Michael J. Swart

Michael J. Swartshadow

Michael J. Swart

Data Head Stats:
  • Where are you from, and what kind of company do you work for?
  • So, I’m from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It’s a small city but it’s got a reputation for having a strong high-tech sector. In fact, I understand the winner of the Red Gate DBA in Space contest works in Waterloo. I love it here. I went to University here and have been here since.
     
    I’m a DB developer at an exciting company. It’s young and growing quickly. We recently moved into a brand new office space that was once a tannery. The atmosphere is really fun. And the work is challenging, I like to take a lot of the lessons I learn at work, make the details anonymous, and then post them as blog articles.
  • What’s decorating your office and/or desk right now? Photographs? Drawings your kids made? Crazy database model constructed solely from Bucky Balls?
  • Crazy DB Models made from Bucky Balls? Hmm…I think my bucket list just grew by one item. Anyway, I just recently switched desks and you could say that I’m still not unpacked. But I do like to keep my Rubik’s cubes with me. I’ve got one “racing cube” that I modified to spin faster. And I’ve also got a 5x5x5 version which I keep nearby. (And to answer your next question: 30 seconds and 4 minutes respectively).
  • SQL Server 2012 looms on the horizon. What about it has you most excited? Anything about it that makes you a little… wary?
  • That’s a great question and to be honest, I haven’t had a lot of time to play with it. I work on databases that have to be supported across multiple versions and editions and so that has restricted the set of features that I can leverage.
     
    The things that do excite me are those that impact development and troubleshooting. And so I’ve been taking advantage of the new Management Studio environment ever since the first CTP was released (no waiting here!)
     
    But it’s actually all the little things that I’m excited about. For example, on the troubleshooting side, the new extended event sqlserver.blocked_process_report will be useful. Also useful will be the new columns in sys.dm_exec_query_stats (last_rows, max_rows, min_rows and total_rows).
  • Congratulations on the MVP award! As we all know, the MVP program has morphed into different things over the years. What about the program has most surprised you so far?
  • Hey thanks! No surprises about the program. I mean, I don’t think I ever had any expectations about the MVP program. I’ve only been one a few weeks, so I’m still trying to get my bearings as one. It’s recognition and so right now I’m enjoying that. I’m enjoying the “Congratulations” from coworkers and I’m smiling at the “MVP? What’s that?” from relatives.
  • When did you discover your love for technology? Feel free to add a pivotal moment, if there was one.
  • I don’t think there was ever any pivotal moment. But maybe a series of really cool moments. Here’s a couple:
    • I remember wanting an Atari console and my mother said that when I was older I would want a computer more. I didn’t believe her at the time but she was so right.
    • My previous job allowed me to visit semiconductor factories and the factory where they made XBox 360s. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly the industry is progressing in technology. The size of MP3 players are now only constrained by what makes the most ergonomic sense. Solid state drives are gaining ground and coming down in price. (It seems that we’re only constrained by how efficiently and finely we can focus light on a wafer of silicon).
  • A couple of months ago, you wrote a blog post about “SQL Fingertips” Any new, fresh-for-2012 fingertips you’d like to share?
  • Okay, here a few off the top of my head:
    • General Security tip: Security considerations are important for more than the obvious reasons. Of course we want to prevent malicious users from doing harm, but security measures can also be used to prevent inadvertent user errors.
    • I.T. relationships: What happens when you cross a DBA with a B.I. expert? Gold! I’m a big fan of using fact-based decision making. And it’s not too hard to apply that to Database Administration tasks. One way is to use the Data Management Warehouse to do Business Intelligence on DBA data. I’ve written a lighter-weight version whose reports are tailored for my company and we’ve been really happy with the results.
  • What’s the geekiest thing you’ve ever done? (Or at least will admit to!) (And, hey, we’ll take a little background on all those great illustrations on your site. :) )
  • I talked this one over with some friends and there are a few candidates. First, the runners-up:

     
    But I think the winner would be when I used SQL to generate poetry comprised entirely of SQL Server keywords. (I’m not joking.)
     
    Stepping away from the geeky side, I like drawing and painting and I found I could use some of those skills when doing illustrations for the blog. Drawing those is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. I absolutely love it. I’m using a completely different part of the brain and I get to do draw what I want. In fact, in celebration of receiving the MVP award, I treated myself to an Adobe Illustrator license (no more trial versions for me!) Adobe Illustrator is the software I use to draw these illustrations. The software is really expensive. It’s intended for professionals (and not really for hobbyists like me).

Data Heads

Data Heads
There are a lot of us lean, mean, data-analyzing machines out there in the real and virtual worlds, and it’s easy for interesting colleagues to get lost in the shuffle. With that in mind, we’ve launched Data Heads, a series of profiles of some of the most intriguing database professionals out there.