TSQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

T-SQL Tuesday logo

T-SQL Tuesday is a weekly challenge where a topic is provided to people in the SQL community who are looking for fresh ideas to blog about.  Each Tuesday a new topic is given and SQL bloggers start typing!  This is my first T-SQL Tuesday (Transact SQL Tuesday) post, which is hosted by Ewald Cress and is about “the opportunity to give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.” Read more about the challenge here.

I had some great male mentors in my early years, two in particular really stand out.

The first was Bill Butler, locally known in Calistoga as the main Veterinarian in town, had a huge impact on my life. He gave me my first job, introduced me to computers (data entry & accounting), was our choir leader in church (folk mass), taught me to play guitar, drive a car, and to fly a plane. He took me to the Reno Air Races to see the jets and to a scholarly talk at a local University to meet Charlie Duke (who walked on the moon). He flew me to UCSB to tour the school and took me in when my Mom had her terrible accident. He was just an amazing, amazing person who I really wanted to make proud. He encouraged me to apply for the US Air Force Academy and was behind me every step of the way, cheering me on. Bill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago, and I will miss him the rest of my life.

The second person was George Schofield. George was very entrepreneurial and had a number of businesses going at the same time, I mainly worked with him on Unique Wines (a wine investment group) and to create Supply & Demand reports and projections for the wine grape industry using weather, tonnage, locale, pricing and history. From George I learned the art of multi-tasking, using spreadsheets, creating macros, drawing charts with plotter pens, mailing lists, calculating compound interest, and using statistics to forecast. Most importantly, George taught me to not take a simple “no” as the final answer. If it doesn’t hurt you to ask, then ask. He helped me figure out how to move things around – “playing the game”. Thanks to George I was able to have my parents resubmit 2 years worth of their tax returns without me listed as a dependent. It seems like a small thing, but it opened up the world for me to get funding for college. (Big “a-ha” moment there).  Also, when told I had to reapply for admission to UCSB because I had been absent for 2 semesters due to financial woes, George asked “who can get around that rule?”, which was a real revelation to me. Simply meeting with the Dean and explaining my circumstance, and I was back in without having to reapply. Don’t be stopped by someone telling you No, think about how you can use the system, use the rules, play the game, and get what you want (without hurting anyone of course). Persistence, Creative Thinking and Perseverance, that’s what George taught me. I only worked for George for 3 years, but it was 3 years that has effected my life from that point onward.

There were many others – my Step Father Bill Corry has been a true Dad to me and my brother in every way. Richard & Alice Aubert of Calistoga Pharmacy where I worked off and on from 13 through 21. Father Brinkle of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Calistoga. My friend Alissa Fourkas, who has been a true friend over many, many years – my longest friend. Bobby Walker, who taught me to never apologize on stage, it’s a magic act, they think you’re special, don’t give them any reason to not believe that. Keith Mader, who refused to take no for an answer and just kept on me about going to work for TMW…persistence. He’s a true friend and was great to work with and for. Chris Brickley, also of TMW, just a great friend – and someone who believed in me building the “Mindy Brand”, egging me on and urging me to apply for speaking positions and to grow my presence in the SQL Family. Lastly, my husband Chris Curnutt, who I respect immensely, has a wisdom about him, and keeps my ego in check. 🙂


Power BI, Twitter and the Old Settlers Music Festival

Learning by Combining Multiple Interests:

Power BI, Social Media, Music and my Daughter

A few weeks ago I discovered the Power BI Solution Template for Twitter Campaign/Brand Management. I’ve played with the template a bunch since then, made some discoveries, dug a little deeper and put it to use on a few occasions. I’ve used it to review tweet patterns about #sqlpass, #mvpbuzz and most recently #osmf2017.  What is #osmf2017? I’m so glad you asked! (proud Mama Bear’s gotta share).

Last weekend my daughter Riley Curnutt (please go like her Facebook page) was one of the top 10 finalists in the Youth Competition at the Old Settler’s Music Festival in Driftwood, TX. The Festival is held adjacent to the world famous Salt Lick BBQ (which Bobby Flay says is “the best BBQ beef ribs he ever ate“). This year the lineup was fantastic and included some of my personal favorites: The Old 97s, Los Lobos, Sarah Jarosz, Gaelic Storm and many others. Riley competed as a singer/songwriter against 9 other young musicians (all under 18) and ended up taking 3rd place. Did I mention she’s only 13? I was really beside myself. Here is a video of her performance:

Anyway, when I was trying to come up with something fun to use as a hashtag to visualize using Power BI the thought crossed my mind to use the hashtag from the Festival, which was #osmf2017. So…that’s what I did. My daughter rolled her eyes when I told her I did this analysis – “Mom, your such a Nerd”.  Hopefully those of you who are fellow-nerds will find this stuff of interest! Let me go through the process step-by-step with you, (it’s not difficult), because I found there are several places that you can get mucked up and where things are a bit vague.

In order to make this work you will need Power BI Desktop, an Azure SQL Database and a Twitter account.

Read more Power BI, Twitter and the Old Settlers Music Festival

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

I’ll be teaching a session on Spatial Data coming up this weekend at SQL Saturday, Washington DC.  In the recent past, at the end of my presentation we have a little fun and use spatial methods to render a drawing of Hillary and Donald using only T-SQL. Honestly, I’m getting rather tired of that story, and I’m ready to move on to something much more lighthearted.

So – I decided to replace that section of my presentation with a drawing of Olaf.

JPG that I started out with.
JPG that I started out with.

I used the technique created and outlined clearly by Alex Whittles in this blog post: http://www.purplefrogsystems.com/blog/2011/05/sql-server-art-using-spatial-data/

  1. Convert a lineart image to a bitmap
  2. Convert bitmap to a vector (vectormagic.com)
  3. Use Excel workbook for formatting
  4. Paste in SQL

I took the JPG above and opened it up in Adobe Photoshop and then converted and saved it as a BMP file. The result of that transformation left me with an image that looked like this (pretty much looks exactly the same…)

Bitmap Olaf

I used the vectormagic site to convert the BMP to an EPS. For some reason WordPress will not let me upload and share an EPS, so I changed the extension to TXT. I have attached that here so that you can see what it looks like. You’re going to open the EPS file in Notepad anyway in order to work with the contents.

Olaf EPS file contents: Olaf EPS File Contents

I took the contents of the EPS and dropped it into the excel workbook that Alex Whittles created. You can see how that looks here: Olaf Excel Workbook

I added an additional step of blending all of the vector lines together using the UnionAggregate spatial method. Then I combined the result with a Union of itself with a little buffering to make the drawing darker and more clear.  The resulting SQL statement that draws Olaf in SSMS is here (just rename to an .SQL extension):  Draw Olaf Using TSQL

The result should look something like this:

Spatial Olaf
Spatial Olaf

Now, as one person recently pointed out in a session I taught – “what is the business case for this?”. You know, I can’t think of one other than having fun while learning. I have used this technique to prank a few folks, emailing them a query to run that draws their own face. Nothing wrong with making learning fun if you ask me.  Happy coding.