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!

SQLSaturday #317 Oslo 2014 is live and call for speakers is open!

SQLSaturday #317 Oslo 2014I’m super excited to announce that the first SQLSaturday in Norway, SQLSaturday #317 Oslo 2014, is live and the call for speakers is open!

The event will be held on August 30th, 2014 at NITH (The Norwegian School of IT).

Several great sessions have already been submitted, but we are looking for more speakers (especially local speakers), sponsors and attendees. Whether you’re a first-time speaker or an expert, with a non-technical or advanced topic – we are thrilled to see your session submitted! You can submit sessions in either English or Norwegian, choose the language you’re most comfortable with so you can deliver your best presentation.

Join us and help spread the word to make the first SQLSaturday in Norway a great event for everyone. If you’re on Twitter, use the hash tag #SQLSatOslo to join the conversation. SQL Server User Group Norway and the SQLSaturday team look forward to seeing you! :)

Starting my journey to MCSE: Business Intelligence

MCSA Training KitsOne of my goals for 2014/2015 is to learn enough to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence.

I can upgrade my MCITP certification, but I decided to start from scratch with the SQL Server 2012 exams because it’s a great way for me to learn new features while my company is still using SQL Server 2008. I’m also sure it will be very useful for me to step out of my comfort zone of data warehouse development / architecture and dive into the scary world of database administration.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 will remain in market without any alterations and passing the three required exams will be my goal this year. The MCSE exams will be updated with SQL Server 2014 topics and I aim to pass them later this year or early next year.

The three Training Kit books finally arrived yesterday: Training Kit (Exam 70-461): Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Training Kit (Exam 70-462): Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases and Training Kit (Exam 70-463): Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

Reviews range from “useless” to “excellent”. Based on my experience I can’t rely on these books alone, but hopefully they’ll be a great starting point and will help me identify what I need to work on. My own reviews will be posted as I finish the books and take the exams.

My plan is simply to work my way through each chapter and write down useful suggestions and improvements for my company. It’s easier for me to learn when I can relate the content to my work. I’m most excited about learning more about database administration since that’s not something I do every day, and most curious about the data warehouse part since I’m kind of already supposed to know my way around dimensional modeling and SSIS :)

I passed exam 70-461 (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in January 2015.
I passed exam 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in April 2015.
I passed exam 70-462 (Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases) in May 2015.

Have you recently taken any of these exams? What is your job and what did you find most challenging?

Notepad++ macros, a basic example

Notepad++ macrosMacros have become one of my favorite features in Notepad++. It is possible to record actions and play them back one or more times. You can save a lot of time not having to manually repeat the same process over and over. I always have Notepad++ open, so it is fast and easy to get the result I want in just a few seconds.

Notepad++ macros

This animation will show you how to use macros. You can find detailed descriptions and step-by-step instructions with pictures below.
Notepad++ Macros Animation

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A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013

PASS Summit 2013It’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, very exciting and awesomely fun at the same time.

Tip #1: Tweet and use hashtags! You’ll connect with many people in the community and 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 adjust and be a tourist. Sunday was all about roller-coasters in Carowinds for me, so 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, since 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 get 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, but I met 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-timers group, attended the First-Timers Orientation Meeting, and then the Welcome Reception. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke!

PASS Summit 2013 BadgeAll 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 and 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 before going to bed early. 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, 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. 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!

Tip #4: Keep in touch with everyone you met and take good care of your new #SQLFamily :)

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