Why bother learning SQL?

Why would anyone want to learn a 35 year old programming language? Especially if the language we are talking about was originally intended to be written in ugly CAPITAL LETTERS and moreover tries to make you think in a funny way?

If the language in question is SQL (Structured Query Language), then I think almost anyone who is involved in IT systems should at least consider investing a little time gaining a basic understanding, because SQL databases are at the heart of many commercial systems.

Understanding even a little about what SQL is and how it works and the terminology it uses will enable you to communicate much more effectively with the other members of the development team. Even a little knowledge will give you an appreciation of what SQL databases are good for, what their limitations are and how they compare with other technologies. It doesn’t really matter, whether you start from a programming background or not, because at its heart SQL is really rather simple.

A little while ago, I wrote a course which teaches these basics. It teaches the principles of Relational Databases and the SQL language. Although it is intended for “Analysts”, what it teaches will be useful to programmers or those who are just interested in how systems work.

This course is suitable for a novice. I start by explaining how Relational Databases relate to your experience in the everyday world. When you have completed the course and exercises you will have created a database containing several related tables, updated the data they contain and written many queries which extract and summarise that data.

I teach using a mixture of lectures, demonstrations and exercises. You will learn by seeing, hearing and doing. With each step you build your knowledge using what you have learned already. An on-line course sets you free to work at your own pace and to review and revisit earlier material, even after you have completed the course.
If I’ve got your interest, then I’ve included links so you can purchase the course at a substantial discount. Go on, have a look now! It’s all supported by an 30 day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee too.

SQL and Database for Analysts - 75% Off
SQL and Database for Analysts – 75% Off

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75% Off! $12

The Welshman, the guitarist and the ambulance driver

(Wednesday 7th Sept, written up Friday 9th Sept)
Gosh, that was a laugh! Impromptu jam session at “The Shoes”. Guitar courtesy of Jason was good (maybe even great), my part of the singing was poor (though I did contribute to the lyrics), the other singing was ok. Good humour and good craic! Not at all what I expected.
The evening started predicatably enough with me calling on friends who now live in a house where I used to live. Once again, nice to just chatter. Again, predictably, Colin and I wandered down to The Shoes. The place was almost empty, but eventually we became embroiled in the music. Silly and fun!

Arrivals and Departures, visiting and teeth

(Written on 9th September 2011)
I’ve had a pleasant week in Ashford. Most of the time has been spent relaxing and meeting friends. I’ve seen some people in their homes and others I’ve met in the Pub, or at Church.
Starting from the beginning:
I arrived early morning on Saturday (3rd Sept). I did very little during the day, except doze. The bus may be an effective and economical means of transport, but sleep on the bus does not seem to satisfy the body. I’m not sure if it is because the sleep is constantly being disturbed, or because the body is cramped, although I usually sleep at least some of the time, I always feel tired afterwards.
On Saturday evening I arranged to meet some of my friends at The George in Staines. A good time was had by all!
On Sunday (4th Sept) morning, I took the bus from Ashford to Feltham. I had breakfast in Jenny’s. I probably shouldn’t have had the “English Breakfast” but I used the excuse that I was on holiday and I certainly enjoyed it. After that, it was time for Church.
At Christ Church it was a Worship-group service. I enjoyed that, and I enjoyed meeting the other members of the congregation. I made a point of introducing myself as a visitor! I wonder if I will manage to go to church when I am in Siberia? So far, I have identified one church (cathedral) in the centre of the city.
Caz arrived from Belfast today, en-route to Slovakia. She leaves on Wednesday, so I’ve let her have the spare bed and, for the days she is here, I get the sofa.
Monday (5th Sept), I set of early for the Dentist! The detached crown had been preying on my mind and I wanted to get it fixed if at all possible.The dentistry proved to be a very simple undertaking. The Dentist still had my records, fitted me into the schedule and cemented the crown back. I left after three-quarters of an hour with a replaced crown, a strange taste in my mouth and a slightly lighter wallet.
I phoned my old next door neighbour to see that he was in. I called on him. He is okay I suppose, but the years are obviously taking their toll. I was surprised and pleased to find that my old tenants had cleared his front garden for him. It’s only a small thing, but certainly to their credit.
In the evening I went to visit friends in Brentford. I had a really nice time. It is good to meet up like that. I wish there were more opportunities to do it.
Tuesday (6th Sept), the “task of the day”, was to go into town and meet up with Dick near Waterloo. Another pleasant afternoon. In the afternoon I went to the quiz at The Shoes. I’m not sure how much of a contribution I made to my team.

The interminable journey from Cork to London!

(Written 2nd September 2011)
Some random comments in my notes have been included in brackets (), some is just a record of where we stopped, and some is a bit stream of consciousness.
Sitting on the bus to London in Cork. It is due to depart in 25 mins. The case is in the hold, the sleeping bag is at my feet and the rucksac is under my elbow. The bus is not very full (yet?), so why have the couple with two small children, one of whom is ordering his mother about in a shrill voice, decided to sit in the block of 4 seats across the aisle from me? Never mind; deafness has advantages. I will switch him off later. I will also loosen my boots.
The day so far has been eventful. Everything was sorted and the case, bags and coat were at the door. I had a sandwich for lunch and… found a hard bit in my mouth. A crown had come off. With less than an hour to go there was no prospect of getting it fixed in Ireland, so I will pop in to see my old dentist in Feltham next week.
The taxi arrived exactly on time. Got to Mallow in good time. It’s funny how people talk to you in the bus queue. Anyway, the bus turned up. I thought it was a bit early but it said “Cork” on the front, and the bus driver was happy with my ticket, so I got on. A little while later I was sorry that I did, but I’m not now. I’d got on the “stopping bus” (241?) and I was booked on the express. I still arrived ahead of the express but I was worried for a while. I had a real tour of the back roads north of Cork, taking in Whitechurch and a couple of stops I couldn’t really identify as places, like “The Log Cabin” pub. Still, everything is fine now.
Engine running.
Looks like there are 11 or 12 people on the bus. I recognise the driver from a previous trip.
We’re off! Just ahead of scheduled departure at 16:00.
  • Middleton 16:25 +2 passengers
  • Youghal 17:05 + new driver

Interesting looking old fashioned town.
Tidal mud flats
Ghosts of rivers
Creeks
Ruined jetties, tidal inlets
Estuaries
Narrow entrance leading to open seas.

  • Dungarvan 17:32 +3 passengers, yotty haven

Angelus on radio at 18:00

  • Waterford 18:27 +19 or 20 passengers. Change driver.
(Pub names: The case is altered, The ballot box, The struggling monkey)
Waterford has an interesting quayside if there are good ships or boats in. Today there is one square rigger (jst.org.uk) registered in Southampton.
  • Leave Waterford at 18:30.
(write down location “4th row, Right-hand-side, window” to remind myself when I get off the bus)
  • New Ross 19:03 +2 passengers
  • Wexford 19:37 no change
Castle, seaside
(“freedom from the occupier”)
  • Rosslaire arrive 20:01 +1 passenger, -1 passenger, no net change
Bits of the town look like they are struggling a bit.
I now have a boarding card in the name of “Mr Eurolines”. At least he is an adult male!
  • Due to sail @ 20:45
  • Moving on board 20:22
(Broken windows plugged with rags and newspapers)
(Saturday 3rd September)
  • Pembroke dock 00:55
Non-event. No Customs or passport check.
  • In motion 01:16am
  • Kilgetty wales +1 passenger
  • Carmarthen 02:02 +3 passengers
  • M4 02:26
  • ? (not Newport) Services 03:10
  • Leave 03:30
  • Cardiff Gate 03:45 -2 passengers
  • Bristol 04:24 -1 passenger
  • Leigh Delamere 04:57 – 05:25
  • Reading 06:23
  • Marble Arch “Arch to Arc” Cycle race
  • Victoria 07:25
  • 08:00 Bus back to Heathrow (and it’s going on to Penzance!)
  • 08:55 555 bus to Dave’s
  • Arrived safely in Ashford at 09:30.

Ticking things off the list

And “the phone call” came and went. One more thing sorted. All the scanning I’m going to do has been done (I think). Going to run a back-up (remember those?) on the PC. The list is definitely getting shorter! 🙂

My daughters are doing “The Merchant of Venice” in English. Reading through it last night, this speech by Portia caught my eye:

“…The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree; such a hare is madness the youth to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple…”