belle’s sql musings

This Is Why I Teach

Posted in musings, Teaching, Uncategorized by belle on December 3, 2008

I have been teaching IT courses since 2002; I started as a TA for relational databases and Delphi. Right now I teach part time courses in web development/design, and database development and administration. Wow, it’s already been a while and yet I can still remember my first teaching gig as if it were just yesterday.

Some people ask me why I teach. This is why:

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I take pains when developing and delivering my courses. I treat teaching very seriously. When students take my class, I want them to really learn something from it. I want them to get their money’s worth (or more!). I want them to walk away with a new skill, or new knowledge, or new discovery, after each class. When they ask me questions I don’t know the answer to, I try to look for the answer – sometimes even spend sleepless nights trying out a few test cases – and present the answer in the next class.


Because I love doing this.

And because I want to make a difference. However small or trivial it may be.


My teaching style does not work for all of my students. I do not have all the answers to student questions, and no – not all the demos are flawless in front of the students.

But if I can help someone understand a concept, or look for a solution, or just be someone to bounce ideas with, then it’s all worth it. Or just encourage them to keep on going and not get discouraged …

And sometimes, some students take the time to let me know they appreciate this. And I can’t tell them how much gestures like this mean to instructors like me.


Ooohh! Manga Guide to Databases!

Posted in musings by belle on November 2, 2008

I’m an anime/manga/JPop/JDorama junkie. Yup, that’s my other life besides databases. There was a time when I can talk some straight Japanese sentences – because I’ve watched/listened to Japanese stuff so much and so often.


I play Utada Hikaru, Ayumi Hamasaki, Do As Infinity (Tomiko Van is lead singer) and Maaya Sakamoto quite regularly while I drive. I have most of their CDs. I even used to wait for weeks for Amazon to deliver my JPop CDs because they’re usually not in stock. I’ve also listened to BoA, Hitomi, Amuro Namie, Otsuka Ai, Gackt, TOKIO, Orange Range, Arashi …


I watched a lot of the TOP 50 JDoramas listed in Love Mukodono!, Hana Yori Dango, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, Love Generation, GTO. Also watched Majo no Jouken (First Love) and Ichi Ritoru no Namida  (1 Liter of Tears) and cried buckets (yeah, I’m a weepy).


Anime was what started me with this whole Japanese fascination. The first ever anime that I watched was Rurouni Kenshin (marketed as Samurai X in North America) – all the episodes plus all OVAs – and absolutely loved it. My next set of anime/manga marathons Fruits Basket, Full Metal Panic, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Bleach, Inuyasha (yes, I watched all 167 eps). Also  love Hayao Miyazaki’s works – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, Pricess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle.

And the point is?

BrentO mentioned on Twitter that there’s a Manga Guide to Databases on Amazon! Isn’t that uber coolness! (For me anyway).

Here’s an excerpt (from Amazon):

Princess Ruruna is stressed out. With the king and queen away, she has to manage the Kingdom of Kod’s humongous fruit-selling empire. Overseas departments, scads of inventory, conflicting prices, and so many customers! It’s all such a confusing mess. But a mysterious book and a helpful fairy promise to solve her organizational problems—with the practical magic of databases.

Haha doesn’t that problem sound all too familiar.

The cover is also super cute! Thanks Brent! I am pre-ordering it with JK Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard. So excited.

PS – And if you are looking for good Japanese Tea, you may want to try out Hibiki-an. Great tea! And they deliver it so fast too.

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Soaking in SQLServerPedia

Posted in DBA Toolbox / T-SQL Scripts, musings, Resources/References, Tutorials by belle on October 31, 2008

One of the bloggers I follow is Brent Ozar. I tell you I’m a fan. I like the way he writes his stuff.

Anyway, he blogged about The Problem With SQL Server Training Today, and The Answer to SQL Server Training Problems a week or so ago. And this is the answer – SQLServerPedia  – SQL Server Knowledge and Advice Straight from the Experts.

So in between giving out candies to cute little Indiana Joneses, pirates of the Caribbean, vampires and dead cheerleaders, I’ve been soaking in SQLServerPedia (geeky ‘no?). So far, so good. I’ll be a frequent flyer.


PS – and if you’re a DBA, you’ll find great laughs in this post : Somebody Created a Halloween Monster #SQLputdowns

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Is a Low NULL Diet healthy?

Posted in musings by belle on October 16, 2008

It’s funny. I wonder which database they are using Light bulb

MCITP – SQL Server DBA/Developer!

Posted in musings by belle on September 5, 2008

Yay! I finished the four exams required for MCITP DBA and Developer 🙂 I’ll blog about some of my exam mishaps and misadventures later on …

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The truth about Project Lifecycles

Posted in musings by belle on August 27, 2008

This has been around for a while, and it is still true 🙂

DBAs are humans too …

Posted in musings by belle on June 4, 2008

Kalen Delaney’s post on DBA blunders. Not really for the faint of heart

Plan to read Jim Brosseau’s "Software Teamwork" or else …

Posted in musings by belle on December 5, 2007

… I guarantee you’re risking to miss out on nuggets of wisdom that can help you become a more rounded IT professional. If you don’t read it, someone else might come along who have read the book – and s/he will be doing your job better than you. You don’t want that, do you?

Here’s the book written by Jim Brosseau:

Taking Ownership for Success

Software Teamwork: Taking Ownership for Success (Paperback)
by Jim Brosseau (Author)
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (Oct 31 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0321488903
ISBN-13: 978-0321488909

Jim Brosseau was my instructor when I was taking my Bachelor’s degree from BCIT. Back then he taught us the software development and software management courses. I thought at first these courses will be the usual canned courses:
– read the book
– count your lines of code
– memorize the COCOMO software model.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. He taught us the important practical stuff:
– How do you really manage projects?
– How do you really manage risks?
– How do you plan to go to the moon and back in 5 days – with all contingencies in place?

What is there to learn from Jim’s book? I haven’t read the book yet (flipping page 2 right now, Jim!), but knowing him, I know he will remind you that we may be programmers/developers/technologists/<insert buzz word or energizer bunny synonyms here>, but we are still human. We kind of forget that. And we forget that there will always be a human factor in any software project that should never be overlooked or we risk failing the project and shortchanging everyone who put their stakes in it.

Matthew Heusser has put it perfectly:

If your desire is to effect change or have more influence on a software team,
you could either stumble around in the dark for a few years, experimenting with
different techniques, or you could buy, read, and apply the techniques in this
book. This choice, of course, is up to you

Not yet convinced? Take a test drive. Jim offers a preview of the book from his Clarrus site. Please take advantage of it:

If you still feel you’re taking the plunge with this book, start with baby steps. You still have hope. Start with Compendium. People tips anyone? Maybe start with Patient Team Building (Compendium 4.13). Just remember to be patient.

On a side note, we had lunch today, and he gave me a copy of his book. I “begged” him to sign it for me. He does, and his *note reads:


This is to get back at you for all those huge assignments.

Jim Brosseau

Wow, this is how he will always remember me. Oh well. Lessons learned. At least I made an impact then 😉

Jim Brosseau is one of my best instructors, an acquaintance, a friend, and a mentor.

Finally am able to upload a picture of Jim’s message.

Jim Brosseau's message to Belle

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Back from DevConnections 2007

Posted in DevConnections 2007, musings by belle on November 12, 2007

Back from DevConnections 2007! This was the first ever conference I attended, and I was more than satisfied with the overall experience. I felt I learned a lot and gained a lot of experience just by attending the sessions (plus the pre- and post- conference SQL DR workshops with Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul Randal — totally totally worth it, and I’m not exaggerating).

Most of the sessions are demo heavy. Some demos were flawless, some were not – but it’s all good. At least we get to see the good and not-so-good sides of working with SQL/Sharepoint. It’s awesome! Plus I got to get Todd Baginski’s business card and Kimberly Tripp’s and Paul Randal’s autographs! (And I took a picture to prove it!) Geeky, ‘no?

I will be blogging more on the tidbits that I’ve learned in the next few days :). For the meantime, here’s the list of SQL Server and Sharepoint sessions I attended!


  • Pre-conference session on SQL Server Disaster Recovery with Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul Randal
  • Keynote from Steve Guggenheimer


  • Keynote from Steve Riley: Making the Tradeoff: Be Secure or Get Work Done
  • (Sharepoint) – Sharepoint Governance and Information Architecture Guidance by Joel Oleson
  • (SQL Server) – SQL Server Reporting Services: Advanced Report Design by Brian Welcker
  • (SQL Server) – What’s new in SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services? by Brian Welcker
  • (Sharepoint) – Search in Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007: Customizing and Extending by Thomas Rizzo


  • (Sharepoint) – Sharepoint Custom Web Part Development – Fundamentals by Veli-Matti Vanamo
  • (SQL Server) SQL Server Database Design Strategies – Physical Database Design for Performance and Availability by Gert Drapers
  • (SQL Server) SQL Server Table Strategies – Designing for Performance and Availability by Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal
  • (SQL Server) Get a Handle on SSIS Data Cleansing Capabilities by Erik Veerman
  • (SQL Server) SQL Server Indexing Strategies by Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal


  • (SQL Server) Creating Reports with Reporting Services 2005 and Analysis Services 2005 by Stacia Misner
  • (Sharepoint) Getting the Most Out of the Business Data Catalog by Todd Baginski
  • (SQL Server) Stored Procedure Performance: Troubleshooting Compiles and Recompiles by Andrew Kelly
  • (SQL Server) Power to the Command Line by Gert Drapers


  • Post-conference hands-on session on SQL Server Disaster Recovery with Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul Randal

The sessions I would have wanted to attend as well are:

SQL Server

  • Next Generation Data Warehousing with SQL Server 2008 by Erik Hanson
  • Performance Troubleshooting in SQL Server 2005 by Boris Bayshnikov
  • Best Practices for Implementing High Performance T-SQL Applications by Ganapathy Rishnamoorthy
  • What’s New in Analysis Services 2008? by Donald Farmer
  • Security Enhancements in SQL Server 2008 by Il-Sung Lee
  • SQL Server Migration: What You Really Need to Know to Succeed by Dandy Weyn
  • SQL Server Indexing for Performance – Finding the Right Balance by Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal
  • A Gentle Introduction to the SQL Server Health and History Tool by Kat Meadows
  • Best Practices in Developing SQL-CLR Objects by Gert Drapers
  • Server Side Trace Queues: Automating, Controlling and Scripting to Minimize the Impact of Profiling by Andrew Kelly
  • SQL Server Agent: Features in Security and Automation by Andrew Kelly
  • Follow the Rabbit: Interactive Q&A on Availability by Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal
  • Follow the Rabbit: Interactive Q&A on Availability on the Storage Engine and Relational Engine by Kimberly L. Tripp and Paul S. Randal
  • SQL Server Tune Up: Tweaks and Tricks for SQL Server by Chris Shaw


  • Designing and Building Sophisticated Composite Applications with Microsoft Office Sharepoint Designer 2007 by Jerome Thibaud
  • Capacity and Performance Planning for Microsoft Sharepoint Products and Technologies 2007 by James Petrosky
  • High Availability and Disaster Recovery for Microsoft Sharepoint Products and Technologies 2007 by James Petrosky
  • Customized Site Template and Definition Migration by Richard Taylor
  • Sharepoint Object Mdel/Web Services Kick Start by Todd Baginski
  • Forms Authentication: How to Get Your Internet Facing MOSS Site Up and Running by Richard Taylor
  • Sharepoint Designer: It’s for Developers, Too! by Dustin Miller
  • Advanced Feature Development by Neil Iversen
  • Implementing the MOSS SSO Service in Real World Situations by Todd Baginski
  • Prescriptive Guidance for Developers Building Publishing Sites with WCM in MOSS by Andrew Connell
  • Developing End-to-End Forms Solutions for Sharepoint Part I by David Gerhardt
  • Developing End-to-End Forms Solutions for Sharepoint Part II by David Gerhardt
  • No-Code Workflows in WSS v3 by Dustin Miller
  • Building and Incorporating Custom Applications in Sharepoint v3 Sites by Andrew Connell
  • Data View Data Form Web Parts: Deep Dive by Dustin Miller

True, some of these I can read from books or articles or blogs, but it’s still different seeing and hearing it from the speakers. Most of the speakers are MVPs and people who have done real-world SQL and Sharepoint projects. The tidbits they share, I think, are priceless.

My book loot from that week:

DevConnections Links:

SQL Server Connections (
Sharepoint Connections (