Recently I found the blog of Joey deVilla (@AccordionGuy on Twitter) who is the Developer Evangelist for Microsoft up in Toronto, Canada. Joey has started doing something which I think is great for the IT comminity. He picks a coffee shop in the area, tells everyone that he’ll be there and plants himself there for the part of the day talking with and assisting where he can the local IT Pros and Developers.
Personally I think this is a great idea, so I’ve decided to “borrow” his idea (can’t really say I’m stealing his idea, he told me I should do it) and start doing Coffee and Code days here in SoCal.
Since I know there are more IT Pros and IT Devs in Irvine, there here in Riverside I figure for the first one I’ll head over there. So, Friday March 6th I’ll be at the Starbucks at the Tustin Market place (2959 El Camino Real Tustin, California) from 3pm until 7pm. Feel free to come by for a few minutes, or for the afternoon.
The reason that I choose a Starbucks is that the Internet isn’t that expensive and if you have AT&T Internet at home (or on your cell phone I think) you can use the AT&T Hotspot at Starbucks for free.
Now if you go to Starbucks a lot, most of the time Costco has Starbucks gift cards for sale. You get $100 worth of gift cards for $80.
So if you have some free time and want to come by and talk, code, and/or drink Coffee I’ll be there. If you are going to be there, please remember to by something from Starbucks so they don’t yell at us for being there. If need by we’ll move outside and take over some of the patio; weather permitting of course no one wants a wet laptop. Joey has posted some tips for working outside of the office which I highly recommend for those who aren’t used to using a coffee shop or restaurant as your office.
I may have a spare power strip I can bring, I’ll dig around to see if I do, since they only have a couple of power outlets.
See you at Starbucks on the 6th.
I was having Lunch with a friend of mine a few days ago, and we got talking about surviving layoffs.
With the current economic nightmare that is upon us we need to switch gears a little bit. The traditional technique that IT folks use if be valuable, but not so valuable that you can’t be promoted. In the current economy if you can be promoted you can also be laid off.
At come companies it simply may not be possible to avoid layoff rounds. If the CEO (or other C level schmuck) says that your division isn’t needed any more HR will simply layoff everyone. Sadly there isn’t much you can do about this. However if the departments are told to start cutting 10% of the workforce you can do a few things which can help you avoid the ax.
Make yourself invaluable
Now isn’t the time to worry about if you aren’t going to be able to get moved up into that next position. Most companies aren’t going to be promoting anyone any time soon. Now is the time to make yourself invaluable to the department and the company so that they feel like they can’t keep the company running without you. In larger companies this can be harder to do, as the more people that the company has, the more redundancy there is.
Get to know the people above you
Get to know as many people in the food chain above you as possible. If you don’t know your director or VP they will have no problem laying you off. Why, because they don’t know you. If they don’t know you there’s no emotional attachment which would make them think twice about laying you off. Get to know them, say high to them, and make sure that they know you, and what you do for them, and how you make their job easier. If they know that you make their job easier they’ll be less likely to lay you off, because their job will then be harder.
There is a downside to this, in that if you piss them off in some way, your screwed so use caution.
Schedule a mid year review
This one is going to sound a little funky, but bear with me.
Document what you’ve been doing for the company (just the good stuff) to save them money, and more importantly make them money. Ask for boss (and if possible your bosses boss) if they have time to review some items with you. This will give you a chance to remind them just how much you do for the company. Anything you can bring with specific dollar figures on it will be great. Make sure that you aren’t asking for a raise just that you want some constructive feedback so that you can help the company make it though these touch economic times.
When you setup the meeting let your bosses know that you aren’t asking them to bring anything formal to the meeting, since you are going to bring everything with you. This is a time to get some extra face time with the bosses and give them a firm reminder that you are kicking ass and taking no prisoners.
Work overtime without compaint
If you get asked to work late for a project or a release, or to work on an issue (espeically by your boss, or someone higher up the chain) reminding them that you work 9-5 and that’s it probably isn’t the best technique. If you aren’t willing to work overtime I’m sure someone there is willing to, and when it comes time to cut someone they squeeky wheel isn’t getting greased, its getting a pink slip.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use these tips for anything, but if you do its good to have more ammo in the bag.
NULL values are something that a lot of people just don’t understand the use off. Continued »
For those of you in the LA area, I’ll be speaking at the LA SQL Users Group on March 19, 2009. The presentation will be on Indexing SQL Server. If you missed the my Indexing session at the Janunary 2009 SoCal Code Camp this will be a similar presentation, just longer since we won’t be quite so tight on time.
Map and directions on are the LA SQL Users Group website. I believe that there is a parking free to park (it’s at UCLA) plus a few bucks at the meeting.
This is my first presentation at the LA SQL Users Group so I’ll probably get there early to be sure I can find the place. If you want to get there early and hunt me down I’ll be happy to chat with anyone that shows.
See you there.
I was tagged by Denis Gobo in his post What was your first computer….
My first PC was some Texas Instruments unit my dad bought. It was pretty much a word processor, I don’t even remember if it had any games. It hooked up to the TV like many units of the day. We had a printer for it, so we must have had some sort of expansion slot for it. I think we had the tape player for it as well.
Our first actual PC was an IBM 8080 cloan (the precursor to the 8086 that gave birth to the x86 line). My parents spent a fortune on it. It was upgraded to 640k of RAM, a single sided single density floppy drive (so 120k of data or something). It had a 20 Meg hard drive and a 16 color VGA video card (I used the monitor for like 18 years before I got rid of it). It came with DOS 3 something on it, and we kept it up through 6.2 I think. File Manager for DOS was the best addition at the time.
I remember that we had a three button Logitech track ball that was rectangular. I used that from the time I was 6 until I was 20 when I finely had to replace it (the monitor outlasted the trackball).
I remember that my dad bought be some programming kit for it when I was 8 or 9. Probably VB for DOS or something like that. It came with a bunch of games that you could tweak the code of and play. I remember spending months making my own Brick Breaker levels (they called it something else) and playing them over and over.
The coolest upgrade my dad got for the machine was the modem and a Prodigy account. I wasted who knows how many hours playing the games that Prodigy offered over a 300 bps external modem.
Since I’ve now told my story its time for some others to tell theirs. Time to tag a couple of people I don’t normally.
For those of you who live under a rock (or you don’t read SQLBatman blog) or those that don’t routienly google for “sql vagina”, SQL Batman has written a very funny post on my SQL Server Agent project.
I’m pretty sure that I’m going to get banned from the WIT luncheon by proxy on this one.
In this article I talk about how to get data from XML files on disk into the SQL Server, and then provide examples on how to use OPENXML to turn the XML data into tabular data so that you can use it within SQL Server.
A little while back I published an article on Enterprise IT Planet called “Optimal Database Setup Hardware Guide“. In this article I talk about some key points that should be looked at when building a new SQL Server.
Shortly after I posted about a /. article on getting open source software to replace Microsoft software I got a few responses on Twitter, as well as a response from a fellow blogger here on the IT Knowledge Exchange John Little.
John posed a few questions in his post, which I wanted to address, as well as clarify my own statements a little bit. Continued »
It’s my turn for the Things You Know Now post thanks to Colin Stasiuk. The basic question asked at the beginning of the thread of posts is “What do you wish you knew when you started?”. Here are my answers.
1. People don’t like being shown up.
This was an issue for me mostly at the first IT job when I worked at Earthlink. While I had an IT job, and an IT function I didn’t work for the IT or MIS departments, I actually worked for the Customer Support department. This gave me some advantages and some disadvantages. The biggest advantage to getting things done for my customers was that I didn’t work in IT, so I didn’t have to follow the strict IT guidelines for getting stuff done. The downside was that I didn’t have the support or respect of pretty much anyone in the IT department for the company. On more than one occasion my customers would follow proper procedures and ask the IT group to build something, and they would get a crazy long time line like 12-18 months. Then they would come to my group and we’d give them a time line of 3 weeks, and we would deliver on that date. Needless to say the IT development teams didn’t like this very much at all, and in the long run it didn’t help me out very much when it came time for layoffs.
2. Knowing everything isn’t the key
When working in IT, knowing everything about every topic isn’t the most important thing. When I started in IT I tried to learn everything, and I mean everything. And while knowing at lot is important, knowing everything isn’t. The only time that you have to work in a vacuum is when you are at a job interview, other than that you have access to Google, Books, MSDN, etc and you can easily look information up if you don’t know it. I feel that while knowing a lot is important, knowing how to find the information is just as important.
3. User Groups are a great place to get information, and meet other admins
When I first started in IT (and for several years after that) I didn’t know about user groups. I wish that I had, because I haven’t known a whole lot of DBAs over my carrier until recently. I think it would have been great to know more DBAs earlier in my carrier, as well as get more information first hand from local senior level people. Recently I’ve been speaking at a lot of user groups and I’ve met a lot of great people at the meetings.
I’ll pass the fun onto a few friends (which as far as I know haven’t been tagged yet).