Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chili cook off

today is out annual chili cookoff. I did not participate last year. But have thrown my chili in to be judged this year.

here is my recipe.

Alabaster Chile con Pixie (Ambrosia)

4 Jar Alabaster Legumes harvested from North facing walls of Machu Pichu

3 small Bottles chopped Pungent Capsicum Fruits

2 medium vessels Alabaster Creamy Goodness

4 Shorn, Braised, Shredded Pixie Pith

Some Cayenne Pepper

3 Pinches of Pixie Dust

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So you wanna attend our SQL Rally 2012 Precon?

Chris Shaw and myself will be putting on a Pre-Con for the upcoming SQLRally in Dallas in May 2012. We are excited. I am excited. Here is a link to our Pre-con, so that you can check it out yourself.

The content that we have put together comes from trial and error in our day jobs. As well as having been packaged and presented in other forums, including SSWUG vConferences, SQL Saturday events, User Groups, and so on. We are proud of the content, and the ideas we have realized, and we simply want to share these with others.

It is our hope that thru the presentation of this information we can help you alter your day to day practices, become better at your job, and help us along with others realize how to be better at what we do. You would be amazed at the things I learn from you as I stand in front of an audience to teach; I end up learning a lot about myself and what I do or worse, don't do.

Taken directly from the abstract, you can see some of the topics that we will be discussing.

  • The “Why” or “How” questions that come up
  • why should we upgrade our servers
  • how much server power do we need
  • what is the best process to follow
  • how should we manage our releases
  • a checklist that has proven to foster stable database servers
  • database utilities to automate these checklist items
  • learning about change management options
  • disaster recovery options
  • gain an understanding of these tasks
  • leave the session with an ability to help improve systems back home
  • be armed with

o examples

o ideas

o suggestions

o actual code

o samples

o documentation

o templates

o other tools

This we will do thru presenting what we are calling sub sessions of informational topics that we have put together. Like I mentioned, some of these have been presented many times before in different venues, while some content will be seen for the first time at this event.

To give you an idea of what lies ahead, if you attend, we will start the day with an introduction to all that we will discuss. We will even open up some of the time to vote on several possible sub sessions we will have prepared. This means that we will have enough content to speak and teach for 10 or more hours, but allow you, the audience, to choose some of that content yourselves, at the onset of the event. It will all tie together as we traverse the tapestry of what it means to Be a DBA, and you will leave with a larger toolbelt of utilities than when you entered.

Our core content will be discussing a Checklist of tasks to do daily, weekly and monthly. A Utility Database that will empower you, arming you with valuable information to direct you activities. We will dig deeper with a sub session that discusses Data File Sizes and the importance of properly sizing your databases, as well as collecting the data you need to arm you properly to make valid decisions. An interactive sub session dealing with Disaster Recovery will allow you to interact with us and the audience to learn about DR and provide the best solution in several case studies we will all do together. Helping you get a handle on Release Management and various tools as well as processes you can implement to ease this process will be discussed. The day will finish up with the task we never actually get to; Documentation. We will show you various methods for documenting what we do as DBAs and you will leave with examples, templates, and so on to help you on Monday morning back at work.

I would suggest that you bring several things to this session. A jump drive to collect our code, demos, samples, templates, and so on. Paper to take notes with, adding vital pieces of information you think of and learn to add to your utility belt. A remembrance of your problems and solutions to these various topics, so that you can enlighten us with how you solved it in your past. As well as an ability to learn from us and others in the audience.

The goal of all these topics, all these demos, templates, etc. is to get your brain thinking and interacting with us, so that we can all become better Data Professionals. Allowing us all to come away from this session better armed to go back to our day jobs and excel.

Please, if you feel so inclined, sign up for our Pre-Con. Come and learn from us as we learn from you.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

SQL Rally 2012 - I'm hoping to present a Pre-Con

This is a Shameless Plug to get your VOTE. Read on for some back story, and information about my and Chris Shaw's pre-con we are hoping to present.

SQL Rally is coming soon. May 10-11, in Dallas Texas, to be exact.
A couple days before this event, you will find various souls attending Pre-Conference sessions. 6 have been selected already. You can see them here. There were a few Pre-Cons that were not selected initially and have been served up for Community Vote. You can vote for them here.

As you peruse the available sessions, you will see one called "How to be a DBA - A Utility Belt of tools". This session is one conceived by myself and Chris Shaw (blog | twitter). The idea for this session came about as I watched Chris present last year in Utah his Utility Database session. It was then that I realized that he and I had had very similar experiences as we have supported databases throughout our careers.

Back in 2004 I became involved with PASS when I attended my first summit. I had been attending a local User Group and had even spoken a couple times at the User Group meetings. This was a scary and exhilarating prospect to stand up in front of people and talk about stuff. Some stuff that others knew much more about than I did. But I did it nonetheless. And loved it.
I have found that as I speak to folks, sharing my knowledge, I always learn form them as well. Really. This isn't one of those things you say. I do enjoy the interaction and almost always learn from the experience. Often it is new ways to look at what I do. This is priceless to me.

I have spoken at various events, User Groups, Code Camps, SSWUG virtual events, PASS SIG meetings and SQL Saturdays. As I have spoken, I have stretched and grown. I am a better DBA now because of my past experiences, including speaking and presenting. As I have spoken, I have challenged myself into bigger an better. Thus my desire to perform a pre-con at SQLRally. At the other events I have presented at, I have always felt bad that my sessions were level 100, and not level 300. But I have a certain set of skills and ideas that I feel are appropriate for this level of session. I often think back to when I started in this career, and had wished that someone would have taught me the things that I am teaching.

This same session was presented in Colorado Springs SQL Saturday 104. I was pretty worried about it, and hoped that it would come across well. Speaking for an hour is one thing. Doing that for 4+ hours is bigger. Doing it for 8 straight... well, I'm not there yet. First things first.

This pre-con will discuss various topics. Some of these I have presented many times in other venues. Chris has presented his portions as well. We are fine tuning this information, and regurgitating this for your benefit.

For this session, we will talk about the following:
  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly DBA task checklist
  • Utility Database
  • Monitoring
  • Release Management
  • Data File Size monitoring and manipulations
  • Documentation
All these topics will be presented in such a way as to help you, the attendee, the ability to learn valuable skills, and implement them when back in the office the next Monday.

After all this, I am asking you to look at the sessions available at SQL Rally. If you have some that stand out to you, vote for them. I would hope that mine would be voted for as well. Even if you will not be attending, know that this session will help someone out.

I hope to be able to present it. If not at SQL Rally, then another time, another place. I will continue to push this session. Practicing the presentation. Fine tuning it. Sharing my knowledge and ideas. Hopefully helping someone, somewhere, sometime.

Go and visit Chris Shaw's blog where he too pleads for your votes here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

So You Want To Be a DBA?

I recently was contacted by to write a few articles. Its with trepidation that I accepted this challenge. There will be 6 articles in a 6 month period with various topics.
The first of these topics was what i thought it meant to be a DBA, and advice I could give others about this job, its tasks, and what motivates me to do it.

I sat down a couple times to write this article. I had a couple failed starts, like most writing inspires from time to time. However, as I thought about it, and about what inspires me, I was reminded of the tale I have been telling folks for years now. That I feel as if I am in charge of keeping a light on in a room in my company. That's the simplest explanation I have repeated over the years. Not a lot of glory, but its a necessity. As I thought about this, I expanded this tale into a couple of sentences and then a few paragraphs. This became the intro to my article.

I was worried about the word count. When one is given an arbitrary number of something to create, it always seems to worry me. 750 words seemed like a huge amount of words. The end article ended up having 3600 words to contain all the spewing about the subject I could muster. After a lot of editing, and tweeking, the count stood fairly high. They were all important words. They conveyed the meaning I wished to convey. So I went with it.

The article basically tells the tale I mentioned above, embellishing a bit to paint the picture in your mind. It then breaks down the tasks into 2 main tasks. Learn about your Data and Love your Data. Within each of these, you can further break down more individual tasks.

The article was broken up into 3 parts and will run 1 each week for 3 weeks. I hope that you enjoy it. Enjoy my perspective. Enjoy my tale and my verbiage. Enjoy the information that I hope to help you learn. Enjoy my article.