What Grown Ups Should Do For the Holidays

When I was a kid, growing up seemed like a drag. The world is wonderful and new for kids, and the holidays are full of magic, presents, and never-ending fun. Grown ups, it seemed, miss out on that.

It turns out that growing up isn’t terrible. It’s not even so bad to have to act like an adult most of the time. These days, the holidays are an incredibly busy time for me: there’s always loads of work, not enough time for shopping, and friends making delicious food somewhere nearby. It’s easy to get swept up in it all and forget about what’s going on, really.

2013 has been a great year, but it’s had a few events that have reminded me about what’s important.

The worst thing about growing up is that you lose people. Life is fragile, and we’re all here for a limited time. We all lose amazing people in our lives, and the longer we live the more loss we see.

Here’s what’s important for grown ups to do on the holidays: tell people that you love them. It’s a time to stop and really enjoy moments with your friends and family. It’s a time to value what you do, and respect yourself and others. You may not have all the magical forgetfulness and wonder that you had as a kid, but telling people that you loved them brings back a little bit of that childlike perfection.

Life is short. We work to make it great.

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How I Got Over Google Reader and Learned to Love Newsblur

I was sad when Google Reader died and went to the Google Graveyard. I was SERIOUSLY sad, that’s not a metaphor. I’d used Reader for years– I have no idea when I started using it. I thought that as long as the Internet existed, Reader would exist.

I read lots of blogs. SQL Server blogs. Paleo blogs. Delicious looking food blogs. Scalability blogs.

Kendar-Newsblur

This is How I Newsblur

When Reader died, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I Picked Newsblur on a recommendation

I don’t really like to stop for applications. I asked Jeremiah what he was going to use. He said Newsblur. I asked him if it was good for normal people who wanted to see pictures of cupcakes easily, or if I’d have to use a command line to do everything. He said I could see my cupcakes.

Off I went. Months later, I love it.

Newsblur gets better and better

I use Newsblur on my phone and by web browser. It’s easy to read in both places. It gets my posts frequently. It works reliably and well.

And the coolest thing is that Newsblur frequently improves. The fellow who writes Newsblur updates it often. He’s really just a guy out there who started this thing because it was interesting to him. I like it so much that I bought a premium account which does cool things.

And you know what? I don’t mind paying. I love supporting a software developer who makes a really cool app. In fact, I love that a lot more than using a free app from Google that I just took for granted.

Google Reader, I don’t even miss you anymore.

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GUIs Aren’t Just for Newbies

Many people believe that if you’re an experienced developer or DBA, you always use command line or script based tools. That’s how it worked in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, right? So graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) are for beginners– it’s code that the pros use.

I agree, to an extent. Code’s great for creating repeatable change scripts. It’s great for automation. It’s needed for source control (duh).

Script MeBut don’t give up on the GUIs.

GUIs Help You MAKE Scripts

One of my favorite features of SQL Server Management Studio is that it helps you script things out. For most tasks, you can stage them in the GUI, then find a button that allows you to script the task out.

That’s great for helping you check that code in, record it in your change process, all that great stuff.

GUIs Make Some Things Easier

It pays to spend time with a GUI, because there’s all sorts of hidden goodies.

With SQL Server, it’s worth it to keep the latest and greatest installation of SQL Server Management Studio on your desktop machine. You can download it for free. You don’t have to update the version of your production server.

In SQL Server 2012, new GUI features help you do restores of damaged pages much more quickly, and streamline some steps.

Don’t Assume GUIs Are BabyProofed

One of the reasons I like to script out from a GUI is that it doesn’t always do exactly what I think it will. Examining the script it creates may help you notice things that are going wrong. In the worst case, the script will at least leave you a bread crumb trail to work out later what actually happened.

Those new GUI features for restores I mentioned in SQL Server 2012 are a case in point: if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you could accidentally take your database offline when trying to restore a copy– or even lose data.

Don’t Judge A User By Their GUI

I work with lots of clients, many of whom have used SQL Server for years. Some like using the GUI more than others.

It turns out, using the GUI for occasional tasks isn’t really an indicator of skill, intelligence, or speed. People who’ve written good automation still sometimes use the GUI to take care of a one time task quickly– and they are even¬†fast at doing it! GUIs really do make some tasks quicker and easier, as long as you know what you’re doing.

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Why I Choose Weird Hair

I got a lot of comments about my hair on my trip to North Carolina in October. The comments came from my flight crew from Atlanta to Charlotte, from taxi drivers, hotel staff, and lots of people at the convention I attended.

I’m a grown woman who has a big pink-red stripe in her hair. It’s a little weird. What’s up with that?

Hair

A Visual Reminder

I love color. A big part of my professional success relies on thinking of new ways to do things and embracing change. Why not be a bit unconventional? Every time I look in the mirror, I have a cue to remind me that not everything has to be uniform and straightlaced.

Oops, it’s Camoflage

There’s nothing weird about pink hair in Portland, Oregon. People don’t really look twice at you around here (as long as you’re fully clothed).

When I colored my hair, I didn’t get any comments on it at the cafe, at the grocery store, or from any locals. It’s just not notable. Honestly, it makes me blend in… which isn’t actually what I’d intended, but I do rather love that my home town is full of quirky flair.

In fact, I pretty much forgot that my hair was weird until I went to North Carolina.

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