Take care of yourself first

I very recently had a revelation that aroused a great deal of stress and anxiety in myself. (I won’t get into the specifics right now, but it’s very possible that I might discuss it more later, when — or if — the time is right.) It was bad enough that I ended up not feeling well yesterday, and it carried over into today. I woke up this morning feeling dizzy and abnormally chilly, even though I didn’t feel any other physical symptoms. I also felt extremely anxious and overwhelmed. I went back and forth with my coworker, suggesting that I’d be in late. The feedback I received was, stay home. If it’s something that will effect your focus and concentration, then it’s probably best to take care of it before coming in.

I decided to heed that advice, and am taking steps to take care of myself today (I’m trying to make some phone calls even as I write this article).

This would not be the first time that something like this has taken me down. I wrote that over a year ago, during the height of the pandemic, anxiety led me to the point of ignoring my own well-being to the point that I ended up becoming physically sick, and landing in the hospital.

As I get older, I am becoming more acutely aware that issues with my mindset can be just as big as a roadblock as being physically sick. They can affect your concentration, your focus, and even everyday activities. And if you don’t take the time to address them, they can be an impediment to any progress you try to make.

So take the time to take care of yourself, before you get in over your head.

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 7/12/2022) #PASSDataCommunitySummit #SQLSaturday #ProfessionalDevelopment #Networking #SQLFamily

As it turns out, I have a couple of confirmed upcoming speaking engagements! If you’re seeking employment or are looking to advance your career prospects, both of these presentations are for you.

  • Saturday, July 23 (a week from this Saturday as I write this): SQL Saturday #1027, New Jersey — This is the first (as far as I know) SQL Saturday being held in New Jersey, and my first live and in-person SQL Saturday since Rochester, just before the pandemic.

    I will be doing my presentation about surviving an unemployment situation titled, “I lost my job! Now what?!?” If you’re out of work, I’ll talk about coping with unemployment stress and emotions, the job hunt, and how to get through this tough time.

    I also talk about networking in this presentation. Speaking of which…

I also found out this week that there is a SQL Saturday scheduled for October 8 in Boston (well, actually, Burlington, MA). I’m on the fence as to whether or not to submit to it (mostly what’s making me hesitate is my busy schedule, but that said, that date is free on my calendar). I’m leaning towards submitting to it, but we’ll see how it goes.

So, that’s two confirmed speaking engagements, plus one that I might (okay, probably will) submit to. Now that things are opening back up, and virtual conferences aren’t necessarily the current norm, I’m looking forward to seeing people live and in-person again.

I will be speaking at #PASSDataCommunitySummit #PASSSummit #SQLFamily #Networking

I am pleased to announce that I have been selected to speak at the 2022 PASS Data Community Summit! This is the fourth straight year that I have been selected to speak at this event (or its equivalent)!

I am still in awe that I’ve been selected four straight years! To be selected once is an honor! To be selected four times puts you in elite company!

This year’s conference is hybrid; that is, it will be both in-person and online! Go to the link for additional details and to register! I will be making the trip to Seattle in November, so I need to make my travel arrangements!

This year, I will be presenting one of my favorite presentations: “Networking 101: Building professional relationships.” If you consider yourself socially awkward, have trouble with connecting with business professionals, don’t feel comfortable with breaking the ice, or just want to expand your network even further, then this presentation is for you! And PASS Data Community Summit is the perfect place to practice those skills!

I am very much looking forward to this event, and I’m looking forward to making the trip out to Seattle in November! Hope to see you there!

Hello, New Jersey — I’ll be there on July 23! #SQLSaturday #SQLSat1027 #Networking #SQLFamily

First, I’ll start with an apology to anyone who’s been looking for more ‘blog articles from me. My life’s been pretty hectic lately (in a good way!), and I haven’t had too many opportunities to sit down at my computer to write. But nevertheless, here I am.

That said, my first article in a while is a speaking engagement announcement! Next month, I will be speaking at my first live, in-person SQL Saturday since Feb. 29, 2020 — right before the pandemic!

I will be speaking at SQL Saturday New Jersey on July 23! It will be held at the Microsoft office in Iselin, NJ. Note: because of the small size of the venue, registration is limited to around 120 people, so if you’re interested in attending, make sure you register soon!

If you’re a job seeker, I will be doing my presentation about surviving an unemployment situation titled: “I lost my job! Now what?!?

After spending a couple of years speaking at virtual conferences, it’s nice to be able to get back on the road and attend in-person again (although I did speak at another in-person event earlier this year)!

See you next month!

May Monthly CASSUG Meeting, May 9

Greetings, data enthusiasts!

Our May meeting will be a hybrid event! We will meet in person at the Rensselaer Chamber of Commerce, 90 4th Street, Troy, and online (the Zoom link can be found on our Meetup event link at https://www.meetup.com/Capital-Area-SQL-Server-User-Group/events/285622042 )!

Our May speaker is Monica Rathbun!

Topic: Always Encrypted for Beginners
One of the biggest challenges to successful implementation of data encryption has been the back and forth between the application and the database. You have to overcome the obstacle of the application decrypting the data it needs. Microsoft tried to simplify this process when it introduced Always Encrypted (AE) into SQL Server 2016 and Azure SQL Database. In this demo intense session, you will learn about what Always Encrypted is, how it works, and the implications for your environment. By the end you will know how to now easily encrypt columns of data and just as importantly how to unencrypt. You will also learn about the current limitations of the feature and what your options are to work around them.

For more information and to RSVP, use our Meetup link above! Hope to see you there!

Thanks to Datto for sponsoring our event!

Your User Manual

As a technical writer, anything that mentions “manual” (or “documentation”, for that matter) tends to catch my eye. I suppose it’s an occupational hazard. But when I saw this post from my friend, Steve Jones, it made me take notice.

I’m reblogging this for my own personal reference as much as anything else. Suppose you had a set of instructions for yourself? How would it read?

I might try this exercise for myself at some point, but for the moment, read Steve’s article, and see if you can come up with your own manual for yourself.

Voice of the DBA

Many of us have spent time looking through manuals or the documentation for some software or product. I know I’m on the MS docs site regularly for work, and there is no shortage of times I’ve used various manuals to help me fix something around the house. We usually use a manual when we want to learn how something is supposed to work, or how to get it to do what we want.

I saw a post on a personal user manual that I thought was a good idea for some people, maybe many people. This isn’t a manual for how you should live your life or work, but rather, how others might interact with you. This manual describes how you work, what motivates you, stimulates you, what pleases you, and even the environment in which are most productive.

Whether or not this is something you might give to co-workers…

View original post 299 more words

April Monthly CASSUG Meeting #SQLFamily #Azure #SQLAzure @CASSUG_Albany

Greetings, data enthusiasts!

Our April meeting will again be online. NOTE: you MUST RSVP to this Meetup at https://www.meetup.com/Capital-Area-SQL-Server-User-Group/events/285058597/ to view the Zoom URL!

Our April speaker is Rie Merritt!

Topic: Transitioning your On-Prem Database Skills to Azure SQL

Adoption of Cloud is at an all time high, with no end in sight. Managing a small fleet of databases on-premises was something you long ago mastered. In this session, we’ll cover the most common tasks a DBA needs to learn to manage in Azure SQL as well as they currently manage their On Premises installs. One of the great things about Azure SQL is that the skill set your team has developed over the years translates well. The tools and technologies you’re familiar with are all there. Let’s modernize those existing skills to make you a cloud DBA.

About Rie:
Rie Merritt has been working with SQL Server since 1999, when she started as a data analyst for a non-profit. She’s worked in many industries over the years including pharmaceutical, e-commerce, legal, financial, education and both federal & state government. Most recently, she was director of database management, Integrated Payments for WorldPay, Inc. She is currently Senior Program Manager with Microsoft Azure Data, serving as the MVP PG lead and as liaison between the product group and the data community. She is based out of Redmond, but works remotely from her home near Atlanta.

Over the years, Rie has done extensive work with the SQL Community. She was an MVP in the Data Platform for three years, speaking frequently at conferences across the US and moderating webinars, WIT panels and career panels. She has also served co-leader of the PASS Women in Technology Virtual Group and Executive Director of SQL Saturday Atlanta. Most recently, Rie helps run the Atlanta Azure Data User Group heading up Microsoft’s efforts for the Azure Data Community.

Our online meeting schedule is as follows:

  • 6:00: General chat, discussion, and announcements
  • 6:30: Presentation

We usually wrap up between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM.

Please RSVP to this Meetup, then use the online event URL to join (note: you MUST RSVP for the URL to be visible). We will send out a meeting password as we get closer to the event.

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

I’m speaking next weekend — in person! #WELocal

Time to get back on the road for the speaker’s circuit again!

I am speaking a week from tomorrow (April 9)! I will be in Buffalo, NY for the WE Local Buffalo conference, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers!

I will be doing my original presentation that kicked off my public speaking endeavor: “Whacha just say? Talking technology to non technical people“! I’m scheduled to speak at 2:15 pm next Saturday (click here for a PDF of the conference schedule).

This will be my first in-person event since SQL Saturday Rochester in 2020, right before the pandemic started! I’m very much looking forward to this trip, as I enjoy traveling! I’ve spoken at a number of virtual events since I went to Rochester, but they’re just not the same thing. I’m looking forward to being able to shake people’s hands (or give fist/elbow bumps, if they’re still anxious about spreading germs), handing out business cards, and taking in the local culture. I’m always game for a plate of Buffalo wings! (My wife and I were in Buffalo last summer, and we made it to the Anchor Bar. I’m hoping to sample some Duff’s this time around!)

Hope to meet you in Buffalo next weekend!

Dealing with mental wellness and stress

Last year, I wrote about how stress landed me in the hospital. The fact that the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with my job loss, created a large amount of stress over the course of that year. Because of that stress, I stopped taking care of myself. And because of that, I got sick and ended up in the hospital.

That was last year. After more than a year, I managed to gain employment again.

Well, the cycle begins again. Lately, I’ve been dealing with enormous stress; not from one source, but from several. Much of it is deeply personal, so I won’t write anything specific about them. What I will say is that recent events triggered them, affecting me in numerous ways, including my job performance.

Unfortunately, because my job performance was affected, I was told yesterday that I was being let go. Although I was disappointed by the news, it also did not surprise me. My manager had to make a decision, and I didn’t want to be the one bogging down the team. Quite frankly, if our roles were reversed, I likely would’ve made the same decision.

That said, I believe that in order to truly fix a problem, you need to address the root of the problem. I mentioned that I was dealing with multiple sources of stress. I felt I was getting burned out, and that burnout was what ultimately led me to losing my job. But while work stress may have contributed to my issue, I considered that to be a symptom, not the root cause.

Indeed, my job issue wasn’t the only symptom I was seeing. I’ve been feeling a great deal of anxiety. Even activities that I usually enjoy, and am even passionate about, were affected. There were nights where I was scheduled to attend music rehearsals and CrossFit classes — two activities that I usually enjoy — and I had no motivation to go. That’s when I made the decision to contact EAP and get help. They set me up with an online counseling program (my first therapy session was this morning). Additionally, I reconnected with a local psychology practice with whom I’ve worked in the past.

I’ve long stressed the importance of your mental, psychological, and emotional well-being. In my lost job presentation, the very first thing I address is your emotional well-being. You need to get a hold of yourself before you can effectively move forward. If it means (safely) getting it out of your system, talking to friends, finding distractions (such as your favorite activities), or getting professional help, then do it. The online counseling offered by my EAP includes three free sessions, and I decided that I should take advantage of that.

Mental well-being is getting more attention within the fields of technology. My friend Tracy Boggiano does an excellent presentation about mental health in IT (a link to it is available on her website). Steve Jones also posts daily articles about how to cope with various issues. And while I can’t think of articles off the top of my head (if you know of any, feel free to list them in the comments below), I believe there are articles that discuss mental health within the technology industry.

There has long been a stigma attached to mental health. The fact is, mental health deals with exactly that: your health. If you feel that you might not be in “the right frame of mind,” or something might be bothering you, or you feel as though you’re acting peculiarly, don’t keep it to yourself. Get help. Go talk to someone, preferably someone who’s in a position to best help you (such as a mental health professional). These people are there to help resolve your issue(s), or at least come up with an effective way to cope with them. Once you get your mental health under control, many other things — your job performance, your thought processes, your relationships, how you approach life, and so on — will fall into place.

Now, in the meantime, if anyone has any job leads, feel free to send them my way…

March Monthly CASSUG Meeting

Our March meeting will again be online. NOTE: you MUST RSVP to this Meetup at https://www.meetup.com/Capital-Area-SQL-Server-User-Group/events/284474830/ to view the Zoom URL!

Our March speaker is Taiob M Ali!

Topic: Options and considerations for migrating SQL Server databases to Azure

Many tools are available to migrate your on-premises database to an Azure SQL database. Are you familiar with all of those tools, and how do you choose the best tool for you? How do you analyze and identify what objects are not compatible with migrating to Azure? Answer: It depends (of course) on the type, size, and complexity of the database you will be relocating.

This session will explore considerations before migration, appropriate targets, migration tools available, and the pros and cons of each tool. I will demo four different tools that you can use to analyze/migrate your on-premises SQL Server Database to Azure SQL.

At the end of this session, you will be aware of the various techniques available to analyze and migrate SQL Database to Azure and choose the best fitting one for your database.

About Taiob:
Taiob Ali, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, is an accomplished technical leader with a proven record of success. During his last 16 years, he has worked with the Microsoft Data Platform and MongoDB, both on-premises and cloud. His experience includes all three major business sectors: finance, e-commerce, and healthcare.

Taiob is currently working at “GMO LLC” as Database Solutions Manager, focusing on cloud migration, automation, improving, and streamlining operational workflow. He is a regular speaker at local and virtual chapters, Data Saturdays, and Azure conferences. He is a board member of New England SQL Server User Group, founder of ‘Database Professionals Virtual Meetup Group’, and organizer of Boston SQL Saturday.

Our online meeting schedule is as follows:

  • 6:00: General chat, discussion, and announcements
  • 6:30: Presentation

We usually wrap up between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM.

Please RSVP to this Meetup, then use the online event URL to join (note: you MUST RSVP for the URL to be visible). We will send out a meeting password as we get closer to the event.

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