Monday, November 22, 2010

SQL PASS Election Review Committee

UPDATE: The email and website are now up. Send an email to or visit and see blog posts and forums dedicated to the topic.

Things have mostly settled down after some of the upset felt from the last Board of Directors election. Now that the Annual Summit is over and the newly elected Board members have been introduced, it's time to move forward.
How do we, as members of a vibrant technical community, ensure the success and growth of our organization? Is it the best idea to continue a popularity contest to choose our future Board Members? Does that serve our organization the best way possible? What happens if no one runs for the Board and there are empty seats? What happens if no qualified candidates submit to serve? What happens if we have 100 amazing candidates to choose from? How much transparency do people really want?

A bevy of questions...none with immediate answers. In part, this is the task of the newly appointed Election Review Committee. The committee is made up of a mixture of PASS people, all names you probably know: Joe Webb (our Chair and former Board member), Lori Edwards (Volunteer of the Year), Allen White (MVP and Speaker), K.Brian Kelley (from SQL Server Central fame) and myself make up the 'community' contingent. The remaining members: Andy Warren and Bill Graziano represent the current Board of Directors. Announced at the Summit, and made available to the attendees for open Q&A, this group has been tasked with reviewing the current Election process. Many questions have already come to light. Many more will likely surface before our task is complete.

"What is your task?", you may ask. Simply, to review the current Election process as it stands (including the role and function of the Nomination Committee) and present a slate of recommendations to the Board for consideration. There are no guarantees the Board will accept what we put in front of them. But, we are under a tight timeframe if we hope to faciliate any change prior to the next election.

You see, the thing about an organization as large as PASS is that they (rightly) adhere to rules of governance. This means there are rules to follow in order to change the rules. Now, I'm sure that sounds like a stupid amount of red tape to wade through when everyone knows something needs to change. Personally, I'm happy we have rules to follow. Without a set of standards in place, we could end up with changes that are a knee-jerk reaction and not necessarily the 'right' changes.

The end result, our set of recommendations to keep or change parts (or all) of the Election process will only come after much deliberation, review of other organizations' Board Election processes, ideas from the community, and finally, but most importantly, a desire to make sure PASS continues to be the organization we all want it to be.

There will be an email address and a forum set up for you to provide input or ideas you would like to share with us. I'll post that as an addendum here when it's ready. While I'm eager to see change in the process and happy that the Board has recognized there is an issue and has tasked themselves with fixing it; at the same time I'm hesitant to step into these shoes. Too often, people have placed themselves in positions where they honestly and truly want to help the organization and they end up being faced with growing a much thicker skin than they would ever want - even loosing friends and the respect of their colleagues in the process.  If you're still reading this, know that I place myself in that line of fire only because I care and I want to see PASS continue to prosper.

Enough for now, I will follow up with another post talking about where I believe changes are needed. Feel free to leave a comment here, but really, make sure you comment to the ERC when the email/forum becomes available.

Peace, y'all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's In A Name?

I suppose that depends on your name.
In our SQL Server community, there are more than a handful of readily recognizable names:
Buck Woody
Paul Randall
Kimberly Tripp
Kalen Delaney
Adam Machanic
Brent Ozar
Steve Jones
Andy Warren
...and the list goes on

Each one a respected member of the community and known for their expertise. Many we know as Authors or Bloggers in our sphere of knowledge. These people have worked many years building their Name as their Brand, whether they set out to do so initially or not.

Others, we know by the marketing they have built up around themselves:
Midnight DBA
SQL Fool
SQL Rockstar
SQL Chicken
Scary DBA
SQL Agent Man
...and the list goes on once more

Again, each a respected member of the community and known for their expertise. But how are they different? and Does it matter?

Whether you're branded by your name or by a logo or a 'handle' of some kind, as long as you are getting your message out and becoming recognizable I don't think it really matters. What does matter is what you choose to do with your brand. Do you want to build your brand, or do you want to be ruled by your brand? Those people in the first list may not have intended to become the household name (well within the SQL house anyhow) they are today. They have naturally worked their way out of obscurity and into our collective consciousness. Those in the 2nd list, I believe, chose to find a clever way to get themselves heard and reach above the masses to get noticed. Now, don't take that in a bad way, just because a Brand can be a vehicle for visibility, it doesn't mean it will work. Fortunately for those in the 'marketing' list, we have come to know them as Jen and Sean McCown, Michelle Ufford, Thomas LaRock, Jorge Segarra, Grant Fritchey and Tim Ford, repsectively. Their brand may have been an initial platform, but now the names behind the brand are just as valuable.

I've built a brand for myself...unintentionally. I don't think I could easily change from being Wendy Dance to a lot of people, and I don't think they would want me to. Especially after being recognized at the Summit this year, more people are tuning into what I have to say. My brand isn't something fabricated or conjured, it reflects truly who I am and what things matter to me. While there is nothing wrong with intentionally branding one's self, it's all a matter of how you are percieved by your peers and community. Only time will tell if my Brand will stick.

To those I mentioned above - Thank You. Each of you has been an inspiration to me at some point and it has been fun to walk along the same path now and again.

This blog post was created as a result of Midnight DBA Jen McCown's idea for Un-SQL Friday. Many others have already blogged about it, read those here (I have yet to read them myself!):
Just to get you started....

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Summit is Coming! The Summit is Coming!

Looks like the trend this year is to write a blog post about where you believe you will be at certain times at the SQL PASS Annual Summit. Seems a good idea to me, so along with a few additional items for your packing list, I'll share my week outlook here, too!

A few items that we normally do not find on a packing list:
  • SQL Saturday shirts - Tuesday is unofficially the Official Wear Your SQL Saturday Shirt(s) Day. If you have one, wear it!
  • Kilt - Wednesday is the official #sqlkilt (twitter tag) day at the Summit. Wear one or be ridiculed. Proper footwear not requried. Neither are bagpipes.
  • MOO Cards - or at least something with information about yourself so people can dig you up later. Or ask you to speak their event. Or invite you to dinner. Or...or...or...
  • Smartphone of some kind or Netbook - anything that allows you stay connected while at the conference. Twitter is Everywhere at the Summit and if you want to stay In-The-Know, you better come prepared.
  • Umbrella - let's face it, if we all bring umbrellas, it won't rain in Seattle.
  • Comfortable shoes - maybe more than one pair. You will be walking. And walking. And walking. And loving it! The company is always worth the walk :)
Okay, here's my tentative schedule as I know it. Feel free to drop me a tweet or email if you want to meet up!

  • Arrive noon-ish. Should be at Westin around 1pm
  • 6pm Registration Opens! I'm planning to buzz over to say Hi to some people and get a free drink from Board member Bill Graziano (thanks, Bill!)
  • Meeting up with people for an Underground Tour (previously booked)
  • Afters, anyone?
  • Photowalk? It Depends...
  • 10am SQL Saturday Roundtable
  • Volunteer Meeting & Networking session with Don Gabor
  • 5:45 Meetup with Orientation Committee group in the lobby of the Convention Center.We will proceed up the escalators to head in to a Pre-Welcome session
  • 6:30 Welcome Reception and Quiz Bowl. Come by to cheer me on as I partner with Allen White!
  • Karaoke anyone?
  • Opening Keynote - I'll be wearing a Red Vest at breakfast and then sitting at the Bloggers table
  • 3:30 Regional Mentor meeting
  • Afters: another pre-arranged party, but surely meeting up at Tap House or somewhere after
  • 9:30 Virtual Chapter meeting
  • 10:15 Chapter Meeting
  • 11:00 WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY LUNCHEON - If you don't come I will find you and tweak your nose. We will be on the interwebz = LiveStream!
  • 4-5pm Meet the Bloggers table in the Exhibit Hall
  • Sushi Dinner!
  • Gameworks Microsoft appreciation party
  • Karaoke at Bush Gardens after
  • 11:30 Chapters Lunch - I'll be the representative Regional Mentor for the Midwest Region. There will also be a Women In Tech table, so check it out!
  • Late night: The Salsa Shoes are coming out of the bag and it's Dancing time at the Century Ballroom. All are welcome - 9pm Lesson included with $7 admission.
  • Hoping to catch one of the Post-Conference Sessions
  • Heading back home on a 6pm flight

Sessions, sleep and everything else fall in there at some point, too. You're always welcome to stop me if you see me in the hall or come on over and sit with me in a session or lunch! I'm a social creature, and while I have been known to hang out with the Scary DBA, don't let that scare you away!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who Needs DBA Skillz?*

Everyone who works with a database.
Pretend you're a developer, Oh! You are? Well, okay, this should be easy then....
You have a project on your schedule and it requires creating a database store. Simple! Create some tables and put records in them. Right? Maybe not. Ask yourself a few questions:
  • Do you know what the best design is for the type of data you need to store?
  • Did you consider how you will need to retrieve it?
  • Do you know how to enforce Referential Integrity? What - You haven't heard of RI?
  • What will you do if the data becomes corrupted?

These are but a very few questions that anyone with Database Administrator (DBA) skills would be able to help with. But why are they important? On a very basic level, The DBA is the specialist who can keep the database running smoothly, ensure the servers are healthy and recover data in the event of a mishap or catastophe. It doesn't matter really what database platform you work in, these factors remain the same. Companies who choose to not have a staff member dedicated to their databases and underlying infrastructure open up the door for a lot of potential issues.

So what if you don't have a DBA at your company? What can you do to make sure any applications you create continues to perform well and can be recovered with as little pain as possible? Read. Research. Implement. And if all that fails, check out the #sqlhelp hashtag on twitter. Real-life DBAs can help; and they will :)


*This is my first t-sql Tuesday post and I thank Adam Machanic (blog | twitter) and Paul Randal (blogtwitter) for the topic this month!