Speaking at SQLBits XIV Superhero Edition

SQLBits XIV SuperheroesOne of my goals this year is to do things that scare me. It looks like I will achieve that goal, because I can’t really imagine anything scarier than speaking at one of the largest SQL Server conferences in the world! I’m very nervous, but also very proud and happy to announce that I will be speaking at SQLBits XIV Superhero Edition (#SQLBits) in March.

The session is called “Tools and Tips: From accidental to efficient Data Warehouse developer” and it will be a journey through some of my “Oh wow! Why did I not know this yesterday!?” moments. (Some of them are also known as my “Ooops!” moments.) I will talk about a variety of topics, from basic keyboard shortcuts, to free tools and scripts, to how you can use Biml for SSIS development. There was a time when these things were completely unknown to me, and I hope that I can help other accidental Data Warehouse developers so they don’t have to spend years discovering these things one by one.

The agenda is live, and my session is scheduled for Friday, March 6th from 5pm-6pm. It’s the last session of the day and some amazing speakers that I look up to will be speaking at the same time as me, so it will be interesting to see if anyone wants to attend my session! :) But no matter what happens, I will do my very best and enjoy the amazing event. I will also be volunteering and I’m looking forward to learning more about what it takes to run a large event like SQLBits.

Is your costume ready? I only need a few bits and pieces for my costume. I can’t wait to see all the SQL superheroes and villains, hang out with old friends and make lots of new friends. Come and say hi when you see me there! :)

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 :)

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.


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”.


Sheldon Panicking

What would you do? Have you been in the same kind of situation? What did you do?

This happened to me during my second ever SQLSaturday presentation, which was my first SQLSaturday presentation in a foreign country. I was nervous and excited and really looking forward to presenting something I think is truly awesome, and then nothing went as I had planned.

Luckily I had a backup plan. I had hidden slides with screen shots and explanations in my presentation and I could go through the slides instead of doing live demos. However, I had not rehearsed or timed my presentation without live demos. Since I had already lost 10-15 minutes at the start of my session, I rushed through my presentation a bit too fast and had 10-15 minutes left at the end.

I decided to ask who were interested in seeing the demos on my computer, and I was happy to see quite a few hands in the air! I finished my presentation and thanked the attendees for being so patient, and then those who wanted a break could leave early while those who wanted to see the demos came up on stage.

Backup plan: Show demos on your computerIt was not the best way to do a demo, for sure! But it worked out better than not showing anything. I sat on the floor so the attendees could look over my shoulder while I showed them how things actually worked. (And I even got to show my new Zoomit skills!)

I was happy to hear “oh!” and “aaah!” while doing the demos, and I was also happy to get a lot of questions. I think it was less scary for attendees to ask questions in a small group than raising their hands during a presentation. It was also great to hear attendees discuss with each other and share ideas on how to use Biml!

Hopefully the attendees learned something even though things didn’t go as planned. And for me? I definitely learned a lot!

– Have screen shots of your demos in your presentation
– Have a backup of your presentation on a removable drive
– Rehearse your session without demos to get your timing and transitions right
– Ask organizers if you can try to set up your laptop as soon as you arrive, don’t wait until right before your session

If possible:
– Create videos of important demos and keep them on the removable drive
– Have a second laptop with your presentation and demos
– Team up with another speaker to set up your demos on each others’ laptops

And of course, don’t forget the obvious:
– Power
– Adapters to HDMI / VGA
– USB hub
– Mouse
– Wireless presenter with laser pointer
– Printout or notes on paper
– Water
– Tablet with Stopwatch / Watch / Friend with Watch

PASS Summit 2015 Lightning Talk

On October 28th 2015, I presented a Lightning Talk at PASS Summit 2015 called Help! I’m Supposed to Present Now but My Computer Is Dead! It was inspired by this blog post and my experiences in Portugal :)

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