Tag sqljackass

Finding SQL Agent Jobs Owned By The Wrong Person

Ever have someone leave the company only to find out that they own critical database processes… because that process failed? It hasn’t happened to me, yet, but a recent Active Directory outage this weekend got me thinking about it.

Revisiting Lady MacBeth and Her Torturous Lies

A while back, I wrote up a genius piece of code that would automatically shrink my log files whenever they grew.

Kendra Little (blog | twitter) completely called me out for my horrible, sneaky, developer ways. Ostensibly, I had found a solution for my rampant log growth problem. Unfortunately, I had cured the symptom and not the underlying issue. After growing tired of her savage abuse and criticism via gtalk, I looked for the source of the problem. No, not me. The other source of the problem.

I set up monitoring on the server in question, waited for the appropriate log death window, and then read my report. Before you think I’m using fancy tools that nobody can afford, I set up profiler and perfmon and then merged the results together.

The reports from the single server showed me… nothing, really. There was a lot of I/O and a backup job overlapped with a re-index by about 2 minutes. The logs also didn’t fill up. To be on the safe side, I adjusted the jobs and then sat around making frowny faces for a few minutes. Then I remembered that all of the servers are connected to the same SAN, so set up monitoring on the remaining production servers. An I/O issue on one server could start causing problems on all of the other servers.

This time around, the logs filled up, I received a ton of emails, and I also found out something important: all of my backups and re-indexing operations were running at the same time. My SAN was saturated on I/O throughput which was causing a the backup and re-indexing jobs to run slowly.

To solve the problem I looked at the average job run times and arranged the jobs so that they had much more downtime between them (to account for other issues that could slow down the jobs). This took a bit more effort than I thought just because of SLAs within the company. I also re-wrote the jobs so that the backups and re-indexes could never run at the same time and would, instead, occur in series. Once I had this change in place I waited and watched.

Sure enough, the incredible ever growing log file problem stopped happening (unless I do something dumb like move 30,000,000 rows of data). Moral of the story: make sure that you’re addressing the cause of the problem and not the symptoms.

The Key is…

It was a typical Saturday afternoon in Blacklick. The day had gone well – I had entertained a number of guests with some of my uproarious tales, a short self-penned one act opera, and a round of polo using burros instead of horses.

The classiest entertainment for the classiest people

After having one of my many servants clean the burro “leavings” from the polo field, we began setting up for the afternoon games – we mainly play lawn darts. The neighbors complained after their poodles went missing, but I informed them that there was no way I could hit a poodle in their lawn from my lawn because I have tried on a number of occasions but we were bear baiting last weekend and the bear got out and I hid under my car for an hour so I’m not really sure what happened to the poodle.

Does this thing play Spellicopter?

Long story short of it, we were rudely interrupted when the neighbor with the missing poodles brought over a misdelivered, but clearly addressed, package. I opened it and, to my surprise I found a strange key sealed in a clear material. With a note from my good friend, Lord Trololo of Ozar. I tried to open it with my hands, but it wouldn’t budge.

This is less than flattering, but I need that key!

I must have the key. It was taunting me, humiliating me in front my guests.

I'm sorry it's had to come to this, key.

When I finally opened the key, I found that it was a device of the USBs. Knowing that Lord Trololo frequently listens to the melodies of Lady Gaga, I attempted to plug my stereophonic headset into the USBs key that he had sent me. ALAS, TWAS NOT MEANT TO BE!

Nary a bad romance to be found

Thank you, BrentO. I wish I could be at TechEd to trololo with you. It was not meant to be… this year.

Speaking is so done

Take three steps to your right to advance to the next slide


Honestly, I’m tired of speaking. PowerPoint is overrated. People want more or less bullet points. It’s never enough. More graphs. More pie charts. Less funny images. More dinosaurs. Stop showing pictures of Zeus sexing up a goat. I don’t know what you people want!

Demos – you can shove those, too. People complain when the code doesn’t fit on the screen or when my resolution is too low or when they have some kind of vitamin deficiency and they can’t look at the color #0f0015 for more than 32 seconds without suffering from a migraine. I’ve spent hours coming up with the perfect demo code only to have someone poke holes in it over and over again. I see this all the time on speaker feedback.

No more. You will no longer have this opportunity. PowerPoints are done. Demos are over. Speaking? That’s right out, too. Greek pornography… The jury’s still out on that one.

So here’s a note to everyone who is expecting me to speak at their event in the future: I won’t. I’ll be there, but I will not speak. I need you to secure velvet ropes for my “room”. I will be available for hushed conversations, but I want my work to speak for itself. I need dim, dramatic, lighting and access to numerous power sources so I can light my “slides” in a variety of ways.

Speaking of slides… They have been carefully painted on using oil or egg tempera paints. A few paintings contain other, non-volatile, material when I was experimenting with a different style of art work, but I cannot promise that everyone will like this.

Presenting is an artform and this is art. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to understand it.

This is art, goddamnit!

How the Hell Did I Get Here?

Paul Randal started this chain post. He tagged Steve Jones who, in turn, tagged Jack Corbett who finally tagged me. I’m pretty sure everyone who nominally makes sense has already been tagged at this point thus leaving Jack to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Like Jack, I think I could approach this in a number of different ways. I think I’ve already answered the professional route that I took. If I haven’t, it’s probably because my professional route isn’t all that interesting and it’s also all available on LinkedIn. You can, and should, fill in the job changes on my resume with something interesting like “After being attacked by a bear in the janitor’s closet at CareWorks Technologies, Jeremiah decided to take a safer job at HMB (they have no bears on staff as janitors).”

Anyway, you asked for it, you got it: how the hell did I get here?

I’m a Rock and Roll Machine

I love being on stage and in front of people, even though it terrifies the crap out of me. Apparently, I like that adrenaline surge. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old. When I was 23 I answered an advertisement and auditioned for a band. I got the job after 5 minutes.

Being a musician takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice. You work for hours and hours as a group, and hours and hours on your own preparing for a show. At that show, you’re going to walk up on stage and try to steal the attention of a room full of people who would, frankly, rather be doing one of a million other things – playing pool, talking to friends, hitting on that girl across the bar – than listening to you. As musicians, it was our job to get their attention, hold it for an hour, and make sure that they were happy about it. That job gets even harder when you’re in a band that only plays original material.

What seemed really fun – being in a band – turned out to be a lot of work – practicing three nights a week for four hours a night with the band and then practicing even more on my own. I learned a lot about myself – my tolerance for bullshit, how to get attention, and how to act in front of a crowd of people – while I was in the band. I also learned a lot about how to budget scarce resources – money and time – while still getting the job done – getting to the show.

The band eventually fell apart, as most do, but I learned many valuable lessons that I carry with me – time and resource management, performing skills, and how to make an ass of yourself and be okay with it. Most importantly, I learned that passion alone isn’t enough. You have to work for something if you really want to be good at it.

Everything to Everyone

The fact is, I’m not everything to everyone. But for a long time, I thought that I could do it.

Before and while I was in the band, I was married. The band took up a lot of time and it took a lot of time away from my marriage. While being in a band didn’t cause my eventual divorce, I’m sure it contributed to it (I quit the band about a year before my ex-wife and I quit the marriage). I remarried pretty quickly and that marriage ended almost as fast as it started.

Throughout all of this, though, there’s a huge undercurrent – I was trying to make everyone happy. I was trying to be a good husband, musician, developer, friend, son, brother, step-father, and about a million other things. I stretched myself thin and I broke.

These days, I know that I can only be me and that I’m the only person I need to make happy. There’s a reason why I work with SQL Server but I program with Ruby, why I listen to old school hardcore punk but I play a bizarre blend of folk and country, why I devote more time to my friends and family than I have before – these things all make me happy. If it doesn’t make me happy and I don’t need to do it to live, I don’t do it.

Self-Fulfilling Catastrophe

A couple of paragraphs ago I said “I stretched myself thin and I broke.” I really do mean that. During the first divorce, I moved into a tiny house on the ass end of Columbus, stopped paying most of my bills, and ended up living on as little as $20 a week. The funny part, though, is that I always found the cash to go out and party, or to stay in and party. This became a bad habit even once the divorce was done and I should have been back on my feet. Over the next 4 years everything spiralled completely out of control.

I’m pretty sure there were more than a few times I nearly lost my job. I frequently called in “sick” from the crowded patio of a bar at 1:30AM, had my car repossessed, racked up so much debt that people were calling my family members to find out where I was, and I partied seven nights a week. I lost a lot of my friends and damaged most of my remaining friendships irrepairably in the process. Throughout this ordeal, a few of my friends stood by me. They didn’t give up on me despite my ardent attempts to turn myself into a drooling train wreck of a human being.

In June of 2008, I gave it all up. I realized that I was a total train wreck and that everything around me was completely out of control. My career was stagnant. I was sliding backwards as a person. I wasn’t meeting any of my goals for myself because I was too busy slowly killing myself.

I stopped drinking. I got the help I needed and I began the long, painful, process of pulling myself up by my shoelaces. I dried out.

By August, I had completed the SQL Server 2005 MCITP: Database Developer certification. I started the Columbus chapter of PASS in October. I started paying back all of my bad debt (only a few months left to go). Nine months after I quit drinking, I quit my one to two pack a day smoking habit (sorry about that one, Mom and Dad) – I never would have thought I could end my 13 year addiction to nicotine.

I have a great relationship with my family and friends now, it’s better than anything I could ever hope for.

I learned a lot of things from this.

  1. I can be horribly selfish.
  2. There’s nothing better than not being that selfish.
  3. I can do damn near anything I want to do if I put my mind to it.
  4. There are some things in life that are so important you can’t afford to overlook them.

Afterward

This summer, one of my friends (someone who met me at my lowest and stuck by me through everything) is giving me the greatest honor I could ever hope for: on June 19th I’ll be officiating his wedding. Like a lot of people, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.

Goals for 2010

Thomas LaRock thought it would be fun to tag me in yet another round of blogging bingo, this time to answer the question “What are you Goals and Theme Word for 2010?”. To tell the truth, I have not made any kind of New Year’s Resolution for a number of years. I usually review my goals on a regular basis, but let’s put them out here for everyone to see.

Theme word? I don’t have one, “f*%#ing rad” is two words, thank you very much.

Communication

Become a Better Writer

A long time ago, I went to college for four years, took out a bunch of loans, and got a degree in English, Non-Fiction Writing. I did exceptionally well in my English classes and did even better in the writing classes. I love writing and, frankly, the quality of my writing has not been up to par recently. I want to change my focus as a writer this year. I want to switch from writing short, highly technical, blog posts and change to creating longer article and essay length pieces. There’s nothing wrong with shorter, technical, posts but that is not where my interests lie. I want to focus on improving my writing so I can effectively teach more advanced concepts through writing as well as through public speaking. I was a good writer before and I’ll be a good writer again.

Become a Better Presenter

I have no doubts about my abilities as a presenter – I have a lot of room for improvement. Over the course of the year I’m going to team up with a number of people to improve my presentations. I want to get better at better content and delivery as well as meticulously practicing my presentations until I can deliver them in my sleep. I know that a lot of improvement comes from repetition and I would like to speak at least six times this year. With my current upcoming speaking schedule, that shouldn’t be difficult at all, but we’ll see.

Self-Employment

I don’t intend to be self-employed by the end of 2010, but I plan on being well on my way. How am I going to get there?

Writing

I’m writing stronger blog content. That’s not going to be enough. I want to get my name in a more places – magazines, guest blog posts, paid content, white papers, and a book. I’ve been shopping an idea around to various publishers and I’m hoping to have a book written and finished by the end of 2010. None of these things pay big bucks, but they all add to the bottom line.

Consulting

I haven’t done much consulting in the past, of course it was difficult when my day job was being a consultant – there’s an expectation that you will bring the business back to the company. Things have changed, I’m a full time employee now. My employer and I have had the talk – I’m allowed to do consulting work as long as I don’t help out our competitors.

This year I will take on several clients that require a small amount of time (10 – 20 hours each) every month. This isn’t to replace my existing job, this is to supplement it and provide additional income. Before I go completely solo, I want to have a substantial savings buffer built up and doing work on the side makes this a lot easier. I don’t plan on going at it alone – I’ve discussed this several co-conspirators and we have plans to get started this year.

Personal Ventures

I have an idea for a business that will make me tens, maybe even hundreds, of dollars. I plan on fully pursuing this over the course of 2010. Honestly, I have incredibly high hopes for this business and we have already thought of multiple ways to monetize our business. That’s not to say that it’s sure to happen, I have a lot of hard work ahead me, but I’m looking forward to it.

PASS

As many of you know, I was elected to the PASS Board of Directors and subsequently put in charge of the Summit program portfolio. This is the heart and soul of what I want to do over the next 12 months. I am going to make sure that the 2010 Summit program committee has my full support and that we’re can make the summit the best event possible.

Inky Mess

This is a personal one: I want to finish both full arm tattoo sleeves this year and, hopefully, start on my legs.

Once again, I think I’m supposed to pick victims. I’m going to pick Matt Nowack, Rick Kierner, Jeff Blankenburg, and Jorge Segarra

I also want a chainsaw on my hand like Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness. That would be f*%#ing rad.

Random Thoughts for Enjoying the PASS Summit

Have as many mobile devices with connectivity available as possible.
Have a camera ready and charged.
Charge everything every night. Even if it’s at 95% charge: charge it.
Pick sessions that challenge you.
Pick sessions you know nothing about.
Make back up plans for sessions you want to see, just in case.
Don’t make plans.
Be flexible.
Don’t trust the wi-fi.
Pack light.
Don’t be afraid to ask vendors for swag.
Drink water.
Walk everywhere.
Wear good socks.
Plan to be tired.
Take a backup.
Carry a pen and paper.
Carry a pencil.
Carry business cards.
Don’t carry books – they’re heavy.
Plan on 5 nines of uptime – you can sleep during the maintenance window.
Caffeine is your friend.
Drink water.
Be open to conversation.
Don’t be afraid to start a conversation.
Introduce yourself to everyone.
Don’t loiter – stand and talk instead.
Slide decks are downloadable; conversations aren’t.
Carry snacks.
See the city.
Take time to breathe.
Take time to sit.
Don’t be afraid.
Learn.

I started this in the comments on Colin Stasiuk’s post – 4 Weeks Away from the PASS Summit and thought I would continue it here.

PASS Board of Directors Elections

Well, it’s election season at PASS. The fun part is that I’m running this year. That’s right, yours truly is running for the PASS Board of Directors.

So, here’s how it works: elections go from October 12th through October 20th. During that time you can vote. Up until that time… you can’t.

I have ideas about PASS. A lot of ideas. If you want to know about my ideas, check out the amazing video I made (I’ll be posting it later today) or feel free to get in touch. I do actually want to hear your thoughts, hear what you have to say, and be challenged to do a great job as a member of this great community that we’re all a part of.

SQL Server Performance Tuning Webcast

Looking for a quick overview of SQL Server performance tuning? Well, look no further! Way back at devLink, David Giard was kind enough to interview me about my thoughts on troubleshooting SQL Server performance. Check it out.

A little history on this, David talked to me many months ago at the Stir Trek convention, but the audio was particularly bad so you couldn’t hear me ramble about ORMs and how stored procedures are the greatest thing since butter. Trust me, you’re better off for it.

Anyway… a huge thanks to David Giard for giving me the chance to talk a little about troubleshooting SQL Server performance.

Why are you going to the PASS Summit?

Colin Stasiuk asked a great question: Why are you going to the PASS Summit? But, more importantly, Colin hits on the all important question: how do you decide which sessions to attend?

This is going to be my second PASS Summit, so I’m not an expert on picking sessions, but I have an idea based on what worked well last year. Last year, I had an exhaustive list of sessions picked out. Then, when I arrived at the Summit I marked them all on my program, which I promptly lost. Brent was kind enough to give me his program. I drew stick people on it. I also didn’t attend a lot of the sessions I was planning on attending.

  1. I grossly underestimated my own abilities and ended up leaving sessions because I thought I could gain a lot. Don’t underestimate yourself. Challenge yourself. Pick sessions that you think there’s no way you can understand them. I attended Jimmy May’s presentation on Disk Partition Alignment with Brent. I thought I would be completely lost. Then I realized that a lot of the low-level disk information bore at least a passing similarity to inode structures in the ext2/ext3 family of file systems on Linux systems. Once I translated that knowledge I was able to follow along, roughly, and be challenged in my thinking.
  2. A lot of very smart, really great people gave me suggestions on sessions to attend. The friends I made at PASS helped me find sessions that would better fit what I wanted to learn about. They were right.

What am I going to different this year to make sure that I get the most out of the Summit? How can you do the same?

  1. Ask someone who has the job you want. Say you’re a database developer and you want to be a database architect. Find one. Ask them which sessions you might benefit from. Better yet, ask them “I want your job. Which of these sessions will help me get there?”
  2. Pick something you don’t know anything about and attend it. If you want to learn about something, learn through a trial by fire. But, like I said earlier, don’t underestimate yourself. If you know even the slightest bit about SSRS, an introduction to Report Builder 2 is probably going to bore you. Take a gamble and go to an intermediate session.
  3. Make a back up list. Make a list of sessions that sound like they would be very valuable to advancing your career path interesting. Pick things that sound cool. Pick features you haven’t played with. Learn some Business Intelligence mojo.

Honestly, I’m going to do all three of these things. There’s a lot that I want to learn. I know people who are already there. I’m going to pick their brains for how to get there. Just remember that you’re going to the Summit not just to learn, but to interact with your peers. Make sure you socialize, too. I still think I learned more sitting on the floor talking to Brent Ozar, Donald Farmer, and a few other people than I would have if I had gone to whichever session I originally planned to attend.

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