2020 Year in Review

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Yeah, so…that was a hell of a year, wasn’t it?

Short-Form Reviews of Year 2020

Reviewer #1: πŸ‘Ž

Reviewer #2: β˜…βœ©βœ©βœ©βœ©, would not recommend

Best Laid Plans…

The year started out really well. I was getting into a good groove at the new job, I spoke at SQL Saturday Cleveland and SQL Saturday Rochester ran smoothly. My session for SQL Saturday Raleigh was accepted too, I submitted a session for SQL Saturday Albany, and I was invited to present remotely for SQL Professionals of Chattanooga. I was visiting and hanging out with #SQLFamily on a somewhat regular basis and it was awesome!

We had booked an Alaska cruise for August a while ago (I’m speaking in the past tense about things that happened even earlier here - we booked in December 2018 for an August 2020 cruise) and we started 2020 making plans for that trip. In addition to the wonders of Alaska, I was looking forward to showing my spouse and kids some of the sights (and food!) of Seattle that I’ve discovered over the course of 5 visits for PASS Summit.

Then the World Changed

I won’t belabor the point because we all know what happened in March. I’ve written about it a couple times. SQL Saturday Raleigh got cancelled. Albany switched to a virtual event. We held out hope that both Alaska and another vacation would happen, but cancelled both right at the deadline for committing to the full payment. The idea was “well, maybe they’ll still happen, but let’s not take a chance.”

My employer continues to be amazing through the whole situation. We pivoted from everyone being in the office to everyone being remote in a ridiculously short amount of time. I always figured I’d move to a remote job at some point. I just assumed that it would come with a change of employer as well - that turned out to not be the case.


I started the year out with a good queue of posts to publish, but when things got turned upside-down my writing schedule became very irregular. Despite that, traffic here was up almost 30% over last year. My top 5 posts published this year:

Rank Post
5 Modernizing Your T-SQL: String Aggregation
4 Three Ways to Create a Temp Table
3 Checking for SQL Server Updates with dbatools
2 Finding & Downloading Required SQL Server Updates
1 Modernizing Your T-SQL: Splitting Strings

The whole Modernization series was well received and I have at least one more I need to do there, plus a follow-up based on feedback from a friend.

Last year, I had set a goal of participating in at least 50% of the T-SQL Tuesdays in 2020. I missed this by one. The last few months of the year were difficult in terms of finding inspiration to write.

At Work

COVID did not slow work down at all. If anything, the pace increased tremendously. Lots of new projects and features, and we did a good bit of cleanup and optimization. I even managed to push through several SQL Server upgrades/migrations and started taking advantage of features that are in the latest releases of SQL Server.

Speaking & Podcasts

  • In January, I presented a lightning talk titled What Does a DBA Do Anyway at work. I had a lot of fun with this one.
  • Kevin Hill (blog | twitter) invited me to be the second guest on his Databits Podcast in March
  • I presented Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server at SQL Saturday Cleveland in February, SQL Saturday Albany Virtual in July, and for the SQL Professionals of Chattanooga in March.
  • In August, I presented another lightning talk at work about the benefits of building a strong professional network. This morphed into…
  • A new session titled The Social Network in SQL Server, which I presented for the Edmonton SQL Server User Group in September.
  • I did a couple livestreams on Twitch for the first time. Really need to get back to that…

The PASS Dissolution Thing

Yeah…that happened. I’m working on a separate post. TL;DR: I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

2020 Was Hard

I recognize that compared to many others, I made it through 2020 pretty “okay.” But that doesn’t mean everything is rainbows and unicorns. I’ve gained at least 10 pounds. I’ve lost motivation to do some things I used to really enjoy, especially things that I do at a computer. After you’ve been in your home office all day for work, holing up in the same space to do “fun” things is a lot harder (I don’t (yet?) have a separate office space for “work work” and “fun work.”).

Losing out on much-needed vacation time hurt. Taking time off is one thing, but not being able to go anyway really changes that. Hanging out at home to “take it easy” and staying home because you have no choice because the world is on lockdown are very different things, psychologically.

Looking Forward to 2021

Things can only get better from here, right?

  • Work will keep on keepin’ on. Lots of big, strategic projects planned there with no shortage of things to do and new things to learn.
  • Shortly before Christmas, I took (and passed) the exam to earn my FCC amateur radio Technician License, so I’ll start having fun with that.
  • Our local SQL Server User Group isn’t going away post-PASS. And hopefully we’ll work out a way to do a Data Saturday event at some point.
  • I’m scheduled to present a new session titled Backup Basics with PowerShell and dbatools at ONDT (aka “Cleveland”) in early January.
  • My family is planning to hit the road in the spring and summer once we purchase a travel trailer. Work at home, work from a campground, as long as I have an internet connection it’s all good, right? We’ll stretch our legs and get to see new parts of our region and country - safely. A lot safer than boarding a couple planes to board a cruise ship.

We’ll Get There

2020 was a rough slog, but we’re here in 2021 now. We’ve adapted, things are different, but we’ll press on and make the best of this year.

We have to.