It’s that time of year again – time to let go of baggage and give it away as presents. All through the year, I come up with all kinds of blog post ideas and I stash them in my to-do list. Any that I can’t manage to flesh out by the end of the year, I share them here. You’re welcome to use ‘em as launching points for your own blog posts.
Firing Clients to Save Your Reputation - I’ve fired a few clients over the years and I just can’t come up with a good way to write this up. Sometimes people want me to turn Cheese Whiz into cheesecake, and even though I might be able to pull it off, I don’t want to leave that behind for another consultant to find. I’ve walked into shops and heard the customer say, “So-and-so is an MVP consultant and he left us with this” – and I don’t wanna be that guy.
How to Do a Good Job at Anything – There’s only four steps. Read the manual, ask Google the right questions, document what you do, and ask your users/customers if they’re happy.
Here’s to Great IT Managers – Most IT managers come from a technical background. They did a great job managing some technical system (sysadmin, DBA, programmer, whatever) and they got promoted into managing the team. Thing is, good technical skills don’t make us good at managing people. When I meet a great IT manager, I’m just so impressed and it makes life so much easier.
I’m Part of the 1% – Not because I make a lot of money, but because people call me in when systems are going down. They want 99% uptime (or usually much higher), but when they can’t get it, they call me in to fix that other 1%.
To Serve and Protect – The DBA’s job is like a police officer. We’re here to both serve and protect, and we can’t only do one. We can’t be jerks about denying people access or making them redo all their work, and at the same time, we can’t be doormats who let everybody be sysadmins. (Related post idea: DBAs – Democracy or Dictatorship?)
Best Practices for Managing Over 1,000 Databases Per Instance – I’ve got a few clients actually doing this, and it does change a few things about database administration. You can’t just use a single job for transaction log backups or log shipping, for example – it’ll take too long to cycle through all the databases. You can’t expect any plans to remain in the cache. You can’t even use SSMS’s Object Explorer the same way.
Developer’s Bill of Database Rights and Wrongs – You have the right to a reliable database server that’s free of corruption. You have the right to get a list of the most resource-intensive execution plans over the last week. You don’t have the right to run queries, even read-only queries, in production because out-of-control queries or locks can harm end users.
How to Answer a Question – Include evidence written by someone authoritative other than yourself. Your answer should include a second opinion with more reading links and videos. When you write it, put yourself in the shoes of someone who believes your answer is wrong, and come up with the questions you’d challenge yourself with. Answer those if you can. If you can’t, your answer isn’t done yet.
DBA Kills 8 in Workplace Violence – Kills queries, that is. Wanted to make a joke out of this, but with as much violence as we had this year, there just wasn’t a good time to do it.
What if SQL Azure Pulls a Silverlight? Microsoft has yanked a few products recently under strange circumstances – Silverlight, Kin, and Windows Home Server come to mind. SQL Azure isn’t even the name for it anymore – the current mysterious name is Windows Azure SQL Database. I don’t have any inside information, but I also don’t have any warm-and-fuzzy feelings about where this thing is going, or how fast. Everything I’m hearing about SQL Azure, I’d also heard about Silverlight on the way up – before Microsoft dramatically yanked the handbrake.
Conference Prerequisites – Before you spent thousands of dollars to go to an in-person conference, here’s a set of basic training videos you should watch. Think of it as a technology primer that will help you get the most out of your training. I’m blown away by how many people come up to me at a conference asking questions that are covered in really good free online videos. They’re not necessarily simple questions, but there’s great free resources online for the most common database questions.
What Would A Developer Do? – I love developers because they rarely hit the same infrastructure problem three times in a row. By the second time they’ve seen a problem, they’re writing a script or a tool or a process to make it go away permanently. Database administrators could learn a lot from that.
How James Brown Would Back Up Databases – Funk music is all about the rhythm, and so are database backups. Multiple servers are like multiple band members; they can’t all shout out at the same time. Get on up!
MacBook Pro Retina Review – I really wanted to write this but couldn’t ever come up with anything better than, “It’s amazing, and you deserve it.” It’s now the only computer I use. It’s even replaced my Ikea datacenter because I can run a full-blown cluster on it complete with domain controllers.
What Are You In It For – And How Can You Get More of That? – When I was a database administrator, I loved the troubleshooting, tuning, and teaching. I got lucky to get an evangelist gig for Quest Software doing more of those three things, and I just absolutely loved that work. Identifying what you love helps you take that next step.
For more ideas, check out the Blog Posts I Couldn’t Develop in 2011.