Time to Vote-PASS Board of Directors

It’s that time of year where we get to vote for the three best candidates to serve a two year term on the PASS Board of Directors. It’s going to be a tough choice, there are five good candidates – all good, but certainly not interchangeable! Ballots will go out shortly via email to eligible voters.

Three of the candidates asked me for public recommendations to be included in their application and I was pleased to write those recommendations – you can see them in their detailed application on the election site. I hope you’ll read all of the applications and recommendations as you work toward your own voting decision this year.

I’ve also posted a couple of challenging questions for the candidates in the election forum, one asking how they will vote on future Summit locations and one about where they stand on appointments to mid-term vacancies. They are hard questions because there is no right answer, and that is the nature of leading. I hope you’ll post your own questions in the same spirit, let’s see what they’ve got without turning it into a bad reality TV show (or real politics).

What matters in a candidate?  Some of the things I think about when evaluating candidates:

  • Will they make the time in their schedule to do PASS work even if other things suffer?
  • Can they build a case for a decision they want and build the consensus to get it passed?
  • Can they take criticism without being defensive?
  • Do they have the depth of relationships in the PASS community that will enable them to be effective from the start?
  • Will they take measured risks and how will they react to failed efforts?
  • Will they remain connected to the community once elected, or will they fall into the ‘board bubble’ that seems to absorb some?
  • Do they have experience managing and making substantial decisions?
  • Do they have what it takes to go all the way to the top, to be one of the future leaders and visionaries of the organization?
  • Do they have a track record of doing what they say they will do?

You might have a different list, that’s ok. As long as you cast a considered vote you’ve done a good job for the community. Votes matter, participation matters, especially when you consider that out of all the seats on the Board only six are elected – the remainder do not stand for election (2 from Computer Associates, 2 from Microsoft,and then the three officers plus the immediate past president).

Build the Board you want. Think about which of the people you select will (or could) move up to lead the organization.

Vote!

DBA Manager Needed in Orlando–Putting My Network to Work!

I”m working with a client in Orlando that needs a manager for their data team, seems like a prime opportunity to reach out to my network! I’ve posted the job description below with the company information removed since I’m posting it to my blog. I can tell you that it’s a team of about 10, there are a LOT of servers, it’s a positive environment, and it’s a large company. I can also tell you the CIO is superb, someone I’ve known a long time and highly respect. I can’t post the salary range, but I know what it is and it’s not bad at all.

If you’re interested you can contact me via Twitter (@SQLAndy) or via email as Andy at this domain. If it seems like a potential fit I’ll introduce you to someone involved in the hiring process and let you take it from there. If I don’t know you well please include your LinkedIn URL when you contact me.

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Orlando based company is searching for a Database Manager. The Database Manager will manage and direct the database organization.  The candidate must be able to manage a staff in the full software development lifecycle in the development and support of new features, functions and capabilities. The candidate must be able to provide project oversight, workload estimations, management of timelines, resource planning and budget management (forecast to actual).

  • Mentors staff in the use of the databases and database information.Assists with hiring and retaining qualified resources.
  • Performs reviews in a timely fashion.
  • Develops yearly training plans for the staff.
  • Provides ongoing staff support as issues arise.
  • Designs and prepare reports based on management requirements.
  • Maintains software and hardware to perform to the required standards.  This includes building roadmap(s) for the database infrastructure.
  • Plans, coordinates and implements security measures to safeguard information in computer files against accidental or unauthorized damage,modification or disclosure.
  • Interacts with other teams,internal and external, as part of the problem resolution process.
  • Facilitates the completion of assignments by resources across teams.
  • Assists planning via different development methodologies.
  • Provides guidance and direction for key areas of responsibility for the team to insure strategic alignment with company objectives.
  • Recognizes and identifies potential areas where existing policies and procedures required change or where new ones need to be developed, especially regarding future business expansion.
  • Reviews project requests describing database user needs to estimate time and cost required to accomplish project.Work as part of a project team to coordinate database development and determine project scope and limitations.
  • Reviews procedures in database management system manuals for making changes to database.
  • Establishes and grows strategic relationships by attending meetings, forums, conferences, etc.
  • Develops and implements performance based statistics and metrics.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor”s degree in Information Technology / Computer Science, Business, or equivalent years of experience and training.
  • Minimum 7 years as a technical professional.
  • Minimum 10 years of technical work experience in roles with progressive responsibilities.
  • Minimum 5 years management or supervision of database organization
  • Minimum 3 years of managing large IT technology initiatives
  • At least 7 years in development of enterprise-wide initiatives, including Microsoft SQL Server and/or Oracle database technologies
  • Familiarity with Oracle and Microsoft environments
  • Demonstrates experience in leading software initiatives that cross teams, platforms and technologies
  • Experience with large 24×7 production IT operations
  • Hospitality industry IT is a plus

One More Reason for Portable Applications

I bet most of us don’t think about installing software that we need/want to try. We’re either running as local admin or we can elevate to local admin as needed. It’s nice to be able to install a piece of freeware or open source that will elegantly solve a problem. But what happens when you don’t have local admin as an option?

I work on a client provided laptop and I don’t have local admin. I get the plain vanilla app list and it’s not a very long list. Anything else has to be submitted for approval. Supported stuff often then gets pushed to my machine – I can only imagine it will be an uphill battle to get something ‘unofficial’ installed, but to be fair I haven’t asked yet. The big concern is malware, not the helpful app that Joe User wants to install. In general I with the policy – just not when it applies to me!

My solution for those occasional needs are portable apps. The lines can blur some as many need Java or .Net runtimes installed, but the crux of these apps is that you don’t have to install them, just extract them to a folder. Perfect for keeping on a USB drive, they also are a nice work around for the no-local-admin problem. Portableapps.com is my first stop when I need something, you may find a few others on this list.

I wish more were written that way. Not only can you install (run) without a hassle, they are a breeze to clean up – just delete the folder and you’re done.

Last Call To Register for SQLSaturday Orlando

This coming Saturday (September 29th) we’ll be having our sixth annual SQLSaturday at Seminole State College (our site partner since the beginning) with 7 great tracks of free learning. Pay the lunch fee of $10 and you’ll get a knock your socks off BBQ lunch plated up by the speakers, all wearing….SQLSaturday aprons!

If you’ve never attended, give it a try. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert. If you’re interested in learning, you’ll have a good day with us, and you’ll meet some incredibly nice people through out the day.

I’ll be there all day, starting by delivering an early session at 7:30 on building your very own professional development plan. Come by and say hello, I’d love to meet you.

Notes from the 2012 Tampa IT Pro Camp & Some Misc Thoughts

I drove down Saturday morning to do a beginner presentation on SQL Security. Event was hosted at Rasmussen College, great venue. Good rooms, good parking, easy access, I think the two challenges with the site are the hallways aren’t big enough to put the sponsors there, so they had to go in a room, and there is no “big room”, which is nice for a kick-off type thing first thing in the morning (which is optional for me, but some like it).

I had about 15 attendees, heard the total attendance was 150. Good questions in my session, and it was a real mix. Someone from IT security, a former DBA,a network/server type guy,an Access person, and a few more. If you’re a speaker, go to these events, there are people there we need to reach, that want to learn, and we can show them the right way! I had a great time, worth the drive down and back.

Now to some broader thoughts.

Chad Miller and Blain Barton are driving these events, doing a great job and trying to do something similar to Code Camp and SQLSaturday, yet different. Very successful in Florida, but not much growth outside yet. That’s ok, early growth takes time to figure out the formula. I talked to Chad about it some and he sees the biggest challenge is the lack of user groups that target this segment, so there is no “committee” in cities that will work together to bring one to their group. It will be hard to scale if Chad and Blain drive every event. Not impossible, but not easy.

Not sure how to fix that. Trying to run a group that has something for everyone – Windows, Exchange, Sharepoint, Virtualization, etc, etc, could easily mean one size fits none. Ideally each technology would have their own group, I guess?

Early days for them. In the SQL community we’re further along. We started earlier if nothing else. Makes me appreciate that, also makes me think about how we can do more than just grow the SQL space. Clearly we’re one model for making things work, we should do more to share that, but maybe also think about more direct help for other tech areas that are ready to grow.

Mac Daddy!

In my Three Strikes post I wrapped up the sorry tale of trying to get an X1 Carbon delivered from Lenovo. The day after I cancelled I did get an email indicating it was going to be delayed another 30 days. I’m hoping that is just due to two separate systems not being quite in sync, but I won’t be surprised to find it on the doorstep someday either.

That sent me back to shopping. I took another look at a Samsung Series 9, good specs, but when I tried the keyboard – eh, just didn’t seem like any travel. Hard to judge standing in a store, but just didn’t seem like the one.

That put me back to considering the Mac Air. Steve Jones recommending it, all the reviews are good to great, so decided to try it. Ordered the 8g/256g configuration in case I want to run Windows in a VM (works decently so far using Virtual Box) with the I7 processor. Only had it a couple days but so far its good. Keyboard is good, I wish the display was matte instead of glassy, tethers to my phone nicely over Bluetooth, and the trackpad seems solid. It seems solid.

It’s my first Apple, so I don’t know where anything is. Interesting/annoying. I’m looking forward to trying it in a dual boot config just to see,and I may try Parallels and/or VMware too,but it’s nice that VirtualBox works for free.

Thinking maybe to P2V my current laptop to duck the pain of moving/re-installing my stuff, or make the jump to Windows 8 and do it all at once.

Will be interesting to see.

Notes from My 24 Hours of PASS Presentation

Quick notes:

  • Because it was scheduled for 7 am local I decided to do it from home. Good plan, except it meant the kids had to be out the door on time so I’d have quiet. Just barely got that done with more than the usual ruckus. Not the best for getting to the zen presentation state.
  • We used IBTalk instead of Livemeeting this time, I think to overcome attendee limits in LM. It’s Flash based, seems nice. I was able to upload my slides in advance and since I didn’t need to share my screen for demos, everything was already server side – no chance of delays due my connection.
  • As a presenter I was instructed to dial-in rather than use PC audio/microphone. In a lot of ways that works good, can use bluetooth and regular cell phone, but of course today there was some crackling, don’t know if it was me, location, etc. Luckily wasn’t horrible.
  • IBTalk has a question panel, it wasn’t until the end I found out you can click to see the whole question, I thought they were just being truncated (because most showed up fine – the ones that fit on the one line of display!)
  • I think about 30 attendees. Don’t know if that is good for 7am or not,seems low,  maybe due to it not being a technical topic.

I had a good time, seemed like it went smoothly, and will have a couple follow up posts on some questions that came up.

Your Boss Wants You To Be Better at X

Imagine that you use a piece of software as part of your work, but it’s not what you consider the core of what you do. You consider yourself competent with the software and you don’t see a lot of gain from learning any more. What do you do?

I like this riddle. Most of the time we complain about the lack of feedback, the lack of suggestions on how we can do better and be worth more. Then we get a suggestion and don’t like it!

A good start is to ask “why”? Followed by “how”? How will this help me at my current job (or the next one). Why do you think I need to learn this (as opposed to that)? Then you still have the problem – do you buy into the logic and if not, do you do it anyway?

If you’re not going to do it, plan your future carefully, right now. The best option is to negotiate, set a smaller goal, but preferably a different goal that more closely aligns with what you want to do. Otherwise at that next review you’re going to try to make the case for a raise after not doing what was asked/suggested of you.

It takes experience to understand that sometimes – even often – we don’t know what we need to do to move to the next level. We can’t see that investing some time in something that seems off the straight line path to our current goal is worth doing. There’s a bit of Karate Kid mantra here, wax on and wax off. Sometimes you have to do before you can know.

Don’t discard suggestions lightly. It could be the boss is a quack, but I’d bet on the side that see a weakness in your game and they are giving you the gift of telling you how to fix it.

Lenovo–Three Strikes

Last Friday Lenovo told me my new laptop would ship this Monday, or “much much sooner”. Monday I called to check the status – seeing as how the online status page still was not updated – to be told that due to constraints it would not ship until the 27th. The agent was unable to explain how over the weekend the ship date slipped 10 days. Aggravating.

Today I decided to check once more. The online order page was updated, now showing the purchase price (again) after weeks of showing zero. I thought, wow, maybe this train will leave the station after all. Called in again, today they tell me that it will now ship on the 29th! In one day it has slipped another 2 days!

I decided to cancel. I need to get a machine here in time to get my stuff settled before the Summit, and more I just have no faith in Lenovo at this point. I suspect the product will be good when it ships, but if something breaks I’d hate the thought of shipping it back. Nothing about their service so far has been good.

The agent asked me to reconsider. I stick with cancel. He mentions that I will lose my discount. Ok, thanks, still want to cancel. He tells me it will ship on the 29th, or maybe sooner. Yeah, cancel. Finally defeated,he explains that they cannot “guarantee cancellation” and that it will take 3-5 days. What does that mean? I don’t know. I suggested that I could guarantee I wouldn’t pay. End of call,a couple hours later I got the cancellation confirmation, which I guess doesn’t always take 3-5 days.

I contemplated trying to reach out to someone way up at Lenovo, and had it been a case of a product received but not correct I might have. Instead, I’m going to vote with my wallet and spend that good chunk of money with another vendor. Will that vendor be better? Hard to know, but at least will be different!

All it would have taken to keep me as a customer was solid, accurate, honest communication. I was already sold. I researched, picked it, and could wait until the 29th if it came to that.

Interesting Reading for September 18, 2012

More stuff you may find interesting.

  • Prepare for your first security breach. Sobering. As data professionals we’re going to get pulled into these incidents at some point when they happen. Read now and hope it’s never on your watch or even during your tenure.
  • Conways Law says that organizations design systems that match the communication structure of the organization. I don’t think it’s meant to be a good thing.
  • Ultimate Windows Security even has some coverage of SQL Server!
  • What Would Your Successor Do. A reminder to take a fresh look at things. I’ve used a variation of this for years when I felt like I was failing – what would my replacement do differently?
  • Want to cause change? It’s at least as much about people as process. PDF of a slide deck, this is worth thinking about. Nothing about any kind of change is easy, but it’s easier if you understand the common patterns and responses.
  • Interesting idea for keeping daily stand-ups short.
  • Lots of tips for optimizing web page load times.