Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning

Today is Monday, which means I get to peruse the Database Weekly newsletter from SQL Server Central. I don't even know how or when exactly I first subscribed to the Database Weekly, and now I can't even find a link to share here. But here's what the email looks like:


Anyway, I get this fantastic database newsletter each Monday, and I always plow through it and find interesting links that I click but don't exactly have time to read. I'm sure plenty of great links get lost in the whatever of time and the ether and all that. So, for the record, here's what looked interesting to me this week:

Book Review: MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook
I'm dying to build a cube using Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and MDX is sort of the language of the Microsoft cube, as far as I understand. This book would be beyond what I need to read now, but who knows, my curiosity may get the best of me and it may end up on my bookshelf before long.

SQL Server table columns under the hood
Good FYI info on understanding what a table is made of. I usually just highlight the table name in an SSMS query window and hit Alt+F1 to get the details on a table. This post acknowledges that my method is a common one, and then asks this:
"But ... ‘What are the physical columns of this table?’. Huh? Is there any difference? Lets see."
 Hmmm, there's another way. Good to know. May come in handy some day.

Penance
Week before last was the annual PASS Summit, a big geek fest for SQL Server enthusiasts. Don't misread me -- I totally wish I'd been there. I follow a bunch of SQL pros on Twitter, and after the PASS Summit a little Tweet thread materialized about what should happen when a presenter at a PASS event (the Summit, SQL Saturday, or SQL Rally) cancels before the event. I was surprised how many people supported a zero-tolerance attitude on speaker cancellations that Steve (Twitter | Blog) writes about in his editorial. I've never been involved with organizing one of these events, so I've never felt the pain of trying to fill a gap in the session schedule. It's just that this SQL Server community is full of compassionate, helpful professionals, always eager to share tips and reply to help requests from novices (me!). Adopting this "If You Cancel, You're Banned" stance seems very out of character for this crowd.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Job One: Me

Steve Jobs died a few weeks ago. You can't escape news, blogs, and quotes about him and all of his lasting nuggets of wisdom. And I'm inclined to let the dust settle before buying into every nugget of wisdom that he ever espoused, propagated by the endless information machine, the machine that can never get enough of well-known people dying. So I'm kind of annoyed that the most prevalent Jobs nugget is informing my current attitude about life and work:
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Jobs said this in his famous Stanford commencement address, and if you search Steve Jobs today you'll find tons of links to it. So here's another one.

How is anything more true than that? And why is it so hard to break free of the path that others (directly or indirectly) set out for us? In my own head, the quote is ringing as this question:
Why aren't you doing what you want to be doing?
And I keep answering back something to the effect of, "It's not that simple, man! I got bills to pay, babies to raise." But that's not really an answer. It's dodging the question. It suggests that "what I want to be doing" is watching endless movies amidst a pile of empty Diet Coke cans. But the thing here is work.
Why aren't you doing the work you want to be doing?
Now we're getting somewhere. Accept that work is necessary. Not just for paying bills and raising babies, but for mental stimulation, for life satisfaction, for purpose, for meaning. Accept that every day I will get up and do something productive, something that solves a problem, satisfies a need. How then is this not the most important question to be asking? Doesn't the problem or need deserve someone wholly interested and dedicated and passionate about its resolution or fulfillment? And doesn't one's passion, dedication, interest, time and labor deserve a worthy task? And doesn't it feel like now I could loop back and around again, endlessly? Worthy task deserves quality work deserves worthy task deserves quality work... round and round it seems to go.

Now I'll try to take this back to the beginning, about "living someone else's life." I'm hearing this Jobs quote everywhere I turn, and it has seeped in. Lately I find myself questioning nearly all my actions and decisions, testing whether I'm listening to my own voice or someone else's. And that questioning has led me to write this little rant and post it. Because the hardest thing about this blog has been to make it my own, to use my voice. I can no longer insist that what I post here must conform to the expectations of someone who is not me.

And I feel better already.