The Multifunctioning DBA

July 27, 2010  4:36 PM

Mental Health

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

As and IT person, sometimes you can get overwhelmed with the things that are going on. You have to be able to get thru it and function. You can not let a mental block stop your progress. I have found that to keep my head on straight, when I come up on a time when I feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or whatever by the job,  I take a day off. I call it a mental health day. Sometimes I just need a break and that is that. I do not need a long time away just a good break where I put the phone on silent and do not worry about it at all. I just do something that has nothing to do with tech. Like watch stupid movies all day long, go for a hike, just something that takes my mind completley off of work. Then, when I go back the next day I can get a ton done. It is easier to focus and to really get things done. I find that by taking a day off when I feel bad about work can make me way more productive then if I just try to power thrugh it. Do not be afraid to take that day off and make up the work the next day. It really works for me. Just make sure you have the time off to take.

July 24, 2010  8:09 PM


Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I would say that a good percentage of IT Professionals have to be on-call every now and then. Where I work it is usually not that bad. I am on a rotation that puts me on call one week every third week. That seems like a lot but we really do not get that many calls or pages. Sometimes though it can get a bit crazy. It seems like when one thing goes bad it all goes bad. This month, for instance, I work with two other DBA’s and both needed to switch on call. I am still the new guy on the team so I volunteered to just take the days for them that they needed to not be on call. Like I said it is usually not to bad. Well I did not think about it when I made the plans and I have now figured out that I am on-call just about this entire month and we have some major server moves going on. All of these happen after hours so who gets stuck with them all. Me of course because I am on-call. Just a warning to all others not to over subscribe yourself like I have. Now I do not gt to go anywhere all month, not even to the movies or anything like that.

July 24, 2010  10:00 AM

Funny things you hear in IT

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

Today I was talking to a couple guys that I work with and we started talking about some of the funny things that users say. The one today was pretty good, the help desk ticket came in stating that the users “Internet Controller Interface Card” was not working. The users logic was that they could not get on the internet but everyone else could. Another one was that the computer kept “Eating my floppy disks”. I talked to this user and they stated that they would put a disk in and nothing would happen, and they could not get the disk out. They decided to put another one in and see what happend. Same thing. I arrived on scene and found that the computer did not have a floppy drive in it. I took the case apart and found her floppy disks sitting at the bottom of the case.

Some days it is events like this that just make you laugh that make the day go by and make it more worthwhile. Now you know that some people just have no clue.

July 23, 2010  9:00 PM

EMERGENCY three times over

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I got a call from a customer out of state that said they needed an emergency restore of a test database. I chuckled a bit and asked what made it such an emergency. I was told that they were attempting to do some testing and the database did not have the correct data in it and they needed to load it with newer data from production. Now I know that as a DBA I want to make everyone think that there database and there problem is the most important to me. I acknowledged the predicament that they were in and I got to work to get them what they needed. I did also explain to the user that this is not an emergency since it is not affecting production but that I will always be willing to do these tasks as quickly as I can.

Then about 30 seconds after that I got a call from a local customer that needed an Emergency restore of two production databases to new database names so that both could be online. I hurried and got them restored as they asked and asked if I could do anything else to help them. They said no and then I asked why the emergency? They, the developers, have sysadmin on the instance, I have tried to fight this, and they deleted a bunch of data while developing a fix for another issue.

Now I am not really happy that I have to come in and do a restore to help them when they shot themselves in the foot. We have tried and tried to take the sysadmin role away from them but the bosses keep saying to let them keep it. Perhaps this will help us get some control back over this instance. This is a prime example of why you do not want developers developing in production.

July 23, 2010  5:17 PM

New Toy Part 4

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

So as you know I purchased a WHS and I love it. I did remove the McAffee AV that came installed and put another product on it. I also disabled the Twonky server that was running on it as I found that when streaming video files to my PS3 I could not pause the video. That is a big deal to me so bye bye Twonky. I did install PS3 Media Server so that I can stream my DVD ISO’s to both my XBOX360 and PS3. It works great to the PS3 but to the XBOX360 I do still have some settings to tweak. The audio gets very very out of sync. I also moved my PlayOn Media Server from my main PC to the WHS and it has not had any issue serving up any content from PlayOn either. I have it taking backups of all my PC’s overnight and restoring is a snap. Really after a few tweaks I could not be happier at this point. I still want to test streaming some Blue Ray content but I think that my wireless network my cause me some issues with that. I will try and see and if need be I will hardwire all the hardware.

June 30, 2010  7:00 PM

More Ranting

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

About three weeks ago some new hardware came in and the server build team gave it to me, of course it needed SQL Installed Yesterday right. Well this build required SQL Server, SSAS, SSIS, and SSRS to be installed. No big deal I did the install did all of my configuration and handed it to the application team. Well when I did my config I told SQL Server to take 32 Gigs of memory and lock it in memory. I did this because it is a server with 64Gigs of Ram and I know that SSAS is going to need a significant chuck as well. I configured SSAS to take 30 Gigs and this should have left 2Gigs for the OS. Well I got a call and the app team was telling me that the server was paging like crazy. I logged on and it sure was. I start digging around and I found that in the Task Manager only 32 Gigs was being reported. Turns out that the server team installed a standard version of the OS and not the Enterprise that we purchased. Really? I mean they knew that it had 64Gigs of memory installed. Did they think that we just put that there for safe keeping in case we needed it later? Any way not the end of the world. Should be able to upgrade it with minimal down time, but still.

June 30, 2010  10:00 AM

New Toy Part 3

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

So last night I got home and I started playing some more with my new WHS. I played with the backups and it is a very nice feature. I have a netbook that I use when I travel but mostly just for playing around with. I have used it for running OSX, new versions of Windows, and ubuntu, even had it triple booting at one time. Well now I just have Win 7 Ultimate on it and it runs great. I do not have much installed on it and I do not really put any important data on it. So I installed the WHS Connector, set up a backup, and I was off and running. the backup, over a wireless G network, took only about 20 minutes and the backup was just over 10 Gigs. So I thought well now I need to test this backup. I put in the client restore CD and it found the WHS and imaged my netbook back to its current glory. No issues. Very hapy with that. It also lets you specify the retention times for your backups so you do not use a ton of disk space on them. I will use this for every machine in my house.

June 29, 2010  7:30 PM

New Toy part 2

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

So I got in my WHS machine and I set it up. I have not had the time to really dive in to deep yet but so far so good and I love it. I have been able to upgrade the storage to 4 TB with no issue at all. Put the drive in the tray and slide it in. It takes a second but as soon as the light stays on you can go into the storage and enable the disk. Worked like a charm for all drives. I have just the default shares enabled right now and I think that they will be sufficient for the time being. I set up a few users so that the needed users will have access to the shares, and the correct access. I also have moved all of my Music, that is about 45 Gigs worth of CD’s that I actually own that I ripped to MP3. I am also using folder duplication on that folder to make sure that my MP3’s are all safe. This means that I will have the data on at least two of the drives. This way if one dies I do not lose my data.
I am using the media collector function to find all the photos that I have across the multiple computers around the house and they are all being synched up to the server. This is working but not as well as I would like. I think some more tweaking is needed here. I also just pushed a couple video files over to it to test out the Twonky powered streaming and man that works great. Video quality, streaming to my PS3 or my XBox 360 and audio comes across in 5.1 as well. I did notice, and this is a big deal, that on my PS3 I can not pause the stream. Big BOO for that.

I will post more as I continue to play with the features.

June 29, 2010  4:21 PM

Ranting a bit

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I have four SQL Server installations to get done in the next couple of days. Not that this is a big deal or a task that is to overwhelming but I have to rant a bit. My lead time on these is not much. When my company orders a server, the group needing the server fills out some paperwork that details what the server will be used for and what needs to be installed. This then goes to the server build team, of wich I am not a part, and they get a couple weeks to get the build complete. Well say 12 days into the build time I get an email saying that this needs SQL Server installed and it has to be ready to go live in a day or two. Really, you had two weeks to get this done and you are just now telling me? You could not have sent me an email on day one just giving me a heads up so that I would be able to plan the time that I need to get the installs completed. Again it is not that doing an install is so tough that I need days to complete. It is usually a matter of hours for the install and the configuration, but I do other things during the day. I do not just wait for someone to tell me that SQL needs to be installed on a server. All I am asking for is a heads up so that I can better plan my time.

June 27, 2010  2:00 PM

Problems installing SQL

Colin Smith Colin Smith Profile: Colin Smith

I was asked to remove and re-install SQL Server on a host, this is usually no big deal and something that I can get done in a matter of hours. I can usually install and configure SQL Server to my standards fairly quickly. This was a bit different though. When I logged on to the server I noticed that some SQL Server components had been installed but none were functioning. I proceded to the Control Panel to remove the applications but when I attempted to do so it just hung. I let it run, as I was busy with some other things. The uninstall finally finished, hours later, and I also noticed that the directory structure on the Server was nothing like it should have been. I thought that since I had removed everything I could go ahead and clean up the directories before I re-installed. Well I started to delete some no longer needed files and I could not. Kept telling me that the file was open by some other application. I fought and fought with it and finally I decided to disable the on access scanner that our AV has. As soon as I did so I was able to remove the files. I sent a note to our Virus Guy and did not think much else about it. I cleaned up everythin that I needed to and then I installed SQL Server. Again it took FOREVER to install. I let it run overnight. When I returned the next day it had an error about not being able to start the SQL Server Service. I attempted to start it manually and it failed and no useful errors were being logged. I noticed the that on access scanner was on again so I turned it off and now the service started just fine. Again I sent a note to the virus guy and finished the install.
Just thought I would share the story as others may have strange issues like I had and hopefully you will now think to look at your AV and make sure that it is configured properly.

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