CACTUSS

Work Smarter Not Harder

I am presenting for the PASS DBA Virtual Chapter this Wednesday March 28, at 12 noon eastern. I am presenting on Work Smarter Not Harder -Standardize Your Environment With Best Practices. If  you are interested in finding out how Standardizing installations, servers setups, configurations, and more can make your job easier stop by and check out my presentation.

Registration is not required to attend the meeting but it is to enter the raffle for a $50 Amazon gift card.

Registration:

https://www.livemeeting.com/lrs/8000181573/Registration.aspx?pageName=k88g426fvnfc9g49

Attendee:

https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/8000181573/join?id=T2WFT6&role=atten

Hope to see you there.

Cheers!

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Volunteers Are The Life Blood

Without volunteers events like SQL Saturday 97 in Austin (October 1st in case you forgot) would not be possible. Heck the PASS Summit in all its glory and pageantry would not be possible without the help of the volunteers. I am part of the team from CACTUSS planning and organizing this event and we need your help to make this event happen.

What Volunteers Do

In short, they do everything. Do you remember looking at the event page for SQL Saturday 97? No, well, here is a link, http://www.sqlsaturday.com/97/eventhome.aspx go take a look. What is the 6th word in the 2nd paragraph? One of the main reasons we can provide events as this at this price is because of volunteers on the front line and down in the trenches.

Here are a few things we will need help with. Registration desk when attendees first arrive. Room monitors to hand out speaker evaluations and collect them at the end and to help keep the speaker on track. Greeters and General Information Dispensers, Vendor Area setup/takedown, Breakfast Server setup/takedown, Lunch Server setup/takedown , Room Proctors /Monitors.

What Do You Get As A Volunteer?

Well first off you get a really cool shirt! What else do you need? No seriously, when I volunteered I was a room monitor and I used that opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers a little more closely than might be able to right after a sessions. It also helped me break the ice with other speakers and attendees later at the networking party (a must).

There is also the opportunity to get fame and fortune. Well O.K. maybe not, but at least you can say you hung out with a @SQLRockstar, Thomas LaRock ( twitter | blog ) or Jen and Sean McCown the @MidnightDBA dynamic duo ( twitter | blog ) or our very own @SQLServerIO, Wes Brown ( twitter | blog ) or any number of other up and coming local speakers.

What Do We Get From You?

Believe it or not you are giving back by volunteering. When you volunteer you are helping to keep the SQL Community alive, moving forward and continually growing. You are helping to provide a free training event to people that may be just starting out working with SQL Server or any of its related components. You are also helping to save some of the rest of us some sleepless nights and reducing our stress levels.

Final Thoughts

Volunteers are the backbone of these events without them we would not be able to host SQL Saturday 97 or any SQL Saturday events. Volunteering can be rewarding in many different ways. It’s up to you how you approach the opportunity and what you make of it. I have volunteered for several SQL Saturday events now with SQL Saturday 97 being the first I am helping to organize. I can tell you each one is different and each one has been very rewarding from the new things I learned to the people I met.

I will go out on a limb and say if you volunteer to help, even a little, you will also get this warm, fuzzy feeling that only comes from volunteering and helping make an event such like SQL Saturday 97 a success.

If you want to volunteer after reading this email me at aj.mendo@sqlposse.com or signup to attend here and check the box to volunteer.

See you there.

Cheers!

Why You Should Attend SQL Saturday 97

Free Training

Part of the mission statement of SQL Saturday (read the full statement here) is to provide a day of free training to SQL Server Professionals and those new to SQL Server an event that combines training and networking as well as find and grow new speakers (see Calling All Local Speakers) that means you!

Take a look at all the sessions submitted. The tracks are not finalized yet but so far we have sessions submitted for DBAs, Developers, BI professionals, dotNet, and an Advanced. As you can see there is something for everyone.

Cool People To Meet

For me networking is one of the best parts of any SQL Saturday event. You can catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I especially like meeting the people I have chatted with on twitter and not met in person. That’s part of what makes the SQL community so strong and always growing. You can have conversations (all be it short ones) on twitter and when you actually meet them it’s almost as if you have known them for years.

The Weather Is Fine Wish You Were

I am sure you have seen something in the news about how hot it has been and the serious drought conditions down here in Texas recently. Yes it’s true; we have many days during the summer over 100 degrees and have not had measurable rain in several months.  However, our fall weather is usually very, very nice.

The normal high temperatures for October are in the low 80s and the normal low temperatures are in the upper 50s. Our average monthly rainfall is below 4 inches. That is not too shabby when compared to other areas of the country or world for the month of October. This year will be no different it is going to be a beautiful weekend to be in Austin.

Things To Do

After getting your learn on during the day, and after you have hung out at the Networking Social post event party you can stroll along 6th street. Checkout the clubs the people and maybe, just maybe run into the world famous Leslie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Cochran).

Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World! Every weekend for sure and just about every week night you can find live music to your liking in Austin. Whatever you decide to do Austin has the nightlife to support it.

Vendors

Vendors are a big part of any of the SQL Saturday events and ours is no different. They support the events financially and with people. Please make it a point to visit the vendors, talk with them, and check what they have to offer, get a free pen or a splat ball, and if they are giving something away, throw your name in hat for a drawing at the end of the day. Who knows you may win something and get more than just free knowledge. I was at an event in the spring where one of the attendees won several things in a row. That could be you this time.

Final Thoughts

When you look at the wide range of session topics submitted. The speakers on the list, then networking possibilities, not to mention it is FREE, there is bound to be something for every level of experience.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am really excited to be a part of CACTUSS and that we can give a little back to the community by SQL Saturday 97. If you are attending, find me and say hi. I’ll be the one grinning from ear to ear.

Cheers!

Calling all Local Speakers!

One of the core reasons SQL Saturday was started is to “Find, grow, and feature local speakers” (read more About SQLSaturday here). I know you have thought about speaking. You may not know it yet but somewhere in the back of your mind you have. Trust me, you have.

(Waving hand in Jedi mind trick motion) Submit a session to SQL Saturday97 today.

Join the Ranks

I have given three presentations now. I survived all of them and you will too. Looking back, the first one was shaky, the second one was better and the last one, while not perfect (are they ever?) was the best yet. Why was it the best? Because like other things you do, the more you do them, the better you get. The better you get, the more you do them. Speaking is no different.

Another thing that helps is feedback positive and negative. Most of it the feedback was positive, even after the first one. Don’t get me wrong I have received negative or constructive (that mostly came from me) feedback too. But you also won’t grow or know what to improve on it you don’t get some negative at times. Remember that too when you are attending a session. Feedback is crucial to speakers.

How To Start Speaking

First pick a subject. This was hard for me too and still is at times. What I have presented on in the past was related to things I am doing at work or want to learn to do. Don’t worry if someone “famous” has already presented. There are people out there who have not heard about them or seen their presentation. There are many, many websites with information on “How to give presentations”. Here is just one to get you started. ToastMaster.org

Here is also a simple formula to follow that will assure you give effective presentations.

Tell Them What You Will Be Presenting
Present
Tell Them What You Presented

Follow that and you are well on your way.

Speaking Is Addictive

Let me warn you now. After you give a good presentation you will know it. You can just feel it, even if you made some mistakes. The feeling you get after hearing the applause and knowing you did a good job is what makes you want more. The more you present, the better you will get and the more you will want to present.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, SQLSaturday events were originally designed to promote and grow new speakers. After all we don’t grow on trees. There is tons of support out there to help you get started, but no one can present for you. If you remember the simple formula; Tell Them What You Will Present, Present, Tell Them What You Presented, you have a great foundation. We all started somewhere, even the famous speakers. Now is your time.

(Waving hand in Jedi mind trick motion) Submit a session to SQL Saturday97 today.

Cheers!

Presenting more at CACTUSS

Last month I presented at CACTUSS for the second time in my SQL career. Now in and of its self that does not seem important. But to me it is. You see, my presentation was based on one I had attended at SQL Saturday in Dallas on April 2nd and it made a big impression on me. So much so, it rekindled a spark inside me.

The presentation I attended was Andy Warren’s ( twitter | blog  ) Building a Professional Development Plan.

At the SQL Saturday I was hanging with my good friend Wes Brown ( twitter | blog ). He has been instrumental in helping me get started with presenting. So, at the networking event I asked if anyone was presenting at our user group meeting on the 19th. His response was, “No.”. I then told him I would present. At the time, I did not know what I would be presenting on, but had been leaning towards on Central Management Server. I have been slowly getting one going in my environment so it would be a natural fit to present.

The following week I received an email from Wes confirming I would still be presenting and wanted to know the subject to post and send out via email. After several emails I decided the presentation would be on Professional Development Plans.

As I mentioned I had found something inside me again. Since attending the presentation I had written down and created a PDP. All the pieces were not in the plan yet, but that was O.K. because the main point here is, I had a plan.

Anyway, to get back on the point, after a few minor technical issues, (starting the projector) and a few hiccups here and there the presentation was running smoothly. My son actually attended due to scheduling conflicts, and he helped with some comic relief at times.

Throughout the presentation there was interaction, questions asked and at one point, I had everyone do a small exercise. In the presentation I talked about the importance of writing, presenting and even volunteering for either user group functions, or SQL Saturdays or PASS program committees.

Over all things went very well and after the presentation, while doing some networking, several people came up to me, thanked me and mentioned it made them realize they needed a PDP themselves. I was also talk with a former college and recommended him to one of several people in attendance currently hiring. So networking is very important.

So, assessing my presentation, I would say I did well. Are there areas I can improve, absolutely? But I am gaining confidence, feeling better in front of crowds and I actually enjoy speaking. So I will be presenting more at CACTUSS. I already started on another two presentations and with any luck a SQL Saturday is in my future soon too.

Cheers.

Presenting at CACTUSS

I don’t usually write about myself but this one is different. I am doing a little shameless self promotion.

I’ll be giving my first ever SQL presentation tomorrow at CACTUSS in Austin. Am I scared? Hell yes! Will I survive? There is no doubt in my mind. I plan on having fun and doing the best I can. If or when I make a mistake I will adjust and move on.

You see, it may be my first SQL talk but I am no stranger to public speaking. I am an elected official of a fraternal organization in our church and monthly I get up in front of a bunch of grumpy old men and run the meeting. I don’t always know the answers but, I keep my cool (usually) and work through any issues the best I can.

My presentation “Maintenance Plans or Not” is based on replacing the “canned” Maintenance Plans in SQL Server Management Studio with Jobs running Powershell Scripts. There is still some  work that needs to be done to it as I move forward with the concept but I have a start and will continue to improve.

The ideaor concept is to have “options”. If you, as a DBA, want to manually create the Maintenance Plans, no problem. If you want to use T-SQL O.K. If you want to use Powershell, then (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) I have scripts for that! All projects and server installs are not the same. They can be very similar but, this way we have several options and are not “locked” into only one solution.

So, if you are in the Austin metropolitan area and want to have some free food and want to heckle me then stop on by tomorrow night.
Here are the details and the CACTUSS web site.
http://cactuss.org/

We meet at:
Quarry Oaks II
10900 S. Stonelake Blvd.
Suite 225
Austin, TX 78759
5:30PM to 6:00PM – What problems are you having?
6:10PM to 7:00PM – Feature presentation
7:00PM 7:30PM – Q&A follow up and discuss next meeting.

Cheers!