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Most Work is Mundane Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 2:49 AM
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Andy
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Post #1062422
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 2:54 AM


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Paraphrased from my most recent interview for my current contract:

Interviewer: "Most of this work is going to be boring, simple work."
Me: "Thanks for the warning, but I'm okay with that. If my job's exciting it usually means I'm staring at a screen at 2 AM trying to figure out if I need to call the VP, the CEO, or the vendor first."

Mostly, I constantly try to learn each time I do something that's mundane. For example, right now I've ended up with a neat little puzzle on getting the most recent record from a table, and the results are surprising when you include components like secondary indexing and data distribution.

Every piece of code I do can usually end up with something like this, where I take some time and learn a bit more about the system. The fact that the rest of it IS mundane and common tasks means I can spend the time doing these miniature side projects that keep me engaged.



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Post #1062424
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 6:50 AM


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In some respects, automating 'the usual' is exciting in itself. I've learned a lot by being lazy enough to want to automate the grunt work but motivated by my laziness... <lol> Once you get things under control with monitoring, dashboards and alerts, it gives you time to explore new builds of SQL, try those odd functions that aren't needed by your current tasks but just cool, or focus on projects.

I actually automated enough of my job at one employer that caused my Oracle DBA co-worker to want to take my stuff over after I left. I guess he liked the idea of drinking a cup of coffee while checking out a dashboard as part of his 'morning routine'. BTW: even though he's still really Oracle-savvy, his main focus is SQL Server now.

I'd like to say he came to the dark side because of me... <lol>
Post #1062526
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 8:29 AM


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I'm a data centred web dev so a little different to many types here - but I like a variation between grinding out code (mundanity) and solving intractable problems and designing sensible architectures and data models. I'm senior enough to allocate the junior devs to do the grunting when I get bored of it now - and as it is still hard enough for most of them, generally that's cool.

My diasasters tend to be of the 'this remuneration report is showing £351.07 out from the £1,271,234.09 it should be' nature. That's when I know I'm in for a 3 day brainache.
Post #1062626
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 8:58 AM


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I've been saying for years that the job of a DBA is to make his own work as boring as possible.

I use SSC to stay sharp and interested.

There are issues that come up once in a DBA's career, if at all. By helping others solve them, I set myself up so that, if they come up for me, I'm ready for them, instead of being in the position of "I read about that once ten years ago". Instead, I'm in the position of, "I helped someone solve that last week, and a different person last month, and someone else the month before that, so I know exactly what needs to be done". That practice keeps me interested, keeps rarely-used skills sharp for the time I may need them, and makes otherwise boring days go by quickly.

My job is to keep my work as boring as possible. That doesn't mean the day is boring, it means the servers aren't doing anything "interesting" most of the time. That's a good thing.


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Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 9:18 AM
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Following the line of other posters, I agree that my job is to make my job mundane and routine. The more routine tasks I can automate or eliminate, the more routine my job becomes. But this makes my time more manageable. Then I can spend time on other interests as well. There is always a server which could benefit from some performance tuning. There is always a new version of something which can be investigated. If I want to veg, there is some code which I can write. My subscriptions to LearnDevNow and Safari Library offer many more opportunities to fill my time with training and research. While my job does get mundane at times, I can't say I've ever considered it boring in the past six years. And besides, data, and the possibilities of what can be gleaned from the data residing in these repositories, is itself exciting.

Andrew.
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Post #1062663
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 10:55 AM


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Participating in forums like SSC is for database professionals what weightlifting and practice drills are for professional fire fighters. If you're fighting fires every day, then something is seriously wrong, but if you don't keep yourself in shape daily, then you won't be prepared for those unseen challenges that are around the next corner.
Post #1062729
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 11:56 AM
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If you watch the movie 'Sanctum,' you will appreciate how lucky we are to lead a mundane life. A billionaire funds the underground cave exploration project in the South Pacific, and dies with a cyclone.

My DBA is great. If I have a connection string problem, he comes to my desk and shows me how to fix it. I never thought his job was mundane.
Post #1062773
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 12:03 PM


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young.lee (2/11/2011)
If you watch the movie 'Sanctum,' you will appreciate how lucky we are to lead a mundane life. A billionaire funds the underground cave exploration project in the South Pacific, and dies with a cyclone.

My DBA is great. If I have a connection string problem, he comes to my desk and shows me how to fix it. I never thought his job was mundane.


Oh, don't make the mistake of thinking my life is mundane!

I've gone mountain climbing and scuba diving. I've jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and gone hang-gliding off a cliff. I've been held at knife-point. I've ridden horses through the woods in a blizzard at midnight.

It's my work that I try to keep boring.


- Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
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Post #1062777
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 12:43 PM


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I think it's always been part of my job (including part of th eparts that have had absolutely nothing to do with databases) to make parts of my job boring. One irate customer ringing me at 4am in the middle of my vacation and demanding that I escalate his problem immediately to the CEO was enough of the wrong sort of "excitement" for a lifetime (especially as I wasn't going to admit to any customer that we hadn't appointed a new CEO after the last one departed), and I had plenty other disasters to recover in my various jobs so I hadn't made things boring enough; of course it sometimes needs money which just isn't there to make things boring - in my last job our customers weren't going to pay for clustered systems, for enterprise (instead of standard) licences, or for anything else to make their systems really reliable, so the systems were vulnerable, but they still had a 24X7 requirement. But everything I could automate I did automate (and wrote an app for my desktop to analyse the emails all the monitoring tools I devised sent, so that I didn't have to look at mundane ones (I automated a lot of the recovery actions too, so a typical email say such and such a problem happened at a particular customer site and was fixed by such and such an action, so I didn't need to see it; but the frequency of the automatic fix could be a performance issue, so I needed to know how often they happened).

On the other hand, there are other parts of the job which I've never wanted to make boring - mentoring, working out what requirements are, proposing new research projects, going and meeting new people in new places, inventing new algorithms, doing real research. I don't see how those things can be automated. And if they could I would have had to find a different job, because I don't like life without (the right sort of) excitement.


Tom
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