Passion, Challenges, and SQL

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: February 12, 2019

TSQL Tuesday

The second Tuesday of the month comes to us a little early this month. That means it is time again for another group blog party called TSQLTuesday. This party that was started by Adam Machanic has now been going for long enough that changes have happened (such as Steve Jones (b | t) managing it now). For a nice long read, you can find a nice roundup of all TSQLTuesdays over here.

The Why?

Long time friend Andy Leonard (b | t) invites us this month to do a little checkup on ourselves and talk about the “why” around what we do. This could be a very easy topic for some. Equally, this could be a very difficult topic for those same people at different times in their lives. Thus the problem, the topic is simple in nature but sure requires a firm reflection on self and what you have been doing.

The problem for me is less about the “why” behind what I do, and more about how to stretch it out into something more than a few sentences. Think! Think! Think!


One of my biggest reasons why I do what I do, boils down to the challenges that I frequently get to encounter. There is a wild satisfaction to working on a very difficult and challenging task, product, tool, profession, skill, etc. This satisfaction often involves reward and a sense of accomplishment.

The challenge can be anything from how to effectively communicate with a difficult person, a tough to find internals problem in SQL Server that could be causing a performance issue, or taking over a project and turning it back from the edge of failure and onto a track of success. Sometimes, the challenge may be as simple as converting a pathetic cursor into a set based approach and gaining an improvement of 100x in performance.

I really do enjoy some of the puzzles (challenges) that I get to work on routinely. This gives me an opportunity to improve my skillset as well as continue to learn. Being able to continually improve is a great motivation for me. The frequent challenges and continual opportunity to learn presents a great opportunity to evolve ones self and career. In a constantly changing world, being able to naturally and easily evolve your personal career is a bonus!


“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” This is a common saying in the United States. Agree or disagree – there is some truth to it. Being able to do something one loves makes the really hard days a lot easier. Knowing, I may be able to solve a complex problem makes it easier to face the day.

I really enjoy the opportunity to face difficult challenges and resolve those challenges. The passion to solve these puzzles with data doesn’t end there. I also really do enjoy the opportunity to learn which brings up two other challenges that help me learn: speaking and writing.

By putting myself out there regularly to speak and write, I am becoming a better technical person. I am becoming better equipped to solve many of the puzzles I face. Those are great benefits. That said, I don’t feel I could get out there and talk about something about which I wasn’t passionate. I have learned to become passionate about writing and speaking – though I still have plenty of room for improvement (just as I do in my quest to become a good DBA).

TSQL2sDay150x150Wrapping it Up

I really do enjoy the challenges I get to face on a frequent basis in the world of data. This is the big “WHY” for me to continue my progress in this career.

Find something you are passionate about and strive to envelop your career with as many opportunities to do that thing. If that means accepting some less wanted tasks in order to do more of the thing you love, it could very well be worth it!

Your Name is Your Brand

Categories: Blogging, Professional, SSC
Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: October 13, 2017

This topic is one that has been stewing for a while and finally this week it decided to boil over.

My first thought with this post was to write a rant. Instead, I want to try and turn it on its end and try to put a different spin on the problem. Yes – I said problem.

Know your Audience

This started when I was setting up a piece of software (to demo to a client) for a vendor that I respect – A LOT. I noticed something peculiar about the software that was different than the documentation (and therefore expected result). I reached out to my contact at this company and he escalated a ticket to their support staff. After a few back and forth threads, my contact noticed something troubling – as had I. While I was going to set it aside but my contact was bothered by it too. The support personal started calling me by the wrong name.

Addressing somebody by the appropriate name or title is a pretty important topic. In this case, not only did they start addressing me by some other name, they had also lost sight of the existing relationship I had with this company as well as any previous information provided to them demonstrating level of expertise in the area of SQL Server or with the specific observation being reported. This is demonstrative of a lack of attention to detail – both in regards to the audience and the technical problem.

Your Name is Your Brand

If I throw a few names out there like Paul Randal, Steve Jones, Grant Fritchey or Brent Ozar, chances are you will know who those people are (given you are reading this blog post). These are people (like many other giants in SQL Server) that have built a brand based off their name. This is a good thing. You recognize the name and you recognize that they are very good at what they do.

Building your brand is not an overnight sensation. It does take a while and possibly a bit of luck here or there along the way. The one thing it always starts with is your name. This leads me to my next story.

This week I have been at Summit. This is not the traditional DBA Summit hosted by PASS, rather this is related to Dynamics (AX, NAV, GP, CRM, 365). Just like most conferences, we all get a nice easy to read name badge.

Hopefully you can easily read that mine clearly says my name is “Jason”. Besides the name, there is a QR code on the badge. Otherwise, the name is large enough you can generally read it from afar.

While meandering through the Exhibitor Hall, I stopped at one particular booth that was raffling off an R2D2 that particular day (they also raffled off a C3P0 and a Yoda on other days). And yes it is very rare for me to stop at one of these raffles – but it was R2D2.

As I was stopped to fill out the form for the raffle, I was approached by an eager booth dude. “Hey Larry, how’s it going?” he said. He was obviously talking to me, so I turned to him and said “Jason” while showing him the name on my badge. Not even 30 seconds later he did it again “So, Larry…”. At the sound of that, I had to cut him off and correct him again and reminded him I had just told him my correct name and even showed it to him via the badge. At this point I abandoned the R2 raffle and told him I was no longer interested.

This was coming from a vendor that was more than likely hoping to try and pitch their software. A lack of attention to the audience at hand just cost him a lead (albeit small compared to the number they gained). Now, that vendor has to worry about the word of mouth that may come from their lack of attention and focus.

Now, my name is pretty important to me. It may not be as important to you – but it is to me. Similarly, your name should be extremely important to you. You and I are all working at a similar task – building our own brand based on our names.

I am sure both of these vendors I have illustrated are also keen on building the brand around the corporate name they have established. Brand and name are recognizable. Now, put yourself in either of these two scenarios I have just described. Have you ever made a mistake with somebody else’s brand? Or, have you ever been on the receiving end of this kind of mistake? Suddenly the world is spinning a slightly different direction, right?

I won’t divulge the names of either vendor in this case (partly because I still have a good relationship with the one and I have already forgotten the name of the second), but think about this: What do you do for your brand when somebody steps on it? How we react (and granted I probably could have taken a higher road in the second case by gently reminding the vendor yet again what my name was) can do quite a bit for building a brand. It’s not always about what you know, but also about how you conduct yourself towards and around others.

T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: March 13, 2012

Another month and another opportunity to write about an interesting topic.  This month hosting TSQL Tuesday is Argenis Fernandez (Blog | Twitter).

This month, Argenis has invited us to talk about demons from our past.  Ok, not necessarily demons but at least share why you might be a Jack of All Trades or a Master of something or nothing.

Thinking about the topic, I thought of some very good stories.

Jack of All Trades

Back in the day, I worked in a one-man IT shop.  On any given day, my duties involved configuring SOHO routers and firewalls as well as higher end Cisco equipment.  I was also responsible for Active Directory, pc maintenance,printer repair, Exchange, domain registrations and all things SQL.

My least favorite duty was that of Janitorial Engineer.  It was amongst my duties to ensure the restrooms were stocked and that the toilets were free-flowing.  I can’t necessarily say that this skill helped advance my career.  I can’t say that it was even helpful at home.

I can say that this duty did help me make the decision to specialize more in SQL Server – though I was already headed in that direction.

Master, erm…

Like Argenis said in the TSQL Tuesday announcement, I don’t much consider myself an expert or master of anything.  I do think I am rather proficient and I do recognize many shortcomings within the vast technology, we love, called SQL Server.

I aligned myself with this technology because of the constant challenge and opportunity to learn.  I enjoy working with SQL Server.  I still do not find as much pleasure in plumbing as I do in SQL Server.

What is a Favicon?

Categories: Blogging, News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: March 8, 2012

If I were to show you the tabs in the following pic without a description, would you recognize the websites to which they belong?

I would dare say that you would likely recognize them.  Not due to the labels on the tabs, but quite possibly due to the icon on the tab.

Sometimes these icons are the logo for the respective site.  Sometimes, it is just something that might be fun.  In either case, it is something that helps brand the site in a fashion suitable to you.  These little icons are called “favicons” and they are pretty easy to put in place.

If you haven’t considered doing it, I think it would be worth the effort to create one.  It is a means to brand your site.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to do it.


I used a free website tool to create my favicon.  You can find it here.  The tool is appropriately called favicongenerator.

 Prior to being asked how to create one, I had no clue what those little pics were called.  Nor did I know how easy it was to create one.  It took me a few minutes searching the internet to figure out what it was called (I think I started by searching for “tab icon internet”).  Once I learned that it was called a favicon, it was easy to find instructions on how to create it.  Now it should be just a bit easier.

My Top 5 for 2011

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 28, 2011

I have seen a few recap posts bouncing around the net and started thinking about my own blog.  So out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at my top 5 posts for 2011.

So, since I already subscribe to Google Analytics, I decided to check the stats in there.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t give me good information on what has been read through a feed reader.  For those views, I have only been able to track down the info for the past 30 days.  So for the fun of it, (and even though the numbers don’t match the feeds) let’s take a look at the most popular posts for the past year – based on Google Analytics.

5.  Activity Monitor and Profiler – This is a post where I talked about using Profiler to discover the behind-the-scenes queries that Microsoft wrote in order to give us the Activity Monitor tool.

4.  SQL Bitwise Operations – I have a few posts similar in nature to this one.  As the name implies, I demonstrate the use of bit-wise operations within SQL Server

3.  A little Dance with SSIS and Informix – This one is rather surprising.  This was written in July of 2010.  Yet, it makes the Top 5 list for 2011.  This article follows my trials with working out an SSIS package that required connecting to Informix.  I think this article is a very useful one in troubleshooting those pesky packages that involve Informix.

2.  SQL 2008 DTS – Starting to see a trend here.  This is another one of those articles I wrote as I was troubleshooting DTS backwards compatibility.  This has been a very handy reference for myself.  As luck would have it, this was also written in July 2010.

1.  70-450 Study Guide – The most popular post of the year (according to Google) was my little study guide.  This study guide merely gives links back to various topics as outlined on the Exam page on the Microsoft site.  There is useful content there to help learn some of the material for being a better DBA – and yes it will help in studying for the exam.  But the guide is designed as a high-level overview and does not delve into specifics.

When I take a look at the feed stats for the past 30 days, I get a much different picture than what Google Analytics provides me.  I am sure if I had the proper tools or even the proper configurations, I probably could see an entirely different story for the entire year.  As it is, these are five useful articles and worth the read.


May 2011 S3OLV Meeting Reminder

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: May 10, 2011

This is a quick reminder of the upcoming May meeting for the Las Vegas SQL Server Users Group.  We will be meeting on May 12, 2011 at the usual time and at the usual place.

We would really like to get a gaggle of database professionals out to support the group and the speaker this month.  Erika Bakse will be treating us to a slick presentation on MDX.  You can see the original info on this upcoming meeting here.  Time, date, meeting info, abstract, etc is all available in that original post.

My Public Events RoundUp

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
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Published on: May 10, 2011

As a part of my careers goals, I am trying to remain involved in the community through various engagements and events.  Recently, I was able to present to the South Africa Johannesburg group as a part of SQL Saturday 83.  I posted an announcement on that opportunity here.

I wanted to briefly cover my experience with that presentation.  I was quite pleased with the presentation and know that I could have done better with it.  That is where practice comes into play with each presentation.  One area of concern was trying to invoke group participation.  The group in JHB participated quite well – considerably better than the last time I presented this particular presentation.  I don’t think the book giveaways had much to do with it since I didn’t even mention that.  Also, they were participating well before we did the first book question.  I might have been a bit punchy during the preso – lack of sleep and sinus meds might have contributed.

I would like to thank everybody in JHB for a great job.  It was nice having a panorama camera available so I could see the group too.  That was very helpful.  I have not heard back yet if the recording is going to be made publicly available.  If so, I will pass it along so more of you can poke fun at me. 😉

This week, I will be giving that very same presentation to the DBA Virtual Chapter.  That presentation will be Wednesday May 11, 2011 at 12PM Mountain Time.  Since this is a virtual chapter, that means the presentation will be done via livemeeting.  If you are interested, you can register and attend the meeting via these links.



I hope to see a few people on for this presentation.  It is a low-level kind of presentation and is aimed at creating useful documentation with sql scripts (thus helping reduce cost).

January 2011 Meeting Recap

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: January 20, 2011

One week ago today the Las Vegas User group held our monthly meeting.  One week ago today, at that meeting, we had our best attendance in over a year.  It sure felt good to have a great turnout.

At that meeting, Wayne Sheffield presented to us on temp tables and table variables.  He presented us with a ton of great material.  Many people learned something useful.  Better yet, we got through the meeting without technical difficulty.  We recorded the meeting and it is posted on the livemeeting website for your consumption now.  Near the end of the video, Wayne has requested that you fill out a form at  Anybody that was at the meeting, please do so as well.  Please enjoy this little offering from S3OLV to you as you look to learn more about SQL Server.

Recording Details

Subject: January 2011 S3OLV
Recording URL:
Recording ID: GZ76C7

Thanks to all who attended in person and over the net.  It was a great meeting and we sure enjoyed putting it together this month.

January ’11 Meeting Reminder

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Published on: January 12, 2011

If you saw my blog post the other day, you know that S3OLV has a meeting this Thursday (Jan 13, 2010) at 6:30 PM PST.  If not, then you can read that post from here, and then read the rest of this post.

Over the past few months we at S3OLV have been having a tremendous amount of problems with our meetings.  Some of those problems have to deal with the technology.  Some of the problems have to deal with low attendance.  Well, this post is mostly an update on both of those fronts.

As of this evening, we have ~20 people committed to attending this meeting.  That is the highest number I have seen in the last year.  I am real excited to have this many people show up.  We have had decent numbers show up when only 7 or 8 people commit.  If we have people attend that did not commit – that is awesome.  This month I sent out a few reminders of the upcoming event.  That seems to have helped.

On the technology front, I went through a dry-run of the livemeeting with our Presenter Wayne Sheffield.  We made sure audio, bandwidth, and video all worked.  Wayne also spotted a few things he wants to improve between now and tomorrow.  Prior to the meeting we will do another “mic” check to confirm again that all is well.

A third problem was the meeting location locking us out last month.  Oh that was extremely perturbing.  The center has apologized and has confirmed that the space will be available and open tomorrow.  We’ll see on that one if they follow through – but at least they apologized.

I will be signing on at about 6PM PST (7 MST and 9 EST) to do the “mic” check and get the meeting rolling from Utah (hence the MST).  Even from remote, I plan on helping in any way I can with the Las Vegas UG.  For instance, some of the things I can do from remote would be to continue to line up speakers, do presentations, get the newsletter effort rolling, site transition to blog, and move our mailing list to a database on SQL Server that we can manage (less dependency on outside sources).

We are looking for comments and recommendations.  Furthermore we are looking for talented people to help in these efforts.  One area we could really use some help is with the MARKETING.  If you know what you are doing and how we could better advertise our SQL Group to the area – then please drop us a line.

I hope to see many of you online on January 13th at 6:30 PST (UTC -8).  This meeting will be good!

January 2011 S3OLV

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: January 10, 2011

Tis the calm before the storm.  At least it feels like that.  The invites have all been sent.  The presenter lined up.  Reminders have been sent and now we are down to just a couple of reminder blogs and finger crossing.

If you have been following the adventures of the LV UG, you know that the past couple of months have been a real riot.  Definitely not a riot in a good way.  We are talking about problems from all directions and frags blasting our efforts to pieces.  This month we buck that trend.

One thing for certain that will be different this month is that I will be participating virtually.  I will be attending the meeting through our livemeeting setup – remotely.  For those wishing to attend like me, you can do so by following these two simple steps.

  1. Copy this address and paste it into your web browser:
  2. Copy and paste the required information:
    Meeting ID: GZ76C7

Our meeting will be held at 6:30 PM PST (Jan 13, 2011), but you are welcome to join the meeting starting at 6 PM PST.

This month we have a guest presenter from the east coast who will be talking to us about temporary tables and table variables.  There is a lot of good info to be gained from this presentation.  Wayne Sheffield is the presenter and we are glad he has given us a second shot at this presentation.  He, like me, will be presenting from remote.

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