2010 review: the year by the numbers

The last post of the year! It's been an excellent year all round – I thought that instead of doing a long post about goals etc, I'd count down the numbers that have been my life this year.

  • 1413307: the number of page views on my blog, as tracked by Google, from 130 countries – WOW!
  • 85421: the number of miles I flew on United
  • 71000: roughly the number of words in all my blog posts this year
  • 19058: the number of downloads of our MCM videos in the last 6 weeks (see here)
  • 11800: my current tweet total (including the one about this post)
  • 7600: roughly the number of emails I sent
  • 5901: the GeekBench score for my new laptop
  • 2255: the number of people who follow my ramblings on Twitter
  • 800: roughly the number of Facebook updates (I counted backwards to July then gave up)
  • 270: roughly the number of Word pages taken up by all my blog posts this year
  • 149: the number of nights away from home
  • 125: the number of blog posts I wrote on this blog (including this post)
  • 121: the number of photos I posted in travel posts
  • 100: probably the number of times I said I'd never get an iPhone, before buying one in January :-)
  • 71: roughly the most northern latitude we got to on our Russian Arctic trip
  • 68: the number of days I was teaching classes or presenting at conferences
  • 58: the number of pages in my free mythbusters PDF e-book
  • 54: the number of flights we took
  • 45: the number of books I read (see this post
  • 43: the number of new birds species I saw (taking my total to 396)
  • 25: the number of dives we did (taking my total to 96)
  • 20: the number of different hotels we stayed in
  • 12: the number of polar bears I saw in the wild
  • 10: the number of miles I walked around Beijing one day on my 3rd trip to China
  • 8: the number of digits in the vacuum fluorescent display clock I built 
  • 6: the number of countries we visited
  • 5: the number of top-10 rated PASS sessions by SQLskills.com speakers
  • 4: the number of SQL or SharePoint MCM rotations I taught for Microsoft
  • 4: the number of blog posts about bald eagles
  • 3: the number of big Lego models I made
  • 2: the number of Fusion-io SSDs I was given to play with
  • 2: the number of new countries I visited (Cayman Islands and Russia, taking my total to 23)
  • 2: the number of wonderful daughters I have
  • 1: the number of new employees we hired – the fabulous Mr Brent Ozar!
  • 1: the number of whitepapers I wrote this year (see here)
  • 1: the position in the PASS 2010 session ratings of my Mythbusters talk
  • Finally, one: the number of perfect people in the world – Kimberly

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, follows me on Twitter, sends me questions, watches our videos, comes to our classes, and generally makes being deeply involved in the SQL community a joy.

I sincerely wish you all a happy, healthy, and properous New Year!

Cheers!

(In the freezing cold about 20 miles north of Haines, AK while taking photos of bald eagles, back in November.)

 

2010: the year in books

In 2009 I read a whopping 100 books (see my wrap-up post) and it seemed at times like I spent every waking moment reading, so I set myself a more modest goal of reading 40 books in 2010 – and I managed 45. A lot of people enjoyed my top-10 list last year so I thought I'd do it again this year and give you some books to think about reading in 2011. I read 'real' books – i.e. not in electronic form – I don't like reading off a screen. Yes, I've seen electronic readers – Kimberly has an iPad – and I'm not interested in ever getting one.

Choosing my favorite book this year is easy: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This is a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous book. It's autobiographical and describes his life on the run from Australian prison in the slums of Bombay. Just go get it and read it – you won't be disappointed.

Now the details. I enjoy putting this together as it will also serve as a record for me many years from now. I hope you get inspired to try some of these books – push yourself with new authors and very often you'll be surprisingly pleased.

Once again I leave you with a quote that describes a big part of my psychological make-up:

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro!

Analysis of What I Read

I read 21721 pages, or 59.5 pages a day, and a book every 8 days or so. I'm a fast reader but I don't speed read or skim ever. Not as much as last year but I flew 50000 miles less this year (still clocking up 86000).

 

The average book length was 492 pages, a good 100 pages longer than last year – which also contributed to the overall total being lower. I picked my books differently this year too – reading a lot more science fiction and a lot less history. At least I think that's interesting :-)

The Top-10

It's a lot easier to pick a top-10 this year as I read so many less books. If you don't read much, at least consider looking at some of these in 2011. It's impossible to put them into a priority order so I've listed them in the order I read them, along with the short Facebook review I wrote at the time.

  #4 Shantaram; Gregory David Roberts; 913pp; Fiction; March 27th (Incredibly good (and long) book based on the true story of the author from a prison break in Australia to the slums and mafia of Bombay to joining the mujahedeen in Afghanistan, and back again. Kind of book that you only find a few times in your life. Very strongly recommended. Makes me want to go back to India again.)

  #8 Pushing Ice; Alastair Reynolds; 592pp; Science Fiction; May 30th (Reynolds is just fabulous – my new favorite sci-fi author. A departure from the Revelation Space universe, this deals with humans hitching a ride on the Saturnian moon Janus as it suddenly departs the solar system. Good characterizations and plenty of invented technology. I couldn't put it down during the last 100 pages. Can't wait to read another when we get home.)

  #9 Gentlemen and Players; Joanne Harris; 432pp; Fiction; May 31st (First book I've read from Joanne Harris who penned Chocolat, which was a great movie. Good vacation read – reminded me of my days at old Glasgow Academy. Nicely spun story with an excellent twist at the end – recommended.)

  #13 House of Suns; Alastair Reynolds; 576pp; Science Fiction; June 20th (Another fantastic space-opera from Reynolds. This time the story revolves around 1000 shatterlings – clones imbued with the same facets of the original's personality and sent off around the galaxy, meeting back together every 200 thousand years. After 6 million years of swashbuckling, the proverbial hits the fan in a big way. Excellent story!)

  #14 The Glass Palace; Amitav Ghosh; 512pp; Fiction; June 25th (Fabulous! The 3rd of Ghosh's books I've read was almost as good as Sea of Poppies I read last year. This one deals with the overthrow of Burma by the British in 1885 and the two subsequent wars, following the life of a boy who becomes a teak baron and the Burmese royal family. Vivid portraiture and imagery – definitely a must read.)

  #24 A Place of Greater Safety; Hilary Mantel; 768pp; Historical Fiction; September 8th (Fabulous fictional account of the three main protagonists of the French Revolution – Danton, Robespierre, and Desmoulins, following them from their humble beginnings through to their down falls and executions. Incredibly in-depth and hugely readable – a masterpiece!)

  #26 The Last Witchfinder; James Morrow; 560pp; Historical Fiction; September 15th (Really excellent fictional account of downfall of witch trials in US in early C18th, based on a woman writing a treatise discounting demonology, using Baconian experimental principles and natural history. Employs interesting approach of having parts of book narrated by Newton's Principia Mathematica. Excellent and recommended.)

  #30 Ex-Libris; Ross King; 400pp; Historical Fiction; October 11th (Excellent novel set in 1660 in London dealing with a book seller who gets involved in investigating the existence of a rare hermetic manuscript. Full of period detail and lots of info on rare books from that time, a book about old books and libraries is always one of my favorites. Some excellent twists and turns keep the book interesting. Recommended (plus his earlier non-fiction work I read last year: Brunelleschi's Dome))

  #33 Hyperion; Dan Simmons; 512pp; Science Fiction; October 20th (I'd been putting this off as I thought it would be dated, but it was really excellent – so good in fact that I've bought the subsequent 3 in the series, plus a couple more of Simmons' sci-fi works. Hard to explain the plot, as with all richly-constructed sci-fi universes, but gritty, good tech, good character development. Hugely recommended.)

  #45 Infoquake; David Louis Edelman; 421pp; Science Fiction; December 21st (Excellent start to a trilogy! Great combo of sci-fi and business set around 500 yrs in future. Deals with bio/logics – nano-machines in the body and their programming, plus the business side of the industry. A real page turner and looking forward to starting the next one. Great glossary and timeline appendices too. Strongly recommended!)

The Complete List

And the complete list, with links to Amazon so you can explore further.

  1. The Fellowship; John Gribbin; 384pp; History; January 11
  2. The Road To Oxiana; Robert Byron; 320pp; Travel; February 5
  3. Spawn Collection: Volume 5; Todd MacFarlane; 480pp; Comic; March 7
  4. Shantaram; Gregory David Roberts; 944pp; Non-Fiction; March 27
  5. The House at Riverton; Kate Morton; 480pp; Fiction; March 31
  6. The Prefect; Alastair Reynolds; 502pp; Science Fiction; April 17
  7. Anathem; Neal Stephenson; 960pp; Science Fiction; May 25
  8. Pushing Ice; Alastair Reynolds; 592pp; Science Fiction; May 30
  9. Gentlemen and Players; Joanne Harris; 432pp; Fiction; May 31
  10. Standard of Honor; Jack Whyte; 540pp; Fiction; June 5
  11. Spawn Collection: Volume 6; Todd MacFarlane; 480pp; Comic; June 6
  12. The Devil's Company; David Liss; 400pp; Fiction; June 8
  13. House of Suns; Alastair Reynolds; 576pp; Science Fiction; June 20
  14. The Glass Palace; Amitav Ghosh; 512pp; Fiction; June 25
  15. The Hungry Tide; Amitav Ghosh; 352pp; Fiction; July 4
  16. The Archer's Tale; Bernard Cornwell; 384pp; Histrorical Fiction; July 19
  17. Vagabond; Bernard Cornwell; 405pp; Historical Fiction; July 22
  18. Heretic; Bernard Cornwell; 355pp; Historical Fiction; July 23
  19. William the Conqueror; David C. Douglas; 488pp; History; July 31
  20. Order in Chaos; Jack Whyte; 928pp; Historical Fiction; August 6
  21. The  Satanic Verses; Salman Rushdie; 576pp; Fiction; August 8
  22. Travels in Alaska; John Muir; 272pp; Travel; August 15
  23. Century Rain; Alastair Reynolds; 640pp; Science Fiction; August 24
  24. A Place of Greater Safety; Hilary Mantel; 768pp; Historical Fiction; September 8
  25. Two Years Before The Mast; Richard Henry Dana; 544pp; Maritime History; September 11
  26. The Last Witchfinder; James Morrow; 560pp; Historical Fiction; September 15
  27. Galactic North; Alastair Reynolds; 384pp; Science Fiction; September 22
  28. The Evolutionary Void; Peter F. Hamilton; 720pp; Science Fiction; September 28
  29. Tinkers; Paul Harding; 192pp; Fiction; October 3
  30. Ex Libris; Ross King; 400pp; Historical Fiction; October 11
  31. Peace Like a River; Leif Enger; 312pp; Fiction; October 16
  32. The Happy Isles of Oceania; Paul Therouz; 528pp; Travel; October 17
  33. Hyperion; Dan Simmons; 512pp; Science Fiction; October 20
  34. The Last Kingdom; Bernard Cornwell; 351pp; Historical Fiction; October 22
  35. Singularity Sky; Charles Stross; 352pp; Science Fiction; October 23
  36. JPod; Douglas Coupland; 448pp; Fiction; October 24
  37. The Pale Horseman; Bernard Cornwell; 384pp; Historical Fiction; October 30
  38. Lords of the North; Bernard Cornwell; 352pp; Historical Fiction; November 3
  39. Sword Song; Bernard Cornwell; 336pp; Historical Fiction; November 9
  40. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; J.K. Rowling; 672pp; Fiction; November 14 (read for second time)
  41. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; J.K. Rowling; 784pp; Fiction; November 21 (read for second time)
  42. The Fall of Hyperion; Dan Simmons; 528pp; Science Fiction; December 5
  43. Beatrice and Virgil; Yann Martel; 224pp; Fiction; December 9
  44. Between the Assassinations; Aravind Adiga; 368pp; Fiction; December 12
  45. Infoquake; David Louis Edelman; 421pp; Science Fiction; December 21        

Are your CPUs running slowly? Tool tip and survey

(Yes, I know I haven't editorialized the last survey on What's in a Job Title – I will in the New Year.)

Over the last couple of weeks I've signed up a bunch of new customers for maintenance/ops audits and general perf work and I've had all of them check whether power saving mode is enabled for their CPUs. And I've been astounded by the results – as have some of the customers who thought they were running at full speed all the time.

In a nutshell, to save power the CPUs can essentially down-shift to a lower clock speed and then automatically speed up again when the load increases. But at what point do they speed up? That varies – you might have to really push things to make them speed up.

And do you really want your workload running slower until the CPU usage hits the magic speed-up threshold? Most likely the answer is no.

So the point of this blog post – I'd like you to go check the CPU speeds on your systems and see whether they're in power-saving mode without you knowing. I think you'll be surprised. And then I want you to tell me what you saw.

You can check the CPU speed using the free CPU-Z tool – it's awesome. It's just asks the CPU it's speed – no load is put on the system.

The picture below shows a CPU-Z snapshot from a client system. The CPUs are spec'd at 2.4GHz but as you can see, they're only running at 1.2GHz – half speed.

 

Go download the tool and run it on your system – what did you see?



If you found power savings on, you can read about how to turn it off in the BIOS and Windows Server in a blog post by Glenn Berry ("Windows Power Plans and CPU Performance").

I'll report on the results in a few weeks. [Edit: The survey results can be found HERE.]

You can another read example of this problem in a blog post by Brent Ozar ("SQL Server on Power-Saving CPUs? Not So Fast.") about helping Stack Overflow upgrade.

Have fun!

PS There's also a KB article that discusses how Windows Server 2008 R2 sets the Balanced power plan by default! See here.