What’s in my bag – 2018 edition

All the cool people are doing it (Brent Ozar, Daniel Hutmacher) so I felt compelled to do the same – a quick run-down of the bag (and the contents) that has been travelling with me to 11 countries so far this year. When going speaking in Europe, I never check a bag. There are several reasons for that – it’s more expensive, it takes more time, and I simply don’t need it. I’m away for anything between two and five days and I’ve found that I can comfortably fit all the clothes I need plus computer and various electronic gizmos that goes with it. The bag I chose after *very* careful research was the Tom Bihn Western Flyer. It might not look like much, but it is versatile, perfectly sized for everything I need, it is built like a tank *and* it fits perfectly underneath the seat in front of me on most aircraft (most notable exception was an Embraer 145).

In the beginning I wasn’t sure I could fit everything in it, but after finding the concept of bundle packing everything started to come together. Using this technique I can easily fit one pair of pants, a t-shirt or a dress shirt for every day of travel plus underwear – all without very many wrinkles. I put all the underwear and smaller items in a generic small packing cube and use that as the “plug” in the bundle packing and – voilá! it all fits. I put the resulting bundle in a Tom Bihn mesh bag that fits perfectly in the back compartment of the bag. I’ve also started to include a pair of five-finger shoes to have proper clothing for exercise at hotels – they really don’t take up any space, and it looks way less conspicuous going to gym in them than in my dress shoes…

The other compartment is taken up by my computer. I sport a Microsoft Surface Laptop, and it travels in a laptop sleeve by the Finnish company Mozo, meaning I (almost) never have to take the computer out of the sleeve at airport security. Together with said computer I *always* bring my Bose QC35 series 1 (if you’re thinking of buying them, get the series 2) noise-cancelling headset. These are ABSOLUTELY KEY for me to get *anything* done at either the airport or on the plane.

All the bits and bobs go into an organizer of similar kind to Daniel and Brent that I managed to win(!) at a raffle at this year’s MCT Zero Day at Ignite in Orlando. In here the usual toys can be found – laptop charger, mini displayport-> VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort adapters, power plug adapter, a Microsoft Surface Arc mouse, an iPhone charger, and cable, a Jackery Bolt powerbank as well as my trusty Logitech Spotlight presentation remote. The computer sleeve sits in the back of the front compartment towards the middle of the bag and the cable organizer and headphones sit towards the front. This means that I can put my small, clear toiletry bag on top of the headphones and still have a fully packed bag not be very thick, like so:


My passport lives in one of the front zippered pockets.

Going through airport security is a breeze: remove belt and watch (might be unnecessary, your mileage may vary) and put them in either the back compartment on top of the clothing bundle or in the front leftmost pocket, unzip the front main compartment and pull out the computer and the toiletries and put everything in the plastic tubs heading for the X-ray machine. It literally takes me seconds to get the stuff I need OUT of the bag and ever so slightly longer to stuff it back in – all in all, security is dead simple with this setup.

Speaking at TechDays and MCT Summit

I’m on a train heading to Stockholm and Microsoft TechDays, where I’ll be delivering “Azure SQL Server for the on-prem DBA”. This session outlines what’s available in Azure, what is automatic, what is not quite automatic and what is idiosyncratic, as well as explores some of the hard questions one should ask whenever the topic of databases in the cloud comes up.
This is the second time I’ve been selected to speak at TechDays, and I find this to be a very nice conference. It’s a good venue, a lot of people and a great sponsor area. This year I’ll apparently hold court in one of the larger rooms – rather exciting!

While I’d have loved to stay for the whole conference, I was also accepted to speak at the MCT Summit in Cologne. Unfortunately the two conferences run in parallel. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask for an early session at TechDays and late sessions at the MCT Summit, so I’ll be running for the airport pretty much as soon as I’m done in Stockholm. On Thursday I’ll be delivering “SQL Server hates you(?) – what the DBA never told the developers”, and on Friday it’s time for the third run of “Talk tech to me – improve your technical presentation skills”. Both of them are kind of favorite sessions for me, and I’m up to around 10 deliveries of “SQL Server hates you(?)” so I’ve achieved a nice flow presenting that one.

Both of the events provide amazing opportunities for learning apart from my sessions. Check out the TechDays Agenda and the MCT Global Summit agenda!

A most unexpected Monday

On Monday this week I was downtown for some business as the new MVP awards started hitting Twitter. As several of my good friends were awarded this round, I was very happy and excited for them. They’ve all worked long and hard for our wonderful community, and it felt absolutely amazing to see them get recognized. My business concluded, I walked home in a warm, early autumn drizzle and felt rather good about things. This year has been absolutely exceptional i so many ways, as I’ve been out speaking in 15 different countries thus far this year. Fifteen. The speaking have taken off in a way I could not have imagined as I continue to receive favorable responses to my abstracts.

The podcast is up to 50 episodes plus around ten extra episodes such as the preIgnite as well as the Ignite ones. There are several interviews that have yet to be released, but suffice to say we’ve had the pleasure to talk to a lot of very interesting people at Ignite. We’ve started toying with video (which turned out to be about an order of magnitude more difficult than expected), and we have a lot of ideas there under the auspice of Knee-Deep in Tech. I’ve had the profound honor of mentoring a handful of new and upcoming speakers this year as well, and I’ve been completely blown away by their results and ability for growth. To get even further, I will be starting to help out with the Swedish Power BI User group this autumn as well – things are most definitely going in the right direction.

I thought back to my first PASS Summit where these mythical creatures with “MVP” and “MCM” badges roamed the halls. I didn’t dare talk to them to begin with, but it gradually dawned on me that these people were just like me, only even more driven to share and help others grow. I decided right then and there that I too could play that game, and that I would do what little I could to spread the word, mentor people, speak and train as many as I possibly could. I immediately loved every opportunity to share knowledge and help people out.

After I came home I spent some time with my wife and played with the cats, so it wasn’t until 7 or 8 pm that I checked my email. In my inbox I found an email I had not expected – an email that congratulated me for being awarded Microsoft MVP for Data Platform. I’m now one of those “mythical” creatures I met so many ears ago. I’m now an MVP, but I’m also exactly the same guy I was last Sunday – nothing more, nothing less. I am humbled by this award and I can’t wait to use my newfound powers to do even more My mission remains.

To everyone who has helped me and encourage me along the way: thank you from the bottom of my heart.