Setting up an online time capsule for your children, using OneDrive

I’ve set up an online time capsule for my son, which constitutes all my photos of him and us together.

The death of Peaches Geldof prompted me to think about what would happen if/when I die? What memories would my son have of me? I see from the news that Peaches Geldof took a lot of family photos. 
Like most people, I have a lot of CD, DVD drives etc with lots of photos and videos on them. I doubt someone would take the time to go through all of these media drives for photos; certainly, I never bother.

I didn’t want those photos and memories to be lost. Since my son and I do a lot together, there are a lot of photos of him but not so many of us together, because I am the one holding the camera. I am going to change that. I’ve decided that I will ask passers-by to take our photographs together more so we have photos together.

How did I set up my online time capsule? So what I have done is this:

– I’ve set up a OneDrive account for my son, with an email address and a password which I have given to him. Go to for your free account.
– I’m going through all those hard drives, flashes, old phones etc with photos on them
– I am categorising them roughly by date, and creating a folder for each year.
– I’m then uploading all the photos, by year, onto OneDrive using my son’s email address and password.
– I have also done the same for my father. He is my backup.

It’s a gift that never stops giving 

Women in Technology: Children at Technical Conferences

I read a post with the same title by Tim Radney, which I loved. In his post, which I suggest you read, he talks about taking his son to a technical conference. I thought I’d write a little bit about my experiences taking my son to a couple of User Groups in the UK. A few months ago, Mark Broadbent (SQL DBA guru and a great friend of mine) needed a speaker at the last minute for his Cambridgeshire PASS Chapter user group. I said I would do it, but I’d have to bring my eight year old because it would be too late to get a babysitter. Very fortunately, Mark agreed that I could bring my son.  At this point, I have to thank Mark for his patience with my son, who now calls him ‘his big friend Mark’. Mark introduced him to games on the mobile phone and didn’t mind that my son ate more food than anyone else! To introduce my son to everyone, I asked him to offer everyone a chocolate and then everyone settled to hear my Big Data session. My son and I went home happy.

I run HUGSS, a SQL Server user group in Hertfordshire. I’ve taken my son on the odd occasion, and he sits really nicely, reads quietly whilst the adults are talking, and eats as much as he gets his hands on. We are a very small group at the moment, and so far, nobody has minded too much. 

For those of you who haven’t worked it out already, I’m a single mother and have been for a good while now. I play mum and dad. For me, the hardest bit of being a parent is “teaching your child how to walk, and then teaching them how to walk away”. I didn’t set out to be a single mum and it wasn’t the life that I had planned for myself, but we are where we are. I do the best mum and dad combined roles that I can do. I love my job, I love the sqlfamily that I come across, and most of all, I am blessed, really blessed, to have a smart, wise, loving little boy in my life with a big generous heart and wonderful chuckle who opens my eyes and teaches me something new every day. He loves cuddles and TS Eliot poems about cats. He loves soldiers, Nerf, lego, iCarly, Hallowe’en, ice cream with sprinkles on top and loves being read limerick poems. I count myself lucky each and every day. I want more than anything to make his dreams come true and give him the brightest, best future that is in my power to do so.

So, in my role of mum and dad, I used to worry what people would think of me as a ‘single mum at a tech conference’ as an attendee, presenter or organiser. There tends to be less female attendees, and I wonder what percentage of those are in my demographic. I then wondered if perhaps other women worried as I did, that I would be odd-one-out. Then it struck me that perhaps, by sharing my story, that perhaps other women who share my life experiences might realise that actually, it isn’t an issue. People accept you for who you are. Community is community. I believe one hundred percent that there is no community as welcoming as the ‘sqlfamily’ and I have found my ‘home’ there. You already have a shared passion for tech and everybody is learning, and if I can do this, anybody can. 

Otherwise, I’ve never taken him to a larger conference and we are both not ready to do that. I think that it would be too much for him (he is only 8, after all!). I’m a mum before anything else, and I’d be fully involved looking after him than I would in doing community work or helping people with SQL Server or BI questions. When he is older and might benefit from the experience, such as doing computing science at secondary school, then I might be more inclined to take him so that he can be inspired by meeting some of the brightest minds in tech at sql server conferences, for example.

Normally I try to keep my family life separate from my professional and community life, but Tim’s blog celebrated family and technology, and inspired me to write a little so I’ve shared a few thoughts here. My experiences and opinions will be different from other people’s, but I had hoped that these thoughts might help someone somewhere.


New to SQLPass Summit or Charlotte?

I’ve travelled five thousand miles to come to SQLPass Summit, and now I’ve arrived! I’m writing this blog with extreme jeglag so please excuse any errors. So, what should an out-of-town Brit do in Charlotte when not at SQLPass Summit 2013 sessions?  
Here are some ideas:

SQLSentry are showing their usual stellar community support by offering a SQLSentry Shuttle, which will take you around. See here for more details. Make sure to bring your name badge and ID! Here are more ideas:
  • PASS Photowalk: Join Pat Wright and other #sqlfamily members for a morning of photography.
  • Exhibitor Reception: Eat, drink, and see all the latest solutions. Remember to get your PASS to Prizes card stamped by all participating sponsors and exhibitors.
  • #SQLKaraoke: Join Pragmatic Works for karaoke with a live band!
  • Kilt Thursday: Join Grant Fritchey and clan clad in your kilt!
  • Community Appreciation Party: We’ve reserved Charlotte’s iconic NASCAR Hall of Fame for all attendees to enjoy. Sponsored by Microsoft and PASS.
I hope to see you at these event!
Kind Regards,

Speaking at Raona SharePoint Day on 2nd October in London

I’m speaking on Business Intelligence and SharePoint at the Raona SharePoint day on 2nd October. You can follow Raona on Twitter for news

With demos of Vodafone, Telefonica and Ecoembes, it will be good to see SharePoint in action. Sometimes people need examples so that they can see what to do with technology, and to spark ideas. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; technology is essentially a creative process, so why not take a look at what others have been trailblazing in the field.

If you’d like to register, here is the link and I hope to see you there.

How do you introduce yourself to people at SQLPass Summit?

In less than two weeks, I’ll be on a flight from London to Seattle to attend the SQLPass Summit at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, WA.  Essentially I will be travelling a round trip of 10,000 miles and seven time zones to be there.  Why would a Scottish girl, born in Kilmarnock and now living in the Home Counties, end up at the SQLPass Summit, I hear you ask?

SQLPass Summit 2012 will be my second Summit, and it already feels like what we Scots call a ‘homecoming’. I mean this in the traditional Scottish sense of far-flung people who return to their home – I think, in the US, the word ‘homecoming’ has lots of different meanings. As a Scot, I see it as a ‘trip home’ where you belong, a warm place. Summit is s a great place to meet people who are as passionate and excited about SQL Server and data as I am. I love meeting other Business Intelligence specialists, and we often swap ‘horror stories’ about deployments and projects. There is a real sense of community that happens outside the sessions. 

So, it is worthwhile to attend SQLPass Summit? I’m travelling thousands of miles to do so, giving up my vacation time. This is my second Summit. I’m a ‘repeat customer’ since I felt at home amongst people who ‘get it’ about SQL Server. That doesn’t mean that everyone is an expert; there are real experts, and ‘newbies’ who just want to learn. That’s why they have a range of sessions from beginners to experts. Further, I think it is impossible to know everything about SQL Server. As a product, it is simply too big now. In version 6.5, maybe. However, there are so many ‘veins’ to SQL Server, it’s possible to wear some ‘hats’ more comfortably than others. Some of the beginner sessions allow me to learn about new areas of SQL Server that I don’t normally get the chance to explore; it allows me to have ‘me time’ to get the ‘skinny’ on a topic – otherwise I don’t get the chance!

How do you introduce yourself and start chatting to technical people, for example, other SQLPass Summit delegates? It’s tough walking up to someone you don’t know, in a large conference. I know – I still get very shy when I meet new people. Here’s a tip: if you fancy chatting to someone, then just try one of the speakers and/or volunteers. I tend to ask people (a) their name (b) what they love most about the technology and (c) a bit about their role, and how they got there. I try this trick since I’m shy myself, and find it easier to draw someone else to talk than do it myself. At SQLPass Summit, there will be a lot of DBAs, devs, and Business Intelligence people around, so you will probably have shared experiences in doing similar things. One reason I do speak is to overcome my shyness. I think that is has helped to ‘manage’ shyness better, rather than having it go away.

Saying ‘hi’ to one of the speakers or volunteers is a great way to start; they will know their way around, and, by definition, the ‘speakers’ will like to speak! SQLPass Summit is a friendly place, and I hope that people will feel at home there – a ‘homecoming’ of SQL Server fans.

I have to mention that I’m also speaking – twice! Since Summit is the pinnacle of the US SQL Server scene, I want to emphasise that this is a huge honour and I’m tremendously grateful to have been picked. The speakers all work very hard to try and make sure that the audience learn something.  Here are my topics:

Business Intelligence and Data Visualization in SQL Server 2012 [BID-204]

Mobile Business Intelligence for Everyone, Now! [BID-102]

If you do see me around, please come up and say ‘hi’. I can introduce you to other people, and I’m more than happy to share my love of Business Intelligence to anyone who will listen.

If you’ve any other tips for ‘ice breakers’, please feel free to post in the comments. I will learn from your feedback, too! Thank you in advance.

See you there!

SQLSaturday Cambridge Swag!

Here is a picture of the Copper Blue swag that we’re giving away to attendees of the Cambridge SQLSaturday 162 event that’s being held on 8th September.

There’s still time to register for my precon, but there are only a few places left so you’ll need to be quick! No, I’m not just saying that 🙂

It’s a foldable water bottle with a carabiner so you can attach it to your laptop, clothing, bike or whatever. We wanted to give away something useful and practical. It holds nearly half a litre!


Event: Now that’s what I call the worst Data Visualisation in the world… Ever!

At SQL Saturday Cambridge on 8th September, myself and Allan Mitchell will be hosting an event entitled ‘Now that’s what I call the worst Data Visualisation in the world… Ever!’

This will be our lunchtime sponsor slot as Copper Blue Consulting.  Now, we understand that lunchtime sponsor slots at sessions are normally some ‘downtime’ for you to have lunch and text your friends 🙂 We don’t intend to do anything that might bore people, so we thought we’d have some fun instead!

This is the intended format…..

– we will bring along some data visualisations that will make you cringe!
– we will have a debate about what’s wrong with them, and invite your participation…. even if it is just to say ‘Ew!’

How you can participate –

Bring along any bad data visualisations that you find on the Internet. Let’s have a quick review and have some fun!

Caveat: Let’s not bring any data visualisations that you, or a colleague, has done in the workplace. We won’t have anything that belongs to a specific company.

If you want some inspiration, here are some examples of 3D floating, gradient-enhanced pie charts done by no other than the clever people over at Apple.

As a final note, if you’ve registered for SQLSaturday Cambridge 162, and can’t attend, then please be a community sport and de-register to let someone have your place. It’s all karma, and you may well get it back one day!