T-SQL Tuesday 109: Influence Somebody Recap

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Published on: December 18, 2018

How have you impacted somebody in the community?

This month I am in charge of the topic for TSQLTuesday. The invite was published here a couple of weeks ago. I knew I was picking something rather difficult for people in general and probably more difficult for technologists due to the notion of jumping head first into a discussion with somebody about yourself. I have been asked by previous employers to do my own personal annual job review. This idea is very much like that – but more personal.

Some say it eats at the core of being prideful to discuss this topic or to broach the “review” with others. I like to take a different angle on it. I see it as a means to personal growth and has nothing to do with bragging. I tend to find that people gifted with humility will ask others how they could improve professionally or personally. Being able to find where you are doing well or not so well is key to progress. I would hope those that participated found this difficult exercise helpful in uncovering a new angle on personal and/or professional improvement.

 

Discomfort

There is no hiding from the fact that this task provided a great deal of discomfort and probably angst as demonstrated from this tweet.

 

Multiple participants, as you will see as you read their articles, shared their feelings on the level of discomfort and difficulty they had with the topic. I expected the discomfort, I felt it too.

As I read the articles, I could feel the discomfort alongside the author. I get it – it’s hard because none of us want to come off as bragging about ourselves. Take into account that discomfort and then the message that each of these people has to share with you!

WHO?

Steve Jones (b | t) – Influence. Steve is not comfortable writing about this topic as he dives in to share with us. As he does he hits a very strong note for me. We, the SQL Community, give a lot of ourselves and that giving grows exponentially. We give of ourselves and many times we end up the recipient of this exponential experience.

It can be scary and intimidating to share knowledge with others publicly, but it is also immensely rewarding! -Steve Jones

I believe the same can be said of sharing a personal review publicly.

Wayne Sheffield (b | t) – Influence Somebody. I personally know that Wayne had a hard time with this topic and sharing an article. Wayne shares a couple of stories outlining some very small actions on his part. He was largely unaware of his influence and in turn ended up dumbfounded and awestruck at what his influence meant to other people.

Small actions. That’s all it takes to make a positive difference in a person’s life. Be interested, and encouraging. You never know what kind of effect you are truly having on people. And when you do find out, prepare to be astonished. – Wayne Sheffield

Malathi Mahadevan (b | t) – To Influence and be Influenced. Mala is a very humble person. Mala shares a personal experience about her influence several other people as she worked on her very first book project this past year. The really cool part is the joy she got from seeing many people filled with the joy of having the opportunity to be in the book.

It is a positive way to end the year on a tone of gratitude to people who have influenced you – and it is doubly positive/uplifting to see/hear of what you have done to other people too. – Mala

I am grateful for the friendship I have with Mala, she is a genuine and good person.

Shane O’Neill (b | t) – Influence Somebody. Shane shares how difficult this task was going in and even stumbles on a bit of writers block. Shane doesn’t go out daily to try and find somebody to profoundly impact. He goes about his day in an unassuming way as he just does what he does – shares knowledge just because it needs to be shared. Shane is aware of the impact as people have met him and thanked him personally for his contributions to the community. That’s a win win!

I’ve had some great surprises from people in the community about stuff they’ve seen on here.

It’s nice to know that when you’re shouting into the void, that the void sometimes shouts back.

Each token of appreciation, each expression of gratitude is a replenishment to my morale.

Just a way to say that all efforts put in, while not showing straight away, build up. – Shane O’Neill

I am sure many of us have felt that replenishment to morale from the various tokens of gratitude. The sincere and personal sharing of appreciation carries so much more weight and replenishes the morale so much more completely.

Rob Farley (b | t) – People I Influence. Rob is a humble kind and caring person! He struggled with the topic as he illustrated on twitter. All of that aside, he hit on a note I was hoping somebody would hit on – employees and coworkers. Employees are a reflection of leadership. If the leader is a class act, s/he will impact the employees in a positive manner for the better of the company and the employee.

That aside, Rob is hopeful of being an influence to other people outside of work. Rob is not comfortable with thinking about whether he is influential or not and I get it. I don’t think many of us think regularly about our sphere of influence – until somebody gives us that token of gratitude for some small action we performed.

For a while now, I’ve thought that I would rather employ MVPs than be one myself (although I hope this doesn’t actually cause me to lose my status), and I have often looked for opportunity to get my team in front of people.

As an employer who encourages his staff to be community minded and on the path to being MVPs like Rob is, I think this an outstanding level of influence that is merely demonstrative of the humility that resonates within Rob.

Jason Brimhall (me) – To Influence or be Influenced. I share a couple of experiences in my entry for the month. More important than the stories is the message that as one gives of themselves, there is a gain that will be returned to that person at some point that is likely exponential in nature to the little token of giving that happened in the first place. Give and you will receive! Steve hit on that same note.

And in case you are still curious what this TSQL Tuesday thing is, here are the details…

What is T-SQL Tuesday?

TSQL2sDay150x150T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party hosted by a different blogger each month. This blog party was started by Adam Machanic (blog|twitter). You can take part by posting your own participating post that fits the topic of the month and follows the requirements below. Additionally, if you are interested in hosting a future T-SQL Tuesday, contact Steve Jones via the tsqltuesday website – here.

How to Participate

  • Your post must be published between 00:00 GMT Tuesday, December 11e, 2018, and 00:00 GMT Wednesday December 12e, 2018.
  • Your post must contain the T-SQL Tuesday logo from above and the image should link back to this blog post.
  • Trackbacks should work. But, please do add a link to your post in the comments section below so everyone can see your work.
  • Tweet about your post using the hash tag #TSQL2sDay.

To Influence or Be Influenced?

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Published on: December 11, 2018

How have you impacted somebody in the community?

Well, have I come up with a doozy of a topic for this month for the TSQLTuesday party. Its not easy to step out of ones own comfort zone. Its even more difficult to fathom the thought and action of performing a self review. That is in essence the task at hand – self review or have somebody else review your personal contributions to the community.

In the invite, I mentioned how many of us have been able to come up with lists of people that have impacted us personally. Using that previous exercise would be a pretty good resource for some to maybe find out more how it was they influenced another person in the community.

To be candid, the invite is not just for those who have influenced others but also for those who have been influenced. If somebody had an impact on your career or your personal identity, take a minute to chat with them and let them know!

Surprises

How great is it to provide a service to somebody and then to receive a legitimate and meaningful thank you? The SQL community gives and gives and gives and all too often there is no personal note of gratitude for the help given. Every once in a blue moon, that thank you comes and a really cool calming feeling may just overwhelm you. That is when you know you have done good and have meant something to somebody in their life or career.

I am not talking about the flippant thumbs ups, or likes as you may see in social media. Granted, seeing those likes and retweets is probably nice to see on occasion. It just doesn’t bring a real valid connection to the people you are trying to help.

These kind of personal connections are the types of things that build friendships, networks, and long lasting relationships. Someday, this relationship may turn into a client or co-worker or even future mentor (we all can learn something new from other people).

I have had this kinds of conversations more than a few times with the most recent just occurring today from a client. The latest opportunity came as a candid conversation after taking a week long vacation. The client asked me over for a quick chat and reminded me of how thankful they are for the effort and long hours I have given them. The stability they now see with the environment has brought peace of mind and comfort knowing the database will be up when they need them. It has been a culture shift in how databases are viewed there and it has been a good and meaningful shift. This organization is now setup to bring on more talent to a database team.

Just as meaningful is the opportunity I had to chat with another MVP. This person pulled me aside at a very popular conference. I must admit this one blew me away because I had no idea. This person proceeded to tell me how thankful he was that I was a good example as a friend and mentor. He was also appreciative of the time I would take to answer his technical or non-technical questions. Unbeknownst to me, this was happening while he was hitting a rough patch (his words).

This second experience was extremely humbling to me. I share this because I was unaware of the profound impact I was having on this person who later became an MVP. I didn’t do anything super special. I just did what I felt was right. The experience reminded me of why I do the things I do in the community. While extremely gratifying to give and help, it is also very humbling to be able to give, help and be reminded of how a little effort can have a profound effect.

For me, this reminder came when I was personally getting a little down. I needed the reminder to keep it humble and continue to give. I enjoy helping in various ways in the SQL community and I was getting a little sidetracked from doing those things I enjoy. So by these people pulling me aside and telling me about the influence I had on them, they unwittingly also had an impact on me. As I have said multiple times, when you give, you also get something in return. That is the nature of service.

 

 

 

Circling Back

TSQL2sDay150x150Just because you give to the community doesn’t mean you can’t also receive. It also doesn’t mean that it has to be done without ever knowing the true impact of your giving. You simply cannot improve yourself if you have no clue how well you are doing.

Getting feedback from others is that little check that is needed to help progress and move in the right direction. When allowing time and opportunity for feedback from others, you are doing yourself a service as well as them. As I noted, these people that gave me this feedback not only told me about how much I helped them, but they also impacted me at the right moment to help me remember the reasons behind why I like to help. Give a little and you will also get a little!

T-SQL Tuesday 109: Influence Somebody Invite

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Published on: December 4, 2018

How have you impacted somebody in the community?

It has now been 28 months since the last time I hosted a TSQL Tuesday, that was TSQL Tuesday 81. I recapped that event here with the original invite here. It continues to amaze me how quickly time flies and how easily years can blow by in between hosting this awesome party!

The last time I hosted, I issued a difficult task. I dare say this one might be just a touch more difficult. First, I want to jump back into the time machine and visit a few of  TSQLTuesday topics that might be relevant to this month’s challenge.

In November 2017, Ewald Cress (b | t) invited everybody to talk about and basically give thanks to people that have helped impact their careers or lives. Check out the roundup here.

In December 2017, Mala Mahadevan (b | t) invited everybody to set goals for themselves. These goals were supposed to be about learning. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, anything that helps build character and career really comes from something that must be learned. It all starts with a bit of introspection. It is this introspection that I ask you to use as a building block for the party this month.

Lastly, in May 2018, Riley Major (b | t) asked everybody to reflect a bit on the theme from Ewald. This time though, the task was to give back to the community. Pay it forward, if you will, given that you had previously benefited from the kindness of somebody else.

Invitation

Building on the work of these three fine individuals, here comes the difficult task. You have been the benefactor of some awesome help from somebody else. You even wrote about it and in a way, told that person how they impacted you, your career, or both. You have set goals for yourself to become a better you after some personal reflection, meditation, introspection. Then you have given back to the community in some way.

I am not asking you to be braggy, just aware and cognizant. What have you done to impact somebody else in the last 13 months?

How do you know you have impacted them? This is really the hard question. I want stories of how you impacted somebody else for the better. This may mean you will need to talk to some people and have a little retrospective with them.

Why?

This past year we lost some real juggernauts in the SQL Community such as Robert Davis (blog). We all know he impacted many people. We can also assume that he knew he impacted peoples lives. How great would it have been to sit down and have a personal discussion with him to let him know for certain how he impacted your career?

At PASS Summit, I had the opportunity to have such a discussion with somebody completely out of the blue. I know how much that meant to me. I also know that I was rather unaware of the influence I had on this individual.

How?

If you have not already had the opportunity to discuss your influence, make the opportunity. If you have mentored somebody, have a chat with them. If you work with somebody that you might have influenced, have a candid chat. Ask them directly if you have been able to be a good influence to them. Ask them how you might be able to better help them.

I know, this gets us all out of our comfort zones – but we need to do things like this. It is a method of both giving thanks as well as just giving (it is the season).

If you are reading this and don’t feel you have influenced somebody, then talk to somebody that has influenced you. Let them know how you influenced them.

Then, after having this candid chat, please write about both the experience (even the awkwardness), anything you learned from the conversation, as well as some details around what it is you did that impacted said individual.

Doing this little exercise will not only help you to become a more involved team member, community member, and leader it will also help you improve on some of the interpersonal skills used for networking as well as public speaking.

What is T-SQL Tuesday?

TSQL2sDay150x150T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party hosted by a different blogger each month. This blog party was started by Adam Machanic (blog|twitter). You can take part by posting your own participating post that fits the topic of the month and follows the requirements below. Additionally, if you are interested in hosting a future T-SQL Tuesday, contact Steve Jones via the tsqltuesday website – here.

How to Participate

  • Your post must be published between 00:00 GMT Tuesday, December 11e, 2018, and 00:00 GMT Wednesday December 12e, 2018.
  • Your post must contain the T-SQL Tuesday logo from above and the image should link back to this blog post.
  • Trackbacks should work. But, please do add a link to your post in the comments section below so everyone can see your work.
  • Tweet about your post using the hash tag #TSQL2sDay.

My Book Contributions

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Published on: November 30, 2018

It’s a Wonderful Life

One of the really super cool things about the SQL community is the frequent opportunity one could have to get involved.

One of my favorite methods of getting involved is the varied ways to participate on a book project. To be involved in a book project does not require that one be an author. One can be a contributor, technical editor, technical consultant, author, or even provide technical reviews after the book is ready for publication.

Each method does come with some sort of invite from either the principle author or the publisher.

I have had a number of various opportunities to be involved with a book. As one ages, it becomes a little more difficult to remember all of the contributions so I just wanted to bring it all together in a single place to help me remember.

Author

SQL Server 2012 T-SQL Recipes. This book came out in 2012 and I had a few people helping me with this first book. I enjoyed this experience even with the difficulties of learning the whole publication process and just getting through the massive job that it was.

DBA Jumpstart.  This was a community effort headed up by John Sansom in 2013. You can check out my contribution here.

SQL Server T-SQL Recipes. This book was released for SQL Server 2014 in 2015. Yeah it came a little late and that is because we had a bit of a late start. This was a follow up edition of the recipes book, only this time with a much smaller bunch of authors.

Consultant

Healthy SQL. This book was released in 2015. I helped Robert get it started and helped him get it across the finish line. This kind of effort included discussions about topics, scripts, and technical edits. If not for time, I was supposed to do a chapter or two and just got too busy to help as an author.

Technical Editor

SQL Server 2012 Data Integration Recipes.  I came fresh off the writing of the T-SQL recipes book in 2012 to immediately plunge into tech editing this book. Tech editor is a pretty good way to get involved because you are immersed in the publication process and you get to validate the content before printing.

Contributor

This is kind of a weird category. Each of the books here has a section from me. So in a sense it is kind of like a small author contribution.

Data Professionals at Work. This book was released in 2018 and is a compilation from several Microsoft MVPs about their personal experiences. I wrote a review about the book here.

How to be an MVP in Life. This book was also published in 2018. This book is another group of MVPs from tech and sport discussing various qualities of an MVP. You can read more of what I said about the book here.

Technical Reviewer

This type of participation comes after publication when a publisher asks for your assistance with a technical review.

SQL Server Transaction Log Management. This book came out in 2013 and was a project by a close friend – Gail Shaw. I do recommend this book to anybody who is working on SQL Server. You can read my review here.

Defensive Database Programming. My first experience with publishers and books came back in 2010 when I was asked to review this book. There are ten articles in the series – starting with chapter 10 here.

Data Professionals at Work Book

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Published on: November 29, 2018

Working as a Data Professional

An old friend Malathi Mahadevan (b | t) asked me one day if I would be interested in helping with her first book project. Anybody who has participated in the writing of a book knows this can be a rather daunting task – no matter the level of participation. Certainly, the principal author on a book has the grunt of the work, but there is plenty of work to be done for all.

I must say, I gladly accepted the opportunity. Firstly, this was a friend asking. Secondly, I liked the topic and method Mala had chosen. Lastly, I sometimes enjoy a little challenge. Ok, I probably enjoy challenges a little more than the average Joe.

Wowzas

Mala was able to gather quite a stunning group of people together to bring this book to reality. Check out this list (hyperlinks take you to the individuals chapter at Safari): Mindy Curnutt, Julie Smith, Kenneth Fisher, Andy Leonard, Jes Borland, Kevin Feasel, Ginger Grant, Vicky Harp, Kendra Little, Jason Brimhall, Tim Costello, Andy Mallon, Steph Locke, Jonathan Stewart, Joseph Sack, John Q. Martin, John Morehouse, Kathi Kellenberger, Argenis Fernandez, Kirsten Benzel, Tracy Boggiano, Dave Walden, Matt Gordon, Jimmy May, Drew Furgiuele, Marlon Ribunal, Kevin Kline and Joseph Fleming.

Kevin Kline out of that bunch contributed the foreword. If you follow the links, you will notice that the authors appear in order of their chapters.

All of these authors came together to share experiences and insights into the world of a data professional. None of the stories are the same. None of the experiences are the same (not on the micro level anyway). That said, all of the stories do bring the reader an opportunity to learn from the people that have been there and experienced some cool stuff in their careers.

Not only will you encounter some interesting stories, but I believe you will also encounter some interesting insight into some of the contributors. Each person unravels a little bit of their own unique personality while trying to share their passion and love for this field we all excel at (at least sometimes).

If you read closely enough, you might even find a steamy romance hidden between the covers of the book. Then again, maybe that can only be found on a Little blog.

Oh, did you know you can also reach each of the authors on twitter? Check out this list here! Missing from the list is Kevin Kline, but you can find him on twitter here.

 

Go Get the Book!

With so much great stuff to learn from so many awesome people, you must be asking where you can find the book?

That’s easy! Head on over to Amazon and snag the book (in ebook or paper formats) now! Even with sooo many people contributing to this book, it is a rather short read, coming in at just under 400 pages. It’s also lightweight enough, it could be easily carried around during the lunch break or to and from work.

 

How to be an MVP Book

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 28, 2018

How to be an MVP in LIFE

One of the fun things about being involved in the community is the opportunity to meet new people. Sometimes, meeting new people leads to new opportunities. Most of the time, those meetings turn into friendships of varying degrees.

One person I met at an event is David Lundell (b | t). We had an opportunity to sit down and get to know each other just a little bit. Then we ran into each other at a few more events – funny how that happens. We have a lot in common such as our mindset toward community and being involved in many different ways (coaching sports, scouting, speakings, writing, tech, MVP etc).

After meeting David, I had the opportunity to participate in one of his projects. David was looking to write a book about the MVP mindset and character. Well, the book is now finished! You can find this book on Amazon – here!

David put a lot of work and effort into this book. Not only does he interview Microsoft MVPs, but there is also an interview with the 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist. He strives, in this book, to illustrate the MVP character and how that character is something that helps to build up a team. An MVP may receive a lot of recognition, but usually that recognition also includes higher achievement for the team and more recognition for the team overall.

This book will help you learn how to elevate yourself and your team as you uncover some of the traits related to those MVPs in life, sports, or even work. This book is not just about how to be an MVP for Microsoft, but rather how to elevate yourself or your team to a higher standard in life. Check it out and bring a whole new attitude to how you balance your life and efforts.

Just for techies right?

While the book is predominantly comprised of experiences and interviews from Microsoft MVPs, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a tech book or that it is just for the IT crowd. This book also contains stories and interviews from sports MVPs as well.

Combining the geek crowd and the sports crowd into one book that can relate to all is quite a feat. Those two groups are at pretty disparate ends of the spectrum if you recall your school days at all.

When it comes to characteristics of an MVP, the two groups (geek and jock) are no longer at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Rather, they are very similar in nature which makes this such a great tool to help relate to many teams of different types. Business leaders, youth leaders, coaches, and the it crowd can all benefit from reading this book. The book is just under 200 pages and is available in e-book format on Amazon right now!

T-SQL Tuesday #108: New Horizons Beyond SQL Server

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 13, 2018

There comes a point in one’s career when a change is requisite. Big or small there always seems to be a tipping point that mandates some sort of change. Maybe the change is an entirely new career field. Maybe the change is adapting to the ever improving features of a specific software or product. Maybe, that change means learning a tangential technology.

This is precisely the goal Malathi Mahadevan (b | t) seems to have envisioned for the 108th installment of TSQL Tuesday.

If you are interested in reading the original invite, you can find that here.

So the challenge for this T-SQL Tuesday is – pick one thing you want to learn that is not SQL Server. Write down ways and means to learn it and add it as another skill to your resume. If you are already learning it or know it – explain how you got there and how it has helped you. Your experience may help many others looking for guidance on this.”

Personally, I am not one to settle, so learning and improving are important. New technologies, changes in technologies, new features, tangential technologies – they are ways to continue to learn and improve – most of the time. Sometimes, a new technology offers a good change of pace and offers an exit from something that is becoming too standard, while providing an entrance to something different, difficult, exciting and expanding.

Through the year (2018), I created a few goals for myself around some of these new or different technologies:

  1. Become proficient at MySQL (maybe even certify who knows)
  2. Become proficient at PowerShell
  3. Work towards the TCM (I got to busy with 1 and 2 to even accord any time towards this one)

Proficient is sort of a vague term because it can have a different meaning to different people. For me, I will describe what I have been doing to become proficient in both PoSh and MySQL.

PowerShell

A shout out is absolutely necessary for Adam Machanic (twitter) for picking the right blog meme that has been able to survive so long in the SQLFamily. This party has helped many people figure out fresh topics as well as enabled them to continue to learn.

I have dabbled in PowerShell over the years – just enough to “be dangerous” as some may say. I wouldn’t call it proficient and probably not even dangerous really. I was able to muddle my way through being able to create some basic scripts to perform certain tasks.

This rudimentary ability just isn’t enough to be able to put the skill on a resume (imho). It certainly wasn’t enough skill to be able to manage a large group of servers and perform various enterprise type tasks. My objective was to be able to create a set of tools for myself that I could use and have repeatable success at great ease.

I sat down with my first set of various tasks I wanted to be able to perform and worked on them as I set time aside to learn PoSh better – every day. It took several weeks and by no means am I on the same level as Rob Sewell (b | t) or Chrissy LeMaire (b | t) or Sean McCown (b | t). That said, I do feel I am far more capable in PoSh now than I was last year.

This is a skill that I plan to continue to hone. I am learning every time I pick it up and try to do something different. It is good that I am able to keep learning. Next year, I plan on being able to say I am more proficient than I am now. I am also hopeful to be able to be good enough to properly contribute to the dbaChecks project. I do also hope to share some of the scripts I have created on my blog as well.

Here are some of my first dabbles with powershell that I have integrated into other blog posts. Yes, they are very rudimentary.

MySQL

Learning MySQL is probably not too big of a stretch to be honest. I certainly think it is far more similar to SQL Server in many regards than PoSh. After all, it is just another little DBMS and does happen to be rather popular.

I wanted to pick up MySQL so I could support clients that have it installed here there and everywhere in their environments. Many clients have more than one DBMS platform and it is good to understand and be able to administer multiple platforms with a high level of competence. Unfortunately, MySQL comes with a fair amount of gotchas. There are serious limitations depending on version and flavor. Some clients may be stuck on a rather old version of MariaDB (akin to SQL 2000). This means developing a broad set of scripts and skills quickly and on the fly.

I have a ways to go in my learning due to the varied flavors of MySQL but I am getting there. I do feel pretty comfortable hopping in and troubleshooting performance issues and doing a quick health assessment at this point. I would call that proficient. Similar to what I said about PoSh, I plan on being able to say next year that I am more proficient. More opportunity with this platform is what lends itself to better proficiency.

TSQL2sDay150x150The Wrap

I believe in continuous integration / improvement when it comes to personal growth and development. It is necessary to keep your personal skills sharp as well as keep yourself marketable.

Oh, and if you are interested in some of my community contributions (which according to Jens Vestargaard is an awesome contribution), read this series I have published.

T-SQL Tuesday #104: Just Can’t Cut That Cord

We all have our favorite scripts, tools or utilities. Those are the things that help make our jobs easier. Some of us may have an unhealthy relationship with some of those scripts (similar in nature to the relationship many have with their phone). Whether or not the need to cut that proverbial cord exists, today we are not discussing the health of that dependence. Suffice it to say, sometimes we simply need to upgrade our scripts. How else can we get better scripts or make our scripts better – by sharing them.

This is precisely the goal Bert Wagner (b | t) seems to have envisioned for the 104th installment of TSQL Tuesday.

If you are interested in reading the original invite, you can find that here.

For this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, I want you to write about code you’ve written that you would hate to live without.

Maybe you built a maintenance script to free up disk space, wrote a query to gather system stats for monitoring, or coded some PowerShell to clean up string data.  Your work doesn’t need to be completely original either – maybe you’ve improved the code in some open source project to better solve the problem for your particular situation.”

There is a high probability that through the sharing of your script, somebody out there can benefit from that script. In addition, it is very likely that somebody will make a suggestion to help make your script better. Worst case (emphasis on worst case here), you have the script stored somewhere with half decent instructions on what it does and making it easily accessible for you to use again and again. Just in case you forget you have it out there – you can google for it again and find it on your own blog ;).

Personally, I have been able to find and re-use some of my older scripts. Not only do I get to re-discover them, but I also get to re-imagine a new use or improvement for the script.

Brief Intermission

A shout out is absolutely necessary for Adam Machanic (twitter) for picking the right blog meme that has been able to survive so long in the SQLFamily. This party has helped many people figure out fresh topics as well as enabled them to continue to learn.

Easy Access

While pondering the topic for today, I had the thought occur about how frequently I post a script on my blog already anyway. An easy out for this topic would have been to re-share one of those old scripts. For instance, I could easily redo a recent article about server access that has a couple scripts demonstrated in it. Or I could go back a few years to my articles about foreign keys (here or here) and space use (here or here). Even more intriguing could be to re-envision some of my articles on Extended Events. But where would the fun in that be?

Rather than take the easy road and rehash something, I have something different. This one goes hand in hand with the numerous articles and scripts I have previously provided on auditing – yet it is different.

Not every shop can afford third party software or even Enterprise edition and so they have to come up with a different way to audit their database instances. One of the problems with a home grown solution is to ensure the data is not stored local to the server (lots of good reasons for that). Here is an example of what I did for one client that happened to have a developer that found a back door that was giving him SA access to the SQL Server Instance and was changing things and trying to cover his tracks – even after being warned.

First the query

This query will be run from a job on a different server that is restricted in access to just a select few people. I do rely on the use of the default trace in this query. I am also reliant upon a little bit of sneaky behavior. If I run this from a separate server, prying eyes are usually unlikely to find that it is running and thus makes it easier to catch them red-handed. In addition, if they discover via some sort of trace and by a lot of luck that it is running, then they have no access to the remote server to alter anything that was captured.

The query does go out to the default trace and pull back any changes to permissions or principals on the server in question. The captured data is then stored in a database that is also restricted to a select few people. Lastly, the captured data can be routinely queried, or automated reports can be created to send email notifications of changes encountered.

The second part of the trickery here is that I am using a linked server to perform the queries (a slight change and I could also do this via powershell which will be shown in a future article). The linked server query uses the openquery format and sends the default trace query to the remote server. Since I am running this from a job on an administrative server that pulls a limited data set, I am not overly concerned with the linked server setup here.

Storing It

Once I query the data, I need to put it somewhere on my administrative server. The table setup for that is very straight forward.

After creating this table, I am ready to store the data. All I need to do is throw the audit query into an agent job and schedule it to run on a regular schedule. For my purposes, I usually only run it once a day.

TSQL2sDay150x150The Wrap

This has been my diatribe about service and giving back to the community. When done properly, there is a natural born effect of enhancing one’s personal life equal in some way to the amount of effort given towards the community.

Oh, and if you are interested in some of my community contributions (which according to Jens Vestargaard is an awesome contribution), read this series I have published.

Summiting that Technical Challenge Part II

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Published on: July 6, 2018

Conquering Challenges

Months ago, I posted an article about some of the challenges encountered while migrating from one service level to another for my blog.

As it turns out, I had some long lingering effects that I was delaying fixing because I didn’t want to have an apparent flood of republished posts.

What could possibly be wrong after fixing everything I listed in the aforementioned article? Good thing you asked. Every occurrence of a percent symbol was changed to a new string – “{529e71a51265b45c1f7f96357a70e3116ccf61cf0135f67b2aa293699de35170}”.

Things that make you go huh?

As you can see, this string is hardly useful. I started noticing this string in several articles and it took a while to figure out what the heck was going on. It wasn’t until I was reviewing an old post that had a SQL Script in the post that contained a “LIKE” keyword. An example of one such article is this one about SQL Trace. At that point, the lightbulb went off and I decided to give it a try. Lo and behold, that string truly did represent a percent symbol. I made the appropriate changes and voila, the post looking perfect all over again.

That was one measly little post. I have ~100 articles affected by this problem. Obviously that becomes tedious to change over and over and over. In addition, if I do change them manually one by one, I end up with ~100 articles triggering social media alerts that makes it look like I am re-publishing a bunch of stuff when really it is just editing and fixing the articles. What to do? What to do?

Thank goodness I have half an idea how to update data in a database and my blog is stored in a database. I can run a mass update to replace that string properly wherever it occurs. Let’s try it.

First, just one article to validate…

And if I look at the post after the update, I can confirm that the update succeeded (in my staging database first and foremost). Next, I roll that change to my production database and test again.

After I can confirm that it worked there (you can also see that it worked via this link), then I can work on the mass update.

Now, when I check my blog for that string, I find that there is no more residue left and all seems to be back to being correct.

To fix the string problem, I did use the replace function. Since this is a MySQL database, I had to use that version of it. Notice it isn’t terribly different from the TSQL replace function.

The Wrap

I did not enjoy this journey much at all. Much of the experience was due to outside forces. I can’t do much to control them, but I can do something to fix the net effect of what they caused. I am sure that with all of the problems encountered in that migration, I will find something further that needs to be fixed.

 

T-SQL Tuesday #102: Giving Back

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: May 8, 2018

bleeding heartLast month we had the opportunity to discuss some of the most important tools for a data professional. I took that opportunity to discuss how it is important to blog. As it turns out, that article correlates fairly strongly to today’s article.

These are maybe some of the questions that Riley Major (b | t) would like for us to examine about our own deep dark secrets and psychological makeup:

  • Why do we give back?
  • How do we help give back?
  • What do we plan to do to give back?

in this, the 102nd, installment of TSQL Tuesday.

If you are interested in reading the original invite, you can find that here.

“Now I will give you an opportunity to give back. Everyone reading this has benefited from their fellow data professionals. And that benefit puts you in a position to share alike. You’ve learned something, so you can teach. You’ve been supported, so you can help. You’ve been led, so you can lead. But you don’t have to do it alone. We’re all going to do it together.

So here is my call. Pick some way you can help our community. “

Brief Intermission

A shout out is absolutely necessary for Adam Machanic (twitter) for picking the right blog meme that has been able to survive so long in the SQLFamily. This party has helped many people figure out fresh topics as well as enabled them to continue to learn.

Reality Check

Very much related to my blog post about blogging, I have to echo the sentiment about how “Blogging helps you become a better technical person.” A lot of what I do for my blog is there to help the community, but it has a self-serving purpose. It helps me become a better technical person. It also helps me to improve my communications and writing skills.

There are some side effects of blogging as well. Each of us has a finite number of keystrokes in our lifetime. That said, it makes sense to write certain technical things down in a blog post rather than retyping the same information over and over for various different email or forum responses. Make sense? If nothing else, it just seems more efficient to write a long technical explanation once rather than 12 times.

So there we have a couple of self-serving reasons to blog. Those same self-serving reasons also frequently apply to being involved in the community. For example, the more you exert yourself to help answer forum questions, the more you learn. You become a more experienced technical person. In addition, you learn how to communicate better and write better (hopefully). You are practicing your craft in a public forum where people can easily shred you (and they often do), when you are wrong – even minutely wrong. This potential for being blasted in the forums typically makes one work harder at getting everything just about perfect.

If you opt to speak in front of technical people, guess what? You are doing the same things I just wrote about in regards to forum responses as well as with blogging. The big difference is that you are now doing it in person, live, on stage, and verbally! You have really put yourself out there in a big way to go speaking in front of people. You will likely double down even more with regards to ensuring your material is very near perfect and bullet proof. In addition, you will probably practice a few (hundred) times to make sure you don’t fumble with your words. What does this mean? You are becoming a more solid technical person and honing your communication skills. Again, very self serving!

Or is it? The one final aspect of being a community visible person is the drive behind what you do. I like to share what I learn. I also like to share my time. I believe in serving others with a charitable demeanor. Giving of yourself will always enhance your life more than you can imagine – when you do it with the attitude of putting others first. There is no selfish intent to those that really want to help the community.

It doesn’t matter if you are helping the sqlfamily, your local Scouting organization, boys and girls clubs, sports teams, or volunteering at the local schools etc; if you are doing it with the intent to serve and do good – you will enhance your life in some way. If you are doing it for some accolade or truly self-serving reason, you may get the accolade but you will find yourself stunted in the growth potential.

People that give of themselves freely is such an awesome characteristic. There are many in the SQL community that truly give of themselves freely – like SQLSoldier. When it is a part of your identity, it comes naturally and there isn’t a lot that needs to be done to plan for it. Sometimes, maybe it would be nice to be able to have more time to be able to do more – sure. And that is the beauty of this characteristic. If you are giving of yourself freely, you often find that you want to give more. That is great! Do what you can, when you can. Sometimes, it will be more. Sometimes, it will be less. It is all good as long as the heart is in the right place.

TSQL2sDay150x150The Wrap

This has been my diatribe about service and giving back to the community. When done properly, there is a natural born effect of enhancing one’s personal life equal in some way to the amount of effort given towards the community.

Oh, and if you are interested in some of my community contributions (which according to Jens Vestargaard is an awesome contribution), read this series I have published.

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