Overheard in Scandinavia

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As a young creative writing student in college, I had to learn how to write realistic dialog. One of my first assignments was to listen in on and transcribe an actual conversation. Back then, eavesdropping was considered impolite so I felt uneasy but dutifully followed through, sidling up within earshot of a couple seated at a bar, a live mini recorder hanging from my neck. My submitted transcription included such pearls of normal, everyday conversation as "Is he recording us?", "Why's he so close?" and "You wanna leave?"

Now, eavesdropping isn't considered rude at all, apparently, judging by the thousands of "overheards" or OH's on Twitter. In fact, it seems to have become something of an art form to listen in on conversations and then broadcast 140-character snippets completely out of context for everyone's amusement.

Fortunately, in the SQL community, the OH's mainly stem from public conversations at various technical events, and often contain nuggets of useful advice. So I did not feel so bad this past weekend at SQL Saturday Gothenburg when I courteously listened in on several technical conversations going on around me. Here's a few of the OHs that may just in fact help me out in the future.

OH 1: 

"Yeah, so what is that new language for Azure Machine Learning? There are two, right, wait, right, so Python and the other sounds like infrar or crar. Is it F sharp? I haven't done much with it yet. I know there are limitations. Neural Networks looks interesting."

"I think you are thinking of 'R'?"

OH 2:

"I haven't used managed service accounts. You have to set them up with PowerShell, right?"

"Yeah, but it is easy and AD does the rest. You don't have to save passwords. I have seen places that have one service account for all of their SQL Server Agents. Talk about a security nightmare."

OH 3:

"You can actually get the query for a report from the execution log in the ReportServer database. You first have to turn it into XML and then shred it but it is there. I forget the field but it is has extended information."

"Wait, what? So you can drill down right to the worst performing report and query?!"

OH3 is actually from a conversation in which I was a participant, with the great Bob Duffy. I include it because, I confess, I was only half there. My nervous mind had wandered to the presentation that I was due to give in 10 minutes. I certainly snapped back to attention when Bob revealed this nugget.

So, here's my advice. Next time you are at a SQL Saturday or even PASS Summit, talk to as many people as possible. Engage fully in those conversations, and definitely don't do what I did and only half listen when someone smarter than you is telling you something that you really need to know. In addition, attempt to listen in politely to as many conversations around you as possible. If someone does notice you eavesdropping, a simple "couldn't help overhearing" will often help you join in.

If that fails, and you are not invited into the conversation, just make sure to take what they said out of context and tweet it with an "OH".

Rodney Landrum (Guest Editor)

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