Branching Out in Louisville

This weekend I will be branching out and presenting a business intelligence (BI) session at SQL Saturday Louisville.  By profession, I was a programmer turned DBA turned SQL Server consultant.  As a consultant, I have done a lot of BI learning and a lot more SQL Server development than previously as a database administrator.  In essence, I have broadened my skill set taking advantage of my previous skill set.  Therefore, it is only natural that I present a learning session on BI, or in this case Introduction to SQL Server Integration Services.  LogoThis session is great for the beginner to SSIS.  I have presented this at a user group in Atlanta earlier this year, but this will be my first BI session at a SQL Saturday.  Come on out to Louisville and learn about some SSIS with me!  Register here.

Documentation, the Necessary Evil

Everyone hates to write documentation, myself included.  No one likes to read your documentation either, if we’re being totally honest.  In my day, I have created some amazing documentation as well as some crappy documentation and both sit on a SharePoint site or file share somewhere dying from a cold, lonely existence never to be updated again.  Granted, someone will search for something, that one particular nugget that will help their understanding only to see that you glossed over that area and Jimmy is now besmirching your good name at the water cooler because of your poor documentation skills.  He said something about your mother as well, but I am not going to repeat that.  Not cool Jimmy, not cool.

As a consultant, I understand wholeheartedly the importance of documentation as it correlates to the success of the project at hand.  However, that doesn’t make it any easier or exciting to write and certainly doesn’t make it any easier to read. Have insomnia?  I have just the solution for you!!! Step right up and read this seventy page project discovery documentation outlining goals, tasks, and source to target mapping. Can you imagine being a technical writer producing these documents every day?  I dated such a person for a short time last year and she was just as boring as the documents that she was paid to create but that’s a topic for another day.

The flip side to this is that a project without initial documentation in a discovery process can lead to impending doom, heartache, mild stomach discomfort, depression, and diarrhea.  Well I am not sure about the diarrhea, but it will be bad, really bad.  Feelings will be hurt, your good name will be run through the mud, and the your parent’s having a child out-of-wedlock will be questioned (that would be calling you a bastard for you millennials out there as there was a time when that was an insult).  Herein lies the rub, you are going to have to advocate for documentation at the beginning of the process even though you despise doing it because simply your Mom’s honor is at stake.  Do it for your Mom, she still loves you even if Jimmy doesn’t.  Not cool Jimmy.  Enjoy!!

First Pre-Con is in the Books! What a Blast!

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, my good friend Mike Lawell (b|t) and I embarked upon our first pre-conference training for SQL Saturday Nashville. The event was a smashing success with a fabulous turnout.  In addition, the crowd was engaged and responsive, as a teacher it does not get any better than that.  363For those that attended our session, here are the files that we promised you.  We’ve included all of the links and the code contains a wealth of information as well as see the rest of the slides that we were unable to get to. Please use them and feel free to ask us any questions that you may have.  In addition, we are more than happy to help you at the beginning of your DBA journey.  Welcome to the #SQLFamily!

For those of you who did not attend, the session was entitled “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning.”  The session was aimed at new and ‘accidental’ DBAs as they embark upon a journey learning the art of performance tuning.  If you are a SQL Saturday organizer, we would love to offer this session at your event.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like us to provide this session for you.  Enjoy!

 

 

2015: Let’s Do This!!

Happy New Year!  For some reason, I did not do a year in review post for 2013 or make any resolutions for 2014.  So let’s fast forward and do one this time.  This last year was an amazing year for me professionally: I moved to Atlanta, started working for an amazing company (Innovative Architects), traveled across the country speaking at different SQL Saturday events, and ultimately Microsoft named me a SQL Server MVP for 2014.  How do you top that?  I am not sure that it is possible, but I plan on trying.

So now I think I have a plan for 2015.  Are you ready?

I am planning on speaking for at least five out-of-state SQL Saturdays, helping coordinate our event here in Atlanta again, attending PASS Summit again in Seattle,  volunteering with the PASS organization again, and submitting to speak again.  As a speaker I will continue to grow, and I am doing my first pre-conference session in Nashville on January 15th with my good friend Mike Lawell (t|b).  In addition, I have been named an Ambassador for IA for 2015 and will continue to be vocal about our #WorkSomePlaceAwesome campaign, help with recruitment, and giving back to the community.

While we are on the subject, this company that I work for has a motto that ‘we work with people who do not suck.’ This mentality leads to an amazing and fun work place.  It is by far the best job that I have ever had and that is saying a lot since I once had a dream job around the turn of the millennium.  Anyway, since being named MVP by Microsoft, we now have three working at IA and I am going to try and help encourage a few others to be more active in the community and possibly grow some more MVPs.  In addition, there are a few other speakers in my Atlanta MDF user group that I believe can or should be MVPs as well.  The theme for this year professionally I believe will be to help others grow as I grow.

So let’s get to the fun resolutions while we are here.

I will double my live concert output from last year and see at least 25 this year alone (have tickets for four upcoming shows currently).  I am a season ticket holder for the Braves this year and that will double the amount of games that I went to last year.  I will also aim to do at least five other sporting events next year (Falcons, Hawks, Gwinnett Braves, the GT-UGA football game, and possibly the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team).  Let’s also throw in a few Broadway shows and plays (I have tickets to Wicked already for February) as well as some cultural events as Atlanta has epic festivals and events such as Dragon Con.  Finally I also plan to try to finish my Atlanta bucket list (which has 50 items that every person should see or do in Atlanta…I did nine of them in 2014).

Oh I almost forgot that I am moving in a couple of weeks to the Old Fourth Ward area of downtown Atlanta which is a culturally rich area and will start a new chapter of my Atlanta journey.  I am moving into a renovated nearly hundred year old Sears & Roebuck warehouse, now called Ponce City Market which will be the epicenter of awesomeness in 2015 and has already been recognized in several publications.  If you are passing through Atlanta in 2015, come see me after the winter and the mixed use development should be completed and in full swing.  Then we can play putt putt on the roof or have a drink in an old train box car on the roof viewing the gorgeous Atlanta skyline as well as visiting some of the stellar restaurants located inside the building.

I hope you have an epic 2015!  Happy New Year!

 

Presenting in Orlando for SQL Saturday #318!!! Extra #SQLHugs for ALL!

I am humbled and genuinely excited to be returning to Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, September 27th, 2014.  This was the first ever SQL Saturday that I attended as well as a year later it was where I gave my first full session, so it has a special place in my heart.  Being from Florida, it will be nice to go back and see so many of my friends that I have not seen since moving to Atlanta.  Needless to say that there will be extra long #SQLHugs with the #SQLFamily so be prepared.

I have taken my previously new, “So you have a performance issue.  What now?” and transformed it into a two-part session with Mike Lawell (t)  covering the full gamut of performance tuning for the beginning DBA or accidental DBA.  This is a great series that will dive into how to get started in performance tuning.  In other words, how do you find the query that is bad from all of the other queries running in your system and where do you go from there?  I hope to see you there!

Have you registered to attend yet?  If not please do so immediately and get a free #SQLHug from me!

 

SQL Saturday Orlando Logo

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and Tripping the Light Fantastique

T-SQL Tuesday #57

Jeffrey Verheul (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party.  (Hey Jeff, what’s up?)  If you are not familiar with T-SQL Tuesday, well it was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) five years ago and invites a different blogger to host a topic and various bloggers choose to participate when the subject so moves them. This month’s topic is regarding SQL Family and Community.  I have blogged numerous times about SQL Family and if you never experienced the awesomeness that is SQL Family in person, find me and I will give you a #SQLHug and show you just how awesome of a phenomenon this truly is.

Personally, I have been gainfully employed in the IT field for almost twenty years and have been hacking (yes that is the correct term not the one bastardized by the media and laymen) since the Christmas of 1982 when I got a Timex Sinclair 1000.  During this lifetime, I have never experienced the phenomenon that is SQL Family, ever.  Let the weight of that statement sink in for a moment.  In other words, having met all sorts of IT professionals over the years at many conferences, user groups and meetings, no one community has struck me dumbfounded and with wonderment like that of the SQL Community.  It is unparalleled in my opinion.

(Ed please get to the point and stop skipping the light fandango)

In The Beginning

Several years ago, I was severely burnt out.  I had started back to college to possibly change careers. (yeah it was that bad)  I hated what I did for a living.  I cannot stress how much I hated what I was doing for a living.  At that point, my good friend and fellow DBA Brent Kraus (t) invited me to a user group meeting with the Tampa SQL User Group.  “Free pizza,” he said and we could meet a couple of guys and get a better job.  I said how do you know and he said “hey Jorge Segarra (b|t) sat in that same chair and got out of dodge and now he is a SQL rock star now making it rain with groupies to boot.”  The story may not have gone exactly that way, but hey it’s called dramatic license for a reason.  If the day Buddy Holly died was the day that the music died, then this was the day that the music was reborn like a phoenix rising out of the ashes that was my career. (This story is getting good…even I want to pay attention now and trust me I was bored with it up until this section)

The meeting was horrible, there was a speaker on a speaker phone.  I do not remember who it was or what he spoke about but it was pretty bad mainly because of bad phone connection and a language barrier.  I met a few people and I remember thinking “this blows!”  Then Pam Shaw (b|t) gave me a free book for a being a first time attendee.  Remember, I had a bad attitude about my career so this reflection had nothing to do with Pam or her user group.  I remember on the drive home thinking hey free pizza and a free book (and don’t forget the SQL tchotchkes), maybe I will go back next month.

SQL Saturday

Enter Brent again…as he said hey they do this crazy, free training thing and you get to meet a lot of SQL people and we are sure to find a better job there.  So we ride over one Saturday morning to Orlando.  I liken this to the moment I heard my first Beatles record.  I was hooked, an addiction was formed.  I met so many people and I could name drop all day but there is one key figure that I met that day….Karla Landrum (b|t).  She was welcoming and passionate about the community.  Karla is definitely the mother of this SQL family.  Actually she is more of a foster-mother, she takes in the strays feeds them some good food, acclimates them to the environment and then challenges them to succeed.  Like any good Mom, she doesn’t take no for an answer.  Within a year from that moment she had talked (coerced, dragged me kicking and screaming, or tricked?  You pick!) me into speaking for the first time.  I had a supreme fear of public speaking.  How did she talk me into this?  I wanted to run like Forrest, but I didn’t even drove through a flash flood that day to not let her down.

During that year, I became active in the user group, became a SQL community promoter on twitter, and attended a few SQL Saturdays.  Suddenly I didn’t hate my career as much, oh do not get me wrong the job I had sucked but I was not ready to jump ship on my career just yet.  What happened to Brent?  Oh yeah, he got a better SQL DBA job.  Mission accomplished.

Speaking

That first time was horrible, I scripted the whole thing and barely looked up from my trembling body.  They gave me an award for the funniest presentation.  These people are nuts, I do not think they saw the same presentation that I did.  Afterward, several people told me how awesome it was and that they were happy to see me presenting.  Wait?!?! What?!?!?  It was horrible.  These people are my brothers and sisters in the SQL Family.  They were loving and encouraging when I needed it.  I am sure that they knew it was horrible but they had been there too.  I am not going to call them out but I do try to pay it forward with every new speaker that I meet or see or even here about.  I want to be that same awesome brother that tells you about dating and girls and how to…wait I digress, sorry.

It was at this point that I wanted to speak again, and again.  All the world’s a stage and I wanted to get better, to be as good as they were, to teach and give back.  I was learning SQL Server like never before because I was teaching it to others.  I was now in love with my career again.  Not the obligatory kiss your grandmother love, but the super smart, nerdy librarian looking girl who likes you because you aced Calculus passion making out in the reference section next to the map rack.  Yeah you know what I am talking about.

SQL PASS

All everyone talked about once you get inside the SQL Family is the SQL PASS Summit in Seattle.  Like any good addict, I had to try this drug.  Have you ever had that moment when you said to yourself “wow these nerds are my people, they get me!”  That first year was my moment.  Like any good Amway presentation, I wanted what they were selling.  I met so many people…authors, bloggers, crazy people (yeah I bet two or three names came to your mind when I said that and yes that is who I was talking about), DBAs, developers, and rock stars of the SQL community.  They all had one thing in common:  SQL Family.  At no point did I ever feel not welcome or like an outsider even with my First Timer badge on.  If there was a funny story that they all knew someone was more than willing to bring me up to speed on how that one guy did that one thing that one time and it was epic.  Yeah you know who you are and what you did that one time.  Dude!

At that first Summit, I met several DBAs from Atlanta.  I kept running into them everywhere I went around Seattle.  They invited me to sit with them at the Chapter Lunch.  I was home.  These people were my people.  One problem though…I lived in Tampa. (This is a foreshadowing moment, keep that in mind here)

Atlanta

In 2013, I decided that in order to take my career to the next level, I needed to move to Atlanta where the DBA jobs were flowing like wine and after 42 years in Florida a change of scenery would be good.  Most people think leaving Florida was a Paradise Lost, but being a tourist is the greatest part of Florida at this point in my life as I grew up on the sunshine, beaches, and Disney.  Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.  However, I felt at home with the Atlanta group and they had become really, really good friends over the last couple of years.  You see I was 42 years old with hundreds of friends or as I like to call them wonderful acquaintances.  You know the kind, the ones that will go to a birthday party for a mutual friend and be happy to see you and hand you a beer from the cooler.  But if you need someone to help you move, all of these friends that you have seem to be busy.  My life was full of these friends.  I had a couple of really good friends, do not get me wrong especially if you are one of them are you thinking to yourself what the hell dude!

However, with the SQL Family, those friendships always seem to be so much stronger.  This was the impetus for me moving to Atlanta.  Those friends there seemed to be the kind of friends that would help you move (and they did come 2014).  Did you remember the foreshadowing moment?  Good, you were paying attention.  After moving to Atlanta, I began traveling across the country spreading my wings speaking in Nashville, Las Vegas, Louisville and I will hit Birmingham, Orlando (where it all began) and possibly Charleston before the year is done.  All of that is on my own dime.  Why?  SQL Family.  I love visiting different family members and spending time with them and sharing my love of SQL Server and SQLKaraoke with them.  I look forward to breaking bread and sharing a pint with them sharing stories and dancing like a mad man.  The social aspect of SQL Family is unparalleled as well.

I am now a Data Services Consultant, working for a dear friend from the SQL Family.  She brought me on board here where there are about a hundred brilliant consultants including several other SQL Family members.  I love my career, and I love my SQL Family and now I love my job.  Thanks, Julie (b|t).

So after reading this and if you have met me in person, have you figured out which family member I am?  I am that crazy uncle that everyone has who sings everywhere and is so much fun to be around (at least in my opinion lol).

Mi familia está loca! (For Jorge)

 

P.S. Did you get the title reference and all the tie-ins?  Tripping the light fantastic means to dance about with the music and being in the SQL Family makes me want to sing and dance every day.  Milton (tie-in) and Shakespeare (tie-in) spoke of such phenomenon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles (tie-in) had an album entitled Tripping the Live Fantastic.  Tarantino (our greatest living director) used the line as I did in “Inglorious Basterds” for the final tie-in.  Those were chosen because of my love of those things and my ability to wax poetic about my passions.  Long Live the SQL Family!  Oh, I almost forgot the “skipping the light fandango” tie-in (glad I proofread this before submitting it) but that’s a line from “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harum.  So now you have my passion for poetry, movies, music and SQL Server, all that in one blog post for the low, low price of $19.95…but wait, there’s more….stay tuned next time.

Presenting in Birmingham for SQL Saturday #328!!!

I am humbled and genuinely excited to be selected to speak for the first time in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014.  Since moving to Atlanta, I am trying to spread my speaking engagements out across the country to meet knew people and spread the gospel of SQL Server through the love of  #SQLLearning, #SQLHugs, #SQLKaraoke, and #SQLFamily.

I have taken my previously new, “So you have a performance issue.  What now?” and transformed it into a two-part session with Mike Lawell (t)  covering the full gamut of performance tuning for the beginning DBA or accidental DBA.  This is a great series that will dive into how to get started in performance tuning.  In other words, how do you find the query that is bad from all of the other queries running in your system and where do you go from there?  I hope to see you there!

Have you registered to attend yet?  If not please do so immediately and get a free #SQLHug from me!

 

SQL Saturday Birmingham

SQL Saturday Birmingham

Presenting in Louisville for SQL Saturday #286!!!

Wow, I cannot believe that I have not blogged since the beginning of the year.  I will follow-up next week with an article about what I have been doing the first half of the year.  However, today I wanted to let everyone know that I am humbled to be selected to speak in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, June 21st, 2014.  Since moving to Atlanta, I am trying to spread my speaking engagements out across the country to meet knew people and spread the gospel of SQL Server through the love of  #SQLLearning, #SQLHugs, #SQLKaraoke, and #SQLFamily.

I will be presenting my newest presentation, “So you have a performance issue.  What now?”  This is a great beginning session that goes into how you get started in performance tuning.  In other words, how do you find the query that is bad from all of the other queries running in your system?  I hope to see you there!

Have you registered to attend yet?  If not please do so immediately and get a free #SQLHug from me!

 

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Presenting for SQL Saturday Nashville

Recently, I was humbled to be selected to speak at SQL Saturday Nashville over the Martin Luther King, Jr weekend.  I will be presenting “Backup Strategies Are For Losers” at 10:30AM.  This will be my first presentation in Nashville, and I am excited to expand my geographic range.   In addition, I was excited to see some of the big names coming into town.   Don’t believe me?  Check out the schedule for yourself.

Do not forget that there are some excellent pre-cons that start on Friday, January 17th by Denny Cherry, who is presenting “SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization” and David Klee is presenting “Virtualization for  SQL Server DBAs.”  Please check those out as soon as you can while space is still available.

If you haven’t registered yet, please do so now!  See you there!sqlsat272

Grody to the VARCHAR(MAX)

This morning I was looking through a new vendor database to see exactly what I would be supporting and I stumbled upon a curious table.  This table seemed quite normal to the naked eye until I glanced upon the data types.  There were four, count them four fields set to VARCHAR(MAX) and two set to NVARCHAR(MAX).  First of all, why the inconsistency in the data types?  Maybe there is a legitimate reason, but I am not buying it.  If you need Unicode support provided by the NVARCHAR data type wouldn’t you need it across all fields?  I have only worked with a few databases that needed Unicode support and that was the case for them.  Maybe there is a case for mixed usage, but I do not understand it and obviously I was not part of their design team.

Now onto the bigger elephant in the room, why on earth would you have all of these fields set to the maximum storage amount of two gigabytes (1GB for NVARCHAR taking up 2GB of space).  Are you really storing that much data in six fields of EACH record?  Keep in mind that SQL Server stores records in 8K pages.  When you exceed that the data goes to an overflow page with a pointer so that SQL knows where to find the rest of the data.  I understand that it will not take up that much space if you are not actually storing that much data, but there is a potential here for these table to be problematic.  Granted this might be a good design for one field if it stores a large amount of text or notes, but six fields in the same record?  I looked at the length of the records currently entered for these six fields and I found nothing larger than 100 characters.  Overkill?  What do you think?

Enjoy!

 

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