#TSQL2SDAY 96 – Folks Who Have Made a Difference

This post is part of TSQL Tuesday, a monthly blog party. This month’s topic is “Folks Who Have Made a Difference”, by Ewald CressHere is my first TSQL Tuesday in a long time – way too long, actually.

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Diversity is so important to me; tech community is a place for people to grow and there are plenty of good hearts in it. I want everyone to feel welcome, really.

The reason that I got into community was that I attended my first ever community event, SQLBits in Birmingham. I was nervous and ready to leave when this super friendly guy came up to me, explained he worked for Microsoft and he chatted away and basically he made me stay for the next session.

He sat with me through the lightning talks session and he made me feel welcome. He’d gathered up a few ‘strays’ like me and I had a really nice day; and it helped me to go back.

thanks-1804597_1920That gentleman was Andrew Fryer and I have never forgotten his kindness and he’s inspired me ever since. Andrew probably doesn’t even remember, and it may have been a little thing to him. But for me, it was huge and it helped change my life. If we can all do ‘small’ things like this, they add up, right?

If it wasn’t for Andrew saying hello that day, I would have left and never gone back to any events, probably. So I want to say Thank You to Andrew for reaching out that day, and for all of his support ever since.

 

 

HR and Digital Transformation session in Dubai

Here are the slides for my session in Dubai, on HR and Digital Transformation. I talked a little about Excel, Power BI, SQL Server and Oracle, as well as some of the new ways in which Artificial Intelligence could help HR.

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I decided I would try and show courtesy to my hosts by wearing a headscarf. I appreciated their invite deeply and I am glad that I wore it.

My HR Summit and Expo 2017 session was held on 8th November at the Za’abeel Halls 5 – 6, Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Dubai. It was a truly amazing event with great content and fantastic networking. The audience were my ideal audience – really keen to learn how they could use data and technology for the purposes of the business. I would love to go back next year. I was fortunate to attend some of the other sessions and each one was a real gem. I took a lot of notes for my Executive MBA class so it was very useful from that perspective, too.

I tend to talk ‘around’ slides rather than read off them. How is your current Digital Transformation strategy performing? Are you part of an organisation which is struggling to know how to deal with your data? Do you think that you might have a Big Data problem, but you’re not really sure where to start? How do you get the experience, skills or techniques to get it right, faster and within budget? Digital Transformation is a hot topic with CEOs and the C-level suite, renewing their interest in data and what it can do to empower the organisation. As part of the Digital Transformation story, data can help to bring clarity and predictability to the HR leader to make strategic decisions, understand how their customers and employees behave, and measure what really matters to the HR team and the organization overall. Join this session to learn about effective principles and practices for Digital Transformation for the HR Leader. You will obtain advice and suggestions to help you to tackle these issues with Digital Transformation, Big Data and other issues to drive your organisation’s short and long term future, using data and Power BI.

Here are the slides:

Enjoy!

#MeToo and being a woman in Technology

Where do I start? I never wanted to write this story and I’m going to ask for your patience if this blog isn’t as polished as I would normally do. Instead of a braindump, this is a heartdump and I hope you’ll bear with me.

As always, this does NOT represent any organisation or entity other than myself. Note that THIS IS A TRIGGER WARNING and if you need to talk to someone, there are plenty of organisations that can help.

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You can tell a lot about a girl from her shoes. Some women have too many pairs. I used to wear high heeled shoes that looked like the shoes on the left. Fun, delicate and feminine. I call this phase the ‘Before Girl’.

Then, something happened to me. Something bad. My ordeal lasted for about seven hours. I don’t want to recall the details; I will just leave it there. To this date, I am not really sure how I got out but I got help from a passing cab driver who thought I’d been hit by a car and he took me to safety. The ‘Before Girl’ died and she was left somewhere dazed and in the cold; the ‘After Girl’ was born.

Unlike the young lady who wrote her letter here, I didn’t have a cyclist or two to help me. I’m further on in life than she is, from her story, and I wish her the absolute best and her bravery has inspired me to speak here. She has been a lighthouse for me. I never knew the identity of the taxi driver but I am forever grateful; I do not believe that all men are bad, and I do think of him sometimes because he reminds me that there are good people out there.

So what happened after? It impacted everything. Probably the most visible change you’ll see are shoes. I began to wear shoes that meant I could run far and fast if I ever needed to, to get away. So I started wearing flat shoes or trainers or Doctor Martens. I do wear heels sometimes but I usually have ballerina wraps in my handbag; a silver pair or a black pair.

I decided that I was no longer going to live my life in fear; I’d had enough taken from me already. I don’t want to live my life in fear dressed up as practicalities. So I realised that my strength had to come from me. I did lots of things, namely, try to become the ‘Before Girl’ again and not the ‘After Girl’ that I’d become.

About 8 years ago, I started to speak at technical events because I wanted to tackle my fears head on: standing up in a room full of men, everyone looking at me. So my first session was one hundred people, and since then, I’ve spoken all over the world, and my largest in-person audience was over six thousand people. I did lots of technical community work and I began to find my home there; I found friendship, and men who treated me as a person and an expert as I proved over and over again that I could teach and be relevant. I stopped being this afraid thing. I also learned from other people and I found some healing from my experience, simply from being part of the technical community.

I want to deeply thank the informal tech community of Microsoft and the Tableau community for giving me the opportunities that you have, and for helping me to find some healing there from the mostly great people I met. I have given a lot, but you have given me far more than you will ever know. Thank you.

I didn’t want to write about it at all, but my hand has been somewhat forced. I talked to a few people I trusted, in confidence, because the current thinking is that you should share and talk about your experiences. We live in an Oprah society; we are all supposed to talk about things. That didn’t work for me at all. I soon found that my confidence was broken and that this story was being talked about. I didn’t want my struggles to be my story. I want to talk about my failures, achievements and successes instead.

After I realized that my story was out, I felt more stricken than I’ve done for a long time. I felt I’d travelled to a different country, and came back speaking a language which nobody else knew and it was my only way to communicate. I didn’t know how far my story had feathers which carried themselves on the wind, and I’d never be able to catch all of the feathers. I felt isolated from the community where I had been working to heal myself and try to bring the ‘Before Girl’ back to life again. So I decided, after months of deliberation, just to front it out and here I am. The #MeToo campaign helped me, and I hope that this will help you, too.

When you tell people that you’ve been attacked, they look at you differently. There is a ‘look’ that people seem to give you and you know that’s what they are thinking about. There are two voices inside your head, as a victim; the first voice talks about the facts and what happened, and those facts absolve me. The second voice talks about what society thinks of you; how you were to blame, how you are tainted, and how you will always be guilty and ashamed, and held accountable. It’s at this point that my mind throws up a lot of turbulence. I was worried that people would hold the second voice about me, but not the first; not the facts.

So when you are in a state of fear, and I can only speak for myself here, you end up freezing and your limbs become weak and your hands can’t move and your eyesight dim like you’ve been rubbing your eyes too much, your ears hurt and the world goes silent. Thing is, at first, your mind-numbing, screaming fear is that you are going to lose the war over your body. Then, you do. In horror, you watch yourself lose the battle over your own body. Your fear shifts and moves on. Your new fear is that you are going to die. There is always another rung to fall down. If you have ever wondered what you think about when you are sure that you are going to die, then I can tell you with some certainty that you can only think of your loved ones and the loss that you are leaving behind, and how much grief that they are going to suffer and how changed they are going to be and how much you really really love them. Truthfully, all that’s left of us at the end, is who we hold tight in our hearts.

So, after all that, the ‘After Girl’ was going to have to adapt. I’m still me and I’m still there, underneath it all. I still want to be part of the community and talk tech and share my passions for what I do. It’s a big risk to be seen as the authentic ‘you’ but I am taking this risk; I won’t lose anyone I’ve already lost, and I won’t gain people I don’t have, right now. It’s zero sum. What I will have, however, is that I’ve risked being ‘seen’ in order to try and do something good with this experience. Ultimately, I can’t win but I have to make the choices that are right for me.

I saw the #MeToo campaign appear and I thought it is finally time to knock this on the head. I want people to know I’m okay and that I’m still here and I’m still me. If I was going to have a nervous breakdown, I’d have done it years ago. I didn’t want this part of my life to be used as some confirmatory bias that I’m not okay, and potentially turn out to further isolate and even inadvertently discredit me. I have had my lesson in human cruelty and I got through it, and I’m much stronger than people seem to think.

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So I’m getting out in front of it so that I take back some control and that people will talk to me about it, and not about me. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the #MeToo campaign. You have helped me feel less alone.

Honestly I don’t want my struggle to be my story, and I’m not sure how else to handle it. I’m fed up hiding and I’m fed up trying to catch feathers and I hope I can move forwards from here. I realized that I could live authentically as an imperfect person who wasn’t broken, but still shine brightly, casting out more light because of it. I’m hoping that other victims will find strength in themselves to keep going. I’m hoping more women will see that they have a home in the tech community too. I’m here, and you can be, too.

I’m also hoping that this will encourage new speakers. People sometimes tell me that they are ‘afraid’ to get up and speak. You’re not afraid; that’s privilege speaking from people who don’t really know what it means to feel fear. You might be nervous but you’re not in fear. If you want to speak, think about me; if I can do it, you definitely can.

I want to move past this, so let’s talk a little about what’s next for me?

Diversity Charter – I’m trying to set up a Diversity Charter so tech community orgs, such as user groups, can show that they are truly welcoming to people of different backgrounds.

Thought Leadership – I’ve also become attracted to thought leadership and I do industry analysis as a freelancer. I’m still interested in this part.

Events – I’ll continue speaking for as long as people want to hear me.

Diversity is important to me because it means I can try to find something good with what’s happened to me. I know what it feels like to be powerless and have your voice taken away from you. I know how it feels to have a second voice talk over the first voice; hold onto that first voice. Ultimately, I want to be able to find some meaning.  I’ll never be able to apologize to the women that were attacked after me since I was not the last in a line, it seems, and their experiences are a burden which I partially bear because I could not find the strength to speak out. If only I’d been more successful in getting my voice heard, their pain might never have happened. I’m doing it now because my voice is all I have. I want to try and make something good out of it. Diversity makes sense to make because it’s all about trying to make sure that everyone is included and they aren’t isolated from doing a job or a community activity that they love. And techies do love technology and everyone’s inner geek should be welcome.

What should you do if this happens to you?

These are just my opinions and they are given out of concern for your welfare:

Get yourself safe. Get away.  I was too injured and distressed to do anything other than let the taxi driver help me into the car. I had no phone and my bag had disappeared so I had no money.  I don’t recommend that you do the same thing; that’s just what happened to me.  Call the police. They will never criticize you for it and neither will anyone else. That’s what they are there for. Use your cell and photograph everything.

Call the Police and get medical help and every bit of evidence you can. You got this. Police Stations are the loneliest places on the planet. So when the police are looking at you across the table, they ask you things like ‘why didn’t you fight back then? If you didn’t fight back then you didn’t really say no, did you?’ remember that they are dialling up the second voice by playing around with the first voice, and that’s why so few cases go to court. This is what happens – people mix the first and second voices. I hope that, if you go to the police, you will keep that in mind and you will will make sure that the first voice ring true and that your ‘Before Girl’ gets to speak. And take someone with you, if you can.

There are plenty of organizations that can help you e.g. In the UK, you can call the national Rape Crisis helpline (run by our member Centre Rape Crisis South London) on 0808 802 9999 between 12 noon – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm every day of the year for confidential support and/or information about your nearest services. Put the number in your cell phone; if not for you, for someone else. Just in case. Oh, and that goes for guys, too; one of your female friends might need help someday.

If it’s a tech community event, tell the organisers but make sure you are safe first. Tell a friend.  I put the police first since they can also help you out.  PASS have the Anti Harrassment Procedure and I think that’s one of PASS’ greatest achievements. I think that other community events could adopt it although I’m not speaking officially for PASS here.

Don’t be hard on yourself. You got this and you’ll find unexpected friends along the way.

As for me? And maybe, one day, I’ll get back into high-heeled shoes for keeps. The ‘Before Girl’ has gone and this is her obituary, but the ‘After Girl’ understands what it means to value life and the importance of leaving something good for other people.

Life after serving on the PASS Board

I didn’t put myself forward for re-election to the PASS Board, and I officially step down on 31st December. I’ve always struggled with the question – why get involved in the tech community? If tech community is something that you think about, I can’t say it enough – it will change your life for the better. Please, don’t hesitate. I’m not leaving the community. I’m just going into a new phase and I’ll contribute in different ways.

About 8 years ago, I started to speak at technical events because I wanted to tackle my fears head on: standing up in a room full of people, everyone looking at me, in a very male oriented environment. So my first session was one hundred people, and since then, I’ve spoken all over the world, and my largest in-person audience was over six thousand people. I did lots of technical community work and I began to find my home there; I found friendship, and I’d specifically like to thank the community men who treated me as a person and an expert as I proved over and over again that I could teach and be relevant. I stopped being this afraid, shy, nervous thing. I also learned from other people and I found some friendship, simply from being part of the technical community. Gentlemen – you have such an important role to play in small and large ways and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those of you who care about these things, your voice and actions carry further than mine and, simply, thank you.

I want to deeply thank the informal tech community of Microsoft and the Tableau community for giving me the opportunities that you have, and for helping me to find some friendship there from the mostly great people I met. I have given a lot, but you have given me far more than you will ever know. Thank you.

Eventually I was elected to the board of PASS as a Non Executive Director and I hoped to make a difference, primarily in the fields of analytics and diversity. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. I thought that the influence would give me the ability to do good things for others. These are my passions. This didn’t work out as I’d hoped and, after four years of my life, I’ve decided that I won’t be putting myself forward for re-election. Hopefully the next person will find it easier to make a difference for EMEA, and be empowered to do things where I just could not have an impact. I’m going to do other things instead, and I’ll come on to those at the end.

I want to move past this, so let’s talk a little about what’s next for me?

  • MBA – I’m going to do my MBA. Academic success is something that I value. I learned a lot over the past four years but it’s time to spend time and effort on something that is for me. I’ll share my experiences in data-driven wisdom and I hope you’ll find it valuable as you grow in your careers.
  • Diversity Charter – I’m trying to set up a Diversity Charter so tech community orgs, such as user groups, can show that they are truly welcoming to people of different backgrounds. I’m hoping to be a part of the Diversity party that Microsoft are having. It’s easy for Diversity to start to mean ‘sticking pretty babes up on a stage’ and I’m hoping that the narrative doesn’t start to focus only on young women; it involves other aspects of people, such as age, disability, transgender identity, sexuality, race, faith and respect for other people.
  • Thought Leadership – I’ve also become attracted to thought leadership and I do industry analysis as a freelancer. PASS do Tech Leadership but that is not real Thought Leadership, which transcends technology. My efforts to have real Thought Leadership podcasts fell by the wayside and I only got two produced and the third one was never processed. I thought it would be a great way for PASS to connect, learn and share with industry thought leaders (not tech leaders) to promote the community at a more strategic level.
  • Events – I’ll continue speaking for as long as people want to hear me.

Diversity is important to me because it means I want to focus on something positive. I know what it feels like to be powerless and have your voice taken away from you. I want to be able to find some meaning in life and how we can help one another.  I’m doing it now because my voice is all I have. I want to try and make something good out of it. Diversity makes sense to make because it’s all about trying to make sure that everyone is included and they aren’t isolated from doing a job or a community activity that they love. And techies do love technology and everyone’s inner geek should be welcome.

 

Diversity Charter

For those of you looking for the Diversity Charter effort, you need to go here: https://diversitycharterblog.wordpress.com/

It is a team effort, not just me!

I’d love to see a Diversity Charter that user groups and communities could use, to show that they are welcoming and open to all members of the technical communities. I think that the charter could look something like this draft:

We believe that all members of the technical community are equally important.
We are part a tech community where we value a diverse network, and learn and share from one another:
regardless of age,
regardless of colour,
regardless of their ethnicity,
regardless of their religion or beliefs,
regardless of disability,
regardless of gender,
regardless of sexual orientation,
regardless of their race,
regardless of their ability or lack of ability,
regardless of nationality or accent.
We are a diverse tech community where we are all individuals with differences, but we are all members and we can all learn from each other.

I have other ideas:

  • A logo for the Charter. I have some ideas, but I’d be delighted for help
  • I have set up a Slack channel for people to discuss the Charter – please ping me on jen.stirrup@datarelish.com to find out more
  • I would love forums where people can ask questions and have community-led answers on how to be open and welcoming to people from different backgrounds. No question is a stupid question. The main thing is that you are talking about it with enquiry and openness in mind, in order to understand other people better. Nobody can fault you for having a kind heart that is trying to learn.

 

Azure Tools and Technologies Cheat Sheet

Don’t you think that the amount of Big Data technologies in Azure is very confusing? I’ve distilled some information from the official Microsoft Azure blog so it’s easier to read. Before we begin, here is a potted Hadoop history:

 

This cheatsheet contains a high level descriptions of the tools, APIs, SDKs, and technologies that you’ll see in Azure. Together, they are used in tandem with big data solutions, and they include proprietary Azure and open source technologies.

I hope that this cheat sheet will help you to more easily identify the tools and technologies you should investigate, depending on the function.

Function Description Tools
Data consumption Extracting and consuming the results from Hadoop-based solutions. Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS), Azure SQL Database,LINQ to Hive, Power BI, SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS),SQL Server Database Engine,SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
Data ingestion Extracting data from data sources and loading it into Hadoop-based solutions Aspera, Avro, AZCopy, Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS), Azure Storage Client Libraries, Azure Storage Explorer, Casablanca,Cloudberry Explorer, CloudXplorer, Cross-platform Command Line Interface (X-plat CLI),File Catalyst, Flume, Hadoop Command Line, HDInsight SDK and Microsoft .NET SDK for Hadoop, Kafka, PowerShell,Reactive Extensions (Rx), Signiant,SQL Server Data Quality Services (DQS),SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS),Sqoop,Storm,StreamInsight,Visual Studio Server Explorer
Data processing Processing, querying, and transforming data in Hadoop-based solutions Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS),Hcatalog, Hive,LINQ to Hive, Mahout,Map/reduce, Phoenix, Pig, Reactive Extensions (Rx), Samza, Solr,SQL Server Data Quality Services (DQS),Storm,StreamInsight
Data transfer Transfer  data between Hadoop and other data stores such as databases and cloud storage. Falcon,SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)
Data visualization Visualizing and analyzing the results from Hadoop-based solutions. Azure Intelligent Systems Service (ISS), D3.jx, Microsoft Excel, Power BI, Power Map, Power Query, Power View, PowerPivot
Job submission Processing jobs  in Hadoop-based solutions. HDInsight SDK and Microsoft .NET SDK for Hadoop
Management Manage and monitor  Hadoop-based solutions. Ambari, Azure Storage Client Libraries, Azure Storage Explorer, Cerebrata Azure Management Studio, Chef, Chukwa, CloudXplorer, Ganglia, Hadoop command line,Knox,Azure Management Portal, Azure SDK for Node.js,Puppet, Remote Desktop Connection, REST APIs,System Center management pack for HDInsight,Visual Studio Server Explorer
Workflow Creating workflows and managing multi-step processing in Hadoop-based solutions. Azkaban, Cascading, Hamake, Oozie,SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

Any questions, please get in touch at hello@datarelish.com

SQL Server on Linux for the Business Intelligence Professional: Getting your Database on the VM

In this edition, we will look at getting the database up on the Virtual Machine as a first step. Then, we will restore it using SSMS. I’m expecting that you will have done the pre-requisites that I laid out yesterday. You will also need to have connected to your database on the Azure Virtual Machine.

For this purpose, we will use the WideWorldImporters sample databases provided by Microsoft.

If you are doing this activity on your own database: Make sure that the database backup type is Full. Also, make sure you are backing up to disk. which is most likely to be found in this location:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup\

Connecting via SSH to the Azure Virtual Machine

This is when we start to use SCP (Secure File Copy) and SSH (Secure Shell) to copy our BAK file up to the Linux Virtual Machine.

We will use Git for Windows in this example. Here is how the commands look:

Bash Open Connection

I’m going to deal out the commands here because it will help you.

Firstly, you need to copy the Azure connection command from an earlier step. Mine looks like this:

ssh datarelish@13.68.23.71

Type yes to continue, and hit return

Enter the password that you created when you set up the Azure Virtual Machine

Let’s execute the dir command so we can see what is up there.

From the last line, you can see that the directory contains one file: test_data.txt

Copying the file from your local Machine to the Azure Virtual Machine

I find it easier to have another Git window open here. This will point at the local machine, whereas the other will point at the Azure Linux VM.

In this new Git window, we are going to use SCP to copy the file from the local machine up to the remote Azure Virtual Machine.

Change your Directory to the location where you have stored the WideWorldImporters database. My location is D:\773WorkingDirectory

You can use commands such as dir and cd to help you to navigate.

To get to my D drive, I typed cd d:

I then used dir to read out the files and folders on the D drive

I then used cd 773* to get to the Directory I wanted, which is called 773WorkingDirectory

When I got there, I used the dir command to get to the databases I wanted.

To copy the file to the Azure Virtual Machine, I then executed the following command from the D:\773WorkingDirectory folder:

scp WideWorldImporters-DW-Full.bak datarelish@13.68.23.71:./

This landed the data to my home\datarelish directory. I could then use the cp command to copy the file so that the backup file ended up in the /var/opt/mssql/data directory.

In the next post, we will look at restoring the database onto SQL Server on Linux.