Red Gate Software is Sending a DBA into Space!

DBA LOGOBy now, you should have already heard the big news. Red Gate Software is sending a DBA into space. When I first heard about the competition earlier this summer, my jaw literally dropped. It’s an unbelievable prize, and unfortunately one I am not able eligible to win. But that’s OK, as I was asked to “star” in a series of short films based around the nine space-related questions and five SQL Server-related tasks that participants need to get right before they can become eligible to enter the contest. To find out more about how the contest works, and its rules, visit www.dbainspace.com.

When I say “star”, that is somewhat of a misnomer, as I am not an actor by any stretch of the imagination. But with the help of professional actress Nell Mooney (who plays Miss Friday) and award-winning director Will McGregor, I had a great opportunity to secretly spend three weeks in England, attending pre-production meetings, costume fittings, rehearsals, sound studio recording, location filming, and getting involved in some post-production work. The film crew included over 40 people, using only the best camera equipment and special effects. I think you will find the production values of the short films higher than many theatrical films.

While Red Gate Software could have selected virtually any type of prize and competition, I think the DBA in Space competition is a great match for DBAs, as most DBAs grew up during the Apollo and Space Shuttle eras, and many of them have a keen interest in space.

I can literally remember the day when Alan Shepard first flew into space on May 5, 1961. I was only four years old at the time, but I can vividly remember watching his Mercury rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral on our black and white television. Even at such a young age, I knew that flying into space was something that I wanted to do. Like many kids from my generation, I wanted to become an astronaut. And like many childhood dreams, this one didn’t become true. But what is amazing is that this dream can become true for one DBA who enters this contest. Heck, who knows, maybe I will still get the opportunity to fly into space as more and more private companies begin space tourism, and the price of space flights go down.

While I didn’t become an astronaut, my interest in space has not waned. I have subscribed to Astronomy Magazine for over 30 years, and I collect meteorites as a hobby. In fact, I even started a meteorite website called www.planetmeteorite.com, which I use to help make a few dollars to help pay for my ever growing meteorite collection, which I briefly refer to in the first installment of DBA in Space.

Even if you don’t have any desire to go into space, you will still want to play along with the DBA in Space competition, seeing how the story unfolds over the next five weeks. I think you will be in for some big surprises, and hopefully a lot of fun. The story line is a little goofy, and perhaps even a little corny, but I think you will enjoy it nonetheless. Just remember, I am not an actor, so please don’t critique my acting too severely. 😉 Instead, focus on Nell Mooney, who is a great comedy actress.

When I have more time, I’ll give you the inside scoop on the filming. Right now, at PASS this week, I am much too busy to go into more detail in this blog post. If you are attending PASS this week, be sure to stop by the Red Gate booth in the Expo hall and find out all about the contest. Nell and I will be hanging out at the booth all day Thursday, so come by and say hello.

Note: Here’s a little tip if you decide to enter the competition. Take your time answering the questions and performing the tasks. Don’t guess. Instead, take the time to research each question or task, and answer carefully. You have one shot at each question, so give yourself the best chance you can of getting them right.

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Nell Mooney as “Miss Friday”, and me, playing myself.

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My Ideal SQL Server Test Box is on the Way

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “What is the Ideal SQL Server Test Box?” At that time I was putting together the specs for a test SQL Server box I hoped to be able to get for my home office. While a laptop is great for giving SQL Server presentations, it’s not the greatest for testing and stressing SQL Server. And while I do have access to some large SQL Server boxes via remote access, I am limited to what I can do on them. So what I really wanted was my own test box that I could reconfigure as needed for testing and benchmarking.

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Travel Tips from an Intrepid Traveling DBA

Red Oxx Air Boss Carry-On Recently, Buck Woody challenged myself, Paul Randal, and Brent Ozar to write a blog post on “How I Travel”. I have actually been thinking about blogging about this topic, but I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in hearing my travel tips, but since Buck put me up to this, I can blame him if you find this post boring. As I write this, I have purposely not read Buck’s, Paul’s or Brent’s blog posts, as I didn’t want to have their blog posts influence mine. So once I have finished writing this post, I will read theirs and find how many similarities, and differences, we have among our traveling styles. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn from them.

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Have You Checked Out the Upcoming SQLSaturday Events for 2010?

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2010 is beginning to look like a great year for SQLSaturday events this year. Already, there are nine planned, and many more in the works. These free, one-day events are a great way to hone your DBA knowledge, and to develop new contacts. If you are interested in speaking at an event, its also a great way to get speaking experience.

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Think You are Good at Designing User Interfaces? Then Prove It and Win!

The Future of Monitoring website, hosted by the Software Development Usability Team at Red Gate Software, is sponsoring a “Design the Perfect Monitoring Dashboard” contest. The goal is for you to design the ideal dashboard for monitoring a real-time view of what is happening with the SQL Servers you manage.

If you think you are up to the challenge, then check out the entry page to view everything you need to know about entering the contest.

Play the T-SQL Alphabet Game

I recently had the opportunity to play the T-SQL Alphabet Game, which was introduced to me by SQL Server MVP, Rodney Landrum, the author of Pro SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services.

While I am not much of a game player myself, I can see how it can be a fun game for DBAs to play when they need a diversion from their generally stressful job duties.

On the surface, the game seems very simple to play, but looks can be deceiving. Here’s how you play. First, you need two or more players. The more players, the more fun the game can be. Second, pick someone to start the game, it doesn’t matter who it is. The first player must come up with a valid T-SQL command that begins with the letter “A”. The second player then must come up with a T-SQL command that beings with the letter “B”. The third player must come up with a T-SQL command that begins with the letter “C”, and so on, rotating through each of the letters of the alphabet. Everybody gets a turn in a round-robin fashion.

For example, a valid T-SQL command for the letter “A” might be “ABS”, for the letter “B” might be “BACKUP DATABASE”, and for the letter “C” might be “CAST”, and so on.

Each person gets 5 seconds to come up with the answer, and if they can’t come up with a valid answer, then they are out of the game. This continues  until there is only one person left—the winner. If you have a smart group playing the game, you may have to cycle through the alphabet more than once until you have a winner. Of course, if you have to recycle the alphabet, you can’t recycle previous answers. All responses have to be different.

As I said earlier, this game sounds easy, but under the pressure of time, and with some letter’s that have few T-SQL commands that begin with that letter, the game can become very challenging.

If you want, you can change the rules of the game to add variety. For example, you can give 10 seconds to each player to come up with an answer, you can choose the winner by who comes up with the most correct answers within the designated time frame, or make up any variation of the game you want, assuming you set the rules before you begin the game.

So the next time you and a few of your DBA friends get together, and you want to do something really fun (geeky), then play this game, and see who really is the most technically savvy (geekest) DBA of the group.

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