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Voice of the DBA

Technology Podcasts

A series of episodes that look at databases and the world from a data professional's viewpoint. Written and recorded by Steve Jones, editor of SQLServerCentral and The Voice of the DBA.

A series of episodes that look at databases and the world from a data professional's viewpoint. Written and recorded by Steve Jones, editor of SQLServerCentral and The Voice of the DBA.


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A series of episodes that look at databases and the world from a data professional's viewpoint. Written and recorded by Steve Jones, editor of SQLServerCentral and The Voice of the DBA.




Default Credentials

Years ago I got a call to help someone with a database. I walked over to their desk (when this was possible) and sat down. They asked me how they could get into a database they had been told about. I quickly realized this was an Oracle database and asked for credentials for SQL*Plus. This person didn't have any, but I was able to log in with SYSTEM and MANAGER. This was a small department system of some sort, but it always struck me that the default credentials were available. Since then,...


Improving Availability Groups

Availability Groups (AG) were introduced in SQL Server 2012, with the idea that we could dramatically improve (and ease) the burden of dealing with high availability in SQL Server. At the time the (code named) HADRON technology seemed full of possibilities. Since then, there have been some enhancements, but it seems that setting up and managing an AG, especially across subnets, isn't as simple as Microsoft would have us believe. One of the problems with AGs is that there are non database...


Security in the Aftermath

Not too long ago was a very sad and embarrassing day for the US. The US capital was breached and rioters had hours inside without authorities. Ignoring the reasons and politics behind the event, think about the security of the building and systems after the criminals were removed from the building. Someone else brought up this point, which I think is fair. Can you trust any system in the building? Keyloggers, cameras, who knows what devices might have been planted. As a friend noted,...


Reassess Your Configuration

It's the start of a new year, and while it might feel like COVID-19 has us stuck back in March 2020, I hope that will start to fade as we move into the new year. Certainly our employers want to move forward, and I suspect that there is some hope that organizations will start to thrive in 2021. I saw a post from Kenneth Fisher recently that talked about an end of year, new year checklist. It's a basic set of things that you might do as a type of review and cleanup of some of the instances...


The Best Way to Protect Sensitive Data

I was listening to someone talk about data privacy recently, and the ways that you can protect the sensitive information in your databases. They had a great quote about something you might consider. They said, "The best way to protect data is not hang onto the raw data at all." If we don't have sensitive data, then a loss of data can't occur. Hacks won't cause issues, we can't accidentally send out data or leave it lying around. There's a good case to be made that keeping less sensitive...


A Need for Monitoring without Administration

There was a report recently that a number of US government agencies were hacked through a network management system. Apparently Solarwinds had their code hacked, and this resulted in a backdoor being distributed to customers via software updates. There is a lot that went wrong here, and this ought to make many system management software vendors very nervous. Attacks on your software developers, designed to allow a hacker to put backdoors into source code repositories is a wild second (or...


The Devil is in the Details

Some of us have run into perplexing technology problems, where we had to dig deep into an application to solve a problem. We might need to work with our own staff, vendor support, perhaps even coordinate people across multiple different organizations. This can be even more challenging when we don't have access into the internals of all the code. I ran across a neat story from Netflix, where an engineer had to dig into an issue with one of their partners. In this case, there were hardware...


Looking Back at 2020

In some sense I hate to do this. 2020 was a black swan event for the world, with a pandemic that caused changes all across the world in ways that many of us might never have thought possible. For the data platform, perhaps one of the more startling changes was the demise of PASS. This organization has been a part of my life for the last 20 years, and while I've had my disagreements, I think they have brought the SQL Server and related communities closer than they might otherwise have been....


What Skills Will Help Me?

Yesterday I wrote a little about skills from the corporate side of your career. What is important, valuable, and helpful to your organization. Today, as we close down 2020, I want to look a little at the skills that will help your career, whether at this organization or another one. When I speak with people about their career path, I often hear them speculating on which technologies will be hot, which ones will ensure a long and financially rewarding career. The answer isn't the same for...


An Experiment in Building Culture

While I have found that some aspects of my job with Redgate improved with our move to remote work this year, I think others have deteriorated. I have spent lots of time over the years trying to build relationships with people in lots of different departments. This year, I've gotten lots of time and more communication with those I often work with, but the connections across groups have been limited. I have worried this is affecting the great culture at Redgate. We have a group of people who...


Join the New Stars of Data

Standing in front of a group, large or small, was one of the most intimidating things to me as a young man. I hated making presentations in school and university to others. As I moved through my career, however, I realized that this was an important skill for my career. Often in many positions, I had the chance (or need) to debate, argue, or just present a viewpoint to others on my team or inside my organization. I had to train others, teaching them about our systems. I had to explain my...


Your User Group Goals

Many of you reading this piece have likely been to a user group at some point in your career. Some may go every month, some may go a once or twice annually , and some may not have been for years. I also know some of you don't have a group in your area, or perhaps not enough people for a SQL Server group, but I would bet if you are working in technology, there are enough people to have some sort of technology group, perhaps even an online book club. Recently I was speaking with Andy Warren...


Never let a good crisis go to waste

There have been quite a few jobs in my life where my first day was complete chaos. Some were technical and some were not. I had a first day as a bartender (in more than one job) where someone was sick or the place was busy and I was left on my own to figure things out. Fortunately, I know my way around a keg and a bottle of liquor. I've also started at a couple tech jobs where we had a crisis in a system. I've been able to pitch in and help solve problems, or even get other work done on my...


Prized PII

If I asked you what specific type of information criminals would like to capture about you, what would be your response? Take a minute and think of something and then leave it in a comment after reading the rest of this. I know that usually more than one piece of data about me is needed, and while most of this data is probably somewhere in a database, and perhaps leaked in a breach, it's not necessarily organized. I still think it's good to protect information where I can. Every year my...


Data Sovereignty Issues

Many people think about the cloud for cost reasons first, often because they can transfer the expense from a capital to operating budgets. Others think about the flexibility the cloud vendors offer to spin systems up and down, change configurations, and adapt to requirements quicker than many internal groups can. A few consider scalability, where we can grow or add systems to meet our needs. What about data sovereignty? I ran across an article recently that talked about the new SAS cloud...


Is there a Diffence in Virtual Events?

I've been to many SQL Saturdays across the last decade. I know I'm close to having spoken at 100 events, and I've enjoyed going to different cities, meeting lots of new people, and enjoy the local atmosphere. I love exercising at University Lake in Baton Rouge before their event. I've enjoyed wandering around Memphis to see sites, the music in Nashville is wonderful after a day of speaking. Getting up early and visiting Central Park in NYC or jogging through the city in Oslo are great...


Practice Your Skills with the Advent of Code

It's that time of year, when the Advent of Code goes live. This is a daily coding contest that starts the first of December, with a new exercise released each day leading up to Christmas. You can still join in, and even go back and look at previous years (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016) and go through them. It's a good exercise for your mind. To be fair, I've never completed the challenge in any year. Usually life gets in the way, and I get distracted. I've gotten through 15-20 in some years, but...


Seeking Growth

The word of the day is na·ive·té: lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. I used this word in a post, and wound up checking the spelling, since I constantly want to include an "i" instead of an "e" in middle of the word. As I saw the definition, I started to think about what this really means. Read the rest of Seeking Growth


Completely Encrypted Data

I remember reading about, and doing some message exchange, with PGP, in the 90s. At the time I worked in a utility company and my boss and I were interested in whether encryption might be something we should implement. At the time, the integration with mail clients, and the relatively unsophisticated users limited our options, and we never moved forward, but I've always been interested in encryption and how it fits into our digital world. The technical bits have gotten easier, with https...


Delivery Patches Quickly

I love cars. In my life, I've owned and regularly driven well over 20 cars. If I count the ones I purchased for my kids and lightly drove, it's over 30. Just writing this paragraph gets me a little itchy about looking for another car. Actually, I'm looking lightly now, as I expect two kids to move on next year and handle their own expenses. So, next year I'm hoping to add another vehicle. Recently I saw a note that there was an exploit against Tesla cars, which are rarely stolen, but there...