SQL Saturday Rochester Returns!

We have just published SQL Saturday Rochester 2020. We took last year off but we’re back for 2020 on a very special day – it’s Leap Day, February 29th!

What is SQL Saturday?

PASS SQL Saturday is a free training event for professionals who use the Microsoft data platform. These community events offer content across data management, cloud and hybrid architechture, analytics, AI, and more.

What Else is SQL Saturday?

SQL Saturday is also:

  • An opportunity to learn about product and service offerings from our terrific event sponsors
  • A time for us to connect and reconnect with #SQLFamily members, sharing the wonders of Rochester with them

Join Us!

SQL Saturday is free to attend. Sign up today!

T-SQL Tuesday #121: Gifts Received This Year

Closing out 2019’s T-SQL Tuesday, Mala (blog | twitter) is asking us to reflect on the past twelve months:

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This is a time for material gift giving, for many of us. It might also be a time to consider the many gifts we have received through the year, and perhaps use this opportunity to appreciate people or situations that we were blessed with. So my question would be – what are a few things would you consider as gifts, and why?

I’m publishing this a couple hours late and I’ll admit, I’ve seen a few other folks’ posts which have inspired a few thoughts of my own.

  • An amazing job opportunity came along at the end of the summer. I wasn’t looking to make a change, but amazing things happen when you least expect them. The jump was completed in mid-October and every day, I’m discovering more things to learn and do.
  • I know a few others have written this, but meeting more people in the SQL community and deepening the connections with people I already know has been wonderful. Y’all know who you are, and I am so grateful to know you 🙂
  • To celebrate a milestone anniversary, my wife & I enjoyed a short vacation. This was the first vacation we’ve had where it was just the two of us since our honeymoon. It was pretty nice.
  • I got a lot more comfortable with saying no. This applies to several contexts, but the most important one is saying no to myself. Over-committing is a habit I’m slowly breaking out of. I’ve learned that it’s OK to not force something into my life just because people expect me to do it. It’s OK to skip a weekly activity every now and then if you decide you just need a break. In a way, 2019 was about the things that I didn’t do as well as the things I did do.

PASS Summit 2019 Wrap-Up

I’m home from PASS Summit 2019, recovered from the travel, and in the post-Summit “I miss #SQLFamily” funk. Time to recap the week, maybe a bit differently than it’s been done in the past (at least by me). Not going to get too far into the technical stuff because what was thrown at us was a bit overwhelming, and it’ll take a while for it to all soak in. I’m going to tell the story of my Summit 2019 experience through shoutouts to the folks I connected and reconnected with. Let’s see how this format works out.

Continue reading “PASS Summit 2019 Wrap-Up”

Monday Morning Module Maintenance Monoliners

Or: Andy Authors An Amazing Alliteration

Do enough work with PowerShell and you’ll build up a decent collection of modules installed from the gallery into either your computer or your user profile (or maybe both!). Here are two one-liners to help keep things up to date and tidy.

Continue reading “Monday Morning Module Maintenance Monoliners”

T-SQL Tuesday #119 – Changing Your Mind

For T-SQL Tuesday this month, Alex Yates (blog | twitter) gives us this challenge:

I would like you to write about something in your IT career that you have changed your mind about. What was your original opinion? Why did you believe that? What do you believe now? Why did you change your mind?

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You are welcome to discuss technical or non-technical topics. Feel free to go as deeply technical or as personal and human as you like. Brain-melting technical posts about the inner workings of the SQL engine or effective machine learning architectures in Azure are great. SQL 101 posts or perspectives on age old debates such as tabs and spaces or where to put your commas are great too. Human posts about effective teamwork or diversity or wellbeing in tech are also great.

I hope that if we think hard about the ways we have changed our minds in the past, and if we read about how and why other people have changed their minds, it will help us to have better conversations in the future. I hope this will help us to collaborate more effectively at work – and maybe in other parts of our lives as well.

The Only Constant is Change

I’ve changed my mind on a number of topics over the years. It’s only natural. We learn more, we get more information, circumstances change. But the first and biggest one that comes to mind for me is my position regarding Microsoft.

Say What?

“But Andy,” you say, “haven’t you spent your entire career working with Microsoft technology?” Yes, yes I have! But I didn’t always feel good about it.

My formative geek years were spent in the 1990s, living through the meteoric rise of Microsoft, their missteps around the early days of the WWW, and then their total dominance of the market. You might have read about it in the newspaper. I studied Computer Science, surrounded by UNIX and Linux systems day in and day out and steeped in the idealistic dogma of “Open Source is good, Microsoft is evil. Embrace, extend, and extinguish! EVIL!!!!!!”

Sure, I still used Windows. I needed it for the dial-up connection I had at home over the summer and to play games (it always comes back to games, doesn’t it?). At the time, it was Windows NT 4.0 Workstation because I had (thought I had) higher computing demands than I could entrust to “consumer” Windows. Except…Microsoft changed the video driver architecture and the driver for my video card was buggy in such a way that some JPEGs loaded in Netscape Navigator could crash the whole OS. Gee, how good can Microsoft be if I can’t even load a JPEG without crashing Windows?

As time went on, I found myself trying avoid Windows more and more. My final semester of college, I don’t think I used Windows for more than 15 minutes total. Linux all the way!

But I Need a Paycheck

In the middle of my final semester of college, I accepted a job that used Windows everywhere – desktop and server. Some of my friends shrugged. Others sneered. I wasn’t thrilled about feeding into the “Evil Microsoft Empire” but I needed to eat. As I wasn’t the best student, major companies like IBM and Red Hat weren’t exactly lining up to interview me on campus.

I begrudgingly used Windows at work. And I got pretty damn good at it. Within months, I was fixing major outstanding bugs in our ASP 2.0/VBScript apps and moved on to building new apps from scratch. But at home I was still running Linux all the time, holding on to that idealism. Until…it broke.

I had an distro upgrade go bad and decided I was over my Linux phase. Microsoft was still kind of “ick” but at the same time, I was done tinkering w/ my OS and just wanted something that was left in a 100% working state after the installation was finished.

OS/2 on the desktop was a flop so it was back to Windows. Windows 2000, then Windows XP fit the bill at home. And my employer was still all-Windows.

The next computer I bought for myself was a MacBook. I had been fascinated by macOS since seeing the first public preview of Mac OS X way back in early 2000. It was UNIX with a candy-coated shell! I installed Windows in a VM for the one or two pieces of software that I still needed that for, but I was going all-in on the Mac at home.

Did the Suits Take Over?

By then, Steve Ballmer’s version of Microsoft was in full effect. Vista finally happened, leading me to I question whether Microsoft could get anything right. Everything seemed to be built around “how can we make you a Windows customer, no matter how bad Windows may be?”

The Pendulum Swings

Microsoft’s OS group redeemed themselves with Windows 7. Hey, they can make a decent OS after all. Things started moving forward (let’s try to forget Windows 8 happened). Azure started spinning up, taking on Amazon.

More importantly, software releases became more frequent and more regular. Security improved, quality improved, and you could start seeing more influence from the engineering side of the company emerging. The business drivers started to take a backseat to delivering products to the people who influenced technical decisions. Build good products, and the business will follow.

The tipping point for me was when Satya Nadella took the reigns in 2014. Microsoft seemingly was returned to the engineers. Open Source was embraced and encouraged. Microsoft was even releasing things as Open Source without being asked about it! They moved their focus to “we want to host the platform you run your business on, regardless of the OS and toolkit – but here’s a whole bunch of awesome tools that you can build with if you want to.”

The Microsoft of today is not the company I grew up watching and fearing (that position is now jointly held by Google and Amazon). They’re building exciting, compelling products and driving the industry forward. It was a rough few years, but I have done a U-turn on Microsoft. While I’m dabbling in other environments because it’s the smart thing to do for my career, I’m still working primarily with Microsoft technologies and it’s a decision that’s served me well for over twenty years.