Better Writing

Like it or not the majority of the ways we communicate in technology is through the typed word. Email, Twitter, Word, these are the methods by which we argue a point or ask a question. Our communication skills form impressions with our clients and coworkers.

All too often, however, we also set ourselves apart from others with our writing. Not because we excel at it, but because so often we make mistakes that stand out. Many technical people aren’t good at getting their point across because they either don’t focus on their topic, or they make lots of silly writing mistakes. Grammatical mistakes don’t have much to do with your technical ability, but they seem to give you less credibility.

I ran across this blog from Brian Kelley that talks about setting himself apart because of his writing skills. As one of our authors here at SQLServerCentral, I concur. I rarely need to edit anything Brian sends in. In this piece, he also links to an article from CopyBlogger on silly mistakes.

Writing is a skill, and it’s one that you can learn to improve. However it takes practice. It’s one of the main reasons I recommend that technical people blog. You will improve your writing skills (if you work at it), and possibly impress someone else who could offer you a job.

Learn to write better. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and it will pay off for you throughout your career.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 2.1MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and Mevio . feed

The Voice of the DBA podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

Double Checks

It’s not the discount double check, but I am a fan of processes that are built to check other processes. When I have a process that runs, or data quality that should be checked, or some other system where I can potentially have a failure, I like to write a separate check, as an independent process, that ensures work is done correctly.

Why? Because things go wrong. Most of us schedule a process, like an ETL job, and we assign failure notification (and potentially success notification). If the process succeeds or fails, we get notified. However, what happens if the process doesn’t run? In our busy lives, we might not notice that the success email is missing. What if the process runs incorrectly? Do we have some other process that looks for data to be correct, or even present?

A second (or third) check can make all the difference in the world between operations that appear to run smoothly for our clients, and those processes that always seem to fail. Even if the process fails, if you get notified quickly, you can potentially fix it before your clients notice. That makes you look more professional, but it’s also what should happen. You should ensure things run smoothly.

An independent check is also a good security check. Brian Kelley wrote a piece about people tampering with your processes. Would you be aware if that happened? Most people would not, unless they have some auditing, or independent processes that looks for potential security issues.

There are all sorts of mechanisms to perform checks for you, such as GPOs, Policy Based Management, and more, but have you enabled or scheduled them? Anywhere you have automated processes, you should consider writing separate checks and scheduling them to be sure your processes are running correctly.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 2.4MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and Mevio . feed

The Voice of the DBA podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

Publishing in the Future

A few interesting ideas and experiments in this piece on 21st century publishing. I especially like the part about most of the money in publishing going to pay for these advances that aren’t earned back. While publishers make a lot of money (go peruse a few annual reports), there are definitely some issues with money being given to authors for projects that are a complete gamble.

The idea of shorts, and potentially subscriptions, is something I’ve thought of before. If I could ever get off my duff and do more writing, maybe I’d be able to earn some $$ that way.