Browsing articles tagged with " Contest"

Canadian IT Pros: Win a 3D Movie Pack

Want to do some learning AND have a chance at winning one of 200 3D Cineplex Movie Prize Packs?

Just register and complete 2 Microsoft Virtual Academy courses about Windows 10, the cloud, and more.

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So get registered, take two modules or more, and tell me what film you see with your winnings.

PASS Summit 2014 Speaker Idol—Judging You, Part I

Nov 13, 2014   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, DLBlog, Fun, Speaking, SQL Server  //  No Comments

PASS Summit Judges/Judgey Table Sign

This year we had a new item at the 2014 PASS Summit: Speaker Idol. Run by Denny Cherry ( blogs | @mrdenny ), this is a contest where people who have never been selected to speak at Summit get the opportunity to win a golden ticket (an automatic speaking slot) at Summit 2015. To win, speakers must put together a 5 minute lightning talk, then impress the judges more than any other speaker in the competition.

I competed in a similar contest at TechEd two years ago. The difficult part about this is there are no criteria for which you can prepare. You don’t know what the judges think are good habits or what topics they might enjoy. They might even give conflicting advice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a crowd, give your presentation, then be critiqued by others in front of a crowd.

A few of us judges are blogging today about the things we commented on to the presenters:

Denny Cherry discusses the overall process used to put it all together

Joey D’Antoni focused mostly on physical presence while speaking

If others blog, I’ll update this post with links.

Today I’m going to continue on with Joey’s theme of physical presence.

Move, But Don’t Wander

It’s really difficult when you are stressed or nervous to get the timing and location of moving around right. Some people hug the lectern as if they are on flight experiencing extreme turbulence. Others pace back and forth like a caged animal hungry for fresh meat. At some conferences at Summit, this is compounded by a speaker set up where there’s a table, a lectern and several chairs. The AV equipment is often taped or strapped down so that your laptop must be located on the lectern. I find this annoying because presenting isn’t the same as giving a speech. Presenting and training involve more discussions with the audience and need more engagement than just speaking at a group of people.

The raised podium effect also means that moving around can lead to falling off the stage. Not a good thing.

Joey gave advice to stand with your feet together. I usually give other advice: stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart, then move your feet about 3 inches further apart. This sort of forces you to stay put for a while because it feels slightly off, but not enough to make it feel awkward. It’s harder to move out of that stance and it tends to be a more powerful, competent looking to the audience. Move around to ensure you aren’t blocking the same audience members for your whole presentation. Move to show that you and the audience are working together to learn.

Remember: pacing back and forth is bad, but taking a few steps in a variety of directions can help you engage different members of the audience. Have a purpose when you move.

A Mic Changes Everything

Most speakers would prefer not to use a microphone. A hand mic plus a remote means both our hands are tied up. A lavaliere mic (one that clips on your shirt and has a pack that has to be stuck in a pocket or worn in the back) means everything you do or say is being amplified. But when sessions are recorded, broadcast or in large rooms, audio equipment is mandatory.

One of the more common mistakes the speakers made was leaning forward then turning their heads to read the slides on the screen. This meant that as they were talking, they were talking away from the mic. We judges were in the front row and I had a hard time hearing what was said.

The trick is to turn your whole body when you are mic-ed up. Do this even when you are turning to speak to an audience member and to highlight something on the screen.

Remember: The audio portion of your presentation is just as important as the visuals. Probably even more important.

Don’t Read Your Slides to the Audience

This is a tough habit to break, especially if you are running short on time. It’s the most common feedback I hear from people who are attending sessions and are frustrated by the speaker. This is especially common with lightning talks because time is so limited. If you read your slides to the audience, you are basically showing them that you don’t really need to be there speaking. You could just email blast out your slides and be sitting in the bar enjoying a conference-themed beverage.

One of the ways to break this habit is to have fewer words on your slides. More on this later.

Another way is to have speaker notes that you can see when you are presenting. These should have different words/bullet points and that will force you to explain things in different words. PowerPoint shows these notes when you are in presentation mode.

The best way to break this habit, though, is to not look at your slides when you speak. Look at the audience. Engage with them. Offer insights into what is on the slides, but do that while having a conversation with the audience.

Remember: You are there to give insights and to engage with the audience. Your slides are there to support that, not the other way around.

More…

One of the more interesting things about being a judge is that we all talked about how we are also guilty of many of these speaker vices.  We recognized that while we were giving all this advice, we all needed to take care when we presented, too.  I’m sure it was difficult for the contestants to be judged in public.  It was difficult for us doing that as well.

I’ve blogged about what to do when something goes wrong during your presentation, but I’ll be blogging about those things and more as part of this series.  I’ll be talking about equipment, preparation and delivery. Plus being judge-y Smile.

Parallels Access–Use Desktop Applications on your iPad the Right Way–WIN!

Jan 30, 2014   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun, Gadgets  //  No Comments

I’ve been using Parallels Desktop for Mac ever since I purchased my MacBook Air a couple of years a go.  This virtualization software lets me run Windows on my Mac so that I can use all the data modeling and database tools I need.

Just this week, Parallels asked if I wanted to try out a new product, Parallels Access.  (So as to not confuse this with Microsoft Access, I’m going to use the full name of the product in this post.)  This product lets me use desktop applications as if they were built for the iPad.  It works by installing an app on my iPad, plus a service on my desktops (Windows or Mac).  Then when I want to run a “real” application from one of my computers, I can fire up the app on my iPad and start using it. And it pretty much works.

I’m hosting a contest to give away five, yes FIVE, subscriptions for this product.  Details at the bottom of this post.

Isn’t This the Same as Remoting In to Your Desktop?

I’m betting right now you’re thinking: “I have RDP or some other remote app and I can use that, but it’s a real pain to navigate around on an iPad.”  Yes, yes it is.  I’ve tried several remoting apps over the last few years. I usually use them when I am out of my office and have to grab a file or fix something without having to find a computer to use a real keyboard and mouse.  And it’s painful.  Very painful.

What’s different about Parallels Access is that they’ve added iOS-like gestures and interactions to make it feel like the application you are running is a native iPad app.  Instead of telling you about it, let me show you a few:

 

Quick view of gesture features.

 

Precision pointer

 

iOS keyboard, with a Windows Key and a Mac Key.

How I Use Parallels Access

Today I used Parallels access to work with some Excel spreadsheets, which I have done in the past with either iPad apps or via remoting in to a desktop.  Both ways are painful. It’s almost impossible to widen a column or cut and paste data in Excel using the iPad and the iPad apps don’t always support all the features I need.  I won’t be using this as my main method for working with Excel, database or data modeling tools.  But having the ability to pinch to zoom in applications  is very nice.  In ERwin Data Modeler, I was even able to reposition entities and fine tune relationship lines.  That just doesn’t work using a basic Remote Desktop tool.  Heck, it doesn’t even work as well on my touch screen desktop.

I also love that the keyboard is an iPad keyboard that features a Windows Key when you are on a Windows desktop and a Mac one when you are on a Mac.  That’s how keyboards should work.

I’ll post a more detailed review of how I am using Access to work with my desktop applications in the future.  For now, some gratuitous screen shots.

Access touch on iPad - LauncherAccess touch on iPad - Data Model

Win a 1 Year Subscription to Parallels Access

There’s a 14-day trial for Parallels Access available, but I have a better deal for you: enter to win one of FIVE one-year subscriptions (worth $4.99 a month or $49 a year) I have to give away via Twitter.  Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Follow me @datachick
  2. Tell me where you would use Parallels Access.  For example, “I would use Parallels Access from my deck, sipping a beverage with @datachick” or “I’d love my data with @datachick”.
  3. Contest ends Friday, 1 February at midnight EST, so tweet before then.

I’ll pick 4 random winners from the tweets and one special one chosen as the best tweet.  Just make sure you mention me (include @datachick  in your tweet) and the product (Parallels Access) so I see your entry.

Rules:

  • Your tweet has to mention me and Parallels Access
  • Your tweet must be posted publicly – not a DM.
  • Your tweet must be published before 1 Feb 2014 at midnight EST
  • If you live in one of those places that has laws against these contests (Allô Québec!): Sorry, you can’t be part of this.
  • If you live in one of those places that has a law requiring a skills testing question (O Canada!) I will give you a fancy data modeling question to do.  No worries, it will be an easy one.
  • A winning tweet and your twitter account have to be Safe For Work.  Let’s call it “SFW USA”.  That works.
  • No more than 5 entries from you.
  • You don’t have to own an iPad (2nd through current generation), but you’ll need one to use this product.
  • No returns or exchanges.  No whining.  No bad data. No tipping. Bribes are discouraged by Management.

Good luck and get touching and tweeting!

#SQLLinkBait Contest Winner (CLICK HERE NOW!)…

Sep 16, 2013   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Awesome, Blog, Data, Fun, Snark, SQL Server  //  4 Comments

Recently on Twitter I ran a fun contest to come up with the best SQL blog post title link bait.  Link baiting is a controversial approach to blogging.  The term itself is controversial actually.  In some contexts it just means using a great title.  But this contest was looking for the the best example of a different use of the term, one that’s a little bit more on the dark side of blogging:

Linkbait Definition #2 – “Attracting Link Attention with Controversy”
A lot of folks seem to suggest that certain things people write on the web or create on their sites are “just for the linkbait” – these can include negative or derogatory pieces, inflammatory material, and anything else that designed to incite or provoke a reaction from one or many online communities or blogs.

From <http://moz.com/blog/the-two-kinds-of-linkbait>

That’s the definition I was going for in this contest.  An snark we did receive.   I think this means that the SQL & Twitter communities have seen a lot of linkbaiting.  This was a short contest, with just under 300 posts and about 100 people participating in the conversation, but it reached more than 1 million potential impressions.  That’s the power of social media.

(click to enlarge this chart)

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The full report on this hashtag can be found at http://keyhole.co/realtime/zA3oKj/

 

Some honourable (dishonourable?) mentions:

Our crack team of judges – Allen Kinsel ( blog | @AllenKinsel ), Thomas LaRock ( blog | @SQLRockstar ) and I picked  Tracy McKibben’s ( blog | @RealSQLGuy ) entry.  I’ll be DMing you, Tracy, with info for collecting your prize pack.  I sure hope you are following me (hint, hint).

I’d love to see some of you take this challenge to heart and write those blog posts.  Hmmm.  Maybe a new contest idea?

Update: It seems that Twitter or WP is having a bit of an issue rendering some of the tweets. Perhaps they will fix this data quality problem soon. Anyway, congrats Tracy.

Pour Some Data On Me

Apr 5, 2013   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun, Snark, SQL Server  //  No Comments

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Today’s SQL Server 2012 Anniversary question is:

I thought the image I created above might inspire you.

Follow @SQLServer on Twitter and answer their daily questions to win fame and prizes.

 

Pour Some Sugar On Me

Good luck!

Microsoft Canada Needs Your Feedback

Mar 19, 2013   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun  //  1 Comment

(plus an opportunity for PRIZES!)

We often work with Anthony, Pierre and Mitch, the evangelists from the IT Pro team at Microsoft Canada. They asked us to share this important message with you.

The team at Microsoft Canada is focused on ensuring that they help set you up for success by providing the information and tools you need in order to be get the most out of Microsoft based solutions, at home and at work.

Twice a year, Microsoft sends out the Global Relationship Study (GRS for short); it’s a survey that Microsoft uses to collect your feedback and help inform their planning. If you receive emails from Microsoft, subscribe to their newsletters‚ or you’ve attended our any of their events you may receive the survey.

The important details:

  • Timing – March 4th to April 12th 2013
  • Sent From – “Microsoft Feedback”
  • Email Alias – “feedback@e–mail.microsoft.com
  • Subject Line – “Help Microsoft Focus on Customers and Partners”

Many of you already read the Microsoft Canada IT Pro team’s blogs‚ connect with them on LinkedIn and have attended their events in the last year or so. So you may already know that you’re their top priority. So they want to hear from you.

Pierre, Anthony and Mitch use the GRS results to shape what they do, how they do it and if it’s resonating with you. Tell them what you need to be the “go-to” guy (or gal). Tell them what you need to grow your career. They want you to be completely satisfied with Microsoft Canada.

Online Resources

This year, Pierre, Anthony and Mitch have delivered 30 IT Camps and counting across the country. Giving you the opportunity to get hands on and learn how to get the most value for your organization. They have a few more events planned this year, so keep an eye on their plancast feed for events near you. Based on your feedback, topics they’re planning to cover will include:

· Windows 8

· Windows Server 2012

· System Center 2012

· Private Cloud

· BYOD – Management and Security

That’s not all. They’ve heard you loud and clear so in addition to hands on events, they’re also delivering more technical content online via the IT Pro Connection Blog. Windows 8 continues to be a big area of focus for them. They covered a lot of great content at launch and they’ve complimented that with new content like:

· Security Concepts

· Enterprise Focused Content

· Windows 8 and System Center 2012 Integration

In addition to this, there are some valuable online resources you can use like Microsoft Virtual Academy, Microsoft’s no-cost online training portal. Or software evaluations (free trials) on TechNet that allow you to build your own labs to try out what you’ve learned.

There are some great SQL Server labs there, too.

Let Microsoft Canada Know What You Need

Regardless of how you engage with the team at Microsoft Canada‚ you’d probably agree that they hear you. They’d also encourage you to continue to provide that great feedback. They thrive on it‚ they relish it‚ they wallow in it and most importantly of all‚ they action it. So please keep connecting with them and keep it coming! Pierre, Anthony and Mitch are listening.

Resources, Tools and Training

· Tim Horton’s Gift Card Contest – We’re giving away 350 Tim Horton’s gift cards, all you have to do to qualify is download a free qualifying software evaluation (trial). Download all three for more chances to win, but hurry, the contest closes soon.*

· Windows 8 Resource Guide Download a printable, one-page guide to the top resources that will help you explore, plan for, deploy, manage, and support Windows 8 as part of your IT infrastructure.

· Windows Server 2012 Evaluation – Get hands on with Windows Server 2012 and explore the scale and performance possibilities for your server virtualization.

· Microsoft Support – Get help with products‚ specific errors‚ virus detection and removal and more.

· Microsoft Licensing -Visit the Volume Licensing Portal today to ask questions about volume licensing‚ get a quote‚ activate a product or find the right program for your organization.

*No purchase necessary. Contest open to residents of Canada, excluding Quebec. Contest closes April 11, 2013 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. Three-Hundred-and-Fifty (350) prizes are available to be won: (i) $10 CDN Tim Horton’s gift card.  Skill-testing question required. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. For full rules, including entry, eligibility requirements and complete prize description, review the full terms and Conditions.

Friday Fun Contest: How Many TLAs Can You Fit In a Sentence?

Oct 19, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Fun, Snark, Social Networking, Space  //  10 Comments

TLAs are hard to understand.  It's OK.

It’s Friday again (we should have more of these) and I’m in the mood for a contest.  I have some mystery prizes, more than just swag, to give away.  But I’m not saying what it is until the contest is over. Let’s just say it will have data stuff, space stuff, and for certain one of those secret Canadian keychain bottler openers.  The value of the prize will be approximately $100… CANADIAN!!!!…which I think now is close to $100 million dollars USD.

How Many TLAs can you fit in a sentence?

Your challenge is to make a  grammatically-correct sentence that is dominated with TLAs.  What’s a TLA?  Why it’s a Three Letter Acronym, of course. But we’re going to be flexible.  You can use acronyms or initialisms and you aren’t limited to three letter ones.  You can also tack on verb endings and such. So things like RBARing, LOSed and SSDTed are fine.  We’ll have a group of prestigious fun judges to evaluate your submissions based on these guidelines:

  • Length of sentence
  • Length of TLAs
  • Higher ratio of TLAs to “real” words – in fact, I want to see very few real words
  • Higher weight given to non-product TLAs
  • Originality is a real plus
  • Higher weight given to a good mix of TLA “domains”.  If you can work in textspeak, space, tech, music, literature, arts and crafts, cycling and knitting, then you’re golden.
  • The more snark the better.

Your TLAs should be commonly known or easily to lookup.   If we can’t figure out what it means, you’ll lose points.

Examples

I REd a CRM DB to get the DDL for the CASE tool, FTW.

 


 

OK, my C4ISTAR PM FUBBARed* my PLoA due to a SNAFU* with a SME's PEBCAK bug.

 


 

NASA SCUBA SMEs are NEEMO FTEs, AFAIK.

 

The Rules

Entries accepted from locations where these sorts of contests are legal.  Check with local authorities.  If you are unable to accept the prize for a corporate or government restriction, just let us know.  We’d still love to honour your work.  Canadian residents must solve a particularly silly mathematical question.  Study up on square roots and factorials. But they won’t be in the question.

Decisions of the judges are final.

You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.

You agree to let us publish your entries, but you get to keep ownership of them.  We are nice like that.

Your sentence must be an original creation, by you.

No explicit, illegal or shameful content.  Yes, I know some of you are disappointed.

Contest closes on 29 October 2012, 2 November 2012 at midnight my time, wherever I am at that time.

* UPDATE * I’ve just received some new swag from vendors, so I’m extending the deadline for this contest.  We will now have 3 prizes to give away. *

Taxes, customs, duties and any other silly mandated stuff that makes it less fun to win are the responsibility of the recipient.

*The TLA example above has alternate, family-friendly definitions.  I looked them up. Trust me.

How to Enter

Leave your entry here as a comment.   Yes, you can enter more than once…let’s say no more than 4 entries per person.  Yes, you’ll have to use a method to post that allows us to contact you to arrange for the major award.  You can submit anonymously, but no prize for you.

The Judges

Denny Cherry (@mrdenny | blog ) Unofficial SQL PASS Party Planner and Trouble Maker

Joey D’Antoni (@jdanton | blog ) Biker, but not that kind, who architects on the side

Marco Frissen (@mfrissen | blog ) Opinionated space and tech geek. Token foreigner on this panel

Thomas LaRock (@sqlrockstar |blog ) DBA, Happymaker, and bacon lover

Shannon Moore (@ageekmom | blog )  SpaceTweep Wrangler and cyclist extraordinaire

Karen Lopez (@datachick) Loves Space and Data.  Almost the same. But Space Data is best. Another foreigner, sort of.

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