Kanban vs. Scrum


If you are wondering if you should move from a traditional Waterfall development methodology to something new, but can’t pick between Kanban and Scrum, here is some information that might help you pick a new path.


Kanban is a simple methodology that focuses on the tasks your team is currently performing. The tasks are displayed to all participants so you and your team can track the progress and easily see what tasks are currently active. A good practice is to organize your development process using a Kanban board to show the status of each task, from “to-do”, “in progress”, “testing”, “ready for release”, and finally “released”. This simple methodology gives the team more flexible planning options, a clear focus on specific tasks,  transparency on what is coming next, and a faster output by helping them focus on just a few tasks at any one time.

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10 Things An IT Manager Must Do On The First Day


New Manager Job - @SeniorDBA

Congratulations, you have found a new job as an IT Manager. This new job could be leading a development team, managing a group of developers, or any other management position in the IT group. How you approach your first day at the new company will make a huge difference, putting you on the path to success or making your new role a struggle. You may have been promoted to a management position at your last company, so you might not have any experience starting at a new company as a manager.

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13 Skills Every Manager Needs


If you have attended any classes or seminars on leadership or management, you have been trained on how to manage people and time, but you probably didn’t get much content on how to actually be a leader of people. Leadership is primarily providing an example of how you want people to behave by demonstrating integrity, high self-esteem, and overall confidence in purpose.

If you are interested in becoming an effective leader, look to demonstrate these skills to persuade and guide your team.

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Daily Responsibilities of a Successful Database Administrator

Each work day, you have responsibilities as a Database Administrator (DBA). Those responsibilities vary, based on the type of business, type of administrator, and type of databases. Generally speaking, there are specific responsibilities that you should include in your daily activities, which you can customize to your specific environment.

Microsoft Certified Database Administrator

1. Checking on Servers

Whether you’re responsible for the hardware or not, there are plenty of things you’ll want to do to check on your servers each day. Checking Windows Event, SQL Server Logs, and reviewing the SQL Server Agent are daily activities:

  • DBAs and the SQL Server Agent
  • DBAs and SQL Server Logs
  • DBAs and Windows Event Logs (not always accessible to you as a DBA)

In some environments as a DBA you may not have enough time to review details for every server every day. If so, set up a schedule where you make sure to keep looking at your most important (most mission critical) servers daily and then cycle through them daily or weekly, with reviews of non-essential servers based on priority, etc.

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5 Reasons Your Best People Might Quit in 2017

Communication - SeniorDBA

As a manager, you have to be thinking about the people that work for you all year long, but the first of the calendar year can be a time when some of your people decide to make a career move.

Understanding their motives and reasoning for this thinking, you have to look at the most common reasons for moving to a new job.

  1. Lack of Communication – Good communication can mean different things to different people. Some people might need much more face-time than some of your other people. This is a significant risk at the end of the year when the traditional holiday season might distract your team and prevent the same level of communication as they might get during the rest of the year. If you’ve been neglecting your team, apologize to them explain how you plan to be a better communicator this year.
  2. No Transparency – We all say we value transparency and make everyone to be authentic and honest. We need to look at how we communicate with our team and make sure we are keeping them in the loop about what is happening in the company. While everyone understands their must be some information they just can’t know about today, your team must feel you aren’t keeping secrets from them. Verify you use clear and open communication with everyone on your team, and stress that they can come to you about any concerns they have.
  3. Boredom – It can be easy to keep your best people assigned to perform the the same tasks every day. You can’t wait for someone on your team to request new or challenging tasks. You should be constantly nudging your team members to do something new or something that makes them unsure about their skills. Great employees want to be challenged and you want great employees. Look for ways to force individuals to expand their skills or use their skills in a different way.
  4. Flexibility – People are always looking for more flexibility in the way management deals with them and their relationship with the company. This includes the ability to work remotely, the ability to use new tools, or a desire to explore more workplace perks. Talk to your people and make sure you understand what is important to them and them work help make it possible.
  5. Stagnation – While some people are perfectly happy in their current position, many want to grow and learn new skills so they can seek promotion and greater responsibility. You will need to find a way to help them grow by providing constant feedback and, when possible, a mentor to help your people realize their dreams.

Microsoft researchers on what to expect in 2017 and 2027

Future Technology - SeniorDBA

Predicting the future can be difficult. You can see what is possible today, but something unexpected can happen tomorrow that can quickly change the future. When predicting the future of technology, it is critical to get the opinions of those people already working on future technology, like the folks at Microsoft Research.

This article provides the comments from various members of Microsoft Research.

What will be the key advance in algorithms for machine learning in 2017?
Deep learning is transforming many aspects of our technology, however deep learning algorithms today are still largely heuristic, based on the experience and intuition of leaders in the field. In 2017, we will develop a more principled understanding of deep learning and hence more robust algorithms. The insights here will come from many fields, including the intersection of statistical physics and computer science.

What will be the key advance in virtual reality in 2017?
In 2017 we will see the emergence of virtual reality devices that feature better body tracking. A positive outcome of this will be the ability to experience embodiment of virtual avatars from a first-person perspective.

What will be the key advance in artificial intelligence and machine learning in 2017?
In 2017 computer games will take center stage in the development of AI. Experimentation platforms based on games, such as Project Malmo — which my team and I have developed to enable AI experimentation in Minecraft – will allow for rapid testing of new ideas. I am especially excited about the potential for collaborative AI. We are now at the point where we can start to understand how AI can learn from us and collaborate with us to help us achieve our goals.

What will be the key advance in mathematics and cryptography in 2017?
New mathematical solutions allowing for computation on encrypted data will be deployed to protect the privacy of medical and genomic data for patients and hospitals.  The new homomorphic encryption schemes will secure the data while allowing the cloud to compute on it to make useful risk predictions and provide analysis and alerts. Homomorphic encryption will be deployed soon in the financial sector to protect sensitive banking data.

What will be the key advance or topic of discussion in programming languages and software engineering in 2027?
By 2027, the majority of software engineers will be facile in programming systems that reason about estimates and produce models with statistical methods.  This sea change will deliver applications that seamlessly integrate sensors, machine learning and approximation to interact with human beings in entirely new, meaningful and correct ways.

Tips and Tricks for Active Directory Management

Active Directory - SeniorDBA

Managing Active Directory is essential for your network security. Here are a few tips to help you better manage your Active Directory:

  1. Disable the default Guest Account – This is a security best practice recommended by Microsoft. Disabling the guest account can protect you from simple and very basic attacks. It is also an item that security auditors look for to verify you are using security best practices.
    1. Log on as a member of the Domain Admins group, and then open Active Directory Users and Computers.
    2. In the console tree (left pane), click Users.
    3. In the details pane (right pane), right-click Guest, and then click Rename.
    4. Type the fictitious first and last name and press Enter.
    5. Right-click the new name, and then click Properties.
    6. On the General tab, delete the Description “Built-in account for guest access to the computer/domain” and type in a description to resemble other user accounts (for many organizations, this will be blank).
    7. In the First name and Last name boxes, type the fictitious names.
    8. On the Account tab, type a new User logon name, using the same format you use for your other user accounts, for example, first initial and last name.
    9. Type this same new logon name in the User logon name (pre-Windows 2000) box, and then click OK.
    10. Verify that the account is disabled. The icon should appear with a red X over it. If it is enabled, right-click the new name, and then click Disable Account.
  2. Rename the default Administrator account – This is an essential security best practice. One of the first things a malicious user or hacker will do is look to compromise the default administrator account. You want to hide the default account by renaming it to something other than the default name. It is also an item that security auditors look for to verify you are using security best practices.
    1. Log on as a member of the Domain Admins group, and then open Active Directory Users and Computers.
    2. In the console tree (left pane), click Users.
    3. In the details pane (right pane), right-click Administrator, and then click Rename.               Actrive Directory Users and Computers
    4. Type the fictitious first and last name and press Enter.
    5. In the Rename User dialog box, change the Full name, First name, Last name, Display name, User logon name, and User logon name (pre-Windows 2000) values to match your fictitious account name, and then click OK.                                                 Rename User
    6. In the details pane (right pane), right-click the new name, and then click Properties.
    7. On the General tab, delete the Description “Built-in account for administering the computer/domain” and type in a description to resemble other user accounts (for many organizations, this will be blank).                                                  Karen Berg Properties
    8. On the Account tab, verify that the logon names are correct.
  3. Maintain Physical Security – People will often focus on system security when thinking about ways to secure your Active Directory, but physical security is also required. Make sure people can’t just walk up to your Domain Controllers and attempt to bypass your security. If there are places where you can’t prevent physical access then consider turning that instance into a Read-Only Domain Controller.
  4. Disaster Planning – Disasters will happen, and I’m not just talking about fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. What will you do if you find out an entire OU, containing 100 users, was deleted by mistake last night? Do you have a plan on how to resolve that issue, or are you expecting to just know all 100 users names, security settings, etc. as well as making the time to contact each user and help them log into the network with their new password and verify their network security setting are resolved? This could take days to resolve and it would be a PR nightmare.
  5. Prohibit Shared Accounts – Never allow anybody to share accounts, especially if the account has administrator privileges. It is almost impossible to determine who performed what action if multiple people are sharing a network account. It also creates security problems when someone is terminated that might know the password.
  6. Documentation – You can’t allow the Active Directory structure to grow uncontrolled and without a plan. Document the system, and keep the document updated. By creating a structure with basic logic and control, you are less likely to allow random changes that make no sense and people will never understand. Use the description fields in the tool to make this easier, but also an external document that explains the current status and reason for the structure.
  7. Delegate Responsibilities – Don’t allow just one person to perform all the Active Directory work. Even if your backup resource is only available one or two days a week, at least they are familiar with your AD structure and corporate procedures. One day you will find that backup resource a safely net that could save the day.
  8. Single Purpose Servers – You Domain Controller should be used only for user authentication, which is Active Directory and even DNS. Don’t install other applications or utilities, including products that can lead to security vulnerabilities like Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office, and Java.
  9. Beware Storing Extra Data – There are many fields available in Active Directory, including fields like address, telephone numbers, etc. It can serve a business purpose to complete some of these fields, but you must be careful when making a decision about who should have access to this data to prevent privacy or security issues.
  10. Delay Changes – Never allow yourself or others to make changes to your Active Diretcory before the weekend. Unless it is a required change that must be made on a Friday afternoon (a user termination is a good example) then wait until Monday to make the change. It can take days for a mistake to be uncovered, and you would rather deal with those mistakes during the week than on your precious weekend.