I made a new demo/workshop database

For a couple of years now, I’ve taught my SQL Server workshops using a demo database that I constructed way back in 2014. The old demo database I used was modelled on a fictional airline, but the data was made up, and the modelling.. wasn’t great.

Chicago, the city of complicated parking. Photo credit: Sawyer Bengtson on unsplash.com

So I spent a couple of hundred hours to build a new database based on a public dataset from the City of Chicago with parking tickets issued between 1997 and 2017. I’ve also refined this dataset with more details from other public sources – from ZIP codes, to socioeconomic indicators, to weather information and more.

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Conference hack: how to get great screenshots from demos

I take all my conference notes on my laptop, or occasionally on a tablet. Sometimes, I’ll want to take a screenshot of a powerpoint slide or a demo to add to my notes.

Here’s a trick to beautify those screenshots very easily:

The Microsoft Office Lens app (App store | Google Play) is an excellent document scanner, that you can also use to snap pictures of business cards, signs or basically anything rectangular with a little contrast around the edges – like a projector screen.

It’ll identify the framing and correct the image, so you can save it as a picture or a PDF, or beam it to another mobile device or computer.

Point it at the screen:

… and once you’ve taken the picture, it’ll beautify the image:

This is a killer app for conferences.