Daily Coping 28 Jun 2022

I started to add a daily coping tip to the SQLServerCentral newsletter and to the Community Circle, which is helping me deal with the issues in the world. I’m adding my responses for each day here. All my coping tips are under this tag.

Today’s tip is to bring to mind a favorite memory you feel grateful for.

I have been very lucky in life and there are many, many memories I cherish. I love seeing Facebook or Google Photos bring back memories from the past and tell me what I was doing a year ago or two or ten.

I saw this photo recently. It struck me as I was talking with someone about one of my favorite trips with the family.

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We met in Christchurch, the family coming from the US and me coming from Australia. We drove down the Eastern coast of the South Island in New Zealand and stopped at a park for a break. Everyone enjoyed some of the equipment in the park before we went down to Dunedin for the night.

My family has been lucky to travel a lot together and enjoy the world, but going to New Zealand was a real treat and I am grateful for the opportunity. This might have been one of the best trips ever.

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Alert Filtering in SQL Monitor

SQL Monitor has improved a lot over the last couple of years. We have multiple teams building features and addressing issues, and each month when we have a readout of changes, I’m impressed. Since we update the produce every week or two, customers are seeing these enhancements regularly.

Recently I saw a demonstration of the alert filtering improvements and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Lots of Alerts

If I go to monitor.red-gate.com, there are a lot of alerts raised across our test systems. While each individual card shows the current alerts, there are more behind the scenes. I’ll write about the cards another time, but in this post, let’s just look at the Alerts tab.

You can see in the image there are 24k+ alerts, and they are distributed across a variety of systems. The left side shows the groupings for databases and a count of alerts.  The main section of the screen shows lots of alert types listed, the source database, etc.

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One thing I like is the use of color and visual cues. Above, most of these alerts are low level, and bordered on the left in blue. A mid level alert is shown here in yellow. This helps me to triage and decide what to do.

Filtering

While I can click on the server groups on the left and limit the views to a group (or a server), there are still a lot of alerts. The Production group shows 291 below.

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The sm-dc2 shows 109 itself when selected.

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One of the newer filtering options is that I can click the dropdown at the top of the screen for Alert Type and then limit what I see. The default is all alert types.

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However, I can uncheck that and pick just one type, like Machine Unreachable.

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Now I only see a couple of alerts.

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I can also filter by the alert level, tags, a timeframe, alert property, or alert status.  All of this let me focus in on specific aspects of what might be wrong with a database. Using Filters is a good way to more quickly determine what might be happening on a database and how frequently I have these issues. From there, I can use my own skills and understanding of the database to determine what might be causing alerts to fire.

If you give SQL Monitor a try, I’m sure you’ll find it valuable for managing and monitoring your estate, helping you to quickly detect and respond to issues. Download an eval today and give it a try.

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Accounting for Typos

When I watched Star Trek as a kid, I was amazed by the technology. Talking to the computer, the touch screens, the handheld communicators. We have most of those devices now, without the space travel. Hopefully that will start to change with all the efforts being made by various organizations.

One of the things that always bothered me was the chance for mistakes. A mis-spoken (or mis-heard) command to a computer that didn’t verify things as a human might. The chance to hit the wrong part of the screen as the starship moved. It seemed as though soft buttons would have allowed more mistakes than hard ones. Certainly humans make mistakes with physical switches, but I think I make more mistakes trying to hit a part of the screen in my Tesla than using one of the (few) buttons or wheels to change something. Interestingly enough, my 23 year old decided on a slightly older car because it had more physical buttons and fewer soft ones.

We are human. Frail and faulty. We make mistakes. Some are small (I ran a SELECT query on the wrong database), some are bigger. A mistaken copy paste error sent US$36 million away. That is the type of mistake that could happen to any of us, though hopefully not at this scale of financial loss.

This type of mistake is a main reason why I think DevOps and automated flows for development, testing, and even for production updates are a good idea. This doesn’t prevent human error, but it does serve to limit it and reduce silly mistakes. Often these types of errors are caught when we force someone to work through a bit of a process. An easy and quick process, but still a process.

In the case in the article, you would hope that someone looking to make changes would write an update that can be tested in a second environment before applying to the production blockchain. Perhaps with some idempotent wrapper and a pre-check that verifies the target. That might seem like overkill, but it’s the type of care that most of us take when we know we aren’t going to be the one executing the code. If you submitted a script to a DevOps process, you’d want to be sure the process running your code made the proper decision of whether to run the code or stop because of some error.

We won’t prevent all errors, but a lot of automation and light DevOps process is designed to limit simple, silly human errors because we are tired, distracted, or otherwise unfocused. I am a proponent of having humans design systems and processes, but then letting the computer handle the drudgery of following the process over and over on a regular basis.

Steve Jones

 

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher, Spotify, or iTunes.

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Daily Coping 27 Jun 2022

I started to add a daily coping tip to the SQLServerCentral newsletter and to the Community Circle, which is helping me deal with the issues in the world. I’m adding my responses for each day here. All my coping tips are under this tag.

Today’s tip is to create a playlist of uplifting songs.

I listen to a wide variety of music, primarily on Spotify. I have lots of playlists, but for this tip, I decided to make a new one. I went through a number of existing playlists and grabbed some of the songs I love listening to that put me in a good mood and make me smile.

Enjoy.

Uplifting Songs

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