Rochester – Welcome to the PASS MN Family

22 01 2014

It started as a vision for expanding the reach of the Minnesota SQL Server User Group a year ago. At the time, Paul Timmerman ( T | B ) and I were discussing the fact that only one user group existed in Minnesota. As we looked at other areas and talked with SQL pros from St. Cloud and Rochester, a dream was born — what if PASSMN, a large and very mature user group, helped kick off meetings in other areas? Throughout the past year, Paul has been working with Patrick out of Rochester to make this a reality.

image Source: http://binged.it/1eB310K

Tonight was our first meeting in Rochester. We had an awesome turn out with over twenty people attending. Everyone is already looking forward to the next meeting.

Paul and the crowd Paul presenting

To begin with, the Rochester group will be supported by PASSMN as an extension group. The meetings are planned to be quarterly and we will be working with local and regional speakers to participate. Our hope is that the group will grow and can become a stand alone chapter. However, the goal of PASS is community and training. Whether independent or as extension group, the goal is to meet these needs within the SQL Server development community where ever we can.

PASSMNLogo

For more information about PASS MN and PASS MN – Rochester meetings, check out http://minnesota.sqlpass.org/.





Traveling, Talking, and a PASS Attack Have Happened

1 12 2013

Well, this fall has been crazy. As you may have noted from a couple of my previous posts, link to speaking and pass attack, I have been busy this fall. With multiple speaking engagements and additional travel for work, I have been on the road more than I have been home. Rather than handling each event independently, I will give some synopsis here.

SQL Saturday #235 – New York City 2013

This was my first trip to New York City which is kind of ironic since I was born in Avoca, New York and lived there for five years. I spoke on Building BI Solutions with Excel 2013. During the presentation, we had an energetic conversation about pushing more of the BI work to business users. My take is that those users know how to interpret the data better than the technology staff. Ironically, they are doing it already thanks to the prolific “Export to Excel” functionality available in most BI tools. The event was a lot of fun to participate in.

SQL Saturday #238 – Minnesota 2013

This was the first SQL Saturday in Minnesota that I did not have a lot of other responsibilities beyond speaking. I felt a little guilty, so I brought my sixteen year old son, Alex, and he volunteered in my place. Turns out he did awesome and had a great time as well. I spoke in back to back sessions to open up the day. The first session, Beyond Power Pivot – Building Tabular Model Solutions, covered the development of tabular model databases using SQL Server Data Tools and the “enterprise“ features only available in Analysis Services. The next session was “Power to the User: a Look at Power BI”. This session was a lot of fun and is a whirlwind demo of the Power BI features in Excel 2013. This was a huge event with around 400 attendees and 8 tracks. Kudos to the organizing committee for a job well done.

PASS Summit 2013

Summit this year was a good event. Due to a myriad of work related crisis, I was unable to enjoy the conference as much as I had hoped. We discussed the role of the user groups in SQL Saturdays during an organizer’s meeting. I hope that we begin to see the control of these events go back to user groups rather than treated as unrelated to user groups. As the event progressed, I was able to attend a few sessions. I am still asking for the single button install of SharePoint BI, but for now I will live with the 80 page install doc. One thing I like was having the vent in a warm location. That was definitely more enjoyable than a cold, damp Seattle fall. I still look forward to the next Summit and hope to see many of you there next year.

SQL Saturday #237 – Charlotte BI Edition 2013

Immediately following Summit was this SQL Saturday. There were a lot of big time speakers that came from the Summit and they still let me talk. This session was on using Power Pivot and Power Query to test ETL processes built with SSIS. The best part was when my computer died during the demo. When I got it restarted, an error message came up on SSIS and a number of people in the room gasped. We all knew that I would not be able to fix that right away, some moved on with half of the demo working. It all turned out okay as I had screenshots in the deck to show the changes. Overall, it was a good event and gave me a chance to see some peers one more time.

CodeMastery – Atlanta

This was the first of two CodeMastery events within a week of each other. This was a lot of fun for me as I was the keynote speaker and had the opportunity to speak about the Changing World of Business Intelligence. Having been trained as a preacher, this was the closest to that type of speaking I have done in some time. We had a good, interactive audience for this event. I also presented on Power BI at this event, once again introducing a lot of people to what Microsoft is doing with BI these days.

CodeMastery – Minneapolis

Back home in Minneapolis, I participated in this CodeMastery as a speaker as well. At this event, I once again discussed the power of Power BI and Microsoft’s strategy. We had about 80 at this midweek event which was great.

Live 360 – Orlando

At Live! 360, I had the opportunity to speak at two of the 360 events – Modern Apps Live! and SQL Server Live! This event was a lot of fun to participate in. I had the opportunity to speak five times between the two events. The part that made all of this interesting was losing my harddrive that weekend. I had to rebuild demos and recover presentations all week long. Through it all I was able to get all but one presentation’s demo up and running. Funny thing though, I tweaked the demo, and it worked partly during the presentation. Nice job by 1105 to put this together. I look forward to being at the Vegas event in March.

CodeMastery – Boston

This event was also supposed to have happened by now, however, it was rescheduled to next week. If you are in the Boston area at the time, register for the event and join us for some free training. Hopefully, I will see you there.

Thanksgiving Day Survivor

Kid Pic PumpkinsAs I wrap up this post, I have to say a big “Thank You” to my family who has had to put up with a lot of travel over the past few weeks. Without their love and support this would have been a really rough time.

Turkey Image Source: http://bit.ly/1bBFIF4





PASS Attack!

11 10 2013

It’s Friday. Tomorrow I present two sessions at SQL Saturday #238 – Minnesota. Then I take off for PASS Summit 2013 on Sunday. I then wrap up the week at SQL Saturday #237 – Charlotte BI Edition.

I hope to see a variety of you at these different events.

If you come to SQL Saturday 238, you will find me in two sessions to kick off the day followed by time at the Magenic or PASS booths. I am presenting on Power BI and Tabular Models. If all goes well, my son will be joining me. He is a bit taller …

Next up is this years Summit. While I am not speaking at this event, I will be participating in the Community Zone as well as many of the volunteer meetings on Tuesday. If you are a user group leader, SQL Saturday leader, or other volunteer, be sure to connect with other volunteers to share ideas and generally grow the SQL Server community.

Finally, I will be at the SQL Saturday event in Charlotte. At this event, I will be presenting on Using Power Pivot to Drive Quality into ETL Processes. I am excited about this session as we used this method on a project with great success. This is just another great way to use Power Pivot to improve your development processes. You will likely be able to find me at the PASS booth during some of the day as well.

I hope PASS Attacks are deadly. But it should be fun and memorable. I look forward to seeing you all there.





Traveling and Talking to Wrap Up 2013

16 08 2013

I am writing this blog post en route to New York City for SQL Saturday #235. This begins a fairly busy travel and speaking schedule for me this year. Having spent much of the summer at home with my family which was great, I now embark on some trips, primarily out east.

For starters, I am kicking off my busy end of summer, beginning of imagefall, in New York City. I am looking forward to being there for the second time. This should be a great event. As Regional Mentor for the NorthEast this trip allows me to be in that region for an event.  I will be speaking on Building BI Solutions with Microsoft Excel.

Next, up is some quality time in Boston. I have a contract that will put me in downtown Boston for about 4 weeks. After that trip, I cm-logoskip a week and then return to speak at CodeMastery which is a Magenic event in late September.  If you are in the Boston area, I will be speaking on the difference between SQL Server Analysis Services Models – the Multidimensional and Tabular Model Smackdown.  More details of this event will be coming soon, but pencil it in for Thursday 9/26.

While not traveling far, I am speaking at SQL Saturday #238 in Minneapolis right before PASS Summit in Charlotte. This is right in my backyard, so to speak, and I look forward to another great event in the Upper Midwest. I currently do not have the sessions that were picked, but look forward to seeing you there.

October will be spent at PASS Summit. While I was accepted to speak this year, I look forward to meeting a number of people at the Community Zone and the other events at the conference. I will follow that up by going to SQL Saturday # BI Edition in Charlotte. While I have not received word about speaking, I plan to attend the event in either case. Should be a nice way to wrap up my time there.

In November, I am headed to Atlanta for another CodeMastery event. This should be a nice time to visit there and spend some time with people there.

cm-logo  X 2

Upon returning from Atlanta, I am back in Minneapolis for a CodeMastery event there. Having had a major role in running this event over the past couple of years, I am truly looking forward to speaking there. Check out http://codemastery.com for details on all of the CodeMastery events as they are announced.

Modern Apps Live!SQL Server Live!

Finally, at least at this time, I will be presenting 5 times right before Thanksgiving. This will be my first time presenting at SQL Live and second time presenting at Modern Apps Live. Join us for this awesome 360 Live event in Orlando.

I look forward to meeting new people and visiting with old friends throughout all of these events and travels. If you see me there, say Hi and ask for one of my “famous” superhero cards! See you around.





SQL Saturday#197–Omaha Recap

12 04 2013

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This was the second SQL Saturday hosted in Omaha.  I loved to see how the event grew from the first event until now.  John Morehouse ( T | B ) and team did another stellar job organizing this event. I know they packed the house

Having taken part in the first event, I found it spectacular that the speaker list was so diverse.  It is great to see so many SQL Server pros come out and speak at these events.

Part of the fun for me was bringing my 11-year old daughter along.  Many of you, speakers, attendees, and sponsors were kind to her and she had a good time, even though much of it was spent using my Surface to watch Netflix.  Smile  As a speaker, this was a way to spend some time on the road with her and to introduce one of my children to what I do when I travel to these events (one of my sons will be joining me in Fargo).

I do have to say that the food, both at the speaker’s dinner and for lunch were awesome!  If you are looking for an event that will feed you well, be sure to try this event next time around.

I was able to attend a few of the sessions, but I wanted to mention that the SQL Server vs Oracle: The Throwdown! was really good.  As a cross-over platform developer (check out my Oracle for MSBI Tips), it was great having a SQL Server Pro, David Klee (@kleegeek), and an Oracle Pro, Joe Grant (@dba_jedi), co-present.  Nice work guys!

Finally, I presented on Building BI Solutions with Excel 2013.  I have uploaded the slides to the event site.  Until next time.





Are You Signed Up for 24 Hours of PASS–Business Analytics?

29 01 2013

If you have not signed up for the 24 Hours of PASS-Business Analytics you should be.  This is a great chance to hear 12 speakers (they will be repeated in the following 12 hours).  Topics are varied from Big Data to Strategy to Collaboration.  Most importantly you24 Hours of PASS Business Analytics can’t beat the price to hear speakers like Denny Lee, Peter Meyers, and Stacia Misner to name a few.

I get the privilege of moderating two of the sessions: Session 8:  What Is Big Data? by Mark Whitehorn and Session 10: Visualizing Data with Power View by Sean Boon.

Finally, I heard Marc Reguera talk about how Microsoft Finance uses Power View at a different event.  If you want to see Power View put into practical use by a business user, I highly recommend you check out his session.  I think it is the final piece of the puzzle to join the technology with the business.

I hope you all take the opportunity to join us for this compelling and free event preview to the PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago on April 10-12, 2013.





PASSMN–Passing the Baton: A Board Transition Story

12 12 2012

Each year the Minnesota SQL Server User Group elects new board members and resets its leadership team.  I have been on the board for the past three years during which we switched term lengths to two years with staggered elections, but more about that later.

PASSMNLogoDuring the PASS Summit this past year I had the privilege of hosting a table during the Chapter Leaders meeting on building boards and recruiting leadership for SQL Server User Groups.  First, I have to say, leadership teams/boards come in many flavors, counts, etc.  For instance, some groups are managed by one or two people who are truly passionate about the community and really enjoy leading the groups.  Other groups, such as ours, have regular elections with as few as three and as many as eight on the board.  While I may spend more time later discussing the pros and cons of various approaches, this post is about the peaceful transition within our user group.

First a bit of history, I have worked with the Minnesota SQL Server User Group for a number of years.  We joined PASS quite a while ago but a few years after we started.  After joining we did not change our organizational structure.  We have always had a board of four or more.  We currently have six roles: Chair, Corporate Relations, Programs, Membership and Treasurer, Technology, and SQL Saturday.  We added SQL Saturday last year to have someone focused entirely on getting that program rolling, Paul (@mnDBA) did great!  I have held the Corporate Relations role and this year I was the Chair.

Elections and Role Distribution

Prior to last year, our terms were one year.  However, we rotated the entire board at least once which is very difficult. So, starting last year, we rotate 1/2 of the board each year with terms running twoelection button years.  What is really cool about our election process is that we are able to recruit new board members each year allowing PASSMN to take on some new ideas without issue.   We have also done a good job of mixing up members between consulting and nonconsulting members.  We also try to limit a company’s participation to one board member.  This process has been successful for years as this blend has motivated time changes, content direction and even sponsorships through the years.

Another unique part of our board election is that members are voted to the board, not to a role.  This is strategic as it allows the members to rotate roles as well as work with each other to find a good fit for them within the board.  It also means that the nominees understand that they will work with their fellow members to distribute responsibility.

Transition Lunch

That leads us to today.  We had our transition lunch 12/12/12 at 12:12. (Yes, that was the actual appointment time, and we survived.)  Once again we had a good time as volunteers reflecting on what happened in the past year, allowing the new board to select roles, and handing off insights as we have them.  And thus, it is the beginning of the end for me as a board member.

It’s Been Great!

Personally, it has been and will continue to be great working with such a good group of people.  Thanks to Andy (@SQLQuill)  and Tim (@tjplas) for the time these past couple of years and we welcome Shirley (@SQLLatina), Will (@williamweber), and Mike (@SQLMD) to the board along with returning members Paul, Josh (@SQLJosh) and Bill (@billpreachuk).  I plan to continue working with the board and helping with some of their new initiatives this next year.  Let’s keep the tradition of quality and fun going.





PASS Summit 2012 Wrap Up

13 11 2012

Wow, what a week. Once again, PASS put on a great event that provided much in the way of events and training for the SQL Server community. If you followed my countdown you know some of what I love about PASS. Last year I blogged everyday but I did not do that this week. So, what was different for me? Well, for one I volunteered much more this year than last and I was privileged to speak twice. I spent more time meeting new people and catching up with friends and that was great as well. Enjoy my wrap up from my week.

Tuesday – Leadership Meetings, Welcome Reception, and some Karaoke

Before the event officially kicked off, I joined community leaders from around the world for a series of leadership meetings. First we had a meeting on SQL Saturdays which was an opportunity to see the immense growth of these free training events around the U.S. and throughout the world. What a great opportunity for SQL Server professionals to improve their skills and for those passionate about the community to improve their abilities by leading these events. Many ideas were shared among the team including a panel on how to effectively run a SQL Saturday on a tight budget.

Once that was completed, the Regional Mentors enjoyed a lunch together and an opportunity to share what we do to support the user groups in our regions. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was able to spend some time with Regional Mentors from Germany, Holland, and Portugal. This highlighted further the international scope and reach of PASS. This was followed by the Chapter Leaders meeting. That meeting was held as a series of round tables that the chapter leaders could move through. I was working at the table focused on leadership with Ryan Adams ( B | T ) from the North Texas SQL Server User Group – NTSSUG. We had a number of good conversations around building leadership teams for user groups and what is needed to have an effectively led user group. Check out the NTSSUG site for the by-laws sample we discussed multiple times.

All of these meetings were followed up with the Welcome Reception, which I made a small portion of as I was trying to drop my backpack at my hotel and work my way back there. After the reception, I headed out to Bush Gardens with a number of others. During that time, Jes Borland ( T ) managed to get a microphone in my hand and I had my first round of karaoke. Yes, I actually did sing and had fun doing it. All-in-all, it was a good time had by all.

Wednesday – SQL Around the World, Microsoft Announcements, Tabular Models, and Magenic Team Dinner

This was the true kick off to the event. For many, they looked at the key note as the kick off. Before that even began, I was working in the Community Zone encouraging people to participate in the SQL Around the World community activity. It was a great game. You needed to find 10 people from 10 different countries and find out something interesting about them or their country. I found a dancer and someone who had ridden a cheetah as a kid. I also surprised someone from the Czech Republic when she mentioned her home town only to have me let her know I had been to her home town many years ago. It was a fun conversation. If you did this and have other cool stories let me know. It was amazing as well over 50 different countries were represented at PASS.

Next, Ted Kummert had the first keynote session of the day. His keynote was filled with announcements concerning SQL Server including the following:

  • Hekaton: the project code name for a new in-memory OLTP engine
  • The Columnstore Index will be updateable
  • Next version of PDW will be out in H1 2013
  • Polybase: allows you to query across multiple types of data sources such as SQL Server and Hadoop with T-SQL
  • DAX Queries will be able to query SSAS Cubes

He also highlighted some recent announcements related to the SQL Server stack:

  • Microsoft HDInsight Server CTP: Hadoop for Windows Server
  • Windows Azure HDInsight Service Preview: Hadoop for Azure
  • Power View and PowerPivot fully implemented in Excel 2013

After the keynote, I hit a session on BigData and Hive which was put on by SQL CAT and very informative. My big takeaway was to use EXTERNAL tables not INTERNAL tables when working with Hive. I then went to do final prep for my Tabular Model session. In this session, “Building a Tabular Model Database”, I present on what tabular and in-memory is, and then proceed to open up a Visual Studio project and create a database. I think it went well and the attendees seemed to enjoy the upbeat nature for an end of day session. The night wrapped up with dinner with the Magenic team (7 of us). Good chance to grow relationships across offices from around the country.

Thursday – Community Zone and DAX as a Query Language

Thursday was a fairly low key day for me. Once again I spent time in the Community Zone. I had the opportunity to talk with a few people on creating a user group in their area. As always, I like to see people interested in growing their local community.

I also attended Alberto Ferrari’s session on DAX. I think the biggest surprise to me was that you can now query DAX directly from SSMS. I am not sure that I am convinced that it is a full query language yet, but it is definitely closer. The key to it all is the EVALUATE expression which allows you to create the DAX query ironically in the MDX window. Here is just a taste of DAX as a query:

EVALUATE
    ‘DimCurrency’
ORDER BY

    ‘DimCurrency’[CurrencyAlternateKey]

What I found interesting is that you can create columns, build measures, and perform many other operations against the tabular model using DAX. In the end, it will not increase the memory used as storage as it is all calculated. Look for some more on this in later blog posts as I delve more into the in-memory storage and usage when working with DAX.

Friday – More Community Zone, HDInsight, Paul White, and Window Functions

Last day. I spent more time in the Zone. I really did enjoy my time there as I continued to meet more people. I was even present when a contract was completed for the Shanghai user group. Very cool indeed. I then attended a session on HDInsight by Mike Flasco from Microsoft. This is very cool stuff as you can create simple Hadoop cluster on your desktop to test the technology. Microsoft and Hortonworks have done a great job of bringing Hadoop data into the Microsoft stack.

On my way to present my final session of the day and the conference, I stopped in for the second half of Allen White’s ( B ) optimization presentation. In a word (or two), mind-blowing! Wow, who knew that the optimizer did all those things? I was highly impressed and think he should look at a precon on the subject next year. Unlike some three hour presentations, he could have went longer as he was not stretching his content out. Nice work Paul. So, I got to follow that with a presentation on Window Functions in T-SQL. For the second time, I had the last slot of the last day. I think this presentation went well even though we were all worn out from a content-filled week. It was fun to try some ideas from the audience in the demos. That always makes for a more interesting demo. I will be doing a follow up post on what I learned from some of the attendees on the subject as well, proving once again this is a user community event. We all have something to contribute! (If you attended this session, you will find links to the blogs on the subject here.)

What’s Next?

Coming in April is the new Business Analytics conference in Chicago followed by the PASS Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. Of course, your local user groups will continue to meet with regional SQL Saturdays sprinkled throughout the year as well. How will you participate and contribute in 2013? We look forward to seeing you all again, soon.





Countdown to PASS Summit 2012 – 1 to Go – See You There

5 11 2012

IT’S MONDAY! You ready to enjoy the fun and to learn a bunch? I know I am. Besides my schedule of sessions, I also will be attending a series of meetings tomorrow on leading user groups from the Chapter Leader and Regional Mentor levels. Should be fun to collaborate with fellow volunteers in improving the local chapter experience. I will also be attending the leadership meeting for SQL Saturday events around the country.

Tuesday night the event kicks off with the Welcome Reception. If you are a first timer, be sure to attend this event as there will be special activities for you. Then we get into full swing on Wednesday with the keynote followed by a 3 full days of sessions and other events. Be sure to check out the happenings at the Community Zone, your local peers at the Chapter Luncheon, the SQL Clinic, and a multitude of other activities.

See you there!





Countdown to PASS Summit 2012 – 2 to Go – I’m Presenting Again

4 11 2012

I assume at this point some of you are already in Seattle and even getting ready to attend Preconference Sessions. If you are, enjoy them. Many are now in the process of traveling to the conference including myself. So, if you are still looking at the schedule, consider hitting one of my sessions, including a session in the last slot on Friday. Here is the info on my sessions, maybe I will see you there.

Building a Tabular Model
4:45 PM – 6:00 PM

Room: 613-614

[BIA-208] Building a Tabular Model Database

Come learn about the tabular model in SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services and watch a model being built from “Create Project” to deployment. Microsoft introduced the tabular model in SSAS 2012. Its supporting technology is based on the xVelocity query processor, which was introduced in PowerPivot. In this session, we will create a tabular model database in SSAS using SQL Server Data Tools. We will add data from various types of data sources and build relationships between them, then extend the solution by adding calculations, measures, and hierarchies. Finally, we will cover some of the management techniques required to support a tabular model in an enterprise solution.

http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2012/Sessions/SessionDetails.aspx?sid=2855

A Window into Your Data: Using T-SQL Window Functions
4:15 PM – 5:30 PM

Room: 305-TCC

[AD-319] A Window into Your Data: Using SQL Window Functions

Window functions are an underused feature in T-SQL that have been greatly expanded in SQL Server 2012. These functions can help you solve complex business problems such as running totals and ranking. If you have never used these functions or are looking to solve ranking and aggregate types of calculations without using GROUP BY, join this demo-filled session on how and when to use SQL window functions.

http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2012/Sessions/SessionDetails.aspx?sid=2856








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