Most Active Speaker

Alexander Arvidsson

Alexander Arvidsson

Star Wars fan extraordinaire

Linköping, Sweden


Alexander is a principal solutions architect at Data Masterminds. Nobody really knows what it means to be a principal solutions architect, but he spends his days helping clients of all shapes and sizes to take better care of and make more sense of their data.
He has spent the last 25 years poking around with data, databases and related infrastructure services such as storage, networking and virtualization, occasionally emerging from the technical darkness to attend a Star Wars convention somewhere in the world.
He is a Data Platform MVP, frequent international speaker, podcaster, Pluralsight author, blogger and a Microsoft Certified Trainer, focusing on the Microsoft data platform stack.


Area of Expertise

  • Information & Communications Technology


  • sql server
  • Azure SQL Server
  • Azure
  • Azure Data Platform
  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure Data Lake
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Power BI Dataflows
  • Leadership and Presentation Skills
  • BI & Analytics

Sharks in the Pool - Azure Synapse Analytics Pools by Example

Azure Synapse Analytics has been around for quite a few years by now, but it is still somewhat shrouded in mystery. According to the marketing it is a limitless analytics service with unmatched time to insight.
That means it is the single analytics tool to solve all analytics challenges, then?

Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. Azure Synapse Analytics is not one single entity, but a collection of tools for solving very different problems. Take the serverless SQL pool, for instance - it can't be that different from the dedicated SQL pool, can it? Sparkling pool? I know what a spork is, but Spark...? Oh, and what is ADX again?

While all seemingly similar, they really could not be more different. This session will walk you through what the different pools are used for, how they differ from each other in terms of both architecture, discuss when you may (or may not), want to use them, as well as give examples of real-world applications of the individual technologies.

Gone with the wind(?) - Three Tips for Secure sharing with Power BI

Data that nobody ever sees will never change anything. With more and more companies striving towards becoming data-driven, being able to securely share data in a manageable, secure and usable way is key.
One of the key tenets of self-service BI is the ability not only to let the user do both data preparation and analysis, but also to facilitate sharing of data to others. Any sharing means that data may end up in the wrong hands, something that can spell disaster for those involved.
This session is an overview of the different ways to share and consume shared data with Power BI. We will cover among other things basic sharing, the how and why of workspaces, embedding and discuss the security implications of these options.

Winds of Change - Using Debezium to Transfer Realtime Data Changes to Event Hub

A customer requested a solution for subscribing to data changes from their on-prem SQL Server in Azure - in near real time. Azure Data Factory is a fantastic data engineering solution, but it is not the first choice for real time data transfer due to cost. Synapse Link for SQL Server might have been part of the solution - if the SQL Server version was 2022. Unfortunately, neither of these tools can handle subscriptions to events out of the box - we needed to come up with something else.

We settled on the open source project Debezium. Debezium uses SQL Server change data capture (or similar mechanisms in other supported databases) to send the changed rows to a Kafka stream - a stream that Azure Event Hub can accept. With the data in Azure Event Hub it can be used anywhere, all while completely decoupled from the data source.

Do you want to sink the data into Parquet or Delta Lake through Azure Stream Analytics? You can. Do you want to send the data to an Azure Function? You can do that too - and so much more. Azure Event Hub is the gateway to all the fun services in Azure!

In this session I will walk you through how the solution works, what parts are involved, show you how to set everything up and point out some pitfalls.

Come learn how to build your own real time data change capture into Azure!

Presentation Skills Masterclass

Most people get along just fine with little or no training in presentation skills. In fact, most speakers - including some very well-known ones - just wing it on stage.

That is NOT what this workshop is about.

What is the difference between a "good" and a "great" presentation? And how do you improve if you're not quite sure what you did the last time around? Presentation skills are obviously all about presenting, but perhaps surprisingly it is even more about learning to listen and observe, to be consistent and focus on details.

Presentation skills are exactly that - skills. As such they can be understood, quantified, learned, refined, and improved.

THAT is what this workshop is about.

We will look at the "full stack" of presenting, beginning with psychology, the neurochemistry of emotions, rhetoric and how to structure a presentation. We will then dive into the physical act of presenting, looking at gestures, body language and movement. Finally, we will deal with troubleshooting presentations and how to tweak details for maximum effect.

As the day progresses there will be several exercises and the attendees get to practice their presentation skills multiple times - all while getting continuous feedback and tips on how to improve.

After this workshop you will have more tools to up your presentation game, regardless of how you plan to apply your new skills.

Maybe you have been presenting for a while and want to take it to the next level, or simply want to get a deep dive in presentation skills - either way, this is the workshop for you.
The seats are limited, so first come, first serve.

After this workshop you will never look at a presentation the same way again.

Podcasting Explained - Everything You Need for Starting Your Own Podcast

Curious about starting a podcast? You should do it! It really doesn't require anything more than an idea and some kind of microphone. That's it. There have been so many amazing podcast ideas that never came to be because of getting stuck on technicalities like what microphone to buy, what audio interface to use or what settings would be optimal.

These are all extremely important - there are few things more frustrating than a podcast with an eager host bursting with exciting content only to have terrible audio quality - but they are not what makes or breaks the podcast. The technical stuff is just tools, scaffolding for the content to stand on. Unless the content is good, people won't even bother to turn on the content in the first place. People come for content, but stay for the audio quality, so combining great content with good audio is a recipe for success.

This session will go under the covers of Knee-Deep in Tech, a bi-weekly technology podcast that has been running for the last five years. We will look at the technology of a podcast and discuss microphones, audio interfaces and equipment, as well as discuss how to format an episode, how to work with multiple hosts or guests, and some tips and how to distribute your finished episodes.

A Bard's Tale - My Love Letter to Violin Plots

Violin plots are absolutely amazing at conveying a lot of information in a very tight package. But aren't anyone using them? Because most people don't know they exist, let alone how they work! They're not as cool as some other visuals and they're not as easy to read with no training as some other visuals, but they're a heck of a lot more useful than a lot of other visuals! I'll show you what they are, how they work, how to read them and - most importantly - how to use them.

+5 Wisdom - Learn to Ask Better Questions to Solve the Right Problems

Asking questions is easy. Anyone can do it, and, in fact, it is done every day. Asking good questions is harder. It takes some thinking about the problem before the question comes to mind, but it can be done.
Asking really good questions is very, very hard. It's so hard that the really good questions are rare. Why is that? It might be because we're asking the wrong questions.

We think that the technical community tends to jump straight to trying to solve the problem as stated instead of considering if the problem identified is even the actual problem in the first place! By taking a step back and considering the bigger picture instead of focusing solely on the stated problem, we can not only find other solutions, but we might even find better questions to ask. In essence: look further. Ask better questions.

As a journalist, Linda used to be all about open ended questions in order to let the subject frame the problem. As a solutions architect, Alexander was all about trying to avoid the detailed technical solutions to a people problem. Together we found better ways to find the answers that mattered.
We want to help you figure out how to ask better questions - and subsequently how to become a better problem solver.

We will discuss why words matter, when you should not always listen to what is said, and how your choice of questions will always give you the answers you deserve.

The Audience Conductor - Using Senses and Emotions to Improve Your Presentations

Technical presentations - deep knowledge, good content and a slick slide deck should do it, right? What if I add in storytelling elements to tie the whole thing together?

Those are indeed the ingredients needed for a good presentation, but there is something more. Something that very few technical presenters consider. Something ephemeral, something hard to grasp.

That something is the glue that binds a great presentation together I'm talking about emotional investment, and in essence - how to conduct your audience like an orchestra.

By choosing the story and how that story is delivered, we can influence the emotional state of our audience. By engaging multiple senses and attaching emotions to a story, we can make the entire presentation much more memorable.

This session is a bit of an emotional roller coaster as I show you how to create both highs and lows by choosing what story I tell and how I tell it.

Come spend 75 minutes learning skills you didn't think were part of the technical presenter's toolbox - but turned out to be essential to make your point stick.

Making Data Matter - Combining Data, Visual Storytelling and Presentation Skills for Maximum Impact

A friend once explained her experience with a "data driven company" like this: "we collect millions of points of data every day, we clean it, we analyze it, we make it actionable - and then we implement whatever is the mood of the day".

Power BI is one of the most powerful tools for data professionals and business users alike. It makes it possible to create amazing reports providing deep insight into just about any data. This insights this tool unlocks can drive decisions at every level - but do they?
Why is it then, that in this age of "data-driven decision making", that so many decisions are still based on "gut feeling"?
One of the reasons is that we still like to think that data will drive decisions on its own.

The challenge is using Power BI to efficiently communicating said insight.

Efficiently communicating data means not only being able to clearly and concisely visualizing it, but also being able to explain why the data matters to your audience - in a way that is engaging, interesting and relevant.

This, in turn, require knowledge of how to write a compelling story that is engaging and relatable for your audience, as well as presentation skills to help bridge the gap between data and people.

By making the data and the story matter to the audience we can align feelings and hard data, essentially influencing decisions and improving business outcomes.

In this full-day workshop, you will learn the skills to take your ability to communicate to a whole new level - using Power BI as the tool of choice.
We will start with an overview of the fundamentals of visual communication in order to make the foundation of our data storytelling as clear, concise and understandable as can be.

We will then discuss how to craft a relevant and relatable story to build on top of our data. We will learn how, through a clear message with a clear structure, to apply classic storytelling techniques as suspense, surprise and conflict to a technical narrative.

Finally we will explore how to improve your presentation skills to enable you to bridge the gap between the data and people to really drive your point home.

Come join me to level up your Power BI communication skills!

Lipstick On a Pig - Remaking a Power BI Report in 20 Minutes

You've been handed a report that could best be described as "visually suboptimal" or simply - "terrible".

You would like nothing more than to spend the hours it deserves in a bid to make it much more clear, concise and useable, but the simple fact of the matter is that nobody wants to pay you for spending those hours.

But - sometimes closing your eyes, groaning inwardly, and passing the report up the chain just isn't an option either. Something needs to be done, but it needs to be done quickly in order to make the report at least useable while not costing a fortune.

This session will show you some quick things you can do to turn a really bad report into something decent - it won't be perfect, but it won't take very long either.

Learning to Listen - Making the Most of Mentoring

Mentoring someone in the community is one of the most profound experiences imaginable. You will get to influence and guide someone who might have several decades worth of experience but has never been involved in the community, someone that is just getting started on their journey, or might be anywhere in between.
You are an established technical expert, a renowned speaker, a firmament in the communty - certainly you can teach your mentee everything they need to know? While you may very well be able to, but that might not be what your mentee needs. In fact - it was never about you.
On the other side of that coin, being mentored by someone in the community can be both exciting, scary, frustrating and challenging - but if everything works out, it can also enable you to take the next step in your career. On the surface, handling mentoring as a veteran in the industry may bring different challenges than as someone who is just getting started, but fundamentally it all comes down to the same thing: trust.
In this session, a mentor and a mentee share their views on what it means to be a mentor and a mentee, talk about the challenges they both face in their respective roles and in their respective lives, and explain the importance of listening.

Hands-on Lipstick on a Pig - Improving a Power BI Report Step by Step

You've been handed a report that could best be described as "visually suboptimal" or simply - "terrible".

You would like nothing more than to spend the hours it deserves in a bid to make it much more clear, concise and useable, but the simple fact of the matter is that nobody wants to pay you for spending those hours.

But - sometimes closing your eyes, groaning inwardly, and passing the report up the chain just isn't an option either. Something needs to be done, but it needs to be done quickly in order to make the report at least useable while not costing a fortune.

This session will walk through every step how to turn a really bad report into something decent, discuss how to prioritize content and why accessibility is not only useful but vital for good report design.

This session will not only show you what can be done but also explain why it not only may be done, but also why it really should.

Not my Problem(?) - Azure Networking 101 for Azure SQL Server DBAs

The unofficial scapegoats of the IT world has always been "the network" or "the database". The traditional way of doing things on-prem has unfortunately added to this divide - either you're a networking specialist or a DBA, and very rarely will the same person do both jobs.
As an on-prem DBA, chances are that you never had to think twice about which network the database was in, what kind of endpoint was used for the traffic or how the firewall was configured. In Azure, things can get rather complex pretty quickly - especially when working with the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) version of Azure SQL Server. That is why it is important to have a solid understanding of basic networking in general and how it relates to the platform as a service in particular.
This session will walk you through the basics of networking, explore the concept of virtual networks and firewalls, and explain the use of endpoints - all from the perspective of how they relate to Azure SQL Server. We will be looking at both how the technical components work, and also why one would choose a specific design in favor of another.
If you've been reluctant to fiddle with the networking settings of Azure SQL Server, then this is the session for you!

SQL Server hates you(?) - what the DBAs never told the developers

Have you had performance tank despite the code working fine in another environment? Maybe heard that some SQL is bad but not why? If so, this is the session for you!
This session will start with a walkthrough of some of the basic settings in SQL Server and how they affect you as a developer. It follows with key tips on what settings to change, why some code will wreak havoc on your performance and how isolation levels matter (and why NOLOCK can be an exceptionally bad idea!) The session is led by a 20-year DBA veteran who decided to try to help developers understand performance issues by seeing things from his perspective.
If you want to explore how default settings kill your performance, investigate why harmless SQL might not be quite so harmless and gain insight into how isolation levels affect function and performance, then this session will provide you with the tools to think outside the box and incorporate database engine knowledge into your developer prowess!

Alexander Arvidsson

Star Wars fan extraordinaire

Linköping, Sweden


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