2016 Year End Review


2016 has certainly been an interesting year. Never mind some of the major events that have happened in the world in general, I have personally had an interesting year. Some of the major influences on my life this year I can’t post about because it has potential legal implications with the company I work for.

I’d say this year has been a year of self discovery, personally and professionally. I have challenged myself on various things and saw improvement as a result.

In the relationship scene, I wasn’t all that successful. However, I learned more about myself this year in this regard than I had before. I learned that I don’t like forcing myself into dating. I think I missed out on some good relationships because I was doing this song and dance I was not really comfortable with. I have a lot more fun when it’s just a natural progression rather than pushing an agenda. What I mean by that is meeting people purely in the context of “let’s have a relationship” rather than getting to know the person and then deciding if this is who I want to have a relationship with. It just feels forced and unnatural. I might post more about this at some point.

Another thing I started pushing a bit more, at least early in the year, was getting more exercise. I work a desk job so moving around is something that doesn’t happen as much as it should while working. I walk to places a lot more, these days. Our office moved to a new location that is not as walking friendly as the old office, but I still try to get my lunch walk in. I don’t drive as much as I use to and I now have a preference to live and work in places where walking to the places I go to is easier.

In terms of just plain exercise, I started a project on myself to try to get marathon capable in a few years. Well, this got delayed. Part of the reason was how much I was working at one point, but also a big part is I let myself get lazy again. I got to where I could almost run an entire 5K, but I’m pretty sure I’m back to where I can only run maybe half of it.

Despite not reaching exercise goals, I did have to replace things due to my size still going down. I bought a new summer motorcycle jacket because the one I’d been wearing was so loose that riding at high speeds allowed it to blow around, which pulls my body around, which causes fatigue. The new jacket fits quite snugly and improved riding comfort substantially. I also bought a leather jacket for colder riding days, which I’ve pretty much fallen in love with just in general. It’s not armored like sport bike jackets tend to me, which makes it quite wearable even off the bike.

Speaking of jackets and sizes, the winter coat I got a really good deal on last year now fits quite looseley. It’s not horribly loose, there’s room to wear more layers comfortably, but this time next year may see me donating the coat due to its size on me.

So I mentioned work has played a huge role in making things interesting, but what can I talk about? Well, last year we got bought out and we’ve spent the entire year trying to move our services into the cloud and failing. We’ve finally figured out why we kept failing and this is what I can’t talk about. The result, for me, is I’ve spent many weekends and late nights working this project.

This has led to a shift in the whole project that has required me to push myself as a DBA.

There are two things I’ve encountered that made me realize I’ve not been pushing myself enough as a DBA, though not for lack of trying.

I decided to take advantage of the online training courses offered through work. They provide access to Pluralsight, which offers many training videos and whatnot, and for some things, include assessments. They also have training paths. I chose the MySQL training path to work on reinforcing my knowledge of MySQL and RDBMS in general. Despite being a DBA for almost 4 years, I spent almost all of my time working at the system level and not doing much at the database level. I can tune the shit out of a MySQL server, but I wasn’t confident in my ability to tune a database nor its queries. Pluralsight offers a pre-assessment on their training paths to help guide you where to get started. When I took this pre-assessment, it graded me a high level expert and told me to just do the expert courses.

I was surprised. I took the pre-assessment multiple times and each time it graded me an expert. The questions changed each time so it wasn’t like I was retaking the assessment and just filling in the answers I learned the last time I took it. Despite this, I started training from the beginning and now have many hours invested in this to take my expertise further.

So a training site called me an expert MySQL DBA, but I didn’t really feel like I was applying that anywhere. That was until our migration project shifted into a conversion project. We’re running on 2 different RDBMS platforms, including MySQL, and we had planned to convert the other RDBMS data to MySQL after we migrated to the cloud. Being fed up with that RDBMS, we have decided to include its conversion to MySQL in our migration plans. This project was originally run by an architect, but he left the company and I was the next best thing available to take over. I corrected many problems the architect was dealing with. But I also found many problems with the data definitions in the other RDBMS. I decided to take it upon myself to not only convert the data, but also tune the database definitions because they were holy shit bad.

Now I feel like a DBA. It only took 4 years, but my confidence in my career has improved significantly.

Going back to the acquisition of the company I work for, we went from a New York based company to a California based company. We brought over many people that still very much were of the New York mindset, but many of these people were not happy working for a California company and ultimately ended up leaving. As a result, the company is feeling more and more California and, to me, it feels a lot better. I’m no longer desperate to leave and am actually looking forward to what’s next. I have developed, at least as far as I can tell, a good working relationship with my management teams, which was something I could not say about the previous company that owned us. I dare say, I hated my old director, and my current director is quite awesome.

There’s probably more I could talk about in my review of 2016, but most of what’s left is basically what happened in the world. So what’s coming?

First, lets get resolutions out of the way. In the past I had opted not to resolve to anything because I ultimately disappointed myself. However, I’m feeling a lot better about things these days and there are things I want to get done in the next year, so we might as well call them resolutions. I’m not going to put down high level concepts like “improve health” or whatever. These are specific goals for 2017.

I will be moving next year. I can’t stand the building management where I live now, not a fan of the commute to the new office, and I really want to finally live close to work, something I haven’t done in quite a long time. I’m not moving until June but I’ve already located a place that I like. I will be going back there probably in February to start the process of finding the actual unit that will become available when it comes time to move.

I’m already preparing to move by purging stuff. I’m working on reducing my stuff so packing and moving is less of a pain in the ass this time around. Granted, this time around I have furniture to move, which I didn’t last time around. Not much, anyway. But I’m working on having less stuff in general because I feel like I have too much stuff. I’m not quite adopting pure minimalism, but I have come to the realization that many minimalists come to, that is that having a lot of stuff contributes to our depression, or at the very least does nothing towards our happiness. I might write a blog post about my thoughts on this at some point.

Career-wise, I’m going to try to advance myself beyond just a basic DBA. I would love to explore a wider array of database technologies, but I think I might push more into data science, or possibly data architecture. However, I may shift gears completely as there is a growing trend of ageism in my industry and I may have to consider that moving forward will finally require me to go into management.