T-SQL Tuesday #123 – Improve Focus through Speech

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and that means it’s time for T-SQL Tuesday. This month Jess Pomfret (b|t) asked us what we use as life hacks to make our lives easier. There are many different ways that I look to streamline my day-to-day tasks. Some of the methods I use include automating repetitive tasks or learning how to break up complex tasks into smaller components. However, over the past year I undertook a significant project outside of my day job. This project was something I decided to do after hours.

The objective of this opportunity was to write a book. When I initially started writing the book I began by typing everything I wanted to say. I quickly discovered that I was thinking of what I wanted to say faster than I could get the words written on the computer. I also remembered that over the past couple of years I have spent quite a bit of time speaking at SQL Saturdays and PASS Summit. When I’m speaking I often let the flow of what I’m trying to say come naturally. I decided to try that method while writing the book.

Once I purchased the dictation software and a wireless headset, I was able to more easily express the information that I wanted to share. I will say I have found that dictating still works differently than speaking. I often think more thoroughly through what I want to say and pause more frequently than I would if I were presenting in front of a group. I have found dictating what I want to write does reduce my frustration with trying to get the words out of my head and into text.

I’m still developing a method as to how I would like to dictate text for blog posts. One of the reasons I consider this a life pack for my purposes is dictating my blog posts helps me get in the right mindset where I am focused on the task at hand. If you’ve tried to get into technical writing or writing a blog post, I would recommend looking at alternative methods to accomplish that goal.

T-SQL Tuesday #122 – Am I Doing this Right?

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Jon Shaulis (b|t). The topic for month asks us to consider have we experienced imposter syndrome and if so, how did we work through those feelings. This imposter syndrome can be problematic. I’ve found this level of self-doubt is miserable. In that past I have struggled with imposter syndrome to the point that it has affected my confidence in my ability to do a good job.

Thankfully, #SqlFamily has been there for me. I’m not entirely certain if I would have given up without that support, but I do know I am thankful every day for those individuals that have helped me along the way. Rob Volk (b|t) first referred me to a presentation by a woman in IT. Unfortunately, I am unable to remember her name, but the name of the presentation was something like “Why I suck”.

While I’d love to say that presentation solved all of my problems, it didn’t right away. What it did teach me is that it was impossible for me to know everything, to have all the answers. The lesson was that there is too much information for any of us to know all of it. Because we are surrounded by the knowledge of what we know and don’t know, we are incapable of accurately determining how much knowledge we actually have as compared to the whole.

Either way, that was a beginning. The lesson didn’t sink in until I worked for Rie Irish (b|t) a while ago. I was on a team that believed in me and encouraged me. Even when I doubted myself. Each new challenge, I may have doubted myself. But each time I completed that task, I chipped away at all of the fear and self-doubt.

Over time I got to the point where I learned I could believe in myself. In general, the rest of my self-doubt mattered less and less. I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful. If you have questions or you are struggling with imposter syndrome reach out to me or to your data professional peers. You may find we have a very differeny opinion of your skills that you have yourself.

T-SQL Tuesday #110 – Automate All the Things

Garry Bargsley (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, a monthly blog party for the SQL Server community. Garry Bargsley kicks the year off right asking the following questions:

Kicking off the T-SQL Tuesday season for 2019, I would like to ask, what does “Automate All the Things” mean to you?


So technically there are two tasks for this month:

  • What do you want to automate or what automation are you proud of completing
  • What is your go-to technology for automation?


“Automate All the Things” is a methodology, a change in perspective. I recently had a friend ask me which came first consistency or automation. It’s a valid point. I believe automation is the what is accomplished as a result of consistency. That consistency is built by defining processes and having discipline to keep those processes. Consistency not only makes it easier to standardize processes (and train new employees), but it also means that I’m less likely to make mistakes.

One of my first automation projects was to implement continuous integration for database deployments. However, I did not realize how automation was going to fundamentally change how I see software development. When picking my tools I considered what tools were already used for our application deployment. I ended up using Visual Studio, SSDT, TeamCity, Octopus Deploy, and PowerShell to create, build, and deploy database projects.

Once realized the power of automation, I couldn’t get enough. My next goal is to get more familiar with PowerShell and dbatools to not only automate creating a distributed Availability Group but also building and configuring the VMs necessary to create my home lab.

T-SQL Tuesday #108 – Learning Tech Beyond SQL Server

Malathi Mahadevan (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, a monthly blog party for the SQL Server community.

Malathi has asked us to:

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.

Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to create a home lab. I originally planned to build a domain controller and other virtual machines for the home lab. Then I realized that SQL Server on containers may be able to help me solve several issues regarding licensing and resources. At that time, I realized I could also use containers to create full build pipeline including TeamCity and Octopus Deploy.

At first I tried to start in sequential order and create a TeamCity container. I had previously used TeamCity on my desktop, so I figured it would be easy. I quickly realized I had no idea what to do to even get the TeamCity image running.

I was reminded that years ago I decided I wanted to be a Database Administrator. At the time I learned that I had no idea how to learn. I had to figure out how I learned. I ultimately came to realize that my primary learning method is auditory.

I also began to realize that I see all knowledge as interconnected building blocks. Some building blocks already have a foundation or points where I can join them with knowledge I already have. In other cases, I have no or little previous knowledge. In these cases, it takes me significantly longer to learn that topic.

Using this information, I started watching videos on pass.org. My next step was to install Docker for Windows. Once that was done, I started spinning up some images for SQL Server. Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with containers, I’m starting to look into using Kubernetes and potentially building an Availability Group on containers.