Category Archives: NonSQL

Want to lose #20PoundsBeforeTheSummit? Join the #GetHawt competition!

We here in the IT community are clearly concerned about our weight. More specifically, we’re concerned about our weight going up and up like a growth chart for a high-transaction OTLP database. (SQL tie-in for ya, there.)

Starting to move…

We’re starting to do something about it. I know people in the SQL community on no-carb diets, healthy eating plans, couch-to-5k, 10k and marathon training, and more. We have apps and tricks, support groups and blog parties. And now, coincidentally, we have the general #20PoundsBeforeTheSummit commitment, and the #Gethawt Game On! competition.

The #20PoundsBeforeTheSummit hashtag is, I think, each individual’s online commitment to do what it takes to lose 20# pre-November. The GetHawt Game On! competition is a way to jump-start that weight loss, and have some big fun at the same time. Starting next week, we’ll team up, track points, lose weight, and talk ungodly amounts of smack about the opposing teams.

Playing the Game

There’s a $25 buy-in, and teams are limited to 2-4 members, so you also have the chance to win some serious  bank…you know, as serious as a 4-week online challenge can get. (A 2-man team wins from a pool of 16 players? That’s $200 per winning player.)

So consider this your invitation, your kick in the ass, your moment of inspiration to get off the couch and get going. Forget the excuses and all the reasons you have NOT to play. Why not just do it and have fun? At the absolute worst, you’ll lose $25 and make steady improvements on your own well-being.


Meet me on Google+ (search for the Jennifer McCown with the email) at 12pm CST today, June 26 (or Friday June 29) to get some questions answered and get fired up.

And some notes…

  • Don’t want to lose weight? Set some other fitness goal! We’re accommodating.
  • No partners? No worries, we’ll pair you up.
  • No, I’m not making one single dime off of this. ALL of the buy-in pot goes to the winners.
  • Yes, this is based largely off the honor system. There’s no other way to do it, what with us all being geographically dispersed. I’m still putting in my $25.

Happy days,

How to Build a Resume (that doesn’t suck)

Resumes are like opinions, which are like something else: everybody’s got one. And if you don’t have one, then certain key functions are very hard to perform.  In this case, not having a resume makes the job-getting difficult.

We’ve talked about resumes, and even reviewed a few, on the show (here and here) and on blogs (here). Today I’m here to give you a few simple guidelines to make a decent, effective resume that wouldn’t piss me off. And that’s the real goal here.

Update: For a little live discussion on this very topic, see the 12/9/2011 episode of DBAs@Midnight, named “STOP!!!” (starting at minute 38). 

What to include

Contact: Name, phone, email. Address optional; some companies and recruiters will want this.

Job history: name of company, your title there, dates worked.  Bulleted list of duties while there, and 1 to 3 bullet points showing what a star you were (increased sales, solved problems, major projects).

Education and training: Degree and major (e.g.,  BA, Computer Programming), university, graduation year. Also applicable certifications.

What NOT to include

Contact: Forty zillion different ways to contact you. Keep It Simple.

Jobs: Salary, manager name, reason you left. Never convey salary information. And references and reasons should be covered in interviews.


The word “expert”.  No you’re not. Let me say that again: NO, you are not an expert. If you are an expert, this sentence won’t phase you (and you probably know better than to put “expert” on your resume anyway).

Things you don’t know anything about.  There’s a difference between playing up lesser  skills and outright lying. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t list it. (Side note: SQL SERVER 2003 DOESN’T EXIST. STOP THAT.)

Anything to do with your kids or plans to have/not to have them. It’s none of their business, and those prejudices are out there.

Anything cutesy. Judge the need for cutesy in the interview, not on your resume.

Anything negative. You’re putting your best foot forward here, with a smile and a handshake. Badmouthing yourself, jobs, coworkers, projects, or anything else on your resume is off-putting, and VERY bad practice. Don’t. Do. It.

References available on request. Seriously, no duh. They’ll ask if they want resumes.

Formatting and style

Keep it simple. Consistent headers, bullet points. It’s a good idea to download a basic resume template from Word (or online) and just use that. It takes a lot of the guesswork and fiddling out.

Bullet lists should all start with the same kind of word, and use the same tensethroughout. If you’re going with things you’ve done, then the list should look like this (emphasis added just for this article):

  • Documented XYZ project
  • Improved ABC metric by N%
  • Implemented MNO software, saving the company $X gazillionty annually

…not this:

  • In charge of documenting XYZ project
  • Improved ABC metric by N%
  • I also implemented MNO software, saving the company $X gazillionty annually

SPELLCHECK. Then proofread. Then have someone else proofread. Seriously, we  make fun of you if you misspell stuff on your own resume.

There are other things we could go over, of course. There are debates on the skills list, personal notes, various ways to approach presenting job duties, and keeping different versions of resumes. But that’s the intermediate class. 

To sum up today’s lesson:

  • Include:
    • Contact: Basic info.
    • Job history: company, title, dates, duties, a couple of WINs.
    • Education and training: Degrees and certs.
  • Leave out:
    • Extraneous contact info.
    • Too much information in regards to jobs and personal life.
    • The word “expert”.
    • Stuff you don’t know.
    • Cutsey-ness. Negativity.
  • Format:
    • Use a basic template
    • Use consistent wording and tense
    • SPELLCHECK and proofread.

Happy days,
Jen McCown

Un-SQL Friday: Stop SOPA!

This will be an unusually political Un-SQL Friday – and it’s two days early, to boot – but I’m making an exception to my no-politics-in-SQL rule – because it’s about internet freedoms.

I hereby declare this WEDNESDAY Un-SQL Friday. While T-SQL Tuesday is “…the SQL Server blogosphere’s first recurring, revolving blog party….on the chosen [SQL-related] topic,” UN-SQL Friday is a completely intermittant blog party about something SQL-adjacent.

This week’s Un-SQL Friday roundup is about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Please take a couple minutes and read up…if this is meaningful to you, then blog and do what you can to spread the word on Wednesday, November 16 – American Censorship Day. Get involved however you feel you can best make a difference.

The internet is a wonderful, free place, and I believe that measures to combat piracy should be better targeted than SOPA.

Be sure to mention in your blog that you’re writing for Un-SQL Friday, and link to this post. Have it up ASAP…before midnight on Wednesday, November 16 is best. But we always take late submissions.


Here are a few highlights and articles to get you started.

11/17 addition: International human rights community vs.SOPA: “An enormous, diverse global coalition of press freedom and human rights groups have signed onto a letter (PDF) opposing America’s Stop Online Piracy Act, the worst proposed Internet law in the USA’s legislative history.”

PCWorld article: House hearing on Stop Online Piracy Act scheduled

BoingBoing: Stop SOPA Save the internet

  • The worst bill in Internet history is about to become law. …this law would give government and corporations the power to block sites like BoingBoing over infringing links on at least one webpage posted by their users.
  • …[government gets] unbelievable power to take down sites, threaten payment processors into stopping payment to sites on a blacklist, and throw people in jail for posting ordinary content …
  • Internet and democracy groups are planning an Internet-wide day of protest called American Censorship Day on Wednesday, November 16th for the day Congress holds a hearing on these bills to create the first American Internet censorship system. Every single person with a website can join and needs to.

Digital Digest: Internet Security And Innovation Under Threat From SOPA

  • The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) could have a drastic effect on software development, and Internet security, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warned.
    SOPA would allow the government to blacklist websites and services via the Domain Name System (DNS).
  • The EFF also warns that many Internet security tools, such as firewalls or the widely used SSH tool, come with proxy and VPN functions, and under SOPA, any of these tools could be made illegal.

More from Digital Digest: US House of Reps Introduce New Controversial Copyright Bill

  • …the new legislation gives the government broad powers to intervene in what is traditionally a civil matter, to allow domestic websites to be seized, and injunctions filed against foreign websites, at the behest of Hollywood and the music industry, the two major industries supporting the bill

ZDNet: New house of representatives bill may strangle the internet or nerf the first amendment

  • SOPA wants to give, well, pretty much anyone with a law degree the right to shut down Web sites and domains. SOPA has some nasty teeth. First, according to the EFF, it allows individual companies to force payment processors (think PayPal or VISA) to stop paying any site that might be considered to be engaging in, enabling, or facilitating any form of copyright infringement.Let’s first look at how this might impact you. What cloud-based services do you use? Gmail? Dropbox? Amazon’s music sharing service? What about eBay? What about Facebook? Or perhaps you simply host your corporate email at an Exchange hosting provider, like I do.Let’s use that last one, as an example. My hosting provider, like most, offers a free SharePoint account along with their email hosting. Let’s say one of their other customers uploads something they shouldn’t. This new legislation would allow any other private company (including my hosting provider’s competitors) to demand that payment agencies cut off payments, effectively strangling cash flow and shutting the company down.

CNet: SOPA Hollywoods latest effort to turn back time

Major thanks to BoingBoing, without whom I probably wouldn’t have seen this in time.