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What You Know (Part 2)

Note: Looking for Part 1? It’s here

Research at Work

Let me give you an example of how I employ intellectual curiosity and research to my IT studies. Not too long ago I wanted to brush up on failover clustering support in SQL Server 2012, so I loaded up a relevant Nugget by my friend and fellow CBT Nuggets trainer Garth Schulte.

Although Garth’s training video was only 25 minutes or so in length, I spent well over an hour on that lesson. Why? As Garth taught me, he also inspired me to know more. His content sparked my imagination and led me to ask myself questions for which I had no answer at the time.

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The CBT Nuggets media player’s Notes feature is great for enhanced learning.

“What is the history of failover clustering in SQL Server?” “How much does a Fibre Channel rig cost?” “Does SQL Server support active/active clusters?” And so on.

The good news is that, thanks to the good ol’ Internet, I was able to research answer to these question in mere seconds. As it almost always happens, these answers spurred additional questions. Therefore, I quickly developed a web of knowledge concerning SQL Server failover clustering.

If I were to plot all the questions and their relationships in Visio, then I’d have had something akin to a spider web moving outward in concentric circles. Actually, my learning process is heavily tied to mind mapping, come to think of it.

Research at Home

I’ll close with one more personal anecdote. Earlier in this blog post I mentioned that I own several tablet devices. I’m here to tell you that there is always–always–a tablet device next to my reading chair in our living room. This chair is not only where I do recreational reading, but is also where I watch television.


The TiVo beats any cable provider’s DVR system, in my humble opinion.

To that point, I would not watch television were it not for DVRs and streaming services–I can’t stand commercials, and the ability to pause playback is absolutely invaluable to me. Here is how I roll:

Let’s say I’m watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad. The episode itself may run for 47 minutes, but I am occupied for perhaps double that time because I’m satisfying my curiosity:

“What did Alan Sepinwall say about this episode?” “Where did Aaron Paul grow up?” “How much does a GPS tracking device cost?” These are not earth-shattering questions, to be sure, but you get the idea.

So I start by reading about the show on IMDB, and then read Aaron Paul’s Wikipedia article. This inspires me to hit YouTube for some interview clips. Before you know it, I have a full and robust background on that episode, the show itself, and the players in front of and behind the cameras.

To conclude, it isn’t at all whether I have relevant information immediately at hand in my brain. Rather, my “ace in the hole” is my ability to find answers quickly.

As a side note, I will say that one fruit of my constant questioning and research is that I do in point of fact build a huge corpus of information, both meaningful and trivial, that I have access to immediately. This cognitive data comes in handy at work and at parties.

If I had to choose two web sites that would be the only sites I could use for the rest of my life, I would select Google and Wikipedia. Given access to those two information portals, I can learn anything.

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