Where do you find professional inspiration?

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get in “head-down just doing the basics DBA” mode. This just about always happens over the holidays when my retail clients are so busy and have so many urgent requests, and also because I’m focusing on things outside of work more than normal. It also happens other times – Early Summer when we’re thinking about camping and biking and going up to the mountains on the weekends or whenever the workload is really high and I don’t have time for the extras.

I’m not a bad DBA when I’m in this mode, I’m just doing more the minimum – what people request, responding to maintenance failures, etc.

I find that I need inspiration to get out of this mode and back into “Creative Database Enigineer” mode. That’s the main reason I read DB2 Blogs and go to conferences and watch the DB2Night Show.

The amazing thing is that the topic only has to be vaguely related to what I do. In looking at the DB2Night Show episodes this month, I reluctantly signed up for the last two LUW shows – one on Certification(http://www.dbisoftware.com/blog/db2nightshow.php?id=316), and one on Problem Determination for PL/SQL and SQL/PL. The thing is that I’ve taken enough certification tests to not really think I needed any more tips there, and I write maybe 6 stored procedures and a few dozen triggers a year, usually not ones that anyone cares much about the performance of.

And yet out of each session, I find myself inspired. I will be going for the 9.7 certs this year. I have my DB2 9 certs, but can’t go the upgrade route since I did that from 8 to 9. But I learned that I wouldn’t have to take the dang “Family Fundamentals” test over again, just the more relevant ones for DBA and advanced DBA. Which is a plus. And I find myself motivated to take a practice test to see if I actually need to study or not. I probably need to brush up on the things I don’t do every day like dealing with XML or compression or federated systems. There were also some interesting insights on what goes into building the cert tests and the practice tests.

From Serge’s presentation on Problem Determination for PL/SQL and SQL/PL(http://www.dbisoftware.com/blog/db2nightshow.php?id=325), not only did I learn about his free tool for explaining procedures and triggers (something I spent several hours just figuring out how to do recently), but I also noticed that the 9.7 explain plans have both estimated and actual row counts on them – expect a post on that soon – to me that’s an exciting feature, as I do a lot of SQL analysis, and something I hadn’t had a chance to notice yet. Head-down DBA me has just been looking at the explains for the same things I always have.

For me, this kind of inspiration is why I love going to conferences, too. I often come out of a conference on a scripting binge to use all my new ideas and take advantage of the new things I’ve learned.

This Blog is also a source of inspiration to me. In writing it, I think about things on a more basic level than I would otherwise, and I look at details and try things that go beyond my day-to-day work. I also get comments that ask questions and look at the search terms that people have used to find my blog, and use those to investigate new areas and figure out details I’d never thought about before.

So the question for my readers, is how do you stay inspired to reach that extra few inches to be the “Rock-Star Creative Database Engineer” instead of just the “Doing my Job DBA”?

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