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Louis Davidson

How to Design a Relational Database; PASS Precon Swag and it’s “Symbolism”

Update! 10 more books added to the cadre from my friends at Red-Gate.

With less than a week to go, I am starting to pack up for Charlotte and PASS 2013. I love that it is in Charlotte this year so I can drive and bring along some goodies to give away. Books and toys mostly, a variety of which were chosen rather specifically for some manner of symbolism with a tie in to database design for the most part. (Okay, symbolism is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I have tied everything, even the goofy stuff, to the meaning of the class!)

1. 5 printed, and 3 ebook copies of my Pro 2012 Relational Database Design and Implementation. Well, obviously the symbolism here is that I hope the rest of the class each buys 5 copies and gives away to their coworkers so my royalties will buy me more than a model airplane.

2. Lego Architecture Leaning Tower of Pisa – Last year I gave away the Farnsworth (glass) House because we database folks can’t throw stones because we aren’t perfect either. (Luckily, none of us actually live in glass houses either!). The Leaning Tower of Pisa reminds me that not every masterpiece is perfect. And well, you really need to start with a good foundation!

3. Lego DeLorean Time Machine – Because, if you had a time machine, up front database design wouldn’t be that necessary.  Just go back and fix the database from the start without rework. Of course we don’t have time machines so, the more right you get it done the first time the better.  (And it is a really cool set!)

4. Lego Space Needle – For anyone pining for Seattle, they can get this and put it in their hotel room and pretend it is next year.

5. 5 copies of the book: The Imagineering Workout – A book by some Disney Imagineers, about how to stretch and use your imagination. Imagination is very important when you are designing a database (or any code). If you compare the vision of engineers of early computers (no one will want one of these in our house) to science fiction writers (wrist radio, eh Dick Tracy), who is more right. Neither were particularly right, but look at those companies that flourish, they have a great mix of technology, customer service, and imagination on their side.

As architects, being able to envision the final product in action is of great help. Being able to code and execute code mentally means you don’t have to write a lot of code to test out every idea you have. Not that your mental query processor is going to find all architecture errors ahead of time, but the more it does eliminate the better.

6. 1 copy of MVP Deep Dives 1 – A great book by a lot of great authors. I had an extra copy in my swag stash, so it is coming along too.  There is a chapter or two on database design in there penned by myself and Paul Nielsen, so it fits!

7. Lego Star Wars X-Wing Fighter – Well, no deep symbolism here, and I don’t mention Star Wars in the slides, but Star Wars is cool and a job (or class) in technology ought to be fun.  (And don’t start a debate about prequels in the comments. The prequels were not as great as the original trilogy, but I still like them and the Clone Wars series! A bad day in the the Star Wars universe is better than a day at work in any case.)

8. 2 Lego Brickleys – I use pictures of Brickley Lego dragons to illustrate the magnitude of design and requirements needed early in the session. Brickley is a great example to me because he comes in three sizes. This tiny size, an order of magnitude greater size (in number of pieces), and the “life” sized version at Downtown Disney in Orlando. The process to design and then explain to someone else how to build these is very similar, but the time and documentation investment is very very different.

9. A Lego set of a Demolition man blowing something up – Sometimes, you just have to blow things up and start afresh. Many databases out there make Frankenstien’s monster seem like a very natural creature, with bits and pieces bolted on to something that ought to have been dead for years.

10. 4 small Lego “Swamp Creature” sets – This set is really in there for two reasons. 1 because this is October and 2, to make a simply awful joke that (if you get this set and put it on your desk) should remind you what the job of the data architect really is using a bit of rhyme association.

11. A copy of Performance Tuning with SQL Server Dynamic Management Views, my book with Tim Ford for Red-Gate, because while in 7 and a half hours (less lunch and breaks), we just won’t have time to spend a lot of time on the physical side of things.

12. A copy of The Manga Guide to Databases. A fun book with some “interesting” art, but with a lot of decent explanations of database design principles. In some manners, it is very comparable to what I want to do, to strip away the complexities of theory and leave only the practical application. Of course, it is a lot lower level and feels like it was written for a 12 year old, but it was kind of fun too.

13. 5 copies of SQL Server Transaction Log Management – I have read 1/2 of this book by Gail Shaw and Tony Davis, and it is excellent. I learned quite a few things about the transaction log that I didn’t know (nor had every really thought about :)

14. 5 copies of SQL Server Concurrency – A book by one of my SQL heroes, Kalen Delaney. Wish she was going to be here at the Summit this year.

So while it does in fact look like just a bunch of toys and books (for good reason, actually, since that what it is), all of the items were chosen for reasons beyond just that they were cool or fun, to help the person who ends up taking them home will flash back to the class when they got them. Am I spoiling the fun by sharing the list before the session? Maybe, but it will help me to determine how many people read the blog about such things, and well, it will keep me from changing my mind on #3 and #7 (both sets I haven’t bought myself yet and really do quite want.)

So I hope to see you next Tuesday, and perhaps you get something cool to ship home because your luggage is already too full as it is!

Published Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:20 PM by drsql

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Ralph D. Wilson. II said:

This is just one of the many, MANY reasons I am sad about not attending PASS Summit this year. (insert Big Sigh here)

While there is always 'next year', will the booty be this awesome?

October 11, 2013 2:26 AM

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