#SQLHacker: Because Technical Writing is Technically Time Consuming

#SQLHacker: Because Technical Writing is Technically Time Consuming

It Takes Time to Make a Thing Go Right

It takes time to make it outta sight…

I wish I had more time.  I think we all do.

Truth of the matter is we probably have much more time than we think we do but it comes down to how we spend that time.  I’m sure many of us – myself and anyone who would be a target reader of this site – spend too much time on devices: iPads, smartphones, and Surfaces.  We spend too much time on Bookface, Tweeter, and MySpace.  I know, MySpace is fictional.  I realized looking back on this site for almost the entire year-to-date of 2013 I’ve not done a technical post.  Mostly it’s that at the end of the day I’m mentally drained.  I give all I have (and more sometimes) to my more-than-full-time job of being the Lead SQL DBA for a medical system.  As my wife and family can attest I’m a brain-dead husk by 7pm when I should be spending time with them.  Another ding to the lack of technical posts here at thesqlagentman.com  is it takes so much time to put together at technical post that stands the test of time.

It’s not just the writing, but the research involved.  Many of my fellow writers have lamented how painful it is to go back and look at technical posts from earlier in the writing “career”.  I couldn’t agree more.  We make a lot of mistakse when we start writing – grammatically and in terms of content.

We write things when we’re starting out that are not as well-tested, informed, and thorough as they are later in our careers because we write about things we know.  As we start to mature in our writing, and the technical careers our writing evolves out of we begin to write about things we want to know more about.

When we’re immature in our writing process we tend to base our content on our impressions that what we know and what we’ve been taught or have read elsewhere is always right.  We question these things when we start to exhaust writing about the things we know and move onto breaking into our interests and exploring new territory.  We have to place a greater emphasis on testing, on hours upon hours of testing; on reading and experimenting as well.  Of highest importance we have to invest hours, days and weeks on failing.  I’m sitting on a pile of articles marked Draft.  They’ll never mature to the next stage in the writing process.  These were ideas that sounded great initially and then died on the vine without producing fruit because testing or research showed that either my impressions, instinct, or information was wrong; or someone had done it better already.

Consistently Solid Long-Form Technical Content

I salute those individuals and groups who have the time to pound out solid technical content in abundance and have a great track record doing such.  I’m in the process of bringing a new DBA up-to-speed in my company.  In doing so I provided a list of resources for solid technical blogs that, while not producing daily content, produce solid technical content consistently.  Granted, many of these sites are either writing as an aspect of their business or as a stream to generate consulting income but some are doing this as there way of giving back to the SQL Server Community – earning even more prestige in my book.

CSS SQL Server Engineers
The Scary DBA (Grant Fritchey)

The SQLskills Blogs:

The SQLBlog Blogs:

Less Than Dot Datamanagement Blogs
StrateSQL (Jason Strate)
SQLRockstar (Tom LaRock)
Brent Ozar ULTD Blog
The SQL Sequel (Erin Stellato)

The Red Gate Simple-Talk Blogs:

Robert Davis’ 31 Days of Disaster Recovery Series


These are my friends and the people I know would not steer you wrong. Many I’ve trusted enough to bring aboard SQL Cruise to present to my students. Many I’ve known for over a decade. All should be household names to anyone in the SQL Server Community.  They spend hours of their time researching, experimenting and failing.  It’s what makes them a success.  I intend to get back to the longer technical content as well once the Periodic Table of Dynamic Management Objects (2012 Edition), SQL Cruise Alaska 2013, and a SECRET SCRIPT PROJECT are in a more-complete state.  Until then (and after) please be sure to rely upon these sites and individuals.

#sqlhelp and Twitter

The SQL Server Community has embraced Twitter in a way that many other technical communities have yet to understand.  Social Media is being used as a source of quick help that used to be relegated to technical forums on various websites.  While those technical forums exist today still, it’s so much easier (as it is faster) to post a question on Twitter with the hashtag of #sqlhelp and watch the responses roll in – almost instantly.  The medium is great when your question and responses can be summed-up in under 140 characters.  That is really the only limitation (so long as Twitter is not blocked in your office.)

Filling the Void:  Announcing Lifehacker + SQL = SQLhacker

I see a void between the deep technical content articles an the 140 character ME NEED HELP NOW #sqlhelp tweets from Twitter.  I’m inviting everyone that has a quick solution to something you encounter in your work as a SQL Professional I recommend taking the 10-15 minutes to post this solution on your site using the category/hashtag/search term of #sqlhacker.  These solutions would be quick to write and take inspiration offered by Lifehacker.com, to provide quick and interesting ways to solve everyday issues, but with a lean towards Microsoft SQL Server.  I’m envisioning something like the following post:

Use T/SQL to Identify Virtualization of a SQL Instance

The results would be easily queryable in your favorite search engine as #sqlhacker and hosted on your own site until a common SQLHacker.com is fully-functional for those SQL Professionals interested in contributing there.  I ultimately envision a home for providing short-form technical content when 140 characters doesn’t cut the mustard.  If you’re interested in having your #SQLHacker posts included on SQLHacker.com please contact me in the method of your choice!

SQL Community:  GIVING ALL THE THANKS on this Follow Friday

Before I forget, I’d like to extend a big THANK YOU for the feedback on the SECRET SCRIPT PROJECT  to Tom LaRock (twitter|blog) and Joe Sack (twitter|blog).  You help to define the community with every action you take.  Follow these guys on Twitter, they won’t disappoint SQL professionals, bacon lovers, nacho libres or Minnesotans.