T-SQL Tuesday #112 – Dipping into your Cookie Jar

Invitation and roundup from Shane O’Neil

I’ve been listening to audio-books on the way into work, and the current one struck a cord with me.

It’s “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins and it is about his story from a rough upbringing “into a US Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes“.

One part of the story that has stuck in my mind is where he talks about “dipping into the cookie jar“. It’s an analogy that is easy to follow when you understand it.

Dipping into the Cookie Jar is about when the going gets tough and you don’t think you can handle anymore, then you think back about your accomplishments and take some sustenance from them. You dip back into that cookie jar and use whatever energy that provides to keep going.

Things are going to be tough for everyone at some stage or another. There are going to be low points spread out among the highs. While I know that reaching out to the SQL Family is an amazing external resource to help lift the members up, I think it’s also important for people to remember those accomplishments and realise that they have an internal resource as well.

That is what I want from the contributors of this T-SQL Tuesday, those memories that they can think back on for sustenance. Like the humble cookie, I want a humble brag.

Share some cookies

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is about finding those cookies and sharing them.

These cookies do not have to be massive. Like the various cookies out there, they can be big or small – or even technical.

So tell me about a time when you had an accomplishment that can keep you going.

  • About the time you made your first server specification for a new SQL Server instance.
  • About the first time you wrote out the syntax for a Recursive CTE by memory.
  • About the time you knew the answer to a technology question from someone else.
  • About after all the study you passed the certificate you were after.
  • About the time you created a PowerShell script, or a Python script, etc. and it worked.
  • About the time you created a PowerShell script, or a Python script, etc. and it didn’t work but you were able to fix it.
  • About how you inherited an unorganised instance and made improvements to it.
  • About how you stood, trembling and scared for your first presentation, but you did it in the end.

The above “cookies” are all technical but your ones don’t have to be. Whatever your favourite cookie is, let me know.

T-SQL Tuesday #111 – What is Your “Why?”

Invitation and roundup from Andy Leonard.

What is Your “Why?”

I enjoy math. I noticed a pattern learning math, perhaps you experienced something similar. I found arithmetic an exercise in memory. I have a good memory (well, I had a good memory…) so memorizing a bunch of rules was no big deal. 

When I learned algebra, arithmetic made more sense. In addition to the memorized rules, I saw why the rules existed. I understood the rules better as a result.

This pattern held all through my math education. I understand algebra better once I learned geometry. I understood geometry better once I learned trigonometry. I understood trigonometry better once I learned single-variable calculus.

An Axiom (for me)

I notice a similar pattern applies to my career (or careers, as the case may be). I’ve served in many roles: 

  • Farm laborer
  • Musician
  • Stockyard laborer
  • Truck driver
  • Service technician
  • Soldier (part-time in the Virginia Army National Guard)
  • Electrician
  • Electrical engineer
  • Electronics technician
  • Manufacturing automation integrator
  • Software developer
  • Author
  • Data professional
  • Entrepreneur

The similar pattern manifests itself in this manner: I’ve enjoyed the position – and more success in the position – when I had a reason to do the work; some reason other than a paycheck. In some cases, I had multiple “why’s” beyond remuneration. For example, I join the Virginia Army National Guard to learn electronics and serve my country – to especially protect everyone’s right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. I may not agree with what people say, but I was (and still am) willing to fight and die to preserve the right of US citizens to say whatever they want. 

As a result, I enjoyed serving in the National Guard (for the most part). I learned more. I learned better, I think, because I enjoyed serving.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship can be challenging. I believe one needs a “why” – or perhaps several “why’s” to remain an entrepreneur. The “why” cannot simply be money. Money isn’t inconsequential, mind you, but I believe the best “why’s” are less tangible.

Passion plays a major role for me. When business isn’t going well or when business is going too well, a couple intangible “why’s” – passions for both entrepreneurship and the kind of work I am blessed to do – inspire me to keep a steady hand on the tiller.

What is Your “Why?”

That’s the question this month: Why do you do what you do?

I look forward to your replies.

T-SQL Tuesday #110 – Automate All the Things

Invitation and recap from Garry Bargsley.

Have you heard the phrase “Automate All the Things”?  That seemed to be the top buzz phrase of 2018 and means different things to different people.

Kicking off the T-SQL Tuesday season for 2019, I would like to ask, what does “Automate All the Things” mean to you?  Everyone’s environment is different, everyone’s day-to-day looks different, everyone is a fan of different technologies and everyone’s environment is of different size.  While I might want to automate checking of my backup success across my 500 servers, you might want to automate how new servers are provisioned.  This can be a very broad topic, that could include a broad range of technologies.  You might choose one type of technology to accomplish a task, where I might choose another.

So technically there are two tasks for this month:

  • What do you want to automate or what automation are you proud of completing?
  • What is your go-to technology for automation?

Possible suggestions/ideas:

  • PowerShell
  • Chef
  • Ansible
  • Terraform
  • DevOps
  • tSQLt
  • Containers
  • Cloud
  • VSTS
  • Python
  • Bash
  • Code Deployments
  • VS Code
  • dbatools
  • T-SQL (honorable mention)

T-SQL Tuesday #109: Influence Somebody

Invitation and recap from Jason Brimhall.

T-SQL Tuesday 109: Influence Somebody Invite

In November 2017, Ewald Cress (b | t) invited everybody to talk about and basically give thanks to people that have helped impact their careers or lives. Check out the roundup here.

In December 2017, Mala Mahadevan (b | t) invited everybody to set goals for themselves. These goals were supposed to be about learning. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, anything that helps build character and career really comes from something that must be learned. It all starts with a bit of introspection. It is this introspection that I ask you to use as a building block for the party this month.

Lastly, in May 2018, Riley Major (b | t) asked everybody to reflect a bit on the theme from Ewald. This time though, the task was to give back to the community. Pay it forward, if you will, given that you had previously benefited from the kindness of somebody else.

Invitation

Building on the work of these three fine individuals, here comes the difficult task. You have been the benefactor of some awesome help from somebody else. You even wrote about it and in a way, told that person how they impacted you, your career, or both. You have set goals for yourself to become a better you after some personal reflection, meditation, introspection. Then you have given back to the community in some way.

I am not asking you to be braggy, just aware and cognizant. What have you done to impact somebody else in the last 13 months?

How do you know you have impacted them? This is really the hard question. I want stories of how you impacted somebody else for the better. This may mean you will need to talk to some people and have a little retrospective with them.

Why?

This past year we lost some real juggernauts in the SQL Community such as Robert Davis (blog). We all know he impacted many people. We can also assume that he knew he impacted peoples lives. How great would it have been to sit down and have a personal discussion with him to let him know for certain how he impacted your career?

At PASS Summit, I had the opportunity to have such a discussion with somebody completely out of the blue. I know how much that meant to me. I also know that I was rather unaware of the influence I had on this individual.

How?

If you have not already had the opportunity to discuss your influence, make the opportunity. If you have mentored somebody, have a chat with them. If you work with somebody that you might have influenced, have a candid chat. Ask them directly if you have been able to be a good influence to them. Ask them how you might be able to better help them.

I know, this gets us all out of our comfort zones – but we need to do things like this. It is a method of both giving thanks as well as just giving (it is the season).

If you are reading this and don’t feel you have influenced somebody, then talk to somebody that has influenced you. Let them know how you influenced them.

Then, after having this candid chat, please write about both the experience (even the awkwardness), anything you learned from the conversation, as well as some details around what it is you did that impacted said individual.

Doing this little exercise will not only help you to become a more involved team member, community member, and leader it will also help you improve on some of the interpersonal skills used for networking as well as public speaking.

T-SQL Tuesday #108 – Non SQL Server Technologies

The invitation and summary is from Malathi Mahadevan.

Non SQL Server Technologies

This is also the week of the PASS Summit – the one conference that is still the largest gathering of folks active in the SQL community.  For people like me, who have done the yearly trek to the summit more than a dozen times, it is literally like a family reunion. Aside from these sentiments – what has changed significantly about PASS Summit is that it is no longer a conference entirely dedicated to just SQL Server. There is so much more there – DevOps, Data Science/Machine Learning related, CosmosDB, PowerBI/data visualisation, Entity Framework, Micro Services, on and on. What it indicates is how much data world is expanding and how necessary it is for us to keep up with that. There was a time when I personally wanted to do MCM and retire a SQL Server guru – the MCM went away and right now I know for sure that just insisting on being a SQL Server Guru will not take me very far. I am actively learning how to work with DevOps, PostGres, ElasticSearch, and a number of other things.

So the challenge for this T-SQL Tuesday is – pick one thing you want to learn that is not SQL Server. Write down ways and means to learn it and add it as another skill to your resume. If you are already learning it or know it – explain how you got there and how it has helped you. Your experience may help many others looking for guidance on this.

T-SQL Tuesday #107 – Death March

The invitation and roundup is from Jeff Mlakar.

The Death March

There is a famous book in our field written in the 2000’s by Ed Yourdon called “Death March“. In it he details the phenomenon in project management of death march software projects. He observed a trend in organizations who plan software projects to estimate so poorly that completion becomes overwhelming and unlikely.

More companies than ever before could be considered “software companies”. Project planning hasn’t gotten much better over time and we still have terribly managed projects. The best reason to explain this I found on Quora – Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3? In particular, read the answer by Michael Wolfe midway through the page. It is both a humorous and scary analogy.

On this month of Halloween we are going to discuss our death march project horrors!

Mission Directive

Ed Yourdon's Death March

I invite you to share a story about a project you worked on or were impacted by that went horribly wrong. You do not have to have been a developer. Any role you played whether it was a sysadmin, DBA, business analyst, systems analyst, project manager, consultant, QA, etc. is entry requirements for this.

A word of advice – please change the name of the company unless you want to burn that bridge. For example: instead of saying “I worked for IBM…” you could say “I worked for a large technology consulting company”. I’m not trying to get anyone fired here!

Tell me your project horror stories – the worse the better.

T-SQL Tuesday #106 – Trigger Headaches or Happiness

Invitation from Steve Jones

Triggers, for fun and frustration

I’ve been working with SQL Server and T-SQL a long time, and across many jobs, I think I’ve ended up using triggers in 0.01% of my tables or less. They can be a useful and helpful construct, but they can also be problematic and difficult, especially in the age of changing business models and rules.

Since I’ve found triggers to be both helpful and hurtful, I decided to ask you to write about an experience you’ve had with triggers. Either good or bad, but let me know this month what stands out in your mind.

T-SQL Tuesday #105 – Brick Wall

Invitation and WrapUp from Wayne Sheffield.

Brick Wall

Tell me about a time when you ran up against your own brick wall, and how you worked it out or dealt with it. Did you start working on a project only to find a brick wall that had been hidden? Was your brick wall:

  • A technological hurdle to overcome?
  • Brought about by your not having sufficient knowledge of the product?
  • A person?

Whatever you choose, tell us about a brick wall that you ran into and how you dealt with it (did you get help from someone/someplace? Wake up in the middle of the night with the solution?).

Most importantly, publish your post sometime on Tuesday, 2018-08-14 UTC time.

Request to Host T-SQL Tuesday

Note: Organization of the T-SQL Tuesday blog party has changed to Steve Jones as of July 2018.

In order to manage the hosting, I’ve set up this page to allow  you to leave a comment  contact me and request a date. Ping me on Twitter (@way0utwest) as that’s the best way to find me. Use either a mention or a direct message.

If you request a chance at hosting, you must abide by the rules for T-SQL Tuesday. I do maintain a list of banned hosts, and if you do not abide by the rules, you will be banned from hosting in the future.

I would also request that if you are selected, you do the following:

  • Set a reminder for either the first Monday or Tuesday of your month to post the invitation on your blog.
  • At this time, post a note on Twitter that the invitation is live
  • Ping me when you post the invitation
  • Set a reminder for the second Monday and/or Tuesday of the month to send some reminders on Twitter about your invitation and ask that others post (or pre-schedule a few)
  • Set a reminder for sometimes the day after (second Wednesday) through that next Saturday to review posts and write a roundup/summary
  • Set a reminder for the third Tuesday of the month to be sure you’ve posted a roundup
  • Ping me when you post the round up / summary

If you are selected, I will also ask that your topic be ready a month in advance in case the previous host has issues. In that case, I’ll move your month up.

Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you host in the future.

Steve Jones

 

T-SQL Tuesday #104 – Code You Would Hate To Live Without

Invitation and Roundup from Bert Wagner The next invitation should be released on August 7.

Code You Would Hate To Live Without

Before modern online programming communities, finding good code samples or sharing your own code was challenging. Forums and email lists (if searchable) were good, but beyond that you had to rely on books, coworkers, and maybe a local meetup of like-minded individuals to help you work through your programming problems.

Check out this month’s T-SQL Tuesday invitation in visual form!

Today, accessing and using code from the internet is second nature – I almost always first look online to see if a good solution already exists.  At the very least, searching blogs, GitHub, and StackOverflow for existing code is a great way to generate ideas.

For this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, I want you to write about code you’ve written that you would hate to live without.

Maybe you built a maintenance script to free up disk space, wrote a query to gather system stats for monitoring, or coded some PowerShell to clean up string data.  Your work doesn’t need to be completely original either – maybe you’ve improved the code in some open source project to better solve the problem for your particular situation.

There’s probably someone out there in the world who is experiencing the same problem that you have already solved; let’s make their life a little easier by sharing.

And don’t worry if your code isn’t perfect – just explain how your solution works and if you are aware of any caveats.  If it’s not an exact solution for someone else’s problem, at the very least it may help them generate some ideas.