Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Ticket, No Problem

One of the hardest things to manage as a DBA is all the different sources we receive requests through. We get walk-ups, emails, calls, tickets, rumors, pigeons, and sometimes even smoke signals. And while it's easy for the boss to say 'no ticket, no problem', as a DBA in the trenches you can't exactly be a dick to your users. You have to take the request in whatever form it manifests itself. Sure, you can try to push everyone to a ticketing system, but it's just not worth it in the long run. Too many times the request is just something small like can I have access to this table or can I get a backup real quick so I can push this new code. Using a ticketing system just isn't always practical or even conducive to good relations.

So what can you do then? I mean, you can't exactly just have people shouting requests at you from down the hall assuming you heard them. What I tend to do is push everyone to email. After all, I get email on my hip and it's easy enough to not get in the way of even the simplest requests. When I'm in a shop that insists on having tickets for everything, I'll take requests through email, and just create the ticket myself. And once I get all these requests coming in, I keep them organized in a master list of some kind. I used to use Excel which has its advantages with sorting, etc. Currently, I use OneNote and I'm liking it just fine. In the past I've also written small web apps to manage my task list too.

The point is though it really doesn't matter what you use. Use whatever is easiest for you and that won't hold you back. Just make sure that whatever you use, you use all the time. If you want to manage tasks in Outlook, then do so. Like I said though, I like OneNote these days. That's mainly because it's easy to copy emails from Outlook. That makes it really easy to reply once the task is done, and it gives me a record of exactly what was requested.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Bathroom DBA

I was watching this guy in the bathroom the other day (no, not like that… be nice!). And something struck me as a bit useless. So what this guy did was he had one of those large PDA phones and he didn’t have any where to put it, so he laid it on top of the urinal while he was doing his business. When he was done, he took it out and went to the sink and washed his hands. Then he took his phone and left. Since he actually laid his phone on the urinal and didn’t wash it, I was wondering why he bothered washing his hands at all. Doesn’t he know that unless he actually pees directly on his hands that they’re not in any more danger than his phone is, and it’s actually highly likely that his phone has whatever his hands do? And where do you think all that yuckiness will go next time he uses his phone?

I saw this episode of MythBusters where they tested this theory with toothbrushes. They had a control brush under glass down the hall, and they had a couple more sitting in the bathroom, etc. At the end, what they found was that there was just as much fecal matter on the brush under glass down the hall as there was on the one in the bathroom itself. Pretty gross, huh? The point is that there’s a lot of conjecture that goes on when it comes to bathroom habits and the like. The MythBusters however, pulled hard numbers and proved that your toothbrush is going to get nasty stuff on it regardless.

In DBs we deal with numbers, and not conjecture and not feelings. Numbers don’t lie. So the next time you step into a meeting, or go to your boss and ask for a change to the DB for whatever reason, perhaps it would be best if you pulled some numbers so you have something solid to back you up. Otherwise, despite all your trouble, you might just end up with piss on your face.

About Me

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Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to SQLServerCentral.com as well as SSWUG.org. I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
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