All year long, I pile up blog post ideas in my task list and work through them. As the year winds to a close, I go through my list and set some of the ideas free. I like the ideas – but there’s just not enough hours in the day to do justice to ’em. It’s kinda therapeutic to set the ideas free.
Steve Jobs Almost Saved Windows Phone – When the iPhone first came out, Jobs didn’t want native apps running on the phone. He wanted all apps to be web sites so that you could build them once and they’d run anywhere. Ironically, if he’d have had his way, Windows Phone would have had a lot easier time breaking into the phone market because iOS wouldn’t have a lock on so many good apps.
The Consulting Game – An extension of my post, What Kind of Consulting Company Would You Build? I wanted to make a publicly editable Google spreadsheet where you could put in variables for your rate, the number of hours you’d work, how much free work you’d do, how much time you’d be willing to spend on travel, how much time you’d spend with your loved ones, etc, and then show your income. The more sacrifices you’re willing to make (constant travel, no family time, work weekends), the more money you can make – and the more you’ll need to spend on therapy. I know I’m leaving a lot of money on the table because I travel as little as possible, don’t work weekends, and check out weekdays at 5pm. But I’m happy, so there’s that.
Public Service Announcements Videos – A series of short videos done in the style of The More You Know. Before you let a stranger into the database, check their ID. If you see someone using Activity Monitor, say something. Prevent child task abuse with parallelism settings. Stop to think before you get high – high safety mode in your database mirroring, that is.
Know Where The Fire Extinguisher Is – When your kids reach a certain age, I hear one of the first things you’re supposed to teach ’em is where the fire extinguishers are, how to use them, and when you should skip the extinguishers and just get the hell out of the house. Database administrators need to take this same approach with the help desk. If a minor disaster strikes and the help desk can’t reach the DBA, there are some things the help desk should be authorized to do on their own. Think killing a SELECT query, failing over a clustered instance, or restarting a failed backup job.
SQL Server 2014: Good Database or Greatest Database? – I really wanted to use that “good or greatest” line this year, but it would have been hyperbole to throw “greatest” around. I like 2014 a lot for the down payments it’s making for future stuff, and I do think we’re going to look back at it as a release that turned an interesting corner. It’s the first time in a decade where we’ve got multiple new ways that data is stored internally, and I think it’ll create cool new opportunities for shops that are already committed to SQL Server. Unless the licensing thing changes, though, I don’t think SQL Server is going to conquer new developers. The real action for new apps is either in the cloud, or in new scale-out database platforms.
Database Classifieds – When you think about it, conferences are really a lot like the classifieds section of a newspaper. There’s vendors hawking tools, people spouting off about their wacko beliefs, and people looking for other people. It’d be fun to write a post full of classifieds. (This idea morphed into our Missed Connections post.)
Spot The Errors In This Blog Post – I get really frustrated at conference keynotes when bloggers take every word from the podium as the gospel truth. Practice critical thinking – and no, that doesn’t mean criticizing, but it means being a critic. Put honest, serious thought into the truthiness of what you’re hearing. If you believed the opposite of what the presenter said, and the conference gave equal time to both viewpoints, what arguments would you present in opposition? No one’s going to do this for you – you have to do it in your head to evaluate what you’re hearing. Believe me, there’s always an opposite view – you’re just not hearing it during marketing keynotes. That’s your job as a journalist – to think critically.
Database Weight Loss Challenge – Restore your production database on a development server. Take out all the indexes, and use database compression on the remaining clustered indexes. What’s the remaining data size? Would your data suddenly fit in memory in production? How might performance be different if you tried this stunt? It’s certainly not the right answer in production, but the idea is to get you to think about how much dead weight you’re carrying around.
The Cloud: We’re All In Too – When we built Brent Ozar Unlimited, it never even occurred to us to buy servers and install software. We use Quickbooks Online for accounting, Dropbox for a file server, Google Apps for email and calendaring, Salesforce for sales tracking, Expensify for expenses, Toggl for time tracking, WP Engine for web hosting, YouTube and Vimeo for video hosting, and WebEx for meetings (although we’re probably switching to GoToMeeting in 2014). I built a proof-of-concept customer tracking database in SQL Server, but I’ll be moving that to Amazon RDS or WASD in 2014. On-premise servers just aren’t an option for us – even though we make our living with databases, it’s about knowing the right tool for a given problem.
The Commandments of Blogging – No plagiarism, include an image in every post, make it easy for readers to contact you, don’t silence opposition comments, publish regularly.
Is SQL Server Reporting Services Dead? – I’m not a BI guy, but even I get alarmed at the lack of improvements in SSRS, the discontinuing of SQL Reporting in Azure, the total absence of a mobile story, and the big push to make Excel the front end of analysis work. Is SSRS dying a slow death, or is Microsoft about to unveil an amazing data front end that works across desktops, tablets, and phones? I have no idea. (Another route I was thinking about taking with this topic: SSRS Was a Child Star. I’d talk about the bright beginnings, and then the slow descent into being typecast.)
Cosmo Quiz for Databases – A series of multiple choice questions about you, your personality, and your data that leads to an answer about the kind of database you should be working with. Or maybe “What Kind of DBA Are You?”
The Psychiatrist and The Database – We listen in on a therapy session where an old, forgotten database talks about its awful life. (I’ve actually had that idea sitting in my queue since I worked for Southern Wine & Spirits back in 2005-2006.)
SQL Server Sci-Fi – Like a lot of geeks, I like a good science fiction story. It could be a fun way to think about what the future holds for databases. If we wrote a short science fiction piece talking about a data professional’s life thirty years from now, what would that look like?