SQL Vacation 2018: Kick Off in the Capital - SentryOne Team Blog

SQL Vacation 2018: Kick Off in the Capital

Today, I had two stops scheduled in one day — in the morning I went to Reston, VA, to speak at the Microsoft Center and in the evening I will be in Alexandria, VA, for the local user group meetup. The Washington D.C. area is a wonderful place to be with many free things to do, as well as a great SQL Server community. But, with the city being so well known, I had to dig a littler deeper to find some interesting things about the area that you might not be aware of.

That being said, I did find some wonderful treasures. For example, at the Washington National Cathedral there is a Darth Vader gargoyle. If you are a fan of history, there is a bonsai tree that is more than 400 years old and survived the bombing of Hiroshima that now resides at the National Arboretum. If you stop by the Library of Congress and it hasn’t been placed in a restricted area yet, you can read a book on FBI interrogation tactics that was copyrighted. If you want to just enjoy the sights and learn a bit more about D.C. than what most people know, check out a trolley tour — apparently there is a ghost cat you’ll hear out and about.

Fascinating Cities Have Fascinating Leaders

These two stops in D.C. wouldn’t have been possible without both the Microsoft office as well as the local Alexandria user group!

I want to give a shout out to Timothy McAliley, a Microsoft Technology Solutions Professional, for volunteering to be our first stop on the tour. We had the opportunity to learn a bit about Timothy; check out what he had to say.

When did you begin your professional career?
In Tallahassee, FL. In 1995, I was a Political Science major from Florida State, so I began working for a couple of lobbying organizations. After awhile (2 years or so), I became the “go-to” person for IT issues at work. In 1999, I got certified as an MCSE and got my first real IT job, working in tech support for a large application with SQL Server on the backend.

What’s a normal week at work like for you?
In-person customer meetings, customer calls, team planning.

What was your first IT or computer project that added value?
In 2002 , configuring SQL Server instances on Windows Failover Clustering and migrating data/SSIS packages over from single, non-clustered instances.

What sort of career do you think you’d pursue today if you hadn’t chose IT?
Hmmmm — probably lobbying, but hopefully at the congressional level.

When did you come to the area?
We are in the DC area, Centreville, VA, and have been here since 2001, when my wife was offered a job and I found a job as a technical trainer.

What made you decide to help as a volunteer leader?
I have always admired the impact that volunteer leaders and speakers have in the community — they were my first contact with “IT evangelism”.

What is the IT community like in your town?
Bustling! We have huge federal/commercial contractors, a great startup community, and a lot of user groups.

What do you enjoy doing in the area?
To be honest, my hobby/extra time is really user group activities — we have a full year of user group meetings, an Azure Global Bootcamp, an AI Fest, and two Datafests just in the area.

What do you recommend visitors to your town do on their own #SQLVacation?
We some amazing restaurants in the area — I would pick up a Washingtonian magazine and check out a few restaurant recommendations. We also have some great bookstores downtown — Politics and Prose and Kramer Books!

Chris Bell of the Alexandria user group was also phenomenal in the SQL Vacation D.C. planning process. Check out what this member of our community has to say about about his work as a SQL Server professional.

When did you begin your professional career?
I started my career back in the early 90s working at AMD doing data entry and then progressed through my career following the data lifecycle. From data entry to COTS, to a developer, to BI reporting and analysis, to ETL and administration.

What’s a normal week at work like for you?
A lot of thinking up new ways to use SQL Server, existing hardware, and the cloud with the data we have and collect. Standard monitoring and tweaking/tuning of systems. Lately, a LOT of GDPR compliance changes to our systems and developing processes to help keep us in compliance.

What was your first IT or computer project that added value?
The first real project I did that added a LOT of value was at AMD when I helped develop their paperless inventory system for fabrication parts and materials. It involved SQL databases, front-end development, working with barcode scanners, auto inventory, and internal invoicing. It was a lot of work for our tiny 3 person team but saved a significant amount when it came to operating costs for AMD. I think I still have the paperweight I received from the president of AMD at the time… for designing a paperless system.

What sort of career do you think you’d pursue today if you hadn’t chose IT?
Photography or cooking in some form.

When did you come to the area?
At the end of February 2000 we moved to the Maryland area.

What made you decide to help as a volunteer leader?
I attended my first SQLSaturday and I thought it was cool. I volunteered to help during the next one because truthfully, I wanted a cool t-shirt the next year. After a couple of years volunteering at the event, I went on a SQL Cruise and came back ready to help with the next one only to learn it wasn't going to happen. The organizers were unable to pull it together, so I said I'd take it over and did it solo. I wanted to build a non-traditional user group that met to be social together more than just learn the tech and have cold pizza. Kind of like a technical dinner club.

What is the IT community like in your town?
Being in DC makes this interesting. There are some people that are all about advancing their careers and learning more, meeting people, and building their network. I find a LOT of folks, though, will tend to just do work at work and take their free time to not focus on the tech. I get that, it makes sense, but in today's market the little bit of effort you can make to learn more and put yourself slightly ahead of the competition out there the better. We also have a lot of either cutting-edge SQL Server use or ancient systems running due to the government and their various budgets and requirements.

What do you enjoy doing in the area?
I actually don't do too much. We have a lot of great restaurants and I will go for long drives just to get away from all the chaos that the area has.

What do you recommend visitors to your town do on their own #SQLVacation?
If you are in town on the 2nd Thursday of the month, stop by our user group meeting! Free food and learning. What's not to enjoy. Otherwise, the museums are always great. Just keep in mind that the Mall is larger than you think and really 1 or 2 Smithsonian museums are all you can really get to in a day. The other thing I highly recommend is visiting the monuments late at night. People don't realize they are all open 24 hours and are very well lit and patrolled at night. There are also no crowds then.

Enter the 2018 #SQLVacation Contest

This year, my co-workers surprised me with a bobblehead in my likeness, which I actually don’t hate. You could win one, along with a bunch of other SentryOne goodies, by entering our 2018 #SQLVacation contest. Visit the SQL Vacation web page to learn more about the contest, as well as my upcoming SQL Vacation stops.

Comments ( 0 )

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.