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Maria Zakourdaev

Look back and realize how far you came



It appeared out of nowhere while I was having a strong argument with the ton of dust that had taken over my computer room. My former favorite book, "Advanced Transact-SQL for SQL server 2000" brought an upset look to my face, the one I usually get from our NetApp admin. He usually gives me such a look when I ask him for more disk space.

At the time of SQL 2000 there were far less good SQL books available than today and amazing SQL programming tricks were living on Itzik’s book pages; and, similar to the Rubeus Hagrid’s “The Monster Book of Monsters” it attacked anyone who attempted to open it, unleashing wild and exciting brilliant ideas.

Nowadays there are a lot of SQL books but not all of them are worth reading. Some of them should be strongly avoided and if you touch them you should immediately wash your hands and have a drink or three.
A few month ago I was asked to technically review some new SQL Server book. Reading their missleading claims of how the optimizer should be configured and behaves, as a book owner, you'd be faced with very challenging alternatives from building an army of origami planes out of it to using it as a desktop monitor foundation.

With an overwhelming growth of internet resources I read less and less hardcopy books. Google, like a giant octopus pulls out answers from thousands of excellent blogposts. With me being such an abandoning owner, Itzik’s awesome book had found itself other admirers… Several generations of stubborn mice were learning various techniques during all those years. I hope the gastronomic flavors of this book were not less unique than the elegant solutions it reveals. The traces of their passion for knowledge resulted in two comfortable mice holes where a few generations of tiny sql-educated furred professionals were born. They had no idea that “The most powerful database engine in existence” is not that powerful anymore.

My 2014 oriented brain has tried to pretend it's not interested in this book anymore and it can be thrown away, but I revolted.

While my kids, ceasing the moment, were using my favorite lipstick and creatively painting abstract art on where normal kids have a face, I sat on the floor paging through the torn pages as the great features of the past were falling to the floor like rustling autumn leaves.

..."Sql_variant data type is new to SQL 2000"...

..."To solve problematic situations, SQL 2000 introduced two new functions, SCOPE_IDENTITY () and IDENT_CURRENT()"...

..."User defined functions (UDFs), introduced with SQL 2000, have an answer for many needs."...

..."Whenever you think of BLOB, think of text, ntext and image. Since version 7.0, you can store character datatypes up to 8000 bytes in length, in version 6.x you were limited to 255 bytes."...

..."The BIGINT data type is new to SQL server 2000"...

… "The project of distributed partitioned views was code-named Coyote. For many a night with sunrise, the developer could hear the coyotes' calls, and they sure have come up with something they can be proud of".

Why, how time passes by so quickly… In 10 years’ time we will smile when reading about columnar and in-memory database technologies. I wonder what would be the top features of SQL 2024?


Published Sunday, September 8, 2013 6:49 PM by Maria Zakourdaev

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Itzik Ben-Gan said:

Regarding the mice holes, makes perfect sense to me; remember that contrary to what humans think, mice are the most intelligent life form on the planet.

As for what surprises await us in 2024, if they want to really surprise us, they'll support inline scalar UDFs by then. I know it's much to expect to be achieved in 11 years, but one can always dream...

What a nice write-up, Maria. Sure brings good memories of lots of AM writing hours in which I couldn't stop because of the excitement, and then going to teach right after.

September 8, 2013 3:44 PM

Maria Zakourdaev said:

Itzik, thank you for your kind words, for your books, for the inspiration and for teaching :)

September 9, 2013 3:56 AM

Matan Yungman said:

That's a beautiful post Maria!

This book made me a much better DBA because it didn't only teach the language - it taught me how to think (Itzik, thank you for that!).

I also liked the puzzles in the book. My favorite one is the "climbing man" .

September 10, 2013 10:01 AM

James Fogel said:

I still have the MSCDBA hardcover book somewhere.

September 14, 2013 11:50 AM

brn said:

another one bites the dust...

September 15, 2013 9:55 AM

Michael Zilberstein said:

Matan, where is the "like" button here? :-) Next milestone for me were Ken Henderson's books.

September 29, 2013 1:40 PM

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About Maria Zakourdaev

The shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef is… feedback! Let me know if I have touched something that is alive in the cosmos.
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