Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Back in the game...

Well, that was a long hiatus.  In the last 5 months I've completed 3 short-term DBA contracts and been everywhere from Chester to Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent to Coventry, Trafford to Milton Keynes.  What with my busy day-to-day role and being Dad to my three Lords of Misrule - my kids - I haven't found time to actually sit down and write.  So here I am, in a charming(!) hotel room in a town called Binley, finally finding time to re-acquaint myself with my keyboard.

Luckily, my American employers over at http://www.mssqltips.com have been very understanding about my complete lack of output for the last 6 months.  I'm making amends, I've just sent over a new, fresh article on using OLE automation extended stored procedures in SQL Server - procedures which will allow you to access OLE objects such as FileSystemObject, enabling you to call methods and get properties from these objects back into SQL Server.  A little easier than using PowerShell, and hopefully of use to some data hacks out there.  Watch this space.

What else this week?  Once again, I find myself supporting unsupported SQL Server installations - my primary database servers this time are 2008, which isn't too bad, but there's a few linked servers including SQL Server 2000.  I've just unlearned how to use DATABASEPROPERTYEX, I've no wish to go rooting through archived TechNet articles again, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

I was shocked to find out Monsters Inc. is 13 years old!  The actress who played Boo is now approaching 15, a far cry from the 2-year-old who had to be chased around the set with a mic as she wouldn't stand in one place long enough to say her lines.  This film is more than three times older than my youngest child ... I can feel the grey hairs growing already.  I'll soon be buying one of those horrible grey hair cardigans and perfecting the comb-over, then there's no turning back.

I was sad that I couldn't attend SQLBits XII (http://www.sqlbits.com/) this year, despite registering to attend months ago.  What with the timing of a new contract and my recent wedding, it simply wasn't possible to go.  I'm hoping to catch up with some live sessions over on the website and see if I can get hold of last year's, too.

Recently I read a great book by Isaiah Hankel PhD, called 'Black Hole Focus'.  I'm a sucker for self-help books, and recognise my weakness, but this truly is a great volume.  One key lesson I took from it was how to motivate yourself - Dr. Hankel suggests creating a motivation board, a board that you hang on your wall with your goals in a brainstorm around your name, or the words 'My Goals'.  A little cheesy, yes, but I'm giving it a try - I got the Pritt-Stick and scissors out on Sunday night and created my first collage since art lessons at school.  And ... it works.  I've hung it in front of my office desk (at home) where I'm now spending three days a week.  When you're looking at it every day, it really helps you to focus, and I've got a clear plan for the next few months.

Next up, identifying those skills which are going rusty and getting a plan together to toughen up my training in them.  I'm thinking data science, particularly with respect to statistics and using R.  I have a strong suspicion the new 'BI', the new 'Big Data' is going to be 'Data Science', and analysts who can interpret data, analyse it and draw conclusions (MI, in other words, and exactly what I'm lined up to do for the next three months) are going to be in high demand.

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