I ran into a fascinating book the other day. Mastery by George Leonard.

It’s a look at what it takes to achieve mastery in an area, be it sport, career, music or anything else. It references Aikido a lot, which is what drew me to it, but it’s not about martial arts.

It’s often asked why some people achieve such heights in certain areas. Often it’s written off as ‘talent’, the implication been those who don’t achieve such heights don’t because they don’t have the talent, and hence it’s not their fault. Talent may have some part to play, but the core of mastering any area is commitment, hard work and a lot of time. There’s no instant key to success.

George lists five keys to mastering a subject

  1. Instruction;
  2. Practice;
  3. Surrender;
  4. Intentionality;
  5. The Edge – Push the envelop.

The main point that he makes over and over is that success doesn’t come overnight. To master a subject requires a lot of time, not all of it fun. Without that time, dedication and commitment, there will not, there can not be results.

The book’s well worth the read, even if it’s just for a different perspective.

More exams

I wrote the second of my 2008 exams yesterday, doing the beta of the MCTS (Database Developer) cert. While writing it I realised I don’t know half as much as I should about XML, CLR, Service Broker and a couple of the newer additions to T-SQL.

All in all, it didn’t seem hard, but that’s hard to judge from a beta exam. I do think there was perhaps too high a focus on XML. About 10% of the questions I had were on that, but that may have been the luck of the draw.

I did the beta of the MCITP (Database Admin) about a month ago. It was a tough exam. No case studies like the 2005 exams had, but many of the questions felt like mini-case studies themselves. I had one question that was a screen and a half long. That was just the question. The answer list was over a screen log as well. All I’m going to say about that one is that you really, really need to know backup strategies to write it.

Next up, the MCTS (Database Admin). If I do that and if I pass the two betas (will only find out when the exams are officilly released) then there’ll only be one left to do, the ITP for DB Dev.


Talk about a way to start off a month.

I just got a mail from Microsoft. I have been awarded MVP for SQL Server. I am quite ecstatic and very surprised. I knew I had been nominated, but I did not expect to actually be awarded it.

Just wow.

Food for thought

I ran across this interesting article this morning. It’s long, but a very worthwhile read.

While there is a lot more to it, I came away from it with 2 realisations:

  1. To get better at something, it must be difficult.
  2. The longer you work on something, the easier it gets.

Just something to think about over the weekend.

The exceptional DBA

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and it got me thinking. What is it that makes an exceptional DBA?

In no particular order, some of the things that I think make an exceptional DBA are


We all know that IT is a fast changing industry. There’s no doubt that one has to keep learning just to keep up. An exceptional DBA should be constantly learning, always looking for new challenges, new and better ways of doing things. They should also seek to broaden their knowledge. Specialisation is great, but having at least a basic understanding of development practices, architectural principles or system administration can be extremely useful.

Once more unto the breach…

I wrote 70-447 on friday. It’s the last of the SQL 2005 exams that I intend to write.

I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I was expecting and I scored well above what I thought I would – 891. Very surprising, seeing as I don’t do much in the way of administration.

Next on the exam plans, either C# or Sharepoint. I haven’t decided yet.

Now, when are the SQL 2008 exams going to be available…..

Another day, another exam

Just wrote the second of the Database developer exams: 70-442. Designing data tier and optimising data access.

I found it easier than the other database developer exam, but still, it wasn’t easy. If you don’t know your stuff, you are going to struggle.

Personally, I’m not very fond of the case study based exam format. When I tried to read through the case study before answering questions I almost ran out of time. Now I go straight to the questions and skim through for the appropriate info for each question.

Next up, the upgrade exam from MCDBA to the new DB Admin.