Skip to content

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.

Business Intelligence presentation for The Code Pub Oslo

Cathrine speaking at The Code PubYesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at The Code Pub Oslo, a meetup for women who are interested in IT. It’s a great concept where they get together, learn about new technology, and spend the rest of the evening working on projects. It was their one-year anniversary and in just one year they have grown from 5 to over 130 members.

My presentation was an introduction to Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing, as well as how you can benefit from getting involved in a community like PASS. I like working on presentations because I learn so much from it. It was a bit of a challenge trying to sum up Business Intelligence because there is so much happening and things are changing rapidly. (And I only focused on the Microsoft world!) It was a bit of an eye-opener when I pulled out a book I bought less than two years ago and I realized it was already outdated. So many exciting things have happened in just a couple of years, things like Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning, all the Power BI tools, cloud services and real-time Big Data.

My focus was on what Business Intelligence is, why it’s important, and all the different things you can work with if you pursue a career in Business Intelligence. I explained what Data Warehousing is, and how it is evolving from the traditional to the modern Data Warehouse. I finished my presentation by telling my story of how I’ve gone from being the shy girl who didn’t know anyone to being part of the SQL community, and how life-changing it has been for me.

I hope it was interesting for the attendees, and I hope I’ve inspired some of them to get involved in their own communities. Thank you to Netlight for hosting The Code Pub and for giving me the opportunity to present!

Volunteering at SQLSaturday #337 Oregon

SQLSaturday #337 Oregon Volunteer Name BadgeSQLSaturday #337 Oregon was a great event, and I’m so happy I could be there and help out as a volunteer! Arnie, Paul, Vern, Sopheap, Rob, Theresa and everyone else who spent time working on this event, thank you so much. There were 52 volunteers helping out at this event. 52! That’s amazing. I hope you had a great time and I look forward to seeing you again next year!

Isn’t this one of the coolest name badges you’ve seen? Staff, speakers and volunteers all had name badges like this. Each group had a different color with their own pictures and text on it. The QR code takes you to a website where you can get in touch with the person. They were laminated and the same on both sides, so you didn’t have to worry about it flipping over. You didn’t have to worry about people not seeing it either, because it was large and very visible. I may have to borrow a few ideas from this name badge for our next SQLSaturday :)

My first and last assignment of the day was being a room proctor, but I didn’t actually get to see the session. There were quite a few people who arrived during the first session, so I stayed outside my room guiding them to where they wanted to go. It was nice that the organizers had put up maps of all the session rooms in the hallways, I could help attendees or just show them the map. A quick tip if you’re volunteering like this: don’t be afraid to walk up to people! A simple “hi, how can I help you?” if they look lost, or “hi, which room are you looking for?” if they’re staring at the schedule is all it takes. Most people are happy to ask when you approach them first, but they might not want to bother anyone or they might not even know you’re there to help.

Another tip is to hand out evaluation forms when people walk in and let them know that you’ll collect them at the end of the session. We noticed in Oslo that we got a lot more evaluation forms when we handed them out instead of placing them on the chairs, and it was the same in Portland. Feedback means a lot to speakers, so make sure you get them as much feedback as possible.

In the middle of the day I was assigned to monitor the speaker room, but speakers usually know how to take care of themselves :) I got to attend a session I wanted to see, and also tried to help out where needed. There was a great effort during multiple sessions and breaks to get all the SpeedPASSes printed, sorted and distributed. SpeedPASSes are a great idea, but they have been a major cause of headache at all the SQLSaturdays I’ve attended so far. Many people don’t know about them, many people forget them, and many people don’t have a printer available.

That means you will need a printer and scissors on-site and a dedicated volunteer to manage printing. The SpeedPASS files are named based on the registration number instead of the attendee name, so you will need to cross-check with your registration list to find the right SpeedPASS. There will most likely be a queue and attendees will spend time cutting their SpeedPASS instead of talking to sponsors or attending sessions. In Oslo we printed and cut the SpeedPASSes for all the attendees before the event. Unless I, PASS or SQLSaturday organizers come up with a better idea than SpeedPASSes, I will gladly spend hours next year getting blisters from cutting more SpeedPASSes – if that means that attendees get a better experience.

Speaking at SQLSaturday #337 OregonTurns out I wasn’t just going to be a volunteer that day. When we arrived a friend of mine was asked to do a SQL Excite presentation since they had open slots. These are 5-minute, fast-paced presentations with 20 slides set to advance every 15 seconds. I jokingly told my friend that it would be fun to do a Biml presentation, then I happily walked off to do my volunteer tasks and didn’t think much more of it… until I got a message that he had asked the organizers if I could present instead of him, they had said yes, and I would be speaking in 30 minutes.

O_O

I spent all 30 minutes creating a 5-minute introduction to Biml, and had literally just finished the last slide in the auditorium as I was called up on stage. The presentation was based on my 1-hour Biml session so I knew most of the content, but I had not prepared at all what to say to each slide until I was actually on stage. My timing was off on several slides, and it certainly was a challenge not being able to advance my slides myself, but it was so fun! I absolutely loved it.

Thank you to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to speak. Thank you to my friend who didn’t give me the option to say no, and who also filmed so I could watch my presentation after I had finished. And thank you to the attendees who gave me evaluation forms! My cats seem to be popular.

I hope to see you next year, Portland! Maybe with a proper, prepared session :)

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?

Continue reading →

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 Nunothank 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!

#SQLFamily – Pay It Forward (T-SQL Tuesday #57)

T-SQL TuesdayT-SQL Tuesday #57 is hosted by Jeffrey Verheul (@DevJef) and the topic is #SQLFamily. This is a topic close to my heart and even while writing this I’m all excited to read other stories. I can go on for ages about #SQLFamily, but I’ve decided to focus on one thing: paying it forward.

One year ago I had never heard about #SQLFamily and I didn’t even know the SQL community existed. I knew people wrote blogs and forum posts, I knew some taught classes and others published books, but I was your average employee: I did my job, learned what I had to learn to do my job well, and searched online to find solutions and better ways to do things.

Then I went to PASS Summit 2013 and the experience turned my life upside-down.

What happened? People welcomed me with open arms. They invited me to join them at #SQLKaraoke, introduced me to their friends, told me stories about SQLSaturdays and taught me about the community. They didn’t tell me about #SQLFamily, they were #SQLFamily. Even before I went back home to Norway I decided that I would do whatever I could to bring the SQL community to Norway.

This is an excerpt from the blog post I wrote after PASS Summit 2013: “I hope to attend and volunteer at a SQLSaturday, maybe even help organize one in Oslo. I hope to share my new knowledge with my co-workers and help improve our solutions at work. I hope to learn even more and get to know my new connections better. Maybe I’ll even make my own presentation and be a first-time speaker some day!”

In the ten months since I wrote that, I’ve become a board member of SQL Server User Group Norway, I’ve volunteered at SQLSaturday Copenhagen, I’ve done a SQLHangout video, I’m organizing the first SQLSaturday in Norway, and for the first time I’ll speak in another country at SQLSaturday Portugal. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I’m looking forward to getting to know even more. It’s hard to believe it all started when #SQLFamily members spent a couple of minutes saying “hi” to me. So little, yet so much! The last ten months have been a whirlwind, and I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it.

I’m so thankful for everything I’ve experienced this year. Paying it forward and helping my local community has given me something meaningful to do every day, and because I have so many amazing memories I’m now even more determined to keep paying it forward, and to give back. I’ve experienced first-hand how something someone might not even think of, like a friendly smile and a “join us”, can mean to someone else.

If I can pay it forward to just one first-timer at PASS Summit 2014, to welcome someone to the #SQLFamily… it will be worth the whole trip.

Pay it forward. You can change someone’s life :)

SQLHangout #22 – Blabbering about Biml

SQLHangout

When Boris (@brshristov) invited me to a #SQLHangout I was really honored and couldn’t say no. It’s such a fun idea and I’ve really enjoyed watching the other #SQLHangouts. It’s great to see people’s personalities shine through in videos instead of only reading their blog posts, and I learn something new.

I suggested to chat about Biml, something I’ve only recently begun learning myself that has already saved me many hours of work. I still have so much to learn, but the fact that it took me about 20 hours to learn something new that has saved me and my coworkers hundreds of hours already… That’s worth sharing. If I can do it, you can do it!

Boris named the video “Biml. An introduction.” I thought a more appropriate name was “Blabbering about Biml” :)

(“Oh hi!”)

I forgot to mention their names, but thank you to Julie Smith (@JulieChix) and André Kamman (@AndreKamman) for inspiring me to learn more Biml in their SQLSaturday sessions in Tampa and Copenhagen! :)

Volunteering at SQLSaturday #275 Copenhagen

SQLSaturday #275 Check-inLast weekend I was in Copenhagen for SQLSaturday #275 Denmark. What a great event! I had signed up as a volunteer for several reasons. I wanted to help the Danish (and Nordic) SQL community, I wanted to get more experience as a volunteer, I wanted feedback and inspiration that will be useful for when we’re organizing SQLSaturday #317 Oslo, and most importantly I wanted to meet all the great community people I only knew from Twitter.

Planning volunteer tasks started a few weeks before the event when the event organizers and volunteers decided on who would be responsible for each task via e-mails. I felt a bit like Donkey from Shrek going “pick me! pick me!” when I told the event organizers I could volunteer all weekend if needed, but they had done such a great job they didn’t really need much help. The main tasks were volunteering as room attendants and helping out with registrations.

SQLSaturday #275 SessionI was assigned a room after lunch, so I spent the morning listening to the keynote, attending a few sessions, getting to know people and talking to sponsors. (I may have had moments where I ran around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what to do, which usually made me grab some more coffee, which in turn made me run around even more… At least I got to see a lot of the venue this way!)

SQLSaturday #275 SponsorsDuring the end of the lunch I realized that I wasn’t exactly sure what to do as a room attendant, but a quick briefing from the event organizers made it an easy task. The speakers in my room were experienced and had no problems running the show themselves, so all I had to do was agree on when to notify them about the amount of time left, make sure there was enough water, hand out speaker gifts and keep the room clean.

It was a long day, but a great day! What I enjoyed the most was meeting everyone in person and getting to know new people. It was a fun surprise to meet coworkers and members of SQL Server User Group Norway that I didn’t know were attending :) I got to attend sessions on topics I usually don’t work on and learned new things that way, and I have to mention the SQL swag I brought back home: volunteer shirt (also known as “shirt dress”), fleece sweater (I drowned in it, but it was lovely and warm), cap, candy, books and lots of other fun items.

SQLSaturday #275 #SQLBREWThere were a few things that could have gone smoother, but I really am being nitpicky when I point those out. The organizers could have sent out instructions on each task before the event, but I could also have made sure to ask earlier what to do. I could have talked more with the speakers in my room, but I didn’t want to disturb them while they were preparing. I could have greeted the attendees as they walked in, but they were there to see the speakers, not the volunteers, so I let the speakers greet everyone. I wish I could have met more people, spent more time with sponsors and attended all the sessions, but there was just not enough time for everything.

Volunteering is a great experience and I definitely won’t hesitate to help out at other events, but it does take time and you could miss out on sessions because you’re volunteering in another room. If that’s the case for you as a volunteer, try to switch rooms with another volunteer. If you’re an event organizer, try to make sure everyone gets to see the sessions they’re most interested in so it’s a great day for everyone.

At the end of the day there were giant jenga matches, raffles, organic hot dogs, #SQLBrew and lots of happy faces. Thank you to the event organizers for a great event and for inspiring us Norwegian organizers. Thank you to all the speakers and the other volunteers, I hope to see some of you in Oslo in August and hopefully at other SQLSaturdays!

A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013

PASS Summit 2013

It’s not easy to write about PASS Summit 2013 in a structured way. Just like the summit was buzzing with energy I feel like running around tossing keywords and hashtags at people: #SQLFamily! Ribbons! First timers! Sessions! #SQLKaraoke! Exhibitor booths! It was all a little overwhelming for this shy first-timer, but also exciting and fun at the same time.

Tip #1: Tweet and use hashtags!

You’ll connect with many people in the community. They might even approach you because they recognize you from Twitter! #SQLFirstTimers, #SQLPass and #Summit13 worked wonders for me :)

This year the PASS Summit was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I traveled from Norway I arrived on Saturday to have a couple of days to be a tourist. Sunday was all about roller-coasters in Carowinds for me. I’ll skip that day and fast-forward to Monday when the fun really began.

Even though this strictly wasn’t a part of the summit I have to mention Redgate’s SQL in the City event on Monday. That really was my first experience with the SQL community. I hadn’t signed up for the pre-conferences at the summit, but was lucky enough to attend this event instead. Redgate’s tools have saved me a lot of time and frustrations, and it was a great opportunity to learn, talk with the developers and see people like Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey present live.

Redgate also invited attendees to an informal networking event on Monday night. Deciding to go to that event was a great idea as that was where I met a lot of great people for the first time. I also met quite a few people who asked me if I knew Tone, a fellow Norwegian whom they all missed. Unfortunately I didn’t, but we quickly got introduced via Twitter. Hopefully we’ll get together at the SQL Server User Group Norway one day!

Tip #2: Say hi to people!

I’m a shy introvert and my first day alone in a foreign country at an event where I knew no one was truly terrifying. I was lucky to meet a couple of great people who introduced me to some other great people who introduced me to some other great people and after a little while it became easier to introduce myself :) Just go for it!

Tuesday was the first day of the actual Pass Summit 2013 conference for me. I attended the “Get to know your community” session hosted by Kevin Kline and Kendal Van Dyke, met up with my PASS Summit buddy Aaron Nelson and the rest of his first-timer group, attended the First-Timer Orientation Meeting, and then the Welcome Reception. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke!

PASS Summit 2013 Badge

All attendees had a name badge with their name, company, country and Twitter handle, as well as various ribbons on it. The badges were a great way to connect – you could easily take a look at the ribbons to see who were Speakers, Volunteers, MVPs (and more), instantly follow someone on Twitter, or just start a conversation about their company or home country.

On Wednesday I met a couple of nice ladies in the elevator at our hotel. We were all wearing our name badges with the First-Timer ribbon, started to talk and decided to have breakfast together. For lunch I met up with fellow Norwegians at the PASS Chapter Luncheon. It was actually a bit strange to speak Norwegian again for an hour, but nice to get some new contacts in my home country.

Tip #3: 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 try to be the one who joins them instead?

Between all the food and coffee breaks I attended my first keynote and sessions. Trying to build my session schedule was actually quite frustrating. There were always at least a handful of sessions I wanted to attend! I really look forward to getting the USB stick with all the session recordings so I can watch the sessions I missed. In the evening I attended the Exhibitor Reception where I learned quite a lot about the vendors. I also got some nice SQL swag. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again)!

On Thursday I started to feel the effects of not enough sleep and too much #SQLKaraoke :) I attended the Women In Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion which was a lot more than an event just for women. The topic of the day was “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity”. I encourage you to watch it on PASS TV. One of the highlights for me was Gail Shaw‘s response to the question “Do you have to make an effort to fit in?” – “No I don’t, because I can’t bloody well be bothered”. That answer earned a lot of applause from the audience!

On Thursday night we all gathered in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the Community Appreciation Party. And as if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again again)! I had no energy for karaoke that night, but spent a couple of hours getting to know Bob Pusateri and Andy Yun even better. The next time I’m going to PASS Summit I will definitely work harder on not getting tired ;)

Friday was a bit of a sad day and I wished it could be Tuesday so I could start all over again and do even more. Learn more, meet more people, be more active in the community. But instead of looking back I’m going to take all of these great experiences with me. Now I look forward and use the new inspiration and energy to grow personally and professionally in 2014. I hope to attend and volunteer at a SQLSaturday, maybe even help organize one in Oslo. I hope to share my new knowledge with my co-workers and help improve our solutions at work. And I hope to learn even more and get to know my new connections better. Maybe I’ll even make my own presentation and be a first-timer speaker some day!

Tip #4: Keep in touch

Keep in touch with everyone you met and take good care of your new #SQLFamily :)