Browsing articles in "Blog"

Contest: Tell Me Why You Need a New Tassimo Brewing System

Nov 29, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Social Networking  //  9 Comments

Good news:  Tassimo Canada sent me a new home brewing system to try.

Great news: Tassimo Canada has given me TWO more Tassimo Brewing Systems to give away to blog readers. 

Tassimo Brew Bot – *not* Exactly as shown

This contest is open only to Canadian residents.  Sorry everyone else.  I hope you have been good this year; maybe you can ask Santa for one.  We do have future contests planned, so stand by.  But over there.  Yeah, a little bit further over.  Thanks.

To make this easy, the management team at InfoAdvisors will be choosing the two best answers to this question:

How would having instant access to an infinite number of fresh cups of coffee make you more productive at work?

The rules:

  1. Must be a Canadian resident to comment and win.
  2. Comments are moderated an subject to our posting guidelines.
  3. One comment per person.
  4. You must give your answer in the comments to this blog post.  Comments posted elsewhere will be read and enjoyed but not considered.
  5. A winner will be chosen from answers posted prior to 6PM EST 30 Nov.  That’s tomorrow!
  6. You have to supply a valid e-mail address in your comment so that we can contact you with instructions on how to claim your prize.
  7. A skills testing question will need to be answered.
  8. Two systems will be awarded, one each to two people.
  9. All selections are final.  No cash equivalents.  No substitutions. Your mileage may vary.  Subject to arcane laws in your local jurisdiction.  Do not immerse this rule in water.

I am Speaking: OEMUG – Cleveland 1 Dec 2010

Nov 26, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data Modeling, Database, Social Networking, Speaking  //  1 Comment

On Wednesday, 1 December 2010 I’ll be speaking three times at the Ohio Enterprise Modeling User Group:

10 AM ET

Classic Data Modeling Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

We’ve all been there: a shortcut here, a compromise there, an over-modeling over there. In this presentation, Karen demonstrates classic and all-too-common data modeling mistakes that are easy to make and yet just as easy to avoid. We’ll look at data modeling generalizations, applying surrogate keys, understanding the difference between design and business requirements, data model changes, flags, and sharing data models.

11 AM ET

Modeling Global User Community Webcast: Normalization of Social Networking in the ERwin Community

In this webcast, panelists discuss social networking from an ERwin data professional perspective. Facebook, InfoAdvisors, LinkedIn, Twitter, My CA, ERwin.com, and data-centric tool social networks offer many options for you to join a virtual data community. If you are new to social networking, a seasoned tweeter, or just want to use social networking more efficiently, this webcast is ideal for you.

  • Social Networking 101
  • Deeper Dive / Benefits for Data Professionals
  • Security / Personal and Professional Boundaries
  • “Why Be Normal?”

1 PM ET

Data Modeling Contentious Issues

A highly interactive session for seasoned modelers, attendees evaluate the options and best practices of common and advanced data modeling issues, such as:

  • Party/party role
  • Natural vs. surrogate keys
  • Varchar Minimums
  • Identity Crisis
  • SOAs, Ontologies, ESBs, New TLAs and Shoe Strings
  • What is Logical? What is Physical? Why Do We Care?
  • Politics vs. Customer Satisfaction

Participants in this session will be presented with an issue along with a range of responses or possible solutions. We will vote on preferred response, then the group as a whole will discuss the results, along with the merits of each possible response. The goal of this workshop is to help practitioners identify potential points of conflict in data modeling, as well as alternative approaches to resolving the issues.

During the event there is a presentation by Donna Burbank about upcoming release of ERwin v8.

I hope to see you there.

Field Testing Agloves in The Big Apple

Nov 24, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Reviews, Travel  //  3 Comments

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to use my new Agloves in the field, as I was speaking at SQL Saturday #59 in New York City.  I love visiting New York, but it always seems that we visit during a cold spell.  The first time Rob and I visited together the wind chill was about –15 and the cold wind tunnel effect of all those tall buildings made it feel as if the weather was going to suck the life right out of us.

My initial review talks about the quality and content of these gloves, but I hadn’t had a chance to use them in the field prior to this week. 

What I remember most about our previous trips to New York is trying to take photos in that bone chilling weather, but having to:

  1. remove my gloves
  2. swap my gloves for my phone in my purse
  3. wait for my phone to start up
  4. enter my phone password
  5. open the camera app
  6. wait for the camera to focus
  7. help the camera focus and choose the right lighting by clicking on the screen
  8. click on the screen button to take the picture

…and trying to do all that with creeping numbness in my fingers which just made all that take longer.

While it wasn’t quite that cold in NYC for this trip (it was around 38-40 degrees at the coldest), it was still chilly enough that I was happy to have my Agloves and to be able to use my iPhone and iPad without ever having to remove my gloves.

Rockefeller Center

30 Rock 

 

You can see from the pictures above that while we were visiting Rockefeller Center I could take my time to compose a photo.  The lighting was tricky there because it was cloudy and the statue of Prometheus was behind scaffolding, so I had to keep setting the lighting and focus properly.  Being able to keep my gloves on also meant that I was able to take many more photos than I did the last time.

As the day went on, we walked to most of the regular tourist stops in Manhattan.  It was starting to get dark and much cooler by the time we got to Macy’s in Herald Square.  More tricky lighting in that the Macy’s windows displays had projection, glass reflections, dimmed lighting and animation.

Macys WindowHere I’m taking a photo of one of vignettes of the “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” story.  Again, I had time to work on the composition, lighting and focus.

One of the other benefits that I hadn’t considered when I first purchased these gloves was that I didn’t have to know if the device I was using used the type of technology that required a capacitive touch technology to work.  Not all touch screens require this, so regular gloves could work…or they might not….  But I didn’t have to know, I could could keep my gloves on either way.

I didn’t realize how many touch screen devices that weren’t mine I used on a typical trip, but here are some of them:

ATM machine

An ATM machine

 

Best Buy Vending Machine  A vending machine

 

A vending machine in the subway. A vending machine in the subway.

I’m betting that most of these last devices, including the ones in the taxis, were not capacitive.  I loved the fact, though, that I didn’t have to know either way; I could leave my gloves on and interact with all these machines without getting cold.  I have to admit, too, that my inner germaphobe loved that I wasn’t using my bare hands to touch these screens.  This was a special bonus.

I’ll be posting some of the pictures we took in New York while we were there so that you can see the results of our having time to compose better photos.

I also checked, just for fun, and the gloves do work on the Xbox 360 controls (on button, DVD eject button) which won’t work with regular gloves.  Not sure if I’m ever going to wear them while playing, but I just had to know.

Finally, while the temperature did not dip down below freezing, I found the Agloves to be warm, unlike acrylic gloves, and breathable.  They aren’t overly thick, so I was able to tweet and send mail during our walk through NYC, all while keeping warm.

Overall I’d say our field test was a success.

From previous tweets, it sounds like Agloves is going to run a Black Friday special of some sort.  You can follow them or search for their Twitter ID to find out what specials they have in mind.

Are We Too Unfair to Gen Y Team Mates?

Nov 24, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Generations, Professional Development  //  10 Comments

Brent Green, author of Marketing to Boomers, has a blog entry that analyzes (or is it attacks) a 60 Minutes segment on Generation Y in the workplace.  His entry, Boomer Bosses, Generation Y Employees, is scathing in its response:

A representative Safer observation:

“Faced with new employees who want to roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday, companies are realizing that the era of the buttoned down exec happy to have a job is as dead as the three-Martini lunch.”

This flip of a journalistic middle finger at a young generation is not new. Boomers were often criticized during their ascendance into adulthood, when the young, determined and idealistic were hell-bent on changing the nation’s social realities. (As well documented by Professor Leonard Steinhorn, that determination eventually helped the nation become far more socially and economically inclusive for women, for racial minorities and for people thought as odd when compared to the narrow strictures of 1950’s value consensus.)

I have actually seen the “roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday” attitude with my team members.  My perception on this attitude is that if there is anyone slammed by this it is the Boomer society that raised these workers.  So while Green believes that expressing such fatigue at a generation that has different social norms than the previous generation is a commentary on that generation, I believe it is a commentary on the previous generation.

Flip flops?  I hate them at work — not because they are casual, but because they are annoyingly noisy.  They remind me of dorm days, listening to other students make their way to the communal showers.  Now dorm rooms have private ensuites, so I’m betting flip flops are worn everywhere other than the shower.  I’m showing my Boomer age by saying that I will always feel these items of apparel belong at home, at the beach, and never anywhere else.   I’m just a crusty old Boomer, I guess.

Rolling in around noon?  Did that Gen Y worker spend 4 hours on a phone call to India starting at midnight?  Did he stay up until 11 PM working on a new set of code?  Or was he in the World of Warcraft form the time he left work until 15 minutes before his noon arrival?  We don’t know and it could be any or all of those options.  What I do know is that manager who want to judge productivity solely by a 9 to 5 clock will stop getting all that extra work time out of Gen Yers (and Boomers) if they stick to such a poor measure of effort and accomplishment.

However, that Gen Yer may have had a 9:30 AM meeting with a Boomer business user who waited until 9:45 before giving up and vowing to never agree to meet the Gen Yer again.  The Boomer did this because the Gen Y worker expected to be forgiven for not showing up because she had a good reason.  She didn’t think to call to let the Boomer know that he wasn’t going to make it because she sent a text message to the Boomer instead.  But the Boomer had (politely) turned off his cell phone for the meeting.  A mis-match of communication methods led by a generational difference in expectations.

Wanting to be CEO by Friday?  Maybe a week from Friday.  This is the one thing that I’m going peg on the Boomer society.  Not Mr. Rogers.  If Mr. Rogers was able to skew the outlook of an entire generation, world wide, then it is a sad commentary on the parents that allowed a TV character to form the entire foundation of their kids outlook on work, life, and getting ahead.  Yes, Fred Rogers said that “you are special”, but parents should have been saying that, too, with the proper context of how the world actually works.  If millions of kids had only Fred and Mr. Speedy Delivery to form their tiny minds, why is that the kids’ fault?  Or a Boomer Boss’s fault to judge the appropriateness of this generation’s workplace behaviours?

It’s not wrong for Boomer Bosses to observe this generation’s differing approaches to work or even to personally be annoyed by it.  What is wrong is for us to try to force our outdated view of the world onto people living and inheriting the world we made for them.  That’s where the outrage ought to be focused.

First Rule of Branding: Grab it!

Nov 19, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Social Networking  //  1 Comment

The MidnightDBAs (or is it just Jen?) have declared today as an Un-SQL Friday.  Nope, this isn’t a NoSQL Friday post, but a “not about SQL” Friday post.

Your mission: To write about branding. We have spoken to a LOT of people in the past two weeks about branding, often specifically about our brand, and the thoughts they are a-churnin.  Your blog should reflect however that word strikes you – whether it’s in personal/professional branding, software branding, our brand, product brands, or whatever.

We recently switched our branding back to “love your data” and away from “adding value to your information resources”.  We still think our former tagline is true, but Love Your Data is much more fun and still reinforces the need to take good care of your data.

So I was going to write about the value of brand, or how to protect your brand when I realized that the First Rule of Branding is to go reserve (grab) that brand, or the closest you can to it.  I’m @datachick on Twitter not because I think having a made-up Twitter ID is fun or cool, but because having a common name like “Lopez” means that every form of my name that I could come up with was already taken.  Not all of the combinations are being used, but they are already snatched up by people who may not ever use them. But because they were registered, they aren’t available to me.

I have a similar issue on Facebook.  My Facebook id is “lopezk” That’s closer to something real, but still not instantly recognizable, memorable or conversation friendly.

Now with LinkedIn I was an early adopter and I was also paying attention when the call for setting up your own personal link was announced and I managed to snag “karenlopez

Heck, even on the Xbox Live system I thought for sure I could get some form of my name or Datachick, but even all the easy to remember forms for Datachick were already taken. So there I’m “DatachickXbox”.  Just like I’m my own gaming device.

On our own discussion lists I was also able to set up an ID of “karenlopez“, but that’s because I was the first user on the system.

KarenAvatarLargeSo you can see what’s happened: I have several brands or IDs for myself scattered all over the Internet.  I can sometimes relate them to my brand by using the same avatar or the same logo or just to put them up together on one slide.  But I really wish that I could have my same brand everywhere.  By having a common name and joining late, I missed out on having a common brand for me personally.

In fact, on Twitter there are two other people who probably weren’t happy to find out that Datachick was already taken, so they came up with Datachix1 and Datachix2.  Now the brand is even further diluted and confusing.

So don’t wait to grab those brands where you can.  Even if you name is one of only two people with that name on the planet.  You never know when that other guy is going to grab “your” brand.

How To Have Fun In Seattle Without Even Attending SQLPASS

Nov 18, 2010   //   by Rob Drysdale   //   Blog, Fun, Professional Development, Travel  //  4 Comments

Seattle Public Market

As I posted previously, I went to Seattle last week with Karen for the PASS Summit (SQLPASS).  While I didn’t attend PASS, I thought it would be a great time to relax, see Seattle and catch up with a number of people that we know.  Little did I know that we would be on-the-go the entire time so I didn’t have time to relax.  Aside from the sessions at PASS there were so many "after-hour" events around it that we didn’t have a lot of free time.  Looking back on it, we were busy every single night that we were there except for the Friday night that we arrived.

We did our normal thing of shopping and spending some time in Fry’s and I did get a chance to see some things in Seattle, but we spent a lot of time meeting up with people.  It was nice to catch up with old friends, meet people in person that we talk to via Twitter and meet others we hadn’t ever talked to before.  I have to say that the SQL community is a great bunch of people and we had a lot of fun.

Gas WorksWhile Karen can tell you all about the Summit and how much she enjoyed speaking at and attending it, I can say that Seattle is an amazing city with many things to see and do.  A few highlights for me were Pike’s Place Market, the Seattle Public Library, the Science Fiction Museum and Gas Works Park.  The transit system is easy to use and will get you around the city with ease.  In fact, the buses are free in the downtown core.  And we both loved the food in Seattle.  It is so vegan and veggie friendly that it’s hard not to get a decent meal there.

On the negative side, it rains A LOT in Seattle.  We did see the sun for a couple of days, but there were rainy days to put up with.  And I wish that the PASS Summit would set up some kind of program for spouses or guests of attendees.  We’ve attended a lot of other conferences and most of them have this type of program to allow travel partners to attend the social events and exhibits at the conference.  We know that the Summit did offer a pass for the exhibits only, but at $300 it’s price prohibitive for most.  For travel partners and spouses it would be better at $50 or $75.

MountainsAnd now that we’re back from Seattle we still haven’t had much time to relax.  We attended a SharePoint Saturday event the day after getting home and we’re attending a SQL Saturday event this weekend in NYC. Maybe I’ll get some time to relax in 2011.

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