Tag Archives: Training

Presenting: Presentation Mode!

As a presenter at events I am constantly trying to improve the experience of showing information in slides and transitioning back and forth to demos.

ZoomIt: An OK solution for a bad problem?

The most jarring aspect of this is making sure that demo code is visible to the audience. The fantastic ZoomIt allows a presenter to (surprise, surprise) zoom into portions of the screen and highlight/annotate code or information to the audience:

ZoomIt

First of all, the act of zooming can be disorienting to the audience. There is a flurry of zoom and scrolling activity to get to where you want to on the screen. After this, the actual presentation of the zoomed content usually works nicely enough. However, the zoom out must occur before moving back into the PowerPoint slide deck to continue with the next portion of the presentation.

This has been the only way to give a consistent and clear overview to an audience, particularly when SSMS was being used for demos. The issue revolves around the fact that although the T-SQL code editor window can resize fonts, the remainder of the SSMS interface is set in a single font type and size.

Many of you may have noticed that Microsoft made a key change in their deployment strategy with regards to SSMS when SQL Server 2016 was released. SSMS was decoupled from the core engine components and follows a much shorter release cycle. Since SQL Server 2016 was released to market in September, there have been at least 6 versions of SSMS released. This is fantastic, we now no longer have to wait for the next release of SQL Server (whether a full version or a service pack) for SSMS to get bug-fixes or feature additions.

This is now extremely important when we look at the issue around font sizes and types. Microsoft has paid attention and with their current Release Candidate (RC) for SSMS 17 they included a very important release note entry…..

Presentation Mode!

If we read the release notes, we see that there are three new tasks available via Quick Launch inside SSMS.

  • PresentEdit – This allows the fonts for presentation mode to be set
  • PresentOn – This turns on presentation mode
  • RestoreDefaultFonts – Reverts SSMS back to the default fonts after activating presentation mode

All three tasks are pretty easy to understand, although the final task highlights that a task to specifically turn off the presentation mode is currently missing (this is an RC after all).

The “Quick Launch” field can be found in the top right corner of SSMS 17.0 RC3 and begins searching as soon as we start to type in it:

Present

By choosing “PresentEdit” an xml file is opened in a new tab in SSMS, showing us the options that we can change to make SSMS look different when presentation mode is activated.

PresentEdit

We are presented with the option to choose font family and font size for both the text editor and, more importantly, for the environment in general (menus, object explorer etc.). This is where we can play around an find the fonts that work best in our presentations.

Using the values in my screenshot and launching PresentOn made a huge difference in font readability inside SSMS. The image below shows SSMS on the left in “standard” mode and in presentation mode on the right.

PresentOnSize

The difference is quite clear, all environment fonts are much larger and easier to read on during presentation mode. This is great for demoing SSMS during a presentation!

However, the biggest improvement is when we are querying data. In previous versions of SSMS the grid results were tiny when projected onto a wall. The only way to see the results were to either return the results as text (which has the downside of running off the right-side of the screen for larger result sets), or using ZoomIt and people getting motion sickness.

Now, with presentation mode on, the results grid is included in the font resizing:

PresentOnGridResultsSize

Praise be to the spaghetti monster! No more motion sickness required and attendees can concentrate their contempt at all the bullet points in the slide deck instead.

So if you are a presenter, or want to have more control over the fonts in SSMS, your wait is almost over…… or is over now if you are brave enough to install the RC of SSMS 17 🙂

Happy font-changing

You didn’t know that?! But that’s so obvious!

Rant-mode activated

Today I noticed a tweet from Andrew Prewski (@DBAFromTheCold)

Loving all the passive aggressive comments about my article on SQL on linux, keep ’em coming!

Andrew’s tweet piqued my interest and I went to look at his blog-post “Killing databases in SQL Server on Linux“. In the post, Andrew investigates how files are handled inside Linux, in particular how database files are handled. Go and read it, it is really interesting and a possible eye-opener for anyone who has no experience with Linux.

Now, the reason for this rant is the comments that came through from people who do have experience with Linux/Unix (go and read those too). Many of them boil down to basically scoffing at how Andrew didn’t know that Linux handles files differently to Windows and has done for years/decades. The tone of these comments were aimed to belittle Andrew for not knowing about this behaviour.

This pisses me off!

Maybe I’m just having a bad day or something, but it seems wrong to me that someone who is trying to learn should be made to feel in any way stupid for exploring something. It seems even wronger for this sort of behaviour to come from an area of the IT world which generally prides itself with the idea of “hacking”. The whole premise of taking a technology that you don’t understand and prodding, poking, dissembling and rebuilding – that is the “way of the hacker”, or at least how I have always understood it.

I for one hope that Andrew won’t be deterred by this shitty behaviour and also would hope that anyone reading this would think twice about how they respond to a similar situation. Everyone starts out at zero, not even Linus Torvalds was born being able to code.

Please remember: Don’t be condescending. Offer tips, advice or references to help, not ridicule.

Your presentation design matters more than you think

….. So give the design the attention it deserves!

I have been speaking/presenting at events around Europe for a few years now and have learned a lot about the art of speaking: Repeating questions back to the audience, surpressing “um” and “err” sounds, making eye contact with the audience etc. These are all well communicated best-practices across all industries when it comes to presenting information to both small and large audiences.

Something that is less written and talked about is the style or design of the supporting content.

Many people think of a presentation and the dreaded

  • Death
  • by
  • Bulletpoint
  • presentation

We’ve all been in one of those presentations before, unfortunately this happens more often than it should. The most regular (ab)users of this presentation method are our bosses/managers, who may be great managers but can be the worst presenters out there! Basically throwing up walls of text in PowerPoint and reading the words back to the audience.

After initially falling into this trap (though not quite as text-book fail as just outlined), I have tried to change my presentation style to engage the audience more and use PowerPoint for what it should be used; a support tool for the ideas I am trying to communicate, rather than a display for the content itself. The idea being, the viewer should see the slide and listen to me speaking and merge the two sources of input into their own understanding of the topic. When the audience member reviews the slides at a later date, they should be able to recall the topic and their ideas and continue to benefit from the session.

While trying out these ideas, I have searched online for inspiration and spoke with friends/colleagues about how they approach their presentations. This included some great discussions with Boris Hristov ( b | t ) and Cathrine Wilhelmsen ( b | t ) at the SQLKonferenz 2015 in Darmstadt, Germany. They gave me some ideas to help simplify my slide content and generally improve my presentations and make them more useful for the audience.

After these discussions, Boris obviously saw an opportunity to explore the area of presentation design as a service (I claim the trademark on PDaaS!). If you have ever seen Boris present, you will agree with me that Boris is the perfect person to tackle this idea. His presentations are so clear and to the point, that it seems obvious that he should offer his skills to people and companies that want to stand out from the crowd when presenting. He has proved this with his excellent Pluralsight course on the topic of presentation design.

Boris’ new venture is called 356labs and is focused purely on designing top-notch presentations and training people in presentation design, so that they can produce their own high quality content. Go and take a look at the portfolio page and you will see what I’m talking about. Boris has an eye for presentation design, which takes some complex topics and provides simplistic supporting slides that allow the viewer to concentrate on the topic at hand. So if you are looking for mentoring or training on presentation skills, be sure that 356labs with its top rated international speakers will be able to help you out.

I’m looking forward to what Boris has in store with 356labs and am sure that a lot of people will benefit from the service and advice he has to offer.

Good luck Boris!

Full day of training in Dublin!

UPDATE! Unfortunately SQL Saturday Dublin has been cancelled. This event will be re-scheduled at a later date.

 

Hot on the heels of the news of my training day at SQLSaturday Exeter, I am announcing another training day. This time I will be presenting a day of SQL Replication and Cloud Data Management on the Friday before SQLSaturday Dublin in June 2015.

I presented a session on Replication Troubleshooting at SQLSaturday Dublin last year and ran out of time with the one hour session and could have gone into more depth. After seeing the interest of Replication in the Irish SQL Server community, I submitted a proposal to the organisers of the Dublin event and the rest is history!

This will be a day taking a deeper look into the inner workings of SQL Server Replication, followed by an introduction into how you can move data between your on-premises database servers and the Microsoft Azure platform.

You can take a look at the details of the training day and register for a seat here: Deep Dive into SQL Replication and Cloud Connected Data Movement

I really enjoyed SQLSaturday Dublin last year and I am looking forward to another visit in June.

See you there!

SQLSaturday Exeter – Third time a charm!

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SQLSaturday Exeter

SQLSaturday Exeter 2015 – I’m there!

I have the great pleasure of announcing that I will be presenting at SQLSaturday Exeter 2015 in April 2015.

SQLSaturday Exeter is an extra special event for me. Not only is it a fantastically well run event, it is also the first conference that I ever presented at, way back in 2013. I had never spoken to a larger audience before and was a little nervous of speaking. However, once my session was over, I had found a new area for me to improve on and now love presenting on SQL Server. Since then, I have spoken at a variety of conferences and user groups around Europe and (hopefully) improved my presentation skills.

This time around, I have been asked to present a new topic: “Stories from the Trenches: Upgrading SQL with Minimal Downtime“, where I plan on showing how to use the high availability features of SQL Server to help perform upgrades whilst keeping downtime to a minimum.

But wait, there’s more!

As is the tradition of the organisers of SQLSaturday Exeter, they like to mix things up a bit and also try new speakers out (hence my chance back in 2013). This has lead them to also choose me to present a pre-conference training day session!

Check out the full list of speakers/sessions in this video created by the SQLSaturday Exeter team:

 

Being chosen for a pre-conference training day is another first for me and I am excited/scared/humbled/ecstatic to have been chosen to do this – many thanks to the SQLSaturday Exeter organisers, you brave fools!! 🙂

I will be presenting “SQL Server: An Introduction” and as the title suggests, this will be an introductory day, covering a set of basic information on SQL server. It is designed for accidental/occasional DBAs that have been using SQL Server for <12 months.

You can find a full description/abstract for my training day here: SQL Server: An Introduction

The training days are full day training sessions on one topic, priced at £150 per attendee (early bird rate).

The full list of available sessions is here: SQLSaturday Exeter Training Day – if you don’t fancy my session, there are 7 other sessions to choose from. I dare you to not find a session that could be useful to you! 🙂

See you in April!

I’m off to prepare my sessions and look forward to seeing you in Exeter in April.

Speaking at SQLKonferenz, Darmstadt

sqlkonferenz_banner

Jump to English Version

Ich spreche auf das größte SQL Server Konferenz im deutschsprachigem Raum, SQL Konferenz in Darmstadt in Februar!

Obwohl ich seit 13 Jahren in Deutschland lebe ist das nur das zweite Mal, dass ich als Sprecher in Deutschland auftrete. Ich kann zwar Deutsch (fast) fließend sprechen, bin dennoch mehr aufgeregt als wenn ich auf Englisch vortragen muss.

Meine Session heißt “Real World SQL 2012 -> SQL 2014: Migration einer AlwaysOn FCI/AAG Umgebung” und soll anhand eines Kundenprojektes, die tatsächlichen Überlegungen, Schritte und Stolpersteine aufführen, die zu einer Systemmigration gehören.

SQL Konferenz ist ein Konferenz über zwei Tage mit einem “Pre-Conference” Tag davor, wo einzelnen Themen etwas tiefer erläutert werden können. Schaut einfach in die Agenda rein um alle Sessions zu sehen. Es sind wirklich erfahrene und sehr gute Deutsche wie auch internationale Sprecher angemeldet.

Zudem, gibt es ein “Early Bird” Rabatt. Damit kann man €150 sparen wenn man sich bis Heiligabend anmgeldet, also schenkt euch ein frühes Weihnachtsgeschenk und registriert euch heute!

Wir sehen uns dann in Darmstadt in Februar 🙂


English Version

I have been chosen to speak at the largest SQL Server conference in the German speaking world, SQL Konferenz!

Although I have been in Germany for 13 years now, this is only the second time that I have had the opportunity to speak at a conference here. It is also the first time that I have been listed to speak in German (eek)!! I am fluent in German, using it on a daily basis, but this is still making me more nervous than speaking in English.

I will be presenting a new session this time, based on a real customer implementation of a system migration/upgrade from SQL 2012 to SQL 2014, including the addition of AlwaysOn Availability Groups. I thought it would be nice to offer a look at how a real-world project of this kind has actually been done, rather than sticking to the theory.

SQL Konferenz is a two-day conference with an additional pre-conference day with deep-dive, day-long sessions on a few different subjects. Check out the agenda to see what sessions are on offer – there are 40 sessions on the two conference days, with plenty of extremely good national and international speakers.

Also, there is an “Early Bird” offer available which can save you €150 on the standard registration price. This offer is only available until Christmas Eve, so go and treat yourself to an early Christmas present and register now!

So if you are planning your training for next year and would like to visit Germany, combine the two and come and visit SQL Konferenz.

Wir sehen uns dort 🙂

Speaking at SQLSaturday 356 Slovenia

SQLSat Slovenia

I have been selected to speak at one of my favourite SQLSaturdays – in Ljubljana. I will be presenting my session “Replication: What, How, Why” which I have presented before at a few other events.

As I understand it, the event is actually full up. This means two things:

  1. You are registered and will be attending: Yay for you, please make sure you do attend. If you can’t attend, please make sure to de-register so that other people may have the chance to attend instead.
  2. You are not registered and would like to come: Put your name on the waiting list and hope that you can attend.

I’m really looking forward to coming to Ljubljana again, it is one of my favourite cities and is especially beautiful in the winter.

If you can make it to SQLSaturday Slovenia, come and say “Hi”. I’ll only be on a flying visit, landing in Slovenia on Saturday and leaving again on Sunday, but I intend to enjoy myself for the brief time I’m there.

See you in 9 days!