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voiceofthedba's podcast

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.




Do You Have a Mentor?

It's partway through the year 2020 and I'm wonder if many of you are continuing with your resolutions at this point? I know that the yoga classes at my gym were already thinning before the COVID-19 crisis as people that started out coming regularly at the beginning of the new year slowly started coming less often or dropping out. I see that every year as resolutions start to fade in importance. Goals are good drivers, but also stern taskmasters, especially for those of us that are more...


More Time to Certify

With all of the shutdowns and quarantines with the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft has extended their deadline to finish the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certfifications. Previously old certification exams were due to expire on June 30, 2020. You had until then to complete your work. Now the timeline has been extended to January 31, 2021. This gives you more time to earn the cert you started. I haven't held an active certification for years. I found them useful for studying and focusing my learning...


Encryption Libraries

One of the ways we work to implement better security is through the use of encryption. I remember the early days of PGP, VPNs adding end to end encryption, IPSec becoming available, and more. I was excited to see column level encryption come in SQL Server 2005, but it was a bit complex to implement and had issues. The evolution over time with TDE and Always Encrypted were welcome additions, but we can do better. Handling encryption in the database can provide some protection, but really,...


Have You Made a Difference?

On New Year's Eve, I was reminiscing about the past decade. I started posting some pictures on Twitter from the past decade, which were really memories for me of what had happened in life. Later, I saw this tweet from the Pittsburgh Pirates, quoting the late Roberto Clemente, a renowned humanitarian. The quote is: "Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth." Read the rest of Have You Made a Difference?


Have You Deployed an Availability Group?

The last few weeks have been interesting, to put it mildly, with both more and less engagement online. I see more people holding video calls, both inside and outside of work, but I also see less engagement at SQLServerCentral, blogs, Slack, and some of the more common community tools we've had. I suspect this new way of working is strange, and it's upset many of the rhythms that people have built over the years. In any case, one very important and common technology in the SQL Server...


Next Person Up

I have a friend that has had a lot of success in technology. This person was a consultant when I met them, working hourly as I was. Over the last few decades, they have found new opportunities and joined a few large corporations. Eventually this person became a vice president, managing a division. It's an impressive job, with a big salary, lots of travel and perks, and a lot of work.I had dinner with this person recently and they lamented all the hours and stress that comes from a high...


Cursors Without Performance Penalties

One of the very common ways that many developers learn to write code is through loops. Almost every language as some sort of FOR and WHILE looping structure. Many people build these in T-SQL, which often creates performance issues as the engine inefficiently deals with the RBAR (row by agonizing row) processing. That seems like it might change in the next version of SQL Server. There is an interesting research paper from the SQL Server team that explains how they are investigating a...


When Will Privacy Matter?

More and more people are becoming concerned about data privacy. There's more advocacy, and this shows in more laws being passed around the world. Those are good steps forward, but those rules and restrictions are just the lowest bar of what I'd hope for. Regulation will always lag behind best practices and technology, and I'd hope that organizations look to do better. I expect more competition to crop up again in the future as the world grows, and I wonder if some of these businesses will...


Looking Back

Things always go wrong. Those of us that build or operate software know that we will have failures at times. These could be while applying a patch, deploying a new system, during a spike in traffic, or perhaps just a mechanical failure somewhere. Most of us fix things and move on, as there's always plenty of other work. In a few organizations in which I've worked, whenever we had a large issue, we had a retrospective. I think we defined large issue as a VP or CTO become involved, but in any...


Take Stock of Your Career

We're almost a quarter into the new year. Think about these statements: "Imagine you lose your job tomorrow. What would you like your next job to look like? Start acquiring the skills for your desired next job today!" That's a quote from Jan 2, when I saw someone talking about their struggles. It was a statement that resonated with me, and it's one that I think everyone should be thinking about on a regular basis. Not worried or concerned about losing your job, though maybe that's not so...


A Data Controversy

Quite a bit has changed since this article about airlines and the US government. Since very few people are flying, or even can fly, perhaps this disagreement is moot, but I bet it comes up again. Now, separate from the idea of the actual disagreement here, there is an interesting discussion about the data involved here. In short, the US government wants airlines to collect data about passengers to help track the COVID-19 virus. Airline executives say they can't easily get this data, other...


The Challenge of Contracting

For most of my career I've been a full time employee (W-2 in the US) or worked for myself with my own business. I've rarely been a consultant or contract (1099) employee, and what experience I had with those situations didn't suit me. I don't like the lack of security and certainly don't like being responsible for the sales portion of finding work. Many people like contracting, and in fact, some make a career of it. There are companies that help you find work, and many large companies...


What's the Cost of an Hour?

In 2017, we had a number of high profile downtime outages from companies. The British Airways fiasco, United airlines being grounded, Starbucks, Amazon, and more. There was a survey that noted 98% of respondents said an hour of downtime cost their organization over US$100,000. A third put that figure over $1mm. This week, I'm wondering if you have any idea what downtime costs your company. If you do, and can let us know, drop a figure in the comments. Maybe you can give us a range, or...


Don't Lose Data Without a Hacker

The GDPR has been law since 2016 and been enforced since mid 2018. California has the CCPA in law, but not being enforced. In any case, it's 2020 and we have lots of tools and knowledge about securing systems. We aren't perfect, and certainly Microsoft isn't, but we should be avoiding simple mistakes. For those of us in the US, or outside CA, we might be less worried, but if you're in the EU, you should be concerned. Here is a mistake by Virgin Media, with data exposed for months. Someone...


SQL Is Always Going to be Popular

Hiring staff is hard, and certainly it can sometimes be a challenge to find good people to build software and manage systems. Many of us want to be those good people, and we are looking to improve our own skills. I think that's one of the reasons that SQLServerCentral has become so popular. Many of us want to become better at our jobs. It can be hard to determine what to learn and where to invest your time. I've talked with plenty of people that have worried about various Microsoft...


Build the VCS Habit

I've preached the value of Version Control Systems (VCS) for many years now. In various writings, in the talks I've given on development, CI, DevOps, and more, I always talk about the value of a VCS. One thing I often say is that if someone won't use version control, they aren't a professional. I don't say professional developer, professional DBA, or anything else. You're not a technology professional without knowing how to use a VCS in 2020. You certainly can't work for me if you won't use...


The WFH Challenges

The daily protocol for some of the world is changing rapidly these days. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many people. Many of us working in tech are blessed that we have the ability to work remotely, and lots of companies have started to allow working from home (WFH) to rapidly grow in the last month. I worry about those that don't have the option, and I hope they find ways to cope. I've been working from home for 17 years. My wife did it for large tech companies for almost 20 years....


Updating Certifications

When I first started my career, certifications were hot. I worked on the Netware CNE and Microsoft MCSE certs. Nearly 30 years ago these certifications were controversial as plenty of awardees weren't competent at their jobs in the real world. However, marketing worked and employers wanted these certs, so they mattered. Over the years I've worked on books for a few certifications and taken a number of tests. Partially as research and partially to test myself. I've personally found the...


Why Containers?

I've been looking at and dabbling with containers for some time. I got more interested a few years ago as I saw the changes that Microsoft made to ensure container support for SQL Server, especially with the introduction of the WSL and Linux container support on Windows. This is one of those technologies that I think fundamentally changes the world, especially when we get good orchestration options, like Kubernetes. I was thinking about how the world changed as I read this piece with a ...


Data Modeling in a New World

The world is changing in some fundamental ways as we recognize and deal with some of the social changes that are occurring regularly. We have had new countries appear and old ones disappear in my lifetime. Borders are redrawn and political systems change. Many of those are just data changes that we can import from some recognized source into our tables. There are other changes that might change the way we model our database schemas. One example is the concept of gender, which has changed...