Monday, January 24, 2011

Mater Immersion Event Competition (Entry)

As an amazingly wonderful contribution to the SQL community, Paul Randal (blog | twitter) has offered the opportunity for a member of the SQL community to win a free seat at the 5-day Internals and Performance class in Dallas, February 21-25. To qualify, one has to state in a blog post why you want to come to a class taught by them and why you'd make the best use of the knowledge you'll get from being in the class. I've decided to throw down the gauntlet and accept that challenge.

What would deep SQL Server training provide me?

Although I've been working with SQL server for about 14 yMon's Megears, for the most part it's still a black box. I'm often required to quickly respond to performance and corruption problems related to critical SQL Server systems belonging to my company's customers. I often feel as if I’m staring down the barrel of Mon’s Meg (see picture at right) as I strive to think up what to try next to solve the issues. Normally I wind up following the "well, last time we did -this- and the issue went away..." 

For many types of issues involving SQL Server, using past experience to solve them without fully understanding exactly how SQL server functions can produce acceptable results - that is, the issue is cleared, but I cannot explain the failure, nor can I can't elaborate on why what I did worked or why the database failed the way it did.

Archaeological dig at Shetland Island, July 2000I often feel as if I’m an archeologist on the Shetland Island unearthing another broch. I know how to handle the items to reduce or prevent damage to them, but may not necessarily have a full understanding of what they are or how they’re really supposed to be used.

Understanding how SQL server stores and retrieves data is crucial to efficiently finding solutions to complex issues within extremely aggressive SLA timeframes. This is even more important when users are wanting to take advantage of the new features of SQL 2008, because structures such as data compression, sparse columns and Filestream can drastically impact a server's ability to perform as the users wish it to.
Sheep on Isle of Skye

Many times when I’ve needed quick assistance with solving database issues or explaining to yet another customer why one should not shrink databases daily as “maintenance,” I’ve referenced Paul’s blog to provide the explanations for me. I’m hoping that by attending this training, I will learn what I need to know so that I don’t feel so sheepish when defending the necessary fixes for SQL issues.

Sheep and fainting goats

I would make use of the knowledge learned in Paul & Kimberly’s class almost every day at my job. It could also help me advance from just another regular SQL person to a senior level or even expert level SQL person.

Finally, I have a friend living about an hour outside Dallas, TX who has a mixed herd of Barbado sheep and fainting goats – proving that sheep and goats can live together happily (Paul knows I have 5 goats).

*ALL photos taken by me on our trip to Scotland in July 2000 (well, except the last one, which was taken in 2009 at my friend’s place in Texas).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Un-SQL Friday: My Tech Giants

UNSQLIt’s Friday, the end of another long work week, and just as we have the monthly T-SQL Tuesday in which all SQL people are encouraged to post something related to a particular topic, the female half of Midnight DBA, the dazzling newly-minted MVP Jen McCown (blog | twitter) has declared this Friday, “Un-SQL-Friday”. For this Un-SQL-Friday, she asked us:

“Read this blog, and then write whatever you want about Tech Giants. Be sure to mention in your blog that you’re writing for Un-SQL Friday, and link to this post. Oh, and have it up any time before the weekend (Saturday Jan 22) hits, mmkay?”

025Well, that’s an interesting question. I suppose another way to put it is,

“If you were asked to fill the shoes of __<name of tech giant>_ , could you do it?”

I think the picture to the right answers the question quite succinctly as “Well, I can plug the top of his boot, but I’ll need a lot of other material to fill the rest.”  That is, I may not be at the same skill level on that topic as the one who wrote the book on it, but with enough effort and time I could get there. Much of the “greatness” comes from that person having researched and documented something that I haven’t yet encountered. The "SQL Gurus” are the ones who wrote the books I’m buying or actually worked on making SQL server what it is today.

I could rattle off a litany of names (as some of the other un-SQL participants did), or I could

SELECT TOP 10 GuruName FROM SQLServerGurus

and see what that returns to me. Or I could direct you to the listing on the right-hand side of my blog which includes links to many of the SQL blogs that I frequent. Either way, you’ll see that there is no shortage of knowledge available and I thank each and every one for all of the information that they’ve freely provided which has made my job much easier to do.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


TSQL2sday Linkback

Happy TSQL Tuesday Everyone!

This week's TSQL2day is hosted by the lovely Jen McCown (blog | twitter ), the female half of the dynamic duo of SQL MVPs known as the MidnightDBAs. The theme is to post about our technical resolutions for 2011 – what we hope to accomplish and why.
It seems that a lot of us are making similar resolutions for 2011, so if you think you've seen this list before, you probably have. I'm not copying other people's lists, it's just that many of us in the SQL Server Community are seeking to accomplish similar things this year (birds of a feather and all that).

RESOLUTION: BLOG at least once a Month on SQL topics

I started my blog in July 2010, and have been rather lazy about updating it. In 2010, I posted 15 articles, of which only 1 was 100% about SQL. I did have 6 others I tagged with "SQL" or "SQL PASS", but they were not focused specifically on SQL. That's not a particularly good record, especially since the purpose of starting this blog was to write about SQL and NOT about sewing, random thoughts or my goats, even though those are excellent topics for blogging. The good news is that by posting this article, I can check off January's SQL post...a good start to any set of resolutions. Of course, I DO have at least 11 other SQL blog posts that I must create.

RESOLUTION: READ Books on SQL Server 2008
POST reviews of the SQL Server 2008 Books on my BLOG

This is a dual resolution, thanks to Brent Ozar (blog | twitter), who very kindly sent me a copy of "Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting"  which he co-authored with 6 other people. As a condition for giving it to me, he asked that I write a review of it. (Brent: I'm reading it now - really!!). Reading books on SQL will certainly help me better understand the inner workings of SQL and hopefully advance my career. Blogging about what I read will not only ensure that I absorb the information I read about but also will fulfill my blogging resolution.

Volunteer to PRESENT on a SQL Topic

As a SQL professional who has been working with SQL server since the days of SQL 6.5, I really ought to volunteer to present at a SQL-related event - be it a SQL Saturday, SQL User Group meeting, 24 Hours of PASS, or PASS Summit itself. This resolution is a two part resolution since the second part won't happen unless I actually have something prepared to present. I've been hiding in the background whenever calls have gone out for volunteers to speak because I "have nothing to say" and "have no idea what I can present about." Anyone who has heard me talk about sewing and costuming at the Science Fiction and Anime conventions that I've been attending knows that I have plenty to say (well, plenty to say about sewing, costuming, and a few other hobby-related topics) and don't fear getting up in front of 50 or so people and talking their ears off.


This is likely the hardest one for me to accomplish - especially since it requires others to recommend me for the award. However, if I work to exceed the other goals listed above, I might actually have that within reach.
What do you think? What are YOUR resolutions for 2011?

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