Thursday, January 30, 2014

Head First C#, 3rd Edition; Greene, Stellman / O'Reilly

I started with Head First C#, going in with a blank slate. I’m a sys admin and DBA by trade, so I wanted a programming book that was at my level.

This is that book

I am big fan of how the book opens with writing code for a simple program. After that it moves into the logical and syntax of what just happened. This may or may not work for everyone, the style of “follow me, and do what I do, then I’ll tell you why”, it works for me. For anyone who learns-by-doing, this book is for you.

The writing style if informal, which, doesn’t speak to every type of reader, but it works for me. The book takes the teeth out what could be the heavy subject of C#. The little call-outs, cartoons, and exercises break up the monotony of learning a programming language, they provide brief respites. The examples and directions are easy to follow. The book builds on previous chapters, so one could skip forward to later chapters if the book is a bit slow.

I don’t have a whole lot of negative to say about this book, it hit all the spots that I was looking to itch. If one is looking for a reference book, this isn’t it. It’s just not setup like that. I will definitely tell friends and co-workers (who aren’t programmers), who want to learn C#, that this is the book.    

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SQLSaturday #256 Kalamazoo

I am much better in small groups. I’d like to think of myself as witty, humorous, and bunch of other adjectives everyone describes themselves as. However I was none of those things as I attended SQL Saturday Kalamazoo. There was a flash of that as I chatted with Frank Gill (w |t ), during the fantastic taco bar lunch. Sadly, my nerves, fear, and awkwardness got the better of me.
That was the first SQL Saturday I went to. It was also my 2nd technical conference (if you count the launch of SQL 2008). It was a great time. I did have a good time, especially at the sessions that I got to see. There was a boat load to consume, so much so that I forgot to write everything down, and eventually I just gave up altogether and just listened.

I sat in on a variety of sessions, from Aaron Bertrand’s t-sql do’s and don’ts to Tamera Clark’s SSRS talk, to Joey D’Antoni and Karen L√≥pez present about IT career advice. It was a wide breath of topics, and I enjoyed every minute. I was happy that I went to see Hope Foley do her server side tracing; I found it dove-tailed nicely into Tim Ford’s DMV talk. The wild card of the day for me was Adam Belebczuk’s talk on Service Broker. I was weighing that and Tamera’s other SSRS talk. I am glad that I chose to learn about Service Broker. I know SSRS and whatnot fairly well, but I had no clue about Service Broker. I liked the bit where an error was thrown during the presentation (yeah, even though Adam didn’t type), gave a chance for Adam to show a small bit of troubleshooting.

Overall, I had a good experience. My only regrets are that I didn’t network enough, I didn’t meet enough people, and I didn’t shake enough hands. Perhaps if there is another SQLSaturday in Kzoo next year, I’ll volunteer which will force me to meet the people I should have. If I do volunteer, I will propose that in the morning we have a coffee station and a mimosa station[RR1] . I think that will help loosen people up and let the networking aspect of the event flow a bit better.

 [RR1]Seriously… you want to recommend a mimosa station?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step" by Ed Wilson, Microsoft/O'Reilly

When I set out to tackle a problem at work, we found that the best way to handle it was by using PowerShell (PoSH). Well, I handled the situation as best I could, got a resolution up and running. I started looking around for a resource for me to learn PoSH, and how I should’ve written my scripts. I came across the Ed Wilson (w|t) book, Windows PowerShell 3.0 – Step by Step. Since the book is about PoSH v3, all of the info is in relation to Windows 8, and Server 2012, however most of the cmdlets and functions are available for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 (if one updates to v3, as 7 and 2008 R2 shipped with v2)

It turned out it was a mighty tome to read. The heftiness of it was in large part to the only knock I found against it, the too verbose outputs. For example, on pages 172-173, he shows the complete listing for the all of the verbs that are available for the cmdlets on his system. I understand that it is helpful to show at least three to five lines of the output, however I don’t need to see the complete output of the command, especially those that are just listing items. Reading these sections on my Kindle was never-ending.

Now that the bad part of the review is out of the way, time to start on the good stuff. Ed’s writing style is good and easy to understand. Granted an almost 700 page book about PoSH will have some slow points, Ed does his best to minimize them as best he can. The book is broken up as to lend itself to a quick reference book once the reader is done with the first pass through the book.

The book is chock full of examples from listing which verbs are available (see above), to connecting and working with Microsoft Active Directory, creating and using home brewed functions, to debugging and error handling. First going through the book, I did the exercises which were fantastic and readily pertained to “real world” situations.  The book is detailed enough in the examples that you aren’t left to looking up how Ed got from point A to point Q. Sure he might skip B and jump straight to C, however building on what one has previously read, the reader is left to make the smaller but doable jumps.

After finishing the book, it now resides on my bookshelf next to my most often used books. Where the book really shines is as a reference book. Time and time again I find myself going back to the book, rather than going to the Internet for answers. I have recommended this book to my co-workers and am looking forward to the PoSH v4 book that I am hoping he writes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My Someday

I recently turned down an opportunity to be a DBA at a successful business. It was not for lack of purposed future salary or benefits. The job description looks like it would be fun and exciting. The job has more professional and monetary growth than my current position.


The opportunity was a contract-to-hire; I cannot afford to take that chance, not now, not with a mortgage, bills, and most importantly, my year and a half old son. The 45-minute commute, while trivial to some, was daunting to me, that is an extra hour and a half a day that I do not get to see my son.


The deal breaker was the contract-to-hire. I am happy where I am, I like my Somedays as they are now. I would give up everything to spend more time with my son, any Someday that has him in it, is worth whatever the cost. Two years ago, I would have taken the leap and gone after this job. That, that goes to show how much my Somedays have changed in the past two years.


My current job still has a metric tonne of interesting and fun stuffs to do. There is no want of projects to fill my workday. I am getting more in to report writing and giving users access to their data, so they can form their own spreadsheets, reports, and other business intelligence items. It seems like I have another Someday staring me in the face.

Thomas LaRock (w|t) gave a presentation about “Someday”, I fully blame him for me declining. No, not really, his Someday speech was just a reaffirmation of my beliefs. I wanted to say “thank you”, most people my age, are about the drive to attain a goal(money, power, what have you), they miss the Somedays along the way.