03 January 2013

2013 and the Impossible Challenge

I am consistently amazed when I read on twitter the exploits of DBAs who compete in marathons, endure triathlons, or simply run every single day. For me: impossible. The furthest I have ever run in one go was 3 miles. I was 9 years old, barefoot, and being chased by a Doberman.

Older now, and having missed my mid-life crisis entirely, I sometimes contemplate those things that I have I always longed to do but failed, and the excuses I have stood up against that wall. “I don’t have enough time” is my usual go-to when my internal critic demands to know why I have not yet learned a foreign language, or finished my Great American Novel.

Maybe, though, the problem is the opposite: give an idea too much time and space, and it can drift out of reach. Consider the challenge of creating a brand new application from just a simple, unexplored idea: doable. Same challenge, but within a single week: wow, impossible. Yet, paradoxically, the “impossible” deadline may be the only way to ensure you really do it. This is the idea behind Down Tools Week, the genesis of several tools that I use regularly as a DBA. Likewise, some authors take years to complete even a first draft of a novel. Many more never complete it. The idea behind National Novel Writing Month is to do it in a month. It has worked for many (though sadly not me).

A short while ago, though, I watched a documentary on Indie Games development for Xbox live. It offered a fascinating insight into the minds of developers who have pushed through the pain of the impossible and have created incredible games, often single-handedly. This documentary re-kindled a long-dormant desire in me to do the same. Of course, my first thought was impossible, and not even because of time limitations. I lack nearly every skill required to pull off such a feat. I am not an artist and I am not Rain man-smart in Math. In fact, other than knowing the acronym XNA (“XNAs Not Acronymed”) for the development tools and framework used to produce such games for Xbox, I would be hard-pressed to know even where to start.

Yet, I am going to do it, and not for the money, or recognition, or to win a contest or a desire for a new career, but simply because I want to play the game that I have in my head that no one else would ever write. In short, I challenge myself to research, learn, design, prototype, code, build and post my game. In 45 days. Impossible? We will see, but having discovered the codeless game development tool, Game Salad, I have already designed and prototyped a very small portion of it. Be on the lookout for DBA Wars:Trouble in the Cloud in early 2013!

What is your impossible challenge? Update all 62 SQL Server instances from 2005 to 2008: sure (eventually). Update them all this weekend! That’s just plain crazy! Or is it?

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