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T-SQL Tuesday #132 – Coping with the pandemic

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My T-SQL contribution for this month is about how I have been coping with the pandemic. It’s a topic that has given me a lot to think about.

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Taiob Ali. Taiob has invited us all to talk about how we have been coping with the pandemic this month.

You can read more about the invite in detail by clicking on the T-SQL Tuesday logo below.

T-SQL Tuesday #132 - Coping with the pandemic


However, there is one thing I want to make clear right from the start. Even though I have done a fair few things for the Data Platform community my wife will be my hero during this.

Because she has had to work all through this because due to the fact she is a keyworker. In addition, she has given me the time to do all the community work that I do.

As you can see below, I’ve kept myself busy. In reality, it’s only been possible thanks to my wife. With this in mind, I dedicate this post to her.


For starters, I still had to go into the office when the pandemic first appeared in the Netherlands for a client. So, I had to assure my friends and family that I was OK and being careful.

Last time I worked from home I was the only employee doing so for a company. Now, most people I have to deal with are working at home. In fact, I have had to provide some of them tips to help them out now and again.

I am currently a SQL Server Product Owner for an estate that has a four-figure number of SQL Server instances for a client. Because of this fact I am involved a lot of meetings.

So, I have had to be smarter about how I use Microsoft Teams. I am going to discuss this further in another post. Because it is too much extra detail for this one.

At home

Like I said earlier, my wife is a keyworker, so I have been making sure she is careful. In addition, I had to prepare things in the house in case one of us got ill.

During the summer I did a lot of the garden work by hand. Because I found it very therapeutic to do a lot of the work manually instead of using power tools.

To keep us busy at home I have done other things as well. For example, finding DVD’s of older films to watch and restoring a PSOne.

Another coping mechanism was for me to cook things that I have not cooked often, or at all at times. For example, I made British style home made hash browns for the first time ever. I also made my first trifle in decades.

To help me cope with the pandemic I have kept writing blog posts as well. Because it’s another thing that keeps me busy. In fact, from the beginning of March until now I have published sixty-five blog posts.


Because I was due to return to Australia for a visit this year I offered to moderate for SQL Saturday Brisbane. Which was a virtual event.

I saw online they were looking for moderators and decided to offer my services. It meant a 7am start but it made sense to me to offer. Because I was due to visit the event whilst there anyway. I am still really looking forward to going back there in the future.


Another thing I did was organize the free DataWeekender conference with the rest of the organization team, twice.

In reality, DataWeekender was intended to be something different when I first came up with the idea for it. Because I came up with the original idea of a conference to unite organizers of cancelled events around Europe together. So that we could show unity in troubled times.

With this in mind, I approached an organization towards the end of March and asked if I could have a Europe named version of their well-known events.

I sent them a detailed email with my ideas for it. Including the suggestion that organizers in other continents could do the same as well. Four days later they sent me an email declining my idea.

However, I was persuaded to follow through with the idea. So, we reached out and along with others formed an organization team and more ideas developed. Which is how DataWeekender came to be. Because the first one went down well we did it again for a second time this year.

Being part of the organization team for DataWeekender has definitely helped me cope with the pandemic. Because it has taken my mind off things a lot. It also feels good to be involved with a conference again.

It’s also given us all the organization team a chance to make some positive changes. For a start, we have a really good diversity policy. We actively promote speakers from across the board to submit all kinds of topics.

I’m certain we were also the first Microsoft Data Platform conference to openly state that the master-slave metaphor would not be welcome. You can read more about that here.


Even though I have organized DataWeekender twice I have carried on speaking as well. In fact, since March myself and Sander Stad have co-presented a lot of times because our sessions about using Azure DevOps with SQL Server have been a bit in demand.

I suspect this is due to the fact we make it known that our sessions are different every time. You could watch our session twice and see very different material.

In fact, because our sessions have been popular we are planning two completely new sessions for next year.


Outside of the above, I have made sure I have kept on learning things. As well as speaking at conferences I have also attended them when possible.

Of course, since March I have still had to do my day job. So, apart from SQLBits most of the conferences and user groups I have attended were during the evenings and weekends.

In fact, l managed to learn enough about Azure DevOps to pass the AZ-400 exam. After which I became a Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert.

Anything else?

Looking back from what I have written above I’ve done a fair amount. With all this going on I’ve also found the time to become a Microsoft Certified Trainer.

In addition, recently I’ve become a Microsoft Data Platform MVP. In fact, that only happened at the start of this month. It’s something I’m still getting used to.


Luckily I brought a new webcam right before everything started. However, because I have been spending so much time in the office I have had to buy some new equipment. For example, another monitor.

Plus, I had to invest in a new chair because mine was over a decade old. Because of the long hours using it each day it had become very uncomfortable.

After research I decided to buy a Secretlab chair. Which you can find out more about in detail here.

Final word

As you can see I have been coping with the pandemic in various ways. I have definitely been more involved with the Data Platform and Azure communities. Which has helped others as well as myself.

I am glad I have an understanding wife. One who allows me to give back to the communities outside of working hours. Otherwise I would not have been able to do a lot of the above.

For that, I am very grateful, and I hope others I have helped are as well.

Published inAzure DevOpsT-SQL Tuesday


  1. I haven’t had the chance to attend yet (just bad timing coincidences on my part), but I wanted to say thanks for doing DataWeekender. I’m really excited to attend when the scheduling works out. The lineups have looked great and you’ve done a great job steering a path for your own unique event!

    • Kevin Chant Kevin Chant

      Thanks Brent, it’s a great team effort.

  2. Thanks for your work organizing DataWeekender, and for all the other work you have done to support the community.

  3. […] My second choice is Australia. Due to the fact we were due to go there last year. In fact, I brought extra holiday at the start of 2020 especially for the trip. I was hoping to attend a SQL event there as well. Instead, I moderated for an event based there instead. Which I mentioned in a past T-SQL Tuesday post. […]

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