thank Ines for being our photographer, she was running around everywhere all day taking pictures and filming. I can’t wait to see the result! :)

SQLSaturday #341 Porto Speakers and Organizers
SQLSaturday #341 Porto Speakers and Organizers

This was a very special and memorable weekend for me. It was my first trip to Portugal and the first time I was selected as a speaker for a SQLSaturday other than my own event. It was a very different experience being there as a speaker compared to being an attendee, volunteer or organizer. As an attendee and volunteer I want to learn as much as possible and help out where needed, as an organizer I’m in the middle of a crazy whirlwind trying to remember everything I need to do, and as a speaker I have one main goal: that the attendees in my session will learn something they can start using in their projects right away.

The most interesting and important experience was when my presentation did not go as I had planned at all. My computer decided that “Nope! I do not want to be friends with the projector today!” and my demo-based session suddenly had no demos at all because I couldn’t use my computer. I panicked for a moment, but did my best using my presentation with screenshots of the demos. At the end of my session I invited those interested to come up on stage and see the demos on my computer. I just hope they learned something even though the session didn’t go as planned.

There was a SQL Clinic with Scott Klein and friends, where most of the speakers were available for an hour or more during the day. This was a great concept, but I think most attendees preferred to attend sessions because not many people showed up. I was happy fellow Biml enthusiast João (@SQLSniper) and I could help one attendee with some tasks he was struggling with at work :) Maybe it would have been better to have it closer to the sponsors and snacks where attendees spent most of their time during breaks? Maybe it just needed a bit more promotion? I hope to see something like this again, it was a great way to meet attendees and share even more knowledge.

The speaker room was located in a separate hallway with direct access to the classrooms, which made it really easy to bring laptops and equipment in and out of the sessions. There was also a coffee bar at the venue where they served the cute, little caffés that are like caffeine shots compared to the liters of coffee I usually drink every day ;) I was also happy to see a lot of activity and pictures on Twitter, that’s always fun!

Except for my session problems it was a great day and a well organized event. The organizers did an amazing job, from an exciting keynote with lots of announcements to the fun end-of-day raffle where international speakers tried to read Portuguese names :)

SQLSaturday #341 Portugal - Beautiful Porto
Beautiful Porto

Thank you all for a great event, thank you for taking such good care of my the whole weekend, and I hope to see you again soon!

Edit columns in Notepad++ with TextFX plugin

Working with data in columns is usually not something you do in a text editor. An application like Excel has a lot more advanced features and is probably more suitable in most cases. However, Notepad++ with the TextFX plugin makes it quick and easy to do simple column editing.

At work we use JIRA for task management. I often have to create new or edit existing tables in task descriptions. Tables are created in a quite visual way by using vertical line | characters. In this example I have a table where I need to change the order of the columns and sort the data. I also use this method when working with CSV files. This is how I do it in a few, simple steps.

Edit Columns in Notepad++
1. Select the character that separates “columns” and copy it to the clipboard (CTRL+C), in this example the vertical line | character is copied to the clipboard.

Edit Columns in Notepad++
2. Select all the text (CTRL+A) and click TextFXTextFX EditLine up multiple lines by (Clipboard Character).

Edit Columns in Notepad++
3. The text is now lined up by the character you selected, in this example the vertical line | character. The text now actually looks like a table with columns.

Edit Columns in Notepad++
4. Hold ALT while you use the mouse to select the “columns” to be moved. You can also hold ALT+SHIFT and use the arrow keys to select instead of using the mouse. Cut the text (CTRL+X).

Edit Columns in Notepad++
5. Hold ALT while you use the mouse to select the “column” where the text should be inserted. You can also hold ALT+SHIFT and use the arrow keys to select instead of using the mouse. In this example you won’t actually select any text, just the empty column at the start of each line where the text should be inserted. Paste the text (CTRL+V).

Edit Columns in Notepad++
6. Select all the text (CTRL+A) and click TextFXTextFX ToolsSort lines case insensitive (at column).

Edit Columns in Notepad++
7. The text is now sorted alphabetically, in this example by the first two “columns”.

Edit Columns in Notepad++
8. Click SearchReplace (CTRL+H), choose Regular expression in the Search Mode and replace all “ +\|” (space, plus sign, backslash, vertical line – do not include quotation marks) with “|” (vertical line – do not include quotation marks). This replaces all instances where there are multiple spaces followed by a vertical line with just a vertical line.

Edit Columns in Notepad++
9. The end result has the same format as the original text, but columns have been moved and data has been sorted.

SQL Server Heroes

T-SQL TuesdayWhat day is it? It’s T-SQL Tuesday again! This time hosted by Tracy McKibben (@RealSQLGuy). Did you know that October 14th is also Ada Lovelace Day? I didn’t know that until I read about this month’s T-SQL Tuesday topic: your heroes. Who do I admire, who inspires me, who do I strive to be like?

Volunteers. The thousands of people who spend their free time organizing events, writing blogs and helping strangers. I remember watching the PASS Summit 2013 introduction video where they counted the volunteer hours and they just kept counting and counting and counting… and counting. 500000+ volunteer hours! Five hundred thousand plus hours! I was shocked. That was the first time I realized that PASS and the SQL Server community was more than just a technical conference.

Thank you, volunteers. All of you. Whether you’re a PASS board of directors member, a blogger, a SQLSaturday room attendant, a superstar speaker or a user group administrator, you’re my heroes in the SQL Server community. Without you, there would be no events, no free training, no community. Thank you for inspiring me to be a volunteer as well.

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