T-SQL Tuesday #97: 2018 Training Goals

T-SQL Tuesday is the brainchild of Adam Machanic (b|t).  Adam rightly predicted that we all could benefit from ‘a recurring, revolving blog party’ with a new topic given each month – the party has been on since 2009 with great benefit to bloggers old and new.  The December 2017 T-SQL Tuesday will cover setting learning goals for 2018.

Training goals are good to have if you are exercising your mind or exercising your body.  You need to exercise each part of your body in order to get stronger.  For 2018 I have several training goals.  The first is to prepare for a half marathon in May.  I am training  to run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.  I have a weekly mileage schedule that I follow and I am tracking the data each run.  I also am working with a trainer on cardio and speed.

My second training goal for 2018 is to become more knowledgeable in Microsoft Azure and Azure SQL Databases.  To accomplish this, I am going to take a similar approach.  I will create a training schedule to to make sure I am covering all of the information in a timely manner and will use various training resources.  But to set up my training schedule, I need to answer a few questions first.



You would think this was an easy question; my training is about me.  I will be the one outlining my learning plan; I will be the one acquiring the appropriate training materials; I will be the one carving out time to study; and I will be the one taking in the new knowledge.  However, my training plan will not only benefit me, it will benefit my company and my customers.  This is always important to keep in mind no matter what new material you are learning.  There is always a bigger impact than just yourself.  I try to keep that in mind whenever studying new technologies.  I love learning about new technologies and am looking for ways to implement the new information into our current environment.



My training goal for 2018 is to learn more about Microsoft Azure and Azure SQL Databases.  More specifically, my primary training goal for 2018 is to pass the 70-765 exam (Provisioning SQL Databases) and get my MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration.  With almost half of the content in the exam focuses on Azure and Azure SQL databases, Microsoft Azure is one of the new technologies I want to learn more about in 2018.



Setting a timeline of when I want to complete the exam is very important.  I had set training goals for 2016, also, that were never achieved.  I attribute part of that to me not setting a timeframe to complete the training and taking the exam.  There is always so much going on and there was never a ‘good’ time to study or take the exam.  Months kept passing and I was no further in my preparation.  I kept saying next month, but that didn’t happen because something new would come up.  The next thing I knew, it was 2017 and I had not achieved any of my 2016 learning goals.

Last year started off the same way.  I had training goals and they seemed to be swept to the side.  “I will get to it later.”  As I noticed that I was not making any progress and the year was almost half over, I changed my behavior.  I set up a training plan and goal for taking my next exam.  I ended up taking it a few weeks late, but I felt great because I met my goal and passed the exam.



Starbucks, where else.  A lot of the training will happen on my own time.  Many times when studying at home, it is too easy to get distracted.  The laundry needs to be finished and the kitchen needs to be cleaned.  It will only take a minute to take care of those things…right?  How it really turns out is five minutes to take care of the laundry then 10 minutes to get back to where I was and move forward.  To avoid this, I schedule time at Starbucks (or another coffee place) once a week in the evening.  It is good to get away from all of those little things around the house that my attention, plug in my earphones, go online, and study.



First and foremost, this year’s goal is part of a bigger goal.  Learning about Microsoft Azure will help me prepare to pass the 70-765 exam.  I just recently passed 70-764 so the two together will give me my MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration certification.  This has been a long time goal and it will soon be fulfilled.  I love learning new things whether it is work related or not.  Education has always been a priority in my life.

Learning more about Microsoft Azure and Azure SQL Databases will not stop with the exam.  More and more companies are moving to the cloud so having a better understanding of this technology will benefit me at my job.  Technology is continuously changing and I need to stay current.  I don’t want to be the expert in faxing information using my dial-up modem.



The first step in creating my training plan is to put my final goal in writing.

My training goal for 2018 is to become more knowledgeable in Microsoft Azure and Azure SQL databases in order to prepare for and pass the 70-765 exam during the first quarter of the year.

Now it is time to create and execute the plan.  I have acquired most of my training materials and set the date in the calendar to take the exam.  The who, what, where, how, and why have been defined.  It is time to get started.

T_SQL Tuesday #96: In the Beginning

T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (t|b). This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Ewald Cress (t|b).  Everyone is invited to this party. Participation is easy. Each month, members of the community write a blog post about the topic presented and post it on the second Tuesday of the month.  This month’s subject is to give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.  For me, that goes way back and there are so many that I want to thank.

The two people I am thanking helped me build my career base.  They helped me get started, encouraged me to continue to grow, and showed me that I could do anything.  There have been many others along the way who have helped me with my career in various ways, but Jan MacLeod and Nancy Donelan McCall were there to get me started.


In the Beginning

After high school and a couple of years of college, I could not figure out what I wanted to do with my career.  Rather than continue down a path that I was not excited about, I took a couple of years off from college to figure it out.  I got a full time job working 8-5 in an office.  The job was not great but I learned a lot of valuable lessons.  Here I worked with Jan; a person who really pushed me and helped me advance my career.

First and foremost, I learned I was smart.  I had doubted my ability to be successful but this experience helped me see myself in a new light.  I was not able to make any advancement in this job because I did not have a college degree.  I felt that I was had a lot to offer the company but the HR department told me I needed that degree.

The other thing that I learned at this job was that sexism still existed in the workplace.  The company that I worked for still had the ‘Good Old Boy’ mentality in place.  The men were managers and had offices with windows; the women were administrators and office clerks and worked in an open office setting together.

Jan and I had a long distance friendship.  We worked together but all of our interaction was via phone and company mail.  We talked about the work environment and she was my strength.  She understood the environment and saw my potential.  She helped me build my strength to move forward.  I had a second opportunity to attend college and she was behind me 100%.  She pushed me to be better and rise above the current situation.  Jan was the first person after I had moved out of the house to help me grow as a person and build my career.  After all of these years we are still friends and I will always be grateful for the support and friendship she has provided.


Best Supervisor Ever

Over the years I have had many supervisors, but Nancy was the one who really helped me get started on my database career.  I had some database experience in previous jobs, but Nancy was the supervisor who took a chance on me and promoted me to an Access DBA.  She made sure I had the appropriate training and encouraged me to continue to grow.

It was also when I was working with Nancy that I got my first taste of SQL Server.  We had an enormous data center built in Microsoft Access that needed a more robust system.  Again, she made sure I had the appropriate training to take our system and my career to the next level.

Nancy taught me so much about databases and data structure as well as soft skills.  And there were so many little things that I learned from her along the way.  Individually, they might not seem like much, but together they were all invaluable lessons.  She also has been one of my biggest supporters as I have continued to grow my career.

Some people say it is luck, some people say we make our future.  Either way, I have had some great people in my life supporting me and my career decisions.  There is not enough space to thank them all.  These two were there at pivotal times in my life/career and I would not be where I am today without them.

These Women Inspire Me

Whether it is on Twitter, at a SQL Saturday event, or PASS Summit, I love meeting and talking with women in the Tech industry and hearing what they are doing and what new projects they have going.  Tuesday was the opening of the PASS Summit in Seattle.

The first event I attended in Seattle this year was the PASS Women in Technology Happy Hour & Networking event.  I don’t know if there is something in the SQL water, but these women inspire me.  I connected with women I have met with before as well as introduced myself to people I have seen on Twitter or know of, and I was not disappointed.    They are forward thinkers and they do not let obstacles stop them from accomplishing their goals.

They inspire me to push myself harder

They inspire me to not doubt my abilities

They inspire me to reach for my goals

These women amaze me.  They have different lives with different obligations, but they reach for their goals and they achieve.  They not only reach their goals, they exceed their goals.

One of the biggest things these women do that inspires me is that they give back.  They are busy with so many different things but make time to give back to the community.  This is not required of any of them, but each one makes time to work with others to help them reach their own goals.

The reason I come to PASS is to improve my SQL skills.  I learn from the experts and take new tips and ideas back to implement in our environment.  But on top of improving my SQL skills, I gain so much more personally.  I gain confidence in myself and my work.  These women inspire me.  Hopefully, one day, I will be someone’s inspiration.




Progress…sort of.

http://ift.tt/2z5YGld Finally, progress. Well, sort of. In June, a new website voiced a frustration I share — that there are no women candidates in the Illinois gubernatorial race. A group of Democratic women activists launched arethereanywomenrunningforilgovernor.com. “Zero women are running for governor,” the site declared. They asked Democratic Party leaders: “What’s your plan to support women leaders in […]

via WASHINGTON: 3 accomplished women in mix to be attorney general – Chicago Sun-Times — ilheadlines

T-SQL Tuesday #95: Big Data

T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (t|b). This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Derek Hammer (t|b).  Everyone is invited to this party. Participation is easy. Each month, members of the community write a blog post about the topic presented and post it on the second Tuesday of the month.  This month I was getting this together, but I want to participate.  Better late than never.

This month’s topic is Big Data.  Big Data is a booming area of technology. Technical professionals and companies alike are investing a lot in Big Data.  Posts can be about; how big data affects the industry and our careers, how the cloud is enhancing our ability to work with big data, how you deal with big data in SQL Server on-premises, NoSQL, development challenges and strategies for working with internet of things data, or anything else you come up with. Big data has become quite large (pun intended) and should offer a lot of freedom for self-expression in this month’s posts.

Business is always full of buzzwords with some of the current ones being ‘Deep Dive’, ‘Incentivize’, ‘Outside the Box’, ‘Wheelhouse’, ‘Drill Down’, and “Big Data’.  These are not bad, but instead they are a sign of where business is putting their focus.  Big Data is really an old concept if you consider that processing a lot of data has been going on since computers were invented.  This concept of Big Data has become more popular over the past few years as computer hardware and software has improved data processing abilities.  However, Big Data is not like relational data in that it is not always collected in ordered, relational datasets.  With the increase use of Big Data, databases like MongoDB, DocumentDB, Cassandra, and other NoSQL databases have become popular tools.  These NoSQL databases are designed to store large quantities of non-relational data.

As a SQL Database Administrator, it is important to stay on the leading edge of technology and continue to grow your skillset.  Life (and technology) move pretty fast.  If you don’t keep up, you might be left behind.  The Big Data movement has taken off and it is important for DBAs to understand their role in the industry and how their skillset can grow and be used with the new technologies.  Microsoft has expanded their toolset, giving us new ways to work with Big Data.  Microsoft has made the PolyBase feature available in SQL Server 2016, which was previously available only in the Microsoft Analytics Platform System.

Relational data in conjunction with Big Data are key components of the decision making process.  Hadoop and Azure Blog Storage data can be accessed through SQL Server 2016 and the PolyBase feature allows users to join their Big Data with their SQL Server relational databases.  PolyBase enables the use of existing SQL Server tools, such as SSMS and T-SQL, to query Big Data as well as the use of existing SQL Server tools like Reporting Services, Power Query, and Power BI on the combined data.

Learning more about PolyBase is an opportunity for SQL Server DBAs to learn more about Big Data, how it works with SQL Server, increase their skillset, and become more valuable within their company.  More and more businesses rely on Big Data and Big Data analytics in ways never before dreamed of.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more that can be accomplished with Big Data.  From tweaking marketing campaigns, refining operations, and improving business performance, the uses of big data have not even scratched the surface yet.  Data driven businesses and analytics-enabled decisions will become the norm.  Having the right skills and tools available will pay off in the future as the use of Big Data continues to become the norm.  If you haven’t already done so, install the Microsoft PolyBase feature and become familiar with the product.  The more you know, the more opportunities that might become available.

LGBTQ Inclusion, Gender Equality in Athletics and Female Representation in the Media – via ESPN

Cornell Athlete Ally hosted ESPN personalities Sarah Spain and Kate Fagan on Wednesday in Statler Auditorium. According to Cornell Athlete Ally president Megan LeDuc, Spain and Fagan were selected to speak at the event because they have both worked towards diversity and inclusion in the sports field. A 2002 graduate of Cornell’s College of Arts […]

via ESPN Personalities Sarah Spain and Kate Fagan talk LGBTQ Inclusion, Gender Equality in Athletics and Female Representation in the Media — Shauna Nichelle

10 Things I wish I Knew: a Guest Post — Blog – The Cyclist Lawyer

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started CyclingGuest Blog by Tim McAndrew1. A good bike fit is worth every penny. Having the wrong set up, even if it’s only off by a few millimeters, can make riding a misery, particularly on longer rides, and can lead to chronic injury and pain. So do…

via 10 Things I wish I Knew: a Guest Post — Blog – The Cyclist Lawyer

TSQL Tuesday #93: Interviewing Patterns & Anti-Patterns

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Kendra Little (t | b). T-SQL Tuesday (#TSQL2SDAY) is a blog party founded by Adam Machanic (t | b). Each month a member of the community hosts the party and selects the topic for us to write about.  

This month’s topic: Interviewing Patterns and Anti-Patterns

What advice do you have for people preparing for or going through an interview?  Feel free to be creative on this topic. Take whichever approach you like best:

  • You may focus on patterns to follow for success
  • You may list anti-patterns, too: things that might seem like a good idea, but are a recipe for disaster
  • You can write about your own highs and lows as a candidate or as an interviewer


The News

It was a really crazy time in my life.  It was the middle of the recession and all of a sudden I was notified that my job of over 15 years was being eliminated and I would be unemployed in five weeks.  WHAT?  The next day I went out and bought a couple of ‘interview outfits.”  Being in IT, I did not have a lot of clothes to wear to interviews.  Over that five week period I had many, many interviews and the questions asked by each interviewer were very similar.  As I went from interview to interview, I picked up on body language and was able to re-use my responses or modify them based on previous feedback.  I was getting good at the interview process.  Maybe a little too good.

After all of the interviews, I had narrowed down my interest to three companies and each one provided a very different experience.

The Contractor

The position at Company A was my top pick.  I loved the company, the environment, they had relatively new hardware and software, and the people who I interviewed with seemed forward thinking.  We spent over an hour talking about their project and goals. I felt comfortable with the team and felt like I could walk in and easily fit into the team.

The only drawback to this position was that it was a 3 month contract job.  If I was used to contract work or this was my only offer, that would have been great.  However, I don’t think I am made for short term contract jobs.  It felt like I would have to start looking for another job in about a month.  I was tired and did not want to go through that process again.  I often wonder what would have happened if I took this position.  Would it have turned into a full time position with the company or would I have been out looking for a job again in 6 weeks.

Too Many Interviews

Going to work for Company B intrigued me because of one of their benefits…I would spend two weeks out of each month in Denver and two weeks out of each month in Dallas.  While spending two weeks out of the month in Dallas is not considered a benefit for most people, I used to live in Dallas and I still have a lot of very good friends there.  Awesome.  This company is going to pay for me to go see my friends! 

But as we went through the interview process, I started getting tired of Company B. The first interview was with a recruiter.  The second interview was with the person who would be my supervisor.  The third interview was with the person who would be my task supervisor.  The fourth interview was with the person who would be my supervisor (again) and someone from HR.  The fifth interview never happened.  They requested a fifth interview with my supervisor (again), another IT employee, and two members of senior management.  While the job was a good fit and I would probably have a gazillion frequent flyer miles by now, I decided I did not want to work for a company that needs at least five interviews to hire a SQL DBA.  

The 15 Minute Interview

A week before my final day at my old job, there was a company lunch for a group of us who were leaving.  I had an interview scheduled from 11:00am-11:30am with Company C and the lunch was going to be back at the office across town at noon.  It was a tight schedule but I could make it.  I got to the interview at 10:55am and had a seat.  They were still interviewing someone else.  11:05…11:10…11:15…11:20…I was finally called into the interview.  I was on edge and asked if we could reschedule as I had another appointment at noon.  This was the last day for interviews and they assured me we could get through the interview and I could make my appointment at 12:00pm.  OK, let’s do this.

It was a group interview and they were organized.  They had a list of questions that they asked each candidate then rated everyone’s response on an equal scale.  I liked that process.  They started going around the table asking questions.  At one point we had a long discussion and I started getting nervous about the time.  Someone asked “who has the next question” and I answered for them.  By then I was on the front of my chair answering questions at a very rapid pace.  This was my fifth interview of the week and I felt like I had answered all of these questions several times already which gave me a lot of confidence.

The person to my right had the last question, which is the typical last questions for many job interviews.  She asked me “Why should we hire you?”  I was in a weird space and feeling super confident and out of my mouth came the response “Because I am fun and lovable.”  Awkward silence.  The minute I said it, I knew I needed to say something else so I went into the ‘I am hard working and pay attention to detail‘ spiel.

We ended the interview at 11:40am, just 15 minutes after we started the interview.  I thanked them for the interview, ran out of there, sped back to the office, changed out of my interview outfit and back into my jeans and t-shirt, and made the going away lunch at noon.  I have never had such a short interview and I never thought I would make it to lunch on time.  The interview was a success and lunch was delicious.


I went through so many  interviews and so many different types of interviews (phone, one on one, group) during that time.  But no matter the type of interview, the information covered was very similar across all companies.  If you know your stuff, interviews are not that hard.  What I got out of the process was self confidence.  During my time with my old company, I had progressed in my career, but I had not had to sell myself in an interview format in a long time.  Going through the process made me realize how I had grown throughout my career.  It also helped me set a more focused path for my career.





Going Back with Title IX

We’re slowing down for the summer! Instead of our usual roundup of “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events, here’s a closer look at one historic event that connects to something in the news today. We’ve also matched it with a map or visual, background information, and additional resources. Friday, June 23 TDIGH: Title IX […]

via This Week in Geographic History: Title IX — Nat Geo Education Blog