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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!


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:


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.

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!

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.


2000-2010 a Decade in Retrospect

2011: A New Year / A New Decade
The end of the year 2010 marks the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. It has been a decade of commotion in many aspects of our every day life: 9/11, war, political and economic crisis. For IT Professionals it has been undoubtedly a decade of many changes: new privacy and security regulations,  improvements in technology, shifts in delivery models like SaaS and Cloud Computing, re-shaping of roles, etc. All these changes are part of the IT evolution that never ends. 

Being an IT Professional I’ve had the need to keep up with this wave of change, always adapting, and trying to find my call. As I look back at this decade, there are so many things I have accomplished for which I’m grateful to God and to the many people who have helped me become who I am now. These are my milestones:

2000: Survived Y2K
Y2K was an event of catastrophic consequences, or so the media portrayed it. Banks were going to lose all your account data, airplanes were going to fall out of the sky, nuclear missiles will start firing at will, the end of the world was near. People started building Y2K shelters, some withdrew all their money from their bank accounts, and many embraced themselves for the turn of the century with fear. We survived.

During this time I had my own Computer Sales and Services business while finishing college back in Honduras. Y2K was very lucrative for me as many companies needed firmware upgrades, software patches and updates. I even got my hands dirty with an obscure product at that point to me called SQL Server 6.5 helping install Service Pack 5a for one customer. Little did I know this product will be what would feed my family a couple of years later. 

2001: The World collapses
9-11 made the whole world collapse to its knees in shock. I was in Honduras still sleeping when my dad woke me up and told me to come watch the news of an airplane accident in New York. As I watched in shock what appeared to be a replay of what had happened, it was several seconds later that I realized it was not a replay, it was a second plane.

At that point in my career, I was working as a jack-of-all-trades for a larger Computer Sales and Services company with foreign capital as Sales Manager, network and computer technician, graphic and web designer, and supporting a couple SQL Server and Sybase ASE database systems. I had no real clue where I wanted to focus my career on. I liked everything about IT, I enjoyed selling, building and troubleshooting those Pentium IIIs and PIVs, designing webpages with raw HTML with occasional use of FrontPage.

2002: A New Country
On a Friday morning I get a call from one of our customers requesting assistance with one of their applications that we supported. Since it had a Sybase database backend, I took the ticket and proceeded to the customer site. The issue was simple a data window was not saving the data on the screen. I put my PowerBuilder skills to work, and pinpointed and solved the issue in 10 mins. It turns out that the developer of this third-party application had been trying to fix this issue for several days, causing the business loss of productivity since they had been relying on paper base format in the meantime. Next morning on Saturday, after waking up at noon from playing StarCraft all night long,  I received an instant message via Windows Messenger (yes, old school!) by one of the client’s staff. The message was, “Would you be interested in going to our Miami office to fix some of our issues there?” Cue: Coming to America by The System

2003-2005: The “Network Guy” years
Once my work contract was over I decided to apply for permanent residency, obtaining a temporary work permit and enabling me to seek other job opportunities and study. One area of IT that really interested me at the time was Cisco networking, so I enrolled at Miami-Dade College and completed the CCNA program with flying colors. Little did I know, that no company was willing to hire a guy fresh out of some Cisco classes to manage their network. After several interviews, only one company gave me a chance, and boy it changed my life.

It was an airline, but all their networking was outsourced so all I had to do was open the door for Cisco technicians to come install and configure equipment at our data center. I learned some things here and there from them, but the most valuable lesson was that all the configurations were given to them by their top-level Cisco engineers, and they simply copy/pasted into the equipment’s configuration. I could have written the configuration myself, but no, that’s the job of experienced CCNPs and CCIEs. That was a little heart-breaking for me and soon realized Cisco no longer appealed to as my career focus.

Working at this airline I expanded my knowledge in other areas, Windows Server troubleshooting, Exchange, IIS, some Oracle Financials, and SQL Server. At this point I learned upgrading, installing and troubleshooting SQL Server 2000/2005. I did not like it, since databases was not an area I was interested in. I thought of database professionals back then as being the equivalent of report writers. And no, report writing was never my call and never envisioned myself being so, but little did I know.

2005: Newly Wed
While working for the airline, I met my wife. It was not love at first sight, quite the contrary. Our jobs crossed in a way in which we did not get along at the beginning. After several months of having to work together, I discovered her true-self and immediately fell for her. After a short relationship, we decided to get married. 

2006: An Angel from Heaven
In 2006, we were blessed with our oldest daughter. That’s when it hit me: Get your career on track! During this period I had left the airline job and decided to start my own company, with two incomes, I could afford a lower-income as I built my customer base. I had a good two-month start but when my wife gave me news of our baby, I panicked and decided to get a job, get my career on track, and start saving for a house.

After a six-month contract with a Cruise Line, I was offered a management job at a financial services company I used to provide networking and desktop support services during my short-lived entrepreneurial time.

2007: A New Career / A New Home
According to the job description I was going to be IT and Operations Manager. I knew the IT Management part, but Operations? The great thing was that the previous Operations Manager was becoming full-time Marketing Manager for the company. He had been Marketing and Operations manager but the Operations Management part was more in par with IT since all the company’s processes had a technology aspect to it. He was great to show me all the tasks he did for Operations and it helped me fine tune some processes and introduce new technology to facilitate our operations such as SharePoint, SQL Server 2005 and other technologies.

As our daughter grew, so was her need for space. Living in an apartment in Miami was not the best of places to raise a very active little girl. During that time the housing bubble was on the rise and properties in Miami became outrageously expensive. On the other hand taxes were high and schools were bad. Thinking in a long term investment for our home and for a good area to raise our girl we decided to move to the suburbs of Tampa. My employer allowed me to relocate and work from our Tampa office.

2008-2010: SQL as a Safe Heaven / A Second Angel from Heaven
Several months after I moved, our management meetings became more and more centered on the loss of revenue. Every month the conversations revolved around the sharply decrease of customers coming back. The real estate bubble had just exploded. The majority of our customers where in the construction business, mainly immigrants who now where out of work and had been relocating north to other states were there was still some construction going on. The forecast was to close down in a period of six months. I could not afford losing my income as we were expecting our second daughter and decided to jump ship. At that moment only two areas were safe to do a career move, government or health-care. I was lucky I was able to land a job as database administrator for a local government organization, what I considered a safe-heaven, to weather the economic crisis.

By the end of 2008, our youngest daughter was born. Another angel sent from the heavens.

My move not only let me  weather the economic crisis between 2008 to 2010 but it also allowed me to learn so much about database administration. This organization also gave me the opportunity to build my skills as a Business Intelligence architect and developer. I was given the task of architecting our Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence solution, which I was able to accomplish with great results, allowing our Executive Team to be able to surface important facts about the population and geography served.

2010: My calling
After going through some organizational changes at my local government job and due to some other family related factors I decided to move on and pursue other opportunities out there. At the moment, my heart was split between Database Administration and Business Intelligence. I received two offers, one as DBA and for ETL developer. I was ready to accept the job as DBA when a third offer came from nowhere to become a Business Intelligence Consultant. I had always wanted to be a consultant but did not feel I had enough knowledge and experience to become one. After a lot of soul searching I decided to take the plunge and accept the offer as a Business Intelligence Consultant. It was the best decision ever. I had found my true calling.

During 2010, I became more active in the SQL Server and Business Intelligence community. I decided to get my SQL Server certifications. I jumped on Twitter, started following and met MVPs, book authors and all of my blogging rockstars. I established new friendships. I attended and spoke on my first SQL Saturday, I attended PASS Summit 2010 and I became the leader of the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence PASS Chapter.

The 2011 New Year awaits great things for me. The beginning of a new decade. The continuation of my true calling as a Consultant in the Business Intelligence field. A new employer: Pragmatic Works (website).

More details coming soon…

Afterthoughts: SQL Saturday #48 Columbia, SC

More than 1,000 miles later and almost 20 hours behind the wheel, I can only express how much I enjoyed each and every moment at SQL  Saturday #48 hosted in West Columbia, S.C. Let me get started by saying that it was a succesfull and well planned event. It had good attendance rate and had a great speaker line-up.

I have to recognize my wife for doing most of the driving. She volunteered behind the wheel while I sat back and and helped out keeping the girls entertained and busy munching on some veggie sticks.

The Highlights
I can not possibly start without pointing out that I walked away with the most valuable treasure of all: friendships. I was blessed to meet Brian Kelley (Blog Linkedin | Twitter) and his family and be able to interact with their kids. Our two daughters Fae and Sofia had a great time together in the after party. It was very fulfilling to me to be able not just to meet a talented and well-respected guy such as Brian Kelley in a professional setting but also in a more personal way. I really hope this is the start of a long-lasting friendship.

I want to recognize Brian’s wife for manning the book  and prizes table while pregnant. Not many pregnant women would volunteer to be standing up and doing physical work for a whole Saturday. It really shows the type of committment Brian and his wife have to the SQL community.

More Networking
I also had the opportunity to meet and establish friendships with some amazing professionals, in particular funny guy Bobby Dimmick (Linkedin | Twitter). Some of the new connections and personal interactions for the firs time include:

I also got to see some of my friends and tweeps such as:

 I would like to give thanks to  the organizers and sponsors for such a great event. I also want to give a big thanks to the attendees to both my sessions, Get Cert! Get Cred! and Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please! I got great feedback and participation from them. I want to recognize some of my attendees for doing some constructive observations about my presentation style and visuals.  I value all comments that help me become a better speaker and presenter.

What I learned
In my third SQL Saturday I learned several things as an attendee and as a speaker.

First of all, SQL Saturday is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family and to plan a mini-vacation, especially if traveling to a city or area you have not visited before. Also, if you are fortunate like I was, you may end up getting to know other professionals and their families. Next SQL Saturday bring your family along, especially to our Tampa SQL Saturday to be scheduled between January and February, 2011. I would love to meet you and your families.

Second as a SQL Server and Business Intelligence professional you get no better chance to meet your rockstars and be able to have an opportunity to interact. You also meet great professionals in the area with which you establish not only professional connections but also friendships. Friends with which if you can go out to lunch with if you are in their hometown or get good recommendations where to stay or what to do. Also, they can serve as a lifeline.

Third, I learned that you have to balance your presentation between what I consider the two main presentation styles: those who base their presentation on the slides content and those who base their presentation on the slide visuals primarily. The reason you have to balance these two main styles is because of your audience. Some audience members expect for you to follow your slide deck and stick to the text and content on them as much as possible (slide followers). Other audience members don’t like it when you repeat what is on your slide and want to hear what you have to say (content cravers). In this SQL Saturday I had the opportunity to experiment with both these styles. In Get Cert! Get Cred! I played with Guy Kawasaki’s style, while in Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please! I was a little more conservative. I got great feedback on both presentations ranging from As Expected and Better than Expected ratings with an overall average of 4.5 out of 5 rating. If you attended any of my sessions, I want to say thank you once more and keep commenting on ways to improve as a speaker.

Fourth, as SQL PASS Chapter leader it is a great opportunity to learn from the organization and management perspective of a SQL Saturday event. I learned what works and got some great pointers for our upcoming SQLSaturday in Tampa, FL early 2011. Also, I was able to connect with potential speakers for our user group and SQL Saturday event.

Fifth but not least, I had the opportunity to attend great sessions such as:

  • William Pearson’s “Attribute Discretization in Analysis Service”
    Learned a native way of grouping dimension attributes into buckets.
  • Mark Tabladillo’s “Data Mining with PowerPivot 2010” 
    Learned the reason behind the need for so many data mining models and more insight on PowerPivot.
  • Andy Warren’s “Building a Professional Development Plan”
    Learned that you have to consider yourself as a “business of one” and make a plan for your goals as such.
    Also, learned that when you blog do it for yourself primarily even if you repeat what others have already blogged. Unless you are blogging as a business, don’t wory about duplication of content, keeping in mind not to plagiarize.
  • Julie Smith’s “Cool Tricks to Pull from your SSIS Hat”
    Learned how to skip an SSIS container without using precedence constraints.

I hope I didn’t leave anyone or anything out. It is not my intention to exclude anyone. These are just some of  my afterthoughts. Please comment on anything or anyone I left out.

Top 5 reasons to attend SQLSaturday #48 in Columbia, SC

I am very excited to attend SQLSaturday #48 in Columbia, SC this upcoming Saturday October 2, 2010 both as a presenter and as an attendee. This will be my third SQLSaturday as a presenter and can’t wait to get there to share some knowledge and network with more professionals in the area. These are some of the Top 5 reasons you should attend as well:

1) Learn for free: 

Yes, free! No strings attached. All expenses are covered by event sponsors.

2) Quality sessions by world class speakers:

And did I mention for free? Learn from the best in the industry, SQL Server Most Valued Professonals (MVPs), book authors, bloggers, certified professionals and even engineers from Microsoft SQL Server themselves. Take a look at the MVPs and Microsoft engineers speaker line-up for SQL Saturday in Columbia, SC: 

MVPs                             Microsoft Engineers
Alejandro Mesa         Chris Skorlinski
Andrew Kelly              Evan Basalik 
Andy Leonard            Sergey Pustovit
Andy Warren  
Geoff Hiten   
Jessica Moss  
John Welch  
John Welch  
Tim Chapman  
Wayne Snyder

3) Networking opportunities

At SQL Saturday you have the opportunity to create new friendships, establish professional relationships with other professionals, meet your rockstars and if you are on Twitter, get to meet the source of some of those odd and funny tweets! You have a full day to hunt down and stalk your rockstars, enjoy a casual over lunch conversation or have more deep conversations over a drink at the after party!

4)  Talk to industry leader vendors and explore their products and services

Training Concepts          SQLSentry
Redgate                              Apress
Quest Software                MSSQLTips
CozyRoc                            eGroup
Intellinet                            VC3

5) Meet me!

Ok, probably you will not be camping out to get my autograph or to get the recipe for my awesome secret sauce but you will have the opportunity to listen to some good advice on how to prepare for your certification goals in Get Cert! Get Cred! and if you are beginning or in the middle of a Data Warehouse and/or Business Intelligence journey then don’t miss my session Business Intelligence: Decaffeinated Please! Some lucky attendees  to my sessions will win free swag!

I hope to see you all in Columbia, South Carolina!

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