A Better Developer in 6 months? Deal!

A Better Developer in 6 months? Deal!

It’s all the fault of Denis Gobo. He tagged me, and now I feel obliged to publish my plans for the last half of 2007 as well. I am not quite as ambitious as Denis, though.


My first commitment

Like Denis, I will read more technical books. I have a huge stack of unread books on my desk, that I will try to finish. Here are the books, in planned reading order:

I am currently near page 20 of T-SQL Programming.


My second commitment

I’ll write more blog posts. At least two per month. Non-technical blog posts, like these, don’t count.


In case anyone believes that blogging won’t make me a better developer, go ahead and read some of my previous blog posts. Then try to guess how much time I have spent studying a subject before I even start writing about it.


My third commitment

I will set up a virtual machine and actually install and test at least two CTP versions of SQL Server 2008 (instead of just downloading them and forgetting which directory I put them in, as I currently do).


My fourth commitment

I’ll try to increase my number of posts in SQL Server related newsgroups to at least 200 posts per month. (As a comparison, I had 55 posts in June, and 45 posts in the first half of July).


Like blogging, replying to questions in newsgroups is a great way to learn, as it confronts me with problems I don’t have in my normal work and that require me to think out of the box. Plus, I automatically see other replies when working in a newsgroup, which is also a great source of inspiration!



My fifth commitment

I am enrolled in a number of online courses offered by Microsoft Learning. Some are completed, some partially completed, and some not even started. I’ll finish them all before the end of the year. Here is the list:

I have currently finished two of the eight modules of collection 2781 completely, and a third one for 81 %. I also noted that a third collection I was working on has already expired, so I guess I won’t be able to finish that one.



I know myself. If I just make plans and keep them for myself, I’ll forget about them. Posting my plans here and labeling them as “commitments” will generate some extra pressure for me. To add yet more pressure, I will also post progress reports, as comments to this post. Don’t expect daily reports, but feel free to prod me if you see no progress reports for three weeks or more.



Denis says he knows it’s cheesy, but did it anyway. I agree with his assessment; tagging is VERY cheesy indeed. So I won’t. (Do I hear some sighs of relief?)

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • cinahcaM madA
    July 18, 2007 02:21

    Hugo, I seriously doubt you’ll benefit from either the 444 TK or the MOC courses.  Having written some of 2781 myself, I know what’s in it, and I am positive that you’re way too advanced already for its content.

  • Hi Denis

    I have two year old twins(daughters) thank god and a menacing 4 year old son and i want to do as much reading on sql server as Hugo has blogged. And tho i sincerely want to do it, i am not even close to sure that i will. Hugo, what are your time limitations ?

  • Hugo Kornelis
    July 19, 2007 21:37

    Adam: I hear you on the courses and the TK. My experience is that some of the course do teach me a new trick here or there, especially when they move into parts of SQL Server I’m less comfortable with; others teach me nothing new but can act as a preparation for the kind of questioning one can expect when going for certification (though I’m still unsure about whether to do that or not – I feel that MVP says a lot more than MCTS or MCITP, but I’m not sure if people who do the hiring all agree).

    All the books on my reading list were given to me for free. I might finish them very quickly if I feel they do nothing but waste my time.

    RS: My time limitations? A fantastic wife and two equally fantastic children (aged 9 and 10) take part of my time; there’s my work (32 hours per week officially, but since I own 50% of the company stock and work from home, real work time varies immensely), household chores (my wife works as well, so I don’t have the luxury of a fulltime housewife doing all the chores – and neither the bad luck of a fulltime housewife having allt he fun with the kids), local volunteer work, the occasional speaking engagement … plus, I have to sleep as well (about 6 hours per night, on average).

    Most newsgroup and blogging activities are crammed in the time slot between 9PM (bedtime for the kids) and 1AM (bedtime for me), unless that time is spent entertaining guests, doing volunteer work, watching a movie with my wife, or just playing the occasional game.

  • Hugo Kornelis
    August 2, 2007 12:12

    July has passed – a great moment for a first progress report.

    Books – currently on page 198 of Inside SQL ServerT-SQL Programming. At this rate, I don’t think I’ll finish the stack before the end of the year.
    Blog – exactly two non-technical posts in July.
    CTP – nothing done in this department. Baaaad!!!
    Usenet – According to Agent, I posted a grand total of 102 messages to SQL Server related newsgroups during all of July. Better than June, and the second half of July is also slightly better than the first half – but not nearly the 200 messages I promised!
    E-learning – Well, collection 2790 expired before I could finish it. Probably just as well, as I spent more time pointing out the errors in the course material to MS folk than perusing them, and I don’t think I learned anything from it. Not that I expected the latter; I enrolled out of curiosity, but I was certainly disappointed by the former. I expected SOME errors, but not so many.

    To compensate for not finishing this collection, I now enrolled in a new one: Collection 2784: Tuning and Optimizing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005. But I’ll first have to finish collection 2781, of which I have now finished the first of six workshops, before that one expires as well.

    Bottom line: I’m not really doing great 🙁  But considering the fact that I’ve been ill for two weeks, I guess it could have been worse. I’ll be on a two-week holiday in August, so next month won’t see as much progress either, except maybe on the books. (Though I might choose to read Harry Potter first)

    Expect the next update in a month or so.

  • Hugo Kornelis
    September 10, 2007 01:13

    High time for my post-August progress report. I’ve realised only a tiny fraction of my plans. Part of that was expected – being on holiday for the second half of August, I never expected to read much or post anything during that time. I had planend to prepare some blog entries for posting later during my holiday – but as you may have read in my blog post of today, I had to shift my priorities toward preparing for some speaking opportunities.

    Books – Still reading Inside SQL Server T-SQL Programming, but advancet to page 400.
    CTP – No progress
    Usenet – Posted 82 messages during the first half of August (a bit less than what I aimed for), and of course nothing in the second half
    E-learning – Finished collections 2781 and 2790. Didn’t start collection 2784 yet.

  • Hugo Kornelis
    October 1, 2007 23:48

    September has gone by, so let’s take a look at how I’m doing.

    Books – Finished Inside SQL Server T-SQL Programming, and started in A Developer’s Guide to SQL Server 2005. Since this is more oriented towards .Net than to T-SQL, I find I have to read this more slowly than my usual reading speed. On the other hand, I might benefit more from it as well. Anyway, I am currently at page 109.
    CTP – I did download the pre-installed Virtual Machine with the July CTP. Twice. And both times, I got an error message that informed me that the archive was corrupt. Blech!
    Usenet – Only 98 messages posted this month.
    E-learning – Finished the first of six workshops for collection 2784.

    See ya next month!

    Oh, and by the way … when will YOU post the next update of your six-month project, Denis "SQL Menace" Gobo? The last update I found on your pownce page seems to be dated July 19…

  • Hugo Kornelis
    November 1, 2007 22:35

    Time for my October update.

    Books – still reading A Developer’s Guide to SQL Server 2005. Page 238. I spent very little time reading this month, partly because the book doesn’t grab me as some other books do.
    Blog – I somehow forgot to include this in previous updates, but I did manage the promised two posts in both september and october.
    CTP – guess what? Indeed, no progress. I will definitely install the next CTP though, since I have agreed to do three talks on SQL Server 2008 in the first quarter of next year, and agreed to do tech edit for a SQL Server 2008 book, so there’s no way I can dodge installing a CTP next month!
    Usenet – I’ve hit an all-time low with a meagre 62 messages. If this downwward trend continues, I’ll be posting negatiive messages before the six months are over!
    E-learning – No progress. At all. Sorry.

    See ya next month!

  • Hugo Kornelis
    December 2, 2007 18:35

    It’s december. November has gone by, and I’m here to tell you how I did.

    Books – A Developer’s Guide to SQL Server 2005 is definitely not a book I can read through at high pace. I am now on page 432.
    Blog – I managed three technical posts last month, therby even exceeding my personal goal of two per month.
    CTP – This is a weird one. I did download CTP5. I did setup a virtual machine, install it with Windows XP. And -yes!- I did start the installation. And again. And so on. I’ve tried at least four or five times on my desktop, each time with different settings, and once more on a virtual machine on my laptop. Each time I got the same unsuccesfull end result, without any clue as for the reason. I am now patiently awaiting until someone from MS sorts out this mess, hoping that there’ll still be enough time left to prepare my talks and tech edit the book once I do finaly get a CTP running.
    Usenet – At 79 messages, I posted slightly more than last month but still way below my target. Too many days, I find myself lacking the time for checking the newsgroups – and when I do check them, all interesting questions are already answered!
    E-learning – As part of the MVP Academy, I enlisted in course 2782 ("Designing Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Databases") and completed all modules this month. Unfortunately, coourse 2784 is now expired so I won’t be completing that one anymore 🙁

    See ya next month for the final wrap-up of this 6-month project.


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