Category Archives: Uncategorized

SQL Saturday Atlanta – 2015 is in the books!

One of my favorite technology events every year is SQL Saturday. For the past few years it’s been held at Georgia State’s Alpharetta campus. Each year I’m newly amazed by the huge turnout at this event, which is always sold out with a couple of dozen people standing around check-in early in the morning just hoping to get in. It always makes me realize that SQL Server is a big deal!

Some of this years tracks included Big Data & Data Science, Powershell, BIML, BI, ETL/SSIS, Reporting & Visualization, and DBA. I found myself glued to the big data track with sessions so interesting I couldn’t bring myself to leave the room! My favorite session for the day was Sentiment Analysis with Big Data by Paco Gonzalez, which touched upon data mining techniques including natural language processing and text mining Twitter data for sentiment and tone analysis. Pretty cool stuff!

SQL Saturday events are held worldwide throughout the year. You can check the schedule for events in your area on this site which lists them all.

http://www.sqlsaturday.com/

 

 

AWSome Day Atlanta was pretty awesome!

I was excited when earlier this year I noticed the announcement of AWSome Day coming to Atlanta. We don’t get many events from Amazon in Atlanta…or at least not to my knowledge we haven’t…and so this one was a must attend for me.  And I have to say that after attending yesterday, on the 2nd of April, I was definitely not disappointed!20150402_091354

It was a full day of lecture by Nathan Hast (@sagenate), a technical trainer at Amazon, covering all the basics of Amazon Web Services. While  I’ve been using Amazon Web Services for storage now for many years and I’ve experimented with EC2, I really didn’t know much about all the other services so hearing them all explained over the course of the day was very helpful and provided me with a much better insight into how both large and small technology solutions can and should be architected on the AWS platform.

20150402_120635_LLSThe event was held at the Intercontinental  Hotel in Buckhead…starting at 9am and ending at 3:45. Afterwards there were really nice all you could eat hors d’oeuvres and a happy hour with free drinks on the hotel patio. Lunch was also awesome with tomato basil soup and three kinds of gourmet pizza. This was a first class event much appreciated by everyone I talked to.

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I’m not sure how many people attended but it looked like hundreds. They were virtually all men by the way. I don’t think I saw more than a dozen women at the event. We’ve really got to get more women into technology!

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At the end they announced another AWS event coming to Atlanta on June 9th…AWS Big Data Solutions Day…also being held at the Intercontinental Hotel.  I’ve already signed up!

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Google IT Executive Summit

Today I attended Google’s IT Executive Summit at the swanky Westin Buckhead…which was nice since the hotel is located just two miles from my house…making my morning commute so much better than usual.

I don’t get the opportunity to attend many Google events so I made sure not to miss this one (someday I’m going to make it all the way to Google I/O in San Fran).

Presentations were packed with information about Google Enterprise Apps…which I love and use constantly all day every day. I picked up some useful tips from the demos…several of which have already been of benefit. And learned a few new interesting facts I can use to amaze friends, for example, I didn’t know Google is the 4th largest server manufacturer in the World…how’d that happen?

I also learned some useful info I’d been missing with regard to storage limits on Google Apps accounts. I manage a premium Google App account at work, and I’ve never understood how much storage space we actually have on all the different services…both for the individual and for the overall account. It turns out each individual gets 25 gig for gmail and unlimited storage for Google Docs! Now that we can upload any type of document into a docs account there is a limit on storage for these non Google Doc documents of one gig per account. And for Google Sites a premium Google Apps account has 10 gig plus 1/2 gig per individual account. So for example if your premium account has 100 individual accounts the total storage you would have available for all sites is 10 + 50 gig for a total of 60 gig.  Good to know!

The venue at the Westin was packed with customers and fans of Google….it was a very good turnout. Actually I believe it was full…a “sold out” free event.

Oh and I have to mention the breakfast was wonderful…eggs, bacon, ham, fruit, grits, and more….yum 🙂

Looking forward to the next Google event in Atlanta.

July WordPress Meetup was all about SEO

Really enjoyed the July WordPress meetup at Urban Oasis B&B in Inman Park. Bret Phillips gave a great presentation on SEO techniques for a WordPress site. He provided some cool tips which I plan to explore with my sites. After Bret’s presentation the room broke up into groups for discussing specific topics. I was sitting on the couch in the back which ended up being the WordPress beginner group led by Judi Knight. The woman sitting next to me is trying to startup a WordPress consulting business…just now learning about WordPress. I really enjoy meeting all these people who are running new creative class businesses based on WordPress…it’s one reason I like to attend the WordPress meetups every month.  As usual Judi provided beer and food (pizza) for the meetup. This is still the best meetup in Atlanta IMHO. I look forward to it every month.

Is Google Wave Succeeding?

This is an excerpt from a Wave posted by John Blossom. (jblossom@googlewave.com).  I don’t think I can link to a wave from my blog so I had to copy/paste and give John credit. It’s a good review of Wave pros and cons that I wanted to make it available here (outside of Wave).

While Google Wave is only in a technical preview, it’s an aggressive program to expose its capabilities to a wide range of everyday people – and, in the process of doing so, building buzz to get people excited about its possibilities. This, in turn, is expected to drive the development of applications and gadgets that will enhance the value of its API and underlying protocols. As developers see an audience growing, more functions will be available through Wave APIs.

It’s easy to forget that what we see in Wave today in this preview is just that – an HTML 5 application that helps Google to exercise the underpinnings of the Wave protocol and API. For those of you viewing this wave on Apple platforms via Waveboard you already have a taste of how Wave apps, like apps used to extend the capabilities of platforms such as Twitter and WordPress, can accelerate the power of Wave to adapt to many uses.

Still, what most people will encounter as their “hello world” experience of Wave will be the standard Web browser-based application. What are some of the early pros and cons that Wave is showing from this general debut? Here are a few thoughts:

Pros

  • Rapid and effortless collaboration. While Wave as it exists today is not a replacement for every type of collaborative communication, it is truly amazing how effective it can be for 80 percent of what most people need out of a collaboration platform. Simple messages can turn into document repositories and in turn become knowledge repositories as people edit those document and add their comments. After years of trying to get other collaborative platforms to succeed, Wave’s instant ability to attract participation will be one of its strongest powers.
  • A unique blend of real-time messaging, applications and online documents. While it can be frustrating at times dealing with Wave’s flexiblity, the ability of Wave to support a number of styles of publishing and communications simultaneously in a single document is perhaps its greatest strength. In an instant you can embed an application into a wave to gather data or share multimedia, video and voice exchanges. A comment can become a chat instantly. Casual notes can be structured into more formal documents rapidly and collaboratively. Best of all, many of these can happen in ways that the originator of a wave may have never expected when it started. It’s the closest thing to what really happens in natural collaborative settings yet invented, in my view.
  • No reason ever to use email. Is there some reason why we’re forced to use a communication system in which 90 percent of the content is about drugs and physical relationships that we really don’t ever want to think about? Even when email works, the idea of sending a communication “to” someone is entirely different from the Wave concept of inviting someone “into” a communication. There will still be a place for “to”-style communications in a Wave-centric world, but Wave represents a better way to communicate, more like popping your head into someone’s office than sending a memo.
  • A second Read/Write Web. In its early phases it’s perhaps hard to think ahead to the full impact of what Wave offers the world, but in a sense I see Wave as a new communications environment not so different from the early World Wide Web. You can link to Web content in Wave, of course, but mostly people seem to wind up referring to content in Wave itself. Wave isn’t just email or messaging on steroids, it’s a new publishing environment that can have global, enterprise or cross-enterprise impact as easily as the Web itself. In this I think that Wave may have a substantially more powerful impact on the Web overall than Twitter or, probably, Facebook, which offer very specific types of content that cannot be expanded or referenced all that easily.

Cons

  • Poor “day one” orientation. Granted, the preview version of Wave is really not meant for your average novice, but even many social media veterans invited into wave take one look, say “Huh?” and are never heard from again. The basic videos that Google provides are useful enough, but in general the lack of pre-populated contacts for many people, no documentation supporting the public channel and the still-restricted invite system have limited participation to just a few enthusiasts for the most part.
  • Immature interface. Well, we have to be fair, what was email like forty years ago when it was invented? Google Wave’s preview app is years ahead of primitive email systems, but it still lacks a lot of basic usability and control options. This discourages people from using it productively. One of my ongoing complaints: why can’t I have a checkbox feature in the inbox that will allow me to apply an action like “archive” to multiple waves? Come on, Google, get us productive on this ASAP.
  • Poorly deployed public communications. The ability to publish and access content on a public channel on Wave is perhaps one of its most powerful features, enabling any conversation to turn into a global conversation very rapidly. But it’s also one of its most poorly implemented feature, kludgy at best to use and not tied into any sort of permissioning service. That’s good enough for a preview, but far from good enough for production versions of Wave applications. Hopefully the “Requests” channel becomes more useful as a way to filter public waves for consumption and participation.
  • Major privacy issues. To get things going Google has made it easy as pie to grab people’s Wave addresses to put in their Contacts list. How long will that stand the test of spammers looking to build up mailing lists, inviting everyone they can into their waves? Judging by some of the addresses and bots already on Wave, I think that the seeds of spamming are already sown. There needs to be a permission-based method for people to communicate with one another on Wave when they expose their participation in a channel outside of their trusted network.
  • Lackluster performance. While each day brings some modest improvements to the overall performance of Wave, in general any wave of any size tends to choke at some point or another, either in pulling it up, editing or archiving. Perhaps the new release of the Chrome browser is intended to mitigate some of those performance issues, but in the meantime if you click on a document to have it go out of your inbox, well, it should do that pretty lickety-split. All in time, but in the meantime first impressions abound of a poorly performing platform.

Overall, I do think that Wave is headed towards a major success, though. Its strategy is sound, aimed squarely in the gaps between other offerings such as the Web itself, enterprise services like SharePoint and CRM services and real-time messaging and social networking services. Google seeks out the “80 percent” solution oftentimes, leaving the other 20 percent needed to satisfy people to niche products or applications that can be driven by Google content and services. With that in mind, I do think that Wave will represent one of the most powerful 80 percent solutions available since browser-based Web access was introduced in the mid-1990s. In other words, it’s huge.

—- Wave posted by John Blossom

WordPress Meetup in Atlanta

IMG_7166Attended my first WordPress meetup in Atlanta last night. Location was a new co-working facility just off Ponce called Ignition Alley.  The presenter was Brett Bumeter, former corporate whistle blower and now WordPress theme designer and evangelist for Artisteer, a new and popular WordPress theme development tool. I saw Brett deliver a similar presentation on Artisteer back in September at Birmingham WordCamp so I made the effort to see him speak at the October WordPress meetup in Atlanta. The title of Brett’s presentation is “Design Your First WordPress Theme in Minutes”  and covers the basics of Artisteer as well as some advanced techniques like automatically switching themes depending on page.  I have not previously considered applying multiple themes per site until hearing Brett’s presentation. Artisteer makes using multiple themes per site easy since you can simply tweak a saved theme in Artisteer and save it as a new theme. And then using a short php code snippet provided by Brett it’s a piece of cake to switch themes depending on the page being displayed. Pretty cool. Due to the holidays the Atlanta WordPress meetup won’t meet again until 2010. I’m looking forward to future meetings.

Atlanta Web Designers Group July meetup

Thursday evening I attended my first meetup of the Atlanta Web Designers held at the Portfolio Center on Bennett Street. The meetup was well attended with approximately 50 members. The main speaker was Brandon Eley who presented some great tips on incorporating marketing into the design process for your website. I picked up several valuable techniques that I will definitely use. For example the number one question to ask when building a Website is “What do you want your visitors to do?” Make sure it’s clear on each landing page exactly what action you most want a visitor to take. Make it stand out. Brandon mentioned that often sites are designed around the company organization chart. But it is far more effective to design with verbs and adverbs that guide visitors to take whatever action you want them to take…like “Buy Something” or “Download a demo”.

Volunteers were requested to submit a website for critque by Brandon and the group. I volunteered a website I’ve been supporting and in return received some valuable feedback (and a copy of Brandon’s new book). I’m looking forward to the August meetup of AWDG.

Mobile Camp Atlanta at King Plow

Saturday, July 18th I attended Mobile Camp Atlanta 2009, an barcamp-style event held at the King Plow Center on Marietta Street. The topic of this unconference was development of applications for mobile platforms with most sessions focused on iphone. The King Plow center, a renovated plow factory (1902-1986) is a fantastic venue to host an event. Sponsors including Georgia Tech Research Institute provided a great breakfast spread with the best selection of fruit I’ve ever seen at any event. I appreciated the unconference hours, 8:30am until 12:30pm, so it was a good way to start off the weekend without taking up too much of the weekend. Perfect timing.