What’s a forgivable mistake?

Most of us try our best to do the best job they can each day at work. We never try to make mistakes. We might be lazy at times, or avoid some work, but we don’t try to do anything incorrectly. We might shortcut something, hoping a partial completion or quick patch is enough to satisfy a requirement, but we don’t actively do things incorrectly.

At least I hope that’s the case for all of you. I assume there are some BOFH people out there, but they are few and far between.

That being said, we’re human. We will have accidents, we’ll do something without thinking, or we’ll click (or type) the wrong item. Sometimes these errors go unnoticed until we can correct them. Perhaps they go unnoticed for years, and we completely forget about them.

Other little “whoops” mistakes have widespread consequences. I’ve seen incorrect firewall rules deployed that took down entire swaths of a business. There are incorrect deployments by developers, putting out old, or even future, code that breaks things down. DBAs might change, or even truncate, the wrong data at times. That’s something I’ve certainly been guilty of in the past.

In your job, are there mistakes you make that are forgivable? I’d hope that most are, and you don’t worry about certain tasks affecting your employment status. I’m sure there are potential mistakes that might require termination, but I’d hope these are repeated mistakes and not one time events.

Let us know today what mistakes might be forgivable in your organization. These might not be something you’ve done, but perhaps something you’ve witnessed. How much mercy does your management have for the humans trying to manage their database systems?

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher or iTunes.

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HP is the 2019 Laptop Winner

This is for me, not necessarily for you, but I decided to go with the HP Spectre again. I saw an email from Best Buy over the Thanksgiving weekend, and surprisingly, the HP was listed on sale. US$300 off the normal $1799 price. I checked HP and they had the laptop at $1399, but that was a 512GB SSD instead of 1TB.

I thought about it for a few days and Sunday, after a little gym time, I decided to just get one. I was lad I did as the item showed sold out when I got come and wanted to check the Windows edition. Apparently more were on sale Monday, but I was glad I just grabbed on.

It’s a nice machine, and I like the power cord being angled on the rear corner. Much easier (for me) than the side. I also like the power button being on the other corner, as I often accidentally hit the other power button when picking up the machine.

Contenders

The big contenders for me were the  Dell XPS, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, and the Yoga 940. These were all the small size and weight, with similar specs. I read a number of reviews, and tried to weigh the importance of differences for me.

The Dell is really nice, but I bemoan the lack of a USB-3 port. I often use this for a pointer when presenting. While I can certainly have a dongle or adapter, I felt like I’d just prefer a normal USB port. It’s also nice for a quick phone charge if I need it.

The X1 is a very light machine, and the pointer is very attractive. I’ve missed not having one over the years, as I first thought this was a great idea in the 90s, in the era before trackpads. Ultimately, this was a more expensive machine, and I’m not sure it was worth it. The config I wanted, even on Cyber Monday, would have been $400-500 more (I only lightly repriced it). At Redgate, we try to spend wisely, and I decided to do that.

Initial Impressions

The HP is a nice machine. It’s well built, and it reminds me of the previous model I had (actually 2 generations back), but this one seems to have a better trackpad and a nice, solid feel. That previous one has lasted well, and I’m looking forward to this one.

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In using it for a few hours to start installing things, it worked well. I found the keyboard to be smooth and comfortable, and the trackpad certainly works better than the old one. I found the old one to have lots of inadvertent touches, but this one didn’t give me trouble.

It’s slightly smaller than the older one, with angled rear corners. All inall, a beautiful machine.

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The size is similar, but feels much smaller and lighter. Overall, I’m pleased.

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I’ll be spending a lot of time on this one in the next week as I prepare for SQL Saturday #910, so I’m sure I’ll tease out any issues soon. So far, I’m pleased, and hoping it performs and lasts as long as the previous one.

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Expect the Unexpected with DiRT

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 Testing) events. These are across many departments and can be substantial in terms of the disruption that the these events cause to their infrastructure. This is a way for the various individuals responsible for infrastructure to actually evaluate if they are prepared for potential issues.

If you read the article, you find that Google started small with these and progressed them to larger, more inclusive tests, like taking down a data center. They also whitelist some servers, knowing they cannot pass a test, so there is no reason to actually take them down. After all, business still needs to work.

It’s good to have tests and walk through actual events, like call lists and bridges to be sure that communication and documentation work. This might be especially important when teams often expect that all their written procedures are available. I went through an audit with one company, where we failed immediately when all our DR plans were on a network share. In this simulation, we had experienced a network failure and servers had crashed. We were supposed to bring up the systems on spare hardware, but some critical documentation wasn’t available without a network. We started printing things out right away so that we could continue on with the simulation (as well as have this in a binder in our office).

Not everyone can schedule large scale tests, and certainly many managers don’t see the point. They’ll often want to gamble that staff will “figure things out” if there is an incident. That doesn’t mean that DBAs and sysadmins can afford to wait for a disaster to practice some skills. Be sure that everyone on your team can recover databases, they know where backups are (or how to determine this), and multiple people have access to resources. The last thing you want is a disaster to occur during your vacation and have managers calling you to cut short your holiday because you’re the only one that knows where something is or has the authority to access a resource.

Think about this ahead of time and prepare.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher or iTunes.

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Resetting an Azure SQL Database Admin Password

This is likely something that most people know, but it was a bit confusing for me. This post is really here to remind me and help cement this in my mind.

I went to connect to a QA database that I don’t use very often, and for some reason, I couldn’t remember the password. I tried a number of them, but none worked. Not the best situation to find yourself in.

I then decided to just reset the password and went to the database Overview. This is what I saw:

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I could have sworn there was a “Reset” option here. I even tried searching a few places and there were people that mentioned there being a reset. Why wasn’t I seeing one?

Because I was in the wrong place. Reading closer a post on the Tech Community, I see that I need to be in the SQL Server server blade, not the database.

Once I realized that, I clicked over to that spot in the portal. Looking at my SQL Server, and I see the Reset.

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Slightly confusing, and certainly something I hope I remember from here, but if a new developer is working with databases, they might not realize this.

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