Learning Isn’t Easy, But It’s Vital

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Learning Isn’t Easy, But It’s Vital

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood"
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    Author of:
    SQL Server Execution Plans
    SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

  • Hi all !

    As a self educated Dba, I just can but approve more than 200% what Grant says here !

    In France, the term « expert » has been a buzzword replacement for « engineer » those days ; In the meantime, the market has changed a great deal : the requirement for multi-skilled Dbas is now rather the rule... you’re expected to be an expert in - let’s say SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL ... and a good knowledge of MongoDB being a real plus.

    But I really wonder : How can you get a deep practical knowledge of all those RDBMs (which is, to me, the real meaning of the « expert » word) ?

    I’m currently unemployed and searching for a new position as a Dba , I endeavor to get deeper knowledge of SQL Server (by the way, Grant’s books and papers are of tremendous help - thank you SO much Grant for this !) ; But currently, I get a job offer for a Db2 for z/OS expert ! I’m 57 years old and do not practice Db2 for more than ten years ... lol !

    So Grant, you’re utterly right in what you write here, but to me.. it’s a bit desperating ... sighs...

    Eric (from Paris)


  • Yes absolutely.  It is my career and I am responsible  for my continuing education even if I were someone planning to retire in one year.  Never stop learning.  Be willing to invest/pay for training or for resources for a cloud environment to practice.  The days of employer sponsored training are gone.

  • Eric, first, thanks for the kind words. Second, while I'm not unemployed currently (and fingers crossed, "currently" lasts another 10 years), I do feel your pain. I'm also 57 and keeping on top of this stuff is a struggle. As I argue above though, it's a worthwhile struggle.

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood"
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    Author of:
    SQL Server Execution Plans
    SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

  • John,

    Lots of employers will still sponsor training. However, it's not like it used to be. But even the old days weren't what we remember. I worked for a consulting firm for a while in the 90s. They never did any kind of training. You were just expected to know what they assigned to you. Yes, you read that right, assigned. I was given Sybase, even though I'd never even touched it before, as a database that I would program against for a consulting gig. Plenty of evenings and weekends there to keep up.

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood"
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    Author of:
    SQL Server Execution Plans
    SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

  • WOW, Grant, if I could give this 1000 likes, I would. Keeping learning and trying to improve oneself is, in my opinion, the most important rule for your career, that I know of. It is, for me, #1.

    I'm like you, too, Grant in that I loved to pass along what I learn to others. I've talked about it, done demonstrations of it at my local user group, and blogged about it. I get a lot out of helping others to improve themselves. The problem, for me, at this time is I work with many people who have no desire to improve themselves. I work in state government, so no competition. The vast majority of applications are based upon technology and techniques that are at least 15 years old. Technology is always moving ahead, but we tend to use the oldest technology we can which hasn't broken to the point of no longer being fixable, because the dread of going to some technology that no longer supports the application written 15+ years ago is potent.

    And this tendency to not advance extends to attitudes. I'm struggling with this because I have, once again, discovered that my colleagues are writing using an anti-pattern known as Action at a Distance. I discovered some years ago that some of our software was written using the action at a distance anti-pattern. I wrote some example applications showing how it is bad. How it can lead to applications behaving in very weird ways. How it can make us look bad. I also blogged about it. And I demoed this to my colleagues over a year ago. They said they would change. But this past week I discovered that they went right back to it, doing exactly the same pattern of software, right down to the same variable names, lines of code, etc. in new applications they're writing which were identical to the code that I demonstrated to them over a year ago, would lead to the action at a distance anti-pattern. I'm both shocked and disappointed. I definitely feel like they've given me the middle finger and that trying to tell them how they can avoid writing bad code, only to have them throw all of that out and return to their old ways of writing code, was a total waste of my time.

    I hope that people who read my blog will get something out of it and improve their code.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • While I agree that people need to learn new things (I'm in the process of learning a fair bit about AWS myself... and, unfortunately, am learning that it's not all that it's cracked up to be), I find that eric.kero@orange.fr is spot on.  A lot of people don't actually learn anything very well even those in very public positions where you would expect them to be actual "experts" instead of what seems like casual users with a really nasty case of the Kruger-Dunning syndrome.If you want a taste of what I'm talking about, see the results of the following search...


    Spend some real time looking at the questions on those links... and the answers.  The questions are pretty decent (although not at a Senior Level, IMHO, in most cases) but the answers are usually either horribly 100 level, are flat out wrong, or are actually worse than wrong.  A simple example is this question and answer...

    Q13. What is the difference between clustered and non clustered index in SQL?

    The differences between the clustered and non clustered index in SQL are :

    Clustered index is used for easy retrieval of data from the database and its faster whereas reading from non clustered index is relatively slower.  Clustered index alters the way records are stored in a database as it sorts out rows by the column which is set to be clustered index whereas in a non clustered index, it does not alter the way it was stored but it creates a separate object within a table which points back to the original table rows after searching. One table can only have one clustered index whereas it can have many non clustered index.

    A really big problem with some of these links is that they're published by people/businesses that claim to be in the SQL Training business.  From what I've seen of the answers to the questions, these folks aren't any smarter about SQL Server than those asking questions on forums that are easily answered by a trip to BOL or Yabingooducklehoo. 😀

    So, while I certainly appreciate learning new things, I'd really like to see people learn about what they already have and don't really know squat about.  That's not popular with a lot of people because of the "school boy" bragging rights a lot of people go after.  Know something about everything is great but, if things like SQL are what you do, you should at least know enough about how to write a SARGable query to get data from a single table for a particular month.

    I also saw a recent article on some questions that you should pose to someone that interviewing for  Senior Database Developer position.  The question being asked are pretty awesome but the provided coded test data harness looks like a total newbie wrote it, violates several simple best practices, and that goes for most of the coded examples, the first two of which are based on blatantly obvious non-SARGable predicates.  The people in the discussions have called the author out on a couple of things but then their answers also suck at a 100 level or less.

    I look at stuff like this and constantly ask myself "Is THIS what the current average knowledge is out in real life"?  If it is (and I, unfortunately expect it is), then no wonder people keep looking for new stuff because they have no clue what they're doing with the old stuff.

    If you want to really make yourself valuable, learn how to better do what you're already working with and stop with the "Oh look! SQUIRREL!!!" attitude.  I'm not suggesting that someone like Grant (who already knows a huge amount about SQL Server) give up his endeavors with AWS but it would be refreshing to see all the people out there that claim that SQL Server and T-SQL is part of what they do learn it at least at a 101 level instead of veering off for the next "shiny object" that they also won't learn well enough.



    --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.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

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

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