SQL Dumbass

Fighting dumbasses, one query at a time…

Share the Love, Dumbass!

You can now post your own entries to this blog. Think of it like a FAIL blog, but dedicated to the SQLDumbass people out there. This includes you, Microsoft.

Enjoy and have fun, and don’t make it personal (or offensive) or you will find yourself banned.

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You Need More Booze

Dear SQLDumbass: I hate Oracle, Java, and Macintosh. Does this make me a bad person? -Gramps

Dear Gramps: How old are you? Most people your age love things like Oracle and Java and can even remember when Apple had a majority share of the home PC market. So why all the hate? What does it matter to you that these products even exist anyway? At your age you should be more concerned with killbots because those bastards are going to kill you no matter what you hate. They don’t care about Oracle, Java, or Macintosh, and neither should you. My advice is to buy a big magnet so that the robots get stuck when they try to enter your bedroom late at night. If the magnet idea works you can sell it to other old people at a huge markup. You’re welcome.

Dear SQLDumbass: I can’t connect to the database server, it says ‘login failed’. What should I do? -PJ

Dear PJ: Clearly you don’t have access to the server for a reason and I am not about to tell you how to bypass authentication by using the ‘Joshua’ secret password with the WOPR login because helping you hack into a database server is just wrong. But if I did help you then there is a chance we could end up hanging out with Dabney Coleman which would be awesome because we could ask him all sorts of questions like “what is Martin Mull really like?”

Dear SQLDumbass: My boss has no idea what a DBA does on a daily basis. Every time I try to talk to him he tells me that he doesn’t understand what I am talking about. I suppose it’s my fault for using big words like “database” around him but do you have any tips on how to talk to a non-technical manager? -LB

Dear LB: It really doesn’t matter because that boss was allowed to rise to a certain level of incompetence which happens to be right above your head. Instead of trying to talk in small enough words for him to understand you should just offer to buy him booze. If you buy him enough booze eventually he won’t care what it is you do for work every day. And if someone ever comes around asking him questions about your job you can rest assured he will stand up for you because he knows their is booze on the line. I would start him with some rum, then work your way through some clear spirits such as gin and vodka before starting in on something like tequila. Either start buying him booze or start looking for a new job because no one wants to work for a boss that doesn’t understand what their employees do each day.

Get Used To Disappointments

Dear SQLDumbass: I’ve noticed that there seems to be quite a few people changing jobs these days. Is the economy getting better? At what point can I expect a new job to fall into my lap like everyone else? -Obamaster

Dear Obamaster: For those people that hustle the answer is yes, things are getting better. Nothing comes without hard work, and the people you see getting new job opportunities have put themselves in the right spots at the right time. You seem upset that things have fallen into their lap, and yet you make no mention about the fact that they were invited over to dinner in the first place. If you want to be invited to the same dinner then you need to get up and out of your oval cube and meet new people because the circle of friends you have right now are not helping you at all.

Dear SQLDumbass: A developer just sent me an email that essentially told me that he expects I will write about a dozen different stored procedures for him. I have over 100 instances to administer, over 4,500 databases, and there are roughly 75 developers. No way could I spend any part of my day writing procs for him and the other 74 people (not to mention the dev, test, and prod deployments, although at least they would all be done correctly). The worst part? Well, since my boss has no idea what a DBA does on a daily basis, she went ahead and agreed with him and now everyone else is lining up to offload their work onto me. What should I do? -Screwed

Dear Screwed: Quit. If quitting is not an option, set your boss’s car on fire. If arson is not your thing, then agree to take on the extra work. For everyone. Then don’t do any of the work. When all of their deadlines pass without anything getting done and they come looking for you don’t panic. Just wait to see whoever screams the loudest. Then tell them you forgot about their code because it wasn’t put into a proper project plan and you are too busy working on someone else’s code because they knew enough to fill out a proper project plan and that the next available timeslot you have to look at their code is in six months because there are 75 developers and only one of you. But you are really not doing anyone’s code, you just tell people that you are working on something else. And when nothing gets done they will just give up and start doing it for themselves again. Meanwhile when they complain to your boss that you aren’t doing your job all you need to do is show your boss all of the items in your queue and ask them which one is most important. No matter which one she points to you tell her that you’ll get started as soon as it is put into a project plan. If she says that is your job as well then just tell her you need an extra six months to organize all the projects as well. Eventually they’ll get the idea. And you’ll get a few more bullet points for your resume.

Dear SQLDumbass: Our infrastructure team bought some crap-tastic product that continues to cause headaches for everyone. No one here, especially the rocket scientists that bought this pig, have any idea how to configure the product and as a result it is now over 500GB in size and has only been in production for a month. My favorite part has to be the SQL Agent jobs that it created, one of which will backup the log with truncate only every night. Why do most vendor products suck? -LB

Dear LB: I have no idea why vendor products are such crap. My theory is that most vendors try to create things that are able to be deployed anywhere. As such they are usually less than ideal for just about every place they end up being deployed. It’s amazing, but as they try to build something that is good for everyone they end up with something that is good for no one. I also believe that these places have few to no actual DBAs employed, at least not closely aligned with the development cycle. And there is always pressure to shove something out the door, to get money from a customer, and then make more money on support. So, yeah, you have a boatload of crap you now need to support because your IT guys decided to buy something without kicking the tires first. It happens a lot. Get used to disappointments.

Testing Is a Lot Like Rehab

Dear SQLDumbass: Why do all of our developers here hate testing their code before deploying to production? It is as if they have an aversion to ensuring a level of quality for their work. – MasterTester

Dear MasterTester: Most developers don’t care about quality, they only care about completing the task they were assigned and then moving on to a new task. And on top of that the whole idea of testing is kinda like going to rehab. You have to show up at a specific time, everyone gets a chance to see what you look like today, and you have to admit your mistakes to the whole group. Plus, rehab is for quitters. So in a way you could say that testing is for quitters. And we don’t need quitters here, we need people that like to have fun. And what could be more fun than deploying straight to production and getting everyone together to figure out how to make it work?

Dear SQLDumbass: We still have over 75 instances of SQL 2000, some of them running on Server 2000. I have tried for the past 18 months to get people to migrate off of these systems but no one really cares. They figure that if it is up and running then it is best if it is just left alone. Any idea as to how I can motivate them? – Jackson

Dear Jackson: Motivation is always a tough endeavor, as different people are motivated in different ways. The first thing you need to find is some common ground for everyone. In this case, it is their reluctance to stay current with technology. I don’t know what business you are in but most everyone tries to stay current with technology. Even farmers don’t want to be left behind and they have been around for thousands of years so they must be doing something right. So maybe the lesson here is for you to leave picture of crop circles around the office and tell people that aliens tend to target the people who don’t stay current with SQL versions. Because, you know, logic apparently has no effect on their tiny brains so you should cater to everyone’s worst fear: alien anal probes.

Dear SQLDumbass: We bought a vendor product and it insists on needing sa rights in order for it to run properly. When I asked for details on what it was doing that needed those right I was chastised by their sales guy who replied “…because we need to create tables. Unless you know of another way to get that done just give us sa rights for now so we can get started and stop wasting time.”  I tried to explain but by then my manager was already telling me to just do as I was told. What is the best way to handle this situation?- Cheryl

Dear Cheryl: I always recommend stabbing as your first response. A quick stabbing in front of everyone in the meeting, or even the office, is a sure-fire way for people to know that you mean business. If stabbing is not an option then I would recommend you find a new job that encourages having dumb people stabbed whenever it is deemed necessary. I would also advise that you start asking the vendor questions such as “who are your main competitors?” If this is the type of support you are getting now, at the beginning of an implementation, then you should treat this as a big red flag. Do your best to either dump this vendor, or dump their bodies, or both.


DBAs Are From Mars, Developers Are From Uranus

Dear SQLDumbass: We have a vendor that insists we allow their shrink database job to run nightly. They are claiming that it is “standard” to have this type of job run frequently as part of any “sound maintenance plan”. How can I politely tell them that they are wrong? – Wang Chung

Dear Mark: Politeness won’t work, they are clearly too stupid to understand any better. Oh sure, you could point them to the plethora of blog posts from Paul Randal on the subject but they are more than likely going to say “Who the hell is Paul Randal and why should I care what he says?” And it is at that point you should politely excuse yourself from the meeting and go into the parking lot to rub dog poo on their car door handles because that is what Paul would do.

Dear SQLDumbass: There is a developer here that insists we upgrade to SQL 2008 R2 immediately so that they can use PowerPivot because they saw a great demo on PowerPivot over the weekend. I thought that PowerPivot was just an add-in to Excel, and you didn’t need R2? – Kraken

Dear Jules: You are correct, PowerPivot is an add-in for Excel 2010. You do not need to upgrade to SQL 2008 R2, you only need to get your hands on Excel 2010 and then load the PowerPivot add-in. You could point them to this link so they could see it for themselves but chances are they can’t read anyway otherwise they wouldn’t be bothering you with such inane requests and they could have looked it up for themselves. Being a developer, of course, we know they need to have thing spoon fed to them otherwise they go off on a tangent and before you know it they come back with a prototype for some widget that no one needs or asked for.

At the end of the day it just comes down to communication, and I often like to remind people that DBAs are from Mars and developers are from Uranus and that’s why we have so much trouble communicating with one another.

Dear SQLDumbass: We have a manager here that claims to know everything about databases. In a meeting yesterday she insisted that we should be reviewing all the queries that hit all 5,000 databases all day long and making certain they are “doing what they should be doing, returning the right data, in the right amount of time”. What the hell does she mean by that? I am fairly new and didn’t want to ask any questions, but her request seemed rather odd. How am I supposed to know if a query is returning the right data? I mean, I could figure out if it is taking too long, but how am I to verify a result set? – Billy

Dear Jason: Billy, this is simple: she’s an idiot. Next time she asks about this just say “yes, we take a random sample of the queries each night and verify the results are as expected by sending the imaging the query through the capacitor inside of the query engine but before the optimizer has a chance to distribute the query across a bad plan.” She’ll have no idea what you meant but won’t want to look like an idiot in front of everyone so she’ll just agree with you and smile.


63 Billion Rows of Tablescans = Justified Stabbing

Dear SQLDumbass: What should I do if an analyst asks he needs to run 20 instances of an app that does tablescans 19 times against a table with 3.2 billion rows? Should I jump off a cliff for wondering what I did wrong to even meet a dumbass like this or stab him and give in myself to the police? – Mark V

Dear Mark: Stabbing is never the answer. Well, except maybe in this case. But instead of giving yourself in to the police, you should call the DBA Cops instead. I don’t know if they really exist, but if they did I am sure they would just show up, call for the coroner, and let you go with a warning. So, your first step here is to find the phone number for the DBA Cops. I looked but they don’t seem to be listed. And if they don’t exist yet, you should start your own DBA Cop unit. Then you could just arrest the guy for murdering the performance of the server and everyone comes out a winner.

Dear SQLDumbass: We have a developer here that got hired recently who wants to put everything she can find into separate schemas inside of one database. When we pointed out that an easier approach might be to just create a new database for all of the new objects she actually had the balls to chastise our collective 45 years of experience by saying “new databases are a waste of time, we just need new schemas.” We then replied that a schema is essentially a database inside of a database, so she wasn’t saving the world with her approach or anything and she got upset that we are not doing what we are told. So, my question for you today is this: what is the fastest way to make someone you work with disappear? – Jules

Dear Jules: Well, if your coworkers are anything like my dates, they will disappear fairly quickly and you won’t even have to wonder how it happened. Best if you just sit back and let this newbie self-implode, it shouldn’t be long before they are building table valued functions on top of views on top of functions to the point that performance comes to a halt after every five minutes.

Dear SQLDumbass: Why is Oracle so much better than MS SQL? – Jason M.

Dear Jason: I think you meant to ask ‘Why is Oracle so much more expensive than MS SQL’, and the answer is “I don’t know”. I suspect it’s like the time Martha Stewart started charging $20 for her $3 pies, she knew that people would buy them simply because of the perceived value but at the end of the day those people are still going to go home, have a slice for dessert, and get the runs.


When 1,024 Columns Are Not Enough

Dear SQLDumbass: I took a dba job at a shop where they just keep adding columns to the tables, when I tell them that we have to fix the architecture, they say they can’t spend the time to fix the database as the new request are so much more important.  What should I do? – Name Witheld

Dear Name: How many columns are they at right now? Because I wouldn’t worry until you got to about 1,024. After that you need to have what is called a wide table, and they can have 30,000 columns. Are you over 1,024 columns right now? On second thought, just quit now, and save yourself the time and trouble of doing it later on when they start asking you to “make everything just go faster”.

Dear SQLDumbass: Today I found a piece of vendor code that issues a ‘BACKUP LOG WITH TRUNCATE_ONLY’ command on the first day of every month at 8PM. My question is this: After I find the developer that works for this piece-of-shit-vendor-application and stab him with my pencil should I head out for drinks afterwards or just head home? I am thinking I need to make a getaway, but I may need something to take the edge off as well. – D.B.A. Cooper

Dear Name: Wow, that’s a great question. I would say that you should go have a drink. I wouldn’t worry about making a getaway. If you get arrested for stabbing that guy then you’ll need to be tried by a jury of your peers. In this case, that means twelve other DBA type folk, and there is no doubt in my mind they will see things your way.

Dear SQLDumbass: I keep getting an error message? – John

Dear Name: I’m not sure I understand your question. When do you get the error message? When you start your car in the morning? How about when you use the toilet? Do you get an error message then as well? Honestly, if this is the level of detail you provide the people you work with then I would expect that at some point you will see that Life itself is giving you an error message.

You’re Not Worthy

Dear SQLDumbass: I just passed exam 70-431, where can I get a job as a DBA? -Fred

Dear Fred: Oh, you’ve passed an exam? I’m sure the job offers will come rolling in, just be patient. After all, why should years of experience matter anymore? Just look at K-Fed for a great example of how well you can do without any appreciable skills other than being able to talk your way through a prenup, er test.

Dear SQLDumbass: I’m leading a class and for the past few days I’ve had to deal with smartasses who are taking the class arguing my answers with me or simply mucking around on Twitter all day long paying no attention to the subject matter.  What do you suggest I do about this? – Name Withheld

Dear Paul: Tell Brent Ozar to shut up and pay attention.  If that doesn’t work, throw an eraser at his head.  That worked for me when I was in school.  Then again, we had blackboards and erasers back then.  Perhaps tossing a chair will send a nice message to the lot of them?

Dear SQLDumbass: My girlfriend is complaining that I’m spending too much time at work and that it’s cutting into our social life.  I’m an Access DBA for a leading stock trading firm on Wall Street though and the work demands it.  How should I handle this with her. – Roger

Dear “Roger”: OK, am I getting punk’d?  Where do I begin?  Do I start with the fact that you have a girlfriend and are an Access Developer?  Yeah, I think I will:  What are you, their king?  When you all get together to talk shop I’m sure they spend most of the time asking you what it’s like to talk to a real woman?  Secondly, Wall Street firms are using Access for their database platform?  That explains so much.  Really, this failure at AIG, Lehman, and the Goldman Sachs wasn’t about default credit swaps was it?   It was about Jet.  Also, perhaps you’d have more free time if you were working with a better platform than Access to meet your needs.  Sure, it’s great for your quilting club, or for keeping track of your Star Trek memorabelia, but for the financial heartbeat of America and the World?  Seriously?

By the way, stop calling yourself a DBA.  D stands for Database in case you were unaware.  Also, stop calling her your girlfriend, it’s your Mom, isn’t it Roger?  Now go upstairs and take out the garbage like a good boy.

Dear SQLDumbass: I want to start telecommuting.  What do you suggest I do first? – One Foot Out The Door

Dear OFOTD: I suggest you stop showing up to work.  You may want to check with your boss first, but I leave that up to you.

You Won’t Get Shanked

Dear SQLDumbass: I wrote a blog post slamming MS Access, and now I feel kinda bad. Should I be concerned that I will get shanked by a developer at the next office party? -B from Chicago

Dear B: I wouldn’t worry about slamming anyone with regards to MS Access. Anyone that cares about using Access is usually too inept at navigating the internet. Chances are they will never read your post. And the ones that can use a computer are too busy extracting data from Front Page and storing it in Access in order to be concerned with your blog.

Dear SQLDumbass: I’m tired of our DBA’s always complaining about needing separate disks for data, log, and backups. Why do the backups have to go on a different drive than the data? Isn’t it the same data to begin with? So I build servers with one big RAID5 and partition out different drive letters so they think they are getting different drives and they don’t know the difference. Morons. – Gary

Dear Gary: Nice. People like you are the reasons that businesses fail. I bet you are the same guy that builds a SAN as just one big LUN and hands out space as needed. I’m sure performance is through the roof in your shop. I’m also sure the DBA’s are smart enough to examine the disk subsystem to know enough about what you have built. Chances are they are waiting for a failure of some sort. That way, when they can’t recover, they’ll just point to their requirement that they asked for separate drives. When management realizes what a dumbass you are, you’ll be out and they’ll replace you with something more useful, like punch cards or a bag of used staples.

Dear SQLDumbass: Our DBA team here won’t let us be sysadmin and it slows us down considerably. Why are you guys such assholes? – Steve

Dear Steve: A better question is: why aren’t you? If you were more of an asshole then maybe you would be a DBA instead of pissing and moaning about the wonderful job they are doing in your shop. Next time you find yourself thinking bad thoughts about the DBAs there, stop and think to yourself “what can Steve do to be more of an asshole?”, and then go and do those things. You’ll get noticed, and quick, and pretty soon you’ll be right where you belong.

Ask a SQLDumbass

Ever wanted to ask a SQLDumbass question? Or submit a question to SQLDumbass? Well, now is your chance. There is a new page that you can use to submit your inquiries:

Ask a SQLDumbass

Fill out the form with your question and a future post will (probably) have a response. Eventually.