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Keeping the Electrons Happy


So I work as a database administrator, which is often something that confounds people who aren’t in IT… if I try to explain to them what I do, their eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme donut, and I realize I have to back up and introduce things in a little simpler way, so I usually start off with the sentence:

“I piss off electrons all over the world.”

And that gets them laughing, then I can tell them what I really do.

And the thing is, I work for a consulting firm, but I rarely, if ever, see the front end of the applications we run, or work on or build. I see domains, and servers, and databases.

My life at work consists of solving problems, pissing off electrons, and trying not to do the same to people.

For the most part, this is a good set of priorities to have.

As a DBA, you do your best to keep from making mistakes, right? You want your users happy, you want your electrons just slightly irritated, and you want your data to be as perfect as it can be.

It’s hard to see what all this looks like on the front end until you actually see it, and then it’s like being a doctor and seeing symptoms, and intuitively understanding what those symptoms mean.

And, surprise surprise, I have a story about that.

So some years back I had to go to the doc to go over some test results.

When I checked in, they asked all sorts of other questions, like, “Have you ever gone under another name? Have you ever lived at this address? And on and on and on…

I’d been at this place before, they already had this information in their system. There was no reason for them to be asking me these questions.

So I turned the tables, and asked them why they were asking me all these questions.

It turns out someone was in their system with my birthdate and my SSAN…

Hmmm…

So the good thing about this?

They noticed it.

The bad thing?

Well, – let me just take you through it – and see if you can figure it out…

The receptionist made a telephone call to fix the problem.

I was ushered back to see the doc, the nurse asked what medicines I was on. This was unusual since it was in their system, but she took all my records and entered them into the system. Sometime later, the doc came in and wanted to compare my records, current to past, and so on, but there was nothing of my medical records after 2007, meaning there were several years of records missing.

What do you think happened at this point? Take a guess, then keep reading.

I put two and two together, and because of the strange series of questions I’d been asked initially, I’d paid attention, and had made a note of the security guy’s name and number, and asked the doc if he wanted me to call, because, “It’s what I do”.

He, still trying to figure out what was going on with the keyboard, said,“Sure.”

I picked up my cell phone, called the number I’d written down and asked to talk to the guy whose name I’d written down below that.

His response: “Oh, I was trying to fix that and must have pushed the wrong button by mistake.”

I just let the silence hang in the air for a little bit while he realized what he’d said and who he’d said it to…

…and then I took off my patient hat, and sitting there in the doctor’s office, put on my DBA hat, cracked my knuckles a bit, and told him to let me talk to the person who was fixing the problem because by golly it was GOING to get fixed, and get fixed right then.

I was connected to the person who was fixing the issue, and explained that I was (ahem) SITTING IN THE DOCTORS OFFICE WHEN MY RECORDS DISAPPEARED, and would she kindly make them bloody well reappear.

Now.

She said she could merge the records, said it would take till the end of the day.

Have you ever had to project an air of calmness when it was the last thing you wanted to do?

Yeah… that’s where I was.

I tried to explain to her that I was still (ahem) SITTING IN THE DOCTORS OFFICE, WITH THE DOCTOR, WAITING TO GO OVER RESULTS, and would appreciate it if she could fix that long before the end of the day, like before I left the office, since I was there in the doctor’s office, and we were about to make some pretty significant decisions based on those results.

She said she’d work on it, and I gave her my cell number and told her to call me when she was done.

In a triumph of the anti-nerds, the doc got out a huge pad of paper and a marker and drew on it to show us what he remembered of the information he’d seen before it was deleted, and was most of the way through that when my phone buzzed.

It was the gal from IT who had worked on un-futzing the records.

She said it was fixed. She’d merged the records (her words).

The doc logged into the system again, and all my records were there.

Both he and my wife were impressed.

So we got those things taken care of, I went in later and found that in the results of the merge, my meds showed up twice, (once from the original, once from when the nurse recorded them after they were deleted).

So we (well, they) had to fix that.

I had a little chat with the IT folks at the hospital after that to get them to understand that there were folks out here who knew what was going on in there and what it meant.

And it needed to be fixed.

Because, I realized, as much as I tell people I just piss off electrons, those electrons mean something to someone.

And they have to be accurate.

And it got me thinking…

See, while I was pretty annoyed that the problem existed (it’s not that the whole situation wasn’t already stressful enough), it was an amazing learning experience, to step out of the role of being the patient and tell the doctor who was about to try to fix me, that he needed to let me do my work, in his office, so I could fix his problems, so he could see what he needed to see in order to fix mine.

Yeah, I had to look at that paragraph a time or two myself.

I wondered how long it would have taken if that had happened to someone else right then, because seriously, who else would have been in a position to know what had happened and what it meant?

I’m still a little baffled by it all, and I think that’s okay.

I started looking around at the projects the company I work for does (I work for Avanade, a consulting company), and it always astonishes me what all kinds of things we’re involved in – the stuff I rarely see, but affects people’s lives in ways that are big and small, from the drinks you might get on a flight across the country to buying a motorcycle to, even figuring stuff out at the doctor’s office.

And it makes me realize that I don’t want to piss off the electrons at all.

I want to keep them very, very happy.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Life Lessons from SQLSaturdayABQ – Including one from Bugs Bunny


SQLSaturdayABQ

So it’s been a couple of weeks – but SQL Saturday ABQ has finally simmered long enough for me to write about it. I learned so much about so many things down there, and am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to share not only a meal and some learning with professional colleagues, but also reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

The trip down was great – I found out that putting my phone into Airplane Mode seemed to put some pretty cool Airplanes into pictures of an already gorgeous landscape.

I learned the Albuquerque is at 5,000 feet, and for someone used to living at sea level, I learned to appreciate the simple things in life, like, say, air.

(On our second day there the wonderful friend we were staying with took us up to the Sandia Peak Tramway. She and my wife enjoyed the gift shop at the lower elevations while I, still getting used to the 5,000 foot elevation,  went up another 5000 feet on the tram.

No, no oxygen masks fell out of the sky, but I could definitely feel all 10,378 feet of altitude there.

After I got back down, we explored some more, stopped at some lower elevations, and got a little perspective on the mountains for a little further north,

We stopped in a little town called Bernalillo and saw the Coronado Historic Site (above), and could hear the Rio Grande River gurgling down below. It was so different from what we have here in Washington – one could easily say it’s ugly and brown, but that would be missing the point – it’s got a beauty all its own, and needs to be looked at with different eyes.

As for the sessions with SQL Saturday itself…

I learned things about PowerShell in the session from Mike Fal ( b | t ) that made me want to get my hands dirty and try to find problems we’re struggling with in our environments that could be solved with a little PowerShell, and he proved that yes, you can indeed type in a demo, and then promptly demo’d why not to do it. J I loved the examples he gave, and the fact that he stuck with “learn the concepts, don’t freak about the code” – in large part because, just like in Field of Dreams (if you build it, they will come), with PowerShell, if you learn the concepts, the code will follow. You just have to understand what you want to do first – and that happens with the concepts. I’ve learned that if you give someone a problem first, and then give them a pile of tools, they’ll figure stuff out, and you’ll see creative juices flowing as they start thinking about new ways to solve old problems. It’s kind of fun to watch, and more fun to be part of.

I didn’t take any pictures of Jason Horner’s (b|t) session, but I enjoyed his presentation very much, which was full of demos and examples of databases much bigger than the ones I handle. As I recall, there were 4 (FOUR) MCM’s in the room… We were walking on hallowed ground there – and just that level of conversation, questions, and knowledge was fun to be around. I look forward to seeing more of his presentations, and applying what I learned there.

John Morehouse’s ( b | t ) session on social media had an interesting cross section of people in it – some quite experienced who are used to it, but always looking for new things to learn, and some who were absolutely new to the game and had never, ever used it.

John talked about how it can benefit you professionally, how easy it is to blur the lines between personal and professional, and how to do your best to keep them separate if needed. He made a very valid point that no matter where you are, you’re an ambassador for your company – so “think first, then post” along with the idea that once you hit send, it’s out there. Know your company’s policies on social media. That’s a huge thing. Even if you think it’s a private message, the wrong screenshots in the wrong places can be embarrassing for a long time. We also had a live demo of twitter, and how to do everything from getting a question answered with #sqlhelp, to getting a job via social media.

And I learned a lot – I got better doing my presentation on “Life Lessons in Communication” for the second time – and finally getting the butterflies in my stomach to at least fly in formation. I learned a lot from my audience, and had something totally off script pop into my head during the presentation – with the simple sentence of, “Are you solving the problem? Or managing it?” I realized I learned as much from my own presentation and audience as they did from me. Oh – and lessons are everywhere. You don’t even have to look hard. You just have to pay attention.

It was a lot of fun.

Many, many thanks to Meredith ( b | t ) and crew for getting everything together, and for the absolutely wonderful speaker’s dinner the night before. (what was that smokey salsa-y stuff on the chips? that was amazing!)

What came next was a time that can only be described as a slice of heaven.

Any of you in the IT industry know that the whole work/life balance thing is something that has to be managed very, very deliberately.  The cost of not managing it can be ridiculously high.

And so, for the next few days, I was able to spend that precious thing called time chatting with my wife and our friend, getting incredible amounts of fuzz therapy from two wonderful dogs, and just spending time away from the computer.  I allowed myself the time to absorb some of the lessons I’d learned at SQLSaturdayABQ, and then, as I watched some of the hot air balloons drift by, I realized that not all of the lessons I learned there had to do with SQL… a lot simply had to do with life. Some of them are still simmering, but all of them will end up in a story sooner or later.

Again – thanks to…

…all who attended the presentation (Jason had said I couldn’t start until he was there – I had the pre-presentation butterflies and was quietly hoping for him to be late – but he was there in the front row when I got there – so there was no backing out at all :-) –

…to Avanade for giving me the time off to go do this, and

…to our wonderful friend for sharing her lovely home and hospitality with us, and last but most certainly not least

…to my family for their patience and faith in me as I worked through it.

There are many more lessons out there to be learned, and as I find them, I’ll do my best to share them.

Oh, here’s just one:

You know how Bugs Bunny always says, “I knew I should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque!“?

I now know why he couldn’t do that.  :-)

Take care out there, folks…

Tom

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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GEEQL Turns Left at Albuquerque!


SQLSaturdayABQ

I’m delighted and still a bit surprised to have been selected to speak at SQL Saturday 358, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where, if you’re a Bugs Bunny fan, you’ll know that somewhere, somehow, you’ll just HAVE to take a left turn… ­

And when you do, turn left here and join us.  Take a look at the schedule – there’s a boatload of awesome people converging on Albuquerque to share their knowledge with you.

This will be my fifth SQL Saturday and my second one as a speaker (first one was #337 in Portland) and I’m not sure who learned more – the folks listening or me speaking, but it was an enough of an experience to get me to want to do it again, and share and improve some of the lessons I’ve gathered over the years.

So, what will we talk about?

We’ll talk about how communication affects us daily, how it can be the easiest thing to do, and the hardest thing to do well, how who you talk to determines what you talk about, and how you do it – and all in a way that’s designed to show you how to move ahead, both in and outside of your career.

We’ll talk about…

Simple stuff – (When to say what) but in a way that’s easy to understand (using the Titanic as an example)

And complicated stuff (did you realize that men and women communicate differently? – and that both ways are valid?)

And by the time we’re done, we’ll all have laughed a bit, commiserated a bit, but most of all, we’ll all have learned something.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

T-SQL Tuesday #60– Something New Learned


 

So – as I write this, it’s the Monday evening after Summit

Emotions are still fresh, but my mind still trying to double-clutch its way back to thinking about how to apply all the things I’ve learned and I’ve been struggling to find words to answer the question asked for this one, but I think it was narrowed down to one tweet that we’ll get to in a moment.

Like many of you, while I work around a lot of people, and work with people, most of the work I do is fairly solitary. I don’t often get a chance to learn with or just relax and chat with folks outside of work who are fighting the same battles, have similar goals, and are struggling with similar  issues.

I’d been working quite a few overtime hours, plus getting ready for my first presentation in a long time for SQLSaturday 337, so I was a little frazzled coming into Summit14, and was, frankly, looking forward to what I’ve taken to calling “Summer camp for Geeks”.

Take the best thing you can remember from any summer camp you’ve ever been to. (For me, regardless of the camp, it’s the camaraderie – so let’s go with that).

Take that camaraderie – and add to it the concept of a support group. Oh, for those who haven’t been part of a support group, let’s just go to our old friend Wikipedia, which states, in part:

In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks.

Wait – let’s look at those last two sentences again one at a time…

“Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community.”

Uh – yeah – there’s 5,000 of us from all over the planet, most of us working in pretty solitary kinds of positions, where it’s often hard to talk about the issues we’re facing, often because we’re the only ones in the company facing them. Interestingly, we’re often introverts, which means at some level, we’re okay with the whole “working by ourselves” thing. But it is nice to know you’re not the only one out there trying to invent this particular wheel, or shove this particular boulder up a hill… Again… (see Sisyphus). That brings us to the second of the two sentences:

“The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks.”

Just read that again… I know, it’s likely the third time… Right – then look at the picture of the community zone below from the tweet by Neil Hambly (B|T)

I was just stunned at the simplicity of Neil’s comment, “This what #sqlhelp is like in the flesh Many folks just in the community zone waiting to help others”

Just from this shot, I see Kevin Kline (B|T) chatting with someone on the floor on the left. Wendy Pastrick (B|T) is chatting with someone about dead center. I think that might be Grant Fritchey (B|T) there in one of the blue shirts in the background. I know for sure there was at least one SQUEEEE! (B|T) there. ;-)

I know there are other folks I didn’t get a chance to meet or can’t recognize in this shot – but I was in the same spot that Neil was when he took that picture and saw the same thing.

And heard the same thing.

And it was people simply wanting to help others who were going down the same path. People would come to that blue carpet and be welcomed in. They’d reach out for help, and there was someone in there, reaching back. Understand, there were folks just starting their careers in there mixed right in with folks who were pillars of the SQL community, there were beginners, MVP’s, and MCM’s, and all were reaching out to each other to help.

That help took all forms. Sometimes, someone just needed to talk something out. Other times, it was a deep conversation. Often there was laughter, and what became known as #sqlhugs as those of us who’d emailed or tweeted with others for years finally got to meet them face to face. In the shot, you see people talking with each other, you see people on their laptops while on support calls during the conference itself (it was obvious on some, you could hear one side of the conversation, “…Okay, now click ‘next’…”)

And for some, just like Neil said, it was #sqlhelp in the flesh.

If you’re not familiar with the #sqlhelp hashtag – click on that one on the left there – it’ll take you to the post Brent Ozar (B|T) put out on his blog to explain how it works, with the opening line: “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.”

And at summit – sqlhelp wasn’t just something we typed.

We got to see some of the people behind it (that’s be all of us)

We got to meet them.

And we got to experience that camaraderie of summer camp and the warm embrace of a support group.

We got to hear the laughter behind an LOL as someone got a joke, or got to actually see, talk to, and listen to the folks behind it.

And over time, what became clear to me is that while I’ve used #sqlhelp in the past and monitor it in the present, #sqlhelp isn’t just some search engine that spits out answers like ones and zeroes. . It’s real people, with real experience (and real questions), again, some just starting out, some, like I said, pillars of the community, but who all take or make the time to get an answer for you, and then, often, check back with you to make sure you got it.

#sqlhelp is folks who care, folks who’ve reached forward to others in their careers and are now reaching back to help those who need it.

That’s one thing I learned at Summit this year. Not just in my head, but in my heart.

And in case no one’s said it out loud, it’s appreciated.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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GEEQL Speaks! :-)


SQLSaturdayPortland

Hey all,

I’m honored, thrilled, and just a wee bit terrified to have been chosen to speak at the Portland SQL Saturday, November 1st.

(and I blame Julie (B | T) for this) ;-)

Many of you have read the stories I’ve written here about SQL or the stories about life on my other blog.  Well, here’s your chance to actually hear some of them with the tidbits of knowledge I’ve picked up along the way and how it all applies to life at work..

I’ve learned much over the years and it seems like it’s time to start giving back. My presentation will be about communication – and a few of the ways I’ve learned about how to do it better.

On the Agenda (barring any last minute changes) will be lessons as you see below using stories, illustrations, and examples you might not expect, but do indeed get the point across, and tell a story.

So, if you’re curious – here’s the outline I’ll be working from:

Communicating: The Various Directions

  • Across to peers/other departments
  • Up to management/leadership
  • Down to Support your directs
  • Getting the right numbers to the right people
  • Using numbers effectively (Presentations)
  • Understanding your audience
  • Using those numbers to
    • Help state your case
    • Help get what you want
    • Polish your resume
  • Communicating “Oops”
  • Sometimes, Things go wrong
  • Communication during Emergencies

And last but not least – why it’s all important.

I look forward to seeing, learning, and laughing with you there.

Tom

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Problem Solved: Lync Reporting issues


Awhile back we had a pretty significant series of issues with our Lync implementation that took some time to resolve. Now that it is, I thought I’d write up something for one of them to help others that have run into the same problem so that it can be fixed up once and for all.

Note: these notes come from my own personal experience with a dash of a case we had open with MSFT at the time.

Lync, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is Microsoft’s corporate instant messenger suite – which brings voice, (both individual and conferencing), sharing, and IM into one package. If there was ever any program I’ve ever used that’s changed how I work, this is it.  Calls, conferences, desktop sharing, all from the same app.  Truly well done.

That’s on the front end.

On the backend, however, it gets a little more involved – and for those running the app, there’s a lot of reporting that will allow you to monitor things like call quality, what the system is doing, and if there is trouble in paradise, as it were, you can use this reporting to start narrowing down the issues you’re running into, and that will help you both troubleshoot and resolve them.

And that’s the part that was giving us trouble.

It’d work for a bit, then give us weird errors, and the folks trying to troubleshoot global call/connection issues were completely blocked. So they were frustrated, and we needed to figure out how to fix it – not just this once, but fix it period.

The problem:

Lync reporting, when we got to the Monitoring Dashboard report, would often render an error like this:

What you'll get if the stored procedures haven't been run

What you’ll get if the stored procedures haven’t been run

If you can’t read the image, there are two error messages:

“Report processing stopped because too many rows in summary tables are missing in the call detail recording (CDR) database.  To resolve this issue, run dbo.RtcGenerateSummaryTables on the LcsCDR database.”

“Report processing stopped because too many rows in summary tables are missing in the Quality of Experience (QoE) database.  To resolve this issue, run dbo.RtcGenerateSummaryTables on the QoEMetrics database.”

You can find that I’m not the only one that ran into this error by just using your favorite search engine – Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, whatever. (the results are pretty similar)

Bottom line – the error is the same: Some level of activity that’s been happening on the server is not reflected in the troubleshooting reports you want – and the error message has both good and bad parts to it.

The good: As far as error messages go, this one is surprisingly clear. Basically do what it says, and, depending on how much it has to summarize, it takes a few minutes and sums up a bunch of information that is amazingly useful in the reports our Lync team needs.

The bad: It exposes names of objects that someone might not actually want to have exposed, though people who see this are often the people who need to, so it’s a bit of a two edged sword.  The other thing is that there’s nothing to give us any indication of how often what’s mentioned in the message needs to run. I figured (as did many of the others who’ve run into this) there was some process that called this set of stored procedures at some defined period, but from what I saw in my research and what I experienced myself, that was not happening for the folks who were running into this. On a hunch, while was on a call with MSFT on a related issue, I discovered that the stored procedure referenced in the above screenshot needs to be run at least daily.

Well that’s not hard…

So my suggestions below are based on the following assumptions:

That you’ve got SQL installed on your server with SQL Agent running – this was something that seemed to be the culprit in a lot of the issues in the links above.

We depend on SQL Agent to run our automation, so it was running but the process/job/scheduler to run the needed code wasn’t there at all.  The below instructions fix that.

So I created a SQL job, and scheduled it to run once daily. Since the stored procedures are in different databases, I just wrote the execution commands (below) fully qualified, so you could do the same.

I also created some output files on the jobs just to be sure I could monitor what the jobs were doing for the first little bit, and guess what?

It worked.

Problem solved.

So – if you’re experiencing the issues described above and don’t have a job scheduled on your Lync SQL Server, do this:

  1. Create a SQL job on the SQL server that has your QoEMetrics and LcsCDR databases on it.
  2. Give the job a name that makes sense and fits your job naming conventions..
    1. I named mine: Lync Reporting Monitoring Dashboard Summary Numbers
    2. Put something like the below in the description field so that once the braincells you’re now using to solve this problem have been overwritten, you’ll still have a clue as to why you did this:
      1. LYNC – Error appears in reporting when tables haven’t been populated frequently enough. This code was missing and it is confirmed that it needed to be run daily with MSFT. It is scheduled as such. Questions? Contact <you or your SQL operations team>
    3. Click on ‘steps’
    4. Click’new’
    5. Add one step – you’ll have to name it… I named mine: RTC Generate Summary Tables – because that’s what it does.
    6. I leave the database set to master and paste the following code in.

–this code should be run daily per MSFT

EXEC      QoEMetrics.dbo.RtcGenerateSummaryTables

GO

EXEC      LcsCDR.dbo.RtcGenerateSummaryTables

GO

  1. If you want an output file, find your log drive and paste this in there (editing the <drivepath> below as appropriate):
    1. <drivepath>\MSSQL\Log\LyncPopulateSummaryTables_$(ESCAPE_SQUOTE(JOBID))_$(ESCAPE_SQUOTE(STEPID))_$(ESCAPE_SQUOTE(STRTDT))_$(ESCAPE_SQUOTE(STRTTM)).txt (that’s a little snippet from some of the best code I’ve seen at http://ola.hallengren.com)
  2. I scheduled mine to run at some hour when I’m asleep – and it now takes about 12 seconds to run daily.  You may want to adjust the schedule as needed for your environment
  3. Do that, and you should be able to forget about that report, and your Lync team should be able to know that it’s there every day – whenever they need it.

Take care – and good luck.

Tom

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Communication, Snapshots, and Chickens (no, really)


I saw a little note the other day about “snapshots” – which reminded me of a situation we had at work awhile back.

It seems that one of the things that’s really helpful at work is being on the same page as your colleagues/coworkers.

And the way you do that is by communicating and understanding each other – and the fact that we often use different words to mean the same thing – or sometimes, we use the same words to mean different things, can present a problem.

Allow me to explain – and of course, I’ll do it with a very non-technical story…

A number of years ago, my mom was at a church social event where they had this icebreaker kind of activity, and one of the things they were supposed to do in this one was to form groups, and they were all handed cards with the name of a farm animal on it, and they had to make the sounds of these animals, and all of the like ‘animals’ were supposed to find each other, and gather together in groups.

Mom’s group was chickens.

Chickens are chickens, right?

Because chickens – or – roosters anyway, go cock-a-doodle-doo, right?

Well… If you grew up in America, roosters go cock-a-doodle-doo.

So there were a bunch of middle aged ladies, walking around this room, flapping their arms and sounding just like a barnyard. (okay, I just checked with her – they weren’t flapping their arms, but that image is too fun to let go… so with apologies to mom, I’ll let that burn in for a moment… J )

There were cows, horses, pigs – and chickens, well, roosters.

There were cock-a-doodle-doo roosters, and then there was this one gickerigeek rooster, and –

Waitaminute…

What the heck was a gickerigeek rooster?

Well, it turns out that if you’re a chicken (well, rooster) in Germany, you go ‘gickerigeek’.

You don’t go ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’.

And because of that, all of the animals who were looking for each other, found each other.

Except this one little forlorn German chicken (well, rooster), running around the room, flapping her arms (okay, not really), making the most plaintive ‘gickerigeek’ you’ve ever heard.  Come to think of it, it’s likely the only ‘gickerigeek’ you’ve ever heard.  But the thing was, as accurate as this sound was in describing a rooster’s sound, it was a sound that no one recognized.

Eventually this got someone’s attention – and suddenly there was this entire barnyard full of little old ladies interrogating a very accurate, very fun loving, and yet, very stubborn little old lady (my mom).

They asked her what was up with this whole gickerigeek thing, and the truth came out.  It became clear to them that there are different words to mean the same thing, it just depends on where you come from, and from there on out, they knew that the sound that a rooster made in the morning was heard as ‘gickerigeek’ by some, and as ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ by others.

I ran into something like this at work the other day, where the same word was being used to mean two radically different things.  There was this rather heavy duty discussion about snapshot backups and databases – and my take was that they were absolutely not a valid backup solution… I’m thinking of it from a SQL perspective.

The fellow I was talking to was the guy who runs our SAN – and he was thinking of the word ‘snapshot’ from a totally different perspective, that of the SAN itself. Used that way, the way he was doing it, it was indeed a valid backup solution.  Not what I would have liked, but valid nonetheless.

Problem was, we were both hearing the same sound, but those working on the hardware end of things were essentially talking English, and thinking ‘cock-a-doodle-doo, while I, working in SQL, was hearing it in German, thinking that sound only meant ‘gickerigeek’.

Interestingly, it turns out that we were both right, but it took the digital equivalent of me running around the room, flapping my arms going ‘gickerigeek’ for quite some time before we were able to clear it up.

The end result was that everyone learned why, when we were doing our hourly full snapshot backups through the SAN, and while everything else looked right, the transaction log kept getting full.  The thought was that the log file shouldn’t grow, but it did, to the point of filling up a good percentage of the drive.  Some config changes, a lot of learning and understanding, and we were ready to go, problem solved.

Moral of the story? Well, just like the rooster my mom was hearing, it was so important to discover and understand that the “rooster” we were hearing really didn’t sound the same to everyone.  All the technical smarts in the world won’t solve your problems if you can’t get on the same page, and eventually we did. It was good to have it cleared up, and it saved us hundreds of gigs of drive space as a result.

H/T to David Klee (T|B) for the spark to write this, which included a link to the technical explanation in more detail.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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