Un-SQL Friday #2: Tech Giants

A non-Friday, depressed-that-the-Bears-can’t-get-a-decent-franchise-quarterback-to-save-their-lives edition.


Un-SQL: When SQL People get less SQL-y, while still talking about SQL.

Un-SQL Friday: The T-SQL Tuesday foil blog party created by Jen McCown (blog | @MidnightDBA) where we all talk about something related to SQL Server instead of something about SQL Server. It’s a less-technical topic, which is better for me (because I’m terrible at this) and gives us all something a bit more relaxing to focus our brains on (in case we need that sort of thing).

This round’s topic is “Tech Giants.” Jen says: Who are the IT giants you talk to/read that make you feel like a technical poser? No fair saying “everyone”. Oh. I can’t say “everyone”? Really? Uhh, OK, that’s going to make this a bit more difficult than I had initially thought…

That “not everyone” bit does make this pretty difficult, because I don’t know who to pick individually. I really do feel like all of the SQL people that I talk to on Twitter are giants in the field compared to me. I appreciate: everything that the SQLskills crew does for the rest of us; Thomas LaRock (blog | @SQLRockstar) for putting up with us if we act a little like wide-eyed fanbois the first time we meet (ahem); Jorge Segarra (blog | @SQLChicken) for nagging me about applying to work for Pragmatic Works, because, I’m pretty sure that’s what I should be doing; and Steve Jones (blog | @way0utwest) for generally being awesome, even if he does hate planes 😀 . Oh, and Jen & Sean (site | @MidnightDBA) for always being willing to be at least somewhat “inappropriate” in what seems some days like a sea of over-the-top political correctness Professionalism (this isn’t to say that they’re R-rated all the time—they know when to be serious and when to come back with “That’s what she said”). Those are just some people; there are so many more that I’m leaving out. We’d be here for a while if I went on.

As nice as all of this is, both from a technical knowledge and networking perspectives, it is a two-edged sword. One day at lunch with our Senior DBA, I asked him where my worst shortcomings are & what I need to work on to continue to move ahead in my career current job. Me being me, this question partially took the form of “where/why do I suck?” His response was basically, “you don’t, but you spend too much time on Twitter.” The reference being that I spend too much time comparing myself to all of these great people who have awesome jobs (and could get whatever other job they wanted at the drop of a hat) and can answer really gnarly questions about SQL’s Storage Engine off the top of their heads (potentially because they wrote it!), and some days I let it get me down. He’s right… some days I do do that. Alright, more days than is really healthy do I do that. This is a little bit of a problem, and I’m trying to get over that.

Tammy and I were talking about this a few days ago, and she reminded me that one isn’t going to be at a comparable level to Brent or Tom overnight—it takes work to get there. These guys should be aspirations, not thought of as peers. Plus, like Jen mentioned in her invitation post, all of these guys have giants of their own, too, and that is, indeed, comforting. As long as we all have someone that we think we suck compared to, then I can tell myself that means I suck a little less than I think I do 😉

Here Be Dragons: New Cell Phone

Cell phones in my family go way back…Pretty much as far back as is possible in the US:

Ameritech Phone

1984 called...

I don’t remember anymore if that was my dad’s first or second phone. I have no idea what the deal with the ammo box is. I do remember that the handset clip would get bolted to that little bracket on the lid & then could leave the box sit in the middle floor of his pickup and the phone would be right there. Yeah. AMPS analog. 3 watt transmitter. Good thing the antenna was on the roof. Those were the early Ameritech days. The phone wouldn’t even get a signal at the house—he had to get up towards Rensselaer (Indiana, look at a map, see the boondocks where I’m from) before he’d be able to use the thing.

‘Course, back then everyone called them “car phones.” It stayed in the car, and at one point was even hardwired to the vehicle so that if he wasn’t in the truck at the time, it would honk the horn if someone rang. That seems almost mind-blowing to me now. Once the whole 3 watt thing started to go away, things got smaller, and they started to come in little nylon bags (“bag phones”) that were more self-contained, and at least had little rubber duck antennas directly attached to them. It was on a BNC connector, so you could plug in the roof antenna if you didn’t like having what was probably still a whole watt radio broadcasting from the general vicinity of your right knee.

Anyway, in the mid-90s, I was assigned a Motorola DPC 650 by my parents when I started to drive (found out that Tammy had a 650 at about the same time I did). That thing was still a beast, and pretty much never left the truck. That phone began my love affair with Motorola flip phones served by our old friend GTE Communications. Through high school I went through a number of StarTAC 7860 and -68s (wore the phone, so broke a lot of antennas and other bad things happened). To this day, I sometimes wish for the simplicity of a StarTAC.

In summer of 2000, while I was in college, I got my own account and number with GTE. That brought the horrid piece of crap that was the T720. I don’t even want to talk about it. Still have the phone though; it’s pretty funny to fire it up and look at it now. It had a one-line display on the outside so you could see who was calling (OOOOO!). I also seem to recall you could install 3rd party applications on it, but I don’t remember much about that. Somewhere in here GTE became Verizon, of course. I can still hear James Earl Jones say, “Welcome to Verizon Wirelesssss…”

Things looked up after that: Motorola V710. This thing is honestly probably my favorite phone of all time. It was solid, its radio was great, and had ridiculously awesome call quality. It had a big display on the inside, a decent-sized one on the outside, and really good battery life. My first one of those met an untimely end when I wound up running over it with my pickup. While it was open. Face down. Did I mention that it was just at the right place that the front right tire of the pickup sat ON the phone for a few hours? The fun thing about that is that the phone still worked (!), and I used it like that for a few weeks before it decided it was done. Yay phone insurance!

The Smartphone Years

Because I was addicted to my job at the time, and liked the idea of getting mail in my pocket, I bought a Samsung i760 in December 2007. That is a Windows Mobile 6.1 device with a slide-out keyboard. I bought that phone because I wanted my phone to be just another Outlook client. I didn’t want to have to fight with some third-party Exchange connector and Blackberries were right out from the get-go. I have a giant rant about RIM and how I cannot comprehend how so many companies rely on their system for mail, but that’s a different story.

This was a big departure for me for a couple reasons: It was the first non-Motorola flip phone that I had ever owned, as was it my first smartphone. I was pretty worried about this at the time. As it turned out, though, everything was great. OK, except for the call quality. This was definitely a smartphone first. The radio wasn’t all that good, either. However, within about 10 minutes of having it home, I was scrolling (with its stylus, hahahaha) through my Exchange mailbox, which I thought was the coolest thing since sliced bread at the time. You know what else I liked about the phone? Windows Mobile 6.1. There, I said it.

Three years later, I jump off a cliff…

After ten years with the same Verizon account, phone number, and I’m quite certain, voicemail message… I switched to the company that carries Ma Bell’s bastardized name and a completely unproven phone OS on a device that doesn’t have a hardware keyboard. This could go terribly.

Yes, I bought a Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7. Tammy and I both got one (ATT BOGO Black Friday deal). This was brought on by our house (The Osburn Hideaway) being in a bizzaro black hole where there is no Verizon coverage, Tammy and I wanting to combine to a family plan, and, well, ATT having WP7. Because at the end of the day, I’m just that big of a fanboi.

Everyone on Twitter knows that BrentO just loves Windows Phone 7. I do agree with just about everything that he says about it. We’re taking huge gambles that someone at Microsoft has this dev team’s throttle on the floor and all of the shortcomings the device has will be taken care of soon (I’m not going to talk about anything specific, because I have the same grumps that everyone else has, and all of those people are better writers than I am). The rumored sales numbers don’t look all that good so far, but I don’t know that anyone is all that surprised by that. If, after the first major update comes out and possibly another round of hardware, those numbers don’t start to go up…then I’m going to be pretty worried. I don’t expect iPhone-like numbers, as that device changed the freaking world, and it’s the likely-not-to-be-beaten incumbent.

So, that’s my cell phone story. I don’t expect to write about this much more, because like I said above, I’m really not smart enough to come up with anything new here on my own, so you’ll be able to see what I’m going through by everyone else writing about the OS and poo-pooing on its poor adoption rate. I mean, unless something really bad happens and I bail early.

…and if this doesn’t work out and that happens, I’ll… <deep breath>…probably get an iPhone.