Jan 092014
 

This year Chicago will be hosting it’s 5th SQL Saturday! SQL Saturday #291: Chicago 2014 is now open for registration! As always, the event itself is free. An optional lunch will be provided for $10.

We are once again very grateful to DeVry University for hosting us. This year it will take place on Saturday April 26, 2014 at DeVry’s Addison campus. Please join us for a great day of free SQL Server training, networking, and #SQLFamily in Chicagoland!

The call for speakers is open - please submit your session(s) by February 25, 2014! New speakers are always welcome – getting a good mix of experienced and newer speakers is what SQL Saturdays are all about. If you’ve always wanted to speak at an event like this, here’s your chance!

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.

Dec 042013
 

Just a quick note that the PASS Summit 2014 Early Bird rate of $1095 ends Friday 6 December. You don’t have to look very hard to find lots of blog posts about how PASS Summit is an amazing experience at any price, but this is a great opportunity to save $1200 off the full registration rate. Starting Saturday 7 December the price increases to $1395.

I’ve always registered during the early bird period as a kind of safety net. If you are planning on attending no matter what, it’s totally worth it. Here’s how I see the possible outcomes by registering now, even if your employer can’t commit to sending you yet:

- If you sign up now at the lowest possible rate and your employer agrees to send you later on, you just saved them some money. Perhaps you can even use the lower rate you secured as a bargaining chip to encourage them to send you.
– If you register now, submit sessions and are selected as a speaker, you will get a refund of your registration fee. (This was my situation last year.)
– If you register now and your employer can’t send you later on, you saved yourself a lot of money.
– If you register now and have to cancel, this is where things are less glamorous. According to the cancellation policy you are entitled to a refund, less a $295 processing fee, if you cancel your registration by July 31, 2014.

All the registration info can be found here. I can’t wait to be back in Seattle next year, and I hope to see you there!

Nov 262013
 

I’m very happy to be making the trek up to Appleton, Wisconsin to speak at FoxPASS next week!

I’ll be delivering my presentation entitled “Whatcha Doin’? Passive Security for Hostile Environments”, which I presented to a packed room at this year’s PASS Summit. Here’s the abstract:

Ideal database security settings usually exist in books, but rarely in reality. Is your CIO a member of the sysadmin role because they demanded it? Or maybe some users have rights for purely political reasons? Just because you can’t enforce security through typical means doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Attend this session to learn about the features SQL Server provides that will allow you to keep track of what your users are up to at all times and sleep a little easier. Through various scenarios and demos, see how technologies such as event notifications, auditing, and extended events can help ensure nothing happens on your system without you knowing about it. Even in optimally secured environments these techniques can still come in handy. The best security is often that which cannot be seen.

Meeting Info

When: Wednesday, December 4, 2013  5:30pm

Where: 2201 E. Enterprise Ave., Suite 201, Appleton, Wisconsin

If you’re a FoxPASS member, I’m looking forward to meeting you next week!

Nov 212013
 

There was an interesting debate on Twitter the other day over whether or not it’s important for an interviewee to know what a company does, or if they should just know whatever technology the job description calls for and nothing else. Jen McCown blogged about it in detail and included a lot of comments.

There are definitely valid points on both sides, but in general I think it’s always a good idea to know what you’re potentially getting yourself into before you head to an interview. This way, should you find there’s something about the position you object to beforehand, you can save both yourself and the interviewer a lot of time by canceling.

Even more importantly, taking the time to learn a little about the company and what they do shows your interviewer(s) that you are really interested in the position, and may separate you from the other candidates. If someone is faced with two similarly-qualified applicants and one of them put forth the extra effort to do some research about the company in advance, which candidate looks better?

True story: back when my brother was a senior in high school he was applying for all the local scholarships he could find, one of which was offered by the local Masonic Lodge. They decided to bring him in, and I can remember him mentioning to my father one morning that the interview was later that afternoon. My dad asked if he knew anything at all about the masons, and if not, maybe he should look up some facts about them. Adam heeded my father’s advice before heading off to be interviewed.

A few days later, the Worshipful Master (awesome title!) called my brother to say they decided to award him the scholarship. This of course was awesome and we were all very happy, but even more entertaining was why they decided to award it to him.

It turns out they only invited 2 people in for interviews, and one of the questions they asked was “What do you know about the Masons?” Adam came prepared, and said he knew they were one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world, and that several U.S. Presidents, including George Washington, were all Masons as well.

They said the other candidate, when asked the same question, replied something along the lines of “You guys are a cult, right?”

So if you want the job, or the scholarship, or for whatever reason find yourself needing to impress someone, do your homework ahead of time.