Looking back at 2014, and forward to 2015

The last year was a little bumpy, and had a lot of ups and downs. Looking back at 2014, I accomplished a lot of cool things, and set some things in motion for 2015 already. So what happened for me in 2014?

 
FORG
2014 was the first year I joined the Friends of Red Gate (FORG) program. I was surprised and felt honored, that I got the confirmation in February that I was a part of FORG. Red Gate has always been a company I respected a lot (so much, that some people asked if I had Red Gate stocks, when I mentioned them again in a conversation). The fact that they let me in their program was a huge honor for me. They enabled me to contact the product teams directly, which (hopefully) ended up in us (FORG members and Red Gate developers) improving the tooling this year.

For next year, I’m hoping I can continue working with Red Gate. There are a lot of things I would like to do in cooperation with Red Gate, that I didn’t or couldn’t do this year. Hopefully 2015 will be the year that I can do some of the things I have on my to-do list!

 
SQLCoop
In February of 2014, I started SQLCoop with 3 other people:

Julie Koesmarno (Blog | @MsSQLGirl)
Mickey Stuewe (Blog | @SQLMickey)
Chris Yates (Blog | @YatesSQL)

 
We wrote a total of 8 posts this year, in which we talked about a number of subjects. Hopefully for next year, there will be more posts about various subjects.

 
Blogging
My blogging in 2014 didn’t go exactly as planned. At the end of last year, I set myself a goal: try to blog more often, and try to write a blog post once a week. I really tried to keep up with that pace, but unfortunately I lost that pace early in the year. But I did manage to publish 30 posts this year (including this one). This is one more than last year. So I did reached my goal (blog more than last year), but not as much as I would’ve liked.

 
Blog traffic
The blog traffic increased again, in a way I didn’t expect. Between 2012 and 2013, the traffic to this blog was quadrupled. This was a stunning success, and I didn’t expect any growth for this year. But looking at the statistics right now, I see that the visitors to my blog are more than doubled comparing to last year! I was hoping for a small increase, but not this much! Looking at that, I can only hope I helped a lot of people save time, with the ramblings I call blog posts!

 
Events
This was the year of the great events. In July, I attended SQLBits in Telford, UK. This was a great event, wonderfully organized, and certainly an event everyone needs to visit at least once! People told me this was the biggest and nicest SQL event in Europe, and I can tell you: they weren’t lying! What an event, what an attendees, and what a great job from the organizers!

In October there was SQL Saturday Holland. This year was (again) better than last year, and it was a great event! Also, I got the chance to volunteer at the event. Definitely something I’m doing again next year. It was really great to help the organizers out. It was a wonderful day with great sessions, and it was the moment I got my first speaking opportunity. Nothing but good things happened that day.

 
New friends
This year I’ve also met a number of wonderful people from the community. A lot of them I met at SQLBits this year, but also at SQL Saturday. It was great to meet Matan, Tobiasz, Chris, Julie, Nicky, Pieter, Brent, Kevin, Grant, etc, or talk to them again. Meeting all those people really shows how big and diverse the community is, and it reminds me why I like this community so much. I’m confident I will meet a lot of cool people next year, and catch up with people again after not seeing them for too long.

 
Speaking
This year I started to seriously think about speaking at events and user groups. All the good stories I heard from friends in the community made me consider this. In July during SQLBits, I submitted 3 sessions for SQL Saturday Holland, and that was the first step. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get picked. There were a lot of good speakers, and I was a newcomer with no experience. But at SQL Saturday Holland, I met Pieter Vanhove (Blog | @Pieter_Vanhove). We talked about all different kinds of subjects (including speaking), and he invited me to do a session at the SQL Server User Group Belgium in January 2015. This means I’m speaking at my first ever User Group session. Hopefully this will be the start of something good, with which I can give back to the community in time.

 
I want to with you all a very happy, successful and interesting new year! Go and try to make 2015 your year, and take that leap of faith when you have the chance! I know I did! :)

T-SQL Tuesday #59 – My Hero

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is “My Hero”. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Tracy McKibben (Blog | @RealSQLGuy).



 
Everybody needs a hero. Ever kid needs a champion. Someone you look up to. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, everybody needs that. If you don’t have a hero to look up to, it’s hard to dream big.

 
The unsung heroes
Not all heroes are out there like we expect them to be. There are some heroes that like to stay below the radar. But does that make them any less of a hero than a hero that is really out there? I don’t think so. But defining a hero is much easier when it’s a person that is well known by the community.

If you take one of the most known people out there, for example Thomas LaRock (Blog | @SQLRockstar), Brent Ozar (Blog | @BrentO), or Grant Fritchey (Blog | @GFritchey). Do you define those people as heroes? I know I do. They make an effort for the community, help people wherever they can, and they are working to make us all better SQL Server Professionals. But they are out there, and are widely acknowledged as heroes by many people. So defining those people as heroes, even though they are, is easy. It’s praising the unsung heroes that is hard.

 

 
The fallen heroes
There’s a well known saying that says: “All that glitters is not gold”. And that also goes for the heroes in the community. In the end, they are just people like you and me. They have good and bad character traits like everyone else. But some heroes turn villain in the end. They use their fame to get what they want, or mistreat other people for not being the hero they are. Unfortunately I know a few of those “heroes” as well…

But does mistreating people make that hero a little less of a hero? I think it does. Even heroes can fall of their pedestal. And even though people find you a hero, you can’t mistreat other people, or tell them they’re less than you. If you’re the hero, it’s your mission to lead other people to victory. Not to put them down, and convince them they can’t do something.

 

 
Become a hero
A hero can come in many shapes and sizes. And you don’t become a hero overnight (even though that would make things easier sometimes). It takes a lot of effort to become a hero, and to be seen as the hero. And you know what? They make it look so easy, and that’s their strength and weakness at the same time.

So when are you becoming a hero? What are your plans to become a hero? What steps do you need to take now, in a week, in a month, or even in a year? You can’t become a hero you say? Yes you can! Everybody can become a hero! Just try it, by giving back to the community. Answer questions on forums, write blogs, start presenting, anything is possible!

Are you the next hero Gotham needs…?

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community – RECAP

Last week I had the privilege to host this months T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The subject was SQL Family and community, and a lot of people participated. There were a lot of great blog posts, and I wanted to make a complete list for you that contains all the blog posts of this month:

 
Warwick Rudd (Blog | @Warwick_Rudd) posted: SQL Family and community

Boris Hristov (Blog | @BorisHristov) posted: SQL Family and SQLHangouts

Cathrine Wilhelmsen (Blog | @cathrinew) posted: #SQLFamily – Pay It Forward

Mickey Stuewe (Blog | @SQLMickey) posted: SQL Family to the Rescue of a Local Community

Chris Yates (Blog | @YatesSQL) posted: SQL Family and Community

Ed Watson (Blog | @SQLGator) posted: SQL Family and Tripping the Light Fantastique

Aaron Bertrand (Blog | @AaronBertrand) posted: A SQL _VARIANT Use Case (No Pun Intended)

Jason Brimhall (Blog | @sqlrnnr) posted: SQL Family and
Community

Adam Mikolaj (Blog | @SqlSandwiches) posted: SQL Family and community

Glenda Gable (Blog | @ggable313) posted: TSQL Tuesdays # 57

Andy Yun (Blog | @SQLBek) posted: A #SQLFamily Story

Wayne Sheffield (Blog | @DBAWayne) posted: SQL Family and Community

Steve Jones (Blog | @way0utwest) posted: SQL Family and Community

Kenneth Fisher (Blog | @sqlstudent144) posted: SQL Family

Rob Farley (Blog | @rob_farley) posted: Nepotism In The SQL Family

Ricardo Leka (Blog | @BigLeka) posted: SQL Family and community

Jeffrey Verheul (Blog | @DevJef) posted: SQL Family and community

 
I want to thank all participants for their beautiful posts for T-SQL Tuesday. And thank you Adam, for allowing me to host this month!

If I missed your post, please let me know, and I’ll add it to this post.

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is “SQLFamily and community”. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Jeffrey Verheul (Blog | @DevJef).



 
This months topic is SQL Family and community. The reason I chose this topic is the great SQL Server community. As I mentioned in my opening post, at first I didn’t know what to expect from the community, when I first started working with SQL Server. But it didn’t take long to notice the reason why everyone was to enthusiastic about it. They say the SQL Server community is friendlier and more helpful than all other communities. But it is?

It’s all about helping
A few years back, I attended a developer conference in the Netherlands called TechDays. One of the session I got to see was a session about spatial data by Bob Beauchemin (Blog | @bobbeauch). And yes, here is where the obsession for spatial data started I think. After the conference I started to play around with spatial data, and eventually I ran into a problem. At that moment I couldn’t find any useful resources online, and I knew Bob would know the answer.

After thinking about it a day or 2, I finally decided to mail Bob. This was a big step for me, because I was about to email one of the people I highly respect and look up to. The expectancy wasn’t too high, because he couldn’t possibly have the time to answer my stupid email. So I took the bull by the horns anyway and pressed send.. But to my surprise, it didn’t even take an hour before I received an answer. From Bob. THE Bob. I couldn’t believe it! The big Bob Beauchemin took the time to not only read my email, but even provide me with an answer to my question. And of course the answer was spot on, and precisely I needed to overcome my problem.

After that, I regularly emailed Bob about questions, interesting cases I came across, and many more things. But I didn’t send him an email for too long now, and I still hope I get to thank him for this in person one day. But this is where the community-vibe hit me.

 
From knowledge base to blog
When you get to work on all different kinds of projects, you end up with notepad files all over your desktop, USB hard drives, etc. At least, in my case that’s where it started. In order to create a structure in all these small solutions and notes, I decided to put them online. So basically I wanted to create a small knowledge base and one location where I could save scripts for myself, that I wrote before and might need in the future again. But after a few months, people started to thank me for my posts. I couldn’t understand why, because the posts were so basic, and sometimes totally gibberish in my opinion.

But after a while, I started to like the “blogging” (which was just brain-dumping until then). The blog posts became more coherent, written for a broader audience, and they were easier to follow and implement for readers. So the brain dumps grew into something new: useful information that other people could actually use! One of the things I’m most proud of until now is the spatial data series I wrote (yes, again spatial data). It grew from just 1 post (the basics of spatial data) to a series of 11 posts where I guide readers from the basics to building their own reports. This series was inspired by readers and colleagues that asked questions, and questions I had myself.

 
Online community
One of the greatest discoveries for me was the community on Twitter. Anyone you can imagine from the community is on Twitter, and available within a few clicks. And they all take the time to answer questions! This came as a big surprise to me at first. There are so much interesting people you can follow, interact with, and that can help you with technical challenges you have. In most cases, when you post a question with the hashtag #SQLHelp, you’ll get an answer within minutes. And you answer could come from anybody: An MCM from the UK, MVP from Australia, DBA from the US, a BI guy from South Africa, etc. All kinds of people with different skill sets and technical interests. And the variety of people make it worth while to follow and interact with them.

 
When strangers become friends
After being “active” in the community for a while, I started talking to some people of the SQL Server community online. At one moment I asked one of them to review a blog post, to see what she thought. That was the start of a friendship that brought me a lot the last couple of years. She introduced me to some other SQL Server professionals, that I consider close friends now. These friends support me, push me to do stuff when I need it, and help me in any way possible. They inspire me to do better, and take the extra step to achieve the goals I set myself. They are there when I need them, and that is the most important thing. And all of that because of SQL Family and the community! The community that I couldn’t believe to be more than a bunch of people with the same job and technical interests.

 
FORG
Being involved in the community is really cool, and there are benefits of that. For example, Red Gate gave me the opportunity to become a member of the Friends of Red Gate program, which was and is a great honor for me. I’ve loved using their tools for years, and now they gave me the opportunity to help make these tools better, by being part of this program. And hopefully there are a lot of cool things coming up, because I still have a lot of dreams and goals I set myself when I became a part of this program.

 
If you’re not involved yet, get involved!
The reason you should get involved in the community, is the fact that it’s really nice to help people, and you get so much in return. Getting help from someone is great, but helping other people makes you feel even better. At least, that’s my experience. So if you’re not already involved, start visiting local events like SQL Saturdays or online events like virtual users groups. It’ll give you insight in other SQL Server subjects, and show you that other people struggle with the same problems you do!

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

 
This month I’ll be the T-SQL Tuesday host, and I’m really honored! Thanks Adam, for this opportunity!

 
The topic
This month I would like to give everyone the opportunity to write about SQL Family. The first time I heard of SQL Family, was on Twitter where someone mentioned this. At first I didn’t know what to think about this. I wasn’t really active in the community, and I thought it was a little weird. They were just people you meet on the internet, and might meet in person at a conference some day. But I couldn’t be more wrong about that!

Once you start visiting events, forums, or any other involvement with the community, you’ll see I was totally wrong. I want to hear those stories. How do you feel about SQL Family? Did they help you, or did you help someone in the SQL Family? I would love to hear the stories of support, how it helped you grow and evolve, or how you would explain SQL Family to your friends and family (which I find hard). Just write about whatever topic you want, as long as it’s related to SQL Family or community.

 
The rules
– Your post must be published between 00:00:00 UTC and 23:59:59 UTC on Tuesday 12th of August
– Include the T-SQL Tuesday logo in the top of your post, and your post must link back to this one (trackback and comments are moderated, so it might take some time before they’re visible) or tweet about it using the hashtag #TSQL2sDay
– If you like this, check Steve Jones’ (Blog | @way0utwest) blog post that contains the list of topics, and contact Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic) if you’d like to host

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

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is “The Long and Winding Road”. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Wendy Pastrick (Blog | @wendy_dance).



After I skipped the last few T-SQL Tuesday posts, I saw the topic Wendy suggested for this month. That’s an interesting one, so I’m kind of back again…

One particular sentences that stuck with me, was “Let’s make these stories about the tech and how that has led you down a certain path”. A few months ago, I blogged about leaving my former employer. There I got a change to discover a bunch of new technologies and discover what I really wanted. But the path started earlier.

During my first internship, I started working as a desktop support engineer and help desk employee. This meant I needed to install, replace and fix PC’s, phones, network, etc. After the first internship (6 months), I stayed with the company as a part-time employee. Then I decided to stay there for my second internship of 6 months, which I filled working as a system administrator.

When I was still busy with exams and finishing my education, the company asked me to stay with them. They had an interesting role in mind for me: SQL Server consultant. At that time, I’ve never wrote a single query (except a few trials in my database classes at school), but I accepted the offer. The learning curve was pretty steep, but I managed with the help of my wonderful colleagues. My first experiences with SQL Server were very interesting, and it really triggered me to learn more about it, even though it was SQL Server 2000 back then.

After 2 years I got the opportunity to start as a .NET developer within the same company. Because several colleagues left, there was a high demand for software engineers. So with no knowledge of ASP and VB, I started to discover this new world. After a few months, I moved from ASP to ASP.NET, from VB to C#, and eventually worked with WCF, Silverlight, NHibernate, etc.

After 2.5 years of being a software engineer, I came back to the database world. I can’t explain why, but I missed something in my daily job that I had before. When searching for a new job, I found a company that seemed to fit my ideas of a great company and a huge challenge: multinational, young team, great colleagues, lots of learning opportunities, etc. There I started out as a BI- and SQL Server developer, and I found what I was missing in my previous job: data!

One thing I’ve learned after this wide variety of jobs, is that I love databases and data. In my current job of DBA I can combine the 2 things I love the most: data and technology. As a DBA I’m not only responsible for keeping the databases alive, but also for data quality, database performance, etc.

So this is the ultimate job for me, at least at the moment. But if I ever change jobs, I’m definitely not leaving the SQL Server world! Not only because I love working with databases and data, but also because of the wonderful community. At first I didn’t know what to think about the “SQL Family”, but now I know it practically IS a family. The people have the same issues as you, the same interests, and they love to help you out. So I’m never going to leave that behind again!

T-SQL Tuesday #38 – Standing Firm

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is “Standing Firm”. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Jason Brimhall (Blog | @sqlrnnr).



This month I thought about skipping T-SQL Tuesday, because I didn’t thought of a story to tell you. Certainly after my previous post about my targets for this year. Standing firm was something I connected to these targets, until today.

I can’t give you full details about the current situation right now, but trust me if I say it’s not pretty. When I started thinking about targets I want to set myself, I thought about my future. The next 10 years, I saw myself sticking with the same I do now and love: SQL Server development. Then some things… well… changed… Unfortunately, without informing me.

To get back to this months topic, I decided to stand firm for myself from now on. In the past it happened several times, that I accepted things that I didn’t believe in myself. Things that were decided without asking or informing me, and that I let happen in order to keep the peace. But that changed this week.

From now on, I decide what I want, and not what others expect from me. I’m even more determined to succeed as a SQL Server professional, and to show certain people I AM qualified for specific tasks.

This might be hard, and unpleasant for some people, but it’s my future. I want to become an author, a speaker, a person to go to if you have questions, and so on. But I don’t think I can accomplish it if I carry on like this…

So If you help me accomplish one or more of my goals from my previous post, let me know. If you can help me find a new challenge, I’d love to talk to you about that! I need all the help I can get from my #SQLFamily! :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers