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I have been appointed as PASS Regional Mentor for the Greater Southeast

I have been appointed as PASS Regional Mentor for the Greater Southeast by PASS (http://www.sqlpass.org). I am truly honored to volunteer for this position to help improve our PASS community. These are BIG shoes to fill.

I will be joining my good friend Tim Radney (Twitter | Blog) oversee 28 chapters across 6 US states (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, and SC) as well as the Netherlands Antilles. The complete list of chapters that make up the Greater Southeast can be found at: http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/USGreaterSoutheast.aspx.

What is a Regional Mentor? What do Regional Mentors do?

In Karla Landrum’s (Twitter | Blog) own words:

In general, a PASS Regional Mentor can be defined as the following:

Passionate community volunteer

  • Dedicated to PASS and the SQL Server community
  • Understands the value of giving his/her time and talents to helping others increase their knowledge and skills and improving the overall community

PASS ambassador

  • Understands PASS and its mission and represents the best of PASS to Chapters in his/her area
  • Works to keep PASS accountable, on track, and meeting the needs of its members

Primary point of contact for Chapters

  • RM facilitates 2-way communications: resources, benefits, and news from PASS to Chapters and Chapter needs and feedback back to PASS
  • RM knows who to contact at PASS, at the local/regional Microsoft office, area sponsors, etc. if Chapters need something or have questions

The full blog post of Karla Landrum on “What is a Regional Mentor” can be found at: http://karlalandrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/what-is-a-pass-regional-mentor/

What does being a Regional Mentor means to me?

My personal view is that  a Regional Mentor is a facilitator and nothing else. This position is not a bureaucratic layer on top of PASS Chapters. I’m not a Regional Mentor to supervise, police, decide, or interfere with day-to-day activities of PASS Chapters. It is meant to be the first level of contact, but it does not mean Chapters can’t talk directly to PASS staff and leadership.

Regional Mentors can help PASS Chapters acquire swag, books and even speakers for their Chapter meetings. Regional Mentors can also open doors from personal contacts, contacts established by PASS or even contacts that other Chapters have already established.

Regional Mentors can also help by providing best practices and guidelines on how to run a succesful Chapter or event from past personal experiences as well as experiences from other Chapter leaders and PASS management.

Regional Mentors can also help Chapters leverage as a group on common challenges and issues, for example: incorporating as a non-for profit, learning how to deal with taxes, managing finances, structuring the chapter leadership, obtaining legal representation, obtaining special discounts, sharing of event materials and equipment, coordinating events and speakers, etc. These are just examples of some of the ideas and initiatives for the Southeast Chapters, so be in the lookout for some discussions around them.

What do I have to offer?

As President for the past 3+ years of the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence PASS Chapter (http://tampabaybi.sqlpass.org), organizer/co-organizer of  3 SQL Saturdays, and speaker at more than 35 events like SQLSaturdays,  I understand the challenges and time committment of PASS Chapter leaders. 

Throughout my community involvement, I have created a good network of SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals, Chapter leaders and community rockstars. In addition, I have established great relationships with “blue badges” (Microsoft employees), PASS leadership and staff and have direct points of contact at many companies that offer products and services related to SQL Server and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.

It is my desire to help Chapters that need from my past experience, network, ideas and initiatives, and role as a facilitator . It is my intention to let Chapter leaders continue to keep doing their invaluable jobs and not interfere or serve as a barrier to their activities.

I’m here to facilitate!

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Top 3 Reasons Why Evernote is worth $1 billion to me

Everyone heard about Facebook’s recent purchase of Instagram for $1 billion dollars. No one can imagine how they came with such price tag for a bunch (a big bunch) of pictures with special filters added. I never used Instagram and I don’t think I will ever. I’m happy with my regular’ol Flickr, Twitpic and Picasa.

One free application that is really worth $1 billion is Evernote. Why? Well, it’s way more than just another online organizer to me. And it’s even better than the Trapper Keeper I carry around.

Reason #1: No more emailing back and forth
One of the best reasons why Evernote is so valuable is the fact that I can write notes or take pictures of a whiteboard with my smartphone and they will auto-magically synchronize with my laptop and iPad or vice-versa. No more emailing back and forth so that I can download them. The notes and pictures go right into my user-defined notebooks I saved the notes under and show up wherever I have Evernote configured.

Reason #2: No more wallet full of receipts.
As a consultant I travel a lot and taming my receipts monster for my T&E reports is not an easy task. At the end of a week-long trip my wallet looks somewhat like a juicy double-decker burger. With Evernote, I can take a picture of the receipt with my smartphone, tag it and upload it to my expenses notebook. I can do it right there at the restaurant when the waiter or waitress brings the check and add notes related to the expense.

Reason #3: Share & Grab
Another reason why Evernote is so valuable is the fact that I can share my notebooks and notes with other people. Imagine how cool it is to brainstorm and whiteboard and be able to share those notes, pictures, videos, links, etc with your teammates. Awesome, right! Well, it doesn’t stop there, you can even use third-party extensions and applications like ifttt.com to save content to an Evernote notebook from Tweeter, Facebook, email and other channels based on the criteria that you define. Make sure to check-out the Evernote Trunk section for a complete list of apps.

Just wanted to share this as I find it very useful and believe that applications such as Evernote should be the next billion dollar company. Please comment with other ways you use Evernote for: Recipes? CRM? Reminder? Your own private Facebook? sa password vault?

Afterthoughts: SharePoint Saturday Tampa 2011

This past Saturday June 11th, 2011 I had the opportunity to co-present at SharePoint Saturday Tampa thanks to a special invitation by its main organizer Michael Hinckley (Twitter|Blog|LinkedIn). It was a great experience and a very well-organized event. I met several SharePoint professionals I follow on Twitter for the first time and learned more about them and others in the industry that are in a few words, Rockstars!

Speaker Dinner & Event Networking
As a speaker, I was invited to attend the speaker dinner at Donatello Restaurant (website) on Friday evening June 10th.  The place was a great choice as we had the lounge & bar area mostly for ourselves. Food was excellent. At the dinner party I had the opportunity to connect with several friends from the area, some which I had not seen personally for a while such as

Michael Antonovich  (Blog|Twitter|LinekdIn),
Assistant Director of Web Services at Orange County Public Schools

Landon Bass (Blog|LinkedIn),
Systems Engineer III – SharePoint Engineer at Raymond James

Chad Miller (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Sr Manager Database Administration at Raymond James

I also met some other cool guys like

Chris Schwab’s (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Sharepoint & PowerShell guru

David McNamee (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
SharePoint Technology Specialist at Microsoft

Michael Oryszak (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn)
Practice Manager at Intellinet, SharePoint Server MVP, MCITP

Marc D. Anderson (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Co-Founder and President at Sympraxis Consulting LLC

The Presentation
Michael Hinckley and I co-presented “Extending Business Intelligence Solutions with SharePoint 2010,” in which we did an overview of what SharePoint 2010 has to offer for Business Intelligence. Michael did a great job doing an overview of SharePoint 2010 covering deployment considerations, licensing and edition comparisons. I then proceeded to do quick overview of Business Intelligence, what it is and what it is not. The audience was very engaged and we spent at least 10 minutes discussing the BI self-delivery model and the governance necessary around it to ensure the “single version of the truth.”

Click here or on image above to download the presenation

David McNamee from Microsoft attended the presentation and contributed to the discussion regarding governance and the self-delivery model. He made a statement that resonated a lot with me as an IT professional regarding these politics and battles between IT and the business:

..if IT and the Business don’t talk and collaborate and the business does not consider IT as a strategic partner, then I’m in the wrong organization.

This is very true and agree 100% with David. As a matter of fact, a big reason why I left a past employer was because of these unhealthy politics.

At the end  of the presentation I showcased Excel Services, Performance Point Services and one of the coolest features in SharePoint 2010 Decomposition Trees. We got great feedback and hopefully Michael and I have an opportunity to co-present again at other events. I felt Michael and I had a good synergy co-presenting (even with no rehearsal).

This may be a taste of things to come between the synergy the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence User Group and the Tampa Bay SharePoint User Group.

 The Sessions I attended
I attended just a couple of sessions as I spent most of my time networking with attendees, speakers and sponsors and promoting our own upcoming SQL Saturday #86 BI Edition on November 5th.

While I am not a SharePoint Developer (yet), I really enjoyed Marc D. Anderson’s presentation “Developing in SharePoint’s Middle Tier.” I learned about his awesome SPServices jQuery library publicly available at Codeplex (http://spservices.codeplex.com/) and also about his SharePoint XSL templates also available at Codeplex (http://spxslt.codeplex.com). Through his jQuery library and XSL templates you can easily customize the user experience of SharePoint forms like cascading dropdown menus, selectable textbox word hints, real-time data validation and much more. Really cool stuff.

During lunch time I attended a session / discussion by Kathy Malone (Meetup) and Blain Barton (Blog|LinkedIn) titled “Building Social Media Communities; How SharePoint Fits In.” This was an interesting discussion as it involved one of my favorite topics: Social Media. We discussed Twitter and how it can help startups and technical communities. I added my two cents ($0.02) and explained how great the #sqlhelp hashtag helps a lot of SQL Professionals with immediate answers from experts around the world. We discussed that for SharePoint there is #sphelp available. I was able to walk away with a signed copy of “Office and SharePoint 2010 User’s Guide” authored by my good friend Michael Antonovich. You can buy his book here.

Another great session I attended was presented by Ryan Morgan (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn) titled “Silverlight Dashboards in SharePoint 2010.” I have not developed anything at all with Silverlight but was interested to learn how complex or easy it was to create custom dashboards in SharePoint 2010 with Silverlight. It turned out it was very simple, or at list Ryan was very effective at simplifying things that even a Silverlight newb like me understood it. I also learned how easy it is to query SharePoint lists using the API’s available using jQuery and LINQ. Very cool stuff.

I look forward to speaking and attending another SharePoint Saturday. There is so much to learn from the experts that speak at this event that I can apply on my line of work which is Business Intelligence. As Michael Hinckley and I have discussed, there is so much overlap between SharePoint 2010, SQL Server and Business Intelligence and the fact that Microsoft is focusing its efforts to make SharePoint the preferred enterprise information management platform, that SQL/BI and SharePoint folks need to engage more and more.

500th Twitter follower spotlight: Joshua Luedeman

It is hard sometimes to take the time to acknowledge our Twitter followers and spend time getting to know them. I decided to change that a little bit and go beyond the 140 character limit and do a video conference spotlight on whomever became follower number 500th.

Recently, I reached my 500th follower on Twitter. The lucky tweep was Joshua Luedeman aka @BigDadyLueda, a DBA/Business Intelligence Developer from Tallahassee, FL. I asked Joshua to do a recorded video conference via Skype and answer a couple of questions to get to know him better and introduce him to the rest of the community.

It turned out Joshua is a very smart guy from upstate New York who recently moved to Florida with his family. Joshua and I share several things in common:

  • Proud father of two girls
  • Husband in love with his beautiful wife
  • Passionate about SQL Server and Business Intelligence
  • Recently moved to Florida
  • Recently re-focused his career in Business Intelligence
  • Looks up to @SQLChicken (Jorge Segarra) and his SQL University initiative
  • Reads SQL Server Books on Line and related blog posts
  • Desires to become more active in the SQL Server, Business Intelligence, SQL PASS  community by blogging and speaking

It was truly a pleasure and honor to get to know him in more than 140 characters. Here is the recording of our video conference:

 

Presenting at inaugural meeting for Wheeling, West Virginia User Group

I will be presenting my “Learning SSIS under 1 hour” session over live meeting for the Wheeling, West Virginia User Group on Thursday 1/20/2011. This meeting will kick-off the first meeting for the local user group put together by John Sterrett (Blog | Twitter). More details can be found at:

http://johnsterrett.com/2011/01/06/new-sql-user-group-in-wheeling-west-virginias-first-meeting-is-january-20th/

Tampa SQL Saturday 62 Afterthoughts

Tampa SQL Saturday #62 was overall a success. We had an amazing turnout of speakers and attendees. The final attendance numbers are still being reviewed by Pam Shaw (Blog | Twitter). I would safely say that we had at least 340 attendees. This is an estimated 21% increase in attendance from last year’s SQL Saturday attendance which was around 280.

Speed Pass
A big differentiator this year was Pam’s brilliant idea of doing the “SpeedPass”.  Registration this year was a breeze. I watched the registration process and took about 15 secs avg per person to hand in their “SpeedPass” ticket and receive their swag bag.  I think this was a great idea and hope that other SQL Saturdays start adopting it. If there is enough interest we could ask PASS to host these reports for us. There are several enhancements to the process as was pointed out to me by Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter). All feedback has been welcomed and we hope other SQL Saturdays implement them.

Food
Tampa SQL Saturday 62 has raised the bar again in terms of food. We had a delicious catered Cuban/Spanish plate. Everybody loved it.  We also had Krispy Kremes and coffee for breakfast and breaks between sessions. Can’t go wrong with Krispy Kremes!

Volunteers
We had several volunteers who had signed up, but only about 10 that confirmed their time and availability and only a handful that really stepped up to the plate. We are very thankful for their time and effort. Without volunteers this event could have not been possible. Special thanks to the volunteers that helped with bagging, setup, registration,  manning food and coffee break area and clean-up. I would like to mention their names in recognition of their efforts:

David Liebman
Andrew Brittain
Lena Pavlyuk
Thomas Heflin
Howard Chao
Brook Ranne
Lynn M. Fruit
Leigh Freijo

Sessions and Speakers
Key to our success were all the speakers. We had over 47 speakers submit a wide variety of sessions but could only accommodate 42. Additional to regular speaker sessions, we also hosted sponsor sessions over lunch. Pragmatic Works did an Iron Chef session and Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter) and Mike Davis (Blog | Twitter) did a SQL Smackdown: SSIS vs. PowerShell. Both of these spotlight sessions were very well attended!

                                                      

  

 Thank you all who attended, sponsored, spoke and volunteered !
~)  

I have been Knighted

As I announced on my 2000-2010 a Decade in Retrospect blog post I have joined the ranks at Pragmatic Works and started my first day today. I’m excited to join such a great professional team, full of experts in the SQL Server and Business Intelligence field. There is no waste of time here. Lots of engagements from the get go. Less than an hour at work, I got in my first brainstorming session. An hour later I have been assigned to two client engagements I will be involved with during the next few weeks. I will also be involved with the Virtual Mentoring services. If you have purchased Virtual Mentoring hours from us, I might be giving you a call soon! 

 The atmosphere here at the new offices is laid-back and you can feel a sense of teamwork from all of the guys. If you are looking to make a career move, Pragmatic Works is your best choice. Lots of expansion going on, great carer opportunities and lots of expertise in-house to tap into.

 

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