Dec 052014
 

Two weeks ago I decided to kick off the holiday season by asking people to write about what they were thankful for. I was very fortunate to get three great responses, which I am happy to share in no particular order (which just so happens to be the order I received them in).

Chris Yates (@YatesSQL) says that after attending PASS Summit 2014 he had the epiphany that the people make all the difference in our community, and encourages us all to take a moment and thank someone who has helped us along the way. I couldn’t agree more, Chris. We all have at least one person (probably many more!) who has mentored us in some way – we should let them know how grateful we are!

Mickey Stuewe (@SQLMickey) starts off by saying “I’m thankful for a lot and not appreciative of enough.” Not only is she thankful for her nutritionist, her husband, and the SQL Community, but also for how fortunate she has been. Mickey mentions that she’s heard many sobering stories of how some of us got to where we are today the hard way, and I know I have as well. She also writes that she is going to thank some specific people privately, and encourages the rest of us to do the same. That actually sounds like a really good idea – I just may do that myself!

Cathrine Wilhelmsen (@cathrinew) is thankful for her family, friends, coworkers, and her SQL family. She’s also thankful that she’s in a position to be able to help others, has good health, an excellent job, and many other things. She sums it up perfectly by saying “I’m thankful I have so many things to be thankful for.” Cathrine does an excellent job of pointing out that a lot of our blessings are things we probably take for granted a little more than we should.

And then there’s my post, which you’re free to read either by scrolling down or clicking here. I’m grateful for a lot of things, but one thing I forgot to mention is that I’m thankful for Chris, Mickey, and Cathrine taking the time out of their busy schedules to participate in this post. Thanks a bunch! And I hope all my readers enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

Nov 262014
 
Gravy

I’m also grateful for my grandma’s homemade gravy

Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about what I was thankful for in response to Jason Strate’s post asking about it. Now, 4 years later, I am hosting a redux, and your contributions are very welcome!

In looking back on the past year, I feel like I have an incredible amount of blessings in my life. While there are far too many to count, here are some that really stand out:

Michelle: Everyone deserves to have someone in their life who loves and supports them no matter what. To be able to marry that person is the icing on the cake. Michelle encourages me to follow my dreams, no matter how crazy they are. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime, or in life.

My Health: When people (such as my grandmother) make comments like “at least you have your health” I used to snicker on the inside. Now, at my ripe old age, I’m starting to understand what that really means. Not only is being ill miserable, but it can get incredibly expensive, especially here in the U.S. I’m very glad that I and my family still have our health.

My Job and My Team: Sure I’ve griped in the past, but it’s still called “work” for a reason, no matter how pleasant it can be. All in all I have a wonderful work environment that’s full of amazing, intelligent people. On top of that, my employer sees the value in training and conferences, and supports the fact that I enjoy presenting and sharing my knowledge with others. I really feel like I’ve hit the job jackpot.

The SQL Community: The old saying goes that if you want to get better at something, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. I like to make the addendum that those people who are smarter you should also be willing to share their knowledge. At this point, I’m describing the SQL community, and I’ve benefited tremendously in terms of knowledge, contacts, and friendships over the past few years. I’m afraid to think what my career would be like right now if not for all you wonderful people.

This Blog: I’m grateful for the fact that I can write and that others out there are willing to read it and provide feedback. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing 4 1/2 years and 149 posts ago (this one is my 150th!) but a huge thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride!

My Home: We have a nice house in a decent location, and on top of that we also have indoor plumbing and sewers. Lots of people in the World don’t have this. Sometimes the little things make a huge difference (especially when a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom doesn’t involve shoes or a flashlight.) What’s not to be grateful for here?

My Parents: I’m extremely fortunate to have grown up in a home with both of my parents, who gave up absolutely every iota of their pre-kid lives to make sure my brother and I never went without anything. They encouraged us, taught us, and gave us a kick in the pants (or two!) when necessary. I’d like to think we’ve both made them proud.

So that’s what I’m thankful for this year. If you’d like to contribute to my blog party, post something by Sunday 30 November and link back to the original post. (If you could post a link in the comments section that would be even better!) I’ll write a summary of all them and get them posted next week.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers who celebrate it!

 

 

Nov 172014
 

Freedom_From_WantIt’s almost Thanksgiving time here in the United States – that wonderful holiday where families and friends gather to share a meal and give thanks for all our many immaterial blessings. (And then for maximum irony, we head out the following day to battle each other in stores for heavily-discounted electronics while avoiding being trampled to death.)

One common tradition is to go around the table on Thanksgiving and have each person say what they’re thankful for. To gather all our #sqlfamily and friends around a dinner table would be an immense undertaking (and the buffet line would be super long). Instead, let’s do it blog-style. Jason Strate did this a few years ago with great results, and the community has changed a lot since then. I think it’s time for a reboot, and I’m happy to host.

So what are you thankful for? Your family? The wonderful people in your life? Your sweet new smartphone? The fact that you deep fried a turkey last year and didn’t burn your house down? There are no wrong answers. Whatever you’d like to share, write a blog post about it and link back to this one, much like T-SQL Tuesday. (And if you want to help me out even more, please leave a link to it in the comments!) Whatever I see by Sunday 30 November I’ll cover in a recap post.

 

Jan 232014
 

Pro Tip: If you’re a recruiter and sending out mass emails about positions you’re trying to fill, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re not accidentally including other things, like a letter of reprimand from your boss. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, but here’s the email I received yesterday:

My name is Frank Schlawmeyer and I am a Sr. Executive Recruiter for B.O. Associates, a premier search firm representing major clients in the Chicago area. I discovered your information while sourcing for an opportunity we have as a SQL Server DBA for a major e-commerce company in the Chicagoland area. This is a full-time permanent DBA role and requires experience as both an operational / production DBA and must have experience with T-SQL.

Your background is impressive and I would appreciate an opportunity to speak with you regarding your work history in relation to this role. If you are interested, please send me an updated copy of your resume. I can be reached via telephone at <redacted> or via email at <redacted>. If you are not interested, please feel free to forward this information on to anyone that you feel may be a fit.

For your reference here is a link to the job description: <redacted>

Thank you in advance for your time and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Frank Schlawmeyer
Sr. Executive Recruiter
B.O. Associates

Looks like a pretty standard recruiter email. But wait, there’s more! I’m so glad I scrolled down because I found this gem:

From: Otto Oberkuchen
To: Frank Schlawmeyer
Subject: calls?

Frank,

You have 2 submittals that were done yesterday yet only 5 calls so far today. It is extremely hard for me to manage the others and push them on calls when they see a senior person like yourself getting away with that. It would be different if you were making tons of placements but without that it makes it tough. Any thought on how I should reply when they ask that? Don’t make it a topic of discussion out there either. This is going to be a year of “No Excuses And All Successes”!! Thanks

Otto Oberkuchen
Partner
B.O. Associates

Ouch. “No Excuses and All Successes” sounds like an incredibly understanding and flexible management methodology to me. I’m sure it’s working out great for them, especially since this isn’t the first time I’ve had an interesting encounter with this particular agency. I’ll be sure to add this company to my list of places I hope to work someday, right after an apiary. (And if you know me, you know I will run away if I even think there’s a stinging insect nearby.)

Sadly, this also isn’t the first time I’ve received emails I shouldn’t have seen. A little proofreading could have gone a long way here – it takes only a few seconds to give an email a once-over before sending it. I’ve worked that step into my routine to help avoid situations just like this one.

Help Frank Out

I really do feel for Frank, and he did say “If you are not interested, please feel free to forward this information on to anyone that you feel may be a fit.” So, if you’re interested in this position, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to get you in touch with Frank.

Maybe he can fill this position and have one more success (and one less excuse) to take back to Otto!

Dec 102013
 

This post is part of the DBA JumpStart series being written by myself and 19 other professionals from the SQL Server community and coordinated by John Sansom (@SQLBrit). It has been compiled into a free eBook, which can be found here. Be sure to download a copy!

If you could give an aspiring DBA just one piece of advice what would it be?

My favorite thought on this topic is don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are one of the ways that we learn. Make a lot of them, and you’ll have many opportunities to learn. Really.

I hear the term “expert” thrown around a lot, occasionally even in contexts I agree with. To me, an expert is someone that’s found an incredible number of ways to break things, and has used those experiences to their advantage. They have figured out how to fix everything that they have broken, and even more importantly, they know how to avoid breaking things in the future. Whenever something goes awry, the worst possible outcome is to not learn anything from it. So long as this isn’t the case, you can always make at least some good come from a sticky situation.

This is not to say that you should go out making mistakes or breaking things. Creating problems in a production environment is still a very bad idea that could have a negative impact on your career. These mistakes are best made in development or (even better) a local sandbox instance. Practice everything there before making changes in production. Even more importantly, take some time and think about all the different things that can go wrong. If possible, make those situations happen in your DBA environment and then figure out the best way to recover from them.

Along those lines, not being afraid to make mistakes also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for them. Even if they are inconvenient, simple actions such as making sure backups are up-to-date and on hand before launching a change can be the difference between looking like a rockstar for recovering gracefully from an unforeseen issue, and having egg on your face.