#SQLSaturday Albany, July 25, 2020 #SQLSat961

The SQL Saturday #961 site went live this morning! It will be held on July 25, 2020, on the campus of the University at Albany. This will be the seventh time that CASSUG has hosted SQL Saturday!

I’ve already submitted my sessions (in fact, I was the first one to submit)!

My hometown SQL Saturday is always a special one for me, and upstate New York is beautiful in the summertime (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a native of upstate New York)!

Come and join us in late July for a great day of learning and networking!

NY subway map: Designing out of the box

I came across this link on the New York Times website that talks about how the current New York City subway map was designed. I found it to be fascinating. It was a neat article about how the design came about, and how thinking out-of-the-box resulted in ideas that made it better.

Out of curiosity, I looked for previous iterations of the NY subway map before it was overhauled starting in 1979. I came across this map from 1978 on NYCSubway.org. Although I don’t actually live in NYC, I know it well enough to be able to get around and survive. I don’t know about you, but if I tried to use this map to get around New York City, I’d probably be totally lost. I only vaguely remember how rough NYC subways were at that time (for some people, that bad reputation endures to this day), but it wouldn’t have surprised me if this map contributed to subway rider angst.

A number of things struck me as I went through the Times‘ interactive article.

  • Designing out of the box: Some of the design techniques included, among other things, designing lines by riding the subway with eyes closed and sketching how they “felt,” eschewing “straight-line maps” used by many other subway maps to reduce confusion, and combining parallel routes into trunk lines.

    I think it goes to show how much can be accomplished with unconventional thinking.

    Much of this out-of-the-box thinking emphasizes a concept that I espouse as a technical communicator, which is…
  • Less is more: As I’ve said time and again, reading is work. If a document needs to be understood within seconds, and it takes more than a few seconds to comprehend a document, it has failed. Innovations, such as the aforementioned trunk lines, strategically using varying colors and fonts, and eliminating superfluous landmarks, contributed to making the map easier to follow.
  • Documenting history: I also found the interactive article to be a neat history lesson about the NY transit system, map design, and New York history in general.

Any time that I take a trip down to the City, I take the NYC subway map for granted. I now have a greater appreciation of it, and I’ll probably be thinking about it the next time I hop a NYC subway.

And for those of you who are planning a trip to New York City, hopefully, this makes your planning somewhat easier!

Expect the Unexpected with DiRT

Steve‘s article reminded me about the first time I gave my Disaster Documents presentation at a SQL Saturday.

At the end of my presentation, one attendee started an argument with me. He kept saying that paper was dead, everything was online, and there was no reason to keep hardcopy documents. I argued, what if you can’t get to your online documentation?

Not surprisingly, he gave me a poor evaluation.

The bottom line is this: even documentation needs a backup. Other than, say, getting lost in a fire, paper documents can’t break. At a minimum, have hardcopy documents that instruct how to get minimal services back up and running, and back up other recovery documentation so you can recover it later.

Voice of the DBA

Disaster recovery is one of the core tasks that many DBAs think about on a regular basis. Ensuring that we can get our data back online, available, accessible, and intact is important. More than a few DBAs that haven’t been able to recover systems, find themselves seeking new employment.

That’s not to say that most DBAs perform perfectly under pressure. Plenty make mistakes, and there may be times when they can’t recover all data. There does seem to be a correlation between how often DBAs practice recovery skills and how well they perform in an actual emergency. I know that at a few companies, we scheduled regular disaster tests, though often with simulated recovery of a systems that didn’t expect to actually take over a workload. Arguably not a good test, but better than nothing.

Google takes things a step further. They have annual, company wide, multi-day DiRT (Disaster Recovery…

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Blogging virtual presentation — January 21

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that another virtual presentation was in the works. Well, it’s been scheduled!

I will be doing my ‘blogging presentation at noon, EST, on Tuesday, January 21!

Use this link for more information and to register! Feel free to join me!

#SQLSaturday #953, Rochester — February 29 #SQLSat953

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted presentations for SQL Saturday #953 in Rochester, NY on February 29, 2020. The other day, I received an email from the organizers (Andy Levy, I presume) encouraging us to spread the word about the event.

Okay, Andy. I will oblige!

I submitted the following five presentations for Rochester.

Assuming that I’m selected to speak, this would be my next scheduled presentation event, as of today. Hopefully, I’ll see you in Rochester in a couple of months!

Life highlights

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

The past few years, I’ve participated in my school’s alumni band as the basketball team played early season tournament games in New York City. I didn’t do so this year, because the games were scheduled around Thanksgiving. The logistics involved with my schedule, which included travel to and from New York City, were just too much, so I decided not to participate this year. I posted as such to Facebook, and one of my friends jokingly responded, “now that you’ve performed at Carnegie Hall, you’re too good for Alumni Band now?” I got a good laugh out of that, but another friend, who performed in both bands with me, also talked about his “tour of highlights where he’s performed.”

It turned into an amusing thread, but it also got me thinking about high points in my life. Now that I’m able to sit down and reflect about it (today, the Friday after Thanksgiving — I’m intentionally avoiding the Black Friday crowds today), I realize that I’ve had my share of life highlights — possibly more than most people have had in their lifetime. Far be it for me to boast about myself — I’m not that kind of person (seriously, I’m not!) — but here are some of the bigger, high profile moments that I’ve had (that I remember).

  • I’ll start with my most recent. Earlier this month, I’ve had two within the span of four days. As I mentioned already, I performed with my community band at Carnegie Hall on Veteran’s Day. The previous Friday — only three days earlier — I’d given a presentation at PASS Summit. The former is a big moment in my extracurricular career, while the latter is a big one in my professional life.
  • From my most recent to one of my first: in 1981, my high school marching band was picked to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (You can see a video of my band’s performance here! I’m playing the marching bells; you can actually see me around 0:25 in the video!) I think any young person would pick that as a highlight of his or her life! We were positioned after the Superman balloon and in front of Dave Winfield on the Big Apple float. I remember rehearsing on dark city streets in midtown Manhattan at 3 or 4 in the morning, and all the bands gathered on 34th Street after the parade to perform Christmas Sing-A-Long.
  • I would have a few more moments with my high school band. We performed at a few NFL games, probably none bigger than the infamous snow game. Yes I was there! We were supposed to perform the halftime show, but they didn’t let us on the field — ostensibly for safety reasons. We performed the national anthem from the stands, and left after halftime. We did not even stay long enough to see the infamous snow plow on the field!
  • We even got to perform pregame at a few Yankee games! This was especially thrilling for me, as a big Yankee fan! The high point was performing a solo with the band my senior year. As a clarinet player, I had to be miked. I remember playing my solo (which I could play in my sleep) while thinking, “I am playing in the outfield at Yankee Stadium!”

I’ll stop there — you probably couldn’t care less about my life tour — but as you can see, I’ve had a number of “highlight reel” moments throughout my life. Now that I sit back and think about where I’ve been, I realize that I’ve done pretty well — and I’m not finished yet. We’ll see where my next adventure — whatever it may be — takes me.

So, what “highlights” have you experienced in your life? Every now and then, take a moment to sit down and contemplate what you’ve accomplished — and you’ll realize that you’ve done pretty well.

Don’t tell me how to build the clock! Just tell me what time it is!

I felt a need to reblog this article, because this still continues to be an ongoing frustration. I’m reminded of this every time someone (the same person to whom I refer in my original article) feels a need to explain everything in his status update.

Why do people, especially technologists, insist on including every last detail about what they’re doing?

People don’t want detail! They just want the high level overview!

Why don’t these people understand that?

Welcome to Ray Kim's 'blog

This article’s title comes from something that a former manager used to tell me all the time — often enough that he seemed very fond of saying it. Nevertheless, it’s an important message. This is not the first time I’ve written about this issue, but it’s something that occurs all too frequently. It is a problem in technical and business communication, and the issue is something that bears repeating.

I was reminded of this during our daily status update meeting this morning. The gist of this regularly scheduled meeting is that everyone has a short time — usually no more than a minute, if that — to provide a brief update of what they have going on. The key word here is brief.

One person proceeded to go into detail about some of the projects he had going (he has a tendency to do so). He’s been pretty good…

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