Session: T-SQL’s Hidden Support Feature

Today I presented one of my favorite sessions – T-SQL’s Hidden Support Feature – for the DBA Fundamentals group! They’ll put up the recording shortly, but in the meantime I thought I’d post the slide deck and header template:

Download Goodies

Also, here are the resources I point to at the end of the session:

Oh heck, here’s the session abstract, too:

The most effective T-SQL support feature comes installed with every edition of SQL Server, is enabled by default, and costs no overhead. Yet, the vast majority of database administrator underutilize or completely neglect it. That feature’s name is “comments”.

In this session, Microsoft Certified Master Jennifer McCown will demonstrate the various commenting methods that make code supportable. Attendees will learn what’s important in a header comment, use code blocking to edit code, build a comprehensive help system, and explore alternative comment methods in stored procedures, SSIS packages, SSRS reports, and beyond. These methods help prevent errors and reduce troubleshooting.

Thanks for having me, DBA Fundamentals!

Five reasons to be a technology speaker

I don’t think everyone should be a technical speaker.

But I wouldn’t object if everyone spent a season trying.

Why be a technology speaker?

Simply put:

  1. You learn more about your subject.
  2. You will learn more about presenting yourself, which is good in general (and especially good for interviewing).
  3. You should give back to a good community.
  4. You will have a unique perspective on your topic.
  5. Being a speaker is excellent for networking. (Networking turns out to mean, “Getting to know people, which often ends in mutual benefit.”)

How do I start?

This is one path to it:

  1. Listen to other technology speakers, whether at your job, at a user group, at a virtual UG, or elsewhere.
  2. Pick something to talk about that is interesting to you. Flesh out what you want to say about it. This will involve research.
  3. Give the talk out loud to a friend or family member, or to a recording device. Get feedback.
  4. Ask someone in the field for advice. There’s a ton of us on Twitter you can ask. Incorporate feedback, and repeat step 3.
  5. Give the talk at a local user group. I highly recommend in person talks over virtual to new speakers, because virtual talks are more difficult and nerve-wracking, in my opinion.

Notice I said nothing about PowerPoint or technical demonstrations. Your talk might include neither, or one, or both. But that’s not the critical part of the talk. The critical part is what you have to say, followed by how you say it.

Want help? Email me, Jen at, or catch me on Twitter. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I can help. Lots of us can help.

#PASSSummit Women in Technology lunch live blog!

It’s the Women in Technology luncheon! I’ll be updating this (at eating) for the next hour or so…let’s go.

Update: And we’re done!


Wendy Pastrick, the PASS Director of educational content, wecomes us. It’s the 15th annual PASS Summit WiT luncheon. There are 800 attendees at the lunch today!

She’s introducing the speaker. There will be a QnA session afterward. (This is being live streamed on PASS TV, and the recording will likely be available there afterward.)

He Says. She Says.

Our speaker is Heather Ritchie, Head of Portfolio Marketing and Communication, presenting “He Says. She Says. Bridging communication gaps that prevent great ideas from being heard.” That’s a good premise.

Slide: Where are the gaps? Thinking, expectations, confidence, linguistics, voice.

“Take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m going to make some HUGE generalizations today…there’s going to be exceptions” to every rule. That’s a good disclaimer to keep people from shouting “WAIT BUT NOT ALL MEN/WOMEN” etc.

Heather discussed communication styles – 75% of men tend to evaluate as analytical, while 75% of women have the relational profile.

And now, a discussion of group IQ, and how it was evaluated in one study. Which boils down to a relational mode of thinking (e.g., how often people are interrupted, how they contribute, etc.)

You need “diversity. You need all profiles to build a great team.”

Expectation Gaps

Women face a double bind, where what it means to be a woman (communal, nurturing) and what it means to be a boss (leader) are in opposition. The story of a woman whose new team were asking her basic questions: “Would you ask Steve this question?” “No.” “Then don’t ask me, I’m not your mother.”

Women are two times as likely to get personal criticism in reviews (e.g. , “bossy”, “abrasive”, “aggressive”). This has been my experience, definitely.

Things get more complex for women, in order to be understood properly.

The Confidence Gap

Here’s a video of Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, on negotiating for the Facebook position. (I have also had to learn to negotiate.) “If you don’t negotiate, he won’t value you as much.” But you can’t do it the way men do it, Cheryl says. There are videos on how to do it at  As a woman you have to tie that into how it’s going to be good for the other side.

Heather says, everyone has doubts. Women express it differently.

“I have never met a woman who’s said I’ve seen this position I want it. I am the best for this. NEVER.” – Carmen Munoz, CEO, Citelum Group.

“Confidence is not a fixed state.” 

Linguistic Differences

“You can geek out a LOT” on the linguistic differences in gender.

“Words have power. How you say things makes a difference.” Heather plays this video, which I first saw from Rie Irish:

Feminine language drives rapport; masculine language drives status. We need both, and both have downsides.

Voicing your ideas

Heather actually worked with a voice coach to improve her volume, and voice in general.

“Women have a natural disadvantage with voice.” (I’d also like to note that girls are far more likely to be told to be quiet and polite, and that does affect how we speak.)

GREAT advice: record your phone meetings, record yourself speaking (like practicing for a session), listen to how you sound. 

We can do better

The “We can do better” slide says:

  1. Adapt the way you communicate your idea for your audience
  2. Build intelligent collaboration practices
  3. Learn how to frame your ideas in a common purpose
  4. Get rid of mindsets that hold you back [“Sorry”, or interrupting women.]
  5. Develop your communication skills: basics, strengths, adaptive

My Commentary

Something about this bothers me. It’s not bad advice, as far as it goes. But I don’t like advice to women, that we should change and bend to the world, if the advice doesn’t come with some serious recognition that things shouldn’t be this way.

That we can work to change attitudes, not to just adapt to what’s here.

Maybe working to change attitudes isn’t the greatest career advice….but maybe it really is. The story from above – “Well don’t ask me, I’m not your mother” – rings better to me.

So absolutely. Work on how you communicate, of course. Get better at collaborating, at framing ideas. All of that. But also: push back.

And a little more…


Real news, real tech.