AeroPress + Cafe du Monde coffee + Coava Stainless filter FTW!

Originally posted on December 4, 2012

I’ve been using the AeroPress for making my coffee since shortly after reading about it on Brent Ozar’s website. I tried using it as instructed but I’ve found what I believe is a much better method, getting a lot more flavor out of the grounds. I wrote it up for my friend Jes Borland and thought it might make a good blog post, especially since moving and changing jobs twice this year have me way behind on blogging. I went from Desktop Support at a small company to Server Admin at IBM to SharePoint Change Engineer at Microsoft between March and July.

The Aeropress may be the premier way to make coffee at home, if you love coffee (and yourself) enough to care to take the time to use it. Not that it takes that long, but it’s definitely not as quick and easy as just dumping water and coffee in a traditional coffee maker.

So, on to what I consider a better way to use the Aeropress than the instructions it comes with. Instead of putting a few ounces or so of water through the coffee, and then adding hot water or milk, I heat a 12 ounces of water to 175 degrees and put all 12 ounces through the filter. I put 6 ounces of water in and let all of it drain through the filter, and then press it down. I then tamp down the grounds after pulling the plunger out and put the other 6 ounces in, and then plunger the grounds after all that water has filtered through. That way I get all the flavor from the grounds. Much better than a few ounces of water, plunger it and then fill your cup with 10 ounces of water, thus diluting the liquid love. Also, I let the water filter through on its own rather than using the plunger right away.

My friend Stacy was in New Orleans on vacation recently and I had him pick up a pound of coffee from the Café du Monde for me. I followed the instructions on the can of a heaping tablespoon for each 8 ounces of water and ran it through the AeroPress; using 8 ounces of water and 4 ounces of heated milk. (Personal note, get myself a steamer for the milk). And yes, I ran the milk through the AeroPress as well making sure I got every bit of flavor from the grounds. The result was maybe the finest cup of coffee, or technically a Latte I suppose, outside of the Café du Mande itself. And I didn’t have to drive or ride 11 hours to get there. Or longer since any trip that way would require a side trip to Nashville, TN to have lunch at Jack’s Bar-B-Que on Trinity Lane.

Last but not least, the review I promised Brent Ozar last Spring of the stainless steel filter sold by Coava for the AeroPress. The filter basically replaces the paper filters that come with the AeroPress but also allows more of the oils to filter through, resulting in a bit of sediment at the bottom of the cup, but a slightly more robust flavor. Heartily recommended for the AeroPress lover even with the little bit of extra clean up required. You can’t just dump the filter and grounds into the garbage like the paper filters. You need to wait until it cools a bit and remove the filter before dumping the grounds, and then rinse it off.

In conclusion, AeroPress + Café du Monde + Coava filter makes life infinitely more pleasurable.

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The Midnight DBAs

Originally published on January 22, 2011

The SQL Server community is different than any other I’ve ever been part of. The willingness of the people involved to help others climbing the ladder behind them is one of the biggest benefits to being a DBA.
 
When I met Thomas LaRock, Kevin Kline, Jeremiah Peschka, Stuart Ainsworth, Kendra Little and Kathi Kellenberger and so many other big names in the community at SQL Saturdays in Nashville, TN and Iowa city, IA; there wasn’t even the slightest sense that they were talking down to anyone. The respect they not only show, but obviously have, for everyone else in the community is outstanding, there is no arrogance I could detect in any of them. Without exception they were encouraging and all agreed that anyone who wants it can reach the level they work at. They truly believe that they’re just like everyone else, even though we all secretly know that a few are just a little off center. (No names, I’m just going to say…bacon.) :-)
 
There are quite a few people I’ve never met, but feel like I have because of the way they interact with the community. Two of these people are the Midnight DBA’s; a husband and wife team of Microsoft MVP’s in Texas named Sean and Jen McGown. They do a weekly show at…wait for it…midnight on Friday’s, Eastern time. The preshow starts at 11:30 and I recommend getting there for it. The post show usually goes a full hour after the main show ends and almost everyone stays for it because the group is so familiar with each other that it’s like going out for a beer with your team after work. One of the great things about the show to my mind is the fact that it’s not really scripted, there are semi regular interruptions from the dogs, the baby, and on New Years’s Eve, the kids who were allowed to stay up late. Maybe rather than going out for a beer after work, it’s more like going to a friends house and hanging out.
 
Along with doing the show every week, answering questions from the audience and promoting the heck out of PowerShell (Sean), they also post all of the shows for later viewing. So if, like me, you just recently joined the community, you can go back and see all the shows they’ve done so far.
 
One of the other things they do is offer an opportunity to join…the inner circle. The current group is known as the “Parliment of Owls.” I don’t have much information on this secret society but plan to infiltrate it and bring back any information that I can acquire. Keep reading this blog for further updates. And if you’d like to help me investigate this group, you can find the Midnight DBA’s Groupie page by clicking on the hyperlink.
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SQL Server Saturday – Nashville Edition

Originally Posted on August 28, 2010 by Tom Strike

SQL Server Saturday – Nashville Edition

It was a dark and stormy night…ok, it was actually a sunny Saturday morning in Nashville, TN but I’ve always wanted to write that. Nashville has always been one of my favorite cities because of the history, music and BBQ, mostly the BBQ, and mostly the BBQ at Jack’s on Trinity Lane

I had signed up late and wasn’t sure I was actually going to be let in the door. I saw the Tweet that said I was number 299 but no confirmation email came. I figured the worst case scenario was that they wouldn’t let me in the door, but if I got in that far, at least I could stand in back and be as quiet and invisible as a man my size can be, (which might surprise you), and learn as much as I could.

Let me say first that I’m not a DBA yet, I only take care of one SQL Server 2005 Instance and I’ve been assisting my friend Stacy Hein for the last few months, he’s a senior DBA Consultant specializing in troubleshooting, performance and integration with SharePoint. I’m a Desktop Support Tech right now, but my company is getting to the point where they aren’t going to be able to do without a DBA; and I intend to put myself in a position where I’m the most logical choice. Not being a DBA yet I chose my sessions based on them being listed as for beginners, and preferably focusing on professional development.

As I walked in the door the first thing I noticed was the atmosphere, I’m an introverted person by nature and as Thomas LaRock points out in his book, DBA Survivor: Becoming a Rck Star DBA, “The defining trait of an introvert is sometimes said to be that: An introvert draws energy from being alone, and expends energy to engage in social situations.” I’ve found that to be very true, but the energy in the building inspired and energized me. And I got more inspired and energized as the day went on.

Session 1: Thomas LaRock – DBA Survivor
The first session I attended was performed, and yes, I mean performed, by Thomas LaRock. He was obviously having so much fun doing this that he carried the rest of us along with him in his enthusiasm. I have a picture of Brent Ozar as my desktop wallpaper on the laptop that I use for studying SQL, you can find it here, to remind me to always have fun and enjoy what I’m doing, but Thomas LaRock inspires me in the same way. His energy and knowledge, as well as his firm belief that anyone can achieve what he’s achieved if they want it enough, and work hard and prepare for it, and then keep their eyes open for the opportunities, seem to be the defining characteristics of people like Tom and Brent.

Most of Tom’s talk was in his book, DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA but there was more of a free style to his talk and while answering questions he was able to cover a lot of ground. I’m hoping to attend his “What are you waiting for” talk in Kansas City at SQLSAT#53, but I might need to go to Elko, NV for a VOIP install.

Two of the more amusing things during the presentation were a t-shirt on one of his slides that said “I’m like you, only smarter”, and the real meaning of DBA: Default Blame Acceptor.” If you get a chance, attend one of his sessions, and definitely buy his book. (No, I don’t get a percentage).

Session 2: Stuart Ainsworth – The Social DBA: Resources for Career Building 
Stuart was another in a long list of excellent speakers, in fact, I don’t think there were any speakers that weren’t truly impressive in every way, each of them was extremely knowledgeable and very willing to share their knowledge, and Stuart’s talk was specifically on “why” you should be a social DBA and “how” you can be one, sharing your knowledge and experiences with your colleagues.

One of the things he stresses right from the beginning is sharing not only your successes, but also your failures with the community. He gives a long list of blogs and tools to use, websites like SQL ServerPedia and SQL Server Central; as well as tools such as Twitter, Simple Talk, SQL Prettifier and Google Analytics.

I just looked at the length of this blog post and I’m going to do a disservice to both the presenters at SQLSAT#51 and the readers of this blog by becoming much less verbose. For more information on Stuart and his excellent presentation go to his site at Go Gumbo And by the way, it was either Tom or Stuart, IIRC, who claimed to be both smarter and better looking than Brent Ozar but I don’t believe them. Although, has anyone noticed how much Brent looks like the poker player, Antonio Esfandiari?

Session 3: Jason Strate – Are You Following Your Own Best Practices? 
Jason’s talk was a great session on, what else, best practices. By this time my fingers were getting tired and I can’t read some of my notes, So I’m just adding a link to his site and will fill in the rest when I attend his session at SQLSAT#50. I was able to read my own writing for the first talk after lunch, and then it went down hill quickly again.

Session 4: Jeremiah Peschke – Taking Control of Your Career 
Jeremiah was possibly the most interesting looking of the presenters. I didn’t expect someone in shorts and short-sleeves with both arms and both legs covered in tattoos to be such a thoughtful and concise speaker. What I wrote down first and re-read on a regular basis is:

1. Set Goals
2. Track Achievements
3. Self Promotion

The Nashville SQL Server User Group did a fantastic job putting together this event together and I’ll be back for every SQL Server Saturday that they put together. Thanks to all the volunteers and speakers who made this event such a wonderful and productive time!

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The Kindness of Strangers

Originally Posted on December 3, 2010 by Tom Strike

So, I’m driving down to Nashville, TN for SQLSAT51, hosted by PASS and a little over halfway through Illinois I noticed my hood starting to bounce up and down. I had had some work done on my Envoy the day before I left so I had assumed everything was working fine or they’d have let me know something needed done.

When I got out of the car and looked at the latch I saw that it was closed past the point of being able to go over the bar in the hood. I don’t see how it could have come loose and the latch get that way itself so I can only assume that when they closed it at the dealership it wasn’t closed properly.

I used my GPS to find a local garage and after a few miles of country road got to Charlton’s Auto Repair. It was a 2 car garage built on the mechanics personal property, looking more like the kind of garage a home mechanic has rather than a professional. I knocked on the door of the garage and he came out of his mobile home behind me asking how he could help me. I explained the issue I was having and after determining that the cable was intact from the hood release to the latch, he got some spray on oil and tried to work it loose. After a few minutes of it not budging he took the whole bracket off and worked it back and forth for awhile and then reinstalled it. Everything worked fine and he even had me unlatch it from inside to make sure it would latch properly on it’s own from then on.

I followed him into his garage thinking he was going to write up a bill but when I asked how much I owed him he said “how about a Coke?” And the gave me the coke. He refused to take any money from me for doing the work and mentioned that he’d had a few local people in that week who were coming over to pay him, he’d done work for them and they didn’t have the money to pay him at the time because they were buying everything their kids needed for the new school year.

After we BS’d for about 45 minutes I headed out but gave him 20 dollars and asked him to apply it to the next person who came in who was going through some hard times. He told me their was a divorced mother of, iirc, 4 kids who was coming in shortly who might not be able to pay right away. He said he’d apply it to her bill.

So if you’re ever near Salem, IL and need any work done on your car, like an oil change or tires rotated, if you have a few minutes to spare , make sure you stop in and give this great guy some business.

BTW, while talking we got on the subject of Bar B Que and I told him I’d drop some sauce off from Jack’s on Trinity Lane on my way back through. I think he must have believed me because he didn’t look surprised when I stopped with the sauce on Sunday afternoon.

And if you’re reading this Ellis, I’ll drop some off every time I come through, and will make sure I have time to visit either on the way down or back.

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Recommitting to Blogging

This blog will probably always have a minimalist feel to it since my purpose here is to share information, websites, and blogs that I find useful or interesting.

I started this site a few days ago and per recommendations from Brent Ozar at http://www.brentozar.com I’ll be working on the behind the scenes stuff first, and then worry about making it pretty.  BTW, you’ll be seeing a lot of links to Brent’s website so you might want to save yourself some time and just bookmark his site.

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