(scottish) sql bob blog

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Some thoughts of your typical data shepard / data groomer / data dance teacher sort of person.


#SQLGLA 2018
#SQLGLA 2018

Forgive me whilst I indulge in some nostalgia first.  Whilst at SQL Bits 2016, I finally made the decision to start a SQL user group in Glasgow.  If I remember correctly Craig Porteous attend the infamous SQL Bits party and met a gentleman dressed as a Wookie  (William Durkin).  Now Glasgow has a growing SQL server user group (thanks to a dedicated hard working team).  Not only that we just had our second SQL conference!  (Yes SQL Bits has lot to answer for ;->)

 

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SQLGLA was a fantastic event it has left me with some wonderful feelings.  This blog post is part thank you to those involved, also just to express some of my feelings / experiences of the event.



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Organizing Team
 

Craig Porteous, Louise Paterson and I are the people who organised this year's event.  I felt we were a team (this is a theme, by the way).  Each of us contributed to the success of the event, in a different way.  The success of the event was not down a single person in my opinion. It was about us all coming together to make it a success.  Craig did put a lot of work into making the event what it was.

Photo by William White on Unsplash
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Volunteers
 

There are few words to express my gratitude about our team of volunteers.  As an organizing team, we have all volunteered before so we knew what is expected of volunteers.  There was a lovely mix of those who have done it before and few who have never done any volunteering.  What a team though, they all worked really hard.  Speaking personally, I am so proud of them, they made this event for me. Not once did I have to worry about if something was done or not being done.  They just made it happen.  Whilst I have said this before I cannot thank them enough for being such an amazing team, they exceeded all my expectations.



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Speakers 

Last year thanks to William Durkin we had such an amazing lineup, and yet this year lineup was even better!  A few days before the event I was looking through the list.  It would be a fair comment to say I was blown away by the quality of those who choose to speak at our event.  The feedback that I have heard so far the attendees also agree ðŸ™‚  Looking the depth of experience and knowledge that was shared, was to me awe inspiring.  Whats even better is they all came to Scotland to share their knowledge and expertise with us.

 

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SQL Family 

It’s a phrase that I've seen often on social media, these are not just words it's something that can be seen and experienced in real life.  To experience it is very humbling and gratifying.  A few weeks before the event I was contacted by Chris Taylor (@SQLGeordieone of the speakers.  The speakers had decided they wanted to get something for Craig & Karen Porteous who are expecting their second child.  It was my privilege and honor to present the gift on their behalf.  Hopefully, Craig will forgive me one day for gate-crashing the closing presentation to present the gift?  As Craig knew nothing about this gift. 



T-shirts 

To make the event something that little different we wanted to find a design for the t-shirts that was rather special.  Having worked with Emily Chappell over the years on various projects, her quirky designs and sense of style really works for me.  So I suggested we should ask Emily for a design for the t-shirts.  The first design was not what we wanted.  So next we all got together in a coffee shop at lunchtime.  We had a chat did some brainstorming,  Emily then sent back a design which we all loved (see picture below).  Personally, I’ve never been to a technical conference where they sold the t-shirts :-)

 

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Next?

First there are few housekeeping duties to take care, which we are just finishing off just now.  Followed by some discussions to see what will be the next step ðŸ™‚  All I can safely say is keep looking there will be some exciting news soon....


“I get knocked down, But l get up again You are never gonna to keep me down…”
First, be warned there will be some spelling and grammatically errors.  This post is rough and ready as it comes.  Ok what is this about, l want to document and relate some of the challenges l will have overcome as the person who has started the Glasgow SQL server group.  Like most things l have attempted in my life, l have failed, that is not stopped me.  So l am going to try and share my experiences and lessons on starting / running an SQL server user group.  The sole reason is hopefully someone, somewhere will be helped by reading about my challenges (mistakes)

Ok first the bad news.  This evening was the first group meeting, time 7pm, location a coffee bar in Glasgow.  Attendees, me and my shadow (as in nobody).  Not the best start l agree, after waiting for 30 mins with my sign on the table, l decided to call it a night.  Not feeling in the best of moods l was pondering what next.  When some song lyrics popped in my head, “I get knocked down, But l get up again You are never gonna to keep me down…” the chorus from Tubthumping by Chumbawamba. So that’s what l listened to repeatedly on the way home.

So how did l get here, and what could l have done better?

Take action more quickly
- the idea occurred to me whilst at my first SQL bits conference three years ago.  It took until last years SQL Bits (2016) conference to tweet about it to see what interest there was, it was re-tweeted however no signs of interest.  On the upside, l met two people from Glasgow who hopefully will be involved the user group.

Do not wait – the longer l waited bigger the challenge became!

Make use of all the opportunities you can find – l did set up an event on Meetup.com that has been really positive (more of that in another post).  What l have not done is to contact all my professional contacts in Linked in to spread the word.  I could have used twitter more, to date l have not set up a facebook group, or set up an event on Eventbrite.com.

Positive’s – the two people whom l met at the 2016 SQL bits conference will hopefully be involved in future events and yes they let me know they could not make tonight.   The Trello board l have set up to record ideas and suggestions has worked really well.  There a wealth of ideas and suggestions of what we can do and suggestions on item to be actioned.  Whilst waiting for people come tonight l have made a list of actions l am going to take next.  That can wait till my next post.

Next steps – meetings will be arranged, scheduled and publicised in as many ways and places are possible.  I shall be making use of my contacts to spread the word of this event.
Parting thoughts.  

Following one my most epic failures which l shared with someone, who understood.  He gave me a card with this quote
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

It’s not easy to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going.  That’s what makes some people that little bit different....


Why go to SQL Bits?
On the face of it going to a conference looks expensive.  So why should you commit the time and effort to go?  That's a good question.  Do you know everything you need to know to do your job?

a) if not then going to SQLBits is the ideal opportunity to learn more, make yourself a better ( insert your job tile here ) assuming you want to be?

b) if you do then why are you not speaking at SQL Bits?  Knowledge matures, develops and then fruits as it is shared.

Stand on the shoulders of giants
At the conference there is a wide variety of subjects covered these range from technical deep dives, to the geekest technical humour you could ever ask for.  All the way over to advice on leadership, and managing your career .  You also get learn from other peoples hard won wisdom and experience, which has been won over thousands of person hours.   The speakers are delighted and eager to share their experience and save you the hours of effort it to gain the knowledge they have.  Writing this post after SQL Bits XXII l feel that l gained more practical knowledge in 4 days than l did in the previous 12 months.  That alone is what l call value for money. 

Continuing Professional Development 
Having worked with a number architects (they that design building) companies l have been made aware of the concept of Continuing Professional Development. In that any qualified architect is expected to learn and refine their skills for as long as they are a practising architect.

Sponsors
Another big part of the conference is the sponsors, they have stands set up in the main part of the conference.  Yes they are their to sell their products, on the other hand they are very generous and have many have prizes to give away.  Entering the competitions to win prizes can be as simple as giving your email address, others you might have to work for.  Such playing a racing car or sail boat simulator, these are geeks what do you expect !  Some of the sponsors have technical evangelists who are there to speak all of whom in my opinion are worth going to just for their sessions alone.   Next how often do you get to meet with representatives from Microsoft and ask them questions face to face.?

Fun and Games
There's even more fun to be had.  So far l have only attended two SQL Bit conferences.  The evening parties are well something to be experienced, the best way to put it is that these are dreamed up by geeks and attended by geeks.  Both of these groups of people know how to have a good time.  Also if you visit the sponsors you might just come away with tokens, for free drink, at the parties.  Need l say more?

The last question that occurs to me is why do l go?  Personally and ultimately l want to be the best possible person doing my job.  To provide my customers with the best possible service l can offer.  To achieve that will take time, energy, and sacrifices.  Part of that will be paying my way these conferences till l can convince my manager to pay for at least part of them.  Until then l will go to learn and develop, then one day return and speak myself to starting paying back my technical debt.