I Have An iPad, So Why Did I Order A Kindle?

I love getting emails from Amazon telling me that my order has shipped! An almost giddy feeling wells up inside me when I see the message. The most recent email was about an Amazon Kindle that slowly made its way to my doorstep.

Just One Look

I was perfectly happy using my iPad as an ebook reader until I handled the Kindle that I bought my wife for Christmas. That’s all it took.

So what change my mind?

Size matters

When I first received my iPad six months ago, I was immediately struck by its sleek design, its thin profile, and its amazing video quality. I still am, especially when compared to a laptop. It’s a handy device that I regularly use in my consulting business.

As an ebook reader, the iPad is found lacking. Sure iBook has some neat, page turning graphics, but the lack of titles is frustrating.

The Kindle Reader app works well on the iPad but the software cannot overcome the relative heftiness of the iPad. It’s not a joy to hold upright while reading in bed. It’s much heavier and bulkier than a Kindle.

It’s the next best thing to paper

Although I occasionally find the backlit screen of the iPad to be an advantage in low light situations, generally speaking the eInk technology of the Kindle provides a far superior reading experience. Many claim that the technology is easier on the eyes. I don’t really know whether that’s true. I just know that it seems more pleasurable to read on the Kindle than the iPad.

It keeps getting better

When Kindle 1.0 came out, a couple of my early adopter friends quickly snatched one up. They were excited to show me how great it was. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. The flickering and slow page turning was enough to turn me off.

A couple of versions later, Amazon has gotten it right. This little device is smaller, lighter, and faster than its predecessors. It’s battery life is extraordinary.

It’s Arrived

As a light weight, near laptop replacement device, the iPad is wonderful. I use it in business meetings, I use it to make presentations at conferences, and I use it to just surf the web from the comfort of my recliner.

But there’s something to be said for doing one thing really well. Sometimes, I just want to read. I’m glad my Kindle has arrived.

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.


2010: The Year In Review

“Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it dozens of times.” the great American writer Mark Twain once said.

Although I’ve never been a smoker, I can relate to Twain’s sentiment. Setting a goal for yourself can be easy. If taken lightly, goal setting can be little more than creating a wish list of things you’d like to achieve in the future. However, the value of setting goals really is in defining your priorities and outlining a way to achieve the goals. This helps you to systematically live life in a way that is consistent with your priorities.

It’s the follow through and dedication required to turn the wish into a reality that’s tough.

My Goals For 2010

Almost a year ago, I shared my goals for 2010 with the blogosphere as a part of a meme that was going around at the time. Now it’s time to reflect on how I did this year.

Without a time of reflection, setting goals becomes a spark in a flash pan, a short burst of thought and enthusiasm without any real long-term commitment. Periodically reflecting on your goals helps to ensure that 1) the goals are still applicable, and 2) that you are making strides toward achieving the goals.

My Professional Goals for 2010

In January I set the following goals (there is more detail in the original post):

  • Write a business plan for a new venture I’m considering.” This year I gave considerable thought to how this new business may take shape. I did some research and investigation. As a result, the concept morphed into something slightly different that my original idea. I think it’s better and more likely to succeed now as a result. I didn’t document a formal business plan so I fell a little short of this goal. Grade: B+
  • Post a minimum of 72 blogs to my professional blog site.” This is my 66th blog post of 2010 so I came pretty close to my goal of 72 postings. I may get a few more in but I’ll likely miss the 72 mark. I feel that I made progress toward becoming a better writer during th year. Grade: A-
  • “Schedule and have a Weekly Review at least 40 times this year.” This has been my Achilles Heal. Making the time and having the discipline to regularly review my outstanding items and determine what I’d like to tackle in the upcoming week has been tough. On the weeks where I’ve done it, it’s felt great! Unfortunately, I regularly let me “trusted system” get out of date so conducting the review becomes much more of a chore. I’ve got to do better in this respect. I have found software and some routines to help though. Grade: C

My Personal Goals for 2010:

  • “Double the amount of pasture that I have fenced.” I made some progress here by getting a new paddock fenced and added to the rotational grazing plan, but I didn’t double the space. There’s still work to do. Grade B-
  • “Read at least 5 books on preparedness, survival skills, or sustainability on the farm.” I love reading. I’m not a fast reader so it takes me some time to get through a book, but I do enjoy reading books. This year, I met my goal of reading 5 books in the categories mentioned. Those weren’t my only books; I read a lot of other business and faith-based books as well. Grade A
  • “Paint three rooms in our house.” I got one room painted and slightly redecorated this year. Grade C
  • “Resolve an ongoing plumbing issue.” Although I resolved several new plumbing issues in our 100+ year old house this year, the issue I truly had in mind when I created this goal is still outstanding. Grade D

No Excuses

I also accomplished some other noteworthy items in 2010 that were not on my radar at the start of the year. Foremost in this list would be an addition to our family. We now have five kids so as you can imagine, that alone keeps us quite busy.

I also became a BSA Certified LifeGuard during the summer. (Now I have a fall back plan just in case this whole database and business thing doesn’t work out for me. <grin>) And I helped orchestrate a successful SQLSaturday in Nashville by serving as the Chairperson for the event.

I’m typically my harshest critic when it comes to performance. There’s always something I could have done better. Overall, despite falling a bit short on some of my goals for 2010, it was a good year and I’m pleased with the accomplishments.

Your Turn

So how about you? How did you do with your goals this year? Blog your review and post a link to it in the comments below.

Kevin Kline (twitterblog) and Tim Ford (twitterblog), you guys both called me out for the meme last January so I’m specifically interested to hear how you faired with your goals.

Happy Thanksgiving

To everyone in the United States, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Eat lots of turkey, visit with family and friends, and enjoy your day off of work. And to everyone around the globe, why not spend a few minutes today reflecting on all for which you have to be thankful.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Blessings to you,


SQL Server Trivia

Think you know SQL Server past and present? Here are the next-to-impossible questions I asked at the SQLSaturday #51 Stump The Experts session in Nashville. There were a few people who apparently have far more active brain cells than me who managed to answer a couple of these questions. But for the most part, these questions, did indeed, stump the experts.

Let’s see how you do.

The Trivia Questions

Question 1:

True or False. The following T-SQL statement is valid.


Question 2:

What’s the maximum number of nonclustered indexes per table for a 64-bit instance of SQL Server 2008 R2?

Question 3:

There was a little known and cancelled upgrade to Windows 95 that eventually became known as Windows Desktop Update, Internet Explorer 4.0. What was its codename?

Question 4:

For what processors was SQL Server 4.21a SP4 available?

Question 5:

When did Mainstream Support end for SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition?

Question 6:

What is the maximum number of columns you can have in a single SELECT statement in a 64-bit instance of SQL Server 2008 R2?

Question 7:

What was the final name of the SQL Server feature that originally was known by the code name Rosetta?

Question 8:

What command displays information about the installed versions and registered instances of Notification Services?

Question 9:

How many task in SSIS for SQL Server 2008 R2 are designed for SSAS?

Question 10:

On what operating systems did SQL Server 4.20 run?

Question 11:

How many copies of a query plan can be in memory at one time in SQL Server 2008 R2?

Question 12:

In how many different North American cities has the PASS Community Summit been held?

Question 13:

Name one aspect of SQL Server that separate it from any other Microsoft product.

Question 14:

For which operating system was SQL Server originally developed?

Question 15:

In SQL Server 2008 R2, how many DMVs are related to Indexes?

Question 16:

How much was an unlimited user license for SQL Server 1.1?

Question 17:

When was SQL Server 1.1 released?

Question 18:

When SQL Server 1.1 was first released, it was considered to be well behind in sales compared to Oracle Server for OS/2. How many licenses had Oracle sold already?

Question 19:

True or False. SQL CE can be managed from SQL Server Management Studio 2005.

Question 20:

When AUTO_UPDATE_STATISTICS is ON, updated statistics or cardinality changes to which of the follow tables cause a recompile?

a) User Tables
b) Temporary Tables
c) Inserted Tables
d) Deleted Tables

The Answers

Answer 1:

True. But it’s scheduled to be deprecated in a post SQL Server 2008 R2 release. (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-1)

Answer 2:

999 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-2)

Answer 3:

Nashville (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-3)

Answer 4:

SQL Server 4.21a Service Pack 4 was available for Intel (x86), MIPS, and Alpha-based computers. (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-4)

Answer 5:

April 8th, 2008 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-5)

Answer 6:

4096 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-6)

Answer 7:

Reporting Services (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-7)

Answer 8:

NSControl ListVersions (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-8)

Answer 9:

3 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-9)

Answer 10:

Windows NT 3.1/Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-10)

Answer 11:

2; one for parallel execution and another for serialized execution. (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-11)

Answer 12:

6; Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Orlando, Dallas/Grapevine (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-12)

Answer 13:

SQL Server is the only Microsoft product that allows you to set processor affinity. (via Buck Woody)

Answer 14:

UNIX; that’s why SQL Server still has processor affinity on a SMP operating system. (via Buck Woody)

Answer 15:

7 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-15)








Answer 16:

$3,995 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-16)

Answer 17:

August 20th, 1990 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-17)

Answer 18:

7,000 (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-18)

Answer 19:

True. (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-19)

Answer 20:

All of the above. (http://bit.ly/sqlsat51-20)

The Results

So how did you do? Got any other good trivia questions that I could have / should have added to the list?

And a very special thanks to our panel of experts – Thomas LaRock, Jason Strate, Kendra Little, Jeremiah Peschka, Louis Davidson, and Kevin Boles!

Literary Rocks, Atlas Shrugged, and Twitter

Most of the time, I live under a rock when it comes to pop culture. I’ve never seen a single episode of Survivor, 24, or House. I don’t know which megastar is getting married to what professional athlete. And I can’t name a single song from Lady Gaga. In fact, I didn’t even know that name until a few months ago.

It’s not that I feel above those things; it’s just that they hold exactly zero interest for me. And it doesn’t bother me that I don’t know these things. I’m used to being completely unaware when others bring up those topics. I’d much rather watch the History Channel, learn a new Dutch Oven recipe, or mend a fence in the pasture.

“Who is John Galt?”

So I wasn’t surprised when I’d never heard of a book that a friend recommended to me about a year ago. That happens with some regularity.

But since then I’ve slowly realized that I have apparently been living under a literary classics rock too when it comes to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

It seems that most everyone I know has read it at least once. Most agree that it’s a good book and worth the sizable time commitment required to finish its 800-plus pages.

From what I understand through talking with others, the book is eerily similar to many of today’s political events and remarkably parallels our current economic challenges. All the more astonishing is that the book was written over 50 years ago!

The 140 Character Book Club

A couple of weeks ago I tweeted my intention to finally read Rand’s most famous prose. About a half dozen Twitter friends are going to read it as well. Some have read it before, others haven’t. Some I know personally; others I’ve just met.

Together we’re going commit to reading a couple of chapters per week and discussing it 140 characters at a time. We’ll use the Twitter hashtag #JohnGalt. Our first virtual, Twitter-based book club meeting is Monday, the 26th of July. There is no specific time. We’ll just tweet comments and questions throughout the day as we have time. In fact, I’d expect the asynchronous discussion to last a few days. If you’d like to join us, tune into the Twitter feed. We’d love to have you.

The Three Events That Brought Me Here

Recently Paul Randal (twitter, blog) instigated another meme in the SQL Server community – What three events brought you here. If you’re not familiar with memes, I’ve explained them in another post entitled “What’s Your Biggest Weakness?” And as I mentioned in that post, I love reading memes because it really helps you feel like you’re getting to know others in the SQL community. Technical articles and forum postings help you to learn more about technology; memes help you to learn more about a person. And even though the SQL Community is focused on SQL Server, at its core is people.

A few days ago I was tagged for this meme by my friend TJay Belt (twitter, blog). You can read his post here.

So what brought me to this point in my career? I’m glad you asked.

The Apple IIc

The first event that started me down this journey was when my childhood friend and neighbor got an Apple IIc. He had a few games for it but otherwise really didn’t know what to do with it. I was in the latter part of middle school at the time and spent most every rainy day at his house trying to figure out what we could do with this new “thing”.

I eventually discovered that I could view and even changed the source code for some of the basic games. For example, in a horse racing game, I modified it so that I could alway tell before each race which horse would come in first. I also started creating some primitive “choose your own adventure” games.

Not long after noticing my interest in computers, my parents bout me an IBM PC Clone  from a company called Leading Edge. According to the salesman, it was powerful enough to run a small business and it should last me a long, long time. About a year later, I upgraded the RAM from 256kb to 512kb by removing a bunch of little individual chips from a breadboard and replacing them with others. It didn’t have hard drive.

I bought and studied a book on GWBasic and started writing programs. I started with simple things like a check book balancing program (boring!) and the like. The pentacle of that era was one that would play Mastermind with me.

The future Mrs. Webb

After high school, I went to college to study Electrical Engineering and then went on to get an M.B.A. It was during that time that I met the wonderful young woman that would eventually become my wife. The only issue was that she transferred from Auburn University to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. So after I graduated, I pursued her, looking for most any job I could find in the Middle Tennessee Area.

I landed one working for a pharmacy software company vendor. My job was to help develop a digital communications package that would transfer patient and sales information from stores to headquarters and then send formulary information from headquarters to stores . It was my first real experience with databases and I liked it.

A Taste of Consulting

Just a couple of short years after starting work for the pharmacy software company, my direct boss at the time left the company and started consulting for other companies in the pharmacy software field. It didn’t take long for him to get so busy that he needed some help. He called me and I started doing work on the side for him. Before long, that turned into a full time job for me.

Over the next few years I helped him to build a successful consulting business from the ground up. I learned invaluable lessons about working with clients, writing proposals, designing software, and the like. It was then that I decided to strike out on my own. I thought that if I could help him to build a successful consulting company, I could do it again for myself. So, with the support of my wife, I left and started WebbTech Solutions. That was 14 years ago and I haven’t regretted it at all.


In the year 2000, I was leading the Nashville SQL Server User Group and I heard about this new association called the Professional Association for SQL Server. Kevin Kline (twitter, blog), then the Vice President of Marketing for PASS, came to speak at our local group and really talked high of the organization.

So our group became an Official Chapter for PASS just one year after its inception. I went to my first PASS conference in San Francisco where I met Brian Knight (twitter, blog). He recruited me to be the Chapter Manager and I was eventually appointed to the Board to fill a vacancy.

I continued volunteering for PASS and was elected several more times to the Board, eventually serving as the Vice President of Marketing and Executive Vice President of Finance. During my time there I met many, many great people and a multitude of doors were opened for me, too many to recount here.

It’s all about people

As I think back over the events and milestones that have led me to this point in my career, I realize more than ever before that it really is all about people. The people you meet, the people you help, and the people that help you along the way.

So, what about you? How did you get to where you are right now? What events, either planned or coincidental got you to where you are? I’d like to hear about them.