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Goals and Themeword for 2010

Well looks like another chain-post, this time started by none other than the SQLRockstar Tom Larock (@SQLRockstar on Twitter). He poses the question “What are your goals and themeword for 2010?“. From there I actually got tagged by not only Colin Stasiuk but also Jeremiah Peschka so I guess I’d better reply!

After reading everyone’s posts I thought long and hard about what my theme word would be for this year I decided on (drum roll please):

Organization

As my wife and co-workers will gladly attest to, I battle with A.D.D. (self-diagnoses folks, no official meds/doctors were involved). As I become more involved with the SQL community and finding more things I’d like to do I find I really need to find a system that works and stick with it. Earlier this year I bought David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done‘ book as I’ve heard great things about the methodology and how it has helped folks. Unfortunately I got a quarter of the way in and let my boss borrow it and haven’t gotten it back yet. Fortunately I follow some great folks on Twitter like Brent Ozar (@brento) who write posts about GTD such as How to Use GTD 50,000 Ft Goals which allow me to get the general idea without having to read the book (but I will dammit, I will).

Any who, I’ve already taken some steps to try and get myself organized but this year I’m going to try focusing even more. One of things I’ve done so far is download Appigo’s Todo on my iPhone as well as Notebook. I still need to organize consistent lists but so far I’ve done half-decent job of adding tasks as I get them and assign them in the few lists I have so far. What I’ve failed to do thus far and will start doing this year is weekly review of goals and tasks. Apparently this is a key part of the whole process and I’ve been slacking on it. D’oh! Well no more, I say! Another thing I’m going to try to do is little things to help myself get more organized like actually plan out my day rather than just show up to work, do morning checks and wing it the rest of the day. I need something more concrete otherwise my mind wanders all over and all hope is lost.

As far as direct goals I have one glaring goal that is most definitely my number one:

ATTEND THE PASS SUMMIT CONFERENCE!

  • Yup, that’s right it’s THAT important. I missed out this past year and while it was cool feeling like I was part of the action via Twitter it’s most definitely not the same. There are so many people in the community I’d like to meet and so much good content at that conference that I cannot let another year go by and miss out on the action. I’ll probably get shot down but I’m going to attempt to ask my boss next week if there’s a chance in hell they’ll register me and get the early bird discount of $995 (good until January 15th). Push comes to shove there’s going to be some bank robbing in my future, just sayin’.
  • Other non-felony related goals include me finishing what I started and getting the last two certifications knocked out so I can be a full-fledged MCITP:Database Administrator. My first and only certification is in 2005 so if I’m feeling froggy this year I’ll not only knock out MCITP but I’ll take the upgrade exam as well to make it a 2008 one. Also in the distant horizon I was considering doing the database developer track as well. We’ll see how that goes.
  • I’m in mid process now but I’ll add it here too: writing first book. Right now I’m currently co-authoring Pro Policy-Based Management with Ken Simmons and Colin Stasiuk. We’re all very excited about this book and hope to have it published in March/April time frame I believe. This has been a very interesting challenge so far and hopefully the next book I get to write won’t be so tough based off this learning process.
  • In the last couple of weeks myself and some coworkers have started dabbling in application development using VB.NET which has got me excited to all sorts of new opportunities. I’m hoping to learn more about application development and pick up some C# as well and start creating some truly helpful in-house applications to help support our staff at work.
  • Continue speaking/presenting/blogging. This year I’m planning on submitting presentation to PASS and see where that leads. Maybe company will pony up the cash if I’m a speaker at the conference! Honestly I just really enjoy presenting and teaching so even if I don’t get to present at a major conference I’ll continue doing rounds in Florida user groups and any other group that will have me (via LiveMeeting).
  • Compete in a major fitness event (i.e. triathlon or marathon). Seeing Tom talk about him running a marathon and seeing others go out and do similar feats I figure “why not me?”. My wife and I are also fans of the The Biggest Loser on NBC so watching them run a marathon especially after everything they’ve gone through I think I should be able to do the same. This year I downloaded the Couch to 5k app on my iPhone and I’ve stopped/started program a few times. I need to see it all the way through and keep pushing from there. Hopefully by year’s end I can say I’m a marathoner. We’ll see how that develops.
  • [Late addition] I’d like to blog more technical articles. I started this blog not really knowing how or what I’d be blogging on or about but I’d really like to add more technical content to my..err content. I’m going to aim for doing at least 4 submissions to one of the major sites like SQLServerCentral this year.

Well that’s all I can think of for now but at least this gives me something I can refer back to later and see where I’m at. Now time to tag a few folks:

Ron Dameron (Blog - Twitter)

Jonathan Gardner (BlogTwitter)

Tim & Lori Edwards (BlogHis TwitterHer Twitter)

and just for kicks lets get out of the SQL circle and have my wife try one out:

Jessica Segarra (Blog - Twitter)

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A Decade in Review

Wow, what a decade! We’ve seen quite a bit of change in our world (9/11, a war or two, minority as President) and I’ve had quite an eventful decade myself. Here’s a quick list of stuff I can remember off-hand that’s happened in the last 10 years (order not necessarily linear, more stream of thought at time of writing):

  • Visited France
  • Graduated high school (I know, many of you are going to hate me for being this young)
  • Visited England
  • Visited Canada (term “visited” is loose here, basically drank and ran amok as only college kids could)
  • Graduated college (Go ORANGE!)
  • Got my blue belt with stripes in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu
  • First job in IT as a desktop tech
  • Ran first 5k
  • Attended first Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meeting
  • Met the love of my life, Jessica (aka @thenovicechef on Twitter)
  • Did a hell of a lot of growing up
  • First major job change (current job)
  • Got a dog (to be followed by a few cats)
  • Started presenting on SQL Server
  • Passed 70-431 to get my MCTS: SQL 2005 certification
  • Got married!
  • Started blogging/Tweeting
  • Presented at first major SQL event (SQLSaturday)
  • Started volunteering for as many PASS opportunities as I can
  • Helping to organize SQLSaturday #32 for Tampa (it’s on January 23rd, register now!)
  • Accepted an offer to co-author a book on Policy Based Management ( Apress.com )*

*Thanks Colin for reminding me!

I’m sure I’m missing quite a few things but man its been a crazy 10 years! In that time I’ve done a lot of growing up (insert jokes on my age here) and I’m grateful for everything that has happened and all the people I’ve met along the way. It’s been quite a journey and this is only the beginning. This last year alone has been absolutely amazing what with celebrating my 1 year wedding anniversary and all of day-in-day-out interaction with the SQL community. I’m shocked about how fast these last 10 years has seemingly flown by and I’m looking forward to the next 10! Hopefully you guys will still be along for the ride as I continue my adventures in blogging and blowing up your Twitter feeds.

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Beware Vendor Databases

You're crunchy and taste good with ketchup

HERE THERE BE DBAs

This is just a quick post to serve as a warning sign to those who are DBAs in shops where you routinely get vendor pre-packaged databases (which should encompass about 99% of you). Today we had a vendor installing a new application which required a SQL database, to which I am ever thankful. Unfortunately this database, as I came to discover after a discussion with my junior DBA, that it was actually a restore of a database that was a created after mashing a bunch of data together from disparate systems. Ouch.

Well long story short after the install I took a look at the database server’s (disclaimer: I put them on a shared SQL instance since the app is relatively small) error log to make sure nothing crazy was happening since during the install they had issues with account creations. FYI that turned out to be a small “we need sysadmin” rights issue to which I said ‘NAY!’ and granted them temp rights to complete their install and then revoked those rights when it was complete. Anyhow the error log showed me something interesting:

Well that’s interesting. I quickly Banged it out and the first solution I found was a KB article (KB917828) that said these were “normal” messages you’d see in a database restored starting from SQL 2005 SP2 and upwards. I read on as I needed to know WHY these messages appeared and BAM, something hit me and sent off alarms:

The whole procedure cache is cleared when certain database level operations are performed in the following scenarios:

  • A database has the AUTO_CLOSE database option set to ON. When no user connection references or uses the database, the background task tries to close and shut down the database automatically.

Auto_close enabled on a database on my server? NOT ON MY WATCH! I quickly jumped over the database options and sure enough not only was AUTO_CLOSE enabled but AUTO_SHRINK as well. For those of you curious as to why I’d freak out about this, these options are really resource intensive and this being a shared instance I really don’t need that hassle. If you’d like to read about how/why these two options are bad check out Tim Ford’s blog at http://www.ford-it.com (aka @SQLAgentman on Twitter) and read his post on Dealing with SQL Shrinkage.

So remember kids: check, re-check and double-check what your vendor is doing when they setup databases on your systems. Ideally they should provide scripts for you to be able to validate and evaluate before you just “slap it in” to your production environment.

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Real-world Value of Twitter at Work

This post is actually going to be a copy/paste job from a comment I left on Colin Stasiuk’s (Twitter | Blog) post encouraging his user group, EDMPASS (Edmonton chapter of SQL PASS user group), to jump on the Twitter bandwagon before their next meeting for hockey tickets. In his post Colin asks his members to join Twitter, if they haven’t already, follow at least 10 SQL Tweeps, and share a story of a positive experience they had with fellow SQL Tweeps. In the past year I’ve come to find that Twitter has become an invaluable tool for me professionally as I can get many quick answers and sometimes (as you’ll see below) even more complicated issues resolved. Without further ado here’s my tale:

I’m really not eligible but I’ll share a story that I used during my SQL+Twitter talk at SQLSaturday (and also whenever I tell anyone about the value of Twitter).

For those who don’t know Paul Randal (@paulrandal on Twitter), I liken him as such: If the SQL World were the Star Wars Universe he and Kimberly Tripp (@kimberlyLTripp on Twitter) would sit on the Jedi Council. That being said they’re pretty important in the SQL world.

One fine day I got a call from a coworker whose server had run out of space because the transaction log file had grown too much (whoops). Rather than call me to fix the problem he did the thing all DBAs dread…he deleted the .LDF file and thought restarting SQL would rebuild a new one. Needless to say this pained me deeply. I tweeted my plight to the world (as I do whenever I’m working on something interesting) and Paul responded. Now the reason this was so exciting to me is for a few reasons: 1-This guy WROTE the code for DBCC CHECKDB and knows every nook and cranny of how the database engine works and how/why corruptions happen and how to fix them. If you’re interested in the technical bits of the story check out Paul’s blog post on it: http://www.sqlskills.com/BLOGS/PAUL/post/A-sad-tale-of-mis-steps-and-corruption-(from-today).aspx

Long story short, thanks to the relationships I’ve fostered with fellow SQL professionals I got world-class, one-on-one help (he and I emailed back/forth that afternoon while he walked me through what to look for, commands to run, etc.) and all for free. Simply put I cannot stress enough how much Twitter has enhanced my worklife and helped me to be a better DBA as now I have the power of so many sql resources at my fingertips almost instantly. Outside of SQL I also had another great experience the other day with Shay Levy (@shaylevy), Powershell guru extraordinaire. I don’t know PS well yet and he connected with me via Google voice chat and he helped review the script I was writing with me. Oh yeah, did I mention that Shay lives in Israel?!? Yeah, international help FTW!!!!

Lastly how can I forget my connection with you Colin? Another international connection forged from the fires of Twitter. Now thanks to our connecting via Twitter you and I are collaborating with yet another SQL Tweep on writing a Policy Based Management book. I really should just copy/paste this on to my blog and make it a post as I’ve apparently rambled on enough for this.

So there you have it kids! Do you have a positive story from Twitter you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it so leave your comments/stories below.

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Need #SQLHelp? Throw up the Bat-Signal

Get yourself some #SQLHelp

Get yourself some #SQLHelp

Brent Ozar (@Brento) and Aaron Nelson (@sqlvariant) were talking discussing on Twitter the creation of dedicated hashtag for those who need help with SQL Server issues.  As Brent is known for doing, he magically whipped up a blog post on the matter explaining how this new hashtag, #SQLHELP, should be used. I highly recommend you head over to Brent’s blog and read up on how to use #SQLHelp. I’ve found Twitter to be an invaluable tool for getting quick responses to any SQL (and non-SQL as well) questions I have. If anything this should be a great hashtag to search on and show to management as a good business-value for Twitter in the workplace!

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