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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.

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.




The Best Days

I recently asked about the worst days in your career, so today let's turn it around. What are the best days of your career? If you can give us a list of 2 or 3 days, projects, accomplishments, etc., it might be fun to read. Throughout my career, I have lots of little successes where I accomplish something that a client needs. Those add up, and they're good, but by nature there are so many and the numbers tend to blur the lines in my mind. Unfortunately, the mistakes I've made tend to be...


What Data is Really Needed?

The GDPR took effect in May of this year, at least with regards to enforcement. A few days after the May 25 date, a German court ruled against ICANN, the company that registers domain names on the Internet and manages the global WHOIS database. The case revolves around the information collected when you register a domain. ICANN wants multiple contacts, which they've required for decades. However, a company in Germany that is a partner, argued that the additional technical and administrative...


Maintain Your Trustworthiness

Many of us that are DBAs and/or sysadmins find ourselves with privileged access to many systems. We can often read the data that's stored in these systems, whether that's a relational database, a NoSQL store, or even a mail system. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to be trustworthy and maintain confidentiality with privileged information. Overall I think most of us do this, but there are always some rogue administrators out there, some of which might take malicious actions. There have...


The Master of the Schema

"The database ... should be the master of the schema". It's not often I see an application developer talk about the importance of the database, or at least that the database (and data) are very important to the success of the application, but in this case, that's what I saw. The quote is from this blog, which talks about the problems of the code first approach to building an application. It's from a Java development company, though it's their jooQ product blog that actually generates Java...


The Worst Day

I challenged people to write about their daily work a few weeks ago. I haven't see a lot of posts, but I am still hopeful some of you will document your day, as Iris Classon has done a few times. It's not that I expect a lot of the same posts, but rather, I'd like you to talk about the way a specific day has flowed for you. Did you work on a problem? Just pick up tickets and perform routine scripting? Learn a specific thing? Give us some details. I expect everyone's day to be...


Unwired for Weeks

I took a few weeks off recently for a vacation with my family. We traveled from Denver to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and then on to Glacier National Park in Montana. We drove a horse trailer, camping along the way in the vast outdoors of America. It was a wonderful time and a beautiful part of the country. If you get the chance to visit, I'd highly recommend the trip. One of the interesting things on this trip was that I was very unwired. In fact, I didn't even take a laptop,...


The Ideal IDE

When I started working with SQL Server, I spent a lot of time in Query Analyzer and isql.exe. Those were my two main tools, using those to query a database instance in a lightweight manner. At some point Microsoft released Enterprise Manager, which was more useful for some tasks, but overall, I preferred Query Analyzer. Eventually that died away, and we got stuck with Management Studio, which most of us now use. Along the way, I also used DBArtisan, RapidSQL, and a few other IDEs for...


Will Terminators Be Required?

I was looking at an article the other day and noticed that there was a CTE sample with the semicolon on the line before the code. I've been seeing this convention for years, starting your CTE with a semicolon because people aren't sure this will get dropped in a batch with other code. It's not that the CTE needs this, but the previous statement needs to be terminated. There are a few other T-SQL constructs that require any previous statements to be terminated, and as a result, we have a...


The Challenge of Failure and of Being Unwired

Today is my last day at work for a couple weeks. Actually, I'm not done yet. I travel to Louisville today forthe SQL Saturday tomorrow and then I return home Sunday. I'll be traveling away on Monday, so this is really my last day in the office. I hope. It's possible I'll realize over the weekend I've forgotten something and need to tackle it remotely. While I won't be completely unable to do anything, I am hoping that I'll remain unwired for the two weeks. We are traveling to remote...


Combinations of Software

Security issues seem to be appearing more frequently, not less. I'd expect that we would be getting better at writing software, and I think many of us are. The problem is that more and more people are writing software and we still haven't found a way to better train developers early in their careers. Perhaps the one good thing is that more and more developers are using frameworks, which create more consistent software. If issues are discovered, a patch can ensure a large swath of systems...


Storage that Expires

Whether you like the idea of the GDPR (and the new California law), I'm sure you agree that these laws will likely change our data handling in business. Even if they are weakened through legal challenges, many companies have already started to comply and change some of their practices. I've written about the GDPR plenty of times this year, and I like the law. I hope the law stands strong and resists most challenges. While I'm sure there will be plenty of spurious or silly requests and...


The End of Support

With the accelerating pace of development and more frequent releases, we are seeing a bunching up of SQL Server support milestones. From 2008 through 2016, we had a new version every two years. Last year we saw another version, which means 5 versions in a ten year span. With 5 years of main support and 5 of security patches + extended support, Microsoft has quite a few active branches of code. We now see SQL Server 2008 and R2 coming to the end of support on July 8, 2018. There are plenty...


The Age of Multiple Databases

I can still remember learning to store data in files, reading one record at a time, testing for end of lines and end of files. It was slow and cumbersome, but for a teenager, it was amazing. We built applications that could help run Dungeon and Dragons games, and the ability to store information about our games was amazing. I even adapted some of these routines to store data about various chemistry experiments in school, making my report writing (and data fudging) must easier. In time I...


The MVP Award Looks Backward

I was awarded the Microsoft Data Platform MVP designation in July 2018. I've been honored to receive this designation since 2008, though the award doesn't drive my work. I started writing articles to help others get better with their work, just as I got help from others before me. That was the goal of SQLServerCentral, and I'm proud whenever I hear that I've been able to help someone solve a problem, learn a new skill, or improve their career in some way. Microsoft has an MVP site, and...


AI Regulators

With the GDPR now being enforced in the European Union, there are plenty of companies that are getting concerned about the potential fines from regulatory authorities if they aren't complying with the law, or at least, making an attempt. There certainly is leeway for regulators to adjust fines or give warnings if a company is making efforts to comply. This has likely contributed to the work inside many organizations to move towards compliance. There are likely some companies that might...


Who Likes NULL?

The title says it all: who Likes NULL values in their tables? I have tended to allow NULLs in quite a few places in my design, often because I view the world as messy and incomplete. I also find that applications are faulty, and might not validate data, might not run long enough without a crash to let a user insert a lot of data. The application might mangle data, or just might not have been updated to support a new column of data. I've found that there are times where I accept the messy...



Information Technology is a place that I think could be a very good career for many people. Our working conditions are good, the pay is above average, and we can continue to do this job for most of our lives. We have flexibility to work in many locations, and at different hours. There are downsides, as each of those advantages can work against us. We can be expected to work all hours, and in all places, including while on holidays. We don't have the excuses of not being in an office, and...


Where's the Schema

Across the last few years, I've read many articles and listened to quite a few talks that discuss the advantages of NoSQL databases. I'll admit that I'm often skeptical of the advantages of other datastores overcoming the disadvantages with a relational system, but I try to keep an open mind. I do appreciate that there are some benefits to using another data store in certain situations. One of the talks I heard recently discussed the fact that in many of these stores, we can add data in a...


DevOps is Helpful

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at the 24 Hours of Pass Summit Preview. During my session, a demo broke and I had to ignore it. Later I found the issue and blogged about it. What was neat for me is that I didn't need to keep my code up or apps open, but I still found the issue quickly. I found it because I have a DevOps process that instruments and tracks everything. This happened to me a few years ago. I was at a SQL Saturday and demoing one of the Redgate tools. There was an error...


How are you recharging this year?

This is the end of the first half of the year. I'm hoping it's been a good half year for you, as it has for me. I've traveled less, done a few more things outside of work, but had a good time at work as well. I've had to work on some projects and content that are engaging and fun. I'm looking forward to the next half of the year. No matter how much we enjoy our career, we all need to get away from work at some point. It's important. We would love the perfect work-life balance, though I...