Blog Archives

A Different Perspective

Every day at lunch I walk around the perimeter of the work compound in the fresh sunshine.  I have done this for over three months now.  Today, however, I went in the reverse direction and everything appeared different.  Obviously, it was the same compound with all of the same buildings and the same roads.  But when you approach it from a different prospective, your view is altered.  Today I saw things from a different light and it appeared as a new shining vista, fresh and renewed.

Work is the same dynamic, some times we need simply to walk in a different direction to get a new perspective.  Sit with your developers and see how they see the data.  Find out what problems they are having from their point of view.  Look at your environment from a different perspective and maybe you will find a new shining vista too.  Enjoy!

Database Ownership: An Editorial

Over the last few months, I have talked to a few different DBAs who tell me that their environments are setup in such a manner that many DBAs are involved yet no one ‘owns’ any of the servers.  When I ask who is responsible the answer is either everyone or no one in particular.  Obviously the DBAs in question are high quality administrators working within a system that they have no control over.  Maybe this is the norm for large organizations, ones with hundreds or thousands of servers.  Personally, I have never worked on such an economy of scale.

I understand that there are a large number of servers, but I would think that somewhere those numbers would be sliced up into smaller groups of administrators allowing for redundancy but incorporating ownership by a small group.  Then that group takes ownership and is responsible for the bank of servers.

My style is such that I love and care for my servers as well as taking ownership of them.  I know their history, their quirks, their specs, and if it is a detail that I cannot memorize then I track it.  I have 32 SQL servers with almost 300 databases, therefore it is impossible for me to memorize all of the nuances but I have them tracked and the information easy to find such that  I can tell you within a minute or two if you ask.  How can you do that or do you even need to do that when you have thousands of servers?

In addition, ownership allows me to make those servers a priority and hopefully nothing slips through the cracks.  However, if it does then it is my mistake and mine alone.  I am responsible.  End of story.  In those organizations no one is really responsible from what I understand.  How do you accomplish or do you even care in a larger organization?  Is this much ado about nothing?

Milestones, Keeping Them in Perspective

Today is my daughter’s last high school marching band competition.  Being my youngest daughter, her senior year has been filled with “lasts” and she has been nostalgic to say the least, probably more so than my other children because she is the youngest.  For me this is bittersweet as we will never experience these moments again in our lives but we also know that next year will bring many new “firsts” for her.

In life we have to keep milestones in perspective.  I am more excited about her “firsts” than her “lasts” but cannot help but be a little sad at the same time because I know she will leave the nest in a few months and our nest will be empty for the first time in over twenty years.  That will be a new “first” for us.  A challenge to be sure.  Enjoy!

Setting Your Sights

Today I went to a local gun range to try to sight my 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle.  After missing several shots, I became somewhat agitated to not be hitting my target, not even hitting the paper.  While trying to bore sight it at 25 yards, I realized that my nice scope was not working.  The adjustment knobs were stripped and unable to readjust the scope.

This is like life, we get frustrated when we don’t hit our targets only to find that our sights are not set on the target.  We must be able to readjust and zero in on our targets and goals.  Enjoy!

Migration Tedium Pays Off

Today I am going through the tedium of checking row counts and randomly verifying data in round two of our conversion from Oracle to SQL Server.  This is very monotonous and it would be incredibly easy to tell my boss that everything checked out ok.  Who would notice if I skipped a few of these tests?  Me.  That thought would always be in the back of my head, is this data really the same data that was in Oracle or are we missing some data.  It would be my Tell Tale Heart (Edgar Allen Poe references always make for a great blog post)!

Being a database administrator is never about glamour, but admittedly there are more entertaining parts of the job.  However, do not overlook these minute details or you might be facing the opportunity to update your resume.  Enjoy!

Ponderings

While attending a viewing tonight for my wife’s cousin, I was once again reminded that life is too short to be unhappy.  Live your life to the fullest and savor every minutes.  Hug your family, call your friends, and spend time with them all.

Life is precious, it is a gift, do not squander it away.  You have heard all of this before, but I am here to remind you that time waits for no man!  Enjoy!

Money, My Two Cents

For some unknown reason, I have seen many articles and blogs lately regarding money.  Maybe its my subconscious, I don’t know.  Here are a couple of things that I have learned over the years.

First of all, money does buy happiness, to some degree.  If you are not a happy person, then chances are whether you have money or not will not matter.  I used to tell people who only rich people said that money cannot buy happiness and to some degree that is true because when you have money you can buy a jet ski.   Have you ever seen anyone unhappy on a jet ski.  I didn’t think so.  Unless you just ran out of gas. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are people who win the lottery everyday and they are miserable and then they eventually go broke.  Why?  Because they thought money would bring them happiness.  It doesn’t work that way.  Money only buys you the opportunity to be happy, it is up to you to make it happen.

Now for the elephant in the room, making more money in your job.  A pay increase can only go so far to making you happy especially when the environment is toxic.  However, I have found that the opposite is also true.  When the market continues to move upward and your pay remains stagnant, it is only a matter of time before you will feel undervalued.  There are people who stay for other reasons, obviously, but there will be a value to other intangibles and once that threshold is met, most people will leave for greener pastures. 

I would think that if a company was unwilling to pay you the market value for your services, then you probably will not be happy in general for an extended period of time.  I also understand that with some companies, there is no amount of money that will make you happy because there are too many other problems to compensate for the increase in pay.  What do you think?

Rites of Passage

Today my youngest daughter will take her driving test. She is the third one in the house to take the exam and you’d think at this point I would be a pro at this but I’m a nervous wreck. I think I’m more nervous than she is. This rite of passage moves a child along on the journey to adulthood and while I wait here in the office for the results I’m faced with dealing with them growing up. Parenting is a tough job but worth every minute of it. Hug your children and enjoy every minute of them!

Commencement

This week marks the beginning of the end resulting in my daughter’s high school graduation.  The commencement.  In school, I knew the meaning of the word and was confused as to the usage since the ceremony was the end of an era.  Things were never the same after that point for me.  Friends drifted apart and out of my life.  My adult life commence and my childhood ended.

This is our third child out of four to soon leave the nest and it does not get any easier.  We have already become grandparents.  This is an amazing stage in our lives as our children become adults and begin their own careers and families.  What an adventure!  This is the commencement ceremony for the rest of their lives!  Enjoy!

Multitasking Is A Myth!

We take the term multitasking for granted these days.  Everyone is multitasking all day long.  We are checking our cell phones for e-mail while we are driving or in the restroom.  We talk on the cell phone while driving or watching television.  This has accelerated society to a break-neck speed.  I am no different from anyone else as I used to take great pride in boasting in my ability to complete several tasks at the same time.  Being a computer guy, it is only normal that I operate like my machines, multithreading!

However, it is at this stage in my career when I have realized the fallacy of this whole philosophy.  Technically, it is not possible to multitask most operations unless one of those items does not require any active input.  For example, talking while driving or walking and chewing gum.  Driving for most of us has become automatic and only requires our undivided attention in heavy traffic or extreme weather.  In those situations I usually turn down the radio and give it my full attention.  If you add a cell phone into the mix, most people will turn down the radio so they can concentrate on the call and reduce the distraction.

Due to this fallacy, I have realized that in order to perform my best for brain-intensive operations, such as troubleshooting SQL Server, it is best to put on some passive music and tune out the world in order to tune in to the SQL.  Think about it and be honest with yourself, it may seem like you are able to do multiple things at one time but you can only process one piece of information at a time.  That does not mean you cannot juggle multiple projects at the same time, but you will put one down and work on the other and go back and forth.

When I used to wear a full-time developer hat, I needed absolute quiet in my own office otherwise I was so distracted that I could not code effectively because I kept losing my train of thought.  It just was not possible for me to effectively code.  Maybe I am not a great developer, but I think that if you are honest with yourself you will see that multitasking truly is a myth!

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