Blogging Best Practices – Concepts, Ideas and Motives – Part 1

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Getting Started with Blogging.

Thinking about starting a blog? Confused about the entire idea of blogging?  I have created a course on Pluralsight relating to this very issue.  Let’s start with the easy questions: what is the difference between a blog and a website?  Websites are static sites with a single purpose.  A blog is a type of website – one that is dynamic and always changing when you post and update.  Websites and blogs are similar because they are both addresses on the internet, and a way to connect to the public.

Website or Blogs

Websites and blogs have different purposes, uses, and audiences.  Websites are good for businesses or individuals with a product to sell.  They act as a store front – they welcome the public, and stay the same over time so that their products are easy to find.  Blogs are more dynamic.  You can update a blog every day, or multiple times a week, to keep in touch with your audience.  This is like having a conversation with interested parties, and form a network or community of like-minded individuals.

Deciding to blog can be a difficult decision – there are many pros and cons.  Blogs can be a challenge to set-up, and require maintenance.  But for me, the pros far outweigh the cons!  You get to talk about something you love, meet people with similar interests, and be in charge of your own “brand.”

Different Types of Blogs

There are a huge variety of blogs, and many different types of bloggers.  Blogs fall into a few main categories: technology, personal, photography, automobile, and corporate.  I consider technology blogs to be anyone, professional or amateur, who talks about technology – hardware, software, highly specialized, or very general.

Personal blogs are the kind that are about people’s personal interests.  This can be children, religion, crafting, or even just day-to-day updates.  Photography blogs can cover a wide variety (even personal and technology), but tend to be mainly high quality photographs taken by professional who want to share their work, or amateurs who are trying to get better and would like feedback.

Automobile blogs can cover any sort of vehicle or interest.  They are often highly technical about one specific type of car, truck, boat, or sport.  Corporate blogs are professional blogs, run by companies.  They often have multiple authors, and are updated multiple times a day – or at least when breaking news about the company or product becomes available.

As many different types of blogs as there are, there are an equal number of types of bloggers.   I like to divide them into four easy categories (often with a lot of cross-over).

Different Types of Blogger

Professional: these are bloggers who blog for a living.  Maybe they work for a company and run the corporate blog.  Maybe they created their own personal blog that became extremely popular and generates a lot of income.  No matter how they got there, they are extremely successful and have found the magic button for becoming great bloggers.

Amateurs: this obviously covers most blogs.  These people blog for the sake of blogging, because they love a topic or want to share their expertise.  Everybody starts an amateur, and can progress to any of these other types of bloggers.

Artists: these bloggers can be amateurs or professionals.  They might be photographers, or simply good at painting a picture with their words.

Multi-author blogs: any type of blog can be a multi-author blog.  Some blogs start out with more than one author, because they want multiple opinions, an individual can’t keep up with the amount of writing required, or because a group of friends has a similar interest and wants to start a blog.  More commonly, a blog explodes in popularity and needs a team of writers to keep up with the traffic.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

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Blogging Best Practices – Pluralsight Online Course Based on My Experience

I have been blogging for more than 6.5 years and I have so far written over 2500 articles on this blog and every blog has been journey itself. Over six years I have not missed any single blog and no matter what happens I keep on blogging every day, month after month and year after year. This demonstrates how much I love to blog and engage with all of you. I honestly love all of you and respect a lot when you engage with me on this blog.

During this journey, one of the most common suggestion I received was that I should write about how to build a successful blog. I have been delaying to write this subject for a long time, the reason was simple – I still see that I have a long way to go before I call myself successful.

Short Life Span

However, every single day I see new blogs coming up and some of them are so good that I immediately subscribe to them. Today when I go back to the my subscription list, I see out of the big list there are very few blogs are active. Some of the blogs are deserted and some of them are just dead. There are few blogs so good that I really wish the author was still engaged on the blog and writing the interesting content everyday.

Due to any reason I see not all great blog continuing their journey. The most common reason I see is that blog author has lost motivation to write due to lack of interest or getting busy in their other daily activities. Here is my question to you – if we can clean our teeth everyday, why can’t we blog everyday?

Recent Motivation

In the month of February I attended Pluralsight Author Summit. On the very last day at the event, I went to Snow Basin for skiing. Well, I do not know skiing but it is indeed fun to hang around with friends. During the  event, Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard suggested that I should write a blog about how to build a successful blog as it many would be interested in reading about the secret behind building such a large audience and interesting stories. I absolutely see reason and logic behind what Aaron suggested and I decided to build a video course over this subject.

Building a Successful Blog

Here is the link to Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog. There are a total of six modules in this course. I have carefully build each module keeping beginners and experts both in mind. Each module attempts to answers questions for beginners as well as expert in this field. Blogging is such a wide area that it is hard to know everything for everybody. During my journey of over six years I believe there are so many lessons that I have just learned in my recent years. My goal is that I give everything I know to the community and later community can build their own successful blog on the lessons and learning I have shared to them.

Here are modules of the Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog

  • Introduction
  • Blogging Concepts, Ideas and Motives
  • Getting Started with Blogging
  • Writing an Interesting Blog
  • Blogging Rules, Ethics and Etiquette
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Checklist for Building successful Blog

In the next week, I will be discussing writing one blog post for each of the subject to touch base about them. I will give a quick insight about the content which I have covered in the course. I will be linking each of the above topics as blog posts are published on the blog.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – Android Efficiency Tips and Tricks – Personal Technology Tip

I use my phone for lots of things.  I use it mainly to replace my tablet – I can e-mail, take and edit photos, and do almost everything I can do on a laptop with this phone.  And I am sure that there are many of you out there just like me.  I personally have a Galaxy S3, which uses the Android operating system, and I have decided to feature it as the third installment of my Technology Tips and Tricks series.

1) Shortcut to your favorite contacts on home screen

Access your most-called contacts easily from your home screen by holding your finger on any empty spot on the home screen.  A menu will pop up that allows you to choose Shortcuts, and Contact.  You can scroll through your contact list and then just tap on the name of the person you want to be able to dial with a single click.

2) Keep track of your data usage

Yes, we all should keep a close eye on our data usage, because it is very easy to go over our limits and then end up with a giant bill at the end of the month.  Never get surprised when you open that mobile phone envelope again.  Go to Settings, then Data Usage, and you can find a quick rundown of your usage, how much data each app uses, and you can even set alarms to let you know when you are nearing the limits.   Better yet, you can set the phone to stop using data when it reaches a certain limit.

3) Bring back Good Grammar

We often hear proclamations about the downfall of written language, and how texting abbreviations, misspellings, and lack of punctuation are the root of all evil.  Well, we can show all those doomsdayers that all is not lost by bringing punctuation back to texting.  Usually we leave it off when we text because it takes too long to get to the screen with all the punctuation options.  But now you can hold down the period (or “full stop”) button and a list of all the commonly-used punctuation marks will pop right up.

4) Apps, Apps, Apps and Apps

And finally, I cannot end an article about smart phones without including a list of my favorite apps.  Here are a list of my Top 10 Applications on my Android (not counting social media apps).

  • Advanced Task Killer – Keeps my phone snappy by closing un-necessary apps
  • WhatsApp – my favorite alternate to Text SMS
  • Flipboard – my ‘timepass’ moments
  • Skype – keeps me close to friends and family
  • GoogleMaps – I am never lost because of this one thing
  • Amazon Kindle – Books my best friends
  • DropBox – My data always safe
  • Pluralsight Player – Learning never stops for me
  • Samsung Kies Air – Connecting Phone to Computer
  • Chrome – Replacing default browser

I have not included any social media applications in the above list, but you can be sure that I am linked to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

 

SQL SERVER – UNION ALL and ORDER BY – How to Order Table Separately While Using UNION ALL

I often see developers trying following syntax while using ORDER BY.

SELECT Columns
FROM TABLE1
ORDER BY Columns
UNION ALL
SELECT Columns
FROM TABLE2
ORDER BY Columns

However the above query will return following error.

Msg 156, Level 15, State 1, Line 5
Incorrect syntax near the keyword ‘ORDER’.

It is not possible to use two different ORDER BY in the UNION statement. UNION returns single resultsetand as per the Logical Query Processing Phases.

However, if your requirement is such that you want your top and bottom query of the UNION resultset independently sorted but in the same resultset you can add an additional static column and order by that column. Let us re-create the same scenario.

First create two tables and populated with sample data.

USE tempdb
GO
-- Create table
CREATE TABLE t1 (ID INT, Col1 VARCHAR(100));
CREATE TABLE t2 (ID INT, Col1 VARCHAR(100));
GO
-- Sample Data Build
INSERT INTO t1 (ID, Col1)
SELECT 1, 'Col1-t1'
UNION ALL
SELECT 2, 'Col2-t1'
UNION ALL
SELECT 3, 'Col3-t1';
INSERT INTO t2 (ID, Col1)
SELECT 3, 'Col1-t2'
UNION ALL
SELECT 2, 'Col2-t2'
UNION ALL
SELECT 1, 'Col3-t2';
GO

If we SELECT the data from both the table using UNION ALL .

-- SELECT without ORDER BY
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t2
GO

We will get the data in following order.

However, our requirement is to get data in following order.

If we need data ordered by Column1 we can ORDER the resultset ordered by Column1.

-- SELECT with ORDER BY
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t2
ORDER BY ID
GO

Now to get the data in independently sorted in UNION ALL let us add additional column OrderKey and use ORDER BY  on that column. I think the description does not do proper justice let us see the example here.

-- SELECT with ORDER BY - with ORDER KEY
SELECT ID, Col1, 'id1' OrderKey
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1, 'id2' OrderKey
FROM t2
ORDER BY OrderKey, ID
GO

The above query will give the desired result.

Now do not forget to clean up the database by running the following script.

-- Clean up
DROP TABLE t1;
DROP TABLE t2;
GO

Here is the complete script used in this example.

USE tempdb
GO
-- Create table
CREATE TABLE t1 (ID INT, Col1 VARCHAR(100));
CREATE TABLE t2 (ID INT, Col1 VARCHAR(100));
GO
-- Sample Data Build
INSERT INTO t1 (ID, Col1)
SELECT 1, 'Col1-t1'
UNION ALL
SELECT 2, 'Col2-t1'
UNION ALL
SELECT 3, 'Col3-t1';
INSERT INTO t2 (ID, Col1)
SELECT 3, 'Col1-t2'
UNION ALL
SELECT 2, 'Col2-t2'
UNION ALL
SELECT 1, 'Col3-t2';
GO
-- SELECT without ORDER BY
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t2
GO
-- SELECT with ORDER BY
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1
FROM t2
ORDER BY ID
GO
-- SELECT with ORDER BY - with ORDER KEY
SELECT ID, Col1, 'id1' OrderKey
FROM t1
UNION ALL
SELECT ID, Col1, 'id2' OrderKey
FROM t2
ORDER BY OrderKey, ID
GO
-- Clean up
DROP TABLE t1;
DROP TABLE t2;
GO

I am sure there are many more ways to achieve this, what method would you use if you have to face the similar situation?

Click to Download Scripts

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

 

SQLAuthority News – Who I Am And How I Got Here – True Story as Blog Post

Here are few of the sample questions I get every day?

  • “Give me shortcut to become superstar?”
  • “How do I become like you?”
  • “Which book I should read so I know everything?”
  • “Can you share your secret to be successful? I want to know it but do not share with others.”

There is generic answer I always give is to work hard and read good educational material or watch good online videos.

One of the emails really caught my attention. It was from a friend and SQL Server Expert John Sansom (Blog | Twitter). He wrote if I would like to share my story with the world about “Who I am and How I got Here”. I was very much intrigued with his suggestion. John is one guy I respect a lot. Every single topic he writes, I read it with dedication. I eagerly wait for his Weekly Summary of Best SQL Links. If you have not read them, you are missing something out.

Writing a guest post for him was like walking in memory lane. I remembered the time when I was beginning my career and I was bit overconfident and bit naive. I had my share of mistakes when I started my career. As time passed by I realize the truth. Well, we all do mistakes. Though, I am proud that as soon as I know my mistakes I corrected them. I never acted on impulse or when I am angry. I think that alone has helped me analysis the situation better and become better human being. During the course, I have lost my ego and it is replaced by passion. I am much more happy and successful in my work.

Quite often people ask me if I am always online and wether I have family or not. Honestly, I am able to work hard because of my family. They support me and they encourage me to be enjoy in what I do. They support everything I do and personally, I do not miss a single occasion to join them in daily chores of fun.

If there was a shortcut to success – I want know. I learnt SQL Server hard way and I am still learning. There are so many things, I have to learn. There is not enough time to learn everything which we want to learn. I am constantly working on it every day. I welcome you to join my journey as well. Please join me with my journey to learn SQL Server – more the merrier.

I have written a story of my life as a guest post. 

Read Here: A Journey to SQL Authority

Special thanks to John Sansom (Blog Twitter) for giving me space to talk my story. Indeed I am honored.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – Pluralsight Course Review – Practices for Software Startups – Part 2 of 2

This is the second part of the two part series of Practices for Software Startup Pluralsight Course. Please read the first part of this series over here. The course is written by Stephen Forte (Blog | Twitter). Stephen Forte is the Chief Strategy Officer of the venture backed company, Telerik.

Personal Learning Schedule

After these three sessions it was 6:30 am and time to do my own blog.  But for the rest of the day, I kept thinking about the course, and wanted to go back and finish.  I was wishing that I had woken up at 3 am so I could finish all at one go.  All day long I was digesting what I had learned.  At 10 pm, after my daughter had gone to bed, I sighed on again.  I was not disappointed by the long wait.  As I mentioned before, Stephen has started four to six companies, and all of them are very successful today.

Here is the video I promised yesterday – it discusses the importance of Right Sizing Your Startup.

The Heartbeat of Startup – Technology

Stephen has combined all technology knowledge into one 30 minute session.  He discussed  how to start your project, how to deal with opinions, and how to deal with multiple ideas – every start up has multiple directions it can go. He spent a lot of time emphasized deciding which direction to go and how to decide which will be the best for you.  He called it a continuous development cycle.

One of the biggest hazards for a start-up company is one person deciding the direction the company will go, until down the road another team member announces that there is a glitch in their part of the work and that everyone will have to start over.  Even though a team of two or five people can move quickly, often the decision has gone too long and cannot be easily fixed.   Stephen used an example from his own life:  he was biased for one type of technology, and his teammate for another.  In the end they opted for his teammate’s  choice , and in the end it was a good decision, even though he was unfamiliar with that particular program.  He argues that technology should not be a barrier to progress, that you cannot rely on your experience only.  This really spoke to me because I am a big fan of SQL, but I know there is more out there, and I should be more open to it.  I give my thanks to Stephen, I learned something in this module besides startups.

Money, Success and Epic Win!

The longest, but most interesting, the module was funding your start-up.  You need to fund the start-up right at the very beginning, if not done right you will run into trouble.  The good news is that a few years ago start-ups required a lot more money – think millions of dollars – but now start-ups can get off the ground for thousands.  Stephen used an example of a company that years ago would have needed a million dollars, but today could be started for $600.  It is true that things have changed, but you still need money.  For $600 you can start small and add dynamically, as needed.  But the truth is that if you have $600, $6000, or $6 million, it will be spent.  Don’t think of it as trying to save money, think of it as investing in your future.   You will need money, and you will need to (quickly) decide what you do with the money: shares, stakeholders, investing in a team, hiring a CEO.  This is so important because once you have money and start the company, the company IS your money.  It is your biggest currency – having a percentage of ownership in the company.  Investors will want percentages as repayment for their investment, and they will want a say in the business as well.  You will have to decide how far you will dilute your shares, and how the company will be divided, if at all.  If you don’t plan in advance, you will find that after gaining three or four investors, suddenly you are the minority owner in your own dream.  You need to understand funding carefully.  This single module is worth all the money you would have spent on the whole course alone.  I encourage everyone to listen to this single module even if they don’t watch any of the others.    

Press End to Start the Game – Exists!

The final module is exit strategies.  You did all this work, dealt with all political and legal issues.  What are you going to get out of it? The answer is simple: money.  Maybe you want your company to be bought out, for you talent to bring you a profit.  You can sell the company to someone and still head it.  Many options are available.  You could sell and still work as an employee but no longer own the company.  There are many exit strategies.  This is where all your hard work comes into play.  It is important not to feel fooled at any step.  There are so many good ideas that end up in the garbage because of poor planning, so that if you find yourself successful, you don’t want to blow it at this step!  The exit is important.  I thought that this aspect of the course was completely unique, and I loved Stephen’s point of view.  I was lost deep in thought after this module ended.  I actually took two hours worth of notes on this section alone – and it was only a three hour course.  I am planning on attending this course one more time next week, just to catch up on all the small bits of wisdom I’m sure I missed.

Thank you Stephen for bringing your real world experience with us!  I recommend that everyone attends this course, even if they don’t want to begin their own start-up company.

It was indeed a long day for me. Do not forget to read part 1 of this story and attend course Practices for Software Startup Pluralsight Course.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – Pluralsight Course Review – Practices for Software Startups – Part 1 of 2

This is first part of the two part series of Practices for Software Startup Pluralsight Course. The course is written by Stephen Forte (Blog | Twitter). Stephen Forte is the Chief Strategy Officer of the venture backed company, Telerik, a leading vendor of developer and team productivity tools. Stephen is also a Certified Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Professional, PMP, and also speaks regularly at industry conferences around the world. He has written several books on application and database development.  Stephen is also a board member of the Scrum Alliance.

Startups – Everybodies Dream

Start-up companies are an important topic right now – everyone wants to start their own business.  It is also important to remember that all companies were a start up at one point – from your corner store to the giants like Microsoft and Apple.  Research proves that not every start-up succeeds, in fact, most will fail before their first year.  There are many reasons for this, and this could be due to the fact that there are many stages to a start-up company, and stumbling at any of these stages can lead to failure.  It is important to understand what makes a start-up company succeed at all its hurdles to become successful.  It is even important to define success.  For most start-ups this would mean becoming their own independently functioning company or to be bought out for a hefty profit by a larger company.  The idea of making a hefty profit by living your dream is extremely important, and you can even think of start-ups as the new craze.  That’s why studying them is so important – they are very popular, but things have changed a lot since their inception.

Starting the Startups

Beginning a start-up company used to be difficult, but now facilities and information is widely available, and it is much easier.  But that means it is much easier to fail, also.  Previously to start your own company, everything was planned and organized, resources were ensured and backed up before beginning; even the idea of starting your own business was a big thing.  Now anybody can do it, and the steps are simple and outlines everywhere – you can get online software and easily outsource , cloud source, or crowdsource a lot of your material.  But without the type of planning previously required, things can often go badly.

New Products – New Ideas – New World

There are so many fantastic new products, but they don’t reach success all the time.  I find start-up companies very interesting, and whenever I meet someone who is interested in the subject or already starting their own company, I always ask what they are doing, their plans, goals, market, etc.  I am sorry to say that in most cases, they cannot answer my questions.  It is true that many fantastic ideas fail because of bad decisions.  These bad decisions were not made intentionally, but people were simply unaware of what they should be doing.  This will always lead to failure.  But I am happy to say that all these issues can be gone because Pluralsight is now offering a course all about start-ups by Stephen Forte.  Stephen is a start up leader.  He has successfully started many companies and most are still going strong, or have gone on to even bigger and better things.

Beginning Course on Startup

I have always thought start-ups are a fascinating subject, and decided to take his course, but it is three hours long.  This would be hard to fit into my busy work day all at once, so I decided to do half of his course before my daughter wakes up, and the other half after she goes to sleep.  The course is divided into six modules, so this would be easy to do.  I began the first chapter early in the morning, at 5 am.  Stephen jumped right into the middle of the subject in the very first module – designing your business plan.  The first question you will have to answer to yourself, to others, and to investors is: What is your product and when will we be able to see it?  So a very important concept is a “minimal viable product.”  This means setting goals for yourself and your product.  We all have large dreams, but your minimal viable product doesn’t have to be your final vision at the very first.  For example: Apple is a giant company, but it is still evolving.  Steve Jobs didn’t envision the iPhone 6 at the very beginning.  He had to start at the first iPhone and do his market research, and the idea evolved into the technology you see now.  So for yourself, you should decide a beginning and stop point.  Do your market research.  Determine who you want to reach, what audience you want for your product.  You can have a great idea that simply will not work in the market, do need, bottlenecks, lack of resources, or competition.  There is a lot of research that needs to be done before you even write a business plan, and Stephen covers it in the very first chapter.

The Team – Unique Key to Success

After jumping right into the subject in the very first module, I wondered what Stephen could have in store for me for the rest of the course.  Chapter number two is building a team.  Having a team is important regardless of what your startup is.  You can be a true visionary with endless ideas and energy, but one person can still not do everything.  It is important to decide from the very beginning if you will have cofounders, team leaders, and how many employees you’ll need.  Even more important, you’ll need to decide what kind of team you want – what personalities, skills, and type of energy you want each of your employees to bring.  Do you want to have an A+ team with a B- idea, or do you have a B- idea that needs an A+ team to sell it?  Stephen asks all the hard questions!  I was especially impressed by his insight on developing.  You have to decide if you need developers, how many, and what their skills should be. I found this insight extremely useful for everyday usage, not just for start-up companies.  I would apply this kind of information in management at any position.  An amazing team will build an amazing product – and that doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up company or a small team working for a much larger business.

Customer Development – The Ultimate Obective

Chapter three was about customer development. According to Stephen, there are four different steps to develop a customer base.  The first question to ask yourself is if you are envisioning a large customer base buying a few products each, or a small, dedicated base that buys a lot of your product – quantity vs. Quality.  He also discusses how to earn, retain, and get more customers.  He also says that each customer should be placed in a different role – some will be like investors, who regularly spend with you and invest their money in your business.  It is then your job to take that investment and turn it into a better product in the future.  You need to deal with their money properly – think of it is as theirs as investors, not yours as profit.  At the end of this module I felt that only Stephen could provide this kind of insight, and then he listed all the resources he took his information from.  I have never seen a group of people so passionate about their customers.

It was indeed a long day for me. In tomorrow’s part 2 we will discuss rest of the three module and also will see a quick video of the Practices for Software Startup Pluralsight Course.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)