Midlands PASS Meetings for January and February 2019

Midlands PASS won’t be holding a meeting in December. Too much going on! However, we are hosting meetings in January and February.

January 8, 2019 – Moving Data with Azure Data Factory

Andy Leonard (twitter | website) joins us to discuss Azure Data Factory. Learn from one of the best in this field!

RSVP for January 8th Meeting

February 5, 2019 – Becoming a Data Scientist

Shannon Lowder (twitter | website) brings his experience in becoming a data scientist to share with us.

RSVP for February 5th, Meeting

 

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Meetings: Have a Point of Focus

Have you ever been in a meeting where the attendees seemed to go down one rabbit trail after another? At the end of that meeting, likely everyone left wondering why they were there. Those meetings are failed meetings. Meetings should move things forward. Otherwise, what’s the point? And that gets to my point: meetings should have a point of focus.

I know I’m writing this on my technical blog, but bear with me, because this is important for IT. The first reason it’s important is we want clear decisions. The second reasons is we want to be as efficient as possible with our time. Those two reasons mean we want meetings to be successful. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves without a decision with a calendar full of meetings.

The likely problem with a meeting get off track is it didn’t have a focus to begin with. If a meeting did have a focal point, then the attendees allowed the meeting to drift away from that reason for the meeting. Either of these situations gets us to an unsuccessful meeting. Therefore, insist on meetings having a focus and try and hold folks accountable to staying on topic.

One doesn’t have to be a jerk about it. There are kind ways of reminding folks that the meeting is drifting away from the point. Something as simple as, “That sounds great for a later discussion. I’m going to note that down. However, let’s focus on the reason for this meeting.” If you do note those diversionary topics down and attempt to initiate later coverage of those topics, you’ll incur trust and that will help folks stay within the bounds of the meeting’s purpose.

This topic came up in a class I recently taught for those preparing for the ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor exam. One of the practice questions asked what should an auditor do to help a meeting be successful. The correct answer was to limit the scope of the meeting and hold attendees to that. It’s great advice. Meetings are more effective if we know why we’re meeting and we hold each other to discuss, and hopefully come to a decision on, the point of the meeting.

Ethics in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft redid its Data Science Track not too long ago and they added several courses and new progress points. One of those progress points is Apply Ethics and Law in Analytics and the course to cover this point is Microsoft DAT249x: Ethics and Law in Data and Analytics, offered through edX.

I’m enjoying this course even though it’s not a hard-core data analysis one. This course is great because it asks the questions about how data should be used, what biases might be present, and how we look at both before moving forward both ethically and legally. Even if you aren’t working on the data science track, if you’re a data professional of any type, I would recommend taking this free course (assuming you are only auditing and not looking for the certificate).

As a segue with respect to the importance of this course, once upon a time I was a college student who became hooked on Sociology. I had a professor teaching his last semester before retirement and I had two courses with him: Introduction to Sociology and Criminology. He had worked with police departments much of his professional life, and I remember how much he talked about bias not only in the data, but also how it was collected. He also talked about bias by proxy, though he didn’t use that phrase. A proxy is where you don’t want to use one statistic, such as race, so you find something that isn’t called race but effectively gives you the same thing because there’s a strong correlation between the two. An example is zip code here in the United States. We tend to live more segregated than we’d like to admit, so if you’re making decisions based on zip code with respect to people, much of the time you’re actually making decisions about race. This course looks at those types of things – topics that are easy to overlook as we got caught up in our analyses.

How do I ask for SQL Server help on Twitter?

For those of us who have been on twitter for a long time, we are familiar with the #sqlhelp hashtag. However, I was giving a presentation to a user group last night and came across a case where folks in the room didn’t know about the hashtag. I mentioned this was available when someone indicated they were basically a one-man shop and wanted to get more help. That person said he didn’t know about it. Another indicated she hadn’t heard of it, either.

So if you’re in the SQL Server community and you are stuck on a SQL Server related-issue, try out the #sqlhelp hashtag. Try to define your issue as clearly as possible. Likely you’ll see a group of folks with expertise jumping in. That’s one of the great things about the SQL Community: the willingness to help one another.

Free Training: Videos from Tim Mitchell

I’m always on the looking our excellent training, especially free training. Tim Mitchell, Microsoft Data Platform MVP, (twitter | website) has a number of great videos available on YouTube around SSIS and ETL. Definitely spend some time checking them out!

Tim Mitchell’s YouTube Channel

Tim is a great teacher who breaks down into digestible chunks. His examples are clear and to the point. Therefore, if you’re looking for training videos on SSIS and ETL that you can put into practice right away, Tim’s channel is a great resource.

Slides and Scripts from IT/Dev Connections

If you attended either of my presentations for this past IT/Dev Connections, here are the promised slides and scripts.

As I mentioned at the presentation, there’s nothing special about the scripts, so feel free to use them as you’d like.

Top Down SQL Server Security (.zip file – 815 KB)

SQL Server Forensics (.zip file – 786 KB)

 

Upcoming #SQLChat on Making the Most of Conferences

This month’s #SQLChat is hosted by Rie Irish (twitter | blog). It’s a timely topic: Making the Most of Conferences. With the PASS Summit just around the corner, this is a great way to get you thinking about your activities and how to get as much out of attending as possible. Participating is easy! Simply follow the #SQLChat hashtag on Twitter.

The #SQLChat is scheduled for Wednesday, October 24, 2018, at 11 AM Central Time (convert to your time zone).

 

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