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2023 Year End Review

Yikes! It's been five years since my last Year End Review. Let's put an end to that, jump into the wayback machine, and see what Dave was up to in 2023.


I posted ten times here on my blog. I think two posts a month is a good pace for me, so I fell far short of that. It's a post or two better than I did the two previous years, though. I do find myself posting blog-worthy stuff a lot on social media. I should make a better effort to take those threads, clean them up a little, and tell those stories here.

SQL Server

2023 presented some new opportunities with my favorite relational database management system. I finally convinced my employer to use Availability Groups instead of Failover Cluster Instances. This opens up a lot of possibilities, although I now have to support an AG for the first time ever. I also began using partitioning on a handful of tables. Some of them grew from hundreds of millions of rows to billions of rows. Those thresholds warranted use of partitioning in my opinion. A couple of ETL tasks benefitted greatly from sliding windows--the results were really good with that. I migrated/updated two major instances to SQL 2022. Unfortunately, we had some issues with SQL 2022 CUs, which led to a lot of stack dumps. We had to turn off some Query Store-related features for a while until fixes came along in later CUs. That was frustrating. On the plus side, I began using ordered columnstore indexes. It may not be a fully baked feature yet, but I haven't had any issues yet. A handful of the string-related TSQL functions have been improved quite a bit since SQL 2017. I love this as a developer.

PASS Summit

It's kind of sad that I've only attended PASS Summit twice, in 2015 and 2016. Every year since then, something has gotten in the way: lack of funds, holidays, pandemics. I paid the 'early bird' registration fee out of pocket in Jan 2020, then everything changed with COVID just a few weeks later. I "attended" virtually that year, but it was deflating and nowhere near as good as being there in person. Participating online just wasn't the same. I had to work that week anyway. All I got out of it was some video downloads. Every year I missed the event I had major FOMO. But 2023 was different. For the first time, I genuinely didn't care. Sadly, I think this is a direct reflection of my loss of enthusiasm for SQL Server and Microsoft in general.


I am so frustrated with what Microsoft has done with Windows. I didn't want Cortana. I don't want Copilot. I most definitely don't want ads. I don't want to be automatically opted in to gimmicky new features whose only purpose is to see if a captive audience likes whatever Microsoft thinks might be the next big thing. The Start menu can no longer find my installed apps. But it's more than willing to show tabloid headlines, the weather, and programs I *don't* have installed. And it wants me to search for anything and everything with Bing.

I've installed a few different Linux distributions on virtual machines. And you know what? Linux is clean, simple, and unobtrusive. Kind of like Windows was many a couple decades ago. I'm done with Windows for home/personal use. That's no New Year's resolution: I made that decision back in November. I just haven't gotten there yet.


What can I say about the cloud? I've never liked it. And 2023 has done nothing but strengthen those feelings, especially towards Azure. I don't pay the bills, so my opinions are free from any bias about how much the cloud costs (or saves). I also form my opinions through the lens of a DBA/DBRE. You may have a similar background and job title as me and have completely different opinions toward Azure. So be it. But I've got multiple copies of all sorts of data in multiple different places, major problems with eventual consistency, a litany of on-prem mouse traps that became ginormous Rube Goldberg machines in the sky, and this never-ending feeling that Microsoft is incentivized to make everything with Azure as complex as possible.

On social media I voiced an opinion about running your own servers, but didn't find an audience that seemed to agree with me.

Matthew Skelton had a great post where he opined most organizations that try cloud repatriation will fail spectacularly. It was a response to 37Signals co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson (who abandoned the cloud to run operations in-house). There's a lot of good discussion in the thread. However, there were few who seemed to have the same perspective as me.

I've felt for quite a while that the on-prem era is over and it's not coming back. 2023 has further cemented those feelings.

Other Notes

  • I got a new cell phone: an ASUS Zenfone 8. I replace phones about every four years, so this was a welcome purchase. It's a mid-grade phone and probably nothing special. But I like it.
  • I quit Google.
  • SQL Saturday: I presented "Getting Started with R" at Jacksonville. It was the first time I made the presentation and I didn't manage my time well. But I'm looking forward to presenting it again. R is a fun and useful language, and it seems like an underused tool in the community of SQL Server developers. I missed the Orlando event this year--it conflicted with a home UCF football game.
  • Speaking of UCF football, I had season tickets once again. It was my 37th season of attendance.
  • Social Media. I deleted my Twitter account at the end of 2022. (Yes, *deleted*...not deactivated.) I've heard many #SQLFamily members are on BlueSky. But it's just another centralized website run by capitalists that seems destined to follow the enshittification pattern. Since I'm not on either platform, I don't engage with data community friends much. I miss them. I miss the discussions. There's LinkedIn, but I like that site less and less with each year. There's still a net positive for me to be there, but I don't know how long that will last.
  • Camera lenses: I picked up a FujiFilm XF 55-200mm mid-range telephoto zoom lens and a Rokinon AF 12mm f/2.0 ultra-wide angle prime lens. The zoom lens is good. But I think what I really wanted was a super-telephoto. The prime lens is no 'walking around' lens to be sure. But it's been surprisingly more versatile than I expected.


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