Browsing articles from "April, 2011"

On my Way to #NASATweetup – The Schedule

Apr 26, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Space  //  No Comments
Skilt: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Image by lug00ber via Flickr

OutToLaunchDoorYes, it’s time for me to start heading to Orlando, FL, then over to Cocoa Beach to pick up the keys to the condo where 3 wonderfully smart ladies and I will be staying as part of the NASA Tweetup.   It seems like I waited forever for this time to arrive.  I put the sign, courtesy of Carson Skinner (blog | Twitter) there on my office door to let Rob and Other Rob (my assistant) know that I was away.  Just in case they didn’t remember.

Right now the launch is scheduled for Friday, 29 April at 15:47.  I’m leaving tomorrow to ensure that I have sufficient padding in my schedule to give the airlines plenty of time to get me there for Wednesday.  One of the great things about working remotely is that I can work from anywhere, at least for short periods of time.

On Wednesday, I’ll stop by the Kennedy Space Center to pick up my information packet and to get my NASA Tweetup Badge.  My housemates will be arriving on Wednesday throughout the day.  Have I told you that I have an amazing group of women to share this experience with?  Sue (Texas)  works in the space industry, Liz (Minnesota) is a science blogger, TV personality and mom and Sheilah (Ontario) is a children’s librarian.  Up until a few weeks ago we’d never met and now we are rooming together and heading off to share a once in a life time experience watching the last flight of the Endeavour space shuttle.

Thursday we will make our way to the Kennedy Space Center for the first day of tours and information.  In the morning we’ll get to meet NASA Team members Stephanie Shierholz and John Yembrick who make all this Tweetup magic happen.  Next we will get a demonstration of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) and Mark III spacesuits, then lunch in the NASA cafeteria.

Around noon NASA TV will start for the official part of the program:

· Dana M. Hutcherson, space shuttle Endeavour’s flow director, , Kennedy Space Center

· Tara Ruttley, International Space Station associate program scientist, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, @ISS_research

· Astronaut Clay Anderson, @Astro_Clay, Expedition 15 flight engineer, STS-131 mission specialist, shuttle Discovery (April 5-20, 2010)

After that, we’ll board a bus for a tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, including visits to the Apollo Saturn V Center, a drive by the Shuttle Landing Facility, Mate-Demate Device, Orbiter Processing Facility, Vehicle Assembly Building and Mobile Launcher Platforms, and viewing of the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure, scheduled for 7 p.m.

I think that sounds like a wonderful day.  More posts about Friday, the main event (I’m hoping).

#SQLRun #SQLPASS Want to Run a Half Marathon with Other SQL Runners?

Apr 19, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Social Networking  //  7 Comments

IMG_0146Erin Stellato (twitter | blog) and I were talking about Jes Borland’s (twitter | blog) recent half marathon race (Go Jes Go!, Go Jes Go!).  Erin was looking for a half marathon to run some time around the PASS Summit.  We found the Portland Marathon and Half Marathon on 9 October 2011.  Portland is about a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle, but also just a $50 train ride, so not really that expensive to get from Portland to Seattle.  You could run the event and get to Seattle the evening of the 9th.  And just to entice you some more, there is a SQL Saturday planned for Portland on 8 October.  So in one weekend you could cram in:

  • SQLSaturday Portland
  • SQLRun Portland Half Marathon
  • SQLTrain to SQLPASS

That’s a whole lot of SQLfun all packed in before SQLPASS has even started.

This marathon and the half marathon are known for being a very friendly event, and on race day the course is open for 8 HOURS.  For a half marathon (13.1 miles) that’s a 36 minute a mile pace.  A leisurely walk is usually 18-20 minutes per mile.  With 8 hours to complete this marathon, nearly anyone can join the event.  In fact, you could run a bit, do some shopping, have lunch, take a nap and finish the race with time left over.  Did I tell you it is a friendly race?


The Portland Marathon is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary, so spots are tough to get.  In fact, the half marathon has sold out for the regular price.  However, there are other options for running the half:

  • Pay a $250 entry fee and get a tax receipt for $125 in return.
  • Commit to raising donations for one of the official charities and either have a reduced entry fee or the entire entry fee waived (see below)
  • Run the full marathon and pay the regular entry fee.

The key is that if you want to be part of this event, you’ll need to get entered soon.  The charity entry method is the most complicated so I’ve contacted all the charities and have heard back from some of them. 

If you are interested, leave a comment below with how you are registered and which event you plan on participating in.

Confirmed Registrations (people who have paid up or committed to fund raise for this event):


Ray of Hope Foundation

Do you still have charity entries available?  Yes, we still have plenty of entries left at this time.

What is the fundraising minimum for your charity?  We ask each runner to raise an amount of $750. In exchange each runner receives several benefits which are detailed on the attached information flyer. We also have a limited amount of entries available for "sale" at a price of $350. The buyer will have no further obligation to raise funds and will receive a Ray of Hope tee shirt. Part of the $350 will be tax deductible and buyer will receive a tax receipt.

Do you have an information page I could point people to so that they could choose to participate via your charity? I have attached the information sheet. If they want more information on our charity, please visit our website at

Is there a date for which the fundraising is to be completed? Fundraising must be completed in full by September 28, 2011. An initial amount of $250 must be raised by no later than August 25. The entry code will be held by Ray of Hope until the first stage of $250 is raised, at which time the free entry code will be released to fundraiser.

How should people contact you to get set up? The best way to contact me is through email at, or my cell (503) 998-4789. I can email the contract and we can do everything by phone and email.

Anything else I’d need to know to get people registered and starting to raise funds. We would LOVE to have all of you on the Ray of Hope team!  We had a blast last year with runners coming from all over the country, and we expect to have an awesome team again this year!! This is a wonderful cause and because we are a small non profit based in Portland, our administrative costs are quite low and your fundraising dollars go directly to our programs in Kenya, Africa.


American Cancer Society

Thank you for your interest in becoming a 2011 American Cancer Society DetermiNation charity athlete for the Portland Marathon/Half Marathon! Our American Cancer Society DetermiNation program provides our athletes with a meaningful experience to help fight back against this terrible disease.

We do have reserved half marathon entries for our program. In order to receive one, participants must commit to fundraising $1,000 due by 9/23/2011. We also have Marathon entries which require a $1,200 commitment. Upon registration, a fundraising commitment form will be completed online.

To register as a DetermiNation Charity Athlete or learn more about our program, please go to: Upon registration, you will receive a customizable charity athlete fundraising web page, and your charity athlete welcome packet and racing jersey will be mailed to you.

Please visit the ‘Info for Athletes’ page of our DetermiNation website for more program details, including our program benefits and fundraising requirements.


Komen For the Cure

Thanks for your interest in registering for the Portland Half Marathon through Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Marathon for the Cure program.  We do still have half and full marathon entries, and we would love to have you and your friends participate!  Here is a link to an info page that you can send along to anyone who might be interested:

The registration fee for a marathon or half marathon entry to the Portland Marathon is $100.  In addition, you will need to commit to fundraise a minimum of $1,000. This number is set to keep our program costs low and to ensure your donations are utilized to maximize our investment in breast cancer research, screening, education and treatment.  You will have up to 30 days AFTER the event day to continue fundraising, and once you register, each participant will have access to an online fundraising page that can be personalized.  I’m also available as a resource to assist with fundraising ideas.

You can register on the Marathon for the Cure site via the following link:

Click here to register

Once your registration is completed, we will take care of your registration with the Portland Marathon/Half Marathon through the back end with our charity entries. 

Program benefits for registered Komen Marathon for the Cure participants at the Portland Marathon and Half Marathon:

  – A welcome New Balance t-shirt
  – A fundraising page that you can customize to email your friends & family for support
  – Fundraising tools and tips
  – An exclusive Komen Marathon for the Cure New Balance tech-tee shirt to wear race day (sent out when you reach your fundraising minimum)
  – Prizes for your fundraising efforts
  – The fact of knowing you are raising funds to help save lives and end breast cancer forever!!

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for considering participating in Komen’s Marathon for the Cure program! 


Children’s Tumor Foundation

Thank you for your interest in running the 2011 Portland Marathon and Half Marathon with our NF Endurance Team, fundraising team of the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  We are thrilled you would like to join us.  I know you will find us friendly and inviting.  You will find your experience with our team a rewarding one, helping the millions of people affected by neurofibromatosis (NF).

We do still have charity slots available.  There is a minimum fundraising requirement for this opportunity.  We require a minimum fundraising commitment of $600 for a half marathon slot, and $1000 for a full marathon slot.  We have a limited number of slots for each event.  I will attach a commitment form if you are interested.  The fundraising must be completed on or before September 9, 2011.

Our Foundation has a website where you can find information about neurofibromatosis and the Foundation as a whole.  We also have the website that gives you an overview of our endurance team.

Once you have registered with us (for free) at, a fundraising webpage will be created.  It makes fundraising as easy as an email to friends, family, and coworkers.  We can even provide you with information about one of our NF Heroes to feature on your fundraising webpage.  We have the amazing Bob Skold in our Colorado office who is fantastic at helping our runners with their fundraising webpage.  His email is   


The other charities have not yet gotten back to me. I will update here when I have more information from them.

Rob and I will be running the half.  I’ve only ever run a half once, so I’m not going to have a target time set.  I will be in the "finish upright and smiling" mode.

I’m looking at perhaps renting a house to for the weekend to keep the cost down or even arranging to places for people to stay locally.  Stay tuned for that information, too.

#NASATweetup – It’s a GO! Readiness Reviews and Your Projects

Apr 19, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun, Space  //  2 Comments
The International Space Station as seen in its...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been tweeting a lot about NASA, the shuttle program, and space anniversaries lately because I’m attending the NASA Tweetup on 28-29 April.  I can’t tell you how exciting I am about attending, especially after the 10-day delay we experienced earlier in the month.  The delay was due to the Russian mission to the International Space Station (ISS) causing a traffic jam in space, so the Endeavour Shuttle launch was delayed.

Even though the delay was announced well before today, we didn’t know until just now that the date is a go because today was the Flight Readiness Review, where experts do a complete system risk assessment of all the systems and dependencies for Endeavour and the Space Station.

The Flight Readiness Review is a type of design and operations review that ensures that everyone and everything is ready for launch.

  • More debris tile to provide more debris protection in more locations
  • Systems on board the Space System needed to be checked because Endeavour will be doing maintenance on the Space Station
  • Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) being installed on the ISS requires checking
  • ET-122, the External Tank, was struck during Hurricane Katrina and needed extra inspection. It is 10 years old and does not have all the improvements that newer tanks have.

If all the systems, people, software, facilities, and other components check out, the launch is scheduled.  So today, the official go ahead was given for the scheduled date.

All of this makes me think of larger application production rollouts.  I’ve been part of many readiness reviews, both formal and informal.  However, this usually with my methodologist or project manager hat on, not very often with a data architect hat.  I have a feeling that this is because the normal issues I would raise as a data architect (missing requirements, incorrectly implemented requirements, etc.) would be dealt with much earlier in the process, such as during a normal development quality control test.

Where problems usually arise late in the production cycle are when someone incorrectly sets data, not data structures incorrectly.  In even the most dysfunctional shops, most organizations have come to understand that allowing people to make ungoverned structural changes is a huge risk.  However, I have not seen nearly enough of the type of controls and monitoring for reference and master data, especially things like reason codes, reference codes (Customer type, Product type, etc.)

What I can appreciate about NASA’s Flight Readiness Reviews:

  1. Documented.  Everyone knows ahead of time what their job is, what is expected, what the quality standards are.  They agree to it up front. There are manuals, checklists and checklists of checklists.
  2. Expected.  No cowboy engineer thinks that he can make a quick change just before the launch and force the change to be accepted because it’s too late to undo it or too late to miss the date.  No one says "we don’t have time for the FRR.  Just put ‘er into production".
  3. Formal. The review is scheduled.  It has assigned tasks.  Everyone, even external parties, know that it is coming and understand the role it plays.  There’s a press conference for the results.  There are probably even signatures.
  4. Open. As far as I can tell, the results of each check is shared openly.  Even the "fixes".  The results are published.  Media can ask questions and the live results were tweeted throughout the day.
  5. Reflective.  The review concentrates on failures, damages, problems and issues of previous flights.  These issues aren’t swept under the rug in hopes they don’t happen again.
  6. Risk-based.  There are issues documented.  They are assessed against risk and probably cost.  Time is of the essence, but it isn’t the only discussion.  Risk is inherent in the space program. Understanding it and mitigating it is the name of the game.  Avoiding all risk would mean no space program

Of course, the reason NASA has such a strong governance process for shuttle flights is because lives are at risk, as well as a huge pile of money.  This doesn’t mean that our own application systems can’t do harm.  I tweet regularly about data breaches, customers who are harmed financially and businesses that are lost due to poor data policies.  Often these failures are due to poor governance. 

Even if you project does not have a formal readiness review you can have your own personal process.  I have many checklists and tests I run on data models and scripts I generate.  These are my own readiness reviews. I share them with team members. There’s a reason why NASA has readiness reviews and there are important reason why you should, too.

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Happy 30th Anniversary for the 1st US Shuttle Launch – STS-1

Apr 12, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Space  //  No Comments

Image via Wikipedia

In addition to being the 50th Anniversary of the first man in space, today is also the 30th Anniversary of the first Shuttle launch. On April 12, 1981, Columbia crew John Young and Bob Crippen launched into orbit on the Columbia.

STS-1 Launch

STS-1 landed two days later at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

STS-1 Landing

You might remember that some orbiters (shuttles) took off in Florida and landed in California, then were carried on the back of a 747 back to Florida.

STS-117 Shuttle piggy backing on 747

By NASA/Jim Ross[see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

I was in high school when the STS-1 launch happened.  It’s hard for me to fathom that the Shuttle program has been in place for my entire adult life.  As I previously posted, some of my earlier work was done on facilities that were involved in the applications of the shuttle program.  At the NASATweetup I’m planning on attending later in the month, well be watching STS-134 launch.

Look for my future post on the "business keys" of launch numbers.  I guess I see data modeling challenges everywhere.

Happy 50th Anniversary of the First Human in Space

Apr 12, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun, Space  //  2 Comments
Yuri Gagarin saying hello to the press during ...

Image via Wikipedia

Today marks the 50th year since Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.   This milestone, achieved by the Soviets, led to the space race to put men on the moon.

Like many complex projects, this mission wasn’t without its problems.  According to The Guardian, the Russian Space Agency will be declassifying and releasing documents today about technical glitches that happened leading up to the launch, including shorted out sensors, a door hatch problem and a pencil that floated away.

While I understand why data is sometimes released years and decades later than it was originally collected, I’m always taken aback by delayed release of such information.  On my projects, it seems we are always working on getting data to people faster.  In the case of classified data, it seems there are two different performance metrics: right now and 50 years later.


Yuri Gagarin first manned space flight


How is Your NIEM Mojo Doing? Best of NIEM Awards

Apr 5, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog  //  No Comments

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is a set of information exchange data models for federal, state, and local governments and their partners.  It started with a group of local and state organizations wanting to share data and needing to set standards to make that happen.  Since then it has expanded to other agencies and organizations and will be used internationally very soon.

I attended the NIEM National Training event and am helping with the upcoming event this fall.  More on that in a future post.

The Best of NIEM Awards program is calling for applications.  If your organization has implemented NIEM to make the world a better place for all of us, get your submission ready before 7 June 2011.

A grassroots initiative, NIEM was born as a best practice developed by a handful of state and local practitioners. Today, we have adoption across all 50 states and are on the verge of international adoption. The broad community of federal, state and local practitioners have great NIEM success stories and we want to make sure they are properly recognized.

Do you know of a team or organization that represents the Best of NIEM? If so, be sure to read the guidelines and submit by June 7th!

Honoree Benefits include:
– Bragging rights and recognition.
– Exposure on the special awards page on
– Receive an award in front of your peers at the NIEM 2011 National Training Event on August 23–25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Award criteria, eligibility, nomination form, and other important details can be found at:

Previous Best of NIEM awards winners are:

USCIS Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) Program

The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.

HHS-Connect, Information Architecture and Development

CONNECT is a consortium of five states that have agreed to pool their collective expertise to make interstate information sharing a reality.

Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) Program Management Office

The Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) exists to ease the burden of victims by creating a single access point for more than 40 federally funded forms of assistance (FOA). DAIP will consolidate benefit information, application intake, and status information into a unified system.

Colorado Integrated Criminal Justice Information System

The Colorado Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (CICJIS) is an integrated computer information system that links five state-level criminal justice agencies—law enforcement, prosecution, courts, adult corrections, and juvenile corrections—to create one virtual criminal justice information system.

Emergency Operation Center—Interconnectivity (EOC-i)

Paragon Technology Group is a fast-growing 8(a), woman-owned, small, disadvantaged business (WOSB, SDB) company headquartered in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Paragon has been recognized as a top 8a firm in Virginia, a top small business in the United States, and one of the 50 fastest-growing companies in the Washington, DC, area.

Read more about these award-winning programs at

Vote on Endeavour Crew’s Wake Up Song – #NASATweetup

Apr 4, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Space  //  No Comments

imagePrevious Shuttle missions have used commercial songs to wake up crew members, but NASA is going with original songs for the STS-134 mission.  NASA wants your help choose the songs.  There are 10 original songs and you can listen to them on the NASA site.  I think quite a few of them are perfect space wakeup songs.  You can vote up to launch time.

Get voting.


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