Category Archives: Professional Development

A Biml Case Study

Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) is a SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) design patterns engine. A Story of Productivity A while back I was contacted by a client experiencing a familiar issue. The Production SQL Server instance was experiencing performance issues due to conflicts between customers and enterprise reporting needs. They contacted a friend who contacted me. When we spoke they asked, “Can you help?” “Yes,” I replied, “I can help.” We scheduled a three-day visit. On Day…(read more)

Put Your New Leadership Knowledge Into Practice

Have you ever tried to hit a golf ball toward the pin, toss a dart at the bull’s-eye, or chuck a fly at a trout? If you’re like most people, your first attempt didn’t come anywhere close to hitting the mark. Your golf ball may have found the woods, your dart may have sunk into the wall, and your fly may have slapped the back of your head. These activities are skills that must be acquired through practice and discipline. You can read a book about all of them and you can study the mechanics of motion,…(read more)

Where do 100-Level Sessions belong at PASS?

Now that the PASS Summit 2014 is over, I remember having a hard time deciding which sessions to attend and can’t wait for the USB to arrive. This year, I was on the Program Committee for the first time ever. I would recommend the experience to all speakers or potential speakers at some point. I know with the explosion of SQL Saturday events that many more people have had to wrestle with how to choose content. The Program Committee has the main goal of selecting the content that will drive people…(read more)

Less than a month away…

The PASS Summit for 2014 is nearly upon us, and the MVP Summit is immediately prior, in the same week and the same city. This is my first MVP Summit since early 2008. I’ve been invited every year, but I simply haven’t prioritised it. I’ve been awarded MVP status every year since 2006 (just received my ninth award), but in 2009 and 2010 I attended SQLBits in the UK, and have been to every PASS Summit since then. This year, it’s great that I get to do both Summits in the same trip, but if I get to choose just one, then it’s an easy decision.

So let me tell you why the PASS Summit is the bigger priority for me.

Number of people

Actually, the PASS Summit isn’t that much larger than the MVP Summit, but the MVP Summit has thousands of non-SQL MVPs, and only a few hundred in the SQL space. Because of this, the ‘average conversation with a stranger’ is very different. While it can be fascinating to meet someone who is an MVP for File System Storage, the PASS Summit has me surrounded by people who do what I do, and it makes for more better conversations as I learn about who people are and what they do.

Access to Microsoft

The NDA content that MVPs learn at the MVP Summit is good, but the PASS Summit will have content about every-SQL-thing you ever want. The same Microsoft people who present at the MVP Summit are also at the PASS Summit, and dedicate time to the SQL Clinic, which means that you can spend even more time working through ideas and problems with them. You don’t get this at the MVP Summit.


Obviously not everyone can go to the MVP Summit, as it’s a privilege that comes as part of the MVP award each year (although it’s hardly ‘free’ when you have to fly there from Australia). While it may seem like an exclusive event is going to be, well, exclusive, most MVPs are all about the wider community, and thrive on being around non-MVPs. There are less than 400 SQL MVPs around the world, and ten times that number of SQL experts at the Summit. While some of the top experts might be MVPs, a lot of them are not, and the PASS Summit is a chance to meet those people each year.

Content from the best

The MVP Summit has presentations from people who work on the product. At my first MVP Summit, this was a huge deal. And it’s still good to hear what these guys are thinking, under NDA, when they can actually go into detail that they know won’t leave the room. But you don’t get to hear from Paul White at the MVP Summit, or Erin Stellato, or Julie Koesmarno, or any of the other non-Microsoft presenters. The PASS Summit gives the best of both worlds.

I’m really looking forward to the MVP Summit. I’ve missed the last six, and it’s been too long. MVP Summits were when I met some of my oldest SQL friends, such as Kalen Delaney, Adam Machanic, Simon Sabin, Paul & Kimberly, and Jamie Thomson. The opportunities are excellent. But the PASS Summit is what the community is about.

MVPs are MVPs because of the community – and that’s what the PASS Summit is about. That’s the one I’m looking forward to the most.


Wanted: Senior DBA or Dev-DBA (And So Darn Hard to Find!)

I mentor, teach, and consult about SQL Server. It’s an incredible tool –it is an extremely flexible, adaptable, and complex data environment. SQL Server is capable of bringing tremendous value to an organization when it is configured, tuned, and used appropriately. And one of the things that I am occasionally engaged to do for a client, is to help interview candidates and find an FTE Senior DBA or Senior Dev-DBA. And finding such a resource quite often proves to be a very difficult quest. Let me…(read more)

When is your interview?

Sometimes it’s tough to evaluate someone – to figure out if you think they’d be worth hiring. These days, since starting LobsterPot Solutions, I have my share of interviews, on both sides of the desk. Sometimes I’m checking out potential staff members; sometimes I’m persuading someone else to get us on board for a project. Regardless of who is on which side of the desk, we’re both checking each other out.

The world is not how it was some years ago. I’m pretty sure that every time I walk into a room for an interview, I’ve searched for them online, and they’ve searched for me. I suspect they usually have the easier time finding me, although there are obviously other Rob Farleys in the world. They may have even checked out some of my presentations from conferences, read my blog posts, maybe even heard me tell jokes or sing. I know some people need me to explain who I am, but for the most part, I think they’ve done plenty of research long before I’ve walked in the room.TSQL2sDay150x150

I remember when this was different (as it could be for you still). I remember a time when I dealt with recruitment agents, looking for work. I remember sitting in rooms having been giving a test designed to find out if I knew my stuff or not, and then being pulled into interviews with managers who had to find out if I could communicate effectively. I’d need to explain who I was, what kind of person I was, what my value-system involved, and so on.

I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at. (Oh, and in case you hadn’t realised, it’s a T-SQL Tuesday post, this month about interviews.)

At TechEd Australia some years ago (either 2009 or 2010 – I forget which), I remember hearing a comment made during the ‘locknote’, the closing session. The presenter described a conversation he’d heard between two girls, discussing a guy that one of them had just started dating. The other girl expressed horror at the fact that her friend had met this guy in person, rather than through an online dating agency. The presenter pointed out that people realise that there’s a certain level of safety provided through the checks that those sites do. I’m not sure I completely trust this, but I’m sure it’s true for people’s technical profiles.

If I interview someone, I hope they have a profile. I hope I can look at what they already know. I hope I can get samples of their work, and see how they communicate. I hope I can get a feel for their sense of humour. I hope I already know exactly what kind of person they are – their value system, their beliefs, their passions. Even their grammar. I can work out if the person is a good risk or not from who they are online. If they don’t have an online presence, then I don’t have this information, and the risk is higher.

So if you’re interviewing with me, your interview started long before the conversation. I hope it started before I’d ever heard of you. I know the interview in which I’m being assessed started before I even knew there was a product called SQL Server. It’s reflected in what I write. It’s in the way I present. I have spent my life becoming me – so let’s talk!


Do You Learn?

Silly question? Maybe. Hang with me, please. This will be short – a couple / three minutes, tops. Do you know more than you did six months ago? A year back? Yep, we both know you do. How did you feel back then, before you knew what you know now? Did you sense there was something missing? Did you know you didn’t know? No, you did not. That thing that you recently learned, did it just become true? Or was it true all along and you didn’t know or accept it? What about the stuff you believe right now?…(read more)

Me and the Man

Part 1 I grew up poor – the US version of poor. We never missed a meal but a few times it was only because we had a successful hunt. Suffice it to say that when we interacted with others, they always had more than us. More stuff, nicer houses and cars and toys. We weren’t unhappy kids – my brothers and I – but we were unable to do some things we wanted to do, things others took for granted. Perhaps the best description of how I felt about our childhood is a southern US expression: we made do. My…(read more)