Speaking at Deutsche SQL Server Konferenz 2015

Speaking at SQLKonferenz

I will be speaking at Deutshce SQL Server Konferenz 2015 (#SQLKonferenz). The conference is from 3-5 February in Darmstadt, near Frankfurt. The first day is a PreCon day with Power Workshops, and the two other days are MainCon days with four parallel tracks: Administration, Business Intelligence, Development and Information Management.

My Biml introduction session called “Generate SSIS Packages Automatically with Biml and BimlScript” is scheduled for Thursday, February 5th. The lineup of speakers this year is amazing! I hope I get to attend as many sessions as possible myself.

Hope to see you there! Please say hi if you see me :)

Thankful

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Norway, but I wanted to participate in “What Are You Thankful For?” hosted by Bob (@SQLBob) this year. Instead of posting on a day we don’t celebrate in my country, I decided to wait until the first Sunday in Advent. It marks the start of the time of year where I spend the most time with my family and feel truly thankful for so many things in my life.

I’m thankful for my closest family. My parents, my older sister, my niece, and my dad’s best friend who has been my uncle for as long as I can remember. We have and always will be there for each other, no matter what. At the age of 27 I still look forward to going home and spending time with my family, and I’m lucky to have them in my life.

I’m thankful for wonderful friends, coworkers and #SQLFamily, more than I will ever be able to explain. I had no network and have been fighting a depression and all its nasty companions for many years. Getting to know these people and having them in my life to share smiles, laughs, experiences and memories with, who challenge me to become a better person, who welcomed me from day one… They changed my life and keep me going every day. Thank you.

I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to help others. I discovered Kiva years ago and instantly fell in love with the idea of microloans and helping people create better lives for themselves. I believe it’s important for everyone to achieve something, and I hope that the borrowers are left with a feeling of “I did this! I did this!” when they’ve paid back their loan. $25 is so little to me, but it can change someone’s life. In Norway I support The Church City Mission in Oslo because they work hard for a better society for everyone.

I’m thankful I’m healthy, I have a secure job, I live in a safe country where I will get help if I need it, I get to travel and see new places, I get to experience four seasons with dark winters and the overwhelming joy when it gets lighter and warmer. I’m thankful I have so many things to be thankful for :)

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!

Something New Learned (T-SQL Tuesday #60)

T-SQL TuesdayT-SQL Tuesday #60 is hosted by Chris Yates (@YatesSQL) and is about sharing something new you’ve learned recently.

For the past five years I’ve worked as a data warehouse and business intelligence developer. My job is all about providing high-quality data, visualizations, and make sure end users have the right data and reports to do their jobs. I don’t have to worry about performance tuning down to milliseconds, I don’t need to know anything about hardware, and administrators take care of backups and security. I don’t have to or need to know any of these things to do my job, and that is exactly why I want to learn about them.

I’ve spent five years learning and there is still so much more to learn about business intelligence. However, this year I’ve started attending sessions on topics I know close to nothing about, and it really is making me a better developer.

At SQLSaturday #337 Oregon I attended a session by Argenis Fernandez on Securing Your SQL Server Instance Without Changing Any Code. In theory it’s not relevant for me at all, and I have to admit that I hadn’t even heard about some of the things presented before that session. But do you know what I had heard about? Vendor software that requires SA accounts to run. And what did I learn? Rename the SA account, create a new account named SA, and voila! The vendor software can now use the “SA account” that you’re in total control of. It might be 101 material for many, but for me it was something new and useful.

At Redgate SQL in the City I attended another security session by Bob Pusateri, this time about Passive Security for Hostile Environments. Again, something that in theory was not really relevant for me, but it was probably the session I learned the most from! I knew about triggers, auditing and extended events, but it was the first time I saw a demo of event notifications. It was really useful to see the features compared and learn more about when they should and shouldn’t be used.

While I still feel like I have so much more to learn, I also realized that I actually know quite a lot that I can teach to others. And so do you! Share something you’ve learned recently, something you’ve known for ages, or something you think “everyone knows”. There’s always someone out there like me who will learn something from you :)

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 :)

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