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T-SQL Tuesday #42 – The Long and Winding Road

T-SQL Tuesday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog meme is brought to us by Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter) and the subject is “The Long and Winding Road.

When I saw this month’s subject, I lunged forward and began to write dropping everything else that I was working on.  Why?  Any chance to incorporate SQL Server with the Beatles is worth the time and effort.  After all, they are the greatest band of all time and if you disagree then you are just going to have to live with being wrong, right?

Many moons ago, well it was actually 1997, I had written some applications in Visual Basic: yes, the old and horribly slow one, you know the one.  But then I discovered Delphi (Object Pascal for the kiddies) and wrote amazing some amazing applications.  I even wrote a few games back then just to prove to myself that I could, they were not horribly great but I felt accomplished and I often wonder where those floppies are so that I could play them again.   Programming was my passion and it felt so amazing to create something from scratch, my own creation, my own Frankenstein: “It’s Alive!”

From there a company noticed some of my freeware applications and offered to move me to Virginia and teach me to write business applications in Progress 4GL for Unix and Windows.  Wait, you are going to train me, mentor me, and pay me double my current salary.  I’m in.  Progress was an amazing product with a very well written SQL-compliant RDBMS that rivaled Sybase, Informix and Oracle only without the marketing hype.  Their claim back then was that they were in over 60% of the Fortune 500.  The problem was that with their Value Added Reseller structure, many vendors would repackage their database as their own (as was allowed if they paid enough for the rights to distribute the product), so many of those companies had no idea that their database was “Powered by Progress.”

My years with the product were amazing learning to write code that would run in Unix, compile and run in Windows and then eventually would become used inside of tags of HTML to deliver data to the web was ground breaking at the time.  I was sure that this was the future, so much so that I became a consultant for the company traveling the globe for two years helping clients with installation, troubleshooting and training.  I drank the kool-aid.  I was pretty sure that with a little marketing they would sink the Oracle juggernaut.

At one company I even administered a SQL Server 6.5 and 7.0 boxes because they had vendor software that required it and I was the database guy for Progress.  I remember thinking how SQL Server was so miniscule compared to Progress.  I remember thinking that they will never make it in this sector.  Well I was wrong about the Xbox, too.

Enter early 2004, I had just successfully completed a fulfilling project and was looking for my next contract opportunity.  The well was dry, there were no opportunities for Progress.  I had a home and a small children and my family did not want to move.  The road had ended that day.  I had to take a job as a systems administrator to make ends meet.  The dream was over.  In the words of the Beatles….

The wild and windy night, that the rain washed away

Has left a pool of tears crying for the day

Why leave me standing here? Let me know the way

Then in 2008, I started a position that was part programmer and part SQL Server DBA.  Prior to this, I contemplated going back to school and leaving the IT field.  But as the Beatles would say…

And still they lead me back to the long winding road

You left me standing here a long, long time ago

Don’t leave me waiting here lead me to your door

The dream had come full circle, I found my new passion:  SQL Server.  It really was my old passion in disguise: DATA!  Hopefully this technology will be the one for many years to come, what do you think?

T-SQL Tuesday #41 – Why I Love Presenting

T-SQL Tuesday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog meme is brought to us by Bob Pusateri (blog|twitter) and the subject is “how did you come to love presenting?

For me I am not sure that I am at that point.  I love being a presenter, I love going to the speaker dinners for SQL Saturday events, I love meeting other speakers and talking about presenting, but in all honesty I am not sure that I am in love with presenting.  But I am getting there.  Presenting still terrifies the hell out of me, but it is a fear that I set out to conquer last year as a goal in my personal development plan.

For a long time, if  an activity involved a public speaking component I avoided it like the plague.  Seriously.  I am not kidding here.  I coached Dixie Youth baseball and Pop Warner football and every year I had to give a first practice speech.  I would spend a couple of sleepless nights and I would vomit several times before muttering something from my note cards and then quickly move on to begin the practice.  The last few years I stopped doing it all together and went around to the parents individually and this worked much better for me.  Crisis averted.  Problem put back on the shelf for a later date.

After several SQL Saturdays, I started to think that I could do this again.  Some time ago, I was a consultant that also provided week-long training courses in addition to programming and DBA work in Progress 4GL RDBMS, but all of the material that I presented was created by a team (similar to a Microsoft training course) of professionals.  Whenever I got nervous in those courses, I could always go back into the material as it had notes on the slides.  It was fool-proof, and after doing them over and over I was a pro at it.  But after not doing this for twelve years, the fear took over again.

After presenting a lightning talk in Pensacola, a couple of user group meetings and a few SQL Saturdays, the fight or flight reflex has lessened and the vomiting is non-existent.  I can do this, I am doing this, and I will conquer this.  I can proudly say that I brushed the fear back and now think that I am getting better at this.  I am starting to love presenting, it has a foothold in the depth of my being.  What about you?

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