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Category: Learning

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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Goodbye, MCSE

John Deardurff helps break the news:

Major Announcement from Microsoft Learning today. As Microsoft continues to invest in role-based learning offerings, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications will be phased out with a final retirement date of June 30th, 2020. Find the entire list of retired certifications here.

On the plus side, at least people who hold the next iteration of the MCSE won’t be confused with people who worked with NT4 anymore…

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2020 Data Professional Salary Survey Results

Brent Ozar has another year of salary data for us:

A few things to know about it:

– The data is public domain. The license tab makes it clear that you can use this data for any purpose, and you don’t have to credit or mention anyone.
– The spreadsheet includes the results for all 4 years (2017-2020.) We’ve gradually asked different questions over time, so if a question wasn’t asked in a year, the answers are populated with Not Asked.
– The postal code field was totally optional, and may be wildly unreliable. Folks asked to be able to put in small portions of their zip code, like the leading numbers.
– Frankly, anytime you let human beings enter data directly, the data can be pretty questionable – for example, there were 14 folks this year who entered annual salaries below $500. If you’re doing analysis on this, you’re going to want to discard some outliers.

It’s on my agenda (somewhere…probably a bit further back than I’d like) to dig into this year’s data and try to come up with something a little more comprehensive now that there are four years of data.

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Chesterton’s Fence in Development Terms

Pete Warden picked a blog post title I couldn’t refuse:

This script came to mind as I was thinking back over the year for a few reasons. One of them was that I spent a non-trivial amount of time writing and debugging it, despite its small size and the apparent simplicity of the problem it tackled. Even in apparently glamorous fields like machine learning, 90% of the work is nuts and bolts integration like this. If anything you should be doing more of it as you become more senior, since it requires a subtle understanding of the whole system and its requirements, but doesn’t look impressive from the outside. Save the easier-to-explain projects for more junior engineers, they need them for their promotion packets.

The reason this kind of work is so hard is precisely because of all the funky requirements and edge cases that only become apparent when code is used in production. As a young engineer my first instinct when looking at a snarl of complex code for something that looked simple on the surface was to imagine the original authors were idiots. I still remember scoffing at the Diablo PC programmers as I was helping port the codebase to the Playstation because they used inline assembler to do a simple signed to unsigned cast. My lead, Gary Liddon, very gently reminded me that they had managed to ship a chart-topping game and I hadn’t, so maybe I had something to learn from their approach?

I am a huge fan of the concept which, made brief, states that if you do not understand why something is the case, don’t change it. If you do understand it, maybe change it but be prudent about it. It’s also something I have often trouble with, as my natural inclination toward code bases is to use the cleansing power of fire to burn it all down.

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