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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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!
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!
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?
For the second consecutive year, I had the privilege of sitting at the blogger’s table during the Professional Association for SQL Server’s Women in Technology luncheon at the annual Summit conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This luncheon was over a week ago and today is the first chance that I have had to sit down and really put my thoughts together. Therefore, I apologize for the delay.
The theme for this year’s luncheon was “BEYOND STEREOTYPES: Equality, Gender, Neutrality, and Valuing Diversity.” The distinguished panel consisted of Rob Farley, Erin Stellato, Cindy Gross, Kevin Kline and Gail Shaw. The luncheon was moderated by my dear friend Mickey Stuewe. The bloggers present included Jes Borland, Mark Stacey, Karen Lopez, Grant Fritchey, Jen McCown, Jen Stirrup and Laerte Junior. As you can see it was very humbling to be chosen amongst that lineup.
It has become a tradition at the #PASSWIT luncheon for men and women to wear #SQLKilts to support the Women in Technology. Next year, I should be able to wear a kilt, however this year I wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. This luncheon was very moving for me this year and I found myself caught up in the conversations instead of taking notes. However, I did manage to grab some very good quotes outlined below:
Gail Shaw was asked if she had to make an effort to fit in within the technology community to which she replied: “No I don’t because I can’t literally be bothered.”
Cindy Gross later said “Every single person is prejudiced about something…”
Kevin Kline said that stereotypes are the index pages because our brains cannot know intimate details for more than maybe 150 people, for the rest we rely on stereotypes.
Rob Farley said for us to “Stand up and be the person who champions what is right.”
Erin Stellato when asked by a question from the floor about how to make it in the industry with all of the stereotypes working against you said “How am I not going to make it? Push through the stress and win!”
Today I was thinking about the SQL PASS Summit which begins next Tuesday and I just realized that I have yet to announce that I was chosen to speak for the very first time at the Summit. I am so humbled and excited at this opportunity. I cannot begin to thank the program committee, PASS headquarters, and the SQL community enough for everything they have done for me in the past few years. At this point in my career, I truly feel that my career has exploded thanks to my involvement with SQL PASS.
Rob Volk (b|t) and I had this idea to do a humorous session where we play Laurel and Hardy depicting the interactions between junior and senior DBAs. It should be a good time for all. Our session is Wednesday at 3pm, come by and say hi. Enjoy!
This Saturday, I will be presenting “Backup Strategies Are For Losers” at 7:30AM in Orlando. It should be noted that my first ever SQL Saturday that I attended was in Orlando, so I have a special place in my heart for this event. In addition, I have never presented a session this early in the morning so hopefully there is a Starbucks close by to the campus of Seminole State College. Do not forget that there are some excellent pre-cons that start on Wednesday (tomorrow) so 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!
For years when someone has mentioned something really intriguing I would of course respond with oh yeah I am adding that to my bucket list, or things you want to do before you die. Well a few weeks ago, I finally decided to actually compile a list just to more or less set some goals in life long-term that I would like to accomplish. I have done many parts of these items, such as sleep in every state in the country, but I am going to reset the list and move forward from this day forth. Enjoy!
- Go to Idaho and declare it to be “My own private Idaho” to everyone I encounter, no exceptions.
- Spend at least one night in every single state in the Union.
- Visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Grand Central Station, watch the ball drop in Times Square, grab the bull’s balls on Wall Street, dance on the Big keyboard at FAO Schwartz. Sing New York, New York at a karaoke bar, laugh at people falling while they ice skate in Rockefeller plaza. Take a cab and tell him he’s going the wrong way, and jog through Central Park.
- Have a beer and a dog at every Major League Baseball stadium.
- Watch when the Braves win the World Series from the stands.
- Watch when the Gators win the National Championship from the stands.
- Take a selfie on the top of a mountain that I hiked.
- Visit every port of call in the Caribbean.
- Have a place that when I walk in they yell “Ed” because it’s a place where everybody knows your name!
- Take a Mediterranean cruise.
- Sing “We Are the Boys of Florida” and the Alma Mater from the top of my lungs at every SEC stadium.
- Take an Alaskan cruise.
- Dress up like Gene Simmons from Kiss in full regalia and go grocery shopping.
- Attend the European SQL Bits conference.
- Attend a SQL Saturday on four different continents.
- Pack our bags and drive with no destination in mind stopping in random places.
- Take a vacation along route 66.
- Parasail into some blue water source.
- Zipline down a mountain.
- Visit Oklahoma and sing “Surry with the Fringe on Top” to everyone you encounter, no exceptions.
- Take a selfie in front of Mt Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Buckingham Palace, Eiffel Tower, Musee du Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Stone Henge, the Colisseum, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- Ride the Cable Cars in San Francisco and sing the Rice A Roni song. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge and tell everyone not to jump.
- Sing along with the Opera in Sydney.
- Go to Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro.
- Go cage diving in South Africa with a great white.
- Visit the Alamo and run across the field yelling “I remembered the Alamo!”
- See the northern lights.
- Learn to scuba dive.
- Tour Europe from a train.
- Eat chocolate in Switzerland.
- Ride in a sleeper car on Amtrak across the country and occasionally sing the Gambler in the dining car.
- Spend days getting lost in Italian and French art museums.
- Ride in a gondola in Venice.
- Find all the David statues in Florence and take a picture with his junk.
- Walk in Caesar’s footsteps and constantly shout out “Et tu Brute!”
- Take a European vacation and drive around the circle yelling “Parliament House, Big Ben”
- Visit a beach on five different continents.
- Take a polar plunge.
- Get over my fear of ice skating.
- Bungee jump and yell “she pushed me, please stop this ride”
- Ride in a hot air balloon.
- Make a difference in someone’s life.
- Experience a sunset and sunrise on four different oceans.
- Visit the volcanoes in Hawaii and calling it Hav-a-ee the whole time.
- Visit at least five Castles.
- Go to the real comic con in California.
- Having dinner with SQL Server friends in their neck of the woods.
- Steal someone’s bacon.
- Write a new bucket list because you cannot die if you still have items on your list.
My daughter started at the University of South Florida this week and a story she told me last night made me sad, very sad. Her roommate is a bright young lady who has chosen to major in engineering. With my strong feelings for the Women in Technology group within our SQL Server community, this made me very happy to hear about her desire to enter a STEM profession. However, after two days of classes, I was told that she has already been harassed and ridiculed for her choice of major in the predominately male classes. At this point I really do not know the specifics nor does that matter. The fact remains that there was enough of a problem that she told my daughter about it. That makes me angry.
I am thinking the next time that I go back to campus, I will do my best to encourage this young lady with some personal stories of strong, courageous women in technology that I know. Until then I told my daughter to encourage her and to let her know that I am rooting for her and to not give up because our STEM professions need her, our society needs her, and we need her.