Symphonic/concert band performance, 4/27/19

For those of you who are interested in seeing me do something other than a SQL Saturday presentation, the concert band in which I perform will be performing at the Association of Concert Bands (ACB) Convention in northern New Jersey on Saturday, April 27!

We will be performing at 3:00 at the Woodcliff Lake Hilton in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.

This is an opportunity to catch me in an environment that involves my biggest extracurricular activity outside of my work. Come on out and catch a good concert!

Hope to see you a week from Saturday!

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I network. What’s your superpower?

I had some things happen just within the past week that reminded me about the power of networking, and just how well-connected I actually am.

At my CrossFit gym last week, one member of the racquetball club (which occupies the same building as the CrossFit gym) and whom I knew from a previous job, told me he might be looking to move on. I told him to connect with me over LinkedIn, which he did.

The other day, another friend from another former job also told me he was looking, and was wondering if I knew anyone whom he could contact about opportunities. I told him to email me his resume, along with an email and phone number where he wouldn’t mind being contacted by recruiters, and a quick description of the position he was seeking. I took his information and submitted a referral to several recruiters I know, most of whom said they would reach out to him.

And last night, I was contacted by my fraternity chapter, telling me that one of their recent graduates was looking into a technology career, and was wondering if I had any insights. We connected and chatted via email, and I told him to connect with me on both LinkedIn and Facebook. Additionally, about a month ago, I signed up for a mentoring program, also organized by my fraternity, and I was assigned a pledge (I believe the politically-correct term they’re using these days is “membership candidate” — sorry, I’m old school) as my mentee. A little while ago as I was writing this, I made arrangements to meet with both of them tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll be taking a quick day trip out to Syracuse tomorrow. (As an added bonus, tomorrow is Syracuse’s Spring Game, which gives me another reason to make the trip.)

(I have a number of other experiences involving mentoring and paying it forward that I’ve been meaning to write up in a yet-to-be-written ‘blog article, but I haven’t yet gotten around to it. Stay tuned.)

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s four different people connected to me through three different ways (well, four if you count that one of those contacts is connected through both my gym and a former job). That represents just a small fraction of my network. My network extends a lot further than that (last I checked, I had more than five hundred LinkedIn connections), which enables me to connect these people with many more.

Networking is a powerful tool when it comes to advancing your career. Whether you’re looking to make a move, learn something new, or improve your standing, you need to actively network. You never know where it might lead.

Attending SQL Saturday? Why you need to register

You say you’re attending SQL Saturday? Great! If you’re looking to learn more about SQL Server, data topics, BI, professional development, or just want to network with database and technical professionals, it’s a great event where you can do exactly that.

But make sure you register.

While it may sometimes be possible to just show up at a SQL Saturday and register as a walk-in, I would absolutely advise against it. I’ve had friends tell me that they were interested in attending, but ended up getting shut out because they didn’t register.

I’m writing this article to make sure you don’t make that mistake.

First of all, the number of people who can attend a SQL Saturday varies, largely because of the size of the venue. When we host SQL Saturday here in Albany, we might be able to afford some leeway because we hold it in a large venue. The rooms we use are large university lecture halls that are capable of accommodating fairly big crowds. However, not all places have that luxury. Some locations use smaller venues. For example, SQL Saturdays in the Boston area have been held at Microsoft’s office in Burlington, MA, which tends to be a smaller venue. (This is largely because Microsoft offers their space for little or no cost — and other sites around the Boston area can be quite expensive. Remember: SQL Saturday is an all-volunteer event.) It is not unusual for Boston-area SQL Saturday events to end up with a large waiting list — sometimes numbering more than a hundred.

Sometimes, capacity is lowered not just because of the facility but by the number of tracks and sessions that are offered. Events outside the United States — Montréal, for example — sometimes offer only a few tracks and about a dozen sessions. A smaller SQL Saturday will likely accommodate a smaller crowd.

Building security is often a factor. Whenever I’ve attended SQL Saturday events in New York City, I’ve had to bring along a picture ID, and in some cases, I would have a temporary building access badge issued to me, because the event was held in a secure facility. Registering puts you on a security list that allows you facility access.

Additionally, when you register, you receive an admission packet called a SpeedPASS. The SpeedPASS consists of a name tag that acts as your badge, your admission ticket, your lunch ticket, and raffle tickets for the event sponsors. Registering guarantees that your SpeedPASS will be ready for you when you arrive.

There’s also a matter of event planning. When you register for SQL Saturday, it provides planners with an RSVP and a count of how many people are attending the event. That gives organizers a count to plan for lunch, session planning, and organizing the event.

Additional information about attending a SQL Saturday can be found here. I also have a ‘blog article I wrote a while back about what to expect at a SQL Saturday.

So if you want to attend a SQL Saturday, go to their website, find an event that you want to attend, and register through the event link.

And do it sooner than later. Don’t get shut out.

My first road race

A while back, I wrote that to be successful, you need to step out of your comfort zone.

I just stepped out of it in a big way.

I just registered for my very first road race: the 2019 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge. I have never run any kind of registered road race* before. This will be my first.

(*I have, however, participated in a registered bicycle tour before. But I feel a lot more comfortable about my bike riding than I do my running.)

I will say that running and I have never really gotten along. It is not, I repeat, not one of my favorite physical activities.

I’ve been active in CrossFit since 2015. I’ve made big strides since I started. Although I still have a lot of things that I need to improve, I can do a lot of things now that I couldn’t when I first started.

And as it turns out, one of the things upon which I’ve improved is running. One particular coach tends to push me pretty hard (in a good way). Whenever a 5K run has come up in a CrossFit WOD, I’ve toyed with scaling it down to a shorter distance. It was this particular coach who said to me, “nope, you’re not scaling it. You’re running the full 5K!”

And it’s for that reason why I feel I’m capable of participating in this event.

Granted, I use air-quotes when I say “run.” It’ll probably be more like some jogging, some walking, and some stumbling. (And this event is longer than 5K; it’s actually 3.5 miles.)

If you want to get better, you need to step out of your comfort zone. I’d say that this definitely qualifies.

For reference, my best 5K time is 50:18. We’ll see how this goes. Wish me luck.

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 4/4/19)

I figured I was about due for an update of my speaking schedule. As of today, here are events where I am confirmed as speaking.

I’ve also applied to speak at the following events, but none of them are confirmed; there’s no guarantee that I will be speaking at any of these events. Stay tuned.

(Unfortunately, as much as I want to go, I am not applying to SQL Saturday #877, Boston, as I have a conflict with September 14.)

Additionally, these events are not yet live, but they are listed as “save the date.” I intend to apply to them once they do go live.

  • October 5: SQL Saturday, Pittsburgh

SQL Saturday events are held all across the country and around the world. I hope to be attending one near you!

The symbiotic relationship between documentation and application development

One of my current projects involves documenting processes for an application that are still under development. As such, much of what I write may change, depending on how processes are changed during the course of development.

At one point, I tested one of the processes so I could determine functionality and document it. In doing so, the process came back with an error message that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t have any user-friendly information, other than a cryptic error code. I contacted one of the developers working on the application and told him what I found. I gave him the error codes I experienced and steps I took to get them. He told me, “you’re coming across bugs that we didn’t even know we had.”

It occurred to me that I was doing more than just documenting the application. I was also acting as a beta tester.

One aspect about writing technical documentation is learning about what you’re writing. In order to write about a process, you need to understand how it works. If you’re documenting an application, the best thing you can do is run the application in a safe environment (such as development or a sandbox), learn how it works, and use it to document steps and capture screens. In doing so, you come across application bugs and even come up with ideas to make the application even better.

I’ve long argued as to the criticality of documentation. It records important information and serves as a reference. However, until this point, it didn’t occur to me that the document development process could have a symbiotic relationship with application development. To me, this adds further fuel to the argument that documentation is critical and required.

Monthly CASSUG meeting — April 2019

Greetings, data enthusiasts!

This is a reminder that our April CASSUG meeting will take place on Monday, April 8, 5:30 pm, in the Datto (formerly Autotask) cafeteria!

Our guest speaker is Monica Rathbun!  Her talk is entitled: Performance Tuning, Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Buck!

Note that our meeting location has moved!  Datto/Autotask is now located at 33 Tech Valley Drive.  Please do not map this address at this time, as most online maps have not yet been updated. Drive past the old building all the way to the end, where the new building is located! Refer to the map below for the new location.

For more information, and to RSVP, go to our Meetup link at http://meetu.ps/e/FWkVd/7fcp0/f

Thanks to our sponsor, Datto/Autotask, for making this event possible!