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Category: Learning

A Critique of “Advanced” as a Description of Learning Content

Don Jones lays out the argument for why the term “advanced” doesn’t mean much for learning:

Let me share a little secret of the training industry with you: an “advanced” topic is any topic that you don’t already know.

Don’t argument is that the proper axis is around commonality of usage: most commonly performed to least commonly performed. It’s an interesting argument for sure.

I’m of two minds with the idea, however. I appreciate Don’s example and like the concept of commonality for differentiation. But there are things which are legitimately advanced topics, in that they would be difficult to understand even if they were common. In Don’s query tuning example, an example of something legitimately difficult to understand is the set of rules the query optimizer chose to test for a particular query. Yes, it is very uncommon to need to know this, but it is also difficult to understand if you do need to know, and explaining how and why the query optimizer chose the path and rules that it did requires a fairly deep base of expertise.

In short, I think there’s an endogeneity problem: things can be perceived as difficult because they are unommon (which is my reading of Don’s point), but also things can be uncommon because they are difficult to understand given some baseline of knowledge.

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Mentoring from Paul Randal

Paul Randal is offering up mentorship time:

If I remember correctly, I think I helped 8 or more people decide to change jobs for a better work environment suited to their goals, and several people go it alone as consultants. It was hugely satisfying to help so many people with their careers and lives, in a non-technical capacity.

Now it’s time to do it again, as I haven’t done any public mentoring since 2015, so this blog post serves as a call for prospective mentees!

Please read the rest of this post carefully, so you’re clear how this works. We’re making a time commitment to each other so I want to be up-front about a few things.

I was one of those 54 mentees back in 2015 and can recommend it. I will say, though, that you get out of it exactly what you put in—this isn’t some “I want to advance my career” easy mode.

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Three Rants for the Price of One

Nate Johnson is a few months early for Festivus:

Another thing. This isn’t a “new update” thing; this is a long-standing “Oh my lord I can’t believe they DESIGNED it this way, WHAT were they THINKING?!?!” thing. Files. Sending & receiving files. I get an picture, like a screenshot, from a user (that’s NOT a OneDrive link, because that’s a whole ‘nother can-of-worms). I click to download it. It goes.. where?

OH RIGHT. It goes to my ‘Downloads’ folder. That dumpster-fire, where everything from anywhere goes into, and nobody keeps it organized, and nobody knows how to find anything unless they’ve gotten smart enough to sort by Date Modified descending. Right, that.

I can’t say I disagree about any of what Nate covers.

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A History of Bad Habits

Aaron Bertrand has a compendium of bad habits, anti-patterns, and Festivus-quality grievances to air:

Going back more than a decade, I’ve been writing and presenting about what I call “bad habits” – typically shortcuts or sub-optimal ways to do things in SQL Server. Often users just don’t realize these things are bad or that there is a better way.

Here is an ongoing list of articles that I consider to be along these lines – eradicating bad habits or at least promoting best practices. Not all are explicitly framed as a “bad habit,” but they do all present things I wish I observed less often.

Click through for a disturbingly long list of items.

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Execution Plan Training, in Video Form

Hugo Kornelis makes an announcement:

As those who have been to my full-day precon on execution plans know, I believe that learning to understand execution plans does not start with dozens of examples. It starts with an explanation of the basics, followed by an overview of operators. Just like learning Russian doesn’t start with reading Tolstoy’s Война и мир (War and Peace), but with learning the grammar rules and the vocabulary.

Once you know the grammar of a language, and enough of its vocabulary, you can then pick up any book. And the more you do that, the easier it becomes. Eventually, one day, you will be able to read Война и мир in its original language.

And once you know the basics of reading execution plans, and are familiar with most of the operators, you will be able to tackle any execution plan you find on your servers, no matter how complex.

And, at least for now, this is free. So check out what Hugo has already and pass along a “thank you” if you like what you see there.

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Diving into Kubernetes: a Workshop

Chris Adkin has been busy:

I have not blogged for a while, it was my hope to produce part 5 in the series of creating a Kubernetes cluster for production grade Big Data Clusters. However, there is a very good reason for this, and that is because I have been working on a one day workshop to be delivered at SQL Bits in September, the material can be found here, enjoy !

I’ve only looked at the module listings, but Chris does a great job putting long-form articles together, so I’ve already added it to my todos.

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Confluent Developer

Tim Berglund announces Confluent Developer:

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of Confluent Developer, the one and only portal for everything you need to get started with Apache Kafka®, Confluent Platform, and Confluent Cloud! Everything on Confluent Developer is completely free and ungated. It’s a single online source of everything you’ll need to learn Kafka: links to documentation, collections of video tutorials, links to sample code, the entire collection of guided Kafka Tutorials, an index of podcast episodes, and a link to our global network of meetups.

The site is laid out really well.

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The Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence

William Vorhies takes a look at Gartner’s hype cycle for AI (among other things):

Supposing you’re a business leader and supposing you’re trying to make an intelligent decision about prioritizing your AI adoption plans.  It’s likely that like many of us the first thing you’d reach for would be one of Gartner’s many hype cycle or magic quadrant analyses.

What you might not know is that you now need an expert just to guide you through the expert literature.  There has been such a proliferation of hype cycles and magic quadrants that you could easily be looking in the wrong place.

The hype cycle is definitely opinion-based, but I think it’s a useful look at the relative maturity of different segments of an industry or technology cluster. Do read the whole thing, though, as these things aren’t perfect.

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Dirty Deeds in SQL: Identity-Based Looping Edition

Nate Johnson has a confession to make:

I’ve done some things I’m not proud of. We all do, in IT, typically when we’re under-the-gun for a deadline or when the systems and frameworks in which we work have some sort of nuance or limitation that we just cannot get around, past, or over. And so we hack. We write code we’re not happy with. We even write code that we despise with every fiber of our well-intentioned being. But it has to be done. Because there’s no other choice.

Read on for the story. And if you want a much less ugly way to find gaps, I know a guy.

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