Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

Dear 20-Year-Old Me (T-SQL Tuesday #115)

Dear 20-Year-Old Deborah,

Hi there! Yep, you’re doing that thing – you’re writing that letter to your 20-year-old self. But you’re doing it as part of a good cause. There’s this thing called T-SQL Tuesday, which is a monthly blog party in the SQL Server community where someone brings up a topic and everyone blogs about it. This letter is in response to Mohammad Darab (b|t), who is hosting this month. (Thanks for hosting, Mohammad!) He’s the one who had the topic of writing your 20-year old self. You can read all about it on his blog if you want to know more.

So this means a couple of things. First, you have a blog! You don’t write posts as often as you want. But think about it – with your love of books and wanting to know more about editing and publishing, it’s kind of up your alley.

The second part is that you’ve taken an unexpected turn careerwise. You know how you want nothing to do with math and science right now? Surprise! You’re a techie working with databases – Microsoft SQL Server to be specific. You work with computers. Go math & science! The funnier thing is summer temp job you had last year pulling data into ACT! in order to create mail marketing campaigns actually was the start of what your career turns out to be. Who knew?

Before you panic that you are wasting your time studying English and History and try to remember where the COSI department is, just stop. What you love about bringing those two subjects together is the same thing that you love about working with databases and working with the programmers on their applications. You love understanding and seeing the history and how it affects the literature and your understanding of it. With databases, it’s understanding the context of data in the larger picture of what’s going on around it. And you still manage to find ways to bring your love of English and history into what you’re doing – from the idea of a project for your blog to how you pull together your presentations.

Mohammad asked that we give some advice or words of encouragement. So here’s what I have for you – not just in your career but in everything you decide to pursue:

  • First, trust yourself. You have really good instincts so listen to them.
  • Second, it’s OK to have ambitions. You’re very aware of wanting to give everyone a fair shake, which is a good thing. You will also invest yourself in the projects that you work on and take ownership and pride in your work. But you have things you want to do as well. Remember not to let being fair to everyone or your commitment to a project or two mean that you put yourself on hold or lock yourself in a position where you can’t move forward.
  • Third, you have permission to act on your instincts and ambitions. There are all sorts of articles that talk about how women wait for permission to move ahead or take risks or ask for projects, etc. So we end up holding ourselves back because someone else will come along and take them without asking or waiting. Looking back, I know that you will do this along the way in your life. So I want to give you permission not only to be trust your instincts and have ambition, but to use them and move yourself forward. Find your opportunities or make them yourself. Most importantly, don’t be scared to go after what you want.

Even as I give this advice, I can’t tell you that it’s still easier said than done. It’s still something I’m trying to do, which is why I think it’s worthwhile and why I want to pass it on.

At 20 years old, I don’t know if we ever really have an idea of how life will go or even where we want it to go. Some people knew they wanted to go to law school or med school or graduate school but that was never you. And that’s OK. This career as a database profession just finds you and it really suits you.

I don’t want to tell you too much of what’s happens between now and then. (You saw Back to the Future, you know what happens.) But you don’t have to worry because things fall into place. Enjoy the journey you’re on.

Love, Not 20-Year-Old Deborah

TSQL2SDAY-150x150

Advertisements
Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #110 – Automate all the things

TSQL2SDAY-150x150I’m getting the new year started by joining in the T-SQL Tuesday party. Thanks to Garry Bargsley (b | t) for hosting this month’s topic: Automate All the Things.

What stuck out most to me is when Garry asked the question:

What does “Automate All the Things” mean to you?

It’s not the real focus of what he’s asking us to talk about it, but I think it’s important to talk about. When I think of automation, I think of setting up routines that need to occur on a regular schedule. This means that you would automate system checks, backups, maintenance, etc. that run every night. In some ways, I see automation as a tool that helps with mainly administrative tasks.

Well I don’t work on the administrative side of the house. I work in development so I don’t have to deal with the day-to-day maintenance work that benefits from automation. Now, I do see automation used in other places in development – for example, unit tests that run every time a build is kicked off, QA automation tests, etc. I know database work can have unit tests but it’s somehow hasn’t filter down to the way that I have worked. (Yet.)

However, I have started to recognize when I have to do a series of steps over and over for a reason – usually involving resetting my environment for testing one thing or another. I’ve started collecting the small pieces together and started creating mini scripts so I can do these steps again. And I’ve started modifying them so I can make them work in any situation. For example, I need to move data between two databases but the database names may be different so I added a parameter and made the statements dynamic so I just need to supply the right database names. Or I created a simple PowerShell that has the list of commands to run to do those few steps instead of me doing them separately each time. It’s not always a lot of steps but this way I don’t accidentally mistype something or put something in the wrong place.

In many ways, this is part of setting up automation – identifying the repeatable actions and creating a mechanism to repeat those steps in a reliable way so I know every time I run the script, each action will work correctly. While I’m not scheduling them to run at a certain time – whether it’s a calendar or from some other action, it’s laying the foundation so that if I – or my coworkers – could ever automate these actions, the basic set of scripts is ready to go.

Most of my database work is still done using T-SQL scripts. Call me old-fashioned but I like using these scripts because I can use them directly in a query window in Management Studio or I can call them from PowerShell and I know I’m doing the same exact actions regardless of how I execute the script. I’ve started to use PowerShell more to run these scripts. I still feel like I’m learning PowerShell, but I’m definitely getting more comfortable and improving my skills. None of this may be the cutting edge technology but it gets the job done.

One day, I’ll probably be able to implement what I consider to be true automation. Who knows – maybe someone else will consider what I’m doing “true automation.” But until I can really automate these actions, being able to set things up so that will be possible will have to do.

 

 

Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #105 – Brick Walls

TSQL2SDAY-150x150It’s another T-SQL Tuesday. Thanks to Wayne Sheffield (b|t) for hosting this month. His T-SQL Tuesday challenge is to write about Brick Walls we have faced. (If you are unfamiliar with the T-SQL Tuesday party, check out the website for the full backstory.)

It took me a bit to figure out what to write about for this topic. But that’s not the type of brick wall I want to post about today.

The Brick Wall:

I was working with a highly transactional system. The table with the most writes was also the table with the most reads. To add to the problem, the data being updated the most was the same data we need to read the most. The next set of popular tables, i.e. the next most read and updated tables, had triggers that used the most popular table for some of the data needed. As you can guess, we had a lot of deadlocks in our system. Oh, did I mention that this was running SQL Server 2000?

Continue reading “T-SQL Tuesday #105 – Brick Walls”

Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #102 – Giving back little by little

Happy T-SQL Tuesday #102! The challenge for this month is from Riley Major (b|t). His challenge is to think about how we can give back to the community. (Check out his blog invite or the T-SQL Tuesday website to find out more details about this monthly blog party.)TSQL2SDAY-150x150

The list of suggestions that Riley put together is quite an impressive one. It’s a great reminder that there are so many ways to get involved in the community.

I’ve started doing several things on the list over the past year – speaking, taking on the T-SQL Tuesday challenges, getting involved with the local user group – so I’m definitely going to commit myself to doing more of that. Maybe I can “up my game” and submit to a SQL Saturday in a city that I have to fly to or even submit a session to present for a virtual user group or a bigger event like GroupBy or 24 Hours of PASS.

At my new job, I’ve been told there are opportunities to do “lunch and learns” and I’ve been told to encourage my co-workers to join me at the local user group meetings. It’s kind of a no-brainer to do those.

But of all the things on the list, I definitely would love to find a way to pay forward the support I’ve gotten from members of the community to others who need it. A few people have come to me asking for advice or to be sounding board. As happy as I am to help out, I still feel like there’s more that I could do in this area. One concrete thing I think I can do is volunteer to help the first timers at PASS Summit as part of Buddy Program, if they continue that program again this year. But I’m going to keep looking to find other opportunities to help support others as they need it and in general feel like I’m being a better citizen of our #sqlfamily. I know they’re out there, but I just need to find the way that I can contribute.

As I was putting this list together, I realized that these examples are little things that I can do. And that’s OK that they’re little things. I think that’s important thing to note for those who are thinking about how they can start to give back to the community. One of the great things that Riley’s original list proves is that not every way to give back to the community requires big gestures. If you’re not someone who’s comfortable stepping into the limelight or jumping in with both feet (or whatever other catchphrase fits), there are still a lot of behind the scenes ways to contribute. There is a place in this community for that special passion you have and this community wants you to share with us.

Thanks to Riley for hosting this month’s topic! And thanks to all those who are currently doing so much to support our community and those are going to take on the challenge to step up their involvement! And if there is something I can do to help out, please let me know….

 

Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #100 – Looking ahead

TSQL2SDAY-150x150It’s T-SQL Tuesday. But it’s not your ordinary, normal T-SQL Tuesday – it’s the 100th T-SQL Tuesday, which is a pretty significant milestone. This month, our host is the creator of this monthly blog party, Adam Machanic (b|t). Adam, thank you for introducing something that has inspired the community for so long.

Our challenge this month is to think about what the world would be like for T-SQL Tuesday #200. I can barely predict what’s going to happen in the next 10 days and I definitely don’t have the insight of “The Simpsons” writers, but I thought I’d give this a try – in terms of databases at least.

Continue reading “T-SQL Tuesday #100 – Looking ahead”

Posted in T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #99 – My #sqlibrium

TSQL2SDAY-150x150It’s another T-SQL Tuesday. Thanks to Aaron Bertrand (b|t) for hosting this month. (If you want more information about T-SQL Tuesdays in general, read more here.)

Aaron gave us a choice this month – we can either talk about how we keep our #sqlibrium (i.e. work\life balance) or we can talk about some of our own personal additions to his bad habits list. I’m choosing Door #1.

The easiest way to my #sqlibrium is by the extra facts I add about me at the bottom of my “About Me” slide for my presentations:

random facts 2

You’ll notice a theme – music.

If my love for theater, especially musical theater, isn’t apparent, may I direct you to my T-SQL Tuesday post from August about “Auditioning for the Job?” I’ve always loved theater. I was in a sketch comedy troupe in college so I was able to use that to get some acting in. I always thought I’d have the opportunity to do community theater once I graduated college but that never seemed to materialize, other than the one production of Annie where I was a bum or dancing through the streets of NYC or a maid in the Warbucks household. But I still love theater even if I can’t be on stage. About that picture from the slide on the right – yes, it’s me with the one and only Bernadette Peters after seeing her and Elaine Stritch in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music on Broadway. (Yes, I “stalked” the stage door hoping for this and yes, I got her to sign my playbill as well.) My friends and I have subscriptions to the touring Broadway shows and I have done the subscription to one of the local theaters that had been sending its shows to Broadway. Seeing Waitress before it went to Broadway with the majority of original Broadway cast is still a highlight.

(While it’s not musical theater, seeing James Earl Jones and Dana Delany be fantastic and still be outshined by a revelatory Amanda Plummer in Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams was pretty fine evening, too.)

The bluegrass jams and instruments are relatively new. I’ve been doing those for about 4 years now. I picked up guitar about 2 1/2 years ago and the mandolin was a gift over the holidays. I know of at least 4-5 different local jams that occur each week with at least one more monthly jam. I can’t make all of them but I try to get to one or two on a weekly basis. And then there are a whole bunch of different festivals that where you can hear bands or just walk up to a group and start jamming (or picking as it’s called in the bluegrass world.) You wouldn’t think it would have such a strong following in New England, but there’s a huge community in this area. It’s wonderful to show up and just make music. I’ve lucked out in finding a group of really talented people who’ve made the process of jumping and in learning all these new songs and styles so much fun.

Finally, on most Tuesdays, my response to most things is:

https://some.ly/165u2VQ/

In many ways, my choir is my second family. As my director said, we’re not the family we were born into but the family he auditioned. I joined this group a year after I graduated college. In terms of repertoire, it’s incredibly diverse – ranging from Baroque music from the early 1600s through new commissions to everything in between. We’ve sung songs in over 15 languages and toured internationally. We even have a documentary from our tour to Eastern Europe that was shown on PBS stations. The picture on the left in my slide is me in our version of the Andrew Sisters singing Ba Mir Bistu Shein; we do this as part of an arrangement that starts the original Yiddish theater version. I wouldn’t be half the singer I am today if it weren’t for this group – from our conductor\artistic director who is so passionate about what we do to the vocal coaches we’ve had through the years to the other fabulous singers who have become such good friends of mine. Perhaps the best way I can describe this group to #sqlfamily is to call it #choirfamily.

When I’m having a rough day or week, showing up and making music with good people seems to make everything else go away. Speaking of which, I should wrap this up – I have rehearsal and solo auditions tonight! Wish me luck!

 

Posted in SQL Server, T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday #97 – Learning Goals

It’s the second Tuesday of the month so it must be T-SQL Tuesday! Time to get our learning on.

TSQL2SDAY-150x150Thank you to Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) for hosting this month’s challenge. Her topic is to set learning goals for the new year with a threefold approach:

  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)

At a previous job, we once had a professional development session that talked about a couple of different learning styles – aural, visual, and kinesthetic, although I seem to remember this last one being referred to more as a big picture style. (But you can learn more about these here.) I fall somewhere between the visual and kinesthetic side, although it’s much closer to kinesthetic.

I know there is some debate of these styles, but I think this really accurate in terms of how I learn things. I like being an “active” learner because I feel I learn the best when I can actually put things into action. I do like reading blogs or going to see sessions in person because I learn about the things I should know and get the basic groundwork. But it isn’t until I can put them into a real-world scenario that those concepts truly hit home.

Unfortunately, I can’t just hear something and learn it; I need the visual prompts or some form of interaction to go with it.

My biggest problem is always figuring out ways to apply what I’m learning. One of the things on my long-term wish list is to set up better testing for the various projects that I work on that are specific to me and my work. It is the perfect opportunity for me to set up my own automated testing. There are a lot of great tools out there that will help me with this. My goal for this upcoming year is to find a way I can use those and build them into my daily process.

I’m reluctant to be more specific with my goals than this. On the one hand, figuring out how to automate testing does have a lot of moving parts and it’s not a minor thing to implement properly. There is definitely a learning curve to go with it. But it still feels rather broad, especially since I haven’t figured out all the details yet. However, I don’t want to be more specific with more goals because I often find that as soon as I start down one track, something comes up and I wind up in a different direction. The upside to just learning about what the trends are and new functionalities is that just knowing what’s out there has made a difference. I feel like I’m on the right track with this so I want to commit to continuing down that path over the next year.

There is always something new to learn – even for the things that we think we already know. The key is to being open to it, in all the forms that come your way, and figure out how to make it work for you.

Now go out there and keep learning!