How Do You Act When You Need to Learn New Technology?

  • bkubicek

    SSChampion

    Points: 10735

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item How Do You Act When You Need to Learn New Technology?

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 995116

    To be honest, I'm starting to get really pissed off at people and their "new improved shinny bobbles". I've spent countless hours listening patiently and doing due diligence for things I don't know about before I open my yapper. When I'm finally equipped with the necessary knowledge and have suffered through interminable rhetoric and supposed proof of the need through some rather single minded demonstrations and then I prove that it can be done cheaper, faster, and better using tools that already exist, what do I get in return? The stupid deer-in-headlights responses of "Just because you can do something in SQL Server, doesn't mean you should" and the equally idiotic "That's so yesterday. You need to improve your skills and your attitude".

    What people need to start doing is to do the same thing they're telling us to do and that's to learn something "new" and that's how to use the tools that are already available that already do the job no matter how old they may be.

    I saw a great example of what I'm talking about just recently. I wish I kept the link because it was stupid. Even though not yet confronted with a request for it, I started to study a bit more about what Hadoop is all about. Now, I'm sure that Hadoop can do some really great things but, like I said, the example someone gave to justify standing up such a box and "learn something new" was to parse a log file that had a regular and predictable format to it. The key in the example was that all you had to know was what position the elements were in and it's easy to parse the log. Seriously? You want someone to stand up a box, go through licensing expenses, and learn a new language to do something that can be done even by the worst splitters in SQL Server?

    Another example is where someone gave the edict that spreadsheets will not be made by SQL Server even though the ACE drivers do a fine job. Instead, they bought software that's not much more than SSIS on steroids, took them 3 years to figure out how to use, and has cost 350,000 USD in initial cost and now 5 years of maintenance fees.

    Here's another... some folks at one company I help out made the great realization (and I'm NOT being sarcastic there, it's a great idea) that they shouldn't actually be processing the full snapshot of data that they get from a couple of companies every day. What they should be processing is the difference between today's file and the last file that they received. Some companies send a file every day and some do it once a week and others do it with rather unpredictable timing. They wanted to write a C# program and make it a part of a Web Service. To the best of my knowledge, they haven't put pen to paper, yet, and the "requirement" came about 2 months ago. I had a proof-of-principle up and running in 30 minutes and full production code up and running (it would find the latest file from today, and the latest file from any other day, automatically) in something less than 6 hours. It would take 800ms to pluck each file out of thousands scattered across multiple directories and then compared AND validated the 40 "fields" of data in both 129,000 line files AND load it into SQL Server in less than 9 seconds.

    They're not using what I've done because "Just because you can do something in SQL Server, doesn't mean you should". Heh...the most advanced technology I used was the DIR command through xp_CmdShell (and that was NOT the showstopper because they use that a lot ).

    Shifting gears, I loved the idea that MS came out with "CLR", more specifically, "SQLCLR". I was dreaming of the possibilities until someone brought me an "SQLCLR" that I had to disapprove of and wouldn't let it go to production. Before I could explain why and what the "work around" (in quotes for a reason), this guy raised holy hell and propped it up on a stick! "We'll just see about that" he said as he huffed out of my cube to get our mutual boss. Not only had he written something as an "SQLCLR" function that already existed in T-SQL, his code actually did it long hand instead of using the function built into his language of choice. It was an "SQLCLR" to do a modulo.

    I'm no Luddite and I both love and embrace improvements especially if they're NOT mine... just make sure it's actually an improvement and not the fact that you don't actually know how to do your job nor use the tools that can already do the job that are already at hand. Learn that learning "new things" is sometimes learning about "old things".

    The two things that I do agree with in the article is to work with each other and to do the necessary research even if you think you already know the subject. Do it for the company you're working for. They'll appreciate it a whole lot and the money you save them just might go towards your next pay raise or even the net shinny bobble that actually does make an improvement.

    Remember, just because it's new, doesn't mean that it's an improvement.

    --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.
    "If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."--Red Adair
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not."
    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Eirikur Eiriksson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 182367

    Jeff Moden (11/6/2016)


    To be honest, I'm starting to get really pissed off at people and their "new improved shinny bobbles". I've spent countless hours listening patiently and doing due diligence for things I don't know about before I open my yapper. When I'm finally equipped with the necessary knowledge and have suffered through interminable rhetoric and supposed proof of the need through some rather single minded demonstrations and then I prove that it can be done cheaper, faster, and better using tools that already exist, what do I get in return? The stupid deer-in-headlights responses of "Just because you can do something in SQL Server, doesn't mean you should" and the equally idiotic "That's so yesterday. You need to improve your skills and your attitude".

    +100

    😎

  • Eirikur Eiriksson

    SSC Guru

    Points: 182367

    I know some of you pretend like you already have some knowledge, when you don't. You act or talk in a conversation like you understand what is being discussed. Then later you privately google the topic and try to get up to speed. I know I have done this before. Why are we so concerned about appearance? Why does it bother us to be seen as someone who doesn't know everything? Wait, did I just say that? That doesn't even make sense. Nobody knows everything. Nobody expects you to know everything. If they do then, that is pure foolishness.

    With such behavior, one deprives oneself of great learning opportunities and on top of that, adds the risk of making a complete fool of oneself.

    😎

  • john.riley-1111039

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 961

    Two of my guiding principles are these:

    An I.T. skill typically has a 'life' of about 5 years, so you can expect to have to learn a new skill at least 8 times in your career.

    Everyone without exception had a Day One in every role they ever had.

    This latter I would like to see displayed prominently in every workplace. My own employer has been guilty of only letting people do things if they have done them before, yet career growth depends on doing new things.

    The range and number of I.T. skills has increased dramatically since I started my career in 1980, and people have had to specialise more and more. At the same time, employers seem to think that it takes so long to acquire new skills that they cannot allow the acquisition of those skills on the job (or at least not *their* job) and must bring them in. I contend that this is a fallacy.

    So yes, no-one knows everything. In fact, the person with the exact set of skills for the opening you have probably does not exist, so just accept that the person you select will have to learn something. And if they don't, why would they want to move to a role that is exactly the same as the one they have?

    It would be good if more employers saw their technical staff as assets which require continuous investment to maintain and increase their value, and recognised that I.T. skills have a finite life and have to be replaced. Even better would be to actively manage the skills profile of their organisation so that it fits the skills requirements of their pipeline of work, and planned for succession in all roles, so that career progression is a key component of their business model.

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    ...or they could just continually lose staff with all their knowledge of both the business and it's workings then hire someone with none of that but the one skill they weren't prepared to train existing staff on with the increase in salary for the new person being more that the difference in the cost of the training.

    (This from a freelancer!!!)

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    Happy to help anyone learning something new of which I know a little (or more). I am also happy to inform people when I need to know more on a subject or technique (even/especially in interviews). None of us equate to one skill.

    I don't know it all but I do know that.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • john.riley-1111039

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 961

    Yes, that happens a lot.

  • xsevensinzx

    One Orange Chip

    Points: 25550

    Jeff Moden (11/6/2016)


    To be honest, I'm starting to get really pissed off at people and their "new improved shinny bobbles". I've spent countless hours listening patiently and doing due diligence for things I don't know about before I open my yapper. When I'm finally equipped with the necessary knowledge and have suffered through interminable rhetoric and supposed proof of the need through some rather single minded demonstrations and then I prove that it can be done cheaper, faster, and better using tools that already exist, what do I get in return? The stupid deer-in-headlights responses of "Just because you can do something in SQL Server, doesn't mean you should" and the equally idiotic "That's so yesterday. You need to improve your skills and your attitude".

    Just to offer a bit of a retort here. 😎

    This is sort of the thinking that turns away new ideas. You've been there before and it may have left a bad taste in your mouth. In a lot of cases like these, it's skewing your opinion before you had a chance to fully hear and understand a new piece of technology or adapt a new method of doing something.

    I've been the same with my team. What frustrates them the most is the fact I'm so negative when we look at new things. I always get, "Instead of telling us all the road blocks and why we can't, tell us why we can." That's hard for me because I want to be realistic when we are talking fantasy. But it's true, when you're talking new tech or anything, you sort of have to have an open mind too. Thus, I take the approach of, "If this was all that I had, could I honestly make this work? If so, what would that landscape be?" That normally still leads me back to all the issues I would originally have, but also helps me discover all the benefits too.

    Anyways, on the editorial question.

    I've been pretty busy lately to learn anything too new. But, I will say that one of the newest things I have adapted into my data warehouse and analytics with that warehouse is the use of Pandas. This is a library/module for Python that allows me to create data frames and data series where I can use DDL/DDM like statements on those data frames and series without having to load it into SQL Server first.

    This saves me a lot of time from a SQL Developer standpoint because I can deliver a set of data to the team. They can load it up in Python and slice & dice up the data with Pandas without having me to constantly tweak the SQL query. They become a bit more self-service in that regard. They can do dynamic pivots, add/remove new fields of data, update data based on conditions, JOIN multiple data sets together and output the final results into a format we can then ingest back into SQL Server.

    I use it with SSIS/SP as part of my ETL when I want to clean and summarize data on a entirely separate machine without bogging down SQL Server specifically. I can even combine the data connectors with it in one script and really distribute the processing across multiple machines. It's really handy stuff.

  • lburleso

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 136

    From http://www.essentialcslewis.com/2014/01/26/quotes-not-by-lewis-a-preliminary-examination/ :

    '

    2. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

    Who could argue with this statement? I certainly cannot. However, Lewis never used those exact words. Some claim it is from Mere Christianity, but I have the eBook version and that quote is not in it. Lewis does deal with the issue of pride in chapter eight of Book 3 – Christian Behaviour. I also own the original version of Christian Behaviour (seventh printing, US edition is from 1946) and while there are some differences in the text you will not find Lewis making that statement. In Mere Christianity Lewis does say “It is better to forget about yourself altogether” and near the end of the chapter entitled “The Great Sin” he states

    “He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

    If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud.”

    From where does the quotation in question come? The best I can determine is that it is from Rick Warren. In the 2002 edition of The Purpose Driven Life Warren makes that very statement and he doesn’t site a source. It is found in “Day 19” which is entitled “Cultivating Community.”

    '

    🙂

  • bkubicek

    SSChampion

    Points: 10735

    Thanks for that clarification on the C.S. Lewis Quote. Sorry I got that wrong.

    Ben

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125032

    The smarter managers, the ones who have a track record of delivering and cultivating the best teams, they have a basic mistrust of employees who act like a know-it-all.

    In the past, I've seen folks who could talk authoritatively about any topic, always wanting to establish a position within the team as the perceived expert, but at the end of the day they simply couldn't code their way out of a paper sack, and when the server is down, they quietly slip away to the bathroom stall and hide until the storm blows over. :ermm:

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Andrew..Peterson

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6657

    Jeff Moden (11/6/2016)


    To be honest, I'm starting to get really pissed off at people and their "new improved shinny bobbles". .........

    Very true. I am sure that it is no surprise that IMHO, this all comes down to management. Some mgmt.s need to have "...the latest...", or "...best of breed...", etc. Even if/when they have no idea about it.

    Good management focuses on the goals and objectives. "...shiny new..." tech toys are rarely part of the goal.

    The more you are prepared, the less you need it.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 995116

    Andrew..Peterson (11/7/2016)


    Jeff Moden (11/6/2016)


    To be honest, I'm starting to get really pissed off at people and their "new improved shinny bobbles". .........

    Very true. I am sure that it is no surprise that IMHO, this all comes down to management. Some mgmt.s need to have "...the latest...", or "...best of breed...", etc. Even if/when they have no idea about it.

    Good management focuses on the goals and objectives. "...shiny new..." tech toys are rarely part of the goal.

    That certainly happens, especially if management feels that it's their job to do such a thing.

    The problem I've experienced the most is that management frequently knows squat about what can be/should be done and are sold a bill of goods by folks equally uninformed. It's a pretty large part of the reason why many DBAs have been labeled as naysayers and "sticks in mud". There are many of them and, frequently, just one or two DBAs.

    Then there's that stupid mantra of "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" and stupid analogies like "To a hammer, everything is a nail". Heh... my response is "When you're trying to drive a nail, why not use a hammer... like the one we already have in the tool box"?

    --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.
    "If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."--Red Adair
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not."
    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Rod at work

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 33152

    First, I've never seen that quote by C.S. Lewis. I love it!

    To answer your second question, what I do with others trying to learn something I know is determine what level they're at and how I may be able to help them. That second part is the tricky part. There are some folks who just want to learn it on their own. Trying to show them anything will insult them, so I don't. I just make myself available, should they ask me anything (which normally doesn't happen). Others will come to me for assistance. I'll answer their questions, but then there's another hard point. Do you go on with other details or not? Sometimes I have but when I look back at it I think I came across as too pompous. Sort of a know it all. On the other hand I don't want to be the type where getting information out of me is like pulling teeth. Its a delicate balance and I think too easy to get this wrong.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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