SQLVacation Postcard: Nashville, TN
All good things must come to an end and, after logging almost 1400 miles on the road, the #SQLVacation road trip returns to its home city - Nashville, TN, the "Music City". Eight SQL Server users groups, eight matching blog posts, two hundred t-shirts, and many hundreds of attendees later, it's time to get back home.
This is how Kevin feels when getting out of the car after hours of driving with the Horde.
Only there's one last catch for this Clark Griswold of an everyman. I have one last session to deliver, Top 10 Things Every SQL Developer Needs to Know, here at the Nashville chapter of the Professional Association for SQL Server. Our regular monthly meetings occur on the last Friday of each month from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM. We always have lunch during the first half hour followed by the scheduled session starting at noon.
I'm gonna deliver this session. And you're going to like it. Whether you like it or not.
In case you're new to middle Tennessee or to the concept of user group meetings, we meet at Nova Copy which is located at 15 Lindsley Avenue, Nashville, TN 37210. Y'all come on down, y'hear! (As an aside, Nashville has recently started a Business Intelligence User group. More details can be found here: http://nashbi.sqlpass.org/).
Don't forget that #SQLVacation is more than just a speaking tour! Click on the hyperlink to read the details for the summer-long SQLVacation Contest.
Raise your hands if you want a free license for PE PRO!
Oh, and you have to wear THOSE SHORTS to win, Clark.
Your participation on Twitter, Facebook and other social media gets you an entry. One in every twenty-five entries wins! Winners get courier bags, licenses to Plan Explorer Pro, and other goodies.
Now keep in mind that Nashville is my town. I love this city. And I love this user group. The current leadership of the Nashville chapter is composed of Louis Davidson, Robert Verell, Jim Houchin, and long-time logistics boss Shelton Dickson. Louis and Robert have kindly stepped up to tell us about their experiences, their user group, and their (our) city.
- When did you begin your professional career? In around 1990, I was going to college and was offered an LAN Admin position. After a year of climbing under desks to check to see if the computer was plugged in, a programming job opened up writing/editing nearly 1000 (poorly written before and after I started) queries and stored procedures. I was hooked, but I knew I could do better... in 1992 I got my first real DB programming job and I have never looked back.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? It ranges from lots of meetings, trying to figure out what the users want and translate into a model/solution. The other days are spent taking that design and writing code to produce a solution. Both kinds of days have their value, I love doing design, but it is kind of awesome to see it come into a real solution.
- When did you come to Nashville? Around 13 years ago I moved from Virginia Beach to work with a startup. Virginia was awesome, but living in Nashville has been great with some really awesome user group co-leaders over the years (for example, a fellow named Kevin Kline was excellent to work with!)
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? Four or five years ago, several local MVPs resurrected the local user group, as we were all involved pretty heavily in PASS, along with a local recruiter (Shelton Dickson). The leadership has changed, but we haven't really missed a beat with new leaders stepping in. The best part of the experience is the camaraderie of the people who have been in the membership\leadership, as well as some of the stuff that I have learned in the meetings over the years.
- What is the IT community like in Nashville? Very robust. We regularly have 40+ at our group meetings, which we usually hold on the last Friday of the month. Our biggest constituency seems to be healthcare and insurance, but I feel like there are a lot of other industries out there as well.
- What do you like about your Nashville? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? Music, music, music, and hot chicken. You can't go anywhere in Nashville and surrounding counties without running into live music of some sort. From huge names in our arenas, to historic medium-sized venues like the Ryman Auditorium or the Schremmerhorn Symphony Center, to small venues like the Franklin Theater, and even lots and lots of restaurants and tiny establishments. Hot Chicken is fried chicken that, by itself is magnificent, but it has been painted with an oil and pepper concoction that, if you choose hot enough, can melt your face (and then you will want to do it again the next day). You know a food is worth trying when it's named after a city, and you've got to check out Nashville-style "Hot Chicken". Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Bolton's, Hattie B's, 400 Degrees, and Chef Big Shake's are all my favorites, but there are others. It is a taste that is uniquely Nashville and it is amazing. Of course, there is great history in the area with lots of civil war historical sites, wonderful lakes, and some really great shopping around (antique and new!), so you can keep yourself busy when you aren't sitting behind a keyboard.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in Nashville? See what I recommend people do here :). Hot Chicken and a concert... hands down my favorite think to do any night of the week.
- When did you begin your professional career? I started my IT and professional career in 2004 as an implementation specialist for a mortgage software vendor. My first dive into SQL Server was installing 2000 to work as the backend for my company's application on my work laptop that I used as a sandbox and to learn how to install the application. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with the database engine install.
- What’s a normal day at work like for you? Even though I'm a DBA, I'm actually doing a lot of development currently. I am working on my parent company Cigna's internal cloud project where they are doing database as a service for SQL Server. It poses challenges from a security, monitoring, and space allocation standpoint. For the Cigna subsidiary I've been with for 4 years, I'm also working on a standard automated install process so we aren't clicking next and taking 4-6 hours doing installations. We do a lot of installs every year and the automation will hopefully free up a good bit of our time.
- When did you come to Nashville? I came to Nashville in 2000 in an attempt to become a rock star with my rock band, Project Jones; I played bass and quit the band after 8 months living up here, but I enjoyed the city so much I stuck around and did everything I could to not run back home to Mississippi with my tail between my legs. I got into bartending and went to school at Middle Tennessee, where I graduated in a few years.
- When and why did you decide to help as a volunteer leader? I guess I have always enjoyed teaching and sharing knowledge; when I learned about the user group itself, it sounded right up my alley. I wanted to help out in any way I could. When I learned there was a leadership position open and that I was invited to join, I absolutely wanted to get involved at that level. I have good mentors and fellow leaders for the user group, yourself included that certainly make getting involved exciting. The best experience I probably had is over the last 2 weeks...I've secured a *very* good speaker for July from out of town.
- What is your experience with the IT community like in Nashville? Nashville is very heavy on Microsoft technologies I've found. Jokingly, one person called the IT in our town very "inbred". I tend to agree with this a good bit...everyone I meet is either working for or used to work for a list of about 10 companies. I think some folks are playing bingo on the side, trying to fill up the whole card, and not just one row if you know what I mean. I don't mean that in a bad way though! The Nashville SQL Server User Group is very heavy on healthcare as it comprises much of IT in town. (Ed. - In fact, Nashville is trying to brand itself as the "Silicon Valley of Healthcare IT"! There are dozens of Health IT startups in the city).
- What do you like about Nashville? What you recommend someone do there, if they came to town on their own #sqlvacation? This is a blog post in of itself! I enjoy the people, the cost of living, the weather, and the lack of natural threats. If someone were to vacation here, for day stuff I'd recommend The Parthenon, The Frist, Cheekwood, and maybe a bike trip down the Natchez Trace. For nighttime, Printer's Alley, Broadway, and a spectator sporting event are good options. Regarding the latter, we have lots of college sports and pro sports year round. A day trip to the Jack Daniel's distillery isn't a bad option either.
- What do you and your family enjoy doing in your city? I have a 20 month old and one on the way, so my options usually are centered around kids these days, but the zoo is very underrated here. We also are big fans of the parks around the city, and shopping in the cool springs and green hills areas always make for a good afternoon. (Ed. - full disclosure: my spouse is one of the publishers and bloggers on NashvilleFunForFamilies.com -Kev).
You can tell that Louis and Robert both love their home city. And so do I! I hope you'll come visit us if you ever have the chance to come to Music City!
And don't forget to get involved in the #SQLVacation Contest!
Kevin (@kekline) serves as Principal Program Manager at SentryOne. He is a founder and former president of PASS and the author of popular IT books like SQL in a Nutshell. Kevin is a renowned database expert, software industry veteran, Microsoft SQL Server MVP, and long-time blogger at blogs.sentryone.com/author/kevinkline. As a noted leader in the SQL Server community, Kevin blogs about Microsoft Data Platform features and best practices, SQL Server trends, and professional development for data professionals.