Category Archives: 2657

Plane old trouble

Speaking at two SQL conferences in the last two months (SQL Down Under in New South Wales, and SQLBits V in Old South Wales), I’ve had some flights to do. This isn’t normally a big deal, but both times I managed to have some stress getting home.

Firstly, I should point out that both conferences were really good. Very different to each other – SQL Down Under was held at a university campus in a country town, SQLBits was in a 5-star hotel with conference centre – but both great events. There’s something about having a conference with a dedicated technology that makes it special. At TechEd you brush shoulders with people who have very different areas of expertise, but at a dedicated SQL conference, you end up having a lot in common with just about everyone.

At SQL Down Under I got to catch up with many people from around Australia that I see only a couple of times a year. Friends that I know from previous trips to Wagga, or from user groups I’ve visited, TechEd, even the occasional class I’ve taught. The content is always good, and it’s great to see people honing their skills in presenting. This year one of the highlights was seeing John Walker present for the first time.

At SQLBits, I got to meet many people for the first time (first time I’ve done a SQL conference in the UK). I got to see old friends like Simon, Jamie, Tony & Darren again, and meet people like Chris, Chris, Allan, James & Martin (of course there are many more names I could list). I had never heard any of these guys present before, so I tried to get around to as many sessions as I could. I was disappointed that the sessions I was giving clashed with Brent’s, but I was pleased that I could meet him for the first time.

Coming home from Wagga, I had to meet a flight taking me from Melbourne to Adelaide. I had allowed plenty of time to make the transfer, but when the flight out of Wagga was well over an hour and a half late, I knew I couldn’t make it. There was a fair crowd of SQL people at the airport, so we were joking about different tactics that could be used to help me make the connection. The flights were with different carriers, so apart from letting me check in for theSDC14510 second flight on their computer, there was nothing the Wagga staff could help with (they were very nice and helpful though, let me use their printer and everything). When I got to Melbourne, it turned out that the flight I was booked on had been cancelled, and my ticket transferred to a later flight, which I managed to catch. Home later than expected, but crisis avoided somehow…

Not so lucky on the way home from the UK. My flight to Australia stopped at Bangkok on the way, and as I got off, the crew were saying that we had an hour and a half. I got back to the gate in about an hour-fifteen, only to be told that I was too late. Apparently the 90 minutes was from the wheels touching down to the wheels taking off again, and we only had about 30 minutes in which to get back to the gate (bearing in mind that at Bangkok airport you need to wander down from the gate to a security area, and get re-admitted to the Departure area, before returning back to the same place you got off the plane in the first place). 24 hours later I got on a flight to Australia, but not before a stressful night trying to work out how best to get a replacement ticket, considering that nowhere in Bangkok was open for the first 16 hours I was accidentally in Thailand.

It hasn’t put me off the idea of travelling to conferences. Everything that happens gives me a story to tell, and I guess these last couple of months have just given me more stories than I expected. If you’re into SQL, and there’s a SQL conference near you, you should really try to get to it. Just pray that you have a better time getting home than I did.

A busy month – a new book, a new car, a new phone

I don’t know why Septembers are always busy. This one feels like it’s been interesting, and I’m not sure life will be the same again.

But first, some of the biggest news – the book that I wrote a couple of chapters for is now available for purchase!

nielsen_cover150[1] A challenge was put out a while back for SQL MVPs to write a book for charity. Paul Nielsen spearheaded it, and I’m pleased to say that there was a massive response. I wrote two chapters, and this week we have had the notice that the book can now be purchased from Manning Press. If you go to http://www.SQLServerMVPDeepDives.com you will be able to buy the Early Access Edition, which will get you updated electronic copies as the chapters become available (final layouts, images, etc still appearing). All the royalties for this book go to charity rather than the authors, so buy up! I promise to sign any copy put in front of me, but if you go to the PASS conference in November, you can probably get at least 40 or so of the other authors to sign it instead.

I’m planning to get a signed copy brought back from the US, and will auction it off to members of the Adelaide SQL Server User Group, giving the money to charity too.

It feels good to have the book finished!

September has also busy for a number of reasons. The company is growing nicely, celebrating a year this week, and keeping my time somewhat occupied. We achieved Gold Partner status with Microsoft at the end of August, and are ticking along well. On a more negative note, the winter has taken its toll with flu in the family, which is lousy – but we also bought a new car (finally got the people mover we’ve been promising ourselves). I replaced my old phone with an iPhone (part of me thinks that I’ll go back to Windows Mobile next time), and bought my wife one too (plus a DS for her birthday). I feel like we’re more gadgety than ever!

Not to mention TechEd Australia, which was a fun time. Grant Paisley surfing at Dreamworld was a sight to behold, and I hope there are photos somewhere! I gave a talk on SQL Azure, which gave me a number of headaches leading up to the conference, finding new things I wanted to mention on a daily basis! I also gave a talk on the danger of scalar functions in SQL Server, which I will be repeating in just over a week at Wagga, a couple of days after presenting at the Albury/Wodonga .Net User Group. An email arrived about half an hour after my scalar functions talk, saying that someone in the audience had just applied the principles I showed and made some vital queries run thirty times faster! Terrific news I think.

Bringing another laptop (an HP Mini) home from TechEd has also added to the number of gadgets in the house…

Tomorrow I hope to be able to write that I have been awarded MVP status for another year, which will be a tremendous honour. I keep wondering how much longer I’ll be able to remain in the company of such a fantastically skilled and helpful crowd. Every time I receive the award I’m both humbled and proud, and feel amazingly blessed.

More SQL Conferences coming up, including SQL Bits and SQL Down Under

I know I won’t be there, as I’m a million miles away in Australia, but being from the UK myself, I always have an interest in the UK SQL community and in particular, events like SQL Bits.

This is the fifth SQL Bits conference, and they keep getting larger and larger. I’ve heard it’s now the largest SQL-focussed event in Europe. It’s going to be in South Wales (that’s OLD South Wales, not New South Wales), in November. I’m sure the area is lovely, good beaches ‘n all that… but considering it’s late November in Wales, I think you’ll be going for the SQL content, not the scenery.

Of course, if you are in New South Wales, then you ought to be thinking slightly earlier, in particular, the second weekend in October. The third SQL Code Camp is being held in Wagga, with many regular speakers (like myself) and quite a few new ones too.

These two events are clearly the significant SQL events in the last quarter of the year. I’m sure no-one cares about SQL PASS, after all. (I do wish I was going to this one, but I won’t be. I plan to go one year, but I was in the US that week last year, and I don’t plan to be away from home for two birthdays in a row. Maybe next year. It is the biggest SQL event in the world, with great speakers from everywhere, including many good friends of mine.)

No matter where you are in the world, there are SQL events that you should be going to. Professional development is really important for your career, and you shouldn’t neglect it. That being said, make sure you find me at TechEd Australia.

Four speaking engagements coming up

I’m just going to list them…

This Saturday (July 18th), at Code Camp SA. I’m going to be talking about functions in SQL, particularly those that involve BEGIN and END.

At the end of the month, at the ACS Branch Conference. I’m going to be part of a panel discussing Open Source v Closed Source.

In August, I’m going to be speaking at SharePoint Saturday (Adelaide), about the integration of Reporting Services and SharePoint.

In September, I’m going to be a presenting at TechEd Australia, about SQL Azure.

Be nice if there was more of an overlap in topics…

Presenting at ADNUG this week

I haven’t been to ADNUG for a while. I love that the group is there, but over the past year or more, I haven’t prioritised getting to the meetings. I’ve been to meetings of equivalent groups in Melbourne and Sydney, but not to the Adelaide .Net Group for a while.

But this week I will! I’ve offered to be a stand-in presenter, and will present a few tips around T-SQL. I’m presenting a similar talk in Wagga this coming weekend, so it’ll give me a chance to work out my talk in advance. I regularly present and teach T-SQL things, so I’ll be picking a few of the more useful suggestions (particularly those that get a good response from the audience), and showing some of them. People who at one of my recent presentations may have heard bits before, but definitely not all of them.

SQL Code Camp concludes, plus poor Catherine Eibner

The SQL Down Under Code Camp finished this afternoon after a successful couple of days, but was marred by the news that Catherine Eibner, whose company sponsored the Influencers Party at TechEd AU this year, had shattered her wrist and was in hospital having surgery.

Catherine is becoming a big supporter of the SQL Server community in Australia, and even has a couple of user-group presentations coming up. Why not pop along to her blog and wish her well – I’m sure she’d appreciate it.

SQL Down Under talks, and England wins

This weekend is getting better and better. With England winning in both the football and the rugby, my mood is pretty good anyway – despite having to give the first presentation of Sunday morning at the SQL Down Under Code Camp. The local TV channel sent cameras just after I finished, so I think I managed to avoid having my presentation on the local news. At least, I hope they came just after I finished… otherwise I didn’t notice them lurking in the corner.

I taught the crowd about MERGE & Table-Valued Parameters, and got good feedback from various members of the audience. Hopefully people will be able to take the content and use it to try things out in SQL2008 when they get back to the real world.

Now, Grant Paisley is presenting about Analysis Services Best Practices. I’ve heard Grant give this talk before, but it’s still good. With Darren Gosbell, Greg Linwood and Kevin Kline still to come today, it’s going to be good. Poor France though… with Scotland beating the Ukraine in their Euro 2008 qualifiers, Les Blues need to win both their remaining matches to qualify for the tournament, and Scotland probably only need to a draw against Italy to go through.

SQL Down Under Code Camp begins

Two days of intensive SQL Server training, thanks to experts from around Australia and Kevin Kline from the US. All the Australian SQL Server MVPs are coming (five here so far, two more coming soon).

The coffee is great (thanks Peter), the company is great, and there are so many more people here (than last year) because there is also a Security Camp on at the same time. All the user-group leads are here, including Perth and the new Hobart group (Jason Cook‘s getting this going), which means every Australian state is represented.

I’m sure other people will be blogging about this too, so keep your eye out for them. I’ll try to blog more later on today.

Free SQL training at events in the UK and Australia

…and I’m not even referring to the User Groups which run regularly. The ones I’m referring to are SQLBits and the SQL Down Under Code Camp.

SQLBits was in the UK last weekend, and was a massive success. I would’ve loved to have been able to attend, but it’s a bit far to travel (I guess about 12000 miles). They had over three hundred attend, which is fantastic! Adelaide User Group regular Martin Cairney was there, and presented the talk he gave in Adelaide earlier this year. It seems to have been received well.

And this coming weekend is the SQL Down Under Code Camp in Wagga Wagga. It should be a great event, with well over a hundred people there. If you’re able to get to Wagga, I thoroughly recommend it.

Code Camps galore

We all know that Adelaide hosted Code Camp SA recently – it was a great success, and some people even wished I was there!

TechEd is coming up of course, but now there are two code camps scheduled for October, on the same weekend (13-14) and at the same venue! Yes, that place is Wagga Wagga – one Wagga for each event.

Firstly, and most importantly I’m sure, is the second SQL Down Under Code Camp. But the other one is the Security Camp Oz. With me doing the SQL Security talk at TechEd this year, I’m sure I’ll have a good reason to attend both!

Also in October, but the weekend before, and in the UK, the SQL community is hosting SQLBits. These guys have three streams (Dev, DBA, BI), and promises to be a fantastic event. I only wish I could be there. I’m sure Tony, Simon, Jamie, Jasper and Chris will do a fantastic job.

Seems wherever you are, October will be a big month for training.