Speaker of the Month, October 2013

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This month I saw several good speakers talking on a variety of topics. Making this choice was hard. I’m really glad people don’t know who I’ve decided not to pick because I would be singularly unpopular.

The rules for speaker of the month are simple. This is an utterly arbitrary and random decision made by me based on criteria that crosses the gamut from careful evaluation of speaker skills, to reading chicken guts, to the random coin toss. In short, I pick, my way, no whining. But, I really, really want you to have a blog (or something like it) that I can point people to.

That said, I’m making an exception this month (see arbitrary and random above). I’m doing this because I really enjoyed the session, Stop That, of the October Speaker of the Month, David Moutray (David, please, blog some).

Now, you read the abstract at the SQL Saturday link and you may think you’re going to hear about query tips or maybe .NET calls, but instead it’s a talk about development processes and methodologies and it has absolutely AWESOME insights for DBAs and developers alike. I was flummoxed by David’s opening question: What is the greatest weakness of SQL Server? Want to talk about thought provoking stuff. David’s answer was, in a nutshell, App developers don’t get it. He expands on what exactly he means, at length, through the session. But, it’s not a “bash the developers” session. He brings out really interesting points, especially admonishing DBAs that they need to talk to developers on their terms. Further, that DBAs have to be nice about it. Glorious stuff. I couldn’t agree more. David brings out all sorts of personal stories along with the great information. I love the whole concept he goes into on Cargo Cult Programming (look it up or find David’s next event) because I’ve seen it occur, exactly as he described. He told a great story with a very minimal set of slides. He really engaged the audience and we had a bunch of animated and interesting discussions that David handily kept right on topic. Several times David brought up his main theme, people are more important than process. It was a great session.

But, every session could stand some improvement. First up, I’d strongly recommend getting that abstract punched up a little. This is great stuff and I’m sure more people would see it if the abstract was a little more clear. I love the title. While I thought the sparse slides worked really well because of your story telling ability, a couple of the slides, unfortunately the important ones, were not that clear. Especially that slide on Data Integration Knowledge Wisdom. It was hard to read. Just a little more coordination between the slides and the story would make all the difference.

As one “sort of fellow that managers spend a lot of time talking to” to another (and yeah, I wrote that down word for word, it was fantastic), keep it up. You’re doing great work. We need to get this kind of session out to more people. If you read this David, please, post in the comments where you’ll be presenting it next. Everyone should go.


  • David Moutray

    If the event organizers accept my submission, I hope to give this presentation at SQL Saturday in Portland, Oregon on November 16. I’ve changed the title to “Developers vs. DBA’s: Cats and Dogs”. I’ve also changed the abstract to the following:

    “Application Developers focus on delivering working code, while DBA’s focus on Data Quality. Since developers vastly outnumber us, we must – somehow – persuade them that our objectives are important, too. This, in turn, requires that we understand the source of the conflict and learn to see the world from multiple points of view.”

    By the way, Grant, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to ask that question of a number of job applicants “What is the greatest weakness of SQL Server?”. Your answer (Statistics) was the first I’ve heard that made sense. 🙂

  • Thanks for posting David. And thanks for the kind words.

    As to statistics being the greatest weakness, you just caught me on a day where that was near the front of my head. Catch me on another day and I might give a different answer.

    Loved the session. Keep it up.

OK, fine, but what do you think?