SQL Saturdays

Why does it matter and when you get involved?

“PASS SQLSaturdays are free 1-day training events for SQL Server professionals that focus on local speakers, providing a variety of high-quality technical sessions, and making it all happen through the efforts of volunteers. Whether you’re attending a SQLSaturday or thinking about hosting your own, we think you’ll find it’s a great way to spend a Saturday – or any day.”


Jacksonville’s SQL Saturday is coming quickly – May 4th – which is, of course, Star Wars Day, too. Fun coincidence? Maybe. But it sounds more like an excuse to dress up while learning, in my opinion!

This is a great opportunity to plug into your local SQL Server community, or at the very least to learn more skills! To check out a full range of dates and locations, visit: https://sqlsaturday.com/

Directly from the source:

“The PASS SQLSaturday program provides the tools and knowledge needed for groups and event leaders to organize and host a free day of training for SQL Server professionals. At the local event level, SQLSaturday events:
  • Encourage increased membership for the local user group
  • Provide local SQL Server professionals with excellent training and networking opportunities
  • Help develop, grow, and encourage new speakers

How It Started

The SQLSaturday concept took shape in May 2007. That’s when planning for the first SQL Server-focused event, held in October 2007, began. From the start, the hope was to leverage the SQLSaturday model, investments, and lessons learned to help other cities and groups host their own events. Tampa held one in February 2008, and SQLSaturday events have grown steadily ever since. PASS continues to collect lessons learned in an effort to continually improve the event model and encourage more events to take place all over the world. PASS also maintains and supports the SQLSaturday website resources that reduce the time and effort required to plan and execute the event.

Funding and Ownership of SQLSaturday

The SQLSaturday brand name and website are owned by the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). PASS licenses the use of both to groups or individuals that want to host a SQL Server training event at no charge. Event hosts take full ownership of their events. They plan, organize, and operate the entire venture from start to finish. PASS provides the tools and coaching to make each SQLSaturday event a resounding success. PASS is determined to stay true to the grassroots nature of SQLSaturday – all sponsorship funds collected by events go to the event. No fee or percentage is paid back to PASS or SQLSaturday.com. Just like the founders of SQLSaturday – Andy WarrenBrian Knight, and Steve Jones  – PASS believes SQLSaturday has a tremendous, positive impact on the future of SQL Server and its user communities.”

PowerApps 101: Building a Basic CRUD Application with SharePoint Online

Fundamentals are FUN… #PowerApps101

CRUD – it’s not just the junk that comes with being sick, but the ability to Create, Read, Update and Delete within an application’s user interface.  Of course, I’m writing in the context of building a PowerApps application, but this concept/operability undoubtedly has extensive use cases across the tech field.

What I am introducing in this blog is a very simple PowerApps app that allows a user to:

  • Create or add new entries
  • Read, retrieve, search, or view existing entries
  • Update or edit existing entries
  • Delete/deactivate/remove existing entries

Without these four basic operations, most applications would not be considered complete nor particularly useful.

We never want this experience or feeling associated with our app.

Fortunately, PowerApps provides a range of app building capabilities that allow user to start from scratch with a completely blank interface, or to start from data and use a wizard to create a basic template based on that data.

Today, we will go over the Start from data option using a simple SharePoint Online List. The scenario is that I am sick of losing track of my spending habits, so I want to create a simple app to track how I’m using my money.  

Hmm, what’s going here?

If you have access already, sign in to SharePoint and PowerApps with your credentials. If not, then you can sign up for a free trial for one or both technologies we’re using, and that should suffice. (Alternately, you can always use Excel and just look for that connector instead of SharePoint Online. This will yield different results long term for building out and app, but will work fine for creating a basic CRUD app.)

 Once you’ve signed into both sites, go to SharePoint and click +New at the top of the page and select List from the drop-down options. Give this List a name and description and hit Create.

Use the +Add column option along the top of blank table to add the following columns and data types. Please note that Title is a default, unique column that can be renamed. Use the following:

Keep Title and do nothing with it.

Add a Single line of text column and call it Merchant.

Add a Currency column and call it Total.

Add a Choice column and call it Category. Under Choices, replace the default values (one per line) with Food, Transportation and Personal. Set the Default value to Personal.

After adding those columns, click on Quick Edit in the top ribbon. Add two entries:

For entry one,

Title = New business dress

Merchant = Macy’s

Total = 95.99

Category = Personal

For entry two,

Title = Fuel

Merchant = BP

Total = 36.52

Category = Transportation

Exit Quick edit. This is enough data to go to PowerApps and Start with data and build our basic CRUD app. Before leaving, copy the SharePoint site URL, but only copy the first part of the URL and do not include anything after the “Lists/…” You need only the main container site, not the List URL itself.

You only need the main component of the URL, not the List-specific URL.

Open the PowerApps site and choose +Create in the side bar. Choose the Start from data canvas app option.  Click Create on the pop-up box and a new web page will launch.

Choose the SharePoint connector, or for those using Excel, click the right-facing arrow to find the Excel connector as an alternate option.

If using SharePoint, you need to add the copied URL from the SharePoint site. Click Go and Choose the list you just created. Hit Connect and the wizard will create an app for you!

You should see a default mobile app containing the data from the SharePoint list, and this satisfies the Read aspect of CRUD.

If you click on the Play icon on the top right of the page, you can test the app’s functionality. This is called Preview mode.

Once you’re in Preview mode, click on the Plus sign on the top right corner, this will allow you to add a new entry and satisfies the Create element of CRUD.

Add your own info and hit the Check mark in the top right corner to add an entry. After you add an entry, you will return to the home screen.

Click on the right-facing arrow next to each entry to view the entry details and to experience the Update element of this CRUD app. If you click on the Pencil icon, you can Edit the entry. This is the Update element and will take you to the Edit screen.

Click on the Garbage can icon next to Delete the entry and experience the final element of our CRUD app. Boom, the entry is gone.

PowerApps at your fingertips! 🙂

This is the most basic beginning to creating a CRUD app with PowerApps. Tune in for another blog to start customizing our app! 😊

Tech Focus: International Women’s Day

Last year (2018), I celebrated La Journée Internationale des Femmes with friends in France. We bought and prepared roses, went to a local grocery plaza and handed out those roses as we told each woman we encountered that they are very valuable. They were shocked at the small, simple, free act of kindness.

It was entirely counter-culture – yet completely honest – to directly tell them: You have tremendous, inherent value.

Last year in France for La Journée Internationale des Femmes 2018

And they didn’t need to do a thing. Their existence alone provided the reason to share this truth about their worthiness in life. Their value wasn’t earned by behaviors good or bad. Quite frankly, that value was bestowed whether we verbalized it or not. It’s a stand-alone fact of existence.

Yet, for many of the ladies that day – perhaps even most of them, from my observations – it was probably the first time they’d heard those words in a long time, if ever. Their eyes lit up when they were recognized and encouraged, despite coming from strangers….but why? And how can we learn from this an apply it in the tech industry, where gender struggles are often even more pronounced and stratified?

Frankly, I do not have the answers. I have questions. And I have conversations.

“There is a voice inside you that will tell you that you are not good enough, prepared enough, or worthy enough to fulfill your dreams. Quiet that voice.” Elisa Jagerson, CEO and owner of Speck Design

I think this dialogue is really important, especially in the tech field. The goal isn’t politicization, but humanization. And democratization. And, you know, CREATION…clearly, in world full of problems, we need people to confidently contribute their ideas, talents, grit and knowledge towards solutions.

My goal for this blog is to showcase and offer practical support for women in technology through resources that have helped me. As is often the case, I stand on the shoulders of giants before me, so they need the credit. And yes, of course, I cited them. 🙂

I’m just here to encourage you and clearly say, “YOU HAVE TREMENDOUS, INHERENT VALUE.”


You have it. But do you honestly believe that as you try to reach your dreams, personally and professionally?

From the Make School, A collection on technology, startups, and the future of education:

“For Mentorship & Membership…
National Center for Women & Information Technology — NCWIT wants to revolutionize the face of tech. The organization’s overall goal is to get more women participating in computing. Their website explains, “NCWIT equips change leaders with resources for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers.” NCWIT puts on an annual summit and has a number of programs for company and individual members.
Other organizations that bring together communities of women in tech include AnitaB.orgWITI, the Society of Women Engineers, and TechWomen.
For Networking…
Tech Ladies — A great online networking option, Tech Ladies members get access to a great jobs page with access to roles at Slack, Adobe, Etsy, BuzzFeed, and more. Members also get access to the Tech Ladies Facebook group that serves as a great forum for discussion and support as a woman in tech.
Other online networking resources include Y Combinator’s Leap. And if you’re interested in meeting women in person — women in tech in the Bay Area regularly get together for dinner, inspiring talks, and networking through Girl Geek X. A similar breakfast group for NYC women in tech is Techfest.
For Competitions…
Women Who Tech — Women Startup Challenges — Supported by such companies as Google, Microsoft, and IBM, the Women Startup Challenges are annual pitch competitions for early-stage women-led tech startups. The goal of each challenge is “to disrupt a culture and economy that has made it exceedingly difficult for women entrepreneurs to access capital.”
Other competitions specifically for women in tech include the Tech Lady Hackathon + Training Day and LadyHacks.
For Training…
The Refinery — This organization is just three years old, but so far it has helped 39 women-led companies raise over $20 million in funding and paired the leaders with over 90 mentors. The Refinery’s mission is stated quite simply: “To fuel the growth and close the funding gap of women-led companies.”
Other organizations focused on helping women launch successful businesses include Aviatra Accelerators.
For Reading…
Women 2.0 — This blog is filled with helpful information and articles written for women in business. While the site addresses workplace issues generally, many of the articles focus on the tech industry. Women 2.0 also has a helpful job board with many tech jobs around the country.
Other blogs worth checking out include HackerChick and The Female Perspective of Computer Science.
For Funding…
Women’s Venture Capital Fund — This venture capital fund specifically invests in companies led by women that focus on digital media products for women. According to their investment focus page, “Given the universal embrace of digital media and the evolution of technologies, platforms, products and services, the WVCF has identified a myriad of women-centric opportunities in Software Solutions, Mobile Products, Social Media, and Digital Content.”
Other venture capital funds focused on women-led startups include Golden Seeds and the Female Founders Fund.”


Stuck in the Middle

The Intersection of Struggle and Direction

Late spring of 2018, a few months after returning to the U.S. from a bilingual French/Spanish missionary school, I didn’t know how to relaunch my once-existent corporate career. Nothing seemed to fit.  Returning to my prior life as a business journalist didn’t hold any appeal. Although I’d loved being the research director for the Jacksonville Business Journal, I couldn’t imagine going back into corporate media.

I’d been off the grid in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for too long to feel comfortable committing to a stuffy office with overhead florescent lighting where success is measured and billed in 15-minute increments of productivity. But I didn’t know what to do. Where should I start again? What could I start and develop that would naturally lead to bold opportunities in the future?

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

I struggled through the long, hard journey of finding direction as door after door seemed to shut right in my face. To add fuel to the fire, I’d just learned that my housing was unexpectedly changing, and I needed to find a new place to live. I felt like a total loser who couldn’t seem to leverage my talents, and if not for kind family members who offered temporary lodging, I would’ve been homeless. I was praying and believing something would come through, but my life felt like the pits. It was such a low point.

Amid everything that autumn, Pragmatic Works hosted a free weeklong training through called the Foundation course for people who are underemployed, seeking a career change or are unemployed. In 2018, they scheduled it for November – and the timing was perfect. About five years earlier, I’d met Brian Knight through our local chamber of commerce and taken a SQL course, so I knew that any training they offered would be outstanding. In my heart, I believed this could lead to a breakthrough!

Meanwhile, I was freelance writing and editing regularly  – although multiple part time gigs never seemed to add up to one full-time paycheck – and a shocking turn of events took place. The Friday prior to the Foundations class, one of my clients asked me to become a full-time editor at his publication, and then mid-week in the class, Brian and Devin approached me about onboarding as a trainer for Pragmatic Works.

So, in less than five days, I went from jobless and nearly homeless to having two offers on the table – without applying for either!

The editor role was offered at a salary that was twice as much as the training role, so originally, I thought that was the clear winner. But as the Foundation week continued, I found myself enthralled with the materials and passionately engaged in learning. Something sparked for the first time in a long time. It was like finding an oasis in the desert! Although the initial salary wasn’t as high, there was something deeply compelling about working with big data and business intelligence with cutting edge tools. And I could see so much potential, if I was willing to start my career completely over at the bottom and work up.

Definitely true!

I didn’t make any rash decisions. I prayed and weighed it out carefully. Originally, I basically told Pragmatic Works that it probably wouldn’t be them, and they were very kind and understanding. But when I talked to the recruiter they brought in-house on the last day of the class, he helped me narrow down my focus. He asked me where I wanted to be in a year or three years, and I said technology. He told me I couldn’t make a wrong decision, but the risk now versus the future opportunity needed to be weighed out in light of where I wanted to be someday.

I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.

~Clara Barton

So, I made the plunge. I took a risk and bet on my greater passion. And it was absolutely the right decision! I’m working my way through all my benchmarks and feel so thankful to work with amazing people who are genuine and very intelligent. I believe in what I’m doing and love to encourage others to learn! And none of my media skills go to waste; each day, I exploit my talents and see purpose, often in new and creative ways. 😊

I share this because many other people have gone through or are still walking through their valley. It may sound similar, or it may sound different in the details, but most of us will walk through really low and dark times in our lives.

Don’t give up! Dig deeper. Talk to friends and family. Pray.

And take those off times to learn and explore, because that may be the key to unlocking your direction, vision and deeper purpose!

Winner of the Pragmatic Works Annual Chili Cook-off! This trophy sits at my desk. 🙂

Power BI Update

Loved the monthly blog Manuel and Devin posted on Power BI updates, so I wanted to share. 🙂

I also thought this resource was super helpful as a summary of all the Power BI changes in 2018.

First Half of 2018
Second Half of 2018

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

Intro to Data Storytelling with Power BI

Hot beverage, Inspiration, Power BI…. Time to create! 🙂

Oh, the joy of creation! 😀

I just wrapped up designing a Lab for our new Data Storytelling with Power BI course at Pragmatic Works, and it was SO FUN to create an interactive, end-to-end digital narrative. I’m truly fortunate that my boss trusts me and gives me opportunities to lead projects!

As a former journalist, I always feel the data gathering, organizing and disseminating – the Digital Discovery phase, if you will – is critical to an honest, thought-provoking story.

Follow the facts, as my dad told me when I was fresh out of college. That’s your only job: Report the facts.

And so, I relished the opportunity to dig into an area of great interest: The State of the Technology Workforce.

My questions needed answers: What does the tech workforce look like today, especially in terms of future demand? Income? Gender engagement?

I stood on the shoulders of giants who forged through the primary research, the gathering of valid data from original sources. And then I took that data, mashed it up in Power BI and looked at it from new angles.

Snapshot of my Data Storytelling report

Click here to interact with the entire report:


If you’re interested in a FREE webinar called Intro to Storytelling with Power BI, sign up here. I’ll be delivering that training February 26th!


Click on the link above to sign up! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hope to see you there!

Intro to PowerApps

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
―  Albert Einstein

We’ve created some really helpful, easy-to-digest content that covers how to start using Power Apps to your advantage.

Here are some of my favorite clips, but it should be noted that the entire free, yes FREE, series is on YouTube on the Pragmatic Works channel.

Hope you love these as much as I do! 🙂

#1 – Your Basic CRUD App

Brian is as fun as he is smart…. which is saying ALOT! 😀

#2 Shoutout App Design

This is the beginning of a COOL Power Apps app that we actually use for our company!

#3 Power BI Integration

Very, very useful!

I think the content speaks for itself. Personally, I enjoyed learning from this Power Apps series… it gave me a basis for not only creating Power Apps apps on my own, but also built a foundation for creating more training content for Pragmatic Works so others can benefit, too. #Score

Again, the entire series is FREE on our YouTube channel. 🙂


Alright, now let’s make it happen! 😀

Free Power BI Dashboard in a Day Class ONLINE – First Time Ever!

You can be as happy as this guy.

I’m super excited to share an amazing FREE training opportunity Pragmatic Works is sharing with the world!

Typically, we deliver live training for Dashboard in a Day content at Microsoft offices around the country, but we’ve recorded the content and it’s now available for the masses… no need to take time off work! 🙂

Ask not what Power BI can do for you, but what YOU CAN DO with Power BI!

Check it out! using this link: blog.pragmaticworks.com/introducing-our-dashboard-in-a-day-class

“For many, it can be difficult to take an entire day out of work to attend these classes in order to learn this technology. That’s why Pragmatic Works has brought all the elements of this class in a virtual package, making it easy to explore all the info and labs that are involved in Microsoft’s Dashboard in a Day.

Manuel Quintana, Pragmatic Works Trainer

To register, visit https://pragmaticworkstraining.com/diad-trial-registration.

Growth – Deloitte’s 2019 Tech Industry Overview

Interview with Paul Sallomi, global technology, media, and telecommunications industry leader and US and global technology sector leader

As we enter 2019, innovation and agility have become essential competitive ingredients for any organization, regardless of industry.

According to Paul Sallomi, companies need to take even greater advantage of cloud platforms that make powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services available to broad ranges of users.

These tools are helping accelerate experimentation, “democratize” innovation, boost agility, and power organizations’ digital transformation journeys.

Should I use Logic Apps or Microsoft Flow for automation?

A colleague showed me an incredible enterprise-level Logic app that he recently created for a client in the construction industry.

He knew I was working on Flow, so he made an effort to show me the ropes from a different angle.

And this made me think, how do you choose between Microsoft’s Flow and Azure Logic Apps? Which is the better solution?

The correct answer depends entirely on your goals and requirements, and it may involve using both solutions.

As one blogger put it, Flow and Logic Apps should be regarded as siblings, not twins.

Flow is built on a Logic Apps foundation and uses the same workflow designer and the same connectors. Many people begin with Flow for prototyping and switch to Logic Apps for scaling and delivering automation across the organization.

The right solution largely depends on the level of complexity required, so here are a few diagnostic questions to point you in the right direction.

  1. Who’s the User?
    Is the solution mostly being used by office workers, business users or SharePoint administrators? If so, Flow is the way to go.
    Are IT pros, integrators and developers running the show? Cue Logic Apps.

2. Is this more of a self-service, simple integration or an advanced integration?
Sensibly, the simpler solutions are great for Flow, but more complex scenarios work better for Logic Apps.

3. Which Design tools do you need?
Flow offers in-browser and mobile app UI only.
Logic Apps offers in-browser in addition to Visual Studio and Code views.

4. What kind of Application Lifecycle Management do you need?
Flow is designed and tested in non-production enviroments and promoted to production upon readiness.
With Logic Apps, the ALM is more extensive using Azure Resource Management for DevOps, source control, testing, support, automation and management.

5. What kind of administration experience and security do you want/need?
Flow’s environments, tracking and Data Loss Prevention policies are managed in Flow. Flow uses Office 365 Security and Compliance audit logs and allows for encryption.

For Logic Apps, security is managed through Azure Security, Security center, via audit logs and other measures within the Azure Portal.
Resource groups, connections, access management and logging for Logic Apps are all managed through Azure’s Portal.

This is a quick a dirty way to assess which solution is right for you!