The Spectrum and #MeToo

Seeing all the #MeToo statuses through my social media feeds, which took off after those revelations about Harvey Weinstein, has me in the midst of a two-fold thought. As a male, and as an individual on the spectrum, what would I know and what actions should I take?

A concern I have for those on the spectrum is the influences and the culture giving us impressions that are not correct, or can be rooted in our own issues with relationships (there are many autistics who haven’t had a girlfriend by my age, and not by choice). Some behaviors are expected to be figured out and not literally explained as proper etiquette, including not encroaching on the space of someone else. However, it is no secret that we struggle with what behaviors should be explained.

A man on the spectrum may get some of their knowledge from sex education classes and discussions with their guardians, but they also get a bulk of knowledge of behavior from the media (television/internet) or peers. The former groups may not be sure how to explain the topic, so then outside sources take over. A man may see a behavior and not know at first that there’s a problem with what he has done.

Here is a theoretical. A man on the spectrum sees a girl he wants to get to know; he probably wants to flirt. he goes up and makes some conversation. She finds him to be friendly, and the two hit it off pretty well. Knowing what he’s seen in the past around acquaintances and media, he pulls the leg touch maneuver. Conversation starts to break down slightly, but he’s unaware as she’s still acting friendly even if she pulled back slightly. She says she has to meet with friends, and will come back. However, his first instinct is that she actually does want to come back, and that he has no idea that he was violating her space and that she’s not actually coming back because he was a creep.

You likely figured out this is the part where that man…was me. It took going into unnecessary detail with another friend many months later to get an explanation. Even then I wasn’t sure I understood until, well, hearing more about behaviors via the internet. Oh, I felt terrible about it, as I always believed myself to be better than a creep, and then realized I had these moments for years. We never pay attention to staring and stalking as we’re trying to get around social awkwardness (especially in high school or college). However, I know I’ve done these, and I know others like me who have as well without understanding that it’s not an innocent behavior.

There are instances where I didn’t help when a friend was trying to do his thing and refrained to stop him from backing off, not considering the context of his actions. Let’s not forget instances of “locker room talk” where all I did was act silent and didn’t speak up to say “dude, that’s too far” to the people around. At some moments, I had no idea how bad it truly was based on what I was told. At other moments, I did know and was a coward.

All of this can be independent of the spectrum, but what if an impressionable Aspie believes this is acceptable behavior and does not see the red flags? Or, that the Aspie does see it as bad but thinks they should stay quiet since unrelated behaviors have been ridiculed? Someone worse off than myself may not catch on and will only be enabled, even if it comes to the point that you have to explicitly ask the yes/no question, and ensuring a partner that you’re okay stopping once they say so to make up for the inability to recognize cues (if she says no, then it’s no…if she even says maybe, then it’s not yes). I’m not trying to extend this analogy to say I would believe someone claiming to be autistic and not knowing gang rape is wrong (I call bull). However, even the more seemingly innocent flirtatious behaviors are actually wrong, and those of us on the high end can still learn with the right influences.

Let’s not forget that it goes the other way as well. People on the autism spectrum are 66% more likely to be victims of sexual assault. I recall speaking with two women I know from the spectrum who alluded to these experiences. Their descriptions of sexual harassment had graphic moments, and thinking back to the conversations now is pretty harrowing even as someone who believed them from the start. Some autistic girls claim the #MeToo hashtag for the same reasons an autistic man may let bad behaviors slide.

I can’t, and shouldn’t, claim the whole “as someone with a niece/sister/daughter” thing, as I grew up around mostly males. My concern is the gap when an impressionable person on the spectrum may be a victim or the perpetrator. When we hear “see something, say something” are we going to know what the “something” is in our literal minds? Will we be able to call our male friends out when in action? I don’t see it much, but I worry about being in my own world and not catching creepers in action, or being said creeper. Unwittingly and not, I have been both. I’m thankful for times I’ve been called out, even if I got overly sensitive at the start. That is something we need, and it’s why I am participating in and creating a few forums within autistic groups to talk about what behaviors are permissible, what mistakes we’ve all made, and how to feel comfortable with our behaviors and to ensure others are comfortable too. We can’t use the spectrum as an excuse for improper behavior, and hopefully the internet can be a positive form of sex education with this movement.

Sexual assault is not an easy topic, but it’s on me to talk with others, to teach, and to learn. Feel free to shoot me a message if there is a desire to talk further. Let’s make sure those of us with autistic peers or children set good examples, and that we on the high functioning end of the spectrum can be better men who put an end to this stuff.

Time to Task

Sometimes I need to schedule time for dedicated scheduling time. It may sound odd, but it relates to my issues with time management, which have been inherent for years. In terms of what I do during the day (employment) it is very apparent.

With any job, one has to juggle multiple tasks and deadlines. Earlier this week I found out that a recurring task (which unfortunately calls on me patching a bug manually) did not succeed. I had a calendar event set up but wasn’t in front of the task in time because I miscalculated the reminder. So the vendor caught it first and I was stuck in reactive mode. I don’t like being reactive with the work I do, yet it is difficult for me to figure out proactive ways to get around this without someone else’s advisement.

When you’re surrounded by workaholics, when the engineers you team with are workaholics, when your boss is a workaholic, then I figure you might want to own all your work to show them you’re as dedicated to the craft. Or at least that is my perception. So naturally I don’t want to hand tasks off to others as I see it as a sign of weakness that the Aspergian who can’t handle it. There’s a few tasks that have become actual deliverables, but others I could have delivered about three months ago, leaving stakeholders frustrated. My problem is knowing that I can do it, but I’m not always quick to the task because of a combination of 1) methodical approach to details and 2) various distractions in the open. How does the sensory overload spectrum person deal? Often with headphones. However, what I will also be trying is setting aside time at the start of the week and midweek to figure out what is on my plate, and then talking with my manager to ensure I have priorities right. For career purposes, I like to figure out the tasks myself as a way of understanding the pulse of the business. So my hope is that this will help my time management, which will in turn help me improve my technical chops and value as a senior member of my team.

The list? Has tasks from Team Services and random email requests, then categories of importance rank and completion rank, on a level of low-medium-high. This way I also have perspective on how long I think something will take. That last part will take time to figure out, but that’s also why as a unit we’re tracking the time to get tasks and large projects done.

I have often noticed that this sort of “soft skill” work, if you call it that, is tougher for the spectrum person. However, taking the time for the tasks will help, and I hope I stick with it for a long time.

2017 Public Goal Setting Post for Personal Accountability

I know what some of you are thinking: good riddance to 2016. Looking back on a personal level, it wasn’t so bad. A new half marathon PR, my first hackathon, a return to PASS Summit after a three-year absence, my first speaking engagement for a professional association, starting a new job more suited to my interests, closing the year by getting a promotion of sorts at said job, surviving cohabitation all year long, and actually buying this domain and starting a website! So in light of world turmoil, I think life was okay.

My motivations for creating a website are still related to my own attempt at branding…Which makes it all the more sad that I went long stretches without posts. However, the wrap up at the end of the year is as good a time as any. I have some goals related to my profession and passions and now I post them for my own record, to see if I keep growing and how it happens.

  • Restart on that MCSA certification (Database Development)
    I finished 70-461 back in 2014, near the end of the year. Then I didn’t touch the next two exams out of concern that everything would change with the upcoming SQL Server 2016 release. However, There are new exams which have started, with more specified tracks that only take two exams. While I can’t carry 70-461 to 70-761 (someone keep me honest on that factoid), that exam and 70-762 should be in reach this year, particularly the summer when I won’t be in grad school classes two nights a week.
  • Grasp more data science concepts and strengthen my R abilities
    At my gig in 2014 with a health analytics firm, I started to dabble in Python as part of  new initiative for an in-house statistical tool. Seeing the power of Python as a data extract tool had me intrigued and I began to use it more, especially after I started taking a class on Udemy to enhance my abilities in that realm. Naturally, the concurrent step is the R language. I’m still quite novice there, but started focusing some of my professional workshops on the integration of SQL Server with R, especially with Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Revolution leading to Microsoft R Server. R is a language which no longer represents the future, but the present, and it’s something I look to improve upon as a senior member of our segment of the Business Intelligence department at my work.
  • A SQL Saturday speaking engagement
    There has been some hints and persuasions for me to speak on two fronts. Those from the PASS community know of SQL Saturday quite well. Our chapter leader had noted after the completion of another successful event in the Triangle that he hoped for some of the younger pros in the organization to submit abstracts. Okay, it was multiple senior members of our chapter that I hold in high esteem. Well, this November I gave my first microsession to our local user group, and now I am working to expand on that with a professional development talk. I need to submit for Raleigh in the next ten days, and if I’m feeling confident and time permits, I may try for Baltimore next. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of my day job. Speaking of…
  • Stay at my current company all year
    I have changed jobs during the spring in 2014, 2015, and 2016 alike. I think my current gig is a keeper. I’m leaning back towards analyst versus developer in this gig, but with much more seniority as I’ve improved my technical chops this year as much as any other. The big difference now is that I’m doing a better job applying everything I have learned. The learning curve for the pharma industry has been a bit steep, but now everything is making more sense and I strive to make the lives of my colleagues easier.
  • Participate in one of the RDU civic hackathons
    I saw this on a partial level last year and continue to be fascinated by the potential with open data, but now I want to really immerse myself over the weekend at CityCampNC, Datapalooza, or another of the related events. I expect that developed R skills will come in handy once these events take place. Also, allow me to shout out PASS yet again for getting into this movement at last.
  • At least one technical blog post and one autism spectrum post per month
    Simple: there needs to be more blog entries. I’m underdelivering.
  • Do some further organization for the Run/Walk for Autism
    I didn’t get as involved this year as I hoped, and then we had a rainout. I’m hoping to do more for this, especially involving my tie-in with the Human Rights Committee. That will be a work in progress, as I hope to carve out more of a place in the HRC after I fell behind on cases somewhat in the second half of 2016.
  • Break the 1000 mile barrier and run my first marathon
    Naturally a running goal would be included. I had about 650 this year, which was a tad shorter than I expected due to various injuries. What hurt was that I still trained as if temperatures were normal in the summer (in NC it was quite hot) and pushed myself too much. I’m still learning how to recover, which will be crucial this year. I am eyeing Richmond in November for my marathon debut, so bring on the summer training regimen.

That’s a lot of expectation for 2017 that will be paired with motivation. Now let’s get on to a new year.

The TRY Microsession: A T-SQL Tuesday Follow Up

Warning: contains expletives

Last month, I gave the talk first referenced in last month’s Tuesday blog festival, concerning conversion functions with TRY. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous about giving my first presentation to a professional organization, even as a 101-level lightning talk. I was concerned about my own abilities on that stage, being around a mix of developers who may not have been privy to TRY_CAST, TRY_CONVERT, or TRY_PARSE (oof), and people who know this already and were curious as to how I would fare on stage. For the latter group, it was like presenting a class project to the professors in my department. So how do I think it turned out?

It was a success, and not only based on feedback from others. It was a good chance to understand what is required of speaking and how I could break the ice with others who knew generally what I did, but wasn’t sure what I knew about.

With this in mind, I learned some lessons from the presentation.

  • Always bring cables, and backup cables. I did bring my work laptop as a backup computer when I had update issues with my affectionately-nicknamed “Shitty Toshiba”, but the HDMI connection is not the most modern…and I never thought to bring the cables for it. So we had a misadventure where I had to open my script on another computer. Originally, I had UPDATE and INSERT statements included, but I couldn’t risk that WideWorldImporters was in its original condition. Maybe the cables would have allowed me to continue with more than SELECT.
  • Even when carrying a note card, don’t go too off topic just to show you aren’t reading from the card. I’m not the most concise person, so it was easy for me to elaborate more than needed.
  • Know your room setup. This was my first chapter meeting since summer, and the meetings moved to a new office building of which I was unfamiliar.

There were also a few positives to take away.

  • Since I had to use a backup computer, one which I did not have WideWorldImporters as it was my work databases only, I was able to rely on agnostic SELECT statements to show the functions in action. It was the biggest key to recovery.
  • I kept a sense of calm despite the cable issue, and despite deep down thinking “they don’t think I’m prepared…fuck” while taking longer than necessary to set up. To take something in stride would not rattle my audience or allow me to come off nervous; I can be very expressive, so it did take some work to remain confident that a backup solution was in the works.
  • I was confident that I knew the basics of the subject, while not trying to act like I knew everything on the subject. There was a moment early on where I said I was a developer and immediately ducked, explaining next that I “didn’t want the DBAs to throw things at me. Wait until after.” Got a good laugh.
  • You know how I said I elaborated more than needed? I didn’t elaborate too much, as the two rehearsals of my talk seemed to keep me relatively constrained, even with my audibles.

The next phase? The submission for a Saturday event…a full-length presentation. Now here’s my chance to take advantage of the help that came from this forum! Thanks to everyone, especially Andy, for giving a platform for us noobs to join the speaker chapter.

T-SQL Tuesday #84: Becoming a Speaker

I’m going to take part in T-SQL Tuesday this month. Why? Well, because I’m now starting to venture into speaking on beginner topics and lessons learned as I perfect my technical chops and learn new skills. This month, the subject is on new speakers, and the veterans who have advice for those of us starting out.

tsql2sday

Talk #1 is already happening

Funny thing is…I’m already going to make my speaking debut on November 15, giving the microsession at our Raleigh-Durham PASS User Group. I’ll be discussing the TRY conversion functions (TRY_CAST, TRY_CONVERT, TRY_PARSE) over a 10-15 time frame. The talk was inspired by a case at my job involving error reporting, and some manually entered date values that led to exceptions in the original procedures. For this talk, I’ll be using some basic examples to explain each one. How CAST and CONVERT throw exceptions, while TRY_CAST and TRY_CONVERT avoid it with NULL instead. How PARSE is something most people don’t touch for good reason. It should be interesting to start out, and I’ve received some good advice from a few professionals before I rehearse. It does help that I’ll be working on rehearsal with partners as well for critiques.

Talk #2 is a longer talk – a Saturday submission

This March is SQL Saturday Raleigh, and it’s not a secret to some of the members that I’m strongly considering throwing my hat in the ring for a slot this year. I’ve been considering two topics to begin. One is about merging Python and T-SQL together. Of course, I’m picking up R and the Revolution Analytics acquisition has led to SQL and R beginning a beautiful relationship. However, Python is still a popular enough language that for the longest time I struggled to consolidate with SQL. I want to investigate this further to see if this is possible as a data tool.

Another topic that has gotten some traction is about moving from analyst to developer. I started my career as an analyst, then became a Database & BI Developer, and now I’m in a bit of a hybrid role. My view is that there are plenty of analysts who queried all the time, like myself, who might want to work more in the development space. Maybe from there someone will want to be a DBA, or a data scientist (CHEERS). So I’m looking into the high level tools if an analyst goes from having read permissions to having write & execute as well, and might have to use Reporting & Integration Services more often. It’s experience that I have been through, and now I think I can touch on this experience again in my current full-time role.

How does this get moving?

It is partially spectrum-related, but I am unsure where to start and how to approach someone for advice directly. A general blog post with references sounds like a perfect place to begin, and I’d like to see where I can go, and how some veterans learned their speaking skills. I’m nervous of talking about a subject that I don’t know much on, as I’ve had those over-my-head moments in front of fellow professionals. Now I have to ask myself, and others, how to target the audience and let everyone know that I’m impersonating an expert. Then there’s the matter of adjusting presentations and turning feedback into something constructive for another technical topic (or even the same one, refined for a different crowd).

I read Steve Jones’ post for this month as I was writing, and it made me think of one of my esteemed colleagues (yet another Steve who is part of PASS, affectionately known as SQL Steve in our company’s department) who did a series of weekly tips and tricks for our team, which included some practical examples we could use internally. It reflected the way of getting started with a small group. The other aspect that stuck out to me from the post was this:

[Your first technical speaking opportunity] can be hard as you need to be open to debate, accept you might get some things wrong, and that you might learn something. There is stress in trying to come across as an expert but I’d rather you try to teach something, with the idea that this is your understanding of a topic, but you are open to admitting you might be wrong if someone else knows more.

I don’t consider myself an expert at all. Intermediate in some areas, beginner in a few others, and court jester in the last one or two. It seems that a key for my microsession will be that experts in the house will have critiques, but it does not mean that they believe I’m ignorant here. I’ll have to keep my skin tough and stay aware that there will always be learning. The interaction and discussion will allow everyone to learn and explain how they came to their conclusions.

I’m excited about reading some of the other posts that are in the very long comment section, and what advice can be gleaned. Let me know that I can reach out to you (as Andy did on his host post), and I’ll do just that.

PASS Summit 2016: Wednesday

Now the sessions begin. Okay, began, since I’m posting on Friday.

First, Microsoft’s Joseph Sirosh provided the keynote address. The focus was on the power of data and analytics in this changing world. I didn’t write anything down during this session, so instead I’ll link to Kevin Kline’s recap of the talk.

My focus was towards some sessions to help with query writing. I first attended Andy Yun’s session, Why Your Data Type Choices Matter. Awesome session. Andy first focused on the internals (how data is stored). While I was aware that a table was not created in the order of the columns listed, I did not know much about the FIXVAR format. If using variable columns (ex. VARCHAR), the extra two bytes represent the variable column offset array. We need more metadata to read the actual data. One thing that stuck out was the question of using unicode versus non-unicode. If you use the former (VARCHAR), then data could be lost and refactoring may be required. If you use the latter (NVARCHAR), the storage requirement is doubled. The key is to right-size data types (even in temp tables…if a certain person is reading, the person is being called out!), match data types, and recall the 8KB page size limit.

During lunch, I sat with a table of developers and DBAs talking about query tuning. The major advice I received was during a conversation about date functions that related to  project I had worked on previously. Basically, I was told about how scalar user-defined functions can be a terrible thing in many situations. This may be open for debate, but scalar UDFs can bring down the IO. Now I’ll have to investigate that further.

My next session was Optimizing SQL Server and Databases for Large Fact Tables, presented by Thomas Grosher. The idea was that sometimes we have to pull data from large fact tables, and we can apply some tricks to make this happen. Say, if there’s a need to read a fact table for a report which runs for two hours, how do you help it. This session did go over my head a bit, as it seemed more performance-based than BI-development-based. Though I did take away a few things. First, it’s important to choose a clustered index key wisely, such as using a lookup table for common parameters. Second, table partitioning comes into play, which I haven’t tried to do much myself, but our engineering unit has. Third, row compression. We have some tables at my company with one billion rows, and Thomas explained that 1 byte less on 1 billion rows can save 1GB. A solid session, though I may have been surprised by the deeper infrastructure content.

Final session of the day was on Biml for Beginners, by Cathrine Wilhelmsen – a great example of the next generation of data platform stars already coming to fruition. So Biml is something I had brought up in passing at work and read a few blog articles about, but I had not followed through. Here was my chance. Basically, Biml (Business intelligence markup language) is helpful to many a business, including my company, by using business logic to easily repeat SSIS packages. It’s essentially XML. I learned about the beta BimlOnline as well, which does reverse engineering to help us gather what the Biml looks like. We can even extend Biml with C# or VB code blocks to import structures. Cathrine even explained tiered Biml files to repeat such attributes like admin, source, and destination. To use a practical example, there are some weekly reports to automate coming up, and this could be relatively useful to set these packages up at a base level. Biml is not meant for deployment, but it can save us valuable development time. Easy to learn more as well. I’m adding it to the personal projects list.

francissoyerlist
Lighten up, Francis. Biml is a good thing.

Exhibitors had a fun reception with appetizers and light dinner. I’m bringing home more Idera ducks. Then came more karaoke for the night, put on by Pragmatic Works at the Hard Rock Cafe. Same drill as the previous night with networking opportunities.

That was a lot of words. So next recap is Thursday.

PASS Summit 2016: Day 0 & Day 1

Earlier this year, I came upon the opportunity to go to PASS Summit. Some of you who clicked on this link probably know what that is, but I’ll let the about section of the Summit site explain to you what the event is and why it is worthwhile. I had previously gone in 2013 when it was held in Charlotte (easy commute from Raleigh), and having the chance to go back was a no-brainer for myself and my company. At the conference, I get to network with industry professionals/mutual Twitter followers, learn new skills to advance my career, and get advice on problems and possibilities facing my department at my company to allow us to become better. Plus, I can personally thank Redgate for the awesomeness of their SQL Prompt tool, which our BI team actively uses.

Anyway, this is where I start blog recaps.

Day 0 (Monday)

Flight arrived after 5:00 (PDT), so I did not get to pick up my registration badge. I will note that it would be nice if that area was open later on that day like it is on the surrounding days. At first, introverted autistic me was concerned about showing up to events without a badge. I was due to attend a networking dinner hosted by veterans Steve Jones and Andy Warren, where people could converse and meet. I was able to talk with a few professionals, including a group of developers at stamps.com, on what they do and we shared challenges we each face on a broad scale. While I liked how the dinner gave us a chance to sit down, I sometimes hope that there’s more opportunity to move about the dinner area and talk to other tables. When someone speaks to me first and asks about me, it is much easier for me to talk, or if I’m place at a table with others I’m driven to make that conversation. That was advantageous.

After I returned to the hotel to handle a task for my work, and struggling with it (public props to my colleague for figuring it out quickly the next morning), I decided that I might want to talk with others on handling disparate data…while singing karaoke. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, the PASS community is constantly in touch about events, which led me to join many others (both first-timers and community notables) to a Chinese restaurant hosting nightly karaoke. That was more of a chance to have fun and practice “Purple Rain” in front of an audience outside Raleigh-Durham or Philadelphia. I’ve learned that singing a song in front of people who may not know you is a good opening for conversation once the song is done. It’s no secret that I have trouble approaching someone I’ve never spoken with and making small talk with that person, but there were some openings created through the power of singing songs someone else made famous.

A key takeaway professionally that night was simple: as soon as you are stuck on a problem involving data sources, ask someone who is more seasoned with the data on their thought process, and how they became acquainted with the data. If they solve the problem, find out how they did it so you can apply it next time. It can help someone doing work on the analyst side to get better. I admit it’s an area I still need to be more consistent about when trying to play hero.

Day 1 (Tuesday)

I wasn’t signed up for a pre-con because money, so it has really been a day of exploring and also following up on previous work tasks. Let’s just say I saw touristy stuff and took advantage of the #sqlsummit hashtag to meet random others. Again, PASS does a great job utilizing Twitter.

Then we got to the networking dinner. There’s a lot of standing around awkwardly for a person like myself, so this event isn’t necessarily easy. I found that moving around and striking up conversation with someone else who was also by themselves to be an effective way of connecting. I was able to talk to a DBA or three about how their systems worked, and got advice that the system administrator should not be the database administrator. Can’t treat them both the same. I can agree to some extent, but I would think it depends on if the sys admin has been trained as a DBA.

I like the networking dinner for the open and social aspect, but I do wonder if PASS could put together a networking event similar to the first-timers one for people who generally just want to meet other people but have trouble saying the first word. The first-timers one is set up speed dating style, and maybe it could be expanded to others in the future. Though with everything considered, I met plenty of new people by focusing on them directly.

Then came the fun of karaoke, yet again. How we do the connect part. Or reconnect, as I encountered professionals I had not seen in a long time…three years in a few cases.

And that was everything through Tuesday. Days 2-4 will provide even more learning.

Wide World Importers & AdventureWorks – Meet the Senior-Manager Boss

Well, I should first note that I intended to blog more than I have, but was struggling to find the right topics that didn’t involve any ‘woe is me’ complaints struggles. However, then I found inspiration in talking to others about steps when I got started in trying to work on my technical skills in my time away from work (mostly T-SQL and some Python would be covered), and how to cover the basics for a lot of people looking to get started.

One situation I run into more frequently than I previously wanted to admit is being unable to explain the most basic of concepts after I do them. Part of it, as I came to realize, was not allowing myself to practice what I learned outside of the office anymore. By the end of last year, I figured out that I needed to actually use a home database if I was going to perfect my technical chops, let alone speak on a subject in front of an audience where examples are crucial. So my first thought is…what about the constructs of Microsoft’s own sample databases? There’s a new one for 2016, and I had to get it, and post some rudimentary thoughts.

Get the database file, of course

I figured this was a time to trace my steps and add my first database in my shiny new Developer edition instance. So where can you find Wide World Importers? Here it is on the shiny GitHub page. There is both a transaction backup file and an analytical backup file (WideWorldImportersDW-Full.bak). I downloaded both, and moved the extended backup files to my local backup folder. In my case the extension was Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.[instance name]\MSSQL\Backup. My thought is that it’s an easier spot to keep the originals. I read that some folks advised to place it directly in the C: drive, however, and there may be a good reason for me to do so in the future.

So within SQL Server Management Studio, I decided to use the commands rather than the RESTORE DATABASE command. I am not at all DBA level (show compassion for we little developers, peeps), but pretended to be one by asking to restore a database. There are instructions on the Microsoft site, but I’ve got pictures for how I followed along (also because I couldn’t get video to happen).

WWImporters - Restore Database
Yes, the Restore Database command was the droid I was looking for in this particular instance.

Once at the backup screen, I got the database loaded pretty quickly. The key is looking for a file after clicking the Device radio button. Also, the backup folder appeared instantly when I clicked Add and it allowed me to easily choose the database.

WWImporters - Select Device.jpg

Well, hitting okay a bunch of time allowed for a very quick “restore” of a database I never had to start. Then I was able to do the same for the DW/analytical version, and I even put AdventureWorks2014 in there solely to be experimental. Had no problems with a 2014 database brought into a 2016 system, in case some of you were like me some time ago and thought compatibility issues could occur if you don’t set it to 2016 in advance.

I should also note that I used the -full version because I have Developer edition, and -full works on that and everything Enterprise. If you don’t have one of those editions, you’ll need to stick with -standard.

Is Wide World Importers special in any way?

It’s hard for me to say while toying around with the DB so far. The business has changed slightly, including more tables based on delivery locations. However, some of the big differences to me are more about the DB practices and configuration for new SQL Server 2016 features.

I immediately noticed many more system-versioned tables (temporal, maybe?) in this edition. Those are the clocks in the corner of each table. maximized the next level, and there was a history archive. Pretty cool that it’s finally come over this way.

WWImporters - System Version Tables
What’s up with the clocks? Now they can find out where I messed around and I can’t cover my tracks anymore?

Even some of the code itself is more detailed and also slightly different in format, in the way lines are split up. I do still notice cursors, which will show others how to do it…but I wonder if all those folks who convinced me of the badness of cursors would take issue. The views are pretty simplistic to say the least, and may have some use considering they are concentrated to three areas.

The analytical database this time uses dimension, fact, and integration (staging tables) as the prefixes. I think it’s an easier way to teach folks about the data warehouse schema by using these tables. The schema is also set up that way, with fact tables having many a foreign key and the dimensions having identities across the board that link accurately. I even saw a proc called GetLastETLCutoffTime, which gave me ideas that I can bring to my day job for some of what we run during our off hours.

AdventureWorks won’t be updated any more, but it really feels more so like WideWorldImporters is a promotion of sorts, with more integrated features and better key systems. The documentation is about the same, but the data itself is improved. For people using this edition longer than I have, fresh data is a good thing, I’m sure.

Hold up…weren’t you going to mention more about 2016 features?

Oh yeah…those 2016 features. I notice that I haven’t yet tried to stretch the database, but it appears this one is configured so that it can be done. Same goes with R Services, which I’ve only scratched the surface on when using a release candidate.

I’ll have to go into more detail in a second part once I play around with these features, and maybe do a comparison against other public databases that are SQL Server compliant. Always learning, you know.

How Often Do We (or Will I) Hiatus?

So I’ve been on a hiatus for over a month, because life got in my way…more so I got in my own way. Adjustments to a new job, a lot of travel, and some other house matters. Plus, I’m realizing that there are a lot of steps that go into putting coherent thoughts into a technical blog. I’m asking some questions now about code formats, and what are the best tags…and I also have someone to proofread.

So I’m hoping to get a fresher post this week, but I can’t be sure if I’ll have long breaks like many of us on the interwebs. Time will tell, as I hope to keep this site interesting.

Autistic Pride Day

This past Sunday, June 18, was marked Autistic Pride Day. While usually cognizant of these occasions, last month was the first I recalled such a day. The day is a celebration of neurodiversity, and the potential of all people to be contributors to society. As you can guess, we show that we’re proud of our identities, abilities, and communities. One thing I am thankful for as I’ve become older is that my idiosyncratic behaviors and quirks are now seen as second nature, versus when they were ridiculed during my school years. That is probably because our culture has encouraged inclusion recently, making it less of a fight to get others to understand.

At first, I questioned why there is a day for pride among us when we have a month dedicated to acceptance. I doubt that commentators and pundits will start complaining about “the autistic agenda” or something, but considering the amount of people who have revealed their diagnosis I can see why this could be viewed by some skeptics as a fad. However, my thought is that there is a small difference between the intent of each. Autism Awareness Acceptance Month is meant to reach out to others on how we can still be members of society with abilities more so than deficiencies. It’s a time to educate others. Autistic Pride Day, however, is our day; we show the world how we’re proud of how we were born. It’s a time to show off.

Both of these are relatively interchangeable, as we often have to make people aware of the differences between autistics and NTs while highlighting our own abilities in the process. What I reflected on when Sunday came and went was the achievements and the chance to focus on an optimistic view of autism. As I have written before, there is still a great stigma over how we are

In one of the online communities I browse on occasion, I encountered an excellent blog post from spectrum advocate Alyssa Huber about what Autistic Pride Day means, and what it does not mean, which can also apply to the month.

How I see it, it’s a way to humanize autism. It shows that we are not just a cluster of symptoms. It shows that we all have a place in this world. It shows that like everyone else, we have our own unique personalities, perspectives, strengths, and weaknesses, and we should accept each other as humans even if we are different.

As for what it does not mean, The post came up after a derogatory comment In various circles (particularly when it comes to politics), I hear a line from someone such as “everyone gets offended too easily.” Well, there are reasons why we get offended, as this meme on Huber’s post demonstrates.

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Though I would argue that the media has rolled back its perpetuation of these talking points. Now the focus is more so on subsets like anti-vaxxers.

What offends me is the ignorance and the stigma.

So how I look at Autistic Pride Day is one where we highlight the accomplishments of those on the spectrum and how they have proven themselves to be just as capable as their NT neighbors. Yes, someone will consider it ‘just another movement,’ but it’s still my movement as a person who still sporadically fights to assimilate, and I want to be a proud part of the movement. I end with a comment from that post explaining what makes this important.

Autistic pride as a movement is very, very meaningful to me. [After the diagnosis] I initially felt so, so alone, almost as if I was now officially on the outside looking in at society. It felt like a label that said ‘I don’t belong here.’ When I started blogging about my autism, however, I discovered a huge community of fellow autistic adults, people like me who were seeking to be understood and accepted by society, and I realized that yes, I do belong here. I belong on this earth, in this society that may not be ready to accept me yet but someday will. I’m determined to insure that this society takes me as who I am, not who it wants me to. I am good, I am valid, I am autistic. And nobody can take that away from me.