Monthly Archives: June 2016

It depends …. Really?

I have never been a fan of the answer “it depends”. In fact I often go out of my way to prove that there is more to SQL Server than the answer we hear most often. I realize this is not a limitation of the answerer or the technology but the fact that the question is often not clear enough. The point I am trying to make here is that while there may be multiple solutions to any given problem in MS SQL Server. There is almost always a single best answer. The challenge that we face is how to identify that answer.

As a consultant I have tried to steer clear of giving such a vague answer when the client asks a question because client often think this is a way to blow up the bill. While longtime client now understand the nature of the beast, with new clients it often takes time to convince them that we don’t have enough data to make sure we have identified the actual root cause. SQL is a very complex tool and as a result there are a number of factors that affect its behavior couple this with the fact that often the real problem is at point A and the symptoms show at point Z we often need to spend time analyzing data to make sure we know exactly what the problem is and provide the client with a solution not a work around.

The most common place I see this kind of answer is on forums where the poster doesn’t provide enough details or context on what they are trying to achieve. Guys who are eager to answer immediately shoot off answers based on what they have encountered or answers to frequently posted questions. While this might work for novices who are new to SQL for more senior folks the run of the mill answers are often things they have already tried and didn’t work.

It would help if everybody provided details so that based on those details we can eliminate answers that are not relevant instead of voicing every opinion that comes to our head.

Some of the basic things I like to ask include.

  • Have you faced this issue before and if so since when?
  • What steps have been taken so far
  • Can you reproduce the issue? Even on another environment?
  • What’s changed?
  • What’s the error message and why do you feel SQL is the reason for it
  • Do you have a baseline
  • Why did you go with your current approach, was it evaluated properly?
  • What restrictions are in place
  • Are you looking for a solution or a quick fix?


While the above questions might seem very non-technical these open ended questions allow the poster to provide more details which might prove relevant later on.

Hopefully with the above we can convert a lot of “it Depends” to “it is”.




Fighting depression – my personal experience

A lot of people suffer depression but until I experienced it myself I never really thought of it as being that big a deal. I always felt that people who are stronger mentally always find a way to avoid it. But the fact is it is not as simple as I thought it to be, sometimes things happen which we couldn’t control or notice too late and by then we are well on our way to depression. The fact is that nobody would go into depression out of choice so I am not going to even try and tell you how to avoid it here. What I am going to share here is my personal journey with depression and how I am fighting it every day.

Before writing this blog I thought a 100 times if I should do it. The fact is I run a successful company and have friends and relatives who do not know about where I am emotionally right now. But if this blog can help someone else fight then it will be worth anything I have to face. During the first few days things can get pretty bad. At one point I was convinced I was going mad but you need to find a way to get through it. Here are a few things I wanted to call out first.

Depression isn’t the end of the world. I know things might seem like it but there are always going to be people who have had it worse. Take solace that if they can find the courage to fight it every day so can you.

Have people you can talk to. It won’t be easy as picking up a phone and calling your best friend. I nearly killed myself when I tried calling 4 different people and nobody picked up. It doesn’t mean that they are the only people you can talk to. Here is a very good site where you can always find someone who is ready to listen without offering advice or judgement.

Find something to do physically. For me this was important, I joined a Gym and it’s the only time of the day when I can really forget about all my troubles. You can also trying painting or going out for a drive just do something so that your mind can’t from complex thoughts.

It’s going to take time. Getting hurt physically can heal over time but emotionally getting hurt can change a person. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse but accept that change so that you can prepare for it.

It’s not all your fault. At times it might seems like whatever is happening is justified and that in some way maybe you deserve it. But know that you’re a good person at heart and you would have done something to stop it if you could. Don’t blame yourself, but don’t blame anybody else either.

If you feel like hurting yourself, check into a hospital for observation. The feeling is temporary and it too will pass. Just be around people and it will help you take your mind off things for a bit.

Medicines can ease the pain but they are not the answer. You need to accept that the pain is emotional and not physical and while anti-depressants can take the edge off it’s not a long term solution, so see a psychologist.

There will be times in the day when things get worse. You will not always be sad even though that’s how it feels. There are some parts of the day when things get really dark. Identify those times and try and keep yourself occupied so that you can get thru it.

All the advice in the world doesn’t mean squat. It is natural for loved ones to start offering solutions and advice to fix your problems. What they might not understand is that you’re not ready for any of it. Don’t hate them for trying to help but make sure you let them know that you just want them to listen.

Think happy thoughts. This is probably the most difficult. It’s hard to do something so counter intuitive to the current frame of mind but it’s an instant pick me up. Everybody has happy times in their life and remembering them can prove to be the only thing keeping you sane. Print a photo or read an old email do something that’s helps you remember the good old days. But don’t dwell on them. Tap into the feeling not the memory.

These are the lessons I have learnt so far and while I am by no means healed, I get better every day and that’s something. In the end the above may help or they may not. The above might seem like things you already know but trust me knowing and actually practicing them are two different things. While I pray that nobody ever needs this advice, know this. If you ever just need someone to listen and you’re feeling alone, I will try my best to help ease a bit of the pain. I have mentioned my phone number in this blog so that if you feel like talking I will always try and answer the phone or at least call you back to check on you. This is one fight I promise you won’t have to fight alone.

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