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Category: Learning

The Importance of Re-Learning for Knowledge Updates

Neil Saunders thinks about learning:

Some years ago I read an article – I forget where – describing how our general knowledge often becomes frozen in time. Asked to name the tallest building in the world you confidently proclaim “the Sears Tower!”, because for most of your childhood that was the case – never mind that the record was surpassed long ago and it isn’t even called the Sears Tower anymore. From memory the example in the article was of a middle-aged speaker who constantly referred to a figure of 4 billion for the human population – again, because that’s what he learned in school and had never mentally updated.

Is this the case with programming too? Oh yes – as I learned today when performing the simplest of tasks: reading CSV files using R.

The specific task involved ways to read a list of CSV files in R, though the impetus behind the post is ways to keep that knowledge up to date. This is one reason why it can be useful to attend introductory-level sessions on topics you already know: there might be new things in recent versions of software which change the game. There are also times when you learn something en passant: in a talk (or blog post or video) about topic X, the author might casually use some technique or tool not related to the topic itself.

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A Free Training Offer for the Recently Laid Off

Andy Leonard has an offer for free training:

My LinkedIn and social media feeds are filled with contacts and friends sharing their availability for a new career opportunity. While some are more gracious than concerned and others more concerned than gracious, it’s normal to be both concerned and gracious. Well, it was normal for me when it happened to me. If you haven’t been laid off before, I hope you never learn what that feels like.

If you have been laid off already, or if you’ve been notified you are about to be laid off, I encourage you to see this as the beginning on your Next Opportunity.

Click through for the details on this generous offer.

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Azure SQL DB Lessons Learned

Kendra Little shares a few lessons:

When I think about service objectives, I tend to assume we’re talking about guaranteed uptime, often expressed in some number of 9’s.

But Azure SQL Database has its own language. The best resource I know of to learn that language is the Azure SQL glossary of terms.

Read on for three lessons, two of which are pretty straightforward but the third one is liable to strike without you realizing.

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High-Level Thoughts on Migration

Marc Lelijveld thinks about migrations:

Over the last half year, I have been involved in many large migration projects from another BI tool to Power BI. All with a different setup, from Tableau, Microstrategy and from Analysis Services to Power BI. In this blog I will shine a light on the experiences I gained during these migrations and share some do’s and don’ts. In this blog I start with the why you even migrate in the first place, after which we dive into the where to start and of course also how. A blog that is more focused on the process rather than the technical how-to. At the same time, this blog describes the work I did over the past months and therefore is a small recap of the past half year.

Read on to understand your “why,” at least when it comes to migrations.

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Defining “Legacy”

Brendan Tierney takes apart a phrase:

In the IT industry we hear the term “legacy” being using, but that does it mean? It can mean a lot of different things and it really depends on the person who is saying it, their context, what they want to portray and their intended meaning. In a lot of cases people seem to use it without knowing the meaning or the impact it can have. This can result in negative impact and not in the way the person intended.

Before looking at some (and there can be lots) possible meanings, lets have a look at what one person said recently.

Read on for a thoughtful reply to some marketing madness.

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New Query Tuning Book

Grant Fritchey has a book for us:

If you’re interested in getting a digital copy, my brand spanking new book is now available here.

It’s in the intro, but let me tell you a little bit about the new book. It’s really new. Some of the older versions of the book were simply updated, a bunch of changes to most chapters, a couple of new chapters, fixes for old mistakes, ta-da, new book. Not this time. This time, I rewrote it all. From scratch.

Looks like I’ll need to get a copy.

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Tips for Getting Technical Help Online

Grant Fritchey provides some tips:

One thing you see a lot is that people, for whatever reason, will absolutely not simply state what the actual problem is. You’ll get stuff like “What SQL Server internal behavior prevents dynamically naming local variables?” And you’re left scratching your head, why on earth would someone want to dynamically name local variables? Only to find out, after lots of comment & discussion, they thought that you needed to rename variables when changing values.

When you get stuck, take a moment to describe the problem, but aim for the root of the problem, not peripheries. “I want to do X. I’m doing X. It looks like this. The results are this when they should be that. What am I doing wrong?” That’s the “magic” formula.

Grant provides several helpful tips for increasing the likelihood that someone will help you find the right answer.

I want to note two quick things here, though. The first is that, quite often, people don’t even know what they intend to ask. In the cited bit above, this quite often comes from basic confusion cascading into specific “I’m stuck here” questions. This leads to foundational misunderstandings between people and frustrates the question-and-answer process.

The second thing I’d note is, be clear in your writing. The biggest tip I have here is to make sure your sentences and ideas flow. In other words, within a paragraph or section, try to keep thoughts related to the key topic and avoid asides or rambling. The reason for this is that your inner monologue can make sense of a variety of asides, but a reader without access to your thoughts will struggle to follow along. Furthermore, it is common to add bits and pieces to a half-finished post, fleshing out details. Before posting, make sure that it makes reading sense. Quite often, people will write a post and then fill in additional details before submission. A common result of this is that you might add some information intended to clarify a point which you actually introduce later in the post.

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PGSQL Phriday 001 Wrap-Up

Ryan Booz started a thing:

As I sit here on October 7, 2022 watching PostgreSQL friends from all around the globe post contributions to the first ever PGSQL Phriday blogging event, I’m honestly pretty shocked… and very (very, very, very) grateful! While I have lots of ideas and love connecting with people to hear their stories, I wasn’t sure what to expect because, let’s face it, there are so many demands for our time and attention.

The fact that many folks have been supportive of this idea and contributed to this first event truly warms my heart. Thank you each for helping to get this ball rolling!

Click through for the all of the responses. And it’s good to see this getting picked up on the Postgres side.

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Cumulative Costs and Scale

Michael J. Swart talks about costs:

Think of this another way. The triangle above is a graph of the amount of data you have over time. And if you pay for storage as an operational expense such as when you’re renting storage in the cloud (as opposed to purchasing physical drives). Then the cost of storage is the area of the graph. The monthly bills are ever-increasing, so half of the total cost of storage will be for the most recent 29%.

Put yet another way: If you started creating a large file in the cloud every day since March 2014, then the amount you paid to the cloud provider before the pandemic started is the same amount you paid after the pandemic started (as of August 2022).

I was told there would be no math here.

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Maximizing Productivity in a Meeting-Filled World

Andy Levy just wants to get things done:

We need to have these meetings. They’re where consensus is reached on cross-team projects and decisions are made about timelines. They’re where we communicate to people outside our teams what’s happening. And sometimes, they’re critical for transferring knowledge to others. These are all part of the job. For better or worse, they are a nontrivial portion of The Work.

Read on for some of Andy’s tips around scheduling meetings.

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