1 year old sandwich

It’s been an interesting day. It was the 1 year anniversary of SQLSandwiches today. It was also my last day working in New Zealand. That’s right, I decided to leave my current role as DBA at Foodstuffs. Mrs. Sandwiches and I are headed back to the States to be closer to our family.

Foodstuffs was my second job in New Zealand. I enjoyed my time working there. My managers were great and let me database my day away. I learned a lot and worked with great people. There is a reason people stay there for a long time and after only a short while, I can see why. I also had the best ID ever there.

you got something better?

Back to the sandwiches. I’ve totally slacked off on the blog so far this year in preparation of this big move. Now that I will have some down time, I can catch up on all the half written blogs that I have in my backlog. I’ll be taking the next couple weeks off to travel around Japan and then to the States! Until then it’s going to be lots of reading, running, blogging, and studying for some exams.

So here’s to 1 year blogging under SQLSandwiches and the end of a short but great job in Auckland.

BEER!!!

Final words to Foodstuffs…David, you can keep DTM! HA!

w...t...f....

Code Camp New Zealand 2011

I was unable to attend TechEd this year but I did get a chance to hit up Code Camp. It was a one day free event with four different tracks of six sessions each. I attended all of the SQL sessions and learned some good stuff.

The first session was on Full Text Search by Kent Chenery (blog | twitter). It was a good overview on FTS. I’ve been studying a bit for some upcoming certification exams so reviewing CONTAINS vs FREETEXT as well as FORMSOF was great for me. I didn’t know about the 50 pre-installed filters, either.

Next was supposed to be a session about monitoring your server for $0.00, but speaker Dave Dustin couldn’t speak (literally, he lost his voice). We watched part of a powershell video from PASS 2010 instead.

Then came Steven Wang’s session on minimal logging and moving large chunks of data. He talked about the best way to update/delete large volumes of data by moving what you want to keep and truncating the rest. It was an interesting talk. I want to play around and try out some  more of his ideas. He also covered trace flag 610: which I never heard about.

Last but not least was Leo Miller‘s session on SQL security. He went over how to access SQL using only the builtin\admin group. I’ve used this before and I don’t think it’s that terrible. I was new at a job and no one knew the SA password for one SQL instance. He noted that this feature will be gone in Denali. I have mixed feelings about that. Miller did cover some really cool stuff on SQL injections, though. I never even thought about encrypting SQL commands in HEX, putting the command into a variable, and then executing that variable. He also mentioned putting sp_password in your injection to cover your tracks. Overall, this was my favorite presentation. I wish we had more time to go into detail and actually get to bust out our laptops and play around.

I really enjoyed Code Camp 2011. I can’t wait for the next one. As for Auckland, I think the next event we have coming up is SQLSaturday. Woohoo!

Can Scrum Work for the DBA?

Agile! Scrum! Development methodologies! Sprint!

If you have a manager who reads any web page about being a manager, then you have probably heard about Scrum. Scrum development is very attractive from a manager or stakeholder’s point of view. You get short bursts of development and can see results quickly.

With my experience, companies with no scrum experience who want to adapt this method search the web and find a scrum coach and then book 1-3 day sessions. Being in these sessions before, I know they are long and extremely boring.

Having said that though, I have seen scrum in action and think it works great for teams that do it right. If you have a dedicated team working on one project then scrum can do wonders for you. Even if you have a couple projects going it can work well with an experienced scrum master.

Being a DBA though, I find it hard to fit into scrum. I have been part of scrum teams developing some application but usually only brought on to write some SP’s, create a package, or another smaller task. I end up sitting in on 2-3 hour sprint planning meetings and end up with a couple hours worth of work.

The other problem with a DBA and scrum is that a good chunk of the work that I get isn’t planned a week (or 2) in advance.

“Database guy, I need access to server 2930dkdks. It’s holding up production”

“Are you the guy who gives me the reports? I need 10 reports by 1pm today!”

“Mind helping out with this query? I’m not sure why it’s slow, I only use UNION ALL 10 times”

“Mind checking out that server? It’s out of space”

I would love to tell all these people to wait till next sprint but then I would have a lot of angry co-workers complaining to my manager.

This is why I feel scrum might not work for DBAs. Sure, I could factor in 30-40% of my time into each of my sprints to take outside requests but what happens when I only get one user all sprint who needs help for 30 minutes? Or what happens when Joe the engineer deletes the wrong database on the wrong server in the middle of day and you have to spend the rest of the day fire fighting?

The other problem is that I’m not on a team of DBA’s. I do dev work, I do admin work, and I do BI work. Whatever is needed from my co-workers and my company.

I love the idea of Scrum and thinks it works well for developers but not so sure it works for DBAs.

I currently manage my tasks with a to-do list and a backlog. I revaluate the priorities of my to-do list daily and if I finish everything I reach into the backlog until another request comes in. If the backlog is a bit bare, there are always improvements to be made to current systems.

Are you a DBA that uses scrum?

If so, how do you make it work?

If not, how do you get around the manager who loves scrum and insists that you be a part of it?