SQLServerCentral Editorial

Holiday Fun for Your Career

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It's the last month of the year, and that results in plenty of "advent" items. I saw Tomaž Kaštrun start an Advent of Spark series and Denny Cherry is working on his advent of whiskey. Many people partake in other advent calendars, marking the days until Christmas. If you are looking for a fun gift for next year, consider an advent calendar of some sort for someone close to you.

When I saw Tomaž' posts, it got me thinking about the Advent of Code, which has been going on for a number of years. I've participated a few times, and last year tried to work through puzzles during the year. I failed miserably, which saddened me, but I decided to give it a try again this year. At least for a few days.

You can log in to track your progress and view the various puzzles that are available. Then try to solve them in your programming language of choice. I've watched Wayne Sheffield solve them in the past, usually with better T-SQL solutions than I come up with. Others have as well, blogging about their thoughts and solutions. To me, this is a fun way to get away from work, but also build some skills you'd use at work.

Spending time on puzzles like this is a good way to exercise your brain, while building practical skills. For example, the first puzzle this year asks you to look at a series of numbers and count how often there is an increase in the number from the previous one. In this case, we have a submarine with depth measurements, but really this is a query issue. The input is a series of text values, so you need to load those into SQL Server. Can't cut and paste them, right? Or can you? There are likely some interesting ETL solutions to load the data, as well as some creative ways to calculate the answer.

If you get stuck, there is a Reddit for the solutions, but try not to look. It is fun to browse the way people solve this in various languages, and I'm always amazed by some of the programming talent out there. The people who build visualizations are especially impressive.

Take a few minutes when you have a break and try to solve the first puzzle. Use T-SQL, PowerShell, Python, C, Pascal, Java, Rust, or whatever strikes you. It's a fun few minutes that will remind many of you why we enjoy this business. And bonus points if you blog about your work. That's an interesting set of posts that might intrigue the next person who runs across your resume or CV.

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