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Category: SQL Community

These posts are about the SQL Community, SQLFamily, PASS Summit, SQLSaturday and other SQL Server Events. It includes Cathrine Wilhelmsen’s experiences speaking, organizing and volunteering.

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!

SQL Server Heroes (T-SQL Tuesday #59)

T-SQL TuesdayWhat day is it? It’s T-SQL Tuesday again! T-SQL Tuesday #59 is 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.

Speaking at SQLSaturday #341 Porto

I'm speaking at SQLSaturday #341 Porto, Portugal!I’m super excited, proud and honored to announce that I will present my session Generate SSIS packages automatically with Biml and BimlScript at SQLSaturday #341 Porto (Portugal) on October 18th, 2014!

This is the first time I have been selected to speak at a SQLSaturday, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share my knowledge about a topic that I believe is a huge leap forward in the world of Business Intelligence development. I was amazed the first time I saw a demonstration of Biml, and I’m so happy that I get to pay it forward and hopefully inspire others to try using Biml at work – I promise, it will save you time.

I can’t wait to meet everyone at #SQLSatPortugal. Please say hi if you see me! :)

#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 :)

Stop assuming wrongly and start assuming responsibility (T-SQL Tuesday #56)

T-SQL TuesdayT-SQL Tuesday #56 is hosted by Dev Nambi (@DevNambi) and the topic is assumptions: Your assignment for this month is to write about a big assumption you encounter at work, one that people are uncomfortable talking about. Every team has an elephant in the room. What happens if these big guesses aren’t true?

Stop assuming wrongly
“If you make an assumption, you suppose that something is true, sometimes wrongly.”

We’ve all assumed wrongly at some point. While it’s not always a big deal, sometimes the result can be disastrous. I’ve accidentally deleted all the weekly data in our production data warehouse because I assumed wrongly. (Thank goodness my assumption that we had working backups was correct!)

Most of the time I’m not aware that I make assumptions until something goes wrong, like when I realized I had deleted all that data. That’s when I stop and ask myself why I didn’t ask more questions, why I didn’t do more research, why I didn’t triple-check the logic?

The answer to why I assume wrongly is usually time. In the world of business intelligence there are just not enough hours in a day. When a business user asks for new data or a new report, their answer to “when do you need it?” is usually “yesterday”. We all want to deliver as much as possible in the shortest amount of time, which often leads to everyone making some kind of assumption without actually being aware of it. Business users assume IT knows all the business rules (“that’s supposed to be a negative amount”), IT assumes the business users have specified all requirements in detail (“that’s not in the requirements”), and we don’t take the time to sit down and go through it together.

Which leads me to my next point:

Start assuming responsibility
“If someone assumes responsibility, they begin to have responsibility.”

We need to take our time to collaborate, to ask those questions, to do that research and to triple-check that logic. Don’t assume that everyone else knows what you know, but share your knowledge. Don’t just assume that things work, but see how you can improve them. Work together.

I’ll start with me and make this a goal for me at work :)