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Category: Community and Events

Community! Events! These are two of my favorite things :) I love my #SQLFamily as much as I love teaching and sharing knowledge. And what better way to combine the two than staying involved in the community while participating in as many events as I can?

In this category, I write about upcoming events I’m SUPER EXCITED about and announce where I will be speaking next. I also link to resources like slide decks and videos from sessions I have presented, write recaps and post pictures from events I have attended, and share tips and advice for others who want to get involved by volunteering or speaking.

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 on my Biml Resources and Reference page 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! :)

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!

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 :)

I’m a Microsoft SQL Server MVP

Microsoft SQL Server MVP (Most Valuable Professional)I spent most of July 1st relaxing in the sun, reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and enjoying my vacation. I spent the rest of July 1st reading, re-reading and re-re-reading the e-mail I received from Microsoft congratulating me with my first MVP Award.

On July 1st 2015, I became a Microsoft SQL Server MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in Norway.

Unfortunately my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy did not have Don’t Panic written in large, friendly letters on the cover. So I panicked a little. I think I may have panicked more than just a little. Actually, I’m pretty sure I panicked a lot:

Sheldon Panicking

You see, I had mixed feelings about becoming an MVP. I am truly honored and thankful, but it is also very intimidating to be part of a group with so many talented people that I admire. I don’t have decades of experience, I’m not a SQL Server expert, I haven’t published any books and I haven’t created any scripts that are used all over the world. Why should I deserve to become an MVP? I panicked a little (or a lot) because I compared myself to those who are years ahead of me down the road, and because it felt like I cut in line in front of amazing people who deserves the award more than me.

So I took a step back and thought about what the MVP Award means to me. To quote Microsoft: MVPs are community leaders who’ve demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft technologies. They share their exceptional passion, real-world knowledge, and technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft.

To me, it’s all about community. I may not be the most experienced SQL Server expert, but I helped restart SQL Server User Group Norway. I was the main organizer of the first SQLSaturday in Oslo and currently organizing the second one. I’ve volunteered and presented sessions online, in Europe and in the US. I blog, I tweet and I do my best to help others.

And I love it. Being recognized by Microsoft and getting a thank you for what I have done this past year means so much to me. Thank you to everyone who has been there for me and believed in me, it means more to me than I can say. Receiving the MVP Award inspires me even more to give back and pay it forward, to keep learning and sharing my knowledge, to help grow the Norwegian SQL Server community.

I’m just getting started :)

SQLCruise Mediterranean 2015

SQLCruise Mediterranean 2015
Happy SQLCruisers!

SQLCruise – Learn. Network. Relax. Grow… Just add water.
I recently attended my first SQLCruise, and trying to summarize a week full of experiences is difficult. Let me skip straight to the important part:

Did I learn anything?

Was it worth it?

Would I attend again?

Continue reading →

Presenting a webinar for the first time

Cathrine Wilhelmsen Presenting a Webinar for the First TimePresenting online is a completely different experience than presenting in-person. When you present online you lose the interaction with the audience, you are unable to read body language or facial expressions to see if they are interested or bored out of their minds, and you get absolutely no feedback on whether or not they understand what you are trying to explain. You have to trust yourself, talk to a screen for an hour, and hope that the technology does not suddenly decide to throw a tantrum and stop working for no reason.

I recently presented a webinar for the first time. It went quite well, but there are many things I want to do better next time. Writing down what I learned will help me improve my own presentation skills and slide decks, but I also hope it can help other new speakers prepare for their first webinar. Please feel free to share your own tips and tricks, I would love to learn from you! :)

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Volunteering and Speaking at SQLBits XIV

SQLBits XIV Superhero Edition was my first SQLBits experience, and it was a truly amazing week!

I want to start with a massive thank you to the organizers: Darren Green, Simon Sabin, James Rowland-Jones, Chris Testa-o’neill, Allan Mitchell, Jonathan Allen and Annette Allen. You guys did one heck of a job to make this the best conference in the universe! :) I also want to say thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers and speakers who made this a great event. And to all the attendees, I hope you had a blast and that I’ll see you again next year!

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SQLKonferenz 2015

SQLKonferenz - Name BadgeI spent the past couple of days in Darmstadt, Germany for Deutsche SQL Server Konferenz 2015. This was the first time I spoke at a conference (not a SQLSaturday), and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I want to thank PASS Deutschland for doing a fantastic job to make this a great event!

The one thing I would like to have changed is that I should have learned German before going to Darmstadt :) The quality of speakers, sessions and topics covered was very impressive, and there were many sessions in German that I wanted to see. But I can’t complain at all, I got to see some great sessions and have learned new things that I look forward to trying.

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Tribal Awards 2014 – Best New Community Voice!

I won! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

And huge congratulations to Andy, Ginger, Oz and Luan for being nominated, you all deserved it! :)

Tribal Award 2014

Winning the 2014 Tribal Award for Best New Community Voice means more to me than I can explain. 2014 was a difficult year for me personally, but it was also an amazing year where I discovered how much I love being involved in the SQL community. We organized the first SQLSaturday in Oslo, restarted SQL Server User Group Norway, I started volunteering and speaking at events, and I received the PASS Outstanding Volunteer Award.

2014 ended on a high when I found out I was nominated for a Tribal Award, and actually winning… Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start 2015! :) I’m so happy, so honored, so proud, and so thankful. I went “SQUEEEEE!” and then I cried a bit. Now I have a huge smile on my face and I’m even more motivated than ever to do what I can for the SQL community in 2015. Let’s do this! 2015 is going to be a fantastic year :)

SQLHangout #26 – Biml in the Real World

SQLHangoutBack in June I did a #SQLHangout with Boris (@brshristov) about Biml that I called “Blabbering about Biml“. (Boris is much nicer, he called it “Biml. An Introduction.“)

Yesterday we did another fun #SQLHangout about Biml. This time we were joined by João Lopes (@SQLSniper), Rasmus Reinholdt (@RasmusReinholdt) and Régis Baccaro (@regbac) – great guys that I admire. It was interesting to hear how we use Biml in different ways and what we would like to see happen in 2015. I look forward to seeing all of them again and learn from their experiences!

Five people from Bulgaria, Denmark, Portugal and Norway talking about Biml – isn’t that awesome? :)

SQL Server User Group Norway 2014 Summary

This has been a great year for SQL Server User Group Norway. It has been fun to see the user group come back to life and I’m very excited to share some news about our plans for 2015! But first, a summary of what happened in 2014.

SQL Server User Group Norway 2014 JanuaryAfter getting our new website up and running we kicked off the year on January 23rd with a Hekaton presentation by Erik Flateby, and what we called an “interactive session” by me. I talked about PASS and everything it has to offer, showed our new website and how to join our local chapter, and did a survey to figure out who our members were and and what they expected from the user group. Most of the members worked in BI.

On March 5th we had Erin Stellato (@erinstellato) do a remote session for us about Extended Events, and Erik Flateby talked about Columnstore Indexes. Erin did a great job presenting without seeing her audience, and it was a good session even with a few technical problems on our side. Lesson learned: have two-way video for our next remote session.

Shortly after, on March 31st, Hans Olav Norheim (@norheim) presented Azure SQL Databases. He had traveled from the US to be part of the SQL Server 2014 launch event in Oslo and said yes to present for our user group. We were slightly disappointed that we didn’t have as many attendees as we had hoped for. We thought it was because we didn’t promote the event enough or because our meeting was so close to another SQL Server event where Hans Olav presented a similar topic. Lesson learned: Promoting too much is better than not promoting enough!

SQL Server User Group Norway 2014 MayOn May 12th it was time for my favorite event of the year, the Biml techie meetup with Varigence and Rehfeld :) I thought it was an amazing session, but there weren’t as many attendees as we had hoped for – again. (However, that was when I decided that I wanted to spread the word about Biml and start speaking, so for me personally it was sort of a good thing.) The previous meeting and this meeting were both scheduled on Mondays, and another lesson learned: Schedule meetings later in the week so you can send reminders a day or two before the meeting.

We had a long summer break and started the fall season with a massive success called SQLSaturday #317 Oslo on August 30th. Did you know that we had to say no to a user group meeting with Brian Knight (@brianknight) that following week because it was too close to our SQLSaturday, and we just didn’t have the time and resources to promote and organize a meeting? That was such a strange experience for us, and we all wished we could have said yes. (Brian, if you would like to come back another time, I promise we will have time and resources to plan a proper meeting!)

In September we joined Meetup and moved our meetings to our new “home”, Teknologihuset (House of Communities), two of the best decisions we made in 2014. We reached more people through Meetup, and it is a great tool for organizers with all its features. I do have to admit it is a bit confusing having members spread out over the PASS chapter website, Meetup and LinkedIn. It takes a bit of extra time to schedule meetings and get the correct information out to everyone without feeling like we’re spamming our members, but we’re learning. So far it seems like it’s better to have too much information than not enough. My favorite part about moving to Teknologihuset is that it is such a cool and unique concept, a whole building dedicated to technical communities that we can use for free on evenings!

SQL Server User Group Norway 2014 SeptemberWe were thrilled to have Stacia Misner (@StaciaMisner) kick off the fall season with a presentation about Multidimensional vs. Tabular for us on September 24th. She spent some days in Oslo doing other events and also brought Dean (@mr_stacia) with her, so I named it the Stacia Misner Week :) A new experience for the board members of our user group was that we didn’t have to look for a meeting sponsor, we had some sponsor funds left from SQLSaturday Oslo to cover food and drinks. One of the goals of a SQLSaturday is to be fundraisers for the local user group(s), and I’m happy that we were careful with how we spent our money. It is a great feeling knowing that you can organize user group meeting without worrying about sponsors.

Just a few weeks later we had another familiar face visit our user group. Peter Myers presented Data Mining on October 13th. I couldn’t make it to the meeting, but Peter got great feedback from the attendees. It was great to see many new people sign up for our meetings after the summer, and to see the average attendance rate go up.

On November 20th we welcomed our first new, local speaker! Marius Pedersen (@soylentshell) presented Maintenance Plans. One of our goals in SQL Server User Group Norway is to grow new speakers. We want to give new speakers a chance to practice presentations before submitting to larger events, and of course we want to build a community of sharing knowledge. I was so happy that Marius wanted to present, and I hope to see more new and local speakers in 2015. Try it one time, maybe you’ll get addicted! :)

SQL Server User Group Norway 2014 DecemberThe last speaker of the year was Marco Russo (@marcorus) who took us on a tour inside Power Query on December 1st. We had three new attendee records! Most attendees registered, most attendees who showed up, and most first-time attendees. One lesson learned with Meetup is that it is very easy to RSVP yes for anyone, and this can make it difficult to plan meetings. Our meetings have had at least 25% fewer attendees show up than the number of registered attendees, so we always count the actual attendees during meetings.

What a year! I’m so proud of our user group. In May Tone S. Hansson (@ToneHansson) stepped up as the new Chapter Leader, and she has done a phenomenal job. Just wait until you see what happens in 2015! Say thank you the next time you see her, she deserves it :) In November Rune Ovlien Rakeie (@runeo34) joined the board, and we were happy to welcome a proper DBA to the team. Let’s make 2015 an even better year for SQL Server User Group Norway! :D