This is MY Island

Jason Massie (twitter) has tagged me in the most recent DBA chain letter. Tim Ford tagged him, and here we are. So, let’s recap, shall we?

So You’re On A Deserted Island With WiFi and you’re still on the clock at work. Okay, so not a very good situational exercise here, but let’s roll with it; we’ll call it a virtual deserted island. Perhaps what I should simply ask is if you had a month without any walk-up work, no projects due, no performance issues that require you to devote time from anything other than a wishlist of items you’ve been wanting to get accomplished at work but keep getting pulled away from I ask this question: what would be the top items that would get your attention?

There are a few things that have been on my plate recently.


I’m not going to lie – I want to do a little bit of programming now and then. The CLR contains some phenomenal features that can be leveraged both inside and outside of the database. As a consultant and database developer, it’s incredibly important that I stay up to speed on techniques to access the database. Why? Different technologies have different paradigms and idiosyncrasies. It’s important to understand how developers are interacting with data so you can steer them towards the appropriate data access methodologies for their particular technology stack/platform. Different data access methods also have different performance profiles. It’s important to understand how LINQ to SQL performs in relation to NHibernate and why you might want to use it. Plus, I really want to get my brain wrapped around NHibernate because it looks like an easy and powerful way to model data.

TSQL and the Storage Engine

I’m currently reading Itzik Ben-Gan’s amazing book: Inside Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008: T-SQL Querying. I would love to have the time to dive into this and read it a few times and experiment with the knowledge and techniques contained within its covers. Why? Part of what I do is tune SQL Server to run very fast. Part of making SQL Server run very fast is knowing how to write very fast queries. The next book on my reading list is Kalen Delaney’s book: Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Internals (Pro – Developer). Like Itzik’s book, this contains a lot of information that I’m itching to get a hold of. I know a bit about the query engine and it fascinates me. I would love to sit down and carefully devote my time to studying how it works and how I can take advantage of its inner workings to make my queries run fast.

Data Mining

Like Brent Ozar, I really want to wrap my brain around data mining and dig into it. There is phenomenal knowledge and power hidden inside of data. Let’s say you run a restaurant. You don’t know where your customers come from, but you know on any given Friday night you have the restaurant about 80% full, on average, all night. You advertise in the local paper that’s handed out in the area. You’re successful. This is good. What if I could tell you the following about your average customer:

  • 35-44 years old
  • male
  • spends an average of $48
  • tips an average of 18%
  • lives 12 miles away in zip code 43004
  • likes pie

Of course, if I could cross reference this with an even larger body of data, I could probably determine where this average customer is most likely to shop, how much he spends, and what kinds of mass media he’s most likely to pay attention to, etc. Suddenly you know where to spend your money, you know who to target, and you have a better idea of how to appeal to your best customers. This kind of information, as Brent mentioned, is money. Giant filthy piles of money. Who is next in this horrible glorious chain letter?

  • Jonathan Kehayias – SQL CLR maste rand builder of clusters
  • Tim Beinninghoff – bug enthusiast, PowerShell student, fighter of good fights, and all around good guy.
  • Rick Kierner – a filthy developer, coworker, and good friend.