Interview with Author James Rowland-Jones

We sat down with James Rowland-Jones to learn a little more about him and why he took on the project.

Tell me a little bit about yourself – what’s a typical day like for you?

JRJ. I like to start the day with a hot shower. I do like baths too (I am British after all) but showers are definitely the way to go first thing in the morning.

That’s not exactly what I meant. What’s a typical working day like for you?

JRJ. Ohhhh. Right. Well at the moment it normally means flying out to Amsterdam at the beginning of the week to work on a BI/DW/DM project we have running out there. I work for EMC Consulting – part of EMC – and advise on SQL Server deployments, troubleshooting and also project work (both selling and delivery).

How’d you originally find out about the book?

JRJ. Christian Bolton rang me up and asked me if I wanted to be involved. He’s a great guy and he gave me this opportunity.  Originally I was just down to Tech Edit some chapters but then an opportunity arose for me to be more heavily involved. I leapt at the chance and went for it. However, I didn’t really, really understand what I was signing up for…

What do you mean?

JRJ. Writing chapters is hard work! I had no idea it would be this tough. In some respects it was one of the toughest things I have had to do.  All the research is one thing but then you need to think about how you are going to saying something interesting or different compared to those that have gone before you. It was an utter time toilet.

Time Toilet?

JRJ. Yup. You flush away a lot of time writing original content.

What chapters did you work on, and why did you decide to write them?

JRJ. I’ll answer this one in reverse order.  I wrote the chapters that were offered to me :) .  There was a slight chance that I could have written the extended events chapter. However, Jonathan Kehayias came onboard for that one and if there is one person in the world you want writing that chapter it is him. So I wrote the locking and latches chapter and also the SQL trace and profiler chapter.

Writing a book is one heck of a lot of work.  What made you want to do it?

JRJ. It’s just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do.  Is it vain to say that I love the fact that my name comes up if you search for me on Amazon?

Yeah it is.

JRJ. Then the answer is vanity. Oh and something that my kids can keep. Books last forever.

They must be delighted.

JRJ. Oh yes. I hope one day they like the fact that their Dad was a published author and they have that to remember me by. Although I expect they’d have preferred it was more along the lines of Harry Potter.

How come?

JRJ. If you are 8 years old and not offended by wizards then Harry Potter is the coolest thing in the world.  My son Oliver loves the boy Potter.  He’s probably quite keen on Hermione but that’ll be for entirely different reasons… Whilst I hope the book is popular I doubt very much we’ll be troubling the likes of JK Rowling on the best seller lists.

While researching and reviewing your chapters, was there anything about SQL Server that surprised you?

JRJ. Yes actually there was quite a bit.  The functional richness of Profiler continues to surprise me. There is always someone out there that can show you a trick with profiler that you’ve never seen before.  On the disappointing side of surprise I’d have to say that the product group could do more to document latches.  Information on latches is pretty thin on the ground. That part of the book was a real challenge and am indebted to Bob Ward and Thomas Kejser in particular for their help with this part of the book.

You want me to play WHO?

You want me to play WHO?

When we make the book into an epic action movie, who will play you?

JRJ. There’s only one person who could play me and that is the majestic Simon Pegg (he of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and latterly Scottie from Star Trek Fame).  Not only is he a great comic actor but also a great writer so I think I’d want him.

When you picture somebody reading the book, what kind of person do you think of?

JRJ. Someone who is asleep. Kidding. However, if they haven’t had a snooze at some point during my locking chapter I would advise some form of holiday.

How’d you first get started with SQL Server?

JRJ. I was working on a mainframe at Ford Motor Company and an opportunity arose to work on this new multi million $ project building a new CRM system. I cross trained and joined the team as a Junior DBA.  First job was to consolidate the previous architectures client server database model to a centralised web based architecture and upgrade from 6.5 to 7. Two years later we implemented a stretch-cluster with EMC Geospan on SQL2000! Doing Geo clustering in 2002 was pretty cool.

Do you think you’ll do another book, and if so, what would you like to write about next?

JRJ. Yes I expect I’ll try again. I’d love to re-do bits of this one for SQL 11.  Even now there are things I’d like to add…  I fancy trying to do something around Data Based Solutions Architecture – especially in the BI/DM space.  Patterns and Practices that sort of thing.  Consolidate my learning from experience in the field so to speak.  What do you reckon?

YAWN… Is that the time already – just as well there’s only one question left :) .  Seriously though, that sounds interesting but also probably tough to do – have you not learned your lesson?

JRJ. Probably not. The rose-tinted spectacles are firmly in place.

If there’s one thing you hope DBAs take away from this book, what is it?

JRJ. Who the vigili urbani are…

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