So why blog….now?

Blogging…

..yeah.

That thing that certain people do.

Post 2008 I never thought I’d join the ranks and for a very good reason.

For the past 16 years (or previous 8 years in 2008) I’ve been doing a lot of things in the Object Orientated (O-O) database world and most of that has been around submitting responses to posts on our forums and writing really long emails to clients.

Because I cared about the issues they had and normally had a one-to-one relationship with them – I didn’t need to publicise to the world.

Oh yeah before I go too much further – g’day… I’m Hamish Watson – linkedIn thing, twitter thing and community thing

Back to what I was talking about –  over the years I’d worked with clients, commiserated with them, consulted for them and mostly – just made stuff go. Because they wanted my company and myself to help there where others couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t. Do stuff.

I’m hesitant to call myself the poster boy of the O-O world, mainly because in all our marketing collateral – I didn’t feature – I’m not very photogenic. However I was more interested in challenging the engine stuff and helping people solve what they thought were horrid problems.

In 2005 I was given the task of looking after relational “stuff”, we had some initiatives around Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server and my General Manager at the time though I was the guy to look into these technologies.

Weirdly (and out of character) I didn’t complain…

I decided to treat managing relational databases the same I did O-O. And for the first time in my life I read blogs, I consumed them. I joked in management meetings how I could do anything in SQL Server because this new fangled thing called “Google” allowed me to look up anything. It seemed that somewhere, someone had already done the something I was stressing over. I soon found that the documentation in the relational world was far different from what my software company did. It had some things in it but to do things in the real world it didn’t take long before I realised that there were:

blogs.

Written by people who had been hurt and burned. But still cared enough to share those horrid experiences, who cared enough to put it out there so a newbie like me (who had 6 years of DBMS experience but was new to “SQL”) could digest and find a resolution to things. Things that were troubling and couldn’t be found in official documentation. Things that couldn’t even be found in diagnostic logs. They just broke. Because.

These people wrote about it: why it happened, how it happened and more importantly how to fix it. A good example is a guy who literally cares about 1s and 0s – Steve Knutson (b | t) – a bloke I’d known well at university (when I was studying Chem. Eng and he was doing that computer degree thing)

For the past 11 years I’ve been a consumer of blogs. I was selfish. I consumed, I resolved – I did give thanks on certain blogs but I didn’t give anything back to the community.

Why?

2 reasons.

I was but a small fish in a huge world of Microsoft SQL Server. For 2 years my biggest managed database was 30MB. Yes, in 2007 I was looking after databases that were 30MB. but then something happened and that was relation population service. Which meant our O-O clients with 1TB databases could now pump data into relational databases for their report writers (BI didn’t really exist or wasn’t as sexy as it is now).

Suddenly I was looking after systems that were 20GB in size (you never translate all the O-O data – that’s for another post…). The game changed.

And so did my searching.

And so did my consumption of…

..blogs.

And then in October 2012 I met Martin Catherall (b | t). Who was trying to resurrect the local SQL Server User Group post 2010/2011 earthquakes. He did a great job and in March 2013 there were a group of 30 of us who met. Fast forward 3 years and we have 329 members. Yip, that is awesome. We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month and have BI/DBA/DEV speakers. We have free beer and pizza, thanks to generous sponsorship.

Check us out here.

I took over from Martin as Chapter Leader (we’re affiliated with PASS) in October 2015. It was an honour to take over something Martin had put his life and soul into and I wanted to do him proud (Martin’s from the UK and I was scared he’d “Liverpool kiss” me if I didn’t “do him proud”).

By now I had been reading many blogs and learning so much about “stuff”.

And in October 2015  I was given an opportunity to go this thing called PASS Summit. For the past 2 years I’d ignored the invite to go – why would I go to something in the US when I could do stuff locally? How blind I was…

So I went with Martin and we had fun, well I certainly did – surviving on 4 hours sleep each day. I went to all the sessions that I though I’d benefit from for the betterment of my company and managed SQL Server systems we managed (over 500 databases with 3 of us). But slowly and kinda unbeknownst to me I realised that at Summit I was meeting some of the people whose blogs I had read and used. People like:

Rob Farley (b |t), Warwick Rudd (b | t), Brent Ozar  (b | t)[whose freecon in Seattle really made me think about the brand “Hamish Watson”], Paul Randal (b | t), Robert L Davis (b | t), John Q Martin (b | t), Allen White (b | t) and many, many others.

I realised quickly that they cared. They had this thing called #sqlfamily & more importantly #sqlhelp that helped people and had this whole community thing going with it. Let’s not forget some of the awesome people I met at Summit. There are so many of them but I want to mention someone who made me realise what it means to be a gentleman – Tom Roush (b | t).

If you have a spare moment and have a read of his personal blog – this is from a guy who I feel blessed (yip I said that word) to have met – one morning over really bad bacon in Portland:

https://tomroush.net/

His blog has made me laugh, cry but also think. A truly nice bloke.

So after Summit – my eyes opened like some blind bloke on a road to some place.

I came back to New Zealand and for the next 5 months I worked hard at my job, my life, I like to keep busy. And I didn’t blog.

Because I was so “busy”.

And I felt I was a minnow in the world of SQL Server.

I’m an ENFJ in that thing that apparently doesn’t box people in but still labels you. Yip. Why would I feel semi-inadequate?

For the first time I felt I had nothing to offer – that I knew nothing to help or offer. How wrong I was. Because here’s the thing –  I am a speaker around the SQL Saturday circuit:

Portland

Melbourne

Sydney

Christchurch (South Island)

Brisbane

plus some guest lecture spots at a local tertiary institute and a local software cluster.

So in fact I was helping people – learn. So why not blog?

I had to choose my topics carefully – speaking to a room of 20-50 people is one thing – laying it on the internet? Very scary.

I chose today to post as it is 6 months to the day since I was at the PASS Summit, in those 6 months I’ve written a summary on my LinkedIn profile, I’ve actually used my twitter account for good and I’ve written this.

I have chosen to go back to first principles – I like to make stuff go. I like to help people in need. I’m therefore a guy who could write something that might help someone.

So I will.

I have a couple of topics in my head that might help people – I could derive said topics from what I talk about, from what I want people to learn, from what I’ve learned. And so I will try.

To get where I am today I’ve had inspiration from people – people who care and give a toss about helping others.

To be honest if you’ve read this far you’re probably the people I’m going to mention:

Melody Zacharias (b | t)

Rie Irish (b | t)

Mickey Stuewe (b | t)

Why’d I pick 3 women? Because to be honest – there are enough guys in IT getting kudos for stuff they do – these three women made me think in the past 6 months. There are many guys whose blogs I’ve read/used – but these women made me actually think.

I saw the great work Mickey does around blogging and sharing – one day I’ll submit to  but small steps.

I had help from Melody when I wrote my first ever PASS Summit abstract and appreciate what she’s doing with teenage girls with coding. She is a regional mentor for Canada and is one of the most caring, helpful people I could ever be lucky enough to call a friend,

I really love what Rie is doing with Women in IT (WIT) – to help, mentor and support women entering our wondrous yet at times fickle industry.

Diversity…

Plus these three women have said hi, talked to me and have put up with my (ahem) unique outlook on life. What they are doing in the community is fantastic and if my small actions either blogging or just talking/caring can emulate their great work then you know – that’s awesome.

So that is why I am blogging… now.

Yip.

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