Showing posts with label Personal Development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Development. Show all posts


I'm Back!

I've been gone... wow. Since March 31st of this year?! Let's fix that.

So what has been holding me back? 

Kids? I have three! 2, 15, 18. One wants to drive, one wants to move out into the world, the other wants to rule the world. 

Wife? She's always there for me... always... there... always.

Work? We get short breaks on the weekends.. I guess. Unless called, or working or...

Events? SQL Saturdays, Summit coming up, User group meetings...

Training / School? This is the training that never ends. yes it goes on and on and on and...

Well. Let's get a little more honesty here. What's been holding me back is me. It's time to fix any excuses and get moving again! I've slowed down too much.

My kids are supportive. They give me time to study and are really good at being quiet when I'm taking tests and what not. That's a lot to ask for already. My 2 year old will even happily sit in my lap and watch me work as long as school bus is playing somewhere. This kid loves her some Magic School Bus. 

My wife is always there, to help make sure the house gets taken care of and I get time to work. Life happens and it's not always perfect, but there is a large amount of effort there. I truly couldn't appreciate it more. 

Work is actually rather great. I get time to study and learn new things. We're making fantastic improvements in how we grow and work our business. We all get along here in IT. no one tries to pull rank on anyone and everything just works. (Weird right?) 

We have so much help from the community it's awe inspiring. These events almost run them selves once you push that snow ball down a hill. It's fantastic to see this come together. I've had random attendees to our SQL Sat come up and let me know things they took care of because it needed to be done. How awesome is that?

Training. Well this one is just what it is. Training never ends. That's a good thing. I think once we stop advancing, we only start to decline. I don't honestly believe in knowledge being stagnant. 

My wife even went one step further this year. I got my anniversary present from her. It still needs a bit of work... but she's committed to giving me time and ability to work, that this appeared in our backyard. 

Grumpy cat is needed to keep me company though. It does get quiet in my backyard box. Furniture will update when I get the walls in. 

To make things better? It even has the most requested and required tools available to your studying needs!

Yes, I realize this needs a few things... like insulation, proper lights, electricity, sheetrock... a floor? But for day one, it's usable. We turned our old storage shed spot into a place where we can work without distractions. She can come out on days that she needs some time just the same.

My biggest problems keeping up on blog posts and dedicating time to training was my own fault.
I'm fixing it with a bit of help (a lot) from the family. I'm hoping this is the start of another spring forward as well. Besides, when one node of our AG goes down on my kids birthday again, we don't have to try to find a quiet spot and interrupt the party, again. :)

I'm pretty excited. I hope to post more here. I think some quiet swinging in a hammock is exactly what's needed to get back to writing.

See you all soon!


SQL Saturday Oklahoma City, OK: 422 August 29th, 2015!

We're proud to bring back the OKC SQL Saturday for the 5th year in a row! We have 3 precons setup and ready to cover almost any interest! You can find more information about them here.

We're hoping to see new speakers this year! 

We will still have our normal speakers I'm sure. What I'm hoping for though... I'd love to see some first time speakers. Everyone has something to share! I'd like to open this up for you. Please send in your presentations, even if it's the first time you've ever done one! If you want help looking them over, I can help find some people just for that. I want to see our local community grow too!

We'll have lots of prizes!

We're hoping to see our same list of great sponsors this year, that we had last year. I want to make sure nothing is lost or forgotten! Everyone loves win cool items! I'll update this later with ideas on all the cool stuff we'll have. (Did I mention cool?)

FOOD! Everyone needs to eat right?

I will hopefully have that sorted this week. I swear it won't be sandwiches or pizza... This will be updated as well.

New Ideas!

Honestly, I want to hear from you on this one. What would you like to see for a SQL Saturday? What have you been missing? Let's see what we can do!!

In the comments, I'd love to hear any new ideas, people that may want to speak but just don't have that push, favorite rainbow colored kittens... just about anything!


I'm Speaking at SQL Saturday 300 - Kansas City and a Few Questions About SQL Saturdays!

This is just a short update. I will be speaking at SQL Saturday Kansas City! I really hope to see you all there. This will be my last SQL Saturday this year. If anyone has seen my presentation, how do you think I did?

I've wondered a few things about SQL Saturdays from other people... Please indulge me.

How often do you attend a SQL Saturday outside of your state?

How often do you attend a SQL Saturday outside of your state that you're not speaking at?

Do you see any benefit to having multiple SQL Saturdays in the same state?

Do you see any benefit to having multiple SQL Saturdays in the same location? Basis for the idea is a twice a year thing for smaller states.

Do you learn a lot when you go?

How often have you found a vendor with a product you've never known about?

I'm really curious what your answers might be. As a reward, I'll purchase a 30 day Plural Sight card and give it away October 15th to a random person who answers these questions for me. A show of good faith, here's my answers.

1) How often do you attend a SQL Saturday outside of your state?
4-6 times a year

2) How often do you attend a SQL Saturday outside of your state that you're not speaking at?
Once a year roughly. (I need to get better about that)

3) Do you see any benefit to having multiple SQL Saturdays in the same state?
In very large states, I can see a good reason. (California, Texas, ect)

4) Do you see any benefit to having multiple SQL Saturdays in the same location? Basis for the idea is a twice a year thing for smaller states.
Currently no. I don't think we could get vendor support for something like that without having a building gifted to us as well for the event.

5) Do you learn a lot when you go?
I learn a fair bit when I can attend the sessions. I make a lot of connections as well.

6) How often have you found a vendor with a product you've never known about?
Twice actually. We bought their product within 180 days of viewing it.

See, that wasn't so bad.^.^ 


Speaker Buddy System

SirSQL made a rather stirring post recently. He talked about a speaker buddy system to help out new speakers in our community that are trying to make the jump to a SQL Saturday or any larger event. I think it's a fantastic idea. He brought on a story of a girl named Anna who felt so put off by her experience that she'll never speak again. Anna was made up for his post to emphasize his point. I'm going to add a personal story to this as well.

I've been helping with SQL Saturdays in OKC, OK for going on 4 years. I decided to get into speaking this year. I haven't given a presentation or had any face time in front of a large group (3+ people) since high school.My first presentation was at our local user group. They gave great feedback and gave me some great pointers. My second one was in Tulsa's local user group. Great people, great presentation and useful feedback. 3 days after that, me and my wife drove down to Houston's SQL Saturday and I gave my first presentation at a SQL Saturday. 

I noticed a few things that I hadn't before. I've been to multiple SQL Saturdays in various states. I've helped presenters who struggled figuring out how that school or building sets up their projection system. I've seen speakers and people in general that were lost to where they're supposed to go. I've seen presenters rushing in the crowd with the rest of us trying to get to a room on time. The difference for them is that they still need to sit down, set up, check that the presentation view or demo comes over correctly and calm down for the presentation.

 When I sat behind the desk for my first SQL Saturday, I had to figure out what strange settings and controls their presentation setup had. I have no clue why it seems like every school and conference center insists on having a completely different presentation setup. I digress. I was a bit familiar with the drill. I got in the room, started setting up immediately, checked the screens and just waited. I was excited, nervous and a bit on edge to see how many people came in the room and what sort of questions I'd get.

I had 4 people show up. One was a couple who stared at their phones the entire time. My presentation went a bit faster than it should have since I had no audience to get some back and forth with. I was not prepared for a 4 person silent room. I had one question that was related to but off the main topic and in an area I'm not 100% familiar with. If that had been my first interaction with SQL Saturdays, it would have been my last. I had driven 9 hours down on my weekend to stand in front of 4 people to give a quick nervous presentation and not be able to answer the one question asked, even if it was off topic. 

I would have loved to have someone in there that's done this a few times. They might have been able to stir a few questions out and help me see how to spin up a crowd. They could have given me some advice on what I did wrong or right. If I hadn't worked with a dozen or so different projection setups in the past, they would have been extremely useful in helping me not stress over hooking up a screen.

Now, I know that's not how all SQL Saturdays are. Very few actually end up like that. I know my topic is a bit strange anyways. I've signed up to speak and 5 locations this year. Houston, Baton Rouge, OKC, Kansas City and St. Louis. I've been accepted to the first 4 and St. Louis hasn't closed yet. I plan on treating each and every one of these as my first event. I think a first time speaker buddy system is a fantastic idea. I hope it catches on quickly.


Collaborated Training: What Legacy Will You Leave?

My very first IT job was a bit daunting for me. I really wanted to do my best but I wasn't really sure what they did. One of our supervisors had built a large collection of documentation and a list of our most common issues. It helped so much. That doesn't work as well in the database world. I do document my code and am building documentation on our projects so that everyone has better information. How do I leave behind something that someone else could use beyond simple documentation?


Odd lead in I know. What I plan on doing is simple though. Every day I come across something I've not learned yet but may have some interest in. I plan on creating a folder with the main term listed with an X at the end. This will only signify that I have nothing in that folder yet. When I get time later, I'll go back to each X and see what strikes me as interesting that day.  

Expanding on this idea

At first I'm going to make it simple and keep it to my close friends. The idea would be that anyone can create the folder and put items in each one. Something you didn't even think about may appear suddenly full of information. Something like this could start small scale and end up being a strong repository for multiple people within a few user groups or even beyond. I know we have forums now... but they don't really isolate information for long term use short of searching.

Keeping it clean

I might build it out at the start... but honestly moving stuff around later shouldn't be an issue. At first it will be just a list of items. It'll slowly transform into groups of folders divided by subject. I'm thinking a master legend that's updated weekly/monthly may be good as well. I'm going to set a few requirements on people that upload information that I plan to follow as well. All documents will be labeled BriefInformation-Date-VersionNumber(if applicable). Information within the document should include proper citing. If someone is recording a complete work of someone else, they will need to identify where they got it, when it was obtained and a link back to that location. I should be able to get better ideas of what to write as I slowly build out my personal list of things I don't know.


Yes, there is a down side of sorts. If you move on quickly against your will... you may lose control of this. That's where you need to maintain good backups or have an agreement that you can retrieve this before you leave. A worst case scenario is that they may assume they can continue on without you and replace you with a cheaper newer model. That's always the fear of making work look too easy. It's good to declare goals and show accomplishments. There are just simply things you cannot predict. 


It's a strong word to use... but hear me out. It's easy to keep a copy of good works for personal use if you keep good backups. Now I'm not saying that you should keep proprietary information... that should have its own folder. Consider what you could gather with this. Most things we learn come from a necessity of some sort. Consider all the things you've learned over the last year or so. How helpful would that have been in one central location for you? Think of all the good an internal WIKI would do? 

I pose this to you. Create this for your own environment and keep a copy for you should you leave. Every new place you go set it up again and keep working on it. How far can this go in a month, year, or even a decade? I've forgotten well more than I can remember. Take all that information you hold and store it mentally offline. This could save you and your co-workers months of effort. Every place you leave will be able to spin the new guy up with ease.  

Final Product

I plan on having something soon to show off for you all. I want to show a working skeleton with instructions and suggestions. I plan on showing price options and alternates for those a bit more cash strapped. I want to have something up and working in the next month that my close friends can demo and work. If anyone has any suggestions, I'll gladly listen to them. I'd even like to eventually get a developer friend or two to work up an app for my phone to hit my site and let me pull up information or write down ideas on the go. If this already exists... throw me a line, I'd love to know.

What do you all think of this idea?


Come see me in Baton Rouge Aug 2nd!

I've been accepted for SQL Saturday Baton Rouge!

Yes, I am a little excited. I've wanted to become a speaker for some time. I'm excited to be speaking at my second SQL Saturday. My first session was at SQL Saturday Houston. I'll be honest, I chose the less used topic of fill factor. I honestly didn't expect it to be a session picked very often. So far I'm 2/2 on submissions. I'll be speaking at the last spot of the day,enough about that for now.

There are many other great speakers coming to SQL Saturday Baton Rouge! It's really hard to beat a free event with tons of free training and contacts you can make going forward. I honestly thing SQL Saturdays are what will keep MS SQL Server ahead in the game. I've not seen any other DB Software offer so much training and support for free or have near as strong of a community. Honestly, if you know of one... I'd love to know about it. 

Free Training?!

I've talked about a few free training sources before. SQL Saturdays, User Groups, website links I personally like, ideas on what I did as a junior DBA, Lists of many other resources and I even post scripts I find useful. You might even be able to talk your boss into a free lunch while getting some free training! 

What I'd like to see is some of you post something you've learned. I don't mean just here, I mean anywhere. What have you been learning recently? What are some subjects you wish you knew more about? Is there something you've been working with that you didn't find much information about? These can all lead to good presentations! Have you thought about speaking at your User Group? They don't bite... It's a great place to get started. 

Thank You!

Honestly, thank you all. I've been writing since November. From the people who've posted on my site, the e-mails I've received, and just the number of people who've visited the site... Thank you. This was a big motivation to start trying to present and I'm even working on a second presentation now. I encourage anyone who wants to speak to do so. 


Tulsa User Group

I love user groups.

I have a special place in my heart for people who go out and give their time and knowledge away for free. I've written before about user groups. I used to think a good year of training involved a pretty specific list.

1) 12 local user group meetings (monthly visit)
2) Local SQL Saturday
3) Try to visit a few SQL Saturdays outside of your state if you can. Houston, Dallas, Kansas, New Mexico all have SQL Saturdays and are close to here. (Oklahoma, ours is August 23rd, 2014!)
4) Keep up with free training.
5) Try to present something, even a lighting talk for 15 minutes just to get up and involved.

I think I need to expand that list now. Jeremy Marx did a fantastic presentation on BIML. So far it was the best one yet. Tulsa invited me up to speak not too long ago and I have to say that it was a rather awesome experience. The people were exceedingly friendly, the venue was rather nice and it was overall just a great event. 

I'd like to add to my list. I think it's worth it to make that 90 minute drive each way if the training is right. Those same presentations that you're going to a SQL Saturday for are given first in these user groups. We go to presentations that interest us or at least address a specific problem. You have the ability to ask the presenter specific questions without a very strict time limit and when you do get into a discussion after the event... you're not rushing to the next class. 

I'm not saying to go to every user group meeting in a 200 mile radius... but I am saying that it's worth it to check into the ones around you. Every now and then they'll have one of those presentations worth taking a half day from work to attend.

To the Tulsa group; thank you for inviting me to such a wonderful event. I had a lot of fun.


5 Years Running! OKCSQL!

I want to congratulate OKCSQL on a 5 year run. 

I personally wasn't here for that whole duration, but we have leaders and members that have been. We’re still growing and have plenty of room for new members. We have an awesome group! We have some fantastic sponsors even. GDH has been a sponsor for our group the entire 5 years. This month we have additional sponsors as well, Principal TechnologiesRedgate and Dell.

Jen and Sean McCown are speaking in person for us!

They're even doing a special double header for us. Here is a quick copy and paste from the OKCSQL site:

"Sean McCown is our first in person speaker and The title for the talk is: DIY Performance Reporting, it will start at approximately 6:15 and will cover:
Stop relying on vendors to provide you with performance data. Between Windows and SQL Server you've already got all you need to collect and report on server performance. And it’s far more flexible than you’ll ever get from a vendor. This is often called a poor man’s method, but it’s so much more than that. I’m going to show you what your options are for collecting performance data for free and you’ll even walk away with a framework you can plug into your own environment and start using tomorrow with very little effort.

Jen McCown is our next in person speaker and The title for the talk is: How to Build a SQL Solution, it will start at approximately 7:15 and will cover:

In this session, you’ll learn about SQL Server stored procedures (SPs): what they are, when and why you’d use them, and how you’d go about developing a solution with one. We will address common SP myths and learn about planning for performance. Most of all, we’ll walk through examples to explore the process of solution building in SQL Server."

This is a completely free event. We have prizes, pizza, and great training. Everyone is invited. Please come visit us and get some free training. We meet every second Monday of the month. I hope to see you there!


My Favorite Free Scripts

I'll start off with Ola Hallengren's scripts. I'm not a fan of reinventing the wheel. If someone makes gold, I tend to want to use it. Ola's scripts are fantastic. They're even already updated for 2014! You do have to contact them for the CTP version of the scripts.

These scripts cover your backups, index maintenance, verifies the integrity of your databases and logs the results of all of this for you. You can set up one part or all. This covers all of your 101 DBA requirements to keep your servers running in a safe fashion.  They even give examples of what you might want to throw into the script! It doesn't get much easier than this.

Adam Machanic wrote a great script called "Who is Active". He even has a 30 part blog series on the ins and outs of this procedure found here. Just about anything you want to know can be found there. It's a fantastic script. I would familiarize yourself with it prior to relying on it for day to day operations. 

Kendra Little has a great video and some sample scripts to run to view what indexes your server is wanting. As she will stress, do not just put them all into your database. Too much of a good thing can be really really bad. This is where we look for all that beautiful low hanging fruit.

On the same site as the Missing Indexes video by Kendra Little, there is a great script called SP_BlitzIndex. This was written by the same group. It's the step beyond just looking for missing indexes. Take the time to look through this when you have some time. This is not a place I'd look with a fire to put out... At first anyways. Learn about it in detail before assuming too much and jumping into it.

SP_Blitz was written by the Brent Ozar group and it helps you identify many pain points really quickly and even includes a link to what those mean and suggestions on how to handle it. Honestly, how nice is it these exist for us?!

What Can We Do?

So here we have 5 fantastic scripts. What will these accomplish? 
1) We start off with Ola's script and get our backups and index fragmentation under control. 
2) We find out from our users if anything in particular is slow or below SLA requirements. 
3) We run the SP_Blitz and see what shows up as a major issue.
4) We get a quick break down of what the Missing Indexes are suggesting.
5) We put all this together in a solid actionable list. 
6) We present our findings and come up with a solution to work on.

Yes I use the word "We" a lot. I do this on purpose. Correcting this many problems isn't a one person operation. You want the other product heads involved. You need to know what this could break or even if there's a problem you're currently trying to fix. If they need a report to respond in under a minute, spending a week trying to get it from 45 seconds to 5 seconds isn't where the focus should be unless everything else is working perfectly. 

There Is More Out There!

These are just 5 of the many many scripts out there for free that have been provided just to make your job easier. I've said it before, I'll say it again... MS SQL Server has a fantastic community around it. Few come even close. These 5 scripts alone can help a DBA sustain a workshop with minimal effort. Use this not as a crutch, but as a starting point to make everything even better. 

If you all know any other great scripts that can be added to this collection, I would love to hear it!


Free Month To PluralSight!

Free Month of PluralSight!

Ok, personally this is pretty cool. is giving away a free month to pluralsight! Well, let me rephrase a bit. They're giving away a free month of PluralSight to people who run a bit of code on their SQL Server(2005 and up) for 24 hours. The code and full post is here. I understand that they're essentially paying us for a 24 hour snippet of data but look at all the rewards? We get 30 days of PluralSight and a free second opinion oh what those wait stats should mean to us. 

They have said that they only have a limited supply. I submitted my own results and I received the code within about 2 minutes of sending the E-Mail. I personally got a subscription to PluralSight during Black Friday where they had a rather large discount for a year. I have one single code that I do not need and I'd like to hear from someone learning that doesn't have a server they can use to take hold of this great offer SQLSkills is hosting. 

I'd like to donate my key to you.

I'll draw the name out of a hat before the end of the day. I'm looking for people who need a key and don't have a server to use. 

I think this is great and would like to commend all of our SQL Blog posters who give away training for free. They've gone a step further and given away access to training that has other peoples training as well for free. 


SQL Saturday OKC 309!

SQL Saturday OKC is coming up!

The event will be August 23rd, 2014!

Now is the time to get signed up. We already have three great precons ready.




All three of these sessions are being done by well respected authors. These are all on an early bird special until July 15th. The normal price is 120, currently they're 99$. We will are excited to host this great event again. If you're not familiar with the SQL Saturday concept, SQLCenturion wrote a rather extensive blog post on his experiences running them here. I have my own take on them from an attendee perspective as well.

I will be submitting to OKC and I hope many other speakers do as well. Given the list we've had in the last few years, I think we'll have a fantastic event once again. I really hope to see you all there.

If you  plan on coming out and would like any local information such as where to find a good restaurant, where is the good theater, or where can I play some putt-putt, feel free to drop a line. I will be at the event and the after party for it. I'd love to meet the people willing to endure this blog. ^.^

While we're on the subject of free training, don't forget to talk your boss into a free lunch or to work on the other free training sites available to you. 

Never stop learning or growing. 


First Presentation Ever And My 50th Post

Last Monday was the first time I've ever presented anything. Honestly, it was the first time really speaking in public in front of a large group. I learned a few things then. This may seem obvious to anyone who's done this even  through high school... but I didn't really do that.

Brent Ozar has a good blog on how to start a blog right here. I decided after reading multiple blogs on SQLServerCentral and other sites that I wanted to start one. I started watching Sean and Jen McCown's Midnight web show, Friday at 11pm central, and going to multiple SQLSaturdays. I decided I wanted to present for the first time.

I did a presentation on fill factor. I chose this topic because I didn't see much around on it and I really wanted to explore what all it meant. I've come to understand a lot more while building the presentation. I'm going to share a few things that helped and didn't along the way.

I started off recording my presentation and giving it to just myself, then I made my poor wife listen to it a few times. It is surprisingly helpful to have someone with no knowledge on the subject sit there. They ask the questions you never expect. That added two slides a bit better explanation and a reminder that I repeat my self way too often. I noticed that I talk a little to fast and I do not transition well. I'm sure that will be easier when the nerves aren't acting up. I made an emergency run to best buy two days before the presentation because I didn't own a web cam so I made an emergency run to best buy. I plan on going back and recording my presentation a few more times until I become a lot more comfortable with it before I try to take this into a SQL Saturday style setting.

I brought along laser pointer presenter device. I was using SQLCenturions. It does the job rather well. The timer alone makes it worth it honestly. I could see that I was 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I also had to borrow my poor daughters laptop. I have a lovely alienware laptop and couldn't use it due to not owning a Display port to anything adapter. It has HDMI out and that doesn't register for the HDMI to VGA adapters. I have recently purchased a   converter. It honestly works rather well.

I found out 5 minutes before my presentation that I had planned it on a 4th gen i7 with 16 GB of ram and a 1TB SSD and was going to go live with a 2nd gen i3, 4 gigs of ram and windows 8 that I finished installing on the way to the event. I was not prepared near well enough. I am very happy I had a backup at all.

Now this all sounds bad and like a bad experience... but it was quite the opposite. I had a fantastic time. I received great feed back that I can actually work on and ideas on how to do so. I felt like I was finally giving back to a community that for so long I've used to train. I would do it again in a heart beat.

I'm way to the left out side of this picture... I'm fine with that. This is the Dell room that Dell has given us to use once a month for free. GDH brings us the pizza and all of these people came to listen to my first time presentation with snow in the forecast. I think it was amazing. First time presenting, on a subject that most don't really use on a daily basis, and we had a rather good turn out.

If anyone else in the OKC area want's to come to any of these meetings, they're free. Check us out at would be excited to see you all there.

Below are the links to the three things that I referred to above. There may be cheaper and better versions of these... If you know of them, please let me know. I'm still building my travel bag so I can be better prepared. So far it includes:
1)  Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
2) Logitech Professional Presenter
3) USB 3.0 to HDMI and DVI Dual Screen Adapter
4) A spare laptop cord
5) A tablet with internet access (through my phone works for now)
6) My presentation setup on Amazon's web service... Just in case
7) A spare mouse
and the more ovbious
8) My laptop
9) (days of travel + 10% rounded up) changes of clothes.
10) Spare shoes
11) Enough cash to use a taxi

This is all I have so far. I have been bitten by the presenting bug and hope to do this a lot more.


Who Do You Rely On?

We tend to think of ourselves as self reliant. Sit and think for a second, how many people do you rely on?

Help Desk

Our angry callers hit them first. They let us know if something's down and our monitor doesn't see it. The more information we can give them, the easier they can make our lives. If you know you have a planned outage, give them a heads up. They will appreciate it immensely.


These are the people that build the applications your business is making it's money from. They connect customers with the data you're protecting. We need to get along with them. If we put ourselves on an even level and make sure we keep a good balance, we can get so much more done. Protect the data, but not at the cost of the business.

Network Admin

When you try and hit a server and can't because the routes were updated again, instead of just being mad at the Network Admin, consider this. All those times you had no problems? It's because they had it working. They're in the same boat as us. Noone notices how good of a job we're doing until it all catches fire.

System Admin

I haven't built a production system from the ground up in years. I love my Sys Admins. They get tasked to setup 50 new SQL boxes, 100 new IIS servers and half a dozen DC's for various projects. Once they do all the heavy lifting, we can use a single PS script to install SQL for us across all the new servers and just go to lunch. Give them credit for working on all the things they do so we can concentrate on what we actually want too.


Good managers go to bat for you. They are the ones that argue for new budgets to get more tools, people, hardware and even that soda fountain in the break room. They're the ones trying to make sure no one calls you while you're on vacation or tries to get the SQL Saturday hotel room paid for when you sneak off on the weekends. The more you work for them, the more they'll work for you. (Bad managers excluded, terms and conditions apply, not available at all jobs, see supervisor for details)

Mend The Fence!

Take the time now. Think of some way you can make it easier to work with them and get the projects completed that needed to be done. The easier we make it to work together, the better we can make our companies. I hate seeing posts of an SA or NetAdmin trying to lock down the DBA just as much as I hate seeing the DBA lock out the Developers from even staging. There are times when it's required, but others it just simply isn't. I'm not saying give the DBA's Domain Admin or the password to the proxy servers, or even giving the Developers SA on production... But sometimes a little read only helps a lot when isolating a problem at 2 am on Christmas morning.

Final Thought

I'll end with this. Where I work now, our Network Admins are great. They go the extra mile to take care of us. Our first line support staff goes out of their way to get all the information they can. Our SA does what he can to make our lives easier and our Developers talk with us when they have a question. This may sound like everyone doing their job, but let's be honest. This is the exception. This helps raise retention. Get your people involved, make them feel equal and make sure to take a day and let them enjoy it. Maybe a little Dave and Busters with a long lunch. You'd be surprised what wonders that'll do for your staff.


Talk Your Boss Into A Free Lunch and Giveaways!: Day 6

Monday Giveaway!

It's Monday again! I know we all hate Mondays, but let's have a Fun Monday!It's another week to give away a free month of Pluralsight! We've had Two Winners so far! Today is chance number three! Remember, you need to post here with an E-Mail address either on the site or in your profile so I can give you the prize. Moving on....

Free Lunch From Your Boss?! No Way..

With all these lunch webcasts, why not talk your boss into letting you watch them in a meeting room once or twice a week? Let's throw a twist in it. Ask if they'd consider inviting the Devs and DBAs into a conference room for their lunch and throw some cheap pizza at them. Think about it!? We can start building a stronger bridge between our groups and get free training for us at the cost of 6 meat lovers and a veggie pizza for Steve! Second thought, how about some ribs?

How Can We Hide The Cost?

We can mark this one under a training budget, personal development, group building or a number of things. Maybe you could even get them to bill HR for the pizza or ribs since we're creating harmony in the work place. There are plenty of places to get free webcasts live for your group. You can also play some canned old ones for your group. There's a good list of free webcasts and videos Here.

Gather Around, Group Hug!

I'm not talking about badgering your boss  into giving you free food, but it's something you can bring up as a good idea. You're a team player, one that's interested in making your co-workers better. Show it off! This can stair-step you into asking for room and board to get to SQL Saturdays or even to get into the Summit! Getting these lunch meetings together is a great way to share what you learn when you get back. Don't forget to give out some swag you got. It helps the team be happier you got to go instead of just sad they didn't.

Here's a good one for comments! Free PluralSight account for the comment I pull out of the hat. How about you tell me how you get your boss to cover expenses. Do you get a free lunch? How about just mileage to get to training out of state? Maybe even just a packed lunch? A bit of a left turn, but if your company doesn't help promote you, you might consider using that network you've been building to get that job you really want.


Keeping Up With Training: Day 5

Let's keep this talk going about what you can do. We know I'm rather big on user groups and SQL Saturdays... I also love books, virtual chapters and most online training. I still have another give away for this coming Monday. It's a free month of PluralSight. I think it's great training. I even have a whole post of training. Let's get more to the point.

How Do You Train?

I prefer to have some good music on when I'm working. I love to have music up on my phone, SQL on one screen and a bunch of powerpoints or blogs up on the other. If it's a more targeted SQL training item, I tend to put it on one screen and keep the blogs to a minimum using them only to support what I'm looking up.

When Do You Train?

I get much more out of my mornings. I tend to get more writing done and videos watched. As far as making code work... I tend to build things closer to the end of the day or right before bed. The tired stress seems to help me push stuff out faster. I'll correct my mistakes in the morning. ^.^;

Ideal Conditions?

I think this is dependent on the person. I prefer a warm hammock, a tablet with some videos and a cold drink in the summer. The next best is sitting at my desk with a game on one screen, video on another and notes I'm taking on the last. I don't know why, splitting my thinking tends to make me rewind and watch a video a few times. It's perfectly normal to want a single screen or TV and some quite time. I just don't function like that.

Do You Do Best In A Group?

Why not set that training video up in the conference and have a Tuesday / Thursday lunch meeting and get some training done? Who can complain that you and the Devs are training together in the conference room? It'll be such a strange sight that they'll all just avoid that area for fear war will break out. It's a great way to find some common ground and figure out how your co-workers think on both sides.

How Do You Train?

Feedback is key to me knowing the working world as a whole! Help me out here.


SQL Saturdays: Day 4

Well, we talked about user groups... Let's talk about their big brother; SQL Saturdays. @SQLCenturion runs them here in OKC. They are fantastic ways to get lots of good training for a great price...  FREE! Let's break this up like the user group post.

8 Hours of High Quality Training

That's right. One full day of training on multiple SQL subjects from DBA to Dev to BI. Have a specific pain point at work? Target those classes! Normally there's 1-2 classes on about every subject. The people that pick out the classes do a good job getting a good range of 100 level to 300 level classes for you. There may be a 10$ lunch fee... but it's not required.

They're All Over The World!

Do you not have time to make it to the SQL Saturday in New Mexico? Don't worry! There's one in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, even some to the West! Don't think that just because you're not from Oklahoma that you won't be welcome. We love seeing people from all over the country. When you're there, you'll even get the insider track on good places to eat and cool places to visit.


No, not that kind of swag. Alot of venders give away free toys or tools just to keep their name on your mind. Who knows, maybe they'll be selling a product you could really use! This is a great time to get documentation to beg for that tool that will help the fact your boss still hasn't hired those two missing DBAs.


Here's a great place to meet hundreds of people in your same field who may be looking to hire you! It's a great place to get out and meet people. Even if you aren't looking for a job... the networking aspect will help when you have questions only that BI expert can answer. Give her a call! She needs help with some policies you have answers to.

International Preparations

You want to be an international speaker? The best places to start is with your own user groups or with your office. The next step is these wonderful SQLSaturdays. After you make the regional step, you can move on to National! This is a good stepping stone to get your name known and eventually have you speaking at the Summit and possibly all over the world. A SQL person who travels the world at the drop of a hat... Saving unsuspecting databases from suffering only you can prevent. They will call you... Su.... eh, let's not. Still, the idea is pretty cool.


User Groups and Winners!: Day 3

Today's winner is! Aadhar Joshi!
Congratulations for winning a free month of PluralSight. I'm E-Mailing you the code right now.

We still have two free months to give away and a great book on the 30th!

Update: Everyone is eligible for the book drawing on the 30th. You can enter your name every Monday for the Pluralsight give away as long as you have not already won one. There are two more Pluralsight codes to give away and the book at the end of the month. Good luck to all who try! Week 1 only had one person competing. Week 2 had six people.

User Groups

There are multiple user groups around the country online and offline. I'm mostly going to concern myself with the offline user groups for a moment. A great place to find them is to go to the SQLPass site.It's a great place for a few reasons.


Who doesn't love free training!? Well... some people I'm sure. But seriously, user groups are fantastic ways to get free training. Depending on what's going on, you can get very involved in the discussions. User group meetings don't have to be boring presentations only. The OKC SQL user group even hosted a Jeopardy style presentation with prizes. Even with the ice on the ground, the turnout was amazing.


I know, you love your job. I've heard you talking about how much you love your boss and all your co-workers. Have they stopped reading? Good. Not all jobs are permanent. I'm not saying quit... I'm saying it's good to know what's around and who's looking. Maybe they need a DBA, but after talking to them you find out they just have a simple problem you can fix over the weekend. Who doesn't like a bit of quick consulting money? If nothing else, building a network will help you when you decide to start looking.

First Time Presentation

So you think you can dance? Well let's not jump to the big stage right away. Here's where you can shine and get some good pier review before you end up on YouTube. These are people who have presented before or just starting out who need to learn. It's a great place to open up some 101 information. You do not need to present internals and talk about MCM level items just to get some light. Let's keep the community strong and get our friends trained. You may know something they don't.

Preparation for SQL Saturdays

Do you want to start becoming a national or even international speaker? User groups are a great way to prepare to speak at a SQL Saturday. They're great to debut a new presentation you want to get out into the world. Do you know who you need to talk to about SQL Saturday? I'm guessing your local user group has some information for you. ^.~


We all love prizes. Most user groups at least have some prizes to give away. Why not go for a free PluralSight card or some books. If they have no prizes... at least you win free training!

Don't have a user group? 

Contact someone in the community to help you set one up! If you're really interested, getting sponsorship is easier than you think. If you need help setting one up, I can try and get you in contact with some good people.


Documentation: Day 2

As a reminder, we have one more day before this weeks giveaway is over. All you need is a single comment on this thread. The winner will be announced Wednesday. We have more than a few people in the running this week! Good luck to you all.

Created by: Bill Barnes

Created: 12/9/2013 - 0728

Purpose: Run Document: To spread the word on good documentation

Description: There are multiple ways to document your code and your projects. While I've never heard a person say they like to document their code, it's invaluable to anyone taking over a new job or looking for code from years past. I know, I know... no one likes documentation. Nothing makes your day longer than looking at 10,000 lines of code without a single comment and you get tasked with writing it all down. You'll thank yourself later for doing it though!

Updates: Don't forget to comment for a free month of Pluralsight and the book giveaway at the end of the month.

12/9/2013 - 0729 Adding a header.

12/9/2013 - 0735 Creating a time line.

12/9/2013 - 1352 We all need smiley faces. ^.~

A few of my favorite places to find comments are listed below.

Stored Procedures, Jobs and Packages

At the top of stored procedures and jobs is a great place to write a little blurb showing who wrote it, when, and why it was written in the first place. Working in a place that has a lot of SSIS packages, it's simply wonderful seeing a quick comment that shows who wrote it, when it breaks, what parts can be restarted without causing duplication of data and where any fix scripts are if it does break. /in love/

Normal Code

As always, at the top showing what this process does and who authored it, you can also put an update section showing changes and hot fixes for faster dissection of the code. Throughout the code explaining what each section does or what it interacts with so I can use it to trace issues faster.

Hot Fixes and Temporary Changes

Anywhere there is a hot fix or temporary change. Tell me what the fix does, what direct problem does it solve and what caused it to be placed in. Is there a plan to fix this in an update vs just a casual hot fix for now? Invaluable information.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery is a common place to see documentation requests. Do you need to wait for the network guys before you fail over to the DR site? Who all do you need to call? What breaks that needs to be fixed manually in the next 24 hours after a fail over? (if nothing, bravo! Sadly not all businesses can support that. Complexity makes everything harder.)

Emergency Protocols

A good grab bag style document is fantastic if you need to drive or fly to your DR site and set the whole thing up from backups right then. What order does your site need to be configured in? How much data can be lost? What order do the databases need to be brought back on line first? What jobs need to be disabled/enabled at the new site? Who all do we need to contact?

Saving Money on Consultants

You could pay your consultants less! No, seriously! If you have good documentation, you can send it to them before they come on site or as they go through they can understand why you do what you do. If they have half day / day fee, you could save money by saving them time. Most of the ones I've seen have an initial fee and a half day or day fee after that. If you can shave a day or two off their week long visit, they get your problem fixed faster, you have less down time and they get on to the next gig faster. We can all win there.

I know, a lot of people hate documentation. I love it. Do you want to make it less impacting to your overall quality of life? There are a few simple steps that you can do to make it much easier on you.

1) As you find code that you understand, add a quick note to what it's about. Even if it's a small note, it'll help you see it and like everything else... make it better. Over time you'll add more as you go.

2) As you write the code, explain what that loop does. Write out why you're converting this int to a varchar. It'll help even while you're writing when you're looking for a specific part.

3) When you write packages or hot fixes, write out why you wrote it. It's great for keeping in a list of accomplishments. Management loves lists. Two birds, one comment.

4) Failover testing is a great point to write out what order you do everything in and what is expected to break. It's great for having reasons things act like they do.

5) Keeping the Junior DBA busy for the first week or so. When I started my first DBA spot, I was handed a pile of documentation. While it does honestly suck to read through boring word docs for a week... It was extremely helpful becoming familiar with it. When things would break, I would know where to look for common issues and problems. If one didn't exist, after the problem was fixed... one would be created.

/* Fun isn't it! I may be sick... I'm fine with that. I love documentation. It's helpful to everyone in your company and could help bridge the gap of a good review to a great one when your name is posted everywhere fixing all the problems */

--Note: If you find someone made a mistake, you can fix it one on one. Get the good vibes going.


Junior DBAs - Where to start?

I personally would start with your local user groups. Getting to know people and networking may be your best bet to sneak in with low/no experience.

Start testing theories at home. you can install VirtualBox and get a SQL instance up and running off trials.

Watch the forums, see the problems people have and see what you can fix. If you can't figure it out, follow the thread and see how others helped. Watching others work may help you get your troubleshooting steps down.

Watch the free videos all over the net. They can give more insight and help you pass that interview if it gets technical.

Get at least your entry level certification. I know I'll get some disagreements here... If you can put in the effort to show you're trying to be more marketable, that alone could be favorable. Regardless of whether or not people think the certifications hold any weight.

Also, don't forget to comment on Mondays post! As long as you have an E-Mail address attached to your UserID, I will put your name in the hat.

The giveaway dates are listed below! (all items are sent out that following Wednesday)

12/2 - 1-Month Plural Sight Code - Congratulations Daniel!
12/9 - 1-Month Plural Sight Code
12/16 - 1-Month Plural Sight Code
12/23 - 1-Month Plural Sight Code
12/30 - Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals and Troubleshooting


I'm not exactly a old DBA. I've been in the community for 3+ years and working as a full DBA for over a year. The trek to becoming a DBA at all wasn't exactly simple. I spent my own time and money studying for the MCTS and MCITP, went to the user groups, followed the blogs of other well known DBAs, helped with SQL Saturday in OKC for a few years, built labs to break and fix over and over, and I signed up to any free training I could get my hands on. The funny thing... I'm still doing all these things.

There are good recruiting companies out there that will try and help place you, but first they have to convince the employer that a JR is worth taking on. I've not heard of a  company yet that hires people ahead of the need for more bodies. It makes sense though. Why pay people to sit around just in case?

A JR DBA that you can train could be invaluable to a company. As their skills grow and depth of knowledge grows, they become intertwined in your company. This could have immense returns of value. After a few years they'll know how to talk your business and work your major problems much better than a SR coming in from the outside.

I'd like to see more JR's in the field. I hear most places have more DBA jobs than DBAs. Getting these JRs may just fix that problem.



Ideal Working Conditions and Free Training Winner!

Contest Winner!

So last Monday I announced a giveaway that I think is a great gift to give away. Every Monday for the rest of this month prior to Christmas, I'm giving away a 1 Month Plural Sight code.

Congratulations Daniel U! You win the month code. I will E-Mail it to you shortly. If anyone wants to try and win next Monday's code, feel free to join in! I'd like to actually need the hat to decide.

Originally I only had a single 1-Week code and asked Plural Sight for a price to buy 3 more... They decided to hop on the Christmas spirit and give me 4 1 Month codes for free. Because of this, I'm giving away the book 'Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals and Troubleshooting' by Christian Bolton, Rob Farley, Glenn Berry, Justin Langford, Gavin Payne and Amit Banerjee. This is a book I've been personally wanting, but I decided to give you all a copy before I purchase my own. Since the codes were free, I've used that money for this book.

This time, the list of people to choose from is shallow. You don't have to leave a useful comment, just a comment that can link to an E-Mail! Ok, that horse is dead... Moving on!

Ideal Working Conditions

What do you consider an ideal work environment? Are you a single monitor closed environment... or do you thrive with fires and screaming in a cube farm with TV style displays?

My personal preference at home is 3 monitors, 1 for websites/blog, 1 for either other websites or my Virtual labs, and the other for some YouTube / Pandora / Training videos. A little Capella never hurt anyone. Well, that's what some say.

At work it's a completely different story. I prefer having 2 monitors.... Email/websites/BIDS on one, SSMS/Remote Desktop/any IM apps on the other. Oh and a cell phone with some Pandora. I think I'm addicted.

I doubt everyone feels this way... but having some music helps me work a lot easier. 

Now we're past the work place setup some.... how about schedules? nine to fives don't really exist any more. I'm really lucky where I am to have an 830-1700 M/F with swapping on-calls... but what if you could have any schedule you want? Let's do a bit of dreaming.

I think four tens are perfect for any multiple DBA shop. Think about it. I'm sure most people would even consider trading this for their next raise. Three days off every week!? Epic.

1) You save money on driving  and going out to eat. (we all do it, even you.)
2) You save wear and tear on the car.
3) You get more time with your family! (This can go either way ^.~)
4) I'd call in sick less
5) Take less time off for appointments
5.5) Even a bad week is only 4 days long. 
6) Retention would be so much easier, who quits a job you work 4 days a week at!?

I'll even meet in the middle. Let's compromise. I'll telework one day and you get the same hours from me... and we're all happier.

Now for a little disclaimer. I love my job. I love what I do. This is easily the best job I've ever had and I get to work with some smart people. I love going to work and not hating the drive there thinking of who I get to deal with next. Even our management is easy to talk too. We're only talking about what we'd consider 'ideal'.