Ready for PASS Summit 2015?

PASS Summit 2015

There are only a few weeks left until PASS Summit 2015! Are you as excited as I am!? :D

Tips for PASS Summit First-Timers
First of all: Hi to you! :) PASS Summit is a fun, crazy and amazing event and I hope you get as much out of the week as you possibly can. It can all seem very overwhelming at first, especially if you’re new to the SQL Server community. But don’t worry! The SQL Server community is the best community in the world, and we’re happy to welcome you to the #SQLFamily.

Tip #1: Twitter

If you don’t already have a Twitter account, get one! It’s a great way to get the latest news about what’s happening, connect with attendees, and keep in touch with everyone when you get back home. Follow @sqlpass and use the hashtags #SQLPass, #Summit15 and #SQLFirstTimers to make sure everyone can see your tweets. I recommend using Tweetdeck to organize content into columns, for example a column just for the hashtags mentioned above. It makes it so much easier to use Twitter.

Tip #2: Say “hi!”

I know, I know, I know. People are scary. It can be terrifying to look up from your phone, step out of your comfort zone and approach someone you don’t know. Do it anyway! You will meet so many interesting people, and you will get so much more out of your PASS Summit experience. Maybe it will become a life-changing experience like it did for me and so many others? You won’t know unless you go for it :)

A tip is to look at people’s name badges and ribbons. It will tell you where they’re from, if they’re first-timers, if they’re speaking, if they’re chapter leaders and so on. If you get completely stuck and feel completely awkward and feel like running away, like I have on many occasions, just point at the name badge and read something on it with a question mark at the end. “Summit Volunteer…?” “BimlUser…?” “MVP…?” – and off you go! ;)

Here’s a short list of questions to get you started:
• How was your trip to PASS Summit?
• How is Seattle compared to where you’re from?
• How did you get started working with SQL Server?
• What did you think of the keynote / session / luncheon?
• Which sessions are you planning to attend?
• Which session has been your favorite so far?
• You’re a first-timer as well! What has been your favorite part of PASS Summit?
And so on. I’m sure you can add a hundred more to the list! :)

Tip #3: Attend the evening events and don’t eat alone

I know, I’m really pushing this whole “network and be social” thing, aren’t I? :) We all need some quiet time, but try to join someone for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are always someone who are too shy to sit down at a table and introduce themselves, why don’t you join them instead? The Women In Technology and Birds of a Feather luncheons are great events where you can learn and eat at the same time. Finally, attend the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor Reception and Community Appreciation Party where there’s more food, drinks and lots of people having fun. If you’re not done for the night, there are plenty of after hour events organized by and for the community. Have you heard of #SQLKaraoke? It’s a thing. You must experience it once during PASS Summit ;)

Tip #4: Hang out in the Community Zone

There are comfortable bean bags, power outlets and always something going on. You’ll usually find a bunch of people who are active in the community running user groups, SQLSaturdays and virtual chapters. This is the best place to hear how you can keep learning when you get back from PASS Summit. Also, did I mention fun? This year there will be a TeaSQL event for tea lovers, you might spot some crazy costumes and kilts, or you can try juggling said bean bags :)

Tip #5: Get even more tips for first-timers

Attend the PASS Summit first-timers events to get even more tips and meet other first-timers. Read Edwin Sarmiento’s great first-timers guide and read all the blog posts by other members of the SQL Server community. And don’t forget to use Twitter. There are some great #PASSAdvice for all attendees, and just ask if you have any questions!

See you in Seattle!
Enjoy your week, make new friends and learn lots of cool new things. I hope you have a fantastic time in Seattle, and I hope to talk to you there! Please come and say hi if you see me, and I hope to read your tweets :) See you soon!

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Biml in Belgium at SQL Server Days 2015

SQL Server Days 2015 - Cathrine WilhelmsenLast week I visited Belgium for the first time to attend and speak at my first SQL Server Days 2015. It was a truly great event, and I would like to say a huge thank you to the organizers and volunteers for making it a wonderful couple of days for speakers and attendees!

The venue was spectacular, but unfortunately none of my pictures do it justice. Take a look at the great pictures on the SQL Server Days Facebook page instead. I loved the huge open area in the middle where everyone could meet during breaks, and I was so happy there was unlimited coffee and chocolate! :) The rooms were all unique and fun to present in. One room looked like a library, another like a bar, and I presented in the room that was decorated like a train station – with trains in it!

I presented my Don’t Repeat Yourself – Agile SSIS Development with Biml and BimlScript session. It is based on my Biml introduction session, but included some of the more advanced features like C# classes / methods and Transformers in Mist. My attendees were a mix of people who were completely new to Biml, people who had tried basic Biml and people who had already created advanced Biml frameworks. It was a bit tricky to cover everything for everyone in just one hour, and I know I went too fast through a couple of demos, but I hope it wasn’t a waste of time for those of you who attended :)

The slide deck is available on SlideShare, and I have uploaded all the demo files for you to go through at your own pace. Some instructions are included in the README.txt file, and feel free to contact me with any questions. I will continue to update the demo files with new and improved examples. You can always find the latest version on my Biml Resources and References page.

SQL Server Days 2015 - Speakers
Speakers! What a great bunch of people :)

SQL Server Days 2015 SQL Server Days 2015 - Room 4
First picture: Attendees eating lunch. Second picture: The room I presented in, wow!

Thank you so much for having me, and I hope I can come back in 2016! :)

356labs – Presentation Design for Technical Presentations

Technical presentations vary from introductions for beginner audiences (where it is more about the why than the how), to deep dives for expert audiences (where it is all about the details). Some speakers prefer a more fast-paced and inspirational presentation style, while others spend more time on content and have a more informational presentation style.

A 5-minute lightning talk is completely different than a full-day workshop, but they have one thing in common: The content should be delivered in the best way possible so the audience leaves with new inspiration, new ideas and new knowledge.

Presentation design is not just about making things pretty. It is about making content understandable and communicating effectively. It is about creating a logical flow and a story that grabs the attention of the audience, keeps them engaged, and helps them remember the content when they leave.

Which of these two slides are you most likely to remember?

Presentation Design - Bad? Presentation Design - Good?

Presentation design is important. But let’s face it. It can also be really difficult and time-consuming!

I have a tiny designer living inside me and I love spending hours tweaking my slide decks, finding new fonts, searching for pictures and creating illustrations for my content. Presentation design is important to me, I enjoy the process, and I always try to improve and learn more.

But what if you don’t enjoy tweaking pixels as much as I do?

356labs is a presentation design agency that focus on creating high-quality slide decks, and also offers training on presentation design and presentation skills. They can help you make things pretty and understandable.

It was launched earlier this week by Boris Hristov (@BorisHristov), one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to presentation design for technical presentations. (Also check out his Presentation Design webinar and Introduction to Presentation Design course on Pluralsight.)

I’m a pixel-perfect control freak with OCD tendencies, but if there is one person I would trust to create a presentation for me – it’s Boris. I can’t wait to see the amazing presentations that 356labs will create in the future! Good luck :)

SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 Summary and Pictures

Thank you for making SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 a huge success!
After many months and countless hours of planning, it’s hard to believe that the second SQLSaturday in Oslo is over. It was a huge success thanks to all our organizers, speakers, volunteers, sponsors and attendees – thank you! I’m so proud of everything we accomplished, and I hope everyone had a great time :)

SQLSaturday #414 Oslo 2015 Pictures

Pictures from the event
A special thank you to Rodney and Erik who were our photographers during the event, and to Pål for sharing some of his great pictures!

• Rodney Kidd (@RodJKidd) on Flickr
• Erik Flateby on OneDrive
• Pål Hellesnes (@bedreInnsikt) on Flickr
• Cathrine Wilhelmsen (@cathrinew) on OneDrive
• Johan Ludvig Brattås (@intoleranse) on OneDrive
• Bjørn Wang (@wabby) on OneDrive
• Boris Hristov (@BorisHristov) on Facebook
• Collection on OneDrive

An international event in Oslo
A total of 164 attendees out of 196 registered showed up during a sunny day in Oslo. Did you know that we had attendees from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Germany, Austria and England, as well as from all parts of Norway? On top of that, we had speakers coming in from Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland, Portugal, USA and Norway. Crazymazing!

Pre-conference workshops
This year we decided to organize two pre-conference workshops (precons) on Friday before the main SQLSaturday event. David Peter Hansen (@DPHansen) presented Understanding SSIS Internals and Performance Tuning for 22 SSIS developers, and Margarita Naumova presented A Practical Approach for Troubleshooting Performance Problems for 21 DBAs. It was a great addition to the main event, and we plan to have two or three precons next year as well – and we plan to let you guys decide which ones :)

See you next year?
We hope you enjoyed SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 and that we’ll see you and your coworkers again next year! Follow us on twitter (@SQLSatOslo) and make sure you join SQL Server User Group Norway for more free training and networking while you’re waiting for SQLSaturday Oslo 2016 :)

Costumes for Charity at PASS Summit 2015

Argenis Without Borders at PASS Summit 2014If you attended PASS Summit 2014, you probably noticed the Rainbow Unicorn Hoodie, the Fluffy Rainbow Leggings, the Rainbow Wings and the I ♥ Unicorns ribbons. It was the result of Argenis Without Borders and the SQL Server community raising over $13000 (!) for Doctors Without Borders.

And they’re doing it again with Argenis Without Borders 2.0! Please help support a good cause and let’s have some fun while doing it :)

PASS Summit 2015 is close to Halloween, so this year it’s all about Costumey-Crazy Hat-Crazy Fun. #SQLFamily raised over $1000 and reached the first goal in just 1 hour (!) and we all look forward to seeing Argenis in a Ted costume :D

The next goal is $5000. A whole bunch of people from the SQL Server community, myself included, will dress up in costumes and/or hats during PASS Summit when we reach this goal. At $10000, one lucky donor will win a PS4 or Xbox One. (Hey, even if you don’t care about supporting a good cause, donate anyway for the chance to win a really cool prize!) And there are more fun things to look forward to if we do better than last year. Can I tempt you with some embarrassing dancing to beautiful trombone music?

This is such a fun and silly event that it can be easy to forget what it is all about. We can help save lives. Imagine what Doctors Without Borders could do if each of the 5000 PASS Summit attendees donated just $5? What if we decide to skip a drink during PASS Summit and raise the amount to $10? So little, yet so much.

Donate to Argenis Without Borders 2.0 today! :)

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