New Website Design

I’ve been working on this for a little while now, but I finally decided to flip over the Catallaxy Services website to its new design today.

The old design was something I came up with about seven years ago and it definitely showed its age. In particular, it had a crummy mobile experience, with different font sizes, needing to pinch-scroll to see anything, and other dodgy bits.

I like the new website a lot better. Granted, if I didn’t like it as much, I wouldn’t have made the switch, but there are a few things I want to point out.


I do a lot of stuff, and it’s nice to be able to sort out most of those things in one location. That’s the Resources section.

Some of the things I do.

I also broke out resources by section, so if you want an overview of my community resources, you can click the button to show just those resources. Or if you want to give me money in exchange for goods and/or services, I have a “Paid Resources” section too.

Mobile-First Experience

I wanted to make sure not only that the site would work on a phone, but that it looked good on a phone. When I present, this will often be the first way people check out my site, so I want it to be a good experience.


I’m still working on this, but one of the things about the old site which made it fast but boring is that it was entirely textual. There were no images. Now, there are images on pretty much every page. I want to see what I can do to improve things a bit more, but it’s a start.

Presentations Page

Like the Resources section, you can see a list of presentations and also filter by topic.

These machines, they never learn.

For each presentation, I have the same contents that I had before: abstract, slides, demo code, additional media, and links/resources. I’ve shuffled things around a bit so that it looks reasonably good on a wide-screen monitor but also works on a phone or tablet. Here’s a presentation where everything’s nice and filled out. For other talks, where not everything is filled out, I at least have sensible defaults.


Something I didn’t do a great job of calling out before was availability for consulting and paid services. With the new site, I emphasize this in a few ways, whether that’s consulting, paid training (though actual paid training is forthcoming), or books + third-party offerings like PolyBase Revealed.

What’s Next

I have a few more things around the site, namely around custom training, which I intend to work on during the winter. I also have a couple of smaller ideas which I plan to implement over the next several days, but won’t call them out specifically. For now, though, I think this is a pretty good start.


Upcoming Events: NDC Sydney

Key Details

What: NDC Sydney
Where: 488 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
When: Wednesday, October 16th through Friday, October 18th.
Tickets are still available on the NDC website.

What I’m Presenting

Thursday, 10:20 AM — 11:20 AM — Getting Started with Apache Spark

I intend to revise this talk a little bit and focus a little more on Databricks. Having spent a lot of time in Azure Databricks this summer, I think I’m going to include a bit more in Databricks and less in self-run Spark than before.

Upcoming Events: Data Relay

Key Details

What: Data Relay
Where: Five cities in England!
When: Monday, October 7th through Friday, October 11th.
Admission is free. Register on the Data Relay website.

What I’m Presenting

All five events — Eyes on the Prize

I might have one extra talk for one of the days, but it’s not officially on the schedule so mum’s the word.

This is my first Data Relay, and I expect to be utterly exhausted after presenting in Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Bristol.

Upcoming Events: SQL Saturday NYC

Key Details

What: SQL Saturday New York City
Where: 11 Times Square, New York, New York, 10036
When: Saturday, October 5th.
Admission is free. Register on the SQL Saturday website.

What I’m Presenting

10:15 AM — 11:15 AM — Approaching Zero
02:15 PM — 03:15 PM — Data Virtualization with PolyBase

This is the only SQL Saturday that I plan to do in October or November. I’d say “amazingly” except that there’s a good reason for this: conference season has begun in earnest.

Upcoming Events: SQL Saturday Orlando

Key Details

What: SQL Saturday Orlando
Where: Seminole State College of Florida, 100 Weldon Blvd Building UP, Sanford, FL 32773
When: Saturday, September 28th.
Admission is free. Register on the SQL Saturday website.

What I’m Presenting

11:00 AM — 11:45 AM — Data Virtualization with PolyBase

There are three important notes around SQL Saturday Orlando:

  1. The session is only 45 minutes. That will be a little bit of a challenge to get enough across during that time frame, but it’s one I’ll meet.
  2. This is a rare SQL Saturday where I won’t be in on that Friday. Due to Open F#, I’ll arrive Saturday morning after overnight flights.
  3. This is SQL Saturday number 100 for me as a presenter. That’s a pretty hefty number and is good incentive for me not to miss my flights…

New Video: Eyes on the Prize

I’ve had a few people request that I make a video of my talk, Eyes on the Prize: Simple and Effective Dashboard Visualization Techniques. Here it is in its full glory, with no time limits.

Evoke a response after watching this video.

When done right, data visualization informs users quickly and efficiently with a minimum of distraction. When done wrong, we end up with spinning 3D pie charts. In this talk, we will look at techniques for effective dashboard design, minimizing noise and clutter (like spinning 3D pie charts) while providing relevant information to the intended audience. We will see how different types of charts work, build out rules of thumb around which charts to use, and integrate visuals to create a coherent dashboard image. When it comes to dashboards, we will compare and contrast dashboards based on their intended uses, such as interactive dashboards versus TV dashboards. Finally, we will take an awful dashboard and turn it into something which end users will appreciate.

You can also get to the slides and additional resources.

Quick Thoughts on 100 SQL Saturdays

Last time I did one of these, I was way over 50 before I started writing. This time around, I’m at 99 and poised for 100.

For those of you keeping score, here’s the year-by-year breakdown:

  • 2013: 1
  • 2014: 3
  • 2015: 9
  • 2016: 22
  • 2017: 22
  • 2018: 26
  • 2019: 17 (through 2019-09-28)

I won’t have quite as many SQL Saturdays this year as last, but I should still be somewhere around 20 by the time we’re done.

My 100th SQL Saturday will be SQL Saturday Orlando 2019. I love that the math worked out this way because SQL Saturday #1 was in Orlando, way back in 2007. That kind of happenstance pleases me.

I may not be the first person to get to 100 (heck, I’m not even the first Kevin to get to 100) but when I presented at SQL Saturday Columbus in 2013, the idea of doing it 99 more times would have been ridiculous…and yet somehow it happened. Probably from me bribing a bunch of people.

The Institutional Value of SQL Saturday

I greatly appreciate the work Andy Warren, Steve Jones, and a cast of thousands have put into making this a successful global institution. SQL Saturdays have given me the opportunity to travel and speak all around North America and Europe.

On the opposite side, SQL Saturdays give people in our community a chance to see and speak with some of the best regional and national experts on topics across the data platform for the cost of a lunch and a Saturday indoors. It’s hard to think of a better deal than this.

You don’t see this kind of institutional support elsewhere. Code camps are great (by the way, have you signed up for Raleigh Code Camp yet? It’s this Saturday, October 5th), but they’re entirely independent. Learning that your city has a code camp going on is tricky and if you’re a non-local speaker looking to present at different code camps, there’s no really easy way to know where and when they are taking place.

This is the key benefit behind SQL Saturdays: they’re in one place, so we can easily see who’s putting them together and when.

The Places You’ll Go

SQL Saturdays have given me a great excuse to travel around significant parts of the world, including:

  • The United States. I’ve presented at SQL Saturdays in 27 states and Washington DC. I’m still holding out for SQL Saturday Maui…
  • Canada. My first foreign SQL Saturday was Nova Scotia, the File Not Found edition. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite events despite having 5 speakers and just over 5 non-speaking attendees. Aside from that, I’ve been to SQL Saturdays in Edmonton and Victoria.
  • Latin America: Costa Rica and Mexico.
  • Europe: Austria, England, and Ireland.

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve hit 100, I don’t have any more milestones, but I’d like to keep presenting at SQL Saturdays. Keeping up that 2016-2019 pace will be a challenge so I might not be able to do quite that many, but this isn’t the end for me, not by any stretch. In 2020, I’d really like to visit a few that I’ve never seen before, hit a few new states, and maybe venture into South America or Asia—especially if I can work out the travel details on the cheap.