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Computer Engineer Barbie attends the PASS Women in IT Lunch

Nov 15, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun  //  1 Comment

In addition to Buck and Lil Buck, Computer Engineer Barbie attended the PASS WIT Luncheon with me.

Computer Engineer Barbie at PASSWITBuck Woody and Lil Buck





I’m SQLPASSed out – My Trip Report from Seattle

Nov 15, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Database, Professional Development, Social Networking, Speaking  //  2 Comments


IMG_0982[1]I spent last week in Seattle attending the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit (as if you could not tell from my tweet stream). Like most successful conferences, there was more to it than a bazillion sessions.  There were so many events: vendor events, unofficial events, pre-cons, post-cons, impromptu events and more.  I feel as if I couldn’t stretch myself far enough to take advantage of all them.  Did I mention there were sessions, too?

We arrived in Seattle on Friday so that we could do our obligatory cross-border shopping at our favourite not-available-in-Canada retailers: Fry’s Electronics, Kohl’s, Target and Trader Joes.  It is my goal to shop at every Fry’s in the US; so far I have tackled more than half of them.  We didn’t buy much there, but its like visiting a gadget museum.  Geekiness for the win.  We spent time on Saturday shopping as well.  We were doing our best to help stimulate the US economy.

We also spent time visiting with friends, including Yanni Robel, John Robel, Corey Smith and Eva Smith.  We know Yanni and John from the SQLCruise.  We know Corey and Eva from numerous DAMA events.  But we built these friendships via the conversations we have via Twitter and Facebook. 

On Sunday I participated in Freecon, a special event for bloggers and social media celebrities from the SQL Server world.  This event, hosted by Brent Ozar, covered topics such as developing content, dealing with plagiarism, monetizing writing, and consulting skills.  I’d love to see this event develop into a writers’ guild for those of us putting content out there. 

IMG_1043[1] Monday was the opening session for the PASS Summit.  There was a Quiz Bowl “panel”, where SQL “elites” played a Jeopardy-like trivia game.  I’d love to see Enterprise Data World (EDW) offer a similar opening session event.

I’m not going to list all the sessions I attended, but I wanted to point out that there were several sessions that focused on data architecture topics.  My own session on “Starting with More than a Blank Page” focused on how to best adopt data model patterns/industry standard data models.  A session by Louis Davidson covered Intro to Database Design.  Normalization is a tough topic to cover in just over an hour and I thought he did a great job helping people visualize why the normal forms exist. 

It took me a while, but I managed to meet up with Neil Buchwalter, Product Manager of CA ERwin Data Modeler.  CA is a founding organization of PASS and Neil has a spot on the PASS Board.

IMG_1036[1]Wednesday was SQLKilt day.  What a hoot. There were many attendees dressed in kilts,  mostly just because they could, but also in honour of the Women in IT.  In fact, Jen McCown of MidnightDBA fame produced t-shirts to link the kilts to WIT.  That’s Sean McCown there, sporting a kilt and the t-shirt that asks “What are you doing” for women in IT.

Did I mention that several people found new jobs/gigs right at the conference?  There was a job board in the exhibits area, but most of these “connections” happened ad hoc during the lunches, coffee breaks and informal get-togethers that surrounded the event.  As I tweeted, #Network to #Getwork.

Network to Getwork

As I have blogged before, one of the best things about attending SQLPASS was that Rob and I knew hundreds of the attendees, even though it was my first time attending this event.  The connections we made on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn prior to the conference paid off in spades for us during the event.  Sure, I was a first timer, but it wasn’t a bunch of first conversations. For me, this is the real power of tying together virtual and in-person events.

I’m bringing home a DVD of the SQL Server new version codenamed “Denali”.  I’m looking forward to getting it installed, then moving on to all the evaluation licenses I received for third party tools.

I will definitely be back for next year’s PASS Summit, again in Seattle in October 2011 and SQLRally 2011, located in Orlando in May.  I want to continue learning about SQL Server and making connections with industry leaders in this space. 

Picture Me in Computing: Now Tweet About It

Nov 10, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Professional Development, Social Networking  //  2 Comments

Computer Engineer Barbie
In addition to today being SQLPASS Women in Technology Day, it is also a special Internet meme called Picture Me In Computing ( day.

This special 24 hour event focuses on encouraging girls and young women to enter the computer field, which is the reason why I have been active in the Women in Technology field in PASS and CIPS.

While we in the IT field still struggle with gender-related issues in the workplace, I believe IT is one of the most rewarding professions that a young woman could consider.

So I’ll be tweeting pictures, videos, and comments from #sqlpass of men and women who support #WIT . And please note how much Barbie looks like me!

While I’m doing that, you can show your support by retweetingand posting your own good content. To participate in today’s “Internet flash mob” for women in computing by doing thses things:

* Upload a picture of yourself with technology or with CE Barbie® (or her image) to Picasa
* Cryptically set your status on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace to the last place you saw CE Barbie® (“I saw her on the UO Campus!”)
* Record a video blog and upload it to YouTube with the tag “picmecomp”
* Tag all of your tweets for the day with #picmecomp
* Blog about picmecomp and what it means to you

Finally, it looks like this event is somewhat affiliated with Google and Mattel. I’m happy they are supporting this important cause, but we at the PASS Summit may want to keep our participation in this a bit separate from the official Microsoft events. Isn’t it great, though, that these technology and commercial giants are supporting women in IT on the same day?

ComputerWorld Canada IT Influencer

Nov 8, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Social Networking, Speaking  //  No Comments

Basic CMYK Recently I was honoured to be an invited panellist at the ComputerWorld IT Leadership Awards Gala in Toronto on 26 October 2010.  I was invited as an IT/Social Media Thought Leader by IBM to talk about how IT can best support successful businesses, especially mid-sized businesses.  The panel was moderated by Shane Schick, Editor-in-chief of ComputerWorld Canada.

I was also honoured to be designated as a an IT Influencer based on the work I do promoting the profession and engaging in community and social networks.  I hope to write more about the analysis that was done to identify the top 3 IT Influencers in Canada.

I was happy to be a part of these awards, which recognize IT leadership in many categories, including traditional leadership positions such as IT Manager and CIO, but also recognized a Rookie of the Year, IT Mentor and Women in Technology Mentor of the year.  It’s important that our profession recognize the people who are making a difference locally in their own organizations and across the profession.

Please take 2 minutes to read through the list of finalists and awardees.   While you’re doing that think about the real leaders in your own organization whom you can nominate for next year’s awards. 

Speaking: SQLSaturday59 in New York City on 20 Nov

Nov 8, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Speaking  //  1 Comment

On Saturday, 20 November 2010 I’ll be speaking at SQLSaturday 59 in New York City on Database Design Contentious Issues. SQLSaturdays are free to attend, so if you are in the NYC area you can attend all the great sessions, including mine, for no extra charge.  So breakfast, lunch, prizes and great professional development all provided by sponsors and volunteers.

Robert Pearl interviewed me as a #SQLSaturday59 event speaker.

RP: Give us a preview of the topic and session you have planned for us at SQLSaturday#59

KL: Database Design Contentious Issues is a presentation I’ve been doing for almost 15 years. The content changes, but the format is the same. I give a 60 second overview of a contentious issue and then everyone votes at the front of the room about what is the “right” answer. Then we debate varying points of view for that issue. So it’s like all those Internet flame wars, but in person, where you get to see the troll you are debating with instead of his avatar. I’ve even had people bring protest signs this. It is a blast.

RP: What is your motto?

KL: Love Your Data ♥…

RP: Who can disagree? Thanks, Karen for your time and answers! We truly look forward to meeting you and seeing you there!

Read the full interview for insight into how these events tend towards the “fun” side.

ProTip: many SQLSaturday attendees negotiate a day off during the week in exchange for attending training on the weekend.  Your boss owes you for finding FREE training, right? Imagine yourself lounging around on a weekday just because you attended a fun, prize-filled, crazy event on Saturday.  Imagine the holiday shopping you could get done instead of cramming it into the weekend.  Just sayin’.

Did you attend my presentation at SQLSaturday #59?

And we’re off! To the PASS Summit, that is

Nov 5, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Speaking  //  No Comments

image As I posted earlier, I’ll be speaking at the Professional Association for SQL Server Summit (PASS Summit) in Seattle next week. This is going to be my first #SQLPASS (this is the Twitter hastag for the conference), but I feel as if I’m going to a friend reunion.  Like a family reunion, but fun. 

Many of the SQLCruisers who joined us on the first ever SQL Cruise will be speaking and attending.  Many of my Twitter friends will be there, too.  So unlike other “first time” conferences, I’m not going to be standing on the sidelines or circling the lunch tables looking for the friendliest table in hopes of having a decent conversation.

The website has a schedule builder which I used and what popped out the other end was a calendar double and triple booked for every hour of the day.  It’s going to be like Enterprise Data World, where I want to be everywhere at the same time.

Not only are there incredible sessions, but there’s a ton of fun professional networking I’ll be attending:

Tuesday has a special, unofficial #inappropriatePASS sessions meeting where a bunch of us are getting together to give “unpresentations” as I call them.  These are anti-patterns or opposite topic presentations.  Topics include things like leaving your SA password blank, turning off referential integrity for better performance, etc.  What I love about this fun night is that it helps you think about a topic by arguing the opposite of what you actually believe.  A classic teaching method that makes for a lot of fun.

Copyright All rights reserved by Lucid77  Used with permission. is Women in IT (#PASSWIT) Luncheon.  Lots of swag and great discussions about why we need better diversity in IT. There’s also a Chalk Talk and other events about Women in IT throughout the conference.

Wednesday is also #SQLKilt day, where attendees, speakers, and exhibitors wear kilts because….heck, I don’t know why.  They just do.  Jen McCown of Midnight DBA fame has even designed a WIT t-shirt that merges both the WIT luncheon and sqlkilt memes.  Check it out.

Thursday 1PM: My presentation on Starting with More than a Blank Page: Implementing Industry Standard Data Models.

Exhbits: As in most conferences, these run for a couple days.  I love these parts of the conference because I get to see what vendors, sponsors and associations are doing in the data world. 

Informal networking: My favourite part of any conference.  Meeting new people, convening with old friends, making connections.

DArcVC: While this new Data Architecture PASS virtual chapter has already had it’s first meeting, I see the summit as its “coming out” party.  I look forward to meeting with SQL Server professionals who also share a passion for data architecture.  Joining DArcVC is free.

Watch the #SQLPASS, #PASSWIT, #DArchVC hashtags on Twitter to see what’s happening.  You don’t have to join Twitter to see the posts, just go to and enter one of the hashtags.

And if you are going to be at SQLPASS, be sure to say “Hi” to either one of us.

Book Review – Viral Data in SOA: An Enterprise Pandemic

Nov 4, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Reviews  //  1 Comment

image Neal Fishman’s Viral Data in SOA: An Enterprise Pandemic makes a timely comparison of data quality issues to viral pandemics.  In this flu season, the H1N1 virus is a top news item


I was recently sent a review copy of Neal Fishman’s Viral Data in SOA: An Enterprise Pandemic by the publisher, IBM Press/Pearson PLC.  As a former Top 700 Reviewer, I get many texts for review, some within my area of expertise and others that are so far off my target and areas of interest that I rarely have time to read them.

Fishman’s work is outstanding. This book is fun to read, makes a great analogy, and includes great quotes for use in your next should-we-take-care-of-our-data-better debate.

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