Browsing articles in "Blog"

Travel Quote

Nov 3, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog  //  No Comments

You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.
William Hazlitt

I think we have a lot to learn from this.  We can write all the nifty data definitions but what really makes for a good understanding is seeing and experiencing.  One of the things that has been difficult to overcome on my highly-distributed work teams has been the tough time we having trying to truly understand the business and share that understanding.

Data and Process models are a fabulous method for capturing the understanding, but models aren’t for attaining that understanding.  It is faster and easier to understand a business process by watching it take place.

New Blog Location

Nov 3, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data  //  No Comments

LoveYourDataChickNoAvatarMed While we’ve been using DotNetNuke as both our blog and website content management system for a long time, we are taking the plunge and moving our blog content off DNN and on to a self hosted WordPress platform.

This is going to allow us to take advantage of better posting and reading features, as well as better support multiple bloggers (like letting Rob Drysdale (@projmgr) post under his real name instead of mine.

You’ll also find it easier to comment on and participate in discussions about our blog posts. Remember, responding to and giving feedback to a blogger is one of the greatest gifts you can give to support more blogging.

If you subscribe to our blog via Feedburner, you won’t have to change anything: we’ve updated the feed link for you.  If you manually surf to our blog, the new address is:

Overall this shouldn’t be a huge change, other than making it easier for us to post more relevant content.

If you have any questions or have any issues with this location change, please let us know.

It’s all about the data….

Sep 20, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun  //  No Comments


Maximizing the Social Side of a Conference

Sep 20, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development  //  1 Comment

Thomas LaRock (blog | twitter) recently blogged about setting up a PASS Orientation Committee for the upcoming PASS Summit. He shared his ideas of instituting something that would encourage more interaction between PASS Summit attendees:

most importantly we can get these people to build a connection with someone else which is going to result in a more positive Summit experience and make it more likely to have those persons return next year.

I think it’s a great idea.  Anything we can do to encourage networking and community would make the summit much more valuable to everyone.   There are plenty of people who are extroverts online who are introverts when it comes to in-person socializing and networking.  Being introverted doesn’t have to mean lonely, though.

I shared the following story during the #SQLCruise WIT session:

I was a board member of an association and attending one of my first conferences for that society.  I had made it a goal to meet as many people as I could so that I’d better know the community and to get more out of the conference.   I still have that goal for every event I attend.

I walked up to a small group of people, of which I knew two people in the group.  The conversation was about things to do near the convention centre.  I didn’t know much about the area, but did contribute some great restaurants I’d found.  The two people I knew wandered off and more people joined the chat.  Soon, the topic changed to work-related topics:

Me: So where do you work?

Guy: <redacted> Inc.

Me: That sounds interesting. What do you do there?

Guy: ….I’m sorry, I’m married

I was stunned. I replied back “Uh…great”.  I then walked away, not sure whether I was just insulted or complimented.  After a few minutes I decided on insulted.   And I was still stunned.  Even as I tell this story I waiver between amused, angry, and back to amused.

It took me a long time before I could work up the courage to walk up to someone and introduce myself.

So I’m a huge fan of more organized methods to encourage people to interact in a way that gives them more freedom to just join a conversation.  I don’t like “ice breakers” as much as someone in a leadership position telling everyone that the event is supposed to be about meeting others and giving everyone permission to join in. Whether that is choosing to sit a any table at lunch, choosing to introduce themselves to complete strangers, or even walking up to someone who is by themselves and asking if they want to join an existing group.

The leaders of SQL Server community (and I don’t just mean PASS leaders) should set examples by encouraging meeting new people.  That means being proactive about ensuring everyone feels welcome at all the official events and inviting new people to the unofficial social events.

I have some more specific ideas about how this might work, but the key is for everyone to realize that we have conventions to convene. We can’t all be extroverts, but we still can be part of a community.

Fun At SQL Saturaday Southern Florida

Aug 1, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Travel  //  No Comments

Yesterday I spent the day at the Southern Florida SQLSaturday. SQLSaturdays are free SQL Server training events made possible by sponsors in the data-related industry. It’s amazing that volunteers can pull of a conference-like event for 375+ people and not have to charge them a dime. Breakfast, coffee, lunch and after party were all free. An amazing thing, this culture of FREE.

Check to see if there’s a SQL Saturday coming to your city at

This SQL Saturday had 600+ registrants, with about 375 attending. There were 9 tracks to choose from and like most conferences I had a tough time choosing sessions. I knew many of the speakers and attendees from Twitter, so these sessions reminded me quite a bit of DAMA/EDW sessions. Plus, there was the “other conference” going on in the Twitterverse at the same time.

During the day I attended mostly the Microsoft Azure and BI-related sessions, but managed to fit in a great session on PowerShell, too.

In the BI session I attended, Mike Mollenhour of Pragmatic Works used a physical cube, much like a Rubik’s Cube, to demonstrate the dimensions on a fact table. He demonstrated SQL Server Analytic Services. I want to play with those when I get back, for certain.

I next attended Joe Healy’s session on Introduction to SQL Azure. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based application offering based on SQL Server. Joe, a Microsoft Evangelist, did a wonderful job explaining the features and limitations of Azure as it is right now. I appreciate it when vendor staff, especially evangelists, can pull of real-world discussions about the costs, benefits, and risks of their products. I want to hear Joe present again.

Next up was Aaron Nelson (@SQLVariant) of and demonstrated great things that can be automated with PowerShell. PowerShell is a free tool that is similar to a macro language that you can run on servers and workstations to automate tasks. I’m thinking of ways I might use it to automate some data modeling tool publishing and printing tasks. I’ve always said that the best data architect is a lazy data architect, so I believe that PowerShell can be an important item in the Data Architect’s toolkit.

Back to the Azure track, I attended Scott Klein’s (@ScottKlein) presentation on Developing Applications with SQL Azure. Scott, founder of BlueSyntax, has authored a soon-to-be-released book, Pro SQL Azure. This session covered the how’s and why’s of using SQL Server technologies in the cloud. When Azure was first released, I did open a trial account to check it out, but never seemed to find a few hours to figure it all out. Definitely going to do this soon.

The final session I attended was by Jack Corbett (@UncleBigguns) on “Don’t Be Trigger Happy”. I get many requests to have system functionality be implemented via triggers and these requests are usually not approved as they don’t meet good practices for the cost of using triggers. Jack’s presentation confirmed that.

Did I forget to mention the swag? I ended the day with 3 t-shirts (one from Aaron Nelson from CodeStock with a stylized Rose the Riveter to recognize Women in IT), one free book (a coupon), and many great small swag items from the sponsors. There were many, many prizes, including an iPad, $500 cash, other cash prizes, an Xbox 360, 40-50 books, an Ultimate MDSN subscription, and many other nifty items.

This event was possible due to the support of the sponsors. The event was held at DeVry University, who hosts many of these SQLSaturday conferences. Platinum sponsors were Redgate (also a SQLCruise sponsor), Fusion-io, expressor, swiftknowledge, and BlueSyntax.

Gold and Silver Sponsors were Microsoft, JumpstartTV, TekPartners, QQSolutions, SQL Server Magazine, PASS, Quest Software, Sapien Technologies, SQL Share, Confio, and Sherlock Technology Staffing.

If you engage with these companies, tell them that you appreciate their sponsoring events in our profession.

Finally, none of this could have happened without months of volunteering from many great Floridians. Volunteers, you did a great job.

I’m on a Boat – Sponsors of the the SQLCruise

Jul 28, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Professional Development, Travel  //  No Comments

In my previous post, I wrote about how SQLCruise sponsors are going to reach a lot more people than just the 15 cruisers/attendees.

Who are the sponsors? (pulled from the SQLCruise website)

SQL Sentry

SQL Sentry, Inc. delivers software products that optimize the performance of Microsoft® SQL Server® environments. SQL Sentry Performance Advisor® for Analysis Services provides unparalleled insight into Analysis Services performance, including bottlenecks related to memory, storage systems, aggregation usage, queries and processing. SQL Sentry Performance Advisor for SQL Server delivers an advanced performance dashboard with relevant Windows and SQL Server metrics in a single view along with detailed insight of heavy SQL, blocking, deadlocks, and disk bottlenecks. SQL Sentry Event Manager® is the ultimate scheduling, alerting and response system for managing SQL Server jobs and other events that impact performance.  Download a Free Trial today!

Red Gate Software

Red Gate Software makes tools that pay their way. Tools such as SQL Compare, SQL Backup, SQL Data Generator, SQL Prompt and many others radically simplify the business of working with Microsoft SQL Server. That’s why they’re used in most Fortune 500 companies. At Red Gate we’re mostly obsessed with getting the UI right, so that you don’t have to figure out how to use the tool. It’s just obvious. Also fun. That matters a lot.  Download a free 14-day trial of all our tools at is a free community website focused on Microsoft SQL Server.  The site offers tips, tricks, scripts, sample code, whitepapers, webcasts, tutorials, giveaways and more all related to SQL Server.   Subscribe to our newsletter and get tips sent directly to you.  If you have a SQL experience you want to share, we are always looking for new contributors.

Quest Software

Now more than ever, organizations need to work smart and improve efficiency. Quest Software creates and supports smart systems management products—helping our customers solve everyday IT challenges faster and easier.  At Quest, we focus on our customers first. Our products and people are dedicated to helping customers manage their critical applications, databases, Windows infrastructure and virtual environments. The combination of our proven, award-winning software and strong customer relationships makes Quest a smart, reliable technology partner.  Visit us today.

Photo by Brent Ozar

Not only did these sponsors give cash to off-set the cost we cruisers had to pay for the training, they did some AWESOME things to make the event even better:

  • SQL Sentry donated FOUR registrations and cruises. They initially set out to donate one, via a contest, but once they saw the fabulous entries, they decided to pony up for 4 prizes.  I just about fell out of my chair when that was announced.
  • Redgate has donated 2 licenses of SQL Source Control, plus other fun swag.
  • Redgate Press is donating two books, Defensive Database Programming by Alex Kuznetsov and Dynamic Management Views written by one of the SQL Cruiser trainers – Tim Ford and Louis Davidson
  • Each sponsor donated a loaded up Netbook. That means 4 of us will be going home with a free computer. I’ve left room in my bag for the one I’m hoping to get.
  • Quest Software gave us Amazon gift certificates to load up on books for the cruise

Also included in the swag was a beach towel, sun lotion, lei, and other fun cruise-wear.

Do you want to see more events in the data world? Do you want them be less expensive, plus be more fun?  Then you should also help thank and promote the sponsors of these events, whether or not they are your local DAMA meeting, Enterprise Data World, PASS Summit, or your local user group.  These events could not happen without their sponsors.  Make sure you thank them for participating…and help share the thanks by many by tweeting about them and posting your appreciation to your networks.

Thank you SQL Sentry, Redgate,, and Quest Software.

SQLCruise – The “Social-ism” Factor

Jul 23, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Database, Professional Development, Social Networking  //  No Comments

In my previous post, I wrote about my plans to embark on a traincation on SQLCruise.

Like all these events, the sponsors have been fabulous, going well beyond what normally they might do for a regular 15-person event.  Why? Because their "reach" has expanded well beyond those 15 people.  Each person involved with this event has been promoting it.  Everyone who follows us on Twitter and Facebook has been exposed to this event and the sponsor’s products. I’m guessing that’s more than 100,000 people.  The impact the sponsors have had on the success of event is so important that I’m reserving a blog post for them, coming up next. 

I mention this because I think it is a real game-changer for how companies interact with their current and future customers.  It used to be that vendors only wanted to sponsor events with many warm bodies in attendance because other than the printed brochure, that was pretty much the entire marketing reach for sponsors. These days, though, the reach can be much further.  For instance, this blog post is going to be read by more people than just those of you who would normally visit our website.  This post will be automatically posted to my own Facebook and Twitter feeds.  And I’m willing to bet that a number of my followers and social networking friends are going to share it with their followers and friends. They will be re-tweeting it, sharing it on Facebook, and commenting on it on LinkedIn. 

Forward thinking organizations, such as the sponsors of SQLCruise, get that. The power of social networking isn’t just the re-connecting with your high school friends, but in connecting with people who know people you know.  Remember my post about job hunting?  The same principle applies here, too. 

Our tweeting about the event even managed to get to Dave Webb, Editor of ComputerWorld Canada, who wrote about the event as Sea, Sun, and SQL.

It works the same way locally, with in-person events.  In fact, it is easier to have long, in-depth conversations with real life events.  However, that doesn’t scale well when you want to reach hundreds of thousands of people.  So organizations need to leverage both types of marketing – the traditional meet-and-greet events such as your local DAMA or IRMAC meeting and the events that are much more shared and promoted online.  Sponsors for online events can often get more focused marketing, hitting more of their primary market via the communication that happens from follower to follower.

Why am I telling you, Dear Architect, about sponsorship and social networking?  Because you can apply the same principles to your own internal marketing of your deliverables and services.

Does your company have a portal?  An internal blog?  Are you and your colleagues in your group making use of them?  Or are you just relying on quarterly status meetings within the IT group to get the word out for what you are doing?  How many people in your company:

  • Know what a Data Architect does?
  • Know what deliverables a Data Architect delivers?
  • Know what you do, what your struggles are, and understand how they have an important role to play when it comes to getting data right?

What about your project teams? Do they have a wiki, a blog that you could be contributing to? 

It’s time to think about your "reach".  The more people who know who you are, what you do, and why you just might be the only people in IT who are compensated to worry about data quality, data availability and information success, the better.

But just telling people about it via a description of your job title on the corporate portal might not be enough.  You need to interact with others in your company and your team members.  That means embracing the social networking, internally and externally, to grow your network of contacts. And in doing so, you will learn about their struggles, their deliverables, and their needs.

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