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T-SQL Tuesday #42 – The Long and Winding Road

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This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Wendy Pastrick (b|t) and the topic is change in our work lives. Thanks to Wendy for hosting and to Adam Machanic (b|t) for putting this installment of T-SQL Tuesday together.

Fifteen years ago, I was working in a bookstore at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I’d graduated a year earlier with a degree in history. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I was confident it didn’t involve grad school or retail.

In November of 1988, I enrolled in the Computer Career Program at DePaul University. The program was geared to turning non-technical people into mainframe programmers. It had been around since the early ’80’s, but saw a surge in enrollment during the run up to Y2K. After three months, I was certified to code in COBOL and JCL and these skills landed me my first real job*.

Where I started out...

Where I started out…

I spent the next seven years writing code for the mainframe and learning to work with DB2 databases. I was fortunate to learn from a number of extremely talented programmers and DBAs during that time. I got my first exposure to internals as well, a love that has stuck with me to this day.

In 2007, a position opened on the SQL Server DBA team at my company and I made the switch. Once again, I was fortunate to work with a number of experienced and talented people who took the time to teach me what they knew.

About that time, I started attending the local PASS user group and began to meet others who were as passionate about databases as I was. I went to my first Summit in 2009 and this year will be my fifth. I am continually amazed at the willingness of PASS members to share their experience and knowledge. I took over the Chicago SQL Server User Group (b|t) last July with Aaron Lowe (b|t), and it has been great. I’ve presented at three user group meetings and two SQL Saturdays in the past year. Meeting members of the local group and getting the chance to work with other chapter leaders and mentors has expanded my horizons.

In October of last year, I started a new job at a new company. It has been a good experience, and though there have been challenges I am working to view those challenges as opportunities.

Going forward, my plan is for my path to lead me to expanding my knowledge of SQL Server. I want to keep presenting to share what I know with others. The path I’m on has given me an opportunity to grow personally, professionally and intellectually, and I want to provide those things to others.

Where I am today...

Where I am today…

* A job where I wasn’t paid hourly

T-SQL Tuesday #41 – Presenting and Loving It!

April 9, 2013 3 comments

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I started volunteering at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Since then, I’ve been assigned as a greeter, which means I spend most of my time giving directions and answering patrons questions about the collections. Over the years, I’ve done what I can to learn more about the collections by spending time in the galleries, attending lectures and reading.

When the museum opened the Modern Wing in 2009, the Volunteer Coordinator asked if I would be interested in giving tours of the new building. I jumped at the chance and set out to prepare myself. I put together a list of my favorite stories about the collection and spent time walking through the galleries, honing what I would say and timing myself.

The night of the first tour, I was nervous, thinking about all of the things that could go wrong. But as I introduced myself and started the tour, I realized I knew what I was talking about and the hours of practice were paying off.

Since then, I’ve led several dozen tours through different parts of the collections. Every one of them has been different, but they have all been a tremendous experience and I’ve learned something new every time.

At this point, you are probably asking yourself, “What does the Art Institute have to do with T-SQL Tuesday?” Well, it was a little over a year ago that I gave my first presentation on SQL Server. Like the Art Institute, it is a subject I love sharing my knowledge of. Since that first presentation, I’ve presented at two user groups and a SQL Saturday. I am presenting at SQL Saturday Chicago this week and at FoxPASS in June.

Each time I’ve presented, I have had a great time and learned something new. If you are interested in getting started, I would offer a few pieces of advice:

  • Present on a subject you are passionate about. Your love of the subject will come through.
  • Practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be and the smoother things will go.
  • Take advantage of the opportunity to learn the topic. You will be surprised how much you know when you get done.
  • Finally, don’t get discouraged. While I’ve enjoyed every presentation I’ve done, there is always room for improvement. Ask your audience for feedback and use it to hone your skills. And take this advice from MidnightDBA (b|t) about comparing yourself to others.

Thanks to Bob Pusateri (b|t) and Adam Machanic (b|t) for giving me this opportunity to blog on T-SQL Tuesday.

T-SQL Tuesday – Extended Events in SQL Server 2012

April 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I started as a SQL Server DBA in November of 2007 and attended my first PASS Summit in 2008. While there, I saw Jerome Halmans present on Advanced Troubleshooting with SQL Server Extended Events. It was one of my favorite presentations of the summit and I wanted to start using Extended Events in my environment. However, every time I tried to use them, the overhead of getting them set up was greater than their usefulness. I found myself using other troubleshooting tools that I was more familiar with.

Despite these difficulties, I remained interested in using Extended Events. Several months ago, I downloaded Jonathan Kehayias’ ( blog | twitter) SQL Server 2008 Extended Events SSMS Addin but couldn’t get any momentum going.

That brings me to my most useful feature in SQL Server 2012. This week’s Brent Ozar PLF newsletter contained a link to Bob Dorr’s article on SQL Server 2012: RML, XEvent Viewer and Distributed Replay. I just started playing with Extended Events in 2012 today and I am really excited about it.

They are now integrated into Management Studio, removing the manual scripting that was necessary to use them previously. The interface looks and feels a lot like SQL Profiler, but Extended Events has much less overhead than a Profiler trace. And they are one of Thomas LaRock’s ( blog | twitter ) top 3 things you should learn in SQL Server 2012.

I will be at the SQL Skills immersion event on internals and performance next week, but Extended Events is on the top of my list when I get back.