T-SQL Tuesday #097 – Setting Learning Goals for 2018

The invitation this month is from Mala Mahadevan.

This is my first opportunity hosting a T-SQL Tuesday and am super excited!!
T-SQL Tuesday is the brainchild of well respected SQL Guru and author of ‘sp_whois active’ – Adam Machanic (b|t).  Adam rightly predicted that we all could benefit from ‘a recurring, revolving blog party’ with a new topic given each month – the party has been on since 2009 with great benefit to bloggers old and new.

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday will take place on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

It is the end of the year…each person has their own way of calling it a year. For many it is time to take those leftover PTO days, enjoy the time with family and friends, and be grateful for the many gifts we are fortunate to have received. It is also a time when we have to ponder the year ahead and how we plan to use this time in the best manner possible. For many years I never consciously considered setting or pursuing learning goals. I just learned what I needed for my job. If there was a new version of SQL Server out – I went after learning new features in it. But today – it is no longer possible to be that simple. Also, it is very difficult to focus on anything unless you put it down as a goal. One of my favorite quotes by Zig Ziglar sums it up best ‘ A goal properly set is halfway reached’.
Learning more on just SQL Server is no longer enough. We need to learn other tools and technologies. There are many of them. There are 3 things to address to me when it comes to goal setting with technology and learning –
1 What do you want to learn? (specific skills and talents)
2 How and when do you want to learn? (methods of learning and timeline on learning)
3 How do you plan to improve on what you learned? (Putting it to use at work/blogging/speaking)
I will explain each of those in detail below.

1 What do you want to learn?

This varies depending on your line of work and where you want to go career wise. I will give a few examples.

  • If you are into learning about the cloud and hosting – you need to know what options are (on AWS and Azure, to begin with). Also on multiple other smaller/private hosting providers. You need to know how to transfer data/how much it costs to scale/can you turn it on and off as necessary…any number of things.
  • If you want to learn other non SQL database platforms you’d have to think about which ones are important to you – postgres, CosmosDB, DocumentDB or even MYSQL or Oracle.
  • If you plan to get into data mining and analytics – there are several things to learn in that area. I just started getting to intermediate level with R , and now we have Python that works just as well with SQL Server. You are also better off learning other skills that go with data mining – such as cleaning data, setting up the solution on an ongoing basis and so on.

 In general it would be wise to narrow your focus down to your areas of interest and pick a few things – not too many but perhaps 2-3 things you’d like to focus on and get some depth of knowledge in.

2 How and when do you want to learn?

After you get those goals in, how do you plan to get the said training?

There are countless options, with time and costs to consider. The cheapest ones are Ignite videos (for free), Pluralsight subscription (30$ a month), EDx/Udemy courses (all reasonably priced).SQL Saturday precons (very reasonably priced day long training) as well as SQL Saturdays themselves(free day long training on saturdays). If you can afford it yourself or work at a company that pays for training – consider Tech Outbound (formerly SQLCruise) or PASS Summit.

There are  networking goals to consider as well. I personally would never have thought of networking as a ‘goal’, am able to tweet or message most folks and talk to them, so what is the big deal? No. Meeting people in person is a whole different thing, and you never know what doors that can open. Networking goals can be like meeting 10 people new (some people set them that way), or catching up with 50 people you already know including 3 lunches with people who have most regard for. You’d have to consider where and how you are going to get those goals met. For some people, like me, this is not a numbers game – I’d just like to say am going to be at Event A, B and C and do my networking there. That is totally fine too.

3 How do you plan to improve on what you learned?
  • The primary application of knowledge is at work. You want to think of upcoming projects or opportunities to apply this knowledge. For most people this comes up at a performance review that happens early in the year. Many people are also not comfortable making it public. If it is not bloggable that is ok – but if it is bloggable do consider sharing it. 
  • What are the chapter meetings, events you plan to speak at? If that is too much detail, consider how many of those you’d want to do.
  • What is the frequency of blogging you’d like to maintain?
  • Are you planning on writing books or coauthoring any?
  • Are you  planning on participating in forums to answer questions – such as on SQL ServerCentral.com?
  • Are you planning on any other group contribution – such as Idera’s #sqlchat on twitter or even answering #sqlhelp questions on twitter?
  • I’d put certifications and tests too in this category as they give a name to what you learn and add a credential.

So, that is quite a lot to think and write about.

T-SQL Tuesday #096: Folks Who Have Made a Difference

Invitation from Ewald Cress.

Because many of us have our brains fried after last week’s PASS Summit, I’m going for a non-technical subject: the opportunity to give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.

I can certainly think of many candidates for my submission, and the hardest part may be narrowing down the options to a manageable set. You may opt to write about a single incident, let rip with a mini-biography, or anything in between. And if you want to contextualise it with juicy technical detail, be my guest!

Since I’m hosting, I get to jump the queue at this point by thanking Adam Machanic. His blogging and writing has provided me with much food for thought over my SQL Server career, and I loved that one chance I got to attend a one-day precon with him a few years ago. He is a total rock star, and I mean that in the nicest possible sense.

Adam has created and gently managed this particular medium of T-SQL Tuesday, which has given me a few much-needed writing deadlines and an opportunity to connect with people I wouldn’t normally cross paths with. Exhibit A: Deb Melkin and I killing time with conversation in the airport last Saturday. We had never met before, but had participated in T-SQL Tuesday together – my first one IIRC – which was pretty much the extent of our prior acquaintance.

He has also helped me in a more direct way. A few months ago, I was considering submitting a session for SQL Saturday, and found myself staring at his great blog post on writing abstracts. Feeling the need to bounce some ideas around, I emailed him with a few simple questions. His very detailed response was helpful in getting my thoughts crystallised, but the interaction also gave me the courage to go for it. So thank you, Adam.

You get the idea. Find a person or several people to pick on, and tell us a shareable story or two about how they have made a positive contribution in your life.

T-SQL Tuesday #095 – Big Data

Invitation  and roundup from Derik Hammer.

This month’s topic: Big Data

Big data is both a buzzword, or phrase, and a booming area of technology. Technical professionals and companies alike are investing a lot in big data and I want to hear your thoughts on the topic. Your post can be about; how big data affects the industry and our careers, how the cloud is enhancing our ability to work with big data, how you deal with big data in SQL Server on-premises, NoSQL, development challenges and strategies for working with internet of things data, or anything else you come up with. Big data has become quite large (pun intended) and should offer a lot of freedom for self-expression in this month’s posts.

The rules

  1. Write a post on the topic above.
  2. Schedule the post to go live on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 between 00:00 and 23:59 UTC.
  3. Include the TSQL Tuesday logo in the top of your post.
  4. Link the post back to this one and comment on this post advertising your post.
  5. Optional, but encouraged: Tweet a link to your post using the #tsql2sday hash tag on Twitter

Extra credit

Blend your topic with emerging technologies. Some examples:

  • Work with big data in Microsoft’s new Azure Cosmos DB.
  • Show how new SQL Server 2017 features impact big data in SQL Server.
  • Show how R and Polybase can use big data for predictive analytics.

Let’s All Get PoSh – What are you going to automate today for T-SQL Tuesday #094

The current invitation (September 2017) is for T-SQL Tuesday #94. Invitation  and Get-PostRoundup from Rob Sewell.

What are you going to automate today?

PowerShellIt is no surprise to those that know me that I will choose PowerShell as the topic for this month. I am passionate about PowerShell because it has enabled me to have the career I have today and to visit numerous countries all around the world, meet people and talk about PowerShell. By my reckoning searching the TSQL Tuesday website it has been over 3 years since we had a topic specific to PowerShell. So I would like you to blog about PowerShell and SQL Server (or other interesting data platform products)

If you don’t know or use PowerShell GREAT! That’s awesome.

Please spend an hour or so with it and tell us how you got on and what and how you learned. Just like Erik and Brent did. You could install one of the community modules like dbatools, dbareports , SQLDiagAPI  or the Microsoft ones sqlserver or SSRS and try them out and tell us what you learned.

To participate:

  1. Write a post on the topic below
  2. Schedule the post to go live on Tuesday, September 12th (between zero am and midnight, UTC)
  3. Include the TSQL Tuesday logo in the top of your post
  4. Link the post back to this one (it’s easier if you comment on this post and link it)
  5. Optional: Tweet a link to your post using the #tsql2sday hash tag on Twitter

T-SQL Tuesday #093 – Interviewing Patterns & Anti-Patterns

Invitation and advice from the community from Kendra Little.

What advice do you have for people preparing for or going throughn interview?

Feel free to be creative on this topic. Take whichever approach you like best:

  • You may focus on patterns to follow for success
  • You may list anti-patterns, too: things that might seem like a good idea, but are a recipe for disaster
  • You can write about your own highs and lows as a candidate or as an interviewer
  • Be as specific as you want for interviewing for or hiring for your given skillset, whether you’re a developer, DBA, manager, consultant, or something else entirely

Whichever route you take, it’s probably a good idea to disguise the identities of past employers, candidates, etc.

Personally, I’m going to take the approach of writing about an interview for a SQL Server position that I completely bombed as a candidate, and why it ended up being one of the best learning experiences of my life (although it was painful at the time). It taught me a lot about successful interviewing patterns.

I can’t wait to learn about YOUR interviewing patterns and anti-patterns as well.

Get ready, get set, get blogging!

T-SQL Tuesday #92, Lessons learned the hard way

Current Invitation and roundup from Raul Gonzalez.

For this month, I want you peers to write about those important lessons that you learned the hard way, for instance something you did and put your systems down or maybe something you didn’t do and took your systems down. It can be also a bad decision you or someone else took back in the day and you’re still paying for it…

There are so many things to share here so everybody can learn from each others mistakes, because all of us were once a beginner and no one is born with any knowledge about SQL Server.

Please do not be ashamed of sharing your experiences, you can anonymize the whole story if you want but remember all people make mistakes, the important is to learn from them and try not to repeat them in the future.

T-SQL Tuesday #091 – Databases and DevOps

Invitation  and roundup from Grant Fritchey.

Implementing DevOps with databases presents a unique set of challenges. However, just because something might be hard doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done.

I had the opportunity to work with a team of developers, database developers and DBAs under a management team that all agreed on the common goal we had, delivering more, better performing applications, faster. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were doing DevOps.

DevOps gets a bad name because, well, the problems that DevOps sets out to solve, poor communication, bad teamwork, dysfunctional development and badly configured and maintained processes, are  done by the same team that attempts to implement DevOps. However, they look on it as a purely mechanical switch that they throw, assign some poor person to the role of DevOps Coordinator (or something) and then maintain the status quo in regards to their culture and approach to software. Shocking that implementing this doesn’t work.

Then, toss in databases with the whole issues around persistence, and things go nuts.

This then, is my choice for T-SQL Tuesday. How do we approach DevOps as developers, DBAs, report writers, analysts and database developers? How do we deal with data persistence, process, source control and all the rest of the tools and mechanisms, and most importantly, culture, that would enable us to get better, higher functioning teams put together? Please, tell me your DevOps stories.

T-SQL Tuesday #090 – Shipping Database Changes

Invitation and wrap up from James Anderson.

I was once asked to add a new feature to an application. It was installed on multiple SQL Server instances across multiple physical sites. The problem was that different instances of the application had different database schemas. New code may work on my local schema, but it could fail on the different schemas in live.

To develop the feature, I knew that I needed one universal version of the database schema.

I merged the schemas into a version that met the requirements of all environments and redeployed. Once in source control, this schema became the single source of truth that all future deployments were built from.

Not only did this solve my problem, it served as the foundation for the automation of builds, tests and deployments.

I’ve been interested in Continuous Integration and Database Lifecycle Management ever since. For more details, check my series of posts that start with SQL Server & Continuous Integration.

For this T-SQL Tuesday, I’d like to hear about your thoughts or experiences with database deployments.

Read the rules below and join in by publishing a short post about database deployments. If you develop or deploy database changes, I want to hear about it.

Your post can cover anything related to database deployments, but if you need inspiration, feel free to cover any of the topics below:

T-SQL Tuesday #089 – The times they are a-changing

Invitation and roundup from Koen VerBeeck.

This months topic is inspired by the blog post Will the Cloud Eat My DBA Job? by Kendra Little. Technology has changed a lot in the past years, especially with cloud/globalization/automation. What an impact has this had on your job? Do you feel endangered? Or do you have more exciting features/toys to work with? Do you embrace the change and learn new skills? Or do you hide in your cubicle and fear the robot uprising? Let us know how you handle all these changes, or how you feel there are no changes at all for your current job. I’m looking forward to learn how you feel about the future of data management/analysis and how you plan to deal with it.

T-SQL Tuesday #088 – The daily (database-related) WTF

Invitation from Kennie Pontoppidan.

The daily (database-related) WTF

Be inspired by the IT horror stories from http://thedailywtf.com, and tell your own daily WTF story. The truly original way developers generated SQL in project X. Or what the grumpy “DBA” imposed on people in project Y. Or how the architect did truly weird “database design” on project Z

One of my favorite dailyWTF stories is the on about the BIG red button.

Could be that someone from within Amazon will tell that the true story of the AWS glitch last week was a T-SQL dynamic query gone bad.. Or that the HSBC online banking outage last month was as simple USE (wrong) database mistake. Or whatever you guys (or that guy over there) did.