Tag Archives: Book Review

DBA Survivor, Becoming a Rock Star DBA

In today’s world many companies want and need their employees to do more with less resources.  You might find yourself in a position where you start to manage databases while doing many other tasks.  Thomas LaRock’s book may  save you countless hours.  If you are starting and your goal is to be a Rock Star DBA this book might be one of the best investment you can make to have a successful career as a Database Administrator.

During the first week of January I moved from .NET Developer and part-time accidental DBA to full time DBA and PeopleSoft Engineer.  While this book just came off the shelves I still found it very interesting six months after I landed the job as a Database Administrator.  I agree with Brent Ozar, this book is tailor made for someone moving into a DBA role.  I also still think that it has useful information for someone like myself, someone who wants to understand what a Database Administrator does, or someone who has thoughts of becoming a DBA.

Favorite Quote

Tom does a great job giving you great information but he also throws in entertaining stories and great quotes.  While many readers will like the “shards of broken glass comment” quote my favorite is what you (the DBA) have in common with the President.  I would paste the quote below but that would ruined the fun.  I will tell you this, it’s hilarious but also at the same time very true.


Checklists are very important to help automate processes and to make your life easier.  Heck sometimes they are as important as life and death.  For example, when a pilot is about to fly a single engine jet plane they have a checklist to complete before they go in the air.  Tom’s checklist for your first 100 days on the job is essential to make sure you have safe travels and are out of harms way once you get in the air with your DBA career.

No One Knows Everything

If you have not learned this lesson yet I highly recommend you do it now before its too late.  Tom explains why it’s just not possible to know everything.  He also provides some examples on how you can find the answers to what you don’t know.

Connect, Share, Learn

Within my five year career in IT I have had the pleasure to work at a major consulting firm, a dot com, and a global law firm.  What is the constant with these three environments?   There are a lot of the people in IT who prefer to stay in their cubical and communicate the least amount as possible. Tom explains not only why you want to break this trend but also includes some benefits.

Where is the Buffet?

Surprisingly this was the most important chapter for me. The goal of this book is to make sure you have a long successful career as a DBA.  This is not possible if your life is cut short due to health issues.  When your profession demands that you sit in front of a computer screen it’s easy to make some bad decisions that can put your health in jeopardy.  This was a wake up call for me. I am pushing 300 lbs and am glad to get back on the right track so I can have a long successful career as a DBA.

So there you have it.  If you are new into the DBA game or know of someone who is seriously considering becoming a DBA get this book.  You can find it at amazon.

Book Review: “Confessions of a Public Speaker”

This year I made a goal to read six new books and to share my experience with everyone via book reviews.  This is the first review of the year and I am excited to give feedback on a book I really enjoyed.  Normally self help books put me to sleep but this was an exception as it was informative and entertaining to read.  If you plan to do public speaking in the near future I highly recommend this book.

My motivation for reading “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun is simple.  I find myself doing more presentations and I want to improve my craft.  This year I will be speaking at PGH.NET Code Camp in April and also at SQL Saturday #36 in Wheeling, WV. Public speaking is not easy for me.  I completely agree with Adam Machanic’s blog post.  It takes a lot of practice and some reading to see how others succeed. Therefore, I want to take any advantage I can to make my presentations better.   The lessons I learned in the first chapter alone made this book worth the $17 on Amazon.

The following are some very important lessons learned.  Most people at your presentation hope you do well but also hope your presentation ends soon.  It’s funny, after I read this I started laughing because it’s so true. I also learned to know your material but know you shouldn’t be perfect.  Normally, I try to be a perfectionist so this is something I had to know.  I cannot go back in time and correct my mistakes. Ummm… maybe I can I will have to add this to my todo list.   Finally, I learned it’s the mistakes you make before you present that matter the most.  I will dive into this with my confession below.

Being that the title of the book is “Confessions of a Public Speaker” it’s only fair to include a confession of my own.  With experience I learned that I must take control of what I can control.    Three years ago I did my first presentation at the Pittsburgh Code Camp and did a presentation on extending the Reporting Service API’s.  While no one booed or threw fruit at me the presentation was a hot mess.  I was modifying slides in the speakers room, I didn’t do a practice run of the demos, heck I didn’t go through the audience’s point of view when I built the presentation.  If I would have taken care of what I could control (my presentation) this could have been a killer presentation.  Regardless, it was a great learning opportunity which made my future presentations much better.

If you want to improve your public speaking I highly recommend Confessions of a Public Speaker. This book will stay on my bookshelf within an arms reach for quite some time.