iHeavy Insights 64 – What You Value




Upon return to JFK recently I was walking through the airport and noticed the prominent HSBC ads.  The ad campaign has been running for a while, but somehow it didn’t register before.  The ad has three pictures of the same baby.  Under the first is "love", under the second "legacy" and the third "expense".  And indeed if you were to ask three people what they see in the picture, based perhaps on the moment, or who they are or a hundred other factors, you might get any of those answers.

And therein lies the paradox that what one person "values" may not be what another does.  This in itself captures a very real part of what it means to be successful as a consultant from day-to-day.  For a consultant is not just solving the problems *they* see, the ones they may have been trained to solve, the ones that they are trained to see, or the ones they seem most prescient to them.  For it is only by solving the problems that the client sees, and expressing and communicating that solution in terms that make sense to the client that you are successful.

Your computer acts much like a restaurant

A friend of mine is a surgeon, and he tells me that his friends and family constantly bring their ailments to him, asking his advice as a concerned friend.  I find something similar, that friends and family ask about their computer troubles, soliciting a friendly opinion or advice from someone who might know a bit more.

Recently a friend was asking me why their computer was slow.  I thought about it a bit and explained, you know… your computer is like a restaurant.  "A restaurant"? they asked.  I explained that your computer has a restaurant where things are prepared, and their is table top space where the cook prepares dishes.  This is like your computer memory.  If you have smaller dishes, you can fit more of them on that table, and the cook like the cpu in your computer, can do more work for you quicker.  By preparing a little faster, the waiters can bring out your meal quicker.  If your memory is severly limited, the cook will have to move things off the table in front of them, move them around, shift things to this place or that place instead of focusing on what’s directly in front of them.  But give them enough space to work, and they can prepare a great banquet, using large bowls, and big ovens. 

What’s more if a whole bunch of guests show up all at once, and all order different items from the menu, it is likely that the kitchen will get backed up.  And so it is true with your computer on your desktop. 

So I suggested that they get more memory.  But as important, I suggested they turn off, disable, or even uninstall non-essential software and services that will just slow your computer down.   With a twinkle in their eye, they thanked me.  Not just for the advice, but for the understanding.

Your enterprise database is much like a public library

Recently I was working with a client who was experiencing trouble with a new acquisition.  The new website was experiencing growing pains from too much new traffic, a good problem to have, but a problem none the less. 

As we discussed the technology infrastructure I sensed that the client didn’t really understand the components of a modern web application, the browser, the webserver and the database.  This is the so-called three-tier model, what computer professionals like to call a technology stack.  Of course throwing around sophisticated buzzwords would only confuse the client more, which was definitely not my aim.

I explained that the database was like a public library.  "Is it really?" they asked.  I explained that the database can be thought of as the books in the library.  When the library is closed for business, the books just sit on the shelves, not doing much of anything.  But they sit there on their shelves, waiting for business hours.  But once the library opens, that’s when the real magic happens.  Members of the public or other patrons come into the library and read the books.  They ask the librarian where to find something, or for other suggestions.  And this analogy works well for your web-facing database.  While the database is shutdown, it is like a library closed and not servicing anyone.  However it still contains all that interesting and varied information, all those books still sit on the shelves, and in our database, all our data still sits.  Once the database has started however, it’s live, it’s doing work, it’s servicing our requests, it’s reading information, and saving information for later retrieval.

After the explanation, the client smiled and shook my hand.  They appreciated both my knowledge and expertise, but also my no-nonsense way of presenting ideas and concepts in a language and terms that made sense to them.


Understanding what other people value, what their perspective is, or how they are seeing things means stepping into their shoes for a moment.  It requires looking from their vantage, asking questions that only they can answer, and in doing so coming to a greater understanding of what they need.  Only then can consultant really solve a clients needs.



Seth Godin is at it again with his just published "Linchpin – Are You Indispensable?".  That’s a good question to be asking right about now, as the unemployment rate reaches all-time highs.  As with his past great books, he offers a lot of great insights but the central one in this book is that it is better to think of yourself as a linchpin rather than a cog, and if you’re not doing that, it’s probably time to start.

As the job market becomes more competitive across many sectors, from Finance to Technology, and Graphic Design to Management, it is ever more important to add value and bring more to the table that others are not able to or not willing to, or simply not aware they can bring.  It is only by doing this that we can become indispensable and thus a linchpin.


View Linchpin on Amazon.com


Issue 63 – Slow To Credit

Issue 62 – Context

Issue 61 – Medicine of Austerity

Issue 60 – Principal Agent

Issue 59 – Invisibility of Skills


Jan 2010 – DRBD & MySQL: Virtual Box Setup

Dec 2009 – DRBD & MySQL: Excellent Low-cost HA Solution

Nov 2009 – Bigger & Better MySQL

Oct 2009 – Faster & Stronger MySQL

Aug 2009 – 7 Ways to Crash a Database

Jul 2009 – MySQL: 5 More Dials to Tune


Sixty Four Issues of Open Insights and counting! Wow, five years sure does fly by! With that, we look forward to bringing you five more years of business and technology insights.

We’ve always been about open-source technology, integration & mixing commercial technologies such as Oracle with open-source ones such as MySQL and Linux. As open-source becomes mainstream, and more shops consider moving critical services to these technologies, we continue to provide assistance and expertise for these transitions. Whether it is performance testing and tuning, benchmarking, high availability or recovery, we can provide services for your specific needs.

Looking for a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at www.iheavy.com.



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