Upcoming SQLSaturdays in Alberta, Canada

Taking a short break from the Database Fundamentals series of the last few weeks, I’d like to mention some upcoming PASS community events in the province of Alberta.

I will be presenting at SQLSaturday #594 in Edmonton on 22 April 2017 (this coming Saturday). My topic is Migrating to Azure SQL Database: Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learned.

Next weekend, I will be hosting SQLSaturday #607 in Calgary on 29 April 2017. This is the first ever SQLSaturday in the city of Calgary, and we even have a special message from our celebrity mayor, Naheed Nenshi.

If you live in or around these two cities, please come and say hi. You can also reach out to me on Twitter at @bornsql or @sqlsatcalgary.

The Database Fundamentals series will continue next week.

SQL Saturday in Calgary!

I am very happy (and terrified) to announce that Calgary will host its very first SQL Saturday, #607, on 29 April 2017.

Noel Tan and I are organising it (though Noel is doing all the hard work), and my company is sponsoring the main prize, a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

I would like to invite all my readers to attend this event, and if you are in the general vicinity of Alberta and can take the week off to also attend Edmonton’s own SQL Saturday a week prior to ours, on 22 April 2017.

It’s a comfortable drive from Edmonton to Calgary, and you can take in many sights, sounds and tastes over that week. Both Calgary and Edmonton have international airports only 30 minutes from their respective city centres.

Speakers are welcome to apply. We already have interest from Canada, USA, and Australia. You can speak on any number of topics, including Azure SQL Database, SQL Server on Linux, Best Practices, SQL Server 2016, and so on.

To register to attend, speak, or sponsor the event, visit the official Calgary SQL Saturday website (http://www.sqlsaturday.com/607/) by visiting and clicking on the Register Now button. We will be Event #607.

To stay abreast of what’s happening in the lead up to this event, you can also watch the #sqlsatcalgary and #sqlsat607 hashtags on Twitter.

If you would like to know more, find me on Twitter as well, at @bornsql .

Speaking at SQLSaturday 507 this weekend in Edmonton

On Saturday 9 April 2016, four days from today, I will be speaking at the first ever SQLSaturday in the province of Alberta.

Edmonton is the provincial capital, so it makes sense to have it there, though it’s a bit of a drive to get there from Calgary, where I live.

Fortunately, Red Deer is about halfway between the two cities, and I have a place where I can eat and buy some Rooibos tea in Gasoline Alley.

My talk will be similar to the one I gave last year at the Calgary SQL PASS User Group, The SQL Server Performance Starter Kit, which was well received by the attendees.

If you’re in the area, please come and say hello. It’ll be great fun, and you might even learn something.

You can find out more on the event’s home page: SQLSaturday #507.

How I prepared for my first ever SQLSaturday session

I presented for fifty minutes on 27 June 2015, for my first ever SQLSaturday talk.

The amount of time I put into that presentation is easily 200 hours, not counting my experience as a college lecturer and high school teacher.

Firstly, I had to write the software I presented on. Even until yesterday, three days after the session, I was modifying the GitHub page, adding documentation, and so on. Anyone in the industry knows that the software is never finished. This is no exception.

The slide deck itself started as 12 slides, grew to 26, and then after I decided to do the demos as slides as well, it finished at 62 slides.

The original script I wrote for the talk was over 5,000 words long. Yes, I scripted the entire talk. I’m not good at speaking off the cuff, even on something I invented, and the classic advice (see links below) is not to read what the slides say. After rehearsing a number of times, I was able to recall most of what I scripted.

In my first run-through, speaking aloud and going through the deck, I got to 58 minutes without allowing time for questions, which meant that I might have enough content for the talk (it is better to cut content than to be left stranded with nothing to say).

I watched Paul Randal’s Pluralsight course, “Communications: How to Talk, Write, Present, and Get Ahead!”. This course goes hand-in-hand with his 2009 blog post, Public Speaking: A Primer.

(I also presented during an “open night” on four separate occasions to Paul and Kimberly, during the Immersion Events training I attended in 2012 and 2013, to get some feedback).

I read more of Paul and Kimberly’s respective blog posts on how to set up SQL Server Management Studio, and writing clear slides for presenting to an audience:

Then I read about the lengths that David Peter Hansen went to, to prepare for his PASS Summit session in 2014:

Brent Ozar, from four years ago, had some good advice:

(A side note: Brent was kind enough to recommend a remote clicker to me, on Twitter, about five minutes after I asked. The device he recommended worked very well, and despite his wariness over battery life (I packed extras), I didn’t need to change the batteries mid-talk!)

Scott Hanselman has a number of posts about preparing for talks, but here’s his seminal post from way back in 2003:

And most importantly, the posts from people who had been there, done that, and made mistakes. I learned a lot from Greg Low:

And my friend Janie Clayton:

A final note: I planned to give my PowerPoint presentation on my MacBook Pro, and I made sure I had a connector to plug into the projector the organisers had listed. Even so, when I got there to test in the morning, the DVI-D cable was not there, and I still had to borrow a VGA adapter from them. I had left enough time to walk to the Apple Store nearby to purchase one if they did not have the connector on site. My notes were in PDF form on my iPad, which I only had to refer to twice during the talk.

I also kept a copy of the presentation on the iPad, with the necessary Lightning to VGA connector, should my laptop fail. My notes were printed out in hard copy for this eventuality, but I did not have to resort to this, as my laptop worked flawlessly.

I only had one live demo (my presentation was about Azure Blob Storage, so it could easily have failed, and I had prepared screen shots in this eventuality), which ran flawlessly, but only because I tested it just before my talk, and had to change a configuration file to get it to run. It was that close.

I would like to thank everyone for helping me prepare for this session, directly or indirectly. I could not have done it alone.