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What Counts for a DBA: Amnesia Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 11:35 AM
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Thanks for the great post, Louis!


Post #1403782
Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 3:52 PM
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Fabulous post and way too close to home. I don’t know of a developer, dba, or support staff that couldn’t relate. The most effective ones (unfortunately) are those that have been around a given product long enough to be aware of the past failures and factor them into their problem solving. So often the genie is out of the lamp (forgive the cliché) and so long gone that remedies are not even considered.
Post #1403901
Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 3:59 PM


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Louis Davidson (@drsql) (1/7/2013)
@jeff moden,

So, I should note that I don't indicate that you should forget everything you know :) Just that "we have to forget the pain of past failures".

If you are a sports fan, you can think of it just like a receiver. They have a difficult job in that they have to concentrate on the ball coming to them and protecting it once they catch it, but "forget" that they are about to be hit by a small freight train sized opponent, and that the last time they did it hurt really so bad they dropped the ball and lost the game.

They still should remember the lesson of that failure (that they have to protect the ball), but not dwell on the failure or they will do everything they can to not be in the position to even catch the ball so they won't get hurt.

Failure is a big part of the educational process (http://www.simple-talk.com/blogs/2011/04/16/what-counts-for-a-dba-failure/) but failure can lead you in two ways and fear will hopefully not be the one you choose.


I'm suggesting two things, Louis. Perhaps we're actually "in step" but just saying it differently.

1) that you never forget the pains that you've experienced lest you experience them again and 2) do not confuse such pain with simple fear. The only thing that a DBA has in common with getting whacked by an incoming ball is that knowledge in both areas will keep you and your data from being hurt again. Forgetting the pain of either "adventure" may cost you dearly. Being fearful means that you have felt pain but haven't yet figured out "why" or "where" the pain came from and certainly not what to do about it. If you don't have the knowledge and practice, the pain should be good incentive to get it. If you don't have the knowledge or the practice and it happens again, then the fear you feel should act as a "Spider Sense" and you should proceed only with great caution.

Such knowledge, caution, and even fear will appear to be a weakness to outsiders and people who don't truly understand what being a DBA is all about. Patently, it is quite the opposite and people need to stop browbeating DBAs into submission and threatening them with their jobs for doing their jobs correctly instead of the way management wants them to do their jobs.

Also, you spell your name as a properly capitalized entity for a reason. So do I. I'd appreciate the same from you in the future.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
How to post code problems
How to post performance problems
Post #1403902
Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 4:11 PM
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@Jeff Moden, (and I don't really care if my name is capitalized, but I am sorry if I offended you)

We are saying pretty much the same thing. The difference is that you are focussing on the pain as the thing to be fix, and for me, the task and the pain are seperate. The task is that you have to fix some data, or restore a data. This is my analogy to the catching the ball. The pain is that you have to be careful to make sure you don't delete the entire table (oops, did I forget to back up before I fixed that data?), or you have to spend 100 hours fighting for what is right in a meeting instead of just letting poor code/designs reign. The work/meetings/etc are in many ways worse than the pain of getting flattened by a linebacker, (which is over in a microsecond and a few good nights of sleep).

But that time when you didn't highlight the entire delete statement and deleted all of the order data for the day and didn't even back up first? (or dropped a db, most dba's have some memory of that sort of a thing) Yeah, you certainly don't want to forget that and just do the same thing.

That is what I am saying is like a new year's resolution. Didn't lose weight last year? You can either forget the pain you are going to have exercising and just do it daily, or give up because you know it is going to be difficult. Database is filled with junk? Bah, then who cares if we end up with more junk in the next change?



Post #1403903
Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 4:23 PM


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Ah... now I understand what you're trying to say. If someone has the wrong attitude about it, they'll consider it the "pain of learning". If someone has the correct attitude about the job, they'll call it the "joy of learning". IMHO, attitude is one of those major qualities that seperate the really good DBAs from the mundane whether the particular job is mundane or not.

"To try and fail is a learning event". Whether you learn something from it or not is up to you.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
How to post code problems
How to post performance problems
Post #1403907
Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 4:27 PM
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This is just opinion about why I disagree with the article and its conclusions.

Theres a test that fails, but its a test. By its very definition, its a bit of an experiment and not painful. Theres failures that have actual negative consequences, and this might be what you'd like to forget, ie., the pain that the consequences of the failure caused. Not me, I want to relive this pain, I want this pain to be instantaneously linked to what caused it. I want to dissect the failure, learn its causes, drive the consequences into the subconcious, so when I encounter a similar situation I am reminded of my previous path that lead to the previous failure almost at an instinctual level.
Post #1403908
Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 4:39 AM
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George Santayana, wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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