Something a bit strange happened in episode 100–almost like something out of the twilight zone, but don’t take our word for it. Check out our latest episode as we tell some of the stories that led up today.
Kevin: Hello friends, welcome to the SQL Data Partners podcast. The podcast dedicated to SQL server related topics which is designed to help you become more familiar with what’s out there, how you might use those features or ideas, and how you might apply them in your environments. I’m your host Kevin Feasle. Today on the podcast we have two special interview guest, Carlos L. Chacon and Steve Stedman. Carlos and Steve, welcome to the program!
Carlos: Oh, thanks for having us, Kevin.
Steve: Thanks, Kevin, this is exciting.
Kevin: Absolutely, so we’re on Episode 100 of the SQL Data Partners podcast and oddly enough you also have a podcast. It’s weird how that works, huh.
Carlos: Yes, there is an interesting turn of events here.
Kevin: Carlos, what made you decide to start podcasting?
Carlos: Wow, that’s a great question and I guess I will say that the front if I knew how much time and effort it was going to take I don’t think I would have started it. So I knew that I wanted to engage other folks and start talking about SQL Server in a kind of a long form way. I’ve been doing a bit of blogging. Ultimately, looking to help my consulting practice or re-launch it really in a way. And so that kind of content marketing, so taking the long view of having content available to people kind of interact with find, search engine optimization, things like that. I’ve been doing some blogging. I tried to do some videos and just found that difficult. At that time there were only two SQL Server podcasts in iTunes which is the main place where people go to find podcasts and then there are lots of apps that will carry the podcast that are in iTunes and Google Play has come out there. Ultimately, I thought, “Gosh! There is only these two.” And Greg’s SQL Down Under hadn’t new episodes hadn’t been there for a while and so I take in John Lee Dumas’s course on podcasting and thought, “Hey, you know what. Why not, right?” Let me jump in, let’s see what happens here. I guess I will try to do 10 episodes. So before I actually officially launched I’ll do 10 recordings, see if I like it. See if I can actually get 10 people to sit down with me and talk. And what’s weird, so I started the podcast when I was in Costa Rica. I took my family over there for two months and we were down there. And while I’ve done my first interview actually in Argentina at a SQL Saturday, I kind of officially started doing interviews in Costa Rica. So that’s the kind of the long answer to why I started it. I though there weren’t very many people at that time doing podcasting and I thought I would give it a try and kind of see what happened, and wanted to commit to do it for one year.
Kevin: So when it comes to things that are time consuming, things that are kind of beneath the iceberg, what are the most time consuming parts of creating a podcast episode?
Carlos: Steve, I think you will attest to this. The first is just getting use to hearing your own voice.
Steve: Sure, and realizing when you’re doing that that you don’t always have to do it over again and just because it doesn’t quite sound the way you were hoping it sounded.
Carlos: Right. You don’t have that ability to do the editing, right? In the written word you could edit it, “Oh, that doesn’t sound quite right, let me go back. Let me tweak that.” As you do that audio-wise, just hearing yourself repeat the same thing over and over gets a little cumbersome. You know, trying to remove all the “uhms” and “ahs” and whatnot. In the beginning I wasn’t using an editor, I am now. That actually happened in Episode 29. That started happening and so I would have to edit my own. So first is scheduling the guest, picking the topic, creating the agenda, actually having the interview, making sure that I had questions so the prep work associated there, then editing it, writing show notes, getting links together for the show notes page; so those are some of the pieces that are involved. But the biggest piece in the beginning, again, I had those 10 episodes and I had told people that in August 2015 is when I would first start. So August came around and people started asking me, “Hey, have you launched that podcast yet?” So literally, again I was then in Costa Rica, that week I spent getting everything ready, and did a lot of editing. And that was really probably the biggest piece in the beginning that just took so long was just listening to everything again trying to figure out, “Ok, is this ok to keep?” Again, you don’t
know what people are expecting. You don’t want to disappoint the people that you’ve interviewed, you know, all those things. Those are the components I wanted to.
Kevin: Yeah, I remember really early on when we first got the other I think it was Episode 13. You had a little piece of paper where you’re writing down, ok this mini minutes, this mini seconds, that’s where somebody said something really bad. You got to cut that word out.
Carlos: Right. No, exactly, yes so I guess it’s interesting that way that processes changed a little bit. We’ve gone some good feedback from the show and now the processes, we actually just record it, you know how it is. I take it off for transcription and then I get the transcription back and I edit the transcription and then Julien our editor, great guy, will actually then edit out anything that I don’t want there. I mean, in addition to all the “uhms” and “whatnot” which he does I think a great job of. So that’s some of that how that processes changed a little bit. Because when I was doing it, yeah, I wanted to write that down because I wanted to try to speed that process up.
Steve: Just to add a little bit more on the time consuming parts of it. I mean, the one that Carlos does most of the time is the scheduling of the guest. I know that one takes up a lot of his time. But then once we have the guest scheduled it’s a couple of different recording sessions that we go through in order to get an episode out. We’ll have the session with the guest which can be one or more guest and that’s usually at least a week before the podcast airs. And sometimes this is much as 3 or 4 weeks at a time when we have a lot in the queue there. But that’s usually about, I don’t know, a half hour to an hour of preparation time we go through there to be ready to talk about whatever the topic is. And then it’s usually about a half hour to an hour of actual recording time, and that’s gives us the section that’s the part that we are talking with the guest. And then about a week before the podcast airs, usually that’s the Thursday before the podcast airs; we do our intro and closing. And that’s where we go in and we talk about the SQL Server in the News. We talk about any mentions that we’ve had out there and then we go in and sort of digest what we talk about with the guest at the end as well. I think that’s usually about an hour of time to put that together.
Carlos: Yeah, that’s true.
Steve: And then once we’ve done that part, or maybe Carlos you can jump in with any additional time but it’s kind of handed off to the process through the editor and through the assistant that we have in getting that all published.
Carlos: Right, yeah I mean, I guess thinking back just because we do have that process now which helps quite a bit but there is still each of those individual pieces to take some time.
Kevin: Oh, I can imagine.
Steve: And then once it’s out then there’s promoting it. And I don’t know I always get around doing it myself but we try and do what we can to promote the podcast through Twitter, LinkedIn or places like that so people know that there’s new episode.
Kevin: Cool, so next question. I’ll start with you, Steve. What episode was your favorite?
Steve: Wow, well, if you would ask me a couple of weeks ago I would have had a different answer but I think Episode 99 I thought was one of the favorites that I’ve gone. If I said that previously before Episode 99, it would have been the indexing episode that we did with Randolph West. But just the whole impostor syndrome conversation that we had with Mindy in Episode 99 that was different than a lot of things we talk about before and I love it.
Kevin: Yeah, I just listened to it yesterday. It was great. Well done, Mindy!
Carlos: Yes, she did a great job.
Kevin: Very much so. So Carlos what was your favorite episode?
Carlos: Gosh, you know that is a tough question.
Kevin: Choose among your children.
Carlos: Yeah, that’s right, exactly. So generally because I am a more the merrier type of person the ones that I have really enjoyed been the ones where we’ve had kind of a panel type discussion. Right, so I think about Episode 59 where we had Andy Mallon and Mariano Kovo on. I think about episode when we had the panel from the DBA Tools folks on.
Steve: Oh, that’s was Episode 91.
Carlos: Yeah, 91.
Kevin: That one was a lot of fun too.
Carlos: Right, so those, even the one that we did which ironically enough you and
Jonathan had that great interchange and I didn’t get it in the program but the ones that we do with the SQL Saturdays where we have multiple people kind of giving their input or thoughts around. I mean, again, not that the individual interviews aren’t fun but by getting different perspectives just makes the conversation flow much easier. Different things come up that Steve and I haven’t talk about beforehand and it enables the conversation to go in different places.
Kevin: Nice. So Carlos, I’ll start with you this time. What has been the most pleasant surprise for you in the making of the show?
Carlos: I think probably the continued relationships that I have been able to have with the guests. Now, that’s not to say that all of the guests are now my best friends because that’s not true. But for the most part, I’m just looking here at the list here; I have continued conversations with my former guests in some ways, shape or form, so I’ve really enjoyed that. I think being able to connect with folks that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.
Kevin: How about for you, Steve?
Steve: I think it’s a lot of the same lines as what Carlos said. But I would go a little bit further to say it’s not just the guest but it’s also the guest and the listeners in that there’s been a lot of listeners who have reached out to me and connected on LinkedIn. I mean a lot of people follow on Twitter. But it’s really nice when somebody connects and you make that personal connection there and getting to know people and sort of extending the reach of who you know in the SQL community.
Carlos: I guess I will add one thing there and that is there had been more than one guest I’ve reached out to and they’re like, “You want me to do what?” I guess I’ll point one out so in Episode 45, so Wolf, up in Pittsburg. He was the nervous wreck, and I said that lovingly. He did not think he had the chops basically which is again ironic for a guy like him. So it took me a while to convince him to, “Hey, let’s do this. Let’s make it happen.” And then when he finally did to kind of see that boost in confidence it was well received. We had some comments on it so that was very gratifying as well.
Kevin: Very nice, so let’s switch gears entirely away from podcasts. Want to talk a little bit about consulting, so both of you are now independent consultants? Yes?
Kevin: How long have you guys been independent, on your own or together, independent together?
Carlos: Sure, so I’ll let you go first, Steve.
Steve: Ok, and it’s a complicated answer because it has changed over as different things have happened. But I originally started as an independent consultant about 12-13 years ago. And when I did that, I mean, it was going well and then I ended up with one client that sort of ended up taking up all of my time. And then after about 2 years of being “independent” with only one client, they brought me as a regular employee, and I was there for about 7 years. And then it was about 2¼ years ago that that ended and I went back to true freelancer at that point. I said, “I don’t want to go and get a regular full time job because that’s not for me. I like the challenges of consulting and working with lots of different clients.” And then it was about, so I did that. I started my own company doing that, Stedman Solutions, and that’s been doing great. And then about a year ago, Carlos asks me to join him on the podcast. Not in any more of a business relationship than that but I joined and started helping in the podcast, and then about six months ago, maybe 8 months ago was when we decided that we would merge together between what the two of us do much more closely. Now, I still have some clients I work with under my old brand name that Stedman Solutions. But most of the
new work that we are taking on is under the SQL Data Partners brand doing independent consulting there.
Carlos: Yeah, so for me this is my third attempt.
Kevin: Third time’s a charm.
Carlos: Yeah, that’s right, third time’s a charm. In fact, Steve and I were just talking about this earlier and that is one of the things that I wanted to do is make money in the way that I wanted to make money which can be difficult. And so I kind of got fits and starts. I’ve told people before that, so originally I started consulting because I saw other consultants making very high hourly rate. And while lots of people do the hourly rate thing and that’s all very nice and great and whatnot. Just because you have a great understanding of SQL Server at least does not necessarily mean that you will make a great consultant or business owner, entrepreneur and that’s really the most important key is to stop thinking yourself as a database person and just start thinking yourself as an entrepreneur because those things are different and they get attacked differently and so that was part of my learning curve in this kind of stops and starts.
Kevin: Ok, so let’s say we have somebody in the audience who says I’m ready to go independent. Any of my employers who are listening I’m not that person in the audience. But if somebody in the audience is saying, “I’m ready to go independent and hey you just told me that being an entrepreneur is a completely different story. Well, what types of things do I need to think about before I take the plunge?”
Carlos: Marketing. So what kind of problems are you going to solve? From the tech perspective, as a full time employee, people come to us with problems whether that’s a ticket, an alert, but the work comes to us. So now as a consultant the question is how are you going to find the work and what type of work are you going to respond to, and making sure that you understand what that work is and can describe it to other people.
Steve: Yup, I think I’ll echo the same thing there. And I think that when I talk about how this is really my second time in the independent consulting where I had been doing it before and then it turned into a single client. Part of the reason that happened was at that point in time I didn’t know what I was doing and how to go out and make contact with those new clients, how to meet the new customer. And I think that’s something you can do and you can practice and work with is just who is in your network or who do you know that you can make contact with that could be providing you work. It’s surprising that there is people that I have come across I end up doing work with that I never would have necessarily considered as a perspective client in the past. But I think other things to think about for someone who wants to jump out and give it a try on their own is the security behind it.
Carlos: Or lack thereof.
Steve: Exactly, or lack thereof it. Now, I think that when you have a regular full time job most of the time there’s the illusion that it’s fairly secure. And I used that term “the illusion” because whatever happens in people’s lives, full time jobs can come to an end at any point whether it is company going out of business or a layoff or just someone knocking in along with their manager, that job can come to an end. But you generally have a lot more protection legally in different ways as a full time employee, and you have much more security, and that you know if things get slow for the company odds are that you’re still going to be getting a paycheck 2-3 weeks from now. It’s never guaranteed but with a full time position that’s pretty stable. You know that in every so many days you get a paycheck and it’s generally for about the same amount. And I think that when you go into the consulting arena that changes significantly because you run into what they call bench time or a point where you don’t have enough work for a while. And that comes back to finding your customers and marketing and reducing that bench time. But when you’ve got that bench time you’ve got to have, depending on how you’re paying yourself because the customers pay your business and then you pay yourself out of your business, you’ve got to have a buffer there so that when you do have short times that are either bench time or a period where it’s hard to get payments from clients that you can cover it. And I think it would be different for maybe a single person versus someone who is married with kids. But I know that if what I’m doing if suddenly I stop having money to contribute to my family my wife gets a bit worried about that. Alright, so part of what I do to help mitigate that is one you need to have a little bit of savings in place so that if you got a 2-week period where all of the clients decided they’re going to be a little bit late on payments you can wither that out without having a lot of financial pain right there. And then the other is, I mean around that is you’ve got to be kind of really hard with the customers when they are late. And I know that’s a challenging to do but to be able to come back and say, “I can’t keep on working on this project if you’re not going to pay.” Fortunately, it doesn’t come to that often but I think just being in a position of financial stability and I like to use the number of having 6 months of your bare minimum cash that you need to survive in the bank in order to start out doing consulting because when you start out, you are going to make mistakes. You’re going to have more expenses than you need. But there is going to be a lot of things that are challenging in that first 6 months and a lot of them are going to come down to financial challenges.
Carlos: Yeah, and I think just to echo there with Steve. Talking about that transition from the tech space to entrepreneur space so the soft skills becomes much more important there. So he mentioned kind of dealing with client payments but that whole process of just interacting with people. Once you go independent you are just no longer interacting with technology, that Idea is dead, right? Your clients are people and you have to satisfy their kind of needs first if you will.
Kevin: Right, so what point do you guys engage services of say a lawyer or an accountant?
Steve: Oh, great question. Do you want to take that or do you want me to jump in, Carlos?
Carlos: Yeah, so from the accounting perspective, from Day 1, I wanted an accountant there to at least be able to handle some of those things. So kind of goes back to economics if you have taken Economics course. You know, one country makes coconuts really well and the other one does bananas, they trade, so that is kind of the idea of hiring an accountant unless accounting is your business. Get somebody to help you with some of those things because the IRS does not mess around, at least in the United States. I can always imagine for other countries so you don’t want to get started off in a bad foot there.
Steve: And I little more on that, I mean, I don’t want to be an accountant that’s why I work in SQL Server. I wanted to thank SQL Server. If I really want to do accounting I probably would have would taken Accounting in college and gone that direction. Because of that, I mean, there’s a lot of people out there who are great at what they do with accounting and I would rather engage an accountant when it’s appropriate than try and learn all that on my own. Now, that being said, it doesn’t mean that I want to be completely illiterate on the accounting and financial side either. And I think that there are some tools out there like QuickBooks online that make it so that a lot of the stuff that you might normally need a bookkeeper for that you can do yourself. And then you can engage an accountant when it comes to tax time and all the appropriate times that you need to use an accountant there. Interesting story I mean on this when I first started back into freelance a couple of years ago I engage an accountant that gave some really bad advice. It didn’t feel quite right at that time but it came from my accountant so I believed it and then later I found out it was bad advice and that it made my first year’s taxes very challenging to get done that year. And looking back I don’t work with that accountant anymore but I work with accountants and I do a little bit more checking backgrounds and get a better understanding of who they are before working with them.
Carlos: From the legal side, generally, that’s just in the review process so it’s going to vary state by state and of course obviously country by country what the requirements are for setting up a business. Generally, so at least with me I had an attorney just kind of review some of those things or at least consult to make sure I was doing the right things. My accountant actually helps quite a bit with some of the legwork to help reduce some of that cost.
Steve: Yup, and I think that, I mean the key is use lawyers as needed. And I think there’s a lot of people who gripe at lawyers in what they do but when the time comes when you really need a lawyer. I mean again I don’t want to be a lawyer myself. I don’t even want to try to attempt that. But it’s good money spent usually because you’re in a position that you have to use a specific expertise that you don’t have.
Carlos: And nothing else again kind of those soft skills relationships you want to be on speaking terms with someone before you have a need for their services. You’ll want to shop that around or get somebody you’re feel comfortable with rather than somebody that you have to have because you have no other choice or alternative.
Steve: Yes, that’s a very good point.
Kevin: Cool, so let’s talk a little bit about Database Corruption Challenge. Steve, what made you come up with this idea?
Steve: Wow, alright, it was interesting and I think that there is a lot of detail that Carlos actually asked me on this on Episode 12 where I first was on the podcast. It started out initially because I do lot of blogging on SQL Server topics. It started that I wanted to share some of my knowledge about database corruption and fixing it and I started writing a blog post about how to fix corruption by pulling data in from non-clustered indexes to try and figure out what was missing. And I realized that anybody could do that. I mean anybody could write a post like that so I thought, “Well, I change it up a little bit.” I’ll go and actually create a single corrupt database and I’ll put that in the blog post as a training exercise to see if somebody, to see people interested in trying to solve that. That was a Saturday. I think I did that on a Saturday morning and I threw it out. I put it on Twitter and a few things. I said, “Ok, no big deal. Nobody found it interesting.” And about 8 hours later though it got some traffic and that Brent Ozar picked it up and he decided he was going to jump in and solve it, and he solved it pretty darn quick. It think his story was he and his fiancé at that point were trying to head out to dinner when he saw this and he stopped what he was doing and fix the corruption before going to dinner. That might have cause a little bit of trouble, maybe been a little bit for dinner but he was the first to solve the first week of the corruption challenge and then he tweeted about it, and that sort of got the fire going there a little bit around more people being interested in it because I think he has a little bit more of reach on Twitter than I do.
Carlos: He can move the internet numbers that’s for sure.
Steve: Yup. After he solved it then a handful of other people jumped in to solve it and it’s at that point I realized, “Hey, this is really interesting. There is a lot of interest here. I’m going to do another one.” And then I kind of quickly made some rules and said, “Well, I could do this for 10 weeks.” And that was my initial plan, 10 weeks, but it turned out to be 10 competitions over about every 10-14 days not
every single week, and it just kind of grew from there. There were about 60-70 people who actively participated week after week and it just kind of evolved at that point. It wasn’t that I ever like sat down and thought, “Hmm, I’m going to build this Corruption Challenge.” It was just sort of a blog post that evolved and became the Corruption Challenge.
Kevin: Yeah. I remember it being a big deal and it’s still really interesting to go back because those corruption issues they still happen today.
Steve: Yup, oh yeah, and I think today I get a lot of traffic if you go to the stevestedman.com/corruption you can get to all the blog posts that I’ve done as well as all the 10 weeks of the corruption challenge. Check it out there and I get a lot of people that even though it’s been 2 years people are still learning from it, and I think almost everything that I cover in the Corruption Challenge is still valid today even in the latest versions of SQL Server.
Kevin: How much did you learn during that challenge? You started out obviously the first database you knew how to do that. You put the example together. When we got to some of the later databases did you know already all that stuff beforehand or did you have to go research more corruption, reasons for corruption?
Steve: Oh, yeah, I certainly did not know all of that when I started. I knew a lot of it but it’s one thing to know about a type of corruption and it’s a new another level to know enough about it to go be able to create it in the database that can then be backed up and distributed to people to try and fix it themselves. And there was sometimes where I thought, “Ok, well here is something I know what the corruption is but it took me 4-5 hours to go and actually build a test database that had that kind of corruption in it.”
Carlos: Right, and then to make sure that, you know, can I fix this. Is this fixable, right?
Steve: Yup, and then I think that the people who participated actively in the Corruption Challenge were incredible to be able to learn from. And I know that the participants in the first few weeks were very helpful but they were also very critical in a positive helping kind of way if anything that I tried wasn’t quite right. And there was one or two of the weeks that I put out a corrupt database and then somebody pointed out some flaw and then I have to go back and correct it in order to make it so it could actually be fixed someone.
Kevin: So of the solutions that you got, what was the most unexpected and interesting solution?
Steve: The most interesting and unusual one that I came across was Patrick Flynn, and I think he is from New Zealand. And I think it was for week 4 or 5 somewhere around there in the competition. It was one that, it was a particularly nasty corruption scenario but what he did, and one of the reason I loved it because I like CTEs, and I actually wrote a book on Common Table Expressions a while ago but it really use CTEs creatively. It was one that I actually adapted and I use it in my presentation at PASS Summit last year on database corruption. But what he did is using some temp tables and CTEs; he was able to use the DBCC page command to extract all of the data in horrible binary format into temporary tables. And then from there used CTEs to manipulate and extract all the data out of those temporary tables and reconstituted into INSERT statements to rebuild the table from scratch. I mean, if we had an hour I could walk you through the demo how it works. There were a lot of really awesome solutions but that’s the one that just jumps out at me as, wow that one was vastly superior. Not vastly superior, it was the most interesting and the one that I enjoyed working through the most. Part of the process when I did that challenge was, it was a competition people would see who could be the first one to solve it so I would throw the Corruption Challenge out there and then usually after Week 2, within about an hour, I’d start getting people submitting solutions and I would have to go through and confirm that their solution actually worked. And that one probably took me the longest amount of time to understand that it worked because it was so interesting and I just wanted to dive in and totally understand every single thing it was doing. I love that example, that’s my favorite out of all of them.
Kevin: Very nice. Let’s switch gears again, we’re going to talk about a very nice conference. Carlos, why did you pick such a hard name to pronounce for Compa Con?
Carlos: Compa Con. Yes, well I didn’t consult you, number one. And then I guess have you tried finding a URL lately, right?
Kevin: This is true.
Carlos: Ultimately, this is an extension, will be honed to be an extension of the podcast. This idea of bringing people together, talking about SQL Server in different ways, you know, ways that people might be using today or think of ways they haven’t consider with new features. You know, just different ways to attack different problems. Like Patrick’s solution for the corruption challenge, sharing that type of information. And so actually before I launched the podcast I wanted a name for the people who listen to the podcast. Kind of create a sense of community and that idea of companero kind of came to mind. I put a little video of this together out on Twitter or on YouTube rather. So companero is a Spanish word for companion and as a missionary for my church I had a companion and so we were companeros. And this person, we worked together, you know, 24 hours a day and this is for 2-year commitment. And so having good companions along the road just help things goes smoother and so again that was this kind of idea for the podcast of we want to get people together to talk about helping you get from one path to the other. And Steve and I are both actually big scouters which we didn’t find out until kind of after we started talking and so that idea of being on the trail, right? You know, known paths versus unknown paths and if you have a guide just how much simpler that makes everything. And so that’s ultimately where the idea of Companero Conference came from and then we’ve been developing that idea with the hopes that people will com. Right, you get access to folks that maybe you don’t know but we’ve. Now, I hate to use the word vetting, it’s not like, you know.
Kevin: Extreme vetting.
Carlos: Yeah, everyone’s records, IRS, background checks, all that stuff know it. These are people that we feel comfortable inviting I guess is the word to share because they knew they would be willing to share some of their experiences and do so in a way that would be positive for those who came. We hope that people will come, get some short experiences, get some help, would be able to ask questions with things that they haven’t yet face. But also then be able to when I get to a trail or scenario that they haven’t experienced before that they’ll be able to reach out and ask more than just Google.
Kevin: So, Steve, what are you looking forward to with Compa Con?
Steve: The biggest thing I’m looking forward to there is being able to meet more the people that we interact with on the podcast and meet them in person. I mean, and whether it’s the speakers that are going to be there or the attendees as well. I mean, I’m excited about the business venture of course in doing the conference but really what it comes down to is getting to know the people. Yeah, that’s it for me there.
Carlos: Alright, I will say one another thing and that is I remember again being a full time employee and not using my training budget normally because the budget was not high enough to go to some of these other conferences like PASS Summit that required to travel across the country and things. And so we wanted to, it’s like could we create something that people could afford within the budgets that they have and still come to something that’s not somebody opening up a book and you’re getting That’s not helpful, I mean. And so that was another element to that is again through the listeners they were getting value out of the podcast. We thought, “Ok well, what value can they get when we get together and can they leverage some of those budgets in a way that it will get approved, that meets the criteria of a conference and also allows them to expand their network a bit.”
Steve: Another thing to add to that that I’m really excited about too with the conference is the office hours concept. I think that quite often you go to a conference, you sit in a session for an hour or half a day or whatever it may be with the speaker and then when that’s over, it’s over. You go back to work a couple of days later and you try and use some of the things you’ve learned. Whereas with this we’ve nearly end of the conference we have an office hours slot where you will be able to meet with any of the speakers that are there to be able to discuss, or talk, or find out more about the topics that we are covered in their presentation. And I think to me that seems like a lot of fun.
Carlos: Yeah, and because the way the setup is we’re going to sprinkle that in with little bit of hands on learning. So yeah, that will be a slightly different take because I think it will be more authentic. One of the things that we are trying to do, I hate to use the word “can”, and we’ll have some scenarios where people can walkthrough individually. But we are hoping that most of this growth is kind of organic in the sense of, “Hey, you know what, Kevin, like I know you are talking about security I’d like you to show me this security thing. Can you walkthrough with this with me?” And then people just start talking, conversations in sew and you’re getting, “Yeah, let’s take a look at that. Here is how you do this.” So still kind of “hands-on” but it’s organic.
Kevin: So the conference itself will be October 4th and 5th in Norfolk, Virginia. I hear there is something involved with a boat?
Carlos: Yes, we’re going to have an evening cruise, so down there and all of a sudden I can’t remember the name of the river but we are very close to the Chesapeake Bay. One of the rivers that shoots off of the bay and of course Norfolk is a big naval yard and there is lots of traffic in that area so it will be very pleasant and it will be in the evening, the sun will be going down so will get to go out two hours out on the boat. We will actually eat dinner there as well and have a little bit of fun. There will be a top deck open air, you can go out and just hang out, again have some conversation or there will be dancing. So there’s three levels, in the second level we will have food and dancing and the third level is just kind of relaxing, you know, enjoy the weather.
Steve: And you are welcome to come along even if you don’t want to be part of the dancing.
Carlos: Yes, that’s right. We want to be very introvert friendly and so while we can’t get that third section just to ourselves. If it’s everyone’s intention we can definitely go over and push everybody outside.
Kevin: I’m claiming the nice spot against the wall. So sounds it’s going to be a blast. How about we talk about SQL Family now?
Carlos: Let’s do it.
Kevin: Ok, so how did you first get started with SQL Server? I’m going to start with Carlos for this one.
Carlos: I think I have the atypical answer, the accidental DBA kind of fits, so I want to be in networking. Networking is what I wanted to do. I did an internship for Cisco Systems. The company that I’d work for was purchased by Cisco Systems and so I wanted to do networking. That’s what I wanted to do. I went to college, I wanted to get my CCNA, all that stuff. My first job was working for a small consulting firm both kind of doing their internal IT. So it was 15 consultants, so I was doing things like email, networking, security and then setting up environments for the consultants so they could test things and whatnot, and SQL Server kind of came along with that as they were doing some of the applications. One of the consultants leaves and goes to work for the State and he calls me a couple of months later and he’s like, “Hey, they have this database administrator position. I think you should apply.” And again I’m harking back to my college days so I took two database courses. I hated both of them. It was adjunct faculty, felt very and I was like, “No way. Like, you’re crazy, right?” And he call me back and he’s like, “Hey, we are having a hard time filling the slot like I think you should consider.” I was like, “I don’t even know how to be a DBA. Like, I don’t really know anything about it.” And he’s like, “Well, this is what they pay.”
And I was like, “Oh, interesting.” Again I was at a job right out of college. I graduated in 2002 right in the end of the .com bubble so I felt fortunate actually to have a job at entry level. And so I said, well you know what. It was a significant jump from where I was. And I said, “Ok, I’ll do it.” They had SQL Server in Oracle there so they had an Oracle DBA and I applied and got the job and so basically went to the Oracle DBA and say, “Hey, how do you this?, and he showed me. And then I have to go figure out how to do it in SQL Server. That’s kind of how that started.
Kevin: Interesting, so how about you, Steve?
Steve: Well, just to echo one of the same thing as Carlos said with databases and classes in college. I had a couple of databases classes in college and I hated them. I could not stand database work the way that it was taught in the university at that point in time. But while I was in college I ended up getting a 9-month long internship working at Microsoft and this was in 1990 when Windows 3.0 had just released and just to set the timeframe there. And everyone they get hired was like in computer science and all from the local universities. They were brought in to work in tech support for Windows 3.0 right after it was released. And I learned a lot there but I didn’t want to work in tech support, and I wanted to be a programmer. And so I did everything I could to try and move from that position and I ended up taking on or working with a couple of other people in an internal project to go create some tools that were needed for the tech support team to use there. And lo and behold there was this database thing that Microsoft had just started selling that they suggest that we use and I never heard of it. And I said, “Well, what we need to do to get you speed on this is send you to Microsoft University which was an internal training course they had then. And for a week long class on how to use this thing called transact SQL. So on December 12th of 1990, I received a certificate that said, I’m qualified to use T_SQL.
Kevin: For the record, I do not have that certificate. I got qualified.
Steve: Yes, and so that’s sort of an Easter egg that I put on my blog. My parents found this in their house, this certificate like 20+ years later, and they gave it to me a couple of years ago and I scanned it in and I put a copy of that on my blog as a blog entry from 1990 even though blogs didn’t exist in 1990. Alright, if you check out stevestedman.com, you can scroll back in time and find that there if you’re looking for something that’s maybe a bit funny to look at. But anyway, so that was a 9-month long gig at Microsoft and then I went back to school and I went to do another internship and back to school and on the jobs and all that. And it seem like every job that I ended up at I ended up needing to do something with SQL Server. And then it just sort of evolved into more and more database work and I finally realized I didn’t want to be a programmer; I wanted to do database side of things. I mean, I still do programming but it is all database related programming now, and it just evolved into the DBA role and I had other jobs along the way like I ended up as a CTO at one point and I realized I don’t really like that as much. I want to go back and do more database work. Started all at Microsoft in 1990 and it just kind of evolved from there.
Kevin: Interesting. So sticking with you, Steve, if you could change one thing about SQL
Server what would it be?
Steve: The way that the check_db command works. Meaning, when it runs it goes out and scans your entire database to make sure that there is no integrity issues there, no corruption. And the problem is a lot of people don’t run that because it takes too long to run. And if there was way to say what I want to do is I want to run check_db but run it for an hour and check as much as you can possibly check and then keep track if that and then tomorrow night I’m going to kick it off for another one hour and continue that check process. That would really be a cool change that would probably help a lot with the way that people do their database checks. I know there’s ways to sort of simulate that by saying I’m going to check some of the tables but if you get to the point where you got a database with just one gigantic table, a way to run it for certain amount of time and then pick up later would be pretty awesome.
Kevin: Makes sense. Carlos, if you could change one thing about SQL Server what would it be and why would it be expanding in PolyBase?
Carlos: Yeah, you took the words out of my mouth there, Kevin. Yeah, you know, it’s funny so I was thinking a little bit about this so I went and answer some of this in Episode 0. But we’ve changed the SQL Family questions since then so this is not something that I guess I’ve had to address and of course I think one of the big things we’ve talked about, so SQL Server setup, even some Episode 98, right the first things you change, lots of things in there. As I was thinking about this, Steve and I were talking, so I’m not a user of it yet but I guess it makes me nervous so I guess I’m not sure there is quite a change yet but something that I hope that they do and that is with the introduction of services or languages like R and PolyBase and who knows what’s coming that they give me the administrator. The knuckle dragging Neanderthal that I am who is not a great programmer, you know, trying to not drown in PowerShell. Give me good tools so that I can understand and be able to react to when other people are using those languages in the database. I realized that’s kind of a tall order but help me help other people because I’m a bit nervous about some of that adoption as it increases.
Kevin: Ok, so sticking with you. What is the best piece of career advice that you have received?
Carlos: I’m not sure if it’s the best but the one that often comes back to and that is, “The money will come.” So when I graduated in 2002, that first job I was making roughly 25% lower than I thought I would be making coming out of college. I was a bit frustrated, right? Even when I moved after a couple of years, in fact that job I took as a Database Administrator position, they actually lowered the pay grade because they couldn’t increase my salary by a certain percentage to fill this thing and so. Anyway, I felt like I was, you know, that initial job my wages were lower than I wanted to be and I was expressing some frustration and the comment was, “The money will come.” If you’ll do the best that you can, invest in, kind of harkening back to our. Well, in an episode that hasn’t been released yet, so Episode 104 we’re going to talk with Eugene that idea of going deep. So go deep and get to be good at something. Get to be good at solving a problem becoming that go to person in your organization for certain problems and building trust and then good things will happen. You know, I’m not a millionaire, there is a limit there. However, we were talking about family I have 5 children. My oldest just turned 15 and my youngest is 2 so some of this risk and some of these other things I have to consider them as well. But as you continue to plot along, as you continue to keep your eye on the ball, whatever cliché you want to use there, then good things will happen and I think that has probably been the best piece of career advice there.
Kevin: Got you, so how about you, Steve? What is the best career advice that you have ever received?
Steve: I think the best advice and it kind of comes down to two but the first one is, “There is no such thing as can’t.” When somebody tells you that they can’t do something or that you can’t do something because technically it can’t be done or whatever that’s just an excuse to go and figure out how to do it. Now, maybe there is an exception to that if there is like personnel rules or things like that and
say you can’t do this things, yeah you should follow those. But when it comes to technology when people tell you that something can’t be done, I’ve always looked at it as a challenge to figure out, “Ok, well how can I do that?” The other career advice I think comes from Yoda, from the original, one of the earlier Star Wars movies and it talked about, “There is no try, there’s only do.” I don’t like to try things. I mean, I’ll try a new flavor of ice cream or I’ll try something new on the menu but I like to do things. And to say that you’re going to try something to me often times, like I’ll try and do that for you, I’ll try and get that job done whatever it may be. It’s kind of an excuse to say, “Well, I tried but I can’t do it, so that leads back to the can’t. No such thing as can’t and there is no such thing as try there is only do.
Kevin: No can’t and no try. Alright, so Steve, if you could have one superhero power what would it be and why?
Steve: Oh gosh! I answered this on Episode 12 and I don’t remember what my answer was but I’m going to go with time travel on this one. Because I think if you could go back in time, I don’t think I’d be interested in going forward in time necessarily but if you could back in time, I guess it would have to come forward to get back to where I am. But if you could back in time and learn from mistakes that have been made either by yourself, or from others, or even hundreds of years ago mistakes that have been made just to experience and see what people have done, I think would be an amazing superhero power.
Kevin: Carlos, can you top that?
Carlos: Yeah, top that. Well, I don’t know that I can top it but mind would definitely be different. So in Episode 70, Travis Wright, he kind of brought up this. He said like, “You know, everybody always talks about kind of the supernatural but like some ability that they would possess.” And he said, “Well, I would think the ability to control technology would be very powerful because then you could get it to do all the stuff.” And you wouldn’t have to worry about flaming suits, or hitting somebody when you go back in time. Your matter dimensional is smashing together whatever. And so I think that as I thought about that so that superhero power of being able to, and I always set a camera with a movie. I want to say it’s terminator but it doesn’t seem right. I think they’re actually putting him in the car and get the ATM to spit out. But I feel like there is some movie out there that they walk up and they get the ATM to just start spitting out money. And so something like that although obviously I would do everything ethical, right, nothing immoral like that.
Kevin: Especially on the record.
Carlos: Especially on the record, that’s right. I think that would be my because then also if I could control technology, I don’t know getting some big drone or something like because previously it was flying. I figure that I can get a technology to zoom me around the place pretty quickly.
Kevin: That’s fair, so thank you very much for coming over to the podcast tonight, Steve Stedman and Carlos “skynet” Chacon.
Steve: And thank you for hosting. This has been great.
Carlos: Yes, Kevin, this has been fun. Thanks for having us!
Kevin: Alright, thanks everybody! Take care now. So that was Carlos and Steve today. It was pleasure having them on and hopefully you enjoyed. If you want to see more go to sqldatapartners.com/100 and please follow us on social media, so we’re @sqldatapartners on Twitter, /sqldatapartners on Facebook, also on LinkedIn. Review us on your favorite podcast platform like iTunes or Stitcher and we’ll see you on the SQL trail.