Monthly Archives: May 2010

My Browser has Grown Up

I have been a big fan of Google Chrome browser. I have been using it for about 6 months now. It is in my opinion way faster than IE and just seems less bulky. I was never a big user of FireFox but I do know that many IT folks tend to gravitate toward that browser. I’m just a Google fan I guess. I use the photo editing software Picasa that they provide and it works for my needs.

I was pretty frustrated by one main thing. I have become a big fan of Delicious recently and there was not a Tag applet for Google Chrome. There was some work around they had posted for a bit but it never seemed to work for me. Well I just happened to go look again the other day and they now have one. You can find it here. If you are not using this tool I highly recommend it. It essentially becomes my list of articles to go back and read. I often get a fire hose of good stuff and not enough time to read them all when I get them. I end up with 30 tabs open on my browser hoping to read them all that day. Sometimes this just doesn’t happen and I need to bookmark them for a better time. Today is one of those days, Friday before a holiday weekend, parking lot is half empty and not 1 email in the past hour. Perfect day to catch up on the reading and learning that I say I’m always going to do.

I simply tag the page and then every so often I go back in to Delicious and look at the last few things I have bookmarked. Read what I want, add comments and Tag appropriately so I can find them again when needed. I can access from any computer so this works well for things I find interesting at work that I want to get back to maybe at night.

I know that Delicious can do so much more but for me it’s simply a tickler file of things to get back to. It’s working well and I’m glad that Brent Ozar turned me on to this great app from this article. If you care to follow what I’m tagging you can find my list here.

If you have not tried this out I suggest you give it a try.

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Using My Geek on the Field

Rules, Rules, Rules
In coaching a youth sport team there are many rules that need to be followed. Mostly to keep things fair, and ensure that each kid on the team has the ability to learn and appreciate the sport you are coaching and teaching them. I have done my fair share of coaching and one thing I always like to do is ensure that playing time is fair an equitable. In recent years I have noticed a trend where the rules at various levels actually dictate this, which is a great thing.

On our baseball team each player has to play at least 1 inning of infield and 1 inning of outfield to ensure everyone is getting fair playing time. In addition we want to make sure that the time on the bench is evenly distributed. Yes we want to win but we also want everyone to have fun and learn as well. You don’t learn much spending the entire season in right field in 9 year old baseball. To help with the games and to ensure that everyone knows where they need to be we needed a system. One of the coaches put a very simple Excel spreadsheet together with players down the rows and innings along the columns. This was a big step in the right direction, but took an exceptional amount of time to update each week. We wanted to move the batting order around, get playing time at different positions, etc.

The problem is that the amount of time and effort required to help coaching continues go up as more care and detail are required. As always with a more quality experience comes more effort. It’s simply not my nature to just spent more time, I want to find better way. So in doing so I now have a new favorite Excel function, countif(). I figured this out by asking my favorite Excel guru who sits just 2 rows away. This guy can do anything in Excel and I knew he would have the answer.

Solution

In the end what I did was very simple, essentially we have some tally columns to the right that count the number of times each kids has an Infield, Outfield, or is sitting. The function are a bit lenghtly but really quite simple. This could be expanded on but for us this was all we needed.

Infield =COUNTIF(C2:H2,”1B”)+COUNTIF(C2:H2,”2B”) +COUNTIF(C2:H2,”SS”) +COUNTIF(C2:H2,”3B”) + ¬†+COUNTIF(C2:H2,”P”) + +COUNTIF(C2:H2,”C”)

Outfield =COUNTIF(C2:H2,”CF”)+COUNTIF(C2:H2,”LF”) +COUNTIF(C2:H2,”RF”)

Sit =COUNTIF(C2:H2,””)

In Summary

That’s pretty much it. Picture of what the sheet looks like below will give you an idea of how this works. I never new of the countif()¬†function in Excel but new there had to be a way. So using my people skills I started asking the people I thought might have the answer and within a few seconds I have saved my self countless hours trying to get the lineup to tie out before each game. We actually use the Print Area function in excel to hid the right 4 columns so only the inning and players print. We print 5 copies before the game, post one on the dugout wall pegged in a clipboard and the coached get the rest. Simple method that works really well for our needs.

In addition we simply copy the last tab to a new tab before each game and we have a simple history of who played what positions in each game. This servers as good backup to when you are questioned on playing time. Simply refer to the history and make sure things are fair.

SQL Saturday #31 Chicago

The Event
Yes this was a month ago, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on this event and share the experience from my standpoint. First of thanks to the folks that spent all their time putting this great event together. Arron, Wendy, and Ted did a great job of planning and running the show.

Me Volunteer?
I showed up extra early as I had volunteered to assist. I wasn’t sure what I was in for but I’m easy-going so I told them whatever they needed. I ended up working the registration table first thing. Jumped right in putting the badge holders together, prepping the tables, then handing out packets, etc. Met some very nice people and it’s funny how with common interests you make instant friends. The first part was a bit hectic and I learned a lot of things if in that situation again. We got through it and I don’t think anyone was disappointed with the process so that is good.

I was pretty open about helping out wherever the rest of the day. I would have liked to sit in on various sessions but frankly I was more there to provide help and meet some of the speakers and twitter folks. To that end I was assigned as a monitor in one of the rooms. This actually worked out pretty well as I was able to see some really good sessions and didn’t have to jump around and make difficult decisions of where to go. I knew where I had to be and just took in the show.

A New Speaker Is Born
One great moment early in the day was seeing my coworker Dave Levy (Blog|Twitter) present his first SQL Community session to a packed house. He had practiced the content with me prior to the event so I know what it was about. The great part was seeing him spend so much time preparing for something and just nailing it to a packed house. It’s nice to see people work so hard for something and then do a good job. It was a real feel good moment for me and I think it has solidified Dave’s desire to keep sharing his wealth of knowledge.

The Real Benefit
The day did get a bit long towards the end but the best part didn’t come till after the sessions were officially over. At the end of the day it was nice to put some faces and real life personalities with twitter and blog personalities. In most cases I was able to share a few words with most and in some cases dinner and some drinks afterwards. The networking was the best part of the event and taking advantage of the after events was the best time spent in my case.

I urge anyone that is interested in getting more involved to volunteer for things like this. Being in the mix is the best way to make some good contacts, learn a lot of great things, and meet some real cool people. I plan on being an active member in the SQL Community and will look to take a greater role in the local PASS group as well as in planning and volunteering for the next SQL Saturday in the area.

Bottom Line
Best investment to date in my professional career. Cost nothing but a Saturday and time away from Family. I learned a ton, made 20 new contacts and felt good about giving back to all the people in attendance.