T-SQL Tuesday #133–What I Learned From Presenting

tsqltuesdayThis month Lisa Griffin Bohm is the host and thanks to her from hosting. She was one of the last people I pressured lightly to host. She came up with a very creative invite. She is asking us to share something technical that we learned, that wasn’t related to the actual presentation.

While I’ve presented many times on various topics, and seen many more talks, I often go for a specific reason. At work it might be because I need to go, but at events, I usually pick a session based on the topic or presenter. Since most do a good job talking about their topic, I had to really think about this one.

A Couple Choices

I’ve got two that came to mind as I pondered what wasn’t related to the topic. One is small, with minor impact to my work. The other had a much larger impact to me.

The first is a story where I was researching for a talk on Always Encrypted in 2016, I ran into an issue I hadn’t expected. This was Microsoft’s first big change to encryption options since 2005, and I was excited about it. I knew about the restrictions with data types, collation, etc, but they seemed to be acceptable to me.

As I was building demos and working on how to show certificate movement, I created certificates in various ways, I created some in text files using the common PFX format. Little did I know that SQL Server can’t read these. Instead, you need to convert them to PVK, which isn’t well known. Many people use the .cer or .pfx, but for whatever reason, SQL Server doesn’t support those.

The second story was while rehearsing for a talk at Build. Once again, I was speaking, but delivering only a small piece of a multi-person talk with a few Microsoft employees. Donovan Brown was one of them, and as we worked on timing, transitions, and tailored my section to fit, we had time to chat a bit. This was in the mid days of Visual Studio Team Services, which become Azure DevOps a short time later.

As I was talking about some of the challenges I’d had in TFS, Donovan showed me a Java app he was maintaining as a side project, which was being built, tested, and released from VSTS. I was surprised, as Microsoft was still mostly focused on their own technology. He showed me some of the any language, any platform, any framework philosophy that was being used to make Azure DevOps a complete platform, not a Microsoft one. I was surprised, and I’ve continued to be as I watch new capabilities and features appear, few of which are tied to Microsoft products.

That greatly impacted my career, and continues to do so today as I work with more and more customers that use non-Microsoft technologies.

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