Addicted To Busy

payattentionOur world is made up of technology and being plugged in 24/7. As you walk down the street you may notice on either side of the sidewalk people walking and looking at their phone. Texting, emailing, social media, and the like is all the buzz. I fall victim to this very thing quite often; so much so that I will admit running into people and then having to apologize for not watching where I was going.

It reminds me of the movie I saw with my kids, Wall-E, where all of a sudden their screens go down on their motorized vehicles that takes them back and forth, and they see the swimming pool for the first time. They had no idea it was there, oblivious to the things going on around them.

In reality, we find ourselves in this same mindset whether it is with work, family, or friends we are plugged in 24/7. Have you ever been talking to someone, a colleague for example, and while talking you or them are answering emails – I have. Have your kids been running up to you in your house to ask a question, and you are half listening because you are answering a text you got from a family member or friend – I have.

Listening

I heard this statement last week and it got me thinking about this topic, “Wherever you are, be there”. Simple enough statement; being the analyzer that I tend to be I had to study that and think on it over and over again. As I type this my mind even wondered to the daily activities I need to get done at work, the 2 articles I am behind on in writing, and the countless blog posts I want to get out the door.

Am I addicted to busy?

 

Application

John Sansom (B|T) gives a good example of character traits of what an Outstanding DBA looks like. It is a great interpretation of my mindset with one I’d like to add as a bold point – listening. This past week I realized that it is okay to put the phone down, to spin the chair around from your busy day and have a conversation with others. When you are approached at work with an issue listen to that issue. It is then when you can apply some of these character traits to the conversation and be a difference to someone.

Wherever you are, be there

phoneCall it the “aha” moment or something else, but I’ve come to realize that having meaningful conversations with colleagues, family, and others is just as important in cultivating relationships on all levels. There of course will be times when we all will stumble – heck I do it daily; in the end don’t be so addicted to busy that you miss opportunities.

Now don’t take this blog post and twist it in a way to say we shouldn’t be responding to SLA’s, or if you are on call not answering alerts in a timely manner. That’s not my point and hopefully that comes across. It’s okay to step back from time to time, re-evaluate, and make adjustments.

 

Addicted To Busy

It’s hard not to be this way; I encourage you to cultivate those relationships and pick up on some of those missed opportunities that might have passed you by before. A fine balancing act it will always seem to be; being involved on a call the other day for work the person on the other end told me that they were so glad I took 15 minutes out of my day to call them to discuss the issue without sending an email.

Be that difference maker; be that game changer.

Without Borders – Getting Involved

One of the things I enjoy about the SQL community is the many people that you come into contact with. Whether it is speaking, interacting, listening, or collaborating one can meet many data professionals from all walks of life. With that you get to know, invest, and follow individuals. Two people that I’ve come to know this past year via the SQL community is Argenis Fernandez (b|t) and Kirsten Benzel (b|t).

An initiative that they started last year at PASS Summit was Argenis Without Borders. When I first heard about this I was enamored and intrigued; both individuals are stellar data professionals and pillars in our SQL community so I decided to check this out and see what it was all about.

This year they are back at it with a new initiative and new goals. I encourage you to check out what this new initiative is all about, and if you decide to get involved – fantastic. If not pass the information along so we can continue to spread the word.

“People making a difference one day at a time”

SQL Saturday Field Notes

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As you walk toward the entrance the door opens and there stands a volunteer smiling welcoming you in. You make your way into the building where you are ushered toward the sign in table; there is where you are greeted by more volunteers who help you get checked in and situated. After you get checked in you begin to look around and see some renowned vendors set up where they have additional swag and want to talk to you about some products. As you walk through the venue you notice speakers that you either follow their blogs or you’ve seen them speak at different locations. You sit in some awesome sessions which are free, and get a nice lunch. A great cost-effective way to learn.

All the above is pretty normal, this year though it is a bit different for myself and it has changed my view drastically. This year I decided to get involved more locally; I’ve always traveled elsewhere to attend, speak, and network but this year it hit me that the community in my own backyard is something I’ve never been involved with. This is where it all has changed for me; I have a new-found respect for the organizers and volunteers that go into pulling the above off. Sitting in speaker rooms prepping, seeing old friends, or listening to sessions that are interested in has always been beneficial, but I’ve never taken the time to thank each one of the volunteers individually.

I’m thankful this year that Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) has allowed me to be a part of something great that is going on here in Louisville. There is definitely a rising of top-tier talent here and we are on the verge of blowing the socks off this town. I’m also thankful I get to work alongside John Morehouse (b|t) who has taught me a great deal; not just from an event standpoint but a SQL standpoint in general. This dude is a complete work horse and I’d go to battle with him any day of the week.

My mind drifted back to PASS Summit and remembering the people standing near the escalators or the door ways; have I ever stopped and thanked them for helping with the event?

I realize now what it takes to put something like a SQL Saturday on and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I’m humbled by the fact that so many volunteers give selflessly to make these things happen; I want to be around a long time in this venue and arena and help make SQL Saturday 403 one of the best venues around.

If you are in the area in August make sure you register and come see me, John, Mala, and others. Stop and introduce yourself, we would love to talk to you and get to know you more. Together we can do some great things and we can keep giving back to the community that has helped shape most of us.

I challenge you if you have not ever been involved in helping put one of these events on then please do so. It is a ton of work, time, and coordination, but the people you meet along the way is well worth it.

It takes one to be a game changer and difference maker; will you be that one?

For details on our SQL Saturday event here in Louisville you can go here.

To visit the upcoming SQL Saturday events you can go here.

To visit the SQL Saturday event home page you can go here.

 

 

 

Perspective

thNP3V0VT4It’s one small word, but that one word can pack an awful powerful punch. I got a severe dose of it Friday night. No, I won’t go into the great detail that provoked this word to come to light. What I will do is recognize that it has taught me some valuable lessons especially in my every day work life.

We live in a fast paced society. Work will never cease that’s a given; when is the last time you truly stopped, looked around, and appreciated where you are at in this point in time?

I used to struggle a lot with not blogging enough, not giving back to the community enough, not submitting to speak enough, arguments with other data professionals on what is the right way to do things versus the wrong way to do things, and the list could go on and on.

I look at SQL Family and what does it truly mean to me? I take great pride in my work, the people I am involved with daily, the many issues that come up that provide new solutions waiting to be found, but SQL Family is much more than that. It is shown daily by the likes of you and me. You see it in the generosity when one of our own passes away, you see it in others who rally around a good cause, you see it when a seasoned community member takes a newbie under his/her wing to guide them, and yes you see it shown when you receive heart breaking news that we all endure through the journey we call life.

There are intervals in life when you stop and asses priorities; nothing wrong with that. You start to look at if the he said she said argument was even worth it, you blast a newbie because he made a dumb mistake due to the fact that they just didn’t know, or you get on some ego trip because you believe you are entitled to something.

There will be things you can control and there will be things you can’t control; as a data professional and proud DBA I will continue to do the best I can day in and day out. I come from the school that you work hard regardless of the situation. You won’t find perfection, you won’t find a guy who knows it all; what you will find is a guy who has a passion for the SQL Community and a passion for learning and honing is craft.

To the new community member the days will not always be perfect; heck the days you will sometimes wonder what the heck you got yourself into; enjoy the ride. Don’t beat yourself up for things you think you could have done better; learn from them and move on. Realize that SQL Family IS the people, the interaction – it is what makes it thrive.

For the ones who have been around for a long time, with as much respect as I can muster, I just implore you to realize that when life does happen outside of our SQL walls; don’t let that time go by wasted. You need to cherish every minute of it; we (me included) rush around getting to the next event, next speaking engagement, next post and if we aren’t careful we will let those outside moments pass us by.

Some will take this post as me saying not to worry about the security breach that was caused by a pointless mistake, and some will read too much into it and be wondering if I’m speaking at anyone in particular. I get how it all works, these are just intended thoughts of mine that if I can take to heart myself, then it might help me in the future to become a better data professional and DBA.

Work hard, cherish the moments, and realize that taking one day at a time is okay.

Backups – They Are Needed, Who Knew?

CollaborateImageBackups are essential for a successful business model. That statement may or may spark some topics for debate, but at the end of the day if the data professional does not have a form of backup in place for his/her business needs you may, no you will, feel the pain. It may not happen today, tomorrow, next week, but you can with 100% certainty guarantee that at some point in ones career you will need a backup of your database.

Importance

Let me start off this way and ask a very simple question, “Do I have to take a backup?” The answer to that is yes, yes you do. If you are a data professional than you should care about your data enough to take a backup of it in some form or fashion.

Types of Backups

Full Backup – this type of backup contains all the data for a specific database.

Differential Backup – think about this backup as what it’s name states; contains only the data since it’s last differential base backup; you can find these backups to be smaller in nature versus the full backup methodology

Transaction Log Backup (T-Log Backup) –  this type of backup is a record of all transactions that have been performed against the database since the transaction log was backed up. Most often times these types of backups are taken on a more frequent basis.

**Note** the differential and transaction log backups are both dependent upon the full backup initially being executed.

Disaster Recovery

Depending on how extensive your business model is some companies will rely on backups for their disaster recovery planning. Whether you log ship, utilize always on, restore databases periodically etc. backups can and will always be an essential part of disaster recovery.

Tuning Backups

Most people don’t realize that they can tune their backups. One of the ways you can do this is by turning on some trace flags and increasing some throughput. Below are two statements you can utilize.

DBCC TRACEON (3605, -1) and DBCC TRACEON (3213, -1)

What those two statements do is tell you (in your error log) what the settings are set to

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The buffer count and maxtransfersize are the two settings you want to check. Make note of what the settings are initially; then when backing up your database, whether by a stored procedure or method of choice, you can include the following code.

WITH COMPRESSION
, BUFFERCOUNT = 800
, MAXTRANSFERSIZE=4194304

**NOTE – never take code from the web and execute it in production. Utilize this in a testing environment to see how it performs.

This little trick was picked up by watching the mighty Sean McCown at PASS Summit 2014 in one of his sessions.

Testing Backups

Wait, what? You mean I need to test my backups. Let me pose this question another way. If you take a solid backup and you store it for a certain period of time; then how do you know if you can restore it or not? Taking backups are only half the process; I used to think early on in my career that I was golden to have a backup versus the people who don’t take backups at all. Sure that is somewhat true but the flip side to that is I was missing the bigger picture; periodically test your backups. In a perfect world an automated process would restore backups to an isolated environment then fire off an alert if you find one that could not be restored. Most shops don’t or can’t go to that extent so at the minimum periodically test your backups for validity. Not only will it prove that your backups are working but will keep your skill set honed in the restoration process.

Wrap Up

Backups – they are important. As with anything in your data professional career; take this concept to be very important. If you aren’t backing up your data than I suggest you start. If you are backing up your data; then are you sure you can restore it? Are your backups taking forever; perhaps you can tune them? I tell you what…keep reading below and you can check out what some of my colleagues have to say around backups. Enjoy

On a SQL Collaboration Quest

Four SQL professionals gathered from the four corners of the world to share their SQL knowledge with each other and with their readers: Mickey Stuewe from California, USA, Chris Yates from Kentucky, USA, Julie Koesmarno from Canberra, Australia, and Jeffrey Verheul from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. They invite you to join them on their quest as they ask each other questions and seek out the answers in this collaborative blog series. Along the way, they will also include other SQL professionals to join in the collaboration.

Impact Series – Part 2

ImpactIt’s that time again to add another impact player to the roster; this time for the month of February.

This month the nod goes to none other than Jason Strate (Blog|Twitter). A few years back I sat in on one of Jason’s sessions at PASS Summit. From attending that session I found my way to his blog series called Index Black OPS which helped me tremendously, and I’ve carried some of the methodology since then.

Jason works for Pragmatic Works which is in and of itself a good company; what I’ve seen over the years that resonates with me is an extreme work ethic sprinkled in with some SQL Karaoke madness. A real down to earth guy who has a genuine love for helping people.

On this note I strongly suggest you check out his blog; he has some stellar information over there around several topics:

Don’t just limit reviewing the topics; make sure you check out the resources and publications to.

Like Jason, many SQL family members contribute on a daily basis in sharing their knowledge and helping the community grow. It’s time we (myself included) start paying homage and respect to those that give selflessly day in and day out sacrificing a lot to make our community one of the best there is.

Thanks Jason for being an impact player in our community.

Stay tuned to next month to catch Part 3 in the series of Impact Players.

Q and A With SQL MVP Chris Shaw

cameraThis has been a long time in the making, back in 2011 I attended a session at PASS Summit by SQL MVP Chris Shaw (B|T). Little did I know that he would become one of my mentors, good friend, and someone I’m truly thankful for. I approached Chris awhile back if he would be interested in doing a question answer session here and without hesitation he said let’s roll. So, without further ado let’s see what the mighty Chris Shaw has to say.

1. SQL Server has many facets to explore; what is one important aspect of SQL that you feel most Data Professionals tend to overlook?

I am not sure if you could call this an aspect in the traditional style.  But I think a lot of data professionals overlook the basics.  Even some of the basics of design like 3rd Normal Form,  what it is, and what are some of the ways it is different from other aspects of database design. Microsoft has done such a great job at making it easier for us to query the data, and faster for us to retrieve the data.  But my first reaction when I look into an OLTP at a 16 table join is to question the design of the database (I recall a day when it was best practice for performance that you didn’t have more than 8 joins).  I am sure there are many example where this is the best way to approach the design, I just can’t help but wonder how much thought went into a design like that.

2. SQL Saturday’s are everywhere and they are an awesome experience to attend them. Can you explain why these SQL Saturday events are so important to the community and what your favorite venue is?

Multiple aspects to this question.  First I think the SQL Saturdays are critical for a couple reasons.  The big one of course is the education that is offered at the event free of charge,  how can you beat that.  But when you look at the community as a whole I think a SQL Saturday gets people ready for A larger event such as the PASS Summit, and knowing what to expect if you have never been.  PASS Summit can be a bit overwhelming as a first timer, all the sessions, all the people and then you have the parties and the events that surround the conference.  How do you take that all in?  How do you network with 200 people on a Saturday event, what can you learn from networking with 200 people that you can apply to 4,000 people over 3 days at the PASS Summit.  Anyone can go the Pass Summit, but if go without understanding how to network, how to get involved with the event, you are missing a lot.  I pose the question to you Chris…  Did you network more during your second Summit or your first?  And was the difference because the second time around you knew what to expect?

“Second time was by far the most networking done compared to the first. Not just attending the dinners but also running into people in the hall, people coming up and talking to me off the cuff, the community zone, and the SQL Runs. I think you are correct when you say the first time you go you really don’t know what to expect. It truly is one of the best SQL conferences I’ve attended.”

I am surprised that PASS doesn’t do some sort of award for the SQL Saturdays.  I have been to 16 of them as a speaker so far and I have got to admit each one has its own flavor to it.  When I organize a SQL Saturday I try to put some sort of flare on the event, something different that you don’t get at the other events.  So SQL Saturdays that do thinks just a little bit different are my favorites.  So if you are going to hold my feet to the fire and really get me to commit to one event.  My favorite event is Kansas City.  They go well out of their way to show appreciation for the speakers.  If you are a speaker this is a can’t miss event,  the Speaker dinner is always special, and the Friday before the BBQ crawl is amazing.  Another one I would mention is the Albuquerque event, they have a very good home town feeling, and I love the home made speaker gift I received.

3. PASS Summit is a big yearly event; can you describe what the “community zone” means and why it is so important?

The community zone is a dedicated area where we as speakers and attendees can gather to just network. I believe they have always had bean bags there and it is a great time to just get off your tired feet and visit with other attendees.  What do you talk about?  Well I had a complex issue that I was working on that became the topic of discussion in the zone for a little while, I was able to come away from the event with an answer to my question.  I also learned that a couple of friends were going through a rough patch in their life, some pretty serious stuff and they still came to the conference.  I hope that I was able to lend an ear for just a while and to be a friend.

4. What’s on Chris Shaw’s book shelf?

Well due to my lifestyle I don’t have enough room for a book shelf (I am a full time camper and live in my rig).  I do however have enough digital media to make many people jealous.  Right now most of my attention when I am not working is spent on photography.  I have a lecture series from a guy name Manny, out of Florida who does this series called “Go Get that Shot”.  I spend a lot of time watching that and re-watching it.   One thing I do have on a very small book shelf is my MVP Award,  something that is very symbolic to me.

5. Most DBA’s don’t start out being a DBA, but they take various routes to get where they are at. Curious how you became involved with SQL?

Ok so this is a really long story, so I am going to shorten it as much as I can.  In 1996 I was the operational director at an antifreeze recycling company.  Our Access database went down and I had to hire a consultant that charged us an arm and a leg.  Well you know when you look at what you pay for things and you say “I am in the wrong business”, well that happened.  I started to learn Access and was talking to a guy who work in the office building next to ours.  After some discussion he told me I was asking questions that were above his skill level and he thought I could help him on this new thing they were doing.  Ended up being SQL Server version 6.0. They made me an offer that was 10k more than what I was making and bought me a personal computer for my home.  That database I designed was for Yellow Pages Inc. and the last time I looked it is still online today. Next time we are in the community zone, ask me and I will give you the full run down.

6. Like you, I was privileged to be a part of the DBA Jumpstart that John Sansom (B|T) put together last year. I’ve learned that the SQL life is a journey not a race; what do you feel a new data professional should consider most in starting out their career?

The chapter I wrote for that was telling people they need to choose between wanting a job and a career.  I am a firm believer that if you are just looking for a job, then being a DBA is not the way you want to go.  This career field requires a lot of dedication, and a lot of work hours.

7. Outside SQL we also have other hobbies; what are some of the things you like to get involved with to relax?

My favorite thing to do is take photos.  Recently I took an extra day with a friend on our way to a SQL Saturday, everyone we were traveling with wanted to go ski, but rather than do that we took a back road to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  We had a great time visiting and stopping every 20 min to go take pictures of stuff we had not seen before.  It was a great time.

8. It’s got to be asked……tacos or barbecue?

Oh that is a hard one.  Today I would have to say…  Tacos for sure.  But when the summer comes, I may be back to Barbecue.

Conclusion

A big thanks to SQL MVP Chris Shaw for taking time out of his busy schedule to drop by and answer a few questions for the SQL Community.

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