I’m a Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter!

For this year’s Microsoft Ignite, 10 MVPs have been invited by Microsoft to cover the event live throughout the week. I’m very excited and honored to announce that I’m one of this year’s Community Reporters! :) As a Community Reporter, I will share news and updates by blogging, tweeting, reporting live, interviewing speakers and attendees, and posting pictures and videos of what’s happening on the ground in Orlando.

Get to know the Community Reporters

Click on the links below to read each Community Reporter’s introduction blog post, learn more about them, and see where you can follow them on social media. If you’re on Twitter, you can find everyone in the msignitelive list.

Microsoft Ignite Community Reporters

Top row from left to right:
Alistair Pugin (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Cathrine Wilhelmsen (Data Platform MVP) <- Hey mom, look, it's me! :)
Christian Buckley (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Darrell Webster (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Dux Raymond Sy (Office Servers & Services MVP)

Bottom row from left to right:
Harjit Dhaliwal (Windows and Devices for IT MVP)
Laura Rogers (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Magnus Mårtensson (Microsoft Azure MVP)
Sue Hanley (Office Servers & Services MVP)
Tom Arbuthnot (Office Servers & Services MVP)

What will you do as a Community Reporter?

My focus will be on the Microsoft Data Platform, SQL Server, Analytics, Machine Learning and AI, as well Women in Business & Technology. As the only Data Platform MVP, I won’t be able to cover everything, but I will do my best to share news and updates about a wide variety of topics. Do you have any ideas, suggestions, or even questions for any of the speakers? Let me know in a comment!

I will cross-post content to this blog throughout the week, but most of my activity will be on Twitter, so make sure you follow me there: @cathrinew.

If you want to know which sessions I’m attending, take a look at my Microsoft Ignite Schedule. Keep in mind that I have a lot of other things planned that aren’t listed in the schedule (some of them may or may not involve a camera crew!) and that my schedule might change at any time.

Finally, make sure you follow the Microsoft Ignite Blog for all the latest news and updates.

See you in Orlando?

Are you attending Microsoft Ignite? Let me know by leaving a comment. And if you see me around, make sure to say hi! If my nose is stuck to my phone screen, it only means I’m sharing something cool, I’m not trying to ignore you ;)

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Ignite Community Reporter

See you in Orlando from September 25-29!

New Release: BimlExpress 2017!

BimlExpress 2017What day is it today? It’s the BimlExpress 2017 release day! Yay! :) I’ve waited for this release for a long time, and I know I’m not the only one. People have asked me many times if Varigence is still around. The answer is most definitely yes! It has been rather quiet from Varigence this past year, and I know we’ve all been waiting for news and updates. But don’t forget that they’re a small company, and that they’re actually giving us BimlExpress for free. They’ve focused on development this past year, and have been working like crazy to rewrite the Biml engine, add new features to BimlExpress, rebrand Mist to BimlStudio and make it even more powerful, and finish their BimlFlex framework. And today? Today we all get to enjoy the new releases! More yay! :)

Download and install BimlExpress 2017

You can download BimlExpress 2017 from the Varigence BimlExpress page:
BimlExpress Download VSIX

Please note that BimlExpress 2017 does not yet work with Visual Studio 2017 due to breaking changes in how Visual Studio 2017 manages extensions.

The new installer is a lightweight VSIX (Visual Studio Extension) Installer:
Install BimlExpress 2017 - License Agreement Install BimlExpress 2017 - In Progress Install BimlExpress 2017 - Finished

After installing, you will find BimlExpress in the list of Visual Studio Tools and Extensions:
BimlExpress 2017 Visual Studio Extension

What’s New in BimlExpress 2017?

I will show you some of the exciting new features below. Spoiler alert: there are some gamechangers in this release! Let’s take a look at some of the exciting new features in BimlExpress 2017 :)

Continue reading →

Create your own BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts

Are you tired of right-clicking on your Biml files to Check Biml for Errors or to Generate SSIS Packages? Did you know that you can create your own BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts? :)

Go to ToolsOptions:
BimlExpress Keyboard ShortcutsToolsOptions - Tools -> Options

Select EnvironmentKeyboard, then type Biml in the Show commands containing box:
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts

Select a Biml command, click in the Press shortcut keys box, click the keyboard shortcut combination of your choice, and click the Assign button. In this example, I have used Ctrl+Shift+C, Ctrl+Shift+B (I chose C then B for “Check Biml”):
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts - Assign Shortcut

Click OK, and that’s it! You can now use your keyboard shortcuts while having one or more Biml files selected. The shortcuts will appear in your BimlExpress menus in the toolbar and when you right-click on a file :)
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts Menu

3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting Remotely

3 Mistakes I Made While Presenting RemotelyTwo years ago I wrote about my experiences presenting a webinar for the first time. I learned a lot that day, and it helped me prepare for presenting remotely. But, a webinar is not the same as a remote presentation. And as much as you prepare and rehearse, you just won’t be prepared for every little thing that might happen until you’ve experienced them. So in addition to the advice I shared in my other blog post, here are 3 of my mistakes you don’t want to make if you’re planning to start presenting remotely :)

I didn’t ask the organizers enough questions before I started presenting

How many people are attending? What does the room look like? Is the screen large or small? Are people sitting close to the screen or in the back of the room? Can you see my webcam? Where is my webcam placed on the screen that the attendees see? Will I see your webcam?

I should have asked the organizers to spend 5-10 minutes with me before the session started so I could get a better idea of who I was presenting for and what they would see. When presenting live, I walk to the back of the room to check how much I need to zoom in during demos. I can see what everyone else sees on the screen. I can adjust to different room layouts. When presenting a webinar, I know that everyone will see the same as me on their own screens. I can watch my own webinar on a second screen so I can adjust to the lag. When presenting remotely, I don’t know anything about what the attendees see unless I ask. Maybe my webcam covered parts of my demo? Maybe I clicked too fast through my slides? I don’t know, but I should have known.

I didn’t test running all my software at the same time

We did a test call and Skype, my camera and my microphone all worked. But generating SSIS packages from Biml in Visual Studio at the same time as sharing my webcam plus my sound plus my screen? Uh, yeah, that didn’t really go too well on my old and tired laptop. Demos that usually take 2-3 seconds ran for nearly 30 seconds. Demos that usually take 30 seconds (and make my Visual Studio stop responding just long enough for me to grab a sip of water and joke about it) ran for several minutes. It felt like an hour. I don’t have that many jokes! I ran short on time because of this.

Waiting... Waiting... Still waiting...

I should have tested more before starting my presentation. While asking the organizers questions before the meeting (see previous point), I should also have asked them to do a quick dry run with me. They could have given me feedback on the most important part of my demos: Was everything visible from the back of the room? Is the call quality good enough to present in regular speed, or do I need to slow down more? And most importantly – does everything actually work with all the software I’m running at the same time?

I stared at my microphone while presenting

I used a Jabra speakerphone, that flat, round gadget that looks like a hockey puck. It was next to my keyboard, and I kept staring at it all through my presentation. Because, you know, all the attendees were sitting inside it, and I was presenting for them :)

I should have looked more into the camera. I didn’t, I looked at where the sound came from. I also leaned down several times to hear questions better, which must have looked rather funny. I’ve only presented with headphones in the past, so this was a new experience for me. I should have rehearsed more with this camera and microphone setup to get used to where to look and what gestures to make.

I made these mistakes so you won’t have to!

Well, ok, I didn’t do it on purpose ;) But I do hope you can learn something from my mistakes, so you will become a way better remote speaker than me! I also hope you can learn something from my previous experiences. What advice would you give to new speakers who are presenting remotely?

Presenting remotely for Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group

Cathrine Wilhelmsen Presenting for Malta Microsoft Data Platform User GroupWoohoo! On Tuesday, March 28th, I will be doing a remote session for the Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group. I will be presenting my Biml for Beginners: Speed up Your SSIS Development session, one of my favorites :)

The meeting starts with my remote session, then there’s a short break before moving on to Gossip Geek – “… your one and only source into the fabulous lives of Geek’s elite…”. I have no clue what that is, but it sounds fun, so make sure to attend if you’re in the area :D And if Business Intelligence, SSIS and Biml is not your thing, maybe Columnstore Indexes are? The meeting finishes with Slawomir Drzymala (@sdryzmala) presenting Columnstore Index – do we need another one?!.

The Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group is brand new. It was started in January 2017, and this will be their third meeting. I’m very happy I get to help support a new local group! If you’re a speaker and want to do a remote (or on-site!) session, you can find Malta Microsoft Data Platform User Group on Meetup, Facebook and Twitter (@MMDPUG).

And of course, if you’re from Malta, make sure you join and attend the meetings! If the sessions that day aren’t super interesting, attend anyway for the networking :)

Wow, I haven’t written one of these posts for a long time! It feels great to slowly move back into the world of speaking again. Thanks for inviting me to speak, MMDPUG! I wish I could be there in person, but I’m really looking forward to presenting for you :)

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