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Speaking at a user group and epic life quest

April 23, 2023

One of my goals for 2023 was to speak at a SQL user group again. I set this because in 2021 I’d felt like I was starting to build a speaking profile. I’d spoken at New Stars of Data, and that had gone really well, and I’d applied to GroupBy and DataMinutes and been accepted for both. For reasons I’ve already gone into, I didn’t keep going with it, but it felt like I had some momentum at the time and giving a talk at a user group seemed like a good first step to getting that back without setting myself too big a challenge.

Anyway, last Thursday I spoke at Data Bristol. I gave a modified version of the Visual Studio database projects talk from New Stars of Data, gearing it more towards people who didn’t necessarily have any prior experience with the tool. I felt like that was important for an audience like a user group, where people don’t have any choice of sessions, it’s fine to pitch an expert level talk at a large conference where attendees have other sessions they can go to instead but at a user group everyone has to listen to your talk so it doesn’t feel that I can assume existing knowledge.

I felt like the talk went pretty well. I wasn’t as prepared as I was for the New Stars of Data talk, and that showed in a couple of places when the transition between slides wasn’t that smooth, or I lost the thread of what I was saying a bit. I also felt that the lack of prep affected my confidence a bit, and because of that I didn’t project well enough in places. With that said, I got some great feedback and a few questions, so overall I feel pretty good.

I also feel like that was a good warmup for maybe doing some other talks, so I’m going to keep my eyes open for other opportunities and start applying. I do feel like database projects is a good topic for a talk, and using them to split your database over multiple projects and re-using code across databases is a really powerful tool that nobody else is really talking about.

Epic life quest

Speaking at a user group wasn’t a distinct goal of my epic life quest, but there is a goal to speak 5 times at user groups, and this takes that up to 3.

However, I also got some non-SQL news this week. One of the goals I had was to become a faction ref at my larp system. This didn’t quite happen, but instead I applied this year to be a member of the game team, and I heard on Friday that they’d accepted my application. Larp is a ridiculous hobby that I love doing (there’s a very cool video that my main system has put out as an advertisement) and being on game team means I will be helping to run things (as a volunteer) and bring some of the joy I’ve got from it to other people.

I’m therefore counting this as a point in my epic life quest, and that gives me all 5 points, which means I’ve completed level 8. Hopefully I can push on a bit this year and make some progress towards level 9 as well!

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