SSC Editorial: Early Adopters

I wrote Early Adopters for SQLServerCentral after seeing a comment elsewhere that basically lumped all MVP’s into one category as ‘early adopters’. There’s some truth to that, but not all MVP’s are early adopters and not all early adopters are MVP’s. What interested me more was the attitude, that trying something early is foolish or unwise. Sometimes it is! But that isn’t the whole story.  Unless someone tries it and proves it works or finds the flaws, the rest of us will never use it. Doesn’t mean we leap without looking. Or that we try every new feature.  I just wish for an industry where we appreciate those that take risks so the rest of us don’t have to and maybe for an industry where we see that part of our profession is giving those new features a real vetting.

There were many good comments, but I pulled out two to share. This from Eric Russell on MVP’s:

I think there are maybe three types of MVPs: those who scout ahead exploring the latest version of SQL Server or how to push the product to it’s limits, those selfless evangelists who go on the road and educate the masses on topics like best practices, and those who do heroic stuff behind the scenes like delving into internals and troubleshooting in public forums.

And this from David Poole, in response to a question from me about when to adopt a feature and how to mitigate risk:

  • If you are talking about early adoption of the latest version of SQL Server then having a comprehensive set of functional and non-functional tests will mitigate those risks.
  • If you are talking about implementing a new feature in a new version of SQL Server then again a robust test strategy is the mitigation. The platform is fundamentally mature.
  • If you are talking about fundamentally new technology then here be dragons. It’s not just about being first to use the technology its probably going to be the first to use a technology in a particular way.

Did I provoke thought on the issue? Not sure I made my case well. It’s hard to see that when you’re writing.

Did PASS Forget the DBA?

Today I had on my list to finish watching the presentation Gail Shaw did at Summit 2014, one of the free recordings on PASS TV. I don’t remember it from before, but I was prompted to fill out a short demographic form. Ok, I get it. Then I get to the job function drop down and see that some how, stunningly, DBA isn’t a choice. I guess we’re “IT Professionals”. Does that mean the rest of the list isn’t?


More Thoughts on the PASS BAC

Here’s an excerpt from an email from PASS I received on November 4 and also available at this link (bolding added by me):

The PASS BA Conference answers the call to meet the unique needs of business and data analysts, who are asked to do more with data every day. They are non-technical data professionals who work in finance, operations, marketing, sales, and customer service. Working with IT pros who architect, build, and facilitate data and analytics systems, business and data analysts can extract data from these systems to gain insights and drive the decision-making process.

That has me me thinking about what makes PASS special and successful? I’ve always thought it was a wide enough focus to hit critical mass, narrow enough to not try to be all things to all people. I’ve always thought PASS was technical data professionals who were more than happy to welcome a non-technical professional to attend and even willing to have non-technical presentations – soft skills in particular.

No conclusions today, just thinking. More tomorrow.



Renewed as MVP

I was renewed for another year as a SQL Server – now Data Platform – MVP, always pleasant news. My plan for the new MVP year is pretty much the same as last year, I’ll try to out and about serving the Florida community, doing some mentoring, and contributing to PASS as I can.

Below is the list of technologies that fall into the Data Platform. They seem reasonable to me as a grouping, but I suspect most of us will still concentrate on one or two areas and know a little something about the rest. It is unclear to me if this is a big change to the MVP program or not.

2015-11-10 09_09_39-MVP Award Update - Oct 2015

Notes on the 2015 PASS Summit

I’m still catching up after my 13th PASS Summit and as usual the longer I wait the shorter the notes will be, so I’m going to try to capture the biggest thoughts of my week:

  • Storyville Coffee was very good. A little hard to find, but worth the trip
  • I’m hoping video of the first day keynote gets posted, I missed part of it. What I saw was ok. Packed room, people standing in the back. Room was warmer than comfortable. About 9:30 I saw people start to exit in a slow stream – I suspect wanting to get to first session more than any lack of interest.
  • Monday night networking dinner went really well at Yardhouse. I ended up seating people because the staff wasn’t as comfortable about shoe horning people in. We had 150+ on site and most stayed 2 hours easily. Service was best we had. We’ll return next year unless Seahawks are in town that night.
  • Event logistics seemed fine. Lunches were good, if not quite what I’d order! Not sure it was real tea they were serving.
  • The SQLSaturday RoundTable went went. I did my 15 minutes on marketing and got better than hoped response – tough to talk about “how to” to a crowd that has already “done that!”. I still wish for more time and more time to just talk among the attendees. Maybe an earlier start would help. The sponsor panel was interesting, but I still don’t think they quite appreciate how much we the attendees fear (for lack of a better word) the barrage of email from multiple sponsors post event. Grant is taking over the portfolio
  • Chapter Leader meeting. Grant announced he was moving to SQLSaturday, but no word on his replacement. Very disappointing to have Grant move – Chapters needs a lot of attention and continuity. Deserves would be a better word. Not quite related to Summit, I’m still unclear why we don’t combine Chapters and Virtual Chapters to free up a board member.
  • Tim Ford is taking on the new membership portfolio. I’m eager to see the final goals. Could it be we’ll finally fix who is a voting member? Thanks for Tim for his efforts related to SQLSaturday.
  • Bill Graziano finished up 10 years of service to PASS. Thanks for that Bill.
  • Community Zone was active and popular, as was the SQL Clinic.
  • Expo area seemed to do really well. I hear it was the best sales year ever. Lots of smaller vendors, I like to see those!
  • SQL in the City seemed to go smoothly.
  • View from the Space Needle is worth the $22, though the view from my 25th floor room at the Grand Hyatt facing the water was good too. Best weather I’ve seen in Seattle, wore shorts all week, even saw the sun a few times.
  • Caught up with a lot of people, was good to reconnect.
  • Tjay and I visited – it’s a co-op of about 25 woodworkers. Beautiful stuff. Took some pictures of things I might try at some point.
  • Second day keynote was good, but less compelling than some years – all about IoT. Final year for Dr Dewitt, thanks for many hours of preparation over the years to do all those keynotes! Now who will fill this spot next year? We have to find someone good or we’ll get a marketing presentation!
  • Board Q&A was ok. Not huge attendance and I think that reflects relatively few problems in the world of PASS. Thought they spent too long going over answers to questions from last year (publish those!) and letting board members talk about what they had accomplished (publish that too!). I’m looking forward to reviewing the transcript, might be a thing or two worth a follow up.
  • I need to go back over the day 2 keynote on the financials. Good info there, but I want to dig in a little more to the numbers.
  • Best speaker of the week for me was Peter Myers, very smooth and handled a typo in a demo cleanly. I went to three MS sessions. One I left because I wasn’t sure it would every get past “Im excited”, one that wandered towards the goal too slowly for me, and one that went well. That might be the same ratio for community sessions or I could be a tough grader, but I don’t think so. Speakers, the first couple minutes sets the tone. By 10 minutes in you’ve got me or I’m going to my “B” session. I love when you’re excited, but show me stuff.
  • I went to the opening night reception, skipped Wed – seems like Tues repeated? I went to EMP on Thursday and that was ok, but not a huge draw for me. I’m starting to think about the value of a smaller event on Thursday evening for those that would like to slow down and talk.
  • Best conversations about tech were at the Birds of a Feather lunch where I had a table with my friend Allen Kinsel. Lots of interesting questions. We need more time for those talks!
  • I still miss the Chapter lunch. What did we replace it with? I heard it was “too much work”. I’d like to see it return.
  • My kids loved finding my picture on the “Connect” bag. Thought the three versions were a nice idea, saw some complaints about the lack of expected backpack. More on this later.
  • Exhibitors, I’m more likely to visit if you have swag my kids will like! Idera scores big with the ducks, but lots of others had stuff too.
  • I stuck to my plan of not live blogging and opting out of most/all the evening events. It made for a relaxing week. I may change again next year, but it was nice to break the pattern this year.
  • I need to write about the value of evals soon
  • I’d really like to see the Summit move from Seattle in 2020 – what would that take?
  • I think I might have encouraged as many as three people to run for the Board next year. Taking credit is probably not fair, lets say I think I know three people that will run next year!

A good week. Now to finish up some related items, get ready for SQLSaturday Tampa BI Edition in a week, and then start thinking about our 10th SQLSaturday Orlando.

PASS Summit 2015 Plans

I’m flying out Sunday morning on my usual direct flight from Orlando to Seattle. I like getting there a day early so I can have a “slow day” and start to sync to local time and it gives me a good buffer in case the flight is delayed or cancelled. Sunday will be lunch, an afternoon meeting, and then dinner with a few friends old and new. Still a couple seats open, if you’d like to join me drop me a note on Twitter.

Monday morning – early – you’ll find me at Top Pot for breakfast. Coffee is good, food is good, and they have these great windows, a good place for quiet reflection. Some rain always helps. What are the odds?

Monday night I’ll be at Yard House with Steve Jones hosting our annual networking party and I hope you’ll join us. No sponsors, no contests, no prizes, just people. Not good at meeting people? That’s ok! We’ll introduce you to some people to get you started.

Tuesday I’ll be at the SQLSaturday Roundtable and talking for 15 minutes about marketing these events. I’m still agonizing over what is the best use of the time – everyone in the room will have marketed an event at least once – what can I say that will get them to look at it a different way? Got an idea or two! I’ll probably drop in at the Chapter Leader meeting too.

I plan to be at both keynotes this year, but I won’t be at the blogger table. That is based solely on me feeling like it wasn’t working for me. It felt like I was transcribing (perhaps the nature of live blogging) and I’d rather listen and reflect, taking the odd note to expand later. I’ll be near the back of the room this year because I want to watch the audience reaction, in part to see what clicks and in part to think about whether I expect too much/the wrong thing from the day one keynote. I’ll write some during the week but haven’t decided yet if I’ll publish daily or just do an after event “notes” post as I do for most events I attend.

I’ll be at the Board Q&A on Thursday (starts at 3:30 pm) and I’ll be there in observer mode. Not that I don’t have questions – I always do – but much like the keynote I’ll be thinking about the people and the questions that do get asked. Plenty of time during the week for me to ask other questions and have longer conversations. Note that while I’m not planning to ask questions I consider this to be an important part of the Board leading the community, it’s one of a couple times each year when we can talk to the Board all at once.

On Friday I’m hosting a table at the Birds of a Feather Luncheon, one on DBA topics and one on Professional Development. Consider those general guidelines, join me and we’ll find something to get everyone at the table talking. I’m flying home Friday night, arriving way too early on Saturday morning to make sure I have time to get into full Halloween mode with my children.

Goals for the week are to balance networking and learning, both are important. I’m particularly interested in sessions/discussions related to security and general documentation. As always I’m going to try to balance spending time with people I know with meeting new people, it’s easy to fall into just hanging out with old friends. There are some people I hope to talk into running for the Board next year. I’ll also be enjoying a relatively quiet week to think about what I want to do next year.

Notes From the September 16, 2015 Jacksonville SQL User Group Meeting

Forgot to post the next day and now missing details! Notes:

  • Rained the entire drive up (and back)
  • Not a bad drive for me, about 2 hours
  • You know it’s a strange day when you turn left at Wackos to get there
  • Location is a restaurant/bar/grill. Had to look twice, is this the right place? They have several meeting rooms and the space worked out fine.
  • Really good crowd for a rainy night, 30 attendees!
  • Food was provided, wings/chicken fingers/veggies, and they sent leftovers home with several attendees – nice touch
  • My presentation on corruption went fine. Saw quite a few eyes light up as they learned something. Think many were surprised about my saying that it was smart to call for help if corruption happens – tendency is to DIY the fix, not always the right thing to do.
  • I liked the vibe of the group. Quiet, comfortable, good questions, good feedback afterward
  • Thanks to Devin, Scott, and Eric for inviting me and being gracious hosts