PASS Election Results

The 2011 Election results were just posted, congratulations to Adam Jorgensen, Denise McInerney, and Rob Farley for taking the top three positions and earning a two year term on the Board. Thanks to Kendal Van Dyke, Sri Sridharan, and Geoff Hiten for being candidates this year – I hope you’ll give it another run next year!

This is an unusual year in that the election doesn’t end the defining of the 2012 Board. With Mark Ginnebaugh and myself leaving effective December 31st there will be two open seats on January 1st. Both seats will be filled by the Board for the remainder of the open terms (one year). In past years that has been done by picking the next highest vote getters. It’s not a requirement to do so, it’s just been – in my view – the fairest way to do it provided there are candidates available. I hope the Board will move quickly to confirm the two appointees so that they can fully participate for the year.

Wrapping Up 2011 and a Blog Break

I’m writing this on December 17th, thinking back on 2011, and it has been a good year. Not always simple or going where I thought it would go, but a good year. 2012 will bring more change as I finish my current work project in April or so and decide what to do next. Not easy to know. Not bad to have to figure it out, an interesting puzzle.

I have some other ideas that need some thought, so I’m going to take a break from blogging so I can put that time into thinking. I’ll be back sometime in January, and by then hopefully I’ll have decided where I want to spend my time in 2012.

Wishing you all a happy and safe New Year!

PASS Update #69 (The Wrap Up)

Next week marks the end of my third and final year serving on the PASS Board of Directors. I’ve struggled to write this, to find the right focus, and in the end decided to write just a few thoughts that keep coming to the forefront for me.

I’ll start by saying I don’t regret a bit the three years worth of effort. Maybe that seems obvious? It wasn’t back in May 2007 when I contemplated being a candidate, it was far from certain that the time and effort would net me anything but frustration. It did come with plenty of frustrations, but there were good days too.

I don’t regret leaving the Board a year early. As I wrote in an earlier update it was a hard decision, but it has been a good one. Just that one lesson was perhaps worth the three years of effort.

I wish I had been able to affect more change.

I believe more than ever that good governing requires transparency (and someone reading what gets published).

I know that for too long we’ve let our management company be just an event company.

I dream of a PASS that does far more than today and hope that others will build that dream, standing on the shoulders of everyone that has taken us this far.

I won’t miss Board meetings!

I know that we have to do more to grow leaders, and do more to encourage the biggest and brightest voices in our community to run for the Board.

I believe that you get out of an experience what you put into it. I think maybe I got more than that. For me it was a chance to do some good, but also to learn. Most of that learning was good. Some of it wasn’t, and I know it will take me some time to finish sorting that out and make sure that I’ve learned the right lessons.

So, that’s the end. 69 updates over three years, not quite 2 a month,but close! Now I’ll return to the ranks of the community,commenting and contributing from time to time, and watching with interest what the next generation of leaders tries to accomplish.

PASS Summit 2011 Eval Results

My presentation on Professional Development Plans ended up being ranked 47th out of 190, with an overall score of 4.63. The range is 1-5 with 5 being good, but it’s also a game of inches. If my score had been 4.5 I would have dropped to 90th place. Solidly in the middle of the pack and that’s fine, a good consistent performance. I’ll keep this in my 2012 plan, and do some incremental tweaks (and thinking on a part 2).

I posted all the comments below. Thank you again to all that attended and especially those that took time to fill out the eval, its always great to see how it went.


it was different from my expectation but still valuable               
A framework to apply – couldn”t ask for more.                
Yes, there are a lot of great presenters brought up that I need to go think about it.               
Learned/refreshed a LOT, not what I thought I would.               
Yes, thanks for helping with my plan “strategy”               
There were just really cold in that room               
Spot on!               
I thought it was about project not career dev plans.  I like this topic better!               
Exactly as billed a good info that we don”t always get easily in our field.               
Maybe more references/books is read/sites to go to               
Really great! Provided great information like a great mentor would.                
Had a good plan – slides and approach were good.                
Speaker lives it and is passionate about it.               
Great presentation skills.                
Good pace to the presentation, open to questions and room feedback               
Seemed confortable up there.                
Engaging speaker, very personable.               
Calm, centered delivery               
Awesome :,,)               
Took time to answer everyones question.               
Your comfortable, discussion style is awesome!               
Best so far               
I need to start by thinking about options, and finding someone more experienced to
A renewed desire to create a PDP and follow it.               
Alot! ex: reviewing my plan.               
Need my plan!               
Successful future!               
Networking, networking, networking.               
Cues to start my Prof Dev plan.               
Excellent information.  Took lots of notes!               
PDP = personal business plan.  write it down.               
Now to get crackin” on my PDP               
I am really looking forward to making my own PDP               
A new perspective on how I allocate time.               
Perfect session to make understand the need for PDP               
Andy was very inspirational.  Russ Co. goes into business tomorrow!               
Talk about how to improve on actual organization instead focus only in a new opportunity               
Nothing – might disagree with the value of an MBA. Fast (sp?) finished – feel like I can speak the same language as the business now.                
More samples               
Adding statics               
Nuthin – twas good clear concise helpful               
Good.  Can”t comment until I start my PDP.  First impression was very positive.               
Thanks so much!  You gave me a lot to think about.  Appreciate your pointing out that it can change at any point – removes pressure.               
Nothing I loved the session               
The presentation overran, but it was still a very good presentation!               
Really excellent, launchable, practical information – knowledge from many points of view.  It really changed my mind.  Impressive.  Thanks!               

Explaining SQLSaturday

I wrote a while back about my coffee cup from SQLSaturday #100. I took it to work (where I usually use my #49 cup) and while waiting on a meeting to start was showing it to a colleague (who isn’t a SQL guy). He was mildly interested, asking what SQLSaturday was, was it a conference?

Yes, sort of. To call it a one day free training event is perfectly accurate and yet – in my own biased view – doesn’t explain at all the fun and the impact of these events, and I found that it was hard to share that in the 2 minutes I had (and for which he was willing to listen!). I think we need a better elevator pitch!

SQLSaturday Goes International

Looking at 2011 and the planned events so far for 2012 it’s easy to see that SQLSaturday is starting to catch on in many places beyond the US, including Brazil that I mentioned in a post yesterday. Have you thought about what means? Why is it happening now? What would you say if I told you that there are early discussions in progress about having them in Turkey, Russia, and China?

Some of that is just the slow viral spread of SQLSaturday. Tim Mitchell attended #3 in Jacksonville, time goes by, SQLSaturday happens in his home town of Dallas. Kristin Ferrier attends Dallas and soon we have one in Oklahoma City. It’s been slow at times, but effective, and huge fun to watch.  Of course you don’t have to attend to catch the bug. SQLSaturday is a frequent topic on Twitter and in blog posts, it’s hard to follow the SQL world and not see the interest around the events.

All of that has been ‘as it happens’ growth. Over the past 4 years we have recruited lightly, but now we have Karla Landrum and a focus for PASS on international growth. Because Karla works on both SQLSaturday and PASS chapters as an evangelist that ‘when are you going to have a SQLSaturday’ conversation happens a lot more now. People like to be asked, and it’s hard to dismiss Karla – not because she is pushy, but because she is just so openly enthusiastic!

All of that together means that we’re growing faster internationally. For too long PASS (and SQLSaturday) have been US centric. It’s not that we’ve magically changed that,but we’ve started to actively engage outside the US and engagement matters. Relationships matter. Understanding the state of the SQL community in each country/area matters. More pragmatically,we’re growing people in new places. New speakers, new thought leaders.

As my friend Steve Jones and I have talked about this one of the things we think about is the impact on US speakers. Not a negative, we think that we’ll see speakers start to plan vacations & family trips around these international events. It’s what we talk about! The travel time and cost is an issue, but a chance to see a new place or two and lend support to these newer events is…interesting and amazing. Look at the calendar of past events and future reserved dates, isn’t there at least one place outside the US you would like to go?

It’s slow and subtle growth, and I think that works best, is most likely to be sustainable.

Read About SQLSatuday #100 & See the Coffee Cup Too!

Here’s a great post from Karla Landrum about her trip (with husband Rodney) to Brazil for the milestone making #100. What a terrific adventure and great story (now if only Karla would blog more…!).

Rodney & Karla were kind enough to bring me back a gift from the event, a genuine #100 coffee cup. I’m sure it’s my imagination, but I swear coffee tastes better in that cup (even a bit better than in my handmade #49 cup).


Why Am I Amazed By a 2000 Page Word Doc?

It’s not uncommon to have information shared in a Word doc, but I was surprised recently to open one up and glance down to see the page counter clicking away..100…200..all the way up to 2000. I’m not sure what the maximum is (or if there is a limit), but 2000 pages just seems like a lot.

I laugh at myself a bit because I don’t really raise an eyebrow over a millions rows in an Excel sheet, or a lot more than that in a real table. I laughed some more thinking about printing it. That’s two reams of paper if you go green and print on both sides!

Was it usable? Not really. If you knew what you were looking for easy enough to search. I needed to aggregate some info from it, and that just isn’t in the tricks I know how to do with Word. It did look impressive though, in size and presentation.

Will You Buy Refurbished? Part 2

Yesterday I shared the small adventure of buying a refurbished laptop. While I was at Compusa looking at laptops I browsed the rest of the store too, just seeing what they had that I didn’t know I needed yet, and that led me to the TV aisle. I’d been thinking about buying a new/larger TV for the living room for a while. We’ve got a four (five?) year old 37” Visio LCD that has worked fine (and still does), but I wanted to get a bigger screen and move the 37” to the family/play room that the kids use for Wii.

Not sure Compusa would be my first stop for a TV, I tend to start at Costco, but looked, and saw a 55” Visio refurb for $699, well under my goal of no more than $1000 if and when I bought one. I looked at the display model, picture quality seemed very good, better than some next to it, not as good as others. File that way for thinking.

Over the next month I glanced at newspaper ads and walked around Costco. Lots of deals out there, but none that seemed significantly better,or even quite as good. I want to shop smart,but I really don’t want to descend into TV buying minutiae – I wanted 1080 resolution and a big screen, after that I’m not one to obsess over LCD vs LED vs edge lighting, etc.

My kids love trying out the 3d TV’s they have on displays, enough to make me pause – should I just buy one of those? 3d is nice, but wearing goggles to watch TV just doesn’t seem like what I want to do, the feature costs a premium, and not a lot of 3d content yet. I could feel that all too human lure though – don’t buy the old stuff, get the cool stuff, etc.

Be strong. I just wanted a bigger display, I had not been yearning for 3d.

Took the family over to look at it (not a good plan to save money on something the family doesn’t like!) and no complaints, so I loaded up my $699 TV with the standard 90 warranty and drove home. Everything about it looked new, from packaging to display to the power cable. 10 minutes to unbox, cable remote worked without reprogramming since it was a Vizio and life was good.

How much did I save? That’s debatable, but let’s call it $300. Not bad.

There’s nothing wrong with buying new. Just remember buying a refurb isn’t like buying used. A used car typically shows the usage, and while you spend less, you get less. With electronics refurb, you spend less, but you get almost the same as new. I say almost only because it might be a model that is a year old and so is no longer the the latest and greatest.

So that ends my refurb buying for a while, next week I’ll share the story of mounting the old TV in the family room.

Will You Buy Refurbished? Part 1

A couple months back the laptop my wife uses was fading away, the internal power connector was broken/barely working and it looked like a motherboard swap would be required. Out of warranty and at $150+ for the motherboard (plus some aggravation), time to buy something new. It’s used for browsing, email, etc, and the one thing she knew was that she wanted something lighter and smaller than the 17” media focused one she had.

There is a CompUSA just around the corner from us, so I went over to look at their selection, including the refurbs. Refurbs tend to strike a chord of fear, but in my experience there are often good deals to be found, especially if you don’t need the latest and greatest (say one year back).

There was a decent Acer refurb for $300. Probably can get a new one for $500, maybe less. Worth the $200 extra? What would it get me? Mostly confidence and a longer warranty.

Rather than decide, I had her look at it and you couldn’t tell from looking at it that it wasn’t brand new. Not much different than the new but slightly different model next to it. Looks new,no scuffs. Decide to get it,find out that it’s out of stock at the store. Naturally. Call the other store in Orlando, they have one, so we drive down to get it (spending some of that savings on gas!). Getting service took a bit, we pay for it and go out, and just because it had been that kind of day, had her open it up in the car. Turns out it was missing a key. Not a great moment for the Andy saves $200 plan.

Back in the store we go. Luckily for me they had one more in stock. Opened it in the store this time and all was good, powered up fine.

Still works fine after a month. My theory on electronics is that if it works for a week, it’s a good as anything I bought new. Most come with a 90 day warranty – don’t spend the savings on the extended warranty. The real risk is aggravation, as in the missing key, not that the money will be wasted (which tends to be the fear);.

Was it worth the effort to save $200? I like shopping smart. I could have spent the $500 or twice that, but there was no reason to – this did what she needed. I thought it was worth the effort.