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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Upcoming Presentation Schedule

In less than two weeks, I’ll be flying down to sunny Orlando to speak at the upcoming SQL Saturday #151 there. I am really excited to be coming back to Orlando again for a 2nd year. I have a lot of friends through the #sqlfamily and #sqlpass communities in the Orlando area and am looking forward to seeing everyone again. There’s also the fact that SQL Saturday was invented in Orlando that also gives it a special appeal to me at least. My wife Julie is going to sit out this year due to time constraints.

The following weekend we’ll be heading over to Pittsburgh, PA to speak and volunteer at the 1st ever SQL Saturday there (#171 Pittsburgh). The event is being organized by Gina Walters, the leader of the Pittsburgh PASS chapter and my good friend John Sterrett (who recently moved to Texas) among others. The event is at La Roche college on the northside. I was there in June for the Pittsburgh Techfest and I can tell you the food is incredible! Hopefully they are going to use the cafeteria again for SQL Saturday.

I’m really excited about Pittsburgh because over half of the speakers are close friends of mine and I have a feeling it’s going to be kind of like a family reunion. Hope you can make it.


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Going to the PASS Summit? Don’t forget to fill out an absentee ballot!

Published on September 12, 2012 by in PASS

Exercise your right to Vote

For US Citizens, Tuesday November 6th is our national election day.  This is actually the day that we kickoff the PASS Summit with the opening reception (usually around 6PM). That means for many of you who may be travelling, or in Pre-cons, you won’t be able to vote.

So go run, don’t walk over to your local election bureau and see about getting an absentee ballot to exercise your right to vote.

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Countdown to SQL Saturday Cleveland

Published on August 10, 2012 by in Uncategorized

We are exactly 1 week out from SQL Saturday #164 Cleveland.  It was really thrown together at the last minute. So we are lucky to be where we are at this point.

I am totally confident in the team and in our ability to execute on the event with success.

It has become clear to me over the past couple of weeks that the planning of this event has largely been a non event. Why? Because the team that is handling the planning and execution of the event is mostly comprised of SQL Saturday veterans who know what is important and what is not.

We are quietly optimistic that the event will be a success. We are proud and honored to host the 2nd SQL Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio.


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Steel Mill Liquidation

Published on August 8, 2012 by in Personal

For those of you who know me, you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for the steel industry. Maybe it’s because that was my first real job, working for a steel company. So I have been following with a heavy heart, the demise of RG Steel. I won’t go into the business angles and the overcapacity of the steel industry. That’s for the analysts.

Today, the remnants of 2 proud and world class mills were sold to liquidators.  The Warren mill, formerly known as WCI Steel, formerly known as Republic Steel etc etc. went for $17 million. Wow. That’s barely pennies on the dollar.  Sparrow’s Point, MD (formerly Bethlehem Steel, among others) built the girders for the Golden Gate bridge 75 years ago and is one of the largest steel mills in the world. Sparrow’s was sold to another liquidator, Hilco for around $72 million. This, coupled with the sale of the former Wheeling-Pitt mill in Mingo Junction, OH last week to a Buffalo industrial gutting operation for $20 million is a sign that the US steel industry just got a bad sucker punch.

My bet is that Sparrows Point and Mingo are going to get broken up and the machines and furnaces hauled off to 3rd world countries (anyone want to guess where?) Mingo was clearly targeted for it’s brand new electric furnace worth over $100 million.  Warren may still survive, having been in a niche market for years. But that fact that it’s now owned by a liquidator is very, very ominous. We’ll see.

Please take a minute and say a prayer for the jobs of those American Steel Workers and their families that hang in the balance right now.


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