02 October 2012

Plotting My Learning Goals

So one of the things I've a bit of an ardent fondness for is developing (often obscure) skills and expertise.  I went through a period, let's call it a hangover, after school where I worked a rather monotonous job and was minimally concerned with sharpening and updating my technical skillset, but in the past couple years I've moved back towards genuine curiousity and interest in excelling in a technical sphere rather than just treading water.

My core technical interest is SQL Server; many years ago I was handed a SQL Server 2000 (then later, 2005) box and given basic duties...back it up, keep it running...normal small shop sysadmin duties.  Our databases at the time were out of the box MS Dynamics applications and so very little involvement on my side was required.  As time went on, management would get increasingly frustrated with the limited capacity of the embedded reporting tools, and I got more and more chances to write and flesh out reports in SQL Server Reporting Services.  Since then, my interest has deepened and the best part of that job and my new job are working in a DBA or reporting capacity with SQL. 

So, the past year with a handful of books (particularly Tom Carpenter's excellent guide) and a lot of curious poking around with both evaluation and, er, -cough- production servers, I shored up my knowledge and was able to pass both tests, fairly handily, for the MCITP in SQL Server 2008 certification.  Does we rest on our laurelses, precioussss?  No we does not, gollum, gollum!

So, next goal is to pass the two upgrade exams for the MCSA in SQL Server 2012.  I have a couple 2012 evals running, and whenever I'm playing with a SQL box I try to work with those particularly, to aid in getting up to par with new features, but at work we're still running 2008, as most folks probably are.  So I'm still preparing, and thinking about what book to procure, if any, to get ready for the certification exam.  But I'm planning 1st quarter 2013, at least.

Another book I've just finished is Don Jones' "Learn PowerShell in a Month of Lunches", which is a great format for an introductory course.  I'm no PowerShell guru but it has helped fill in some of the mental blanks I have when working with it previously, and I feel much more confident behind a PS prompt than I did previously.

From the library I found this Kimball Group book on data warehousing and BI, which was recommended to me by my boss, who went through Ralph Kimball's training and knew him rather well.  I've got precious little desire to work in depth in an OLAP/MDX/data warehousing environment, but perhaps part of that attitude is a fear of the unknown, so this is what I'm reading presently.

Queued up right behind that is an intro to Oracle for SQL Server DBAs.  As Wodehouse's (or was it an improv of Stephen Fry?) Jeeves said, it is well to know what tune the Devil is playing.

And of course, my studies continue aggressively in my lessons with Ustad Imrat Khan-saheb.  He is teaching me a lovely Alhaiya Bilawal, currently.  Here is his surbahar alap: 

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