The New MacBook’s USB-C Port

Posted on by Brent Posted in Blog Posts | 1 Comment

The new Apple MacBook has only one port: a single USB-C port. That’s an idiotically minimalist design, but that’s another discussion.

Two things you need to buy:

The PlugBug, $35 – this pops onto your power adapter and gives you a separate USB power plug good for simultaneously charging your USB devices. It was designed for the larger MacBook power supplies, so it hangs off the edge of these smaller USB-C ones, but whatever. Still works great.

USB to USB-C cable, $15 – lets you run or charge your MacBook off a USB battery charger, car charger, another laptop’s USB port, whatever. This charging method isn’t as fast as Apple’s power adapter, but in a pinch, it’s better than nothing.

Even after a couple of weeks of ownership, it’s still surreal plugging my laptop into a USB battery. That’s pretty awesome.

Interview with Steve Stedman about the Database Corruption Challenge

Posted on by Brent Posted in Blog Posts | 2 Comments

I’ve been watching Steve Stedman’s Database Corruption Challenge with glee. Steve (@SQLEMT) is running one of the toughest kinds of blog posts you can do: an ongoing series that involves a lot of prep, urgent timings, and dealing with plenty of contributions/questions/answers from a lively audience.

That is seriously hard work.

So I emailed Steve and put even more work on his plate – an email interview. Here’s how it went:

Brent: What made you decide to do a corruption challenge?

Steve Stedman

Steve Stedman

Steve: I was working on a blog post to explain the concept of how to pull in data from a non-clustered index when there is corruption in the clustered index. After spending a few minutes on the blog post, I decided that rather than just explaining the concept, it might be fun to throw it out as a challenge and see if anyone would like to participate. I posted the first database corruption challenge. After about 6 hours, you (Brent) were the first to respond with your solution. You also posted a link on Twitter, which increased the visibility of the Database Corruption Challenge. Over the next 36 hours a total of 91 participants responded to the challenge, with 22 correct solutions that resulted with no data loss. By this time I was having fun and decided to create the next challenge.

Brent: As a blogger, I try to write about things I want to be known for. Do you want to be known for challenging corruption issues? How does the corruption challenge tie into your personal branding?

In March 2015 I left my full time position and I decided to pursue building my freelance consulting business Stedman Solutions LLC (http://StedmanSolutions.com). I hadn’t really decided on a branding for myself and company to begin with. It certainly wasn’t my intention to establish a brand when I posted that first Database Corruption Challenge. There are many different avenues to build a brand for my business, but I have learned that to really succeed you need to enjoy what you do. I am really enjoying challenging corruption issues, and I am enjoying the work that it has pushed my way.

Brent: How long does it take to set up for a new corruption challenge?

Setting up the challenge really varies week over week. The first challenge took about an hour to prepare, however I learned a great deal after posting it. As a result I now test challenges much more extensively before releasing them. Challenge #6 took about 3 hours to prepare, test, and to write the blog post. Challenge #4 and Challenge #5 took more time. The interesting thing is the challenges that take me the longest amount of time are not necessarily the best challenges. Each week I test the challenge against SQL Server 2014, 2012, 2008R2, and on some weeks I even include 2008 and 2005.

I find that I spend the majority of my time in reviewing and scoring all the submitted answers. I have been amazed at how many different approaches people have taken to solving corruption. The benefit of this is that week over week I am continually learning something new. At a minimum I spend at least an hour a day on the Database Corruption Challenge. The day after launching a new challenge, it takes about 6 hours of my time to review and respond to all the solutions that people submit.

Brent: After launching the first challenge, I know you were surprised by the interest in it, and you ended up setting up an email newsletter. There’s a lot of us who love challenges like this! What else were you surprised by?

One thing that really surprised me was around week 5 of the contest a comment from a SQL Server MVP who said something like “I don’t like contests like this where there are really only 4 or 5 people who can compete or win.” That really shocked me, given that the average number of winning participants each week so far has been 18, certainly above 4 or 5. Keep in mind the challenge is intended to be a learning experience as well as a bit of a contest. I really enjoy seeing people learn from their encounters with specific types of database corruption that they had never encountered before. Especially when they are able to learn from and improve both their skills and confidence. Given that, it doesn’t really matter how many people can compete, but how many people can learn.

Brent: Were there any moments that made you think, “I’m so done with this”?

Yes, most definitely week 5 of the challenge! To begin with the setup process just to be able to work on the challenge was too difficult. Many people were frustrated by this and they shared their frustration with me. Week 5 involved a corrupt boot page in the database that needed to be copied with a hex editor, just to be able to get to the corruption. So for everyone reading this, I apologize, the remaining weeks will be better.

Brent: Were there any moments that made you think, “Wow, I’m so glad I did this”?

There have been many of these.

Recently at a SQL Saturday someone who I had never met before walked up to me and said “you are the database corruption guy right?” We chatted for a bit and I learned that he had just started participating in the Database Corruption Challenge, and was enjoying the learning. It’s a nice feeling when a complete stranger walks up to you and recognizes you for something good you have done.

Another WOW moment was when I received a comment from a participant who said “You should invite all the participants to meet up for a happy hour or similar at the PASS Summit in October”. That let me know that this more than just a competition, it was turning into a social event. One of the things that I enjoy about working with SQL Server is the strong community, and the suggestion to meet up for happy hour has certainly confirmed it.

Brent: What advice would you give to other bloggers who were thinking about running an interactive contest?

Just do it. But have a way of measuring if there is some impact. Also have a way to get out, or end the contest if you find out your contest isn’t working.

Collaborate or partner with someone on your contest. It can be lots of work for just one person, so if 2 or 3 people work together you may be able to achieve something greater, with less work than if you tried to do it alone. I wish I had done this.

Be sure you have the time to commit. The contest will take more time than you expect.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. After doing the Database Corruption Challenge I have stronger opinions on what works and what doesn’t work than I did before.

Changing My About-Me Slide

Posted on by Brent Posted in Blog Posts | 7 Comments

From about 2012 to 2014, this was my about-me slide at the start of a presentation:

About Me, circa 2014

About Me, 2014

I’d show that and say, “I’m Brent Ozar, a Microsoft Certified Master and MVP. That just means I’ve made a lot of expensive mistakes, and now I try to help other people avoid those mistakes. I cofounded a consulting company with a couple of my best friends, and it happens to have my name on it.” Then I’d go on to the next slide.

In early 2015, we switched to widescreen presentation templates, and for a quick temporary fix, I switched to six boxes:

About Me circa 2015, with animated reaction gif

About Me early 2015, with animated reaction gif

Yeah, I know it’s ugly – I whipped it together in like half an hour. I was just temporarily putting off a big problem: I needed to find a new way to define myself in a single slide.

Sadly, some of my badges have expired.

Microsoft killed the Certified Master program over a year ago, and it’s clear that a replacement isn’t coming. That’s a shame, but I understand – it was a money-losing program, and like any company, Microsoft’s gotta make money. Microsoft already makes awesomely big community donations in the form of the MVP program.

I’ve got other current Microsoft certifications, but I’m not putting those on the about-me slide. I don’t think people should measure me by those certifications because I’m not wild about what they measure.

I’m taking the book off too. I was proud of my contributions, and I think it’s still a great book to read today, and I’m proud of the book’s reviews, but c’mon. It’s SQL Server 2008, and I can’t coast on that. I definitely won’t be writing another conventionally-published book because the economics blow.

I started by asking, “What am I really proud of?”

I had two quick answers: the huge variety of stuff we’re building at BrentOzar.com, and my work/life balance. Communicating the company is easy, and then I thought, “Why not communicate my personal life with something like my Instagram feed?”

About Me, circa now

About Me, circa now

From left to right, top to bottom:

  • With Jeremiah and Kendra at é by josé andrés
  • With Erika, sailing
  • In Cabo at the company retreat
  • Teaching at SQLSaturday Lisbon
  • With Dad at Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska
  • With Ben Block, finishing the Disney Half Marathon
  • With Ernie
  • With a fellow Parrothead at a Jimmy Buffett concert
  • With the America’s Cup trophy

They’re not my 9 favorite moments from life or anything, and they’re not my 9 favorite photos, but they do a good job of explaining me.

And if I don’t respond to your comment quickly, it’s because I’m on vacation with Erika this week. Timed that one pretty well.

Five Things I Learned from Five Years of Blitzing

Posted on by Brent Posted in Blog Posts | 5 Comments
Having a champagne moment

Having a champagne moment

Five years ago this week, while presenting a session at the 24 Hours of PASS, I introduced the world to an easier way to check the health of their SQL Servers. I had no idea if anybody else would like it or find it useful.

As I write this, I’m sipping champagne, watching golfers tee off in Scottsdale Arizona. I’m self-employed, part of a boutique consulting firm where I get to work with my best friends.

I still can’t believe this is my life, and I want it to be yours, too, so as usual, I’m sharing what I learned along the way. Here’s what sp_Blitz® was a big part of what got me here. Here’s some of my favorite lessons:

1. Build something to make your own life easier. Don’t design something that you think an imaginary user needs – design something you need, even if it’s a years-prior version of yourself. In my case, I hated taking over SQL Servers that someone else had built. More community examples include Adam Machanic’s sp_WhoIsActive, Ola Hallengren’s maintenance scripts, Richie Rump’s StatisticsParser.com, and Kendal Van Dyke’s SQL Power Doc.

2. Don’t be intimidated: these other authors are just like you. We all have day jobs, we’re all doing this in our spare time, and we’re all ashamed of parts of our code. But like Steve Jobs said, real artists ship. Do a good enough job and get your work out there to see if people respond. Odds are, people are desperate for the end results out of your tool, and they’re not terribly concerned about the quality of your code. (Side note: this is why I get really pissed off at DBAs who demand that their developers write beautiful, fast, best-practices code. Solve real world problems first, and worry about perfection later.)

3. Do things, tell people. Doing it is the easy part – getting the word out is much, much harder. Until you get raving fans, nobody else is going to spread the word. Set monthly calendar reminders to blog/present/webcast about your work.

4. Don’t lose heart: most users are silent. I know people use my work because tens of thousands of people per month download these scripts, and when I present, the overwhelming majority of arms go up when I ask who’s used them. Still, though, I don’t get a lot of emails back each month. It’s incredibly cool when, for example, a student in our classes last month stood up and said, “I’d like to take a moment to thank you guys for giving so many cool tools away to the public for free.” Those moments are gold – but they sure as hell don’t happen as often as you’d think. (That’s why I told you to go thank Adam Machanic.)

5. There has never been a better time to bet on yourself. The database market is on fire. If you’re in data, you should be making great money, doing what you love, and you should have time after hours and weekends to build things you care about. The time to start investing in your future is now – so that down the road, when times get a little leaner, you’ll have a brand name and a reputation that brings work to your door.

Start a blog.

Write a presentation.

Build a tool.

Share what you’re passionate about.

 

I wish I’d have written scripts ten years ago instead of five. I wish I’d have started a blog twenty years ago instead of fifteen. The perfect time to start all of this stuff is five years ago, but you don’t have that luxury – get your ass moving right now and get started.