Akron AITP

Published on March 23, 2013 by in Presenting, Speaking

I’m honored to be speaking at the Akron AITP user group on Tuesday March 26th. I’ll be presenting on LinkedIn for IT Professionals. The Akron AITP (Association of Information Technology Professionals)  is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Wow. Most IT organizations are mere infants in comparison. I have presented at the group before and look forward to seeing some friends and familiar faces there.

Many people I run into need help in understanding the value in LinkedIn. My presentation aims to help IT Pros get the most out of LinkedIn as a professional social networking platform. Hope to see you there!

 Akron AITP Home

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SQL Saturday 204 Detroit Download Links

Published on March 17, 2013 by in SQL Saturday

For those who attended my sessions at the SQL Saturday event here are the links to download the slide decks:

Just click on the orange download button

Upgrade Roadmap : Let’s Delve into SQL Server 2012


LinkedIn for SQL Server Professionals


Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments. Thanks!



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SQL Saturday 204 Detroit Recap

Just a few notes from the SQL Saturday #204 event, in no particular order.

Speaker Dinner, this went well. I got there a little late and things were already in full swing. The dinner was at a pizza place. A nice perk was they had open bar, something that not all events have. The food was excellent deep dish pizza served buffet style. I settled in to chat with some of my speaker friends, Allen White, Eddie Wuerch, Brian Davis, Karen Lopez, Carlton Ramsey and Josh Fennessy.  Lots of good conversation ranging from Big data to SQL Saturday war stories.

Saturday morning I awoke to find about 3 inches of snow outside. Yikes, I thought winter was over. I headed over to the event, held at Lawrence Technological University, known to the locals as “Larry Tech”. There were lots of event organizers and volunteers present and I had no problem finding the place and building. A victory for SQL Saturday signage.

My New Horizons colleague George Squillace was presenting for the 1st time at a SQL Saturday (and a lead off session to boot) so I headed off to his room to make sure everything was OK. George was already set up and ready to go.  I stayed in his session for about a half hour and then headed over to the speaker room to practice my demos.

My 1st session of the day was my “Upgrade Roadmap: Let’s delve into SQL Server 2012″. I have done this one many times and it’s like an old friend. Still lots of useful, relevant content in it though. I changed it up and chose the Upgrade Advisor demo this time. I usually do an extended events trace on Deprecated Features demo  but there’s usually only time for one demo, even with a 75 minute presentation. Just too much content there.  I had about 25 attendees and I thought it was well received with several good questions and comments.

Out in the hall, I ran into David Klee, a fellow speaker. We’ve been crossing paths and almost meeting at SQL Saturdays for almost a year now.  It was good to finally meet David and put a name with a face. We ended up having lunch and chatting about Hyper-V, Vmware and virtualizing SQL Server.

I sat in the Hadoop session by Rob Kerr. It was very informative. Based on some conversations, a lot of people are currently kicking the Microsoft/Hadoop/HDinsight tires but nobody has jumped in the pool yet.

My session on LinkedIn was up next. I really love to present on this topic. I had about 15-20 people attend the session. For a mid afternoon session, on a PD topic at a SQL Saturday, that’s a big turnout.  My initial polling confirmed my audience as I suspected: 75-80% of the attendees were on LinkedIn, most had under 250 connections, and over half did not have a profile 100% complete. That’s why I was presenting on the topic, to teach people on how to get the most out of LinkedIn. The presentation went well, with all presentation feedback of 5 from everyone who filled out an eval.

After that, I decided to skip the last session and head for home to spend some time with my wife.

Thanks and Cudos to Joe Fleming, and his team of volunteers and organizers who did a great job for their 1st SQL Saturday in Detroit. Thanks also to the sponsors of the event. Without you, it would not happen.



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Steel mill update

Published on March 17, 2013 by in Personal

Back in August 2012 I described the bankruptcy of RG Steel and the possible fate of three our nation’s remaining steel mills. I now have an update and some commentary based on my experience in the steel industry, several lifetimes ago.

Sparrow’s Point (Baltimore) MD

It’s over folks. Formerly the largest steel mill in the world will be eventually no more. It will likely take several years to break it apart. The nail in the coffin was the purchase of the (relatively new) cold rolling mill by Nucor. That was the only really valuable piece of the mill left. Everything else was operating at an mid 20th century energy usage and efficiency footprint. So the famous “L” blast furnace will likely end up as scrap and what’s left will be probably hauled off to China.

Steubenville North, OH

Reportedly, the mill is in the process of being demolished.  This mill had been shut down for several years so there is no surprise here. Sadly, I was not able to make it down there and take some pictures before the wrecking ball arrived because this mill was unique with the blast furnaces actually part of the bridge overlooking the Ohio River.

Mingo Junction, OH

Mingo has been shut down for about 4 years now. I’m still scratching my head on this one. Mingo has had nearly everything going for it. A nearly brand new Electric Arc Furnace ($100 million+), a newer caster, AND an 84 inch hot strip mill. Some the recent research I have done on the mill has indicated that there was much money put into the hot strip mill in the last 10 years for enhancements and upgrades.  This represents a nearly perfect steelmaking operation with modern, efficient gear.  They just demolished the Ore bridge a couple of weeks ago so it looks like the blast furnace will be next. So the Electric furnace is going to be the future of Mingo.

The jury’s still out on Mingo , folks. Stay tuned.

Warren, OH

This one is close to my heart. A long time ago I saw with my own eyes the continuous caster, installed in 1988, in operation. Watching molten steel being transformed into slabs inside an enormous machine is truly a once in a lifetime event and I will never forget it.  Today if you don’t have a caster you are out of business but back then it was a big deal for Warren.

The good news for Warren is that they were able to winterize the blast furnace.  We still don’t know what will happen but there is an auction coming up this month to sell off some tooling, machinery, and auxiliary supplies. Oddly enough they will auction off the Wean 48 inch galvanizing line. I might argue that this is critical to the operation but I understand that CJ Betters needs to make money.

Pros for Warren are that they have historically been the market leaders for high strength/low alloy, high carbon, and electrical tool steels. The bad news is their customers have likely found other suppliers by now.

After that, we just don’t know about Warren. One serious problem with the Warren mill is that they only have a 56 inch hot strip mill.  That’s kind of like the kiss of death in the steel industry. Anything less that 72 inches these days is considered obsolete.

Another ramification is that, based on some news reports, is that (across the board) much of the workforce is at or very near retirement age. When the accumulated knowledge of how to make steel and operate the equipment is taken off of the table, what does ramifications does that have for the future of steel making in this country?

It should get interesting to see what happens this year with Mingo and Warren.




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Touchdown: First class on the board

Published on March 3, 2013 by in Personal, Teaching

I am pleased to report that last week I successfully taught my first class as a Technical Instructor at New Horizons Great Lakes. I taught 20410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012. This is kind of like a homecoming for me because a long time ago I used to be a big fan of Windows Server OS and it was good to get back and relearn it.

I had four students , all virtual on the online Elluminate platform. The more I work with Elluminate, the more I like it. Think if it as a Webex LiveMeeting on Steroids. We had a few mishaps but that is to be expected. Several lessons learned:

– Do not use the IronKey security fob while teaching. It took about 1/2 a day to figure out that this was crashing my IE. Oddly enough, it has worked fine on my laptop for over a year now with no IE crashes.

– Do not scale IE windows up or down (%). I had a window scaled for a screen shot and forgot about it. It causes havoc with the New Horizons online labs (LOD).

– Timing and pacing still count for a lot , even in a 5 day class. Part of me had to keep track of where we would start and end each day that I did not anticipate.

I haven’t seen my reviews yet but I remain hopeful my students had an enjoyable and fruitful learning experience.  Next up for me is the industrial strength:  10774 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012. Stay tuned.

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Windows Server 2012 UI

Since I have landed here at New Horizons, I have spent an enormous amount of time in front of Server 2012 in labs, demos and training in general.  Here’s some thoughts and observations about it and in particular the UI. (Note that I did not say GUI)

  • It’s the biggest Windows Server release since Windows 2000. Absolutely huge and game changing.
  • The strange departure from the Aero Glass look (Vista and Windows 7) is fresh and nicely minimalist. I will note that I was a fan of the Aero Glass look and will miss it.
  • Sometimes the Metro UI is slow to update. When in doubt hit the Refresh button.
  • I don’t think the Metro UI belongs on Servers. Us server administrators took collateral damage on the Metro look.
  • The removal of the Start button and addition to the “hot corner areas” is hokey and not suited for servers. It is also  downright hostile for online labs and RDP sessions. But it is what it is. We have to learn to live with it.
  • Learning Keyboard shortcuts will help you greatly. I have learned more Windows keyboard shortcuts in the past month than in the past 10 years.  Here’s a great chart showing Windows Shortcuts, including some new to Windows 8 / Server 2012 that will really help you get around fast.

I believe the net effect of all these UI changes will be to force greater adoption and usage of Powershell by Administrators on servers. I’ve already learned a lot of Powershell, as it’s just quicker and easier than struggling with the GUI. Stay tuned as I will soon begin a series on Windows Server 2012 UI tips and tricks.


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2012 Recap

Published on December 31, 2012 by in Personal

I’ve been reflecting back on 2012 and all I can say is

Wow.  It’s been quite a year.

I can’t imagine how I fit it all in. I compiled a list of my presentations and talks for the year:

4 – User group meetings
8 – SQL Saturdays
3 – IT Pro events (Not SQL Saturday)
In addition I spoke at SQLRally in May, and was asked to speak at the last minute at the PASS Summit. To top it off, I finished out the year presenting on LinkedIn for the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter.
As I previously posted, I left BakerHostetler at the end of November and will be starting with New Horizons Great Lakes on January 2nd 2013. There must have been something in the water about changing jobs  because 4 of my close friends changed up as well this year.
2012 marked the first time I was published. I wrote a short article on NoSQL for an ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) white paper. It was a great feeling seeing my words professionally laid out in a real publication.
I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to this year. I’ll make that a goal next year.  I also didn’t do as much with Hadoop and NoSQL that I wanted to. I’ll be working on that next year as well.
Happy New Year to you and your families!


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A New Chapter

Published on November 28, 2012 by in Personal

Today is my last day at BakerHostetler.

I have been there a very long time. When I started there we were running UniVerse on Unix (one of the reasons they hired me in the first place) for their database platform. I helped lead their migration to SQL Server and learned a lot in the process. I have built the successive generations of SQL Server infrastructure and remain proud of the leadership and stewardship I have brought to the firm over the years. It has become increasingly clear recently that my career needs to move to the next level.

After a brief sabbatical, I will be transitioning to New Horizons as a SQL Server technical instructor. I am very excited about this new opportunity that has been placed before me and eager to share my enterprise experience with the team at New Horizons.

I will fondly remember my time at Baker and miss everyone there. Stay tuned for updates as they unfold.

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Presenting at the 2012 PASS Summit

I was contacted by PASS HQ on Wednesday. They informed me that there had been a cancellation and if I would be interested in presenting at the upcoming PASS Summit?  Interested? My happy dance went on for about an hour. I promptly emailed them back and indicated that I would be most definitely interested in presenting at the PASS Summit.

So, if you are coming to Seattle for the PASS Summit 2012, I’d be honored if you would stop in and attend my session. I’ll be presenting in the Professional Development track, “LinkedIn for SQL Server Professionals”   PD-107 on Friday after Lunch.

I’ll be talking about many of the features of LinkedIn and how you as a DBA can use them to grow your professional , online image and to boost your network and your career. It’s not hard, it just takes some time investment.

Hope to see you there!




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Presentation Tips

Since there are a few rookie speakers presenting at the upcoming Orlando SQL Saturday, I thought I’d offer some tips on presenting. These are some of my lessons learned, and some that have come from other people. These are mostly focused on things to do day-of, not on the preparation aspect.

  • Make sure you bring a bottle of water with you. Don’t rely on the event to have it (sometimes they run out). When you are speaking, stop periodically and take a sip of water. It does two things- first, it helps your voice and second, it tends to slow you down. Going too fast is usually a common problem for newer speakers.
  • Use the bullet point animation advance feature in your slides. Each click and you get the next bullet point. This will also tend to slow you down.
  • As soon as you get to the event, find the room you are speaking in and go there. Stand in the room, walk around and visualize yourself speaking there. It really helps eliminate nervousness.
  • Plug your laptop into the projector and test connections and look at how the presentation looks from the back of the room. This will reveal if you have picked large enough font sizes.
  • If you are doing demos, don’t forget to set larger font sizes for the Query window and the results pane. I prefer Lucida Console, 16 point. You could even bump to 18 or 20 point depending on your laptop.
  • Bring a watch with you and set it near your laptop so you can keep track of time and pace yourself.
  • Don’t hide in the speaker room all day. Sometimes getting out and going to sessions helps ease your mind if you’re nervous.
  • Dress appropriately for the event.  I generally wear the event shirt and khakis. I think it shows disrespect for your audience if you show up in shorts and sandals but that’s my own opinion. (Orlando was really, really hot last year so you may waffle on this one catch me in shorts this weekend- just this once)
  • Turn off your cell phone and leave it in your bag. It’s not good to have your cell phone ringing while you are speaking.
  • Get a wireless slide advance control and learn how to use it. It give you the ability to prowl around the room, something I like to do.
  • Get setup early. Then while your audience is coming in, strike up a conversation with them. Thank them for coming. Nothing builds rapport faster than this technique, and better yet, it helps eliminate your nervousness by getting to know your audience.
  • Learn to read your audience. This takes experience. Are they bored? Interested? Restless?
  • Try and poll the audience when you start so you know who you are talking to. Are they DBAs? Developers? Managers? This gives you the ability to tailor the message a little. Example: In my Upgrading presentation I have a slide on DTS extermination tools. I always poll first if anyone is still using DTS and if not, I skip over it so as to not waste people’s time.
  • If there’s a question, always repeat it back to the person asking it. This first allows you to confirm that you understood the question and second it gives you a few seconds to frame an answer.
  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I’ll research that and get back to you”. Then get the person’s email and follow up with them.
  • Believe it or not, the audience is on your side. They want you to do a good job. Reach out to them by trying to connect and share.

Lastly, relax and have fun. SQL Saturdays are great way to get experience with public speaking. You won’t regret it. I haven’t.



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