TSQL Tuesday #96: Folks Who Have Made a Difference


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This post is part of TSQL2sday (or T-SQL Tuesday) which was started by Adam Machanic (t/b).  The topic for this month has been set by Ewald Cress‏ (t b) and is, to quote: “the opportunity to give a shout-out to people (well-known or otherwise) who have made a meaningful contribution to your life in the world of data.”

I suppose there’s no better place to start than with Adam Machanic himself, who’s T-SQL Tuesday idea has been one of my move valued resources as I’ve been learning SQL! Thanks Adam!


I’m going to use this post to thank people who have contributed to getting me where I am now in my career.  For some context, before 19th August 2016 my sum knowledge of SQL had been a few modules during my Masters Degree at university back in 2006 / 7.  About all I would have been able to accomplish would have been SELECT *FROM Table at a push. Now, as I type this, whilst still admittedly very junior in the SQL world, over 50% of my main duties everyday revolve around SQL in some way or another.

Thank Yous

I want to start with one particularly large thank you. Bear with me, it’s a  bit of a long one!

At the end of July 2016, the Head of IT where I work had left the company.  I was going to be around 3-4 months until he was being replaced, which left the IT department to just me and 1 other member of staff. My infinitesimal SQL knowledge somehow left me as the expert in the field!  Little worry though, little of the work carried out by our department involved any SQL knowledge. I work in the Legal Sector and whilst our main Case Management System runs on a SQL database, we have full support from the vendors for this.

Fast forward about 6 weeks, it’s the morning of 19th August 2016 and I arrive in to work at 07:00 to find that the aforementioned Case Management System has completely and utterly fallen over.  No one can access the system at all, nothing, luckily it’s early morning but if I can’t this fixed, work will utterly grind to a halt!!! All I can figure out is that we have somehow completely run out of disk space.  After a bit of digging, I discover that, for reasons I don’t need to get into, adding more disk space to our SQL Server is not an option, and on top of that something called the Transaction Log is full, and is apparently the cause of all my problems! In absolute desparation I send out this tweet and pray :

Notice the times tamp, it’s just after 08:00 at this point, and the support company we have do not begin accepting calls until 09:00. Like I said, I was praying! Thankfully, I received a reply from Ryan Yates (t) who drops a mention to Thomas Rushton (t/b). Thomas basically spends the morning letting me message him back and forth, explaining what my problem may be, how to find out what has gone on, and once our 3rd part support finally kicks in, translates for me what they are telling me and advises me on a whole heap of things to read up on.  So, for my 1st thank yous, Ryan, thank you for replying to me that day, if you hadn’t pointed me towards Thomas I would most likely have been a crying quivering mess under my desk! And Thomas, I’ve wanted to say this for a while, thank you!!! Not just for metaphorically holding my hand over Twitter that morning, but our conversations inspired me to learn about SQL, and now, just over a year and a bit later, it has become the thing I am most focused on in my career and development and I owe it entirely to you.  I honestly would not be where I am today if I hadn’t spoken to you that morning. Thank you.

More Thank Yous:

Now that the giant one is out of the way, there’s a few more people I’d like to thank. I’ve never met a single one of these people in “real life” and I wouldn’t be surprised (or offended) if the vast majority not only didn’t realise that they have helped me, but probably couldn’t pick me out in a line-up! I can honestly say though, each one of these people is owed some sort of thank you for helping me get to where I now am:

Itzik Ben-Gan (t/b) : I have bought 3 of your books and each one has proved a truly valuable resource on my journey to learning SQL.  I am currently working through the MCSA course and your training kits and fundamental books are by far my best resource. Thank you.

Tao Klerks – PoorSQL (t/w) : The PoorSQL website (and latterly the SSMS plugin) have been immensely helpful when trying to reverse engineer existing SQL reports that are in such terrible formatting that they are a nightmare to read. This simple tool has saved me countless headaches! Thank you.

Shane O’Neill (t/b) : Shane ends up answering a hell of a lot of my questions I come up with on twitter, even joined Reddit to reply to a few on the SQL subreddit when I’ve posted some long form questions there. His advice has been unbelievably helpful, and it was him that introduced me to #TSQL2sday! He also doesn’t judge me too badly when occasionally the problems I have are ridiculous typos / logic oversights on my side! Thank you.

Assorted Other Thank Yous:

Chrissy LeMaire (t/b), Rob Sewell (t/b), Ben Weissman(t/w), Pat Phelan (t/w), Koen Verbeek (t/b), Todd James (t), Taiob Ali (t/b), Derik Hammer (t/b), Andre Kamman (t), Thomas LaRock (t/b), Kenneth Fisher (t/b), Argenis Fernandez (t/b), Allen McGuire(t/b), Mladen Prajdic (t), Jason Kyle (t), Kerry Tyler (t/b), Neil Gelder (t/b), Chris Taylor (t), Constantine Kokkinos (t/b), Andrew Pruski (t/b), Pinal Dave (t/b) and probably more I don’t remember.  Each one of these people have either answered questions online, provided links to valuable resources, or in some way have just inspired me to keep going when learning gets tough.  Thank you all!

Lastly, thanks to Randolph West (t) for encouraging me to get this blog posted today when I was whinging on twitter this morning that I completely spaced on the date and forgot to write it!

Drive for Certification

So, I’ve been saying for nearly a decade that I want to get Microsoft certification. Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Server 2012.  These are all subject areas that I never got round to really pushing myself to certification in.  I know some people don’t value them (they say that it’s just theory with no practice) but I really think having them on your CV is a big plus.  It’s a t least a way of signalling that people should expect for you to have a base level knowledge in a certain subject area.

Over the last few years I’ve been really getting in to Powershell, and this year SQL Server is my new thing, and I’m really enjoying it.  I’ve decided that this is the year that I finally get certified, and it’s going to be SQL Server certified.  That’s it, no going back.  By the end of the year I want to be well on the way towards my MCSA.

Now, I definitely still have a HUGE amount to learn before I even think about taking exams. And, yes, every time I even look at the books I still find them massively daunting. My confidence though is on the way up, I’ve been watching a course on Pluralsight and so far, I’m not just keeping pace, I already know most of whats being covered.  That means that my self taught 6 months has actually stated to work and I’m getting somewhere!

My concern is that my motivation slips away when it gets hard.  Much like this whole blogging thing, I’ve started many times only to become frustrated and leave it.  Not this time though.  This time I’m determined.  This is my certification year, and nothing’s going to stop me.

And, hell, I even bought the books, and if that’s not commitment, then I don’t know what is!