Author Archives: askdba

About askdba

Born to Sail, Forced to Work!

MySQL Cookbook 4th Edition

A nomadic sailing dream that turns into book authoring and a new role…

The inception of the book

I want to start with a huge thank you to Sveta for her invitation to her engagement with O’Reilly as a previous author. Although I had mentioned that I had an inspiration to author a book and attempted to release a booklet in the past, this was somewhat unexpected in the midst of my first biggest pandemic. 

Unexpected and surprising developments

Let’s go back in time to the infamous covid-19 pandemic. We have been under pressure with the unknown virus with little or no hope of recovery anytime soon. I got an alert from one of the brokers about a sailboat I was interested in. After a few minutes of checking with my long-time friend Nurhan, I decide to make an offer. Unfortunately, our discussions didn’t go that smoothly, and I was informed that the boat was already sold to another buyer. I insisted on increasing the price and changing the wind direction to my side by writing a moral story to the broker, and he accepted it. Now, no flights were allowed during a total lockdown. 

The rest of the story is here

After three weeks of getting a special business permit, we landed in Zagreb, Croatia, and completed our purchase. The paperwork took about another three weeks to complete. That’s when I got the ping from Sveta about the possible authoring of a book. At the time, I worked at Percona as Sr. Technical Manager at the same company as Sveta. Strangely, I had an offer from another company within the same week. So I accepted to join PlanetScale as part of the Vitess Open Source project role. So now I have a boat to bring home, a new job to sign in, and a book to author. 

O’Reilly Experience

I had no prior experience authoring a technical book or working with a professional editor. The company has proven to be one of the best in the industry, working with the brightest minds and publishing hundreds of books annually. Here comes Sveta again for help while I’m planning a long pandemic-bound sailing journey and a new job with many unknowns. 

The MySQL Cookbook was initially authored by Paul DuBois and released three times. So it had massive content, and I had not gone through it in detail. Looking at the overall chapters and fast reading in 48 hours, I have decided to accept to co-author 4th release of the book. The original agreement was to update %60 of the content of the last edition. Since a significant time passed and MySQL advanced to hole new levels with MySQL 8 altering for new release would merely touch every part of the book. Not only MySQL itself, but there were also new programming languages to be added, and deprecated code had to be removed. 

Developments in making

Discussions and agreements were made based mainly on Sveta’s input on all the chapters, and I was mostly monitoring how this book could be turned into a new release. Besides the technical content and programming languages used, there was another challenge to the authors about the platform. 

It’s not a simple Word document or gdoc that had to be used, but DocBook and XML had to be mastered. After two years, I still lack the skill to do both. 

The process of authoring new chapters was more effective than rewriting or editing existing chapters. For example, the book used a different data set throughout the chapters, and we decided to change that. Finding a sample data set that is freely available and suitable for the entire book is difficult. So we had to go to multiple sources. 

The older chapters also had a lot of deprecated values and updates, which changed the storyline of the content. To fix those, we had to rewrite most of the chapters and revisit them repeatedly to ensure referenced content was not missing from other chapters. 

Key Takeaways 

Before agreeing to author a book, talk to other authors about the time and material, it takes for the type of book you are getting in. This will allow better planning of your work/life/book balance hence avoiding burnout. 

Once agreement is made, research the platform you will be responsible for authoring and training yourself—for example, Gitlab, DocBook, XML, etc. 

Take advice on how to plan or co-author the parts you’ll be responsible for. Record all agreements you made to keep track of the progress. Take everything very seriously and ensure it does not impact your other responsibilities. 

Be well organized in your time and planning. What times and which days you’ll be spending time on the book where? Create a cadence around this dedicated time, and it’s no different than finishing a degree. 

Allow extra time to deliver sections you’re involved in, as there’s a deep feedback circle. If you are authoring alone, this time will be reduced, but you’ll get feedback later in the process. If you are co-authoring, every chapter you’ve split will have to be reviewed before the first editorial. After the initial review, you’ll get feedback to clarify, modify, remove and rewrite multiple times. Some sections go into an endless feedback loop for a very long time. You’ll receive at least four to six technical people’s feedback later in the process and additional editorial feedback. So expect to return to a section or chapter you were involved in a year ago. 

Last but not least, do never over-commit yourself. This will decrease your productivity and lower the quality of the output. Timing is essential to fulfilling this lifelong dream of being an author. Some do it earlier in their career maybe a better result for authoring other books.  

I want to thank my wife, Aslihan, and my daughters, Ilayda and Lara, for their patience and support when I needed to focus and use family time to write this book.

Many thanks to my colleagues and team at PlanetScale, especially Deepthi Sigireddi, for her extra care and support. Special thanks go to the MySQL community, friends, and family members.

I also want to take a moment to thank Sveta Smirnova for her endless support while coaching me throughout my first book journey.

You can read the book here,

Thank you

Hustle for that Muscle


I have been asked several times about my diet and exercise practices. I thought it would be good to share it here as for a healthy business life we all need a balance between our work and life. Before getting into exercises and other dietary recommendations we need to clarify the motivational part.

Self-motivation to achieve the most beneficial goal in life “A healthy living style”. This should be our only goal since without our health nothing else matters. Even if they did there would be no room to focus on them. Many people would take this as a goal when they realize it’s been late or faces health issues in their mid-thirties. Life comes with several ups and downs and such life events with pretty much poisonous diets we totally forget about our real cause which is long living with health under our belt.

How do I motivate myself?

Like every other goal I have a short, mid and long term plans those fit my lifestyle and genetic characteristics. Everybody is different in their physiology, DNA, lifestyle, living conditions and other factors. So be realistic when setting goals and compare with your abilities, dedication and past experiences. We’re in a new year and the gym I’ve been going has been super busy lately. I asked a few friends and trainers what’s up with this crowd and the answer was don’t worry “It’s new year resolutions, those will wear out soon.”. Sure enough, just before March of this year I’m already noticing attendance is less and less every day. I’m sure by the summer it’ll be back to regulars only. So in order to make your motivation stick, attach it to a goal, a realistic one.

Short term goals and results

Exercising hard will give you some results depending on again age, size, DNA and habits. But don’t expect to see a change in your body overnight. Even if you lose a couple of pounds/kgs that’s mostly water, you’ll gain more of that faster than you’ve lost it.

Going back to the motivational part. Believing that you’ll achieve your goals in a given time period and keeping that pace for a prolonged period of time will give you the answer you need.

My advice is to do the same exercise, in the same place, with the same people, at the same time every day… or whatever your schedule allows you. Exercise time should overlap as little as possible other activities so your focus will go 100% to your exercise instead of something else.

For example, if you need to take care of other errands, walk the dog, drop kids to school etc. in the morning, alter your exercises time to midday or evening. This will keep you motivated to your ultimate goal of healthy living.

The way I motivate myself is very similar and I do it in the morning for a reason. I’m a morning person: with a short and light sleep overnight, I can wake up fresh. So I take advantage of this as much as possible by taking care of things early otherwise I would not have time. As of this writing, I’m at a high pace with 6 days/week 30 minutes intense training which we’ll get into detail about below.

The second biggest item here is the infamous diet that you’ll need to accompany your exercise. We will go with 80/20 rule here and motivation along with a diet, of course, will be your 80%. If you are surprised by this, it’s the reality that people don’t think of to start with. Exercising a lot does not allow you to become fit or live a healthy life. In fact, most exercises people do for a long period of time such as running, cycling or weight lifting have damaging side effects. I will not get into details here for these but you may research easily. Or just look around at your friends and family members to see complications they’ve faced after so many years of training hard.

What’s a healthy diet?

This is a big subject and there are so many resources to come to some sort of conclusion here. My take on this is starting with our body’s biggest enemy “Sugar..!” Why is sugar bad? Because we humans aren’t designed to live only on sugar but many eat only a sugary diet. What really happened in the 20th Century is we turned into Sugar Monsters. Everything including all GMO products contained heavy amounts of sugar which had more sugar than pure sugar originally had. Yes, you read it right you can have a higher sugar index than actual 100% sugar on a product. Those products are in your kitchen cabinets and fridges and you are consuming them without hesitation. The other enemy to your body fitness is fat. Taking organic and healthy fat such as olive oil will help you boost your diet. Avoid all others by any means.

A healthy diet is a balanced diet which means consuming your vitamins, proteins, fat, and carbohydrates properly. Look up your needs per your weight size. If you need to lose some weight be on the deficit if you need to build some muscles be on the plus side with a bit more on protein than you would need (1gr of protein/pound a day). Remember this isn’t a competition, it’s for your health. Do the right thing and reduce sugar consumption by going on a low-carb diet. This diet doesn’t mean you’re fasting, you are actually in control of your diet paired with proper exercise and active living. Although intermittent fasting is proven to be healthy as well. This is how I get results so why shouldn’t you?

Last but not least our 20% of the goal which falls to exercise. In order to reach results in less than six months you need to give a bit more than the regular cadence of exercise. Gym membership has some benefits from an exercise standpoint. I’ve personally never liked gym exercises when I had a chance to play team sports like volleyball, basketball or soccer or outdoor sports. Enrolling in gym membership has some other benefits like your dedication and obligation to exercise at a cost. This money you’ll spend somewhat motivates you to gain your return on your investment. Though this isn’t always true with the budget and long term membership deals we get lately. The other benefit I see here at the gym is free group classes. They are fun, energizing and free most of the time. Third, but most important, the gym has access to professionals like personal trainers and athletes that you may not find on streets. You can consult, hire and gain information about your goals. Aside from that, cycling, running or any other cardio will help to meet your goals.

Exercise that fits for all

A body needs a minimum of 30 minutes of intense (non-stop) training a day. If you can double this up you’ll see results (fat loss, muscle gain) faster. You need to add or remove according to your need, but watch your cardio levels and don’t overdo or stress your body. I suggest cross-fit, conditioning and boot-camp-style exercises. Adjust your focus area of exercises depending on your current shape and balance the upper, lower or mid body.

Before starting your 30 minutes of exercise, I strongly suggest doing a minimum of 5 minutes warmup with an indoor row, elliptical trainer or treadmill to bring your cardio levels up.

I also suggest having at least one day of outdoor activity hiking, biking, sailing, fishing that has not only the physical exercise part but gives you the mental freshness you’ll need from your hard week at work.

Exercise Program (Recommended)

Monday – Wednesday- Friday | Morning/Evening (Alternate) | Exercise 30mins of intense cross-fit/conditioning

Tuesday – Thursday | Morning/Evening (Alternate) |Exercise body weight parts lower, upper, back

Monday – Wednesday – Friday | Noon (Optional)| Swim freestyle 30 mins/30 laps

Saturday | Morning/Evening (Alternate) | Freestyle biking/hiking

Sunday | Morning | Run for 30 mins regenerative (Indoor/Outdoor) / Coordinated bike ride of 50-80km

Saturday/Sunday |Weekend (Enjoy the weekend with an activity)| Hiking, Biking, Camping, Fishing, Sailing, etc (Outdoor activity when possible)

Once a week team or group sports in evenings (Soccer|Volleyball|Basketball, etc)

Above is an ideal world scenario but that’s something always not possible to achieve with busy work/life balance. If you can commute to work or the gym by bike that would  add to your total exercise counts. Remember one of the best exercises for humans is walking. So take advantage of that.

Although I’ve been training and exercising for decades as an all-time athlete, I never practiced any sports professionally. All the research and development are results of self-studies and they do not necessarily include professional health recommendations. Motivate, diet and exercise at your own risk, please.

Recommended reading :

Brain Rules

Grain Brain

Recommended Apps for calory intake monitor



What’s BurnOps?


In about every five years or so there is a new term born for a tech job role or function. We have seen this on all levels of engineering jobs as well as other business roles. Here, I want to share some thoughts on another term called BurnOpsThis isn’t a job role or title but it’s a consequence of having one of those technical roles. Do not mix it with Firefighting this is actually being burned of off unbearable work.

In the operation world of most administration jobs a.k.a admin jobs (network, system, database), the names were correlated with the area of interest. When the Dev team also responsible for Operational tasks it’s called DevOps. This way they also do hold pager and respond to incidents thus support issues to solve. This may also be referred to as the only ProdOps and it goes like that.

When the tasks of operations or software engineer become overwhelmingly stressful it turns into BurnOpsThe consequence of BurnOps is generally a loss of a job.

Let’s take a look at the main contributing factors what leads to BurnOps:

  • Life events and pressures
  • Poor leadership at work
  • Unrealistic work expectations
  • Skills mismatch
  • Chaotic workplace
  • Work/Life/School balance

As the order of contributing factors may vary by every person, in my opinion, top one reason to BurnOps is the surrounding life events and pressures they come with an added bonus. To be perfectly honest if there is a “Poor Leadership” at your workplace is not the case this will still stand out as number one.

In the career planning people mostly tend to be in relationships in their most productive age. These relationships usually result with marriage or other long-term commitments which involves having children and relations to extended family members. For those who are not in this category please move onto the next assessment. These life events followed with financial commitments such as a new house or car loan, overspending for a new place, gifts, travel and more can cause such turmoil that eventually can cause BurnOps while committing other operational tasks under pressure.  I suggest re-evaluating the priorities if you find yourself in this situation.

Poor leadership is a number one cause of employee depression in the workplace. This combined with any other factor listed above can immediately cause BurnOpsI don’t want to repeat the fact that “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers” analogy here still poor leadership that impacts the employees most to reach their BurnOps thresholds fast. Leaders can help employees to hump through their difficulties by changing some priorities and bringing some extra help with proper planning.

Unrealistic work expectations both from employer and employee side are a very common cause of BurnOps. As I mentioned earlier operational tasks are not only risky also pretty stressful to execute. Some of the tasks are so risky that outcome can cause major outages, loss of data and even legal problems. Combined with long working hours and coverage commitments shifted work weeks, timezone differences, multi-tasking duties as well as policies and procedures are all things needs to align. Ideally, proper resourcing and planning can easily overcome to avoid finding yourself in this situation.

Skills mismatch is another leading cause of BurnOpsWhile it can be assumed the responsibility of leadership, planning sometimes you’ll find yourself into a job that you aren’t cut for it. Often times it’s referred to as taking a challenge. This challenge can be so big that it leads you up to BurnOpsThe ideal solution for this is to asses the challenge and ask your mentor to discuss before getting into. If you have already taken the challenge and find yourself in BurnOps situation, plan for a change immediately.

A chaotic workplace is for real. You can never imagine ending up with one of those places where you have no intention to be part of past problems. Several companies in the past with great talent turned into a chaotic workplace after some changes in business, market conditions and other factors such as executive leadership changes. You may be in a chaotic workplace and literally trying everything but still, find yourself in BurnOps situation there’s always for another alternate job elsewhere. Look for one.

Work/Life/School balance is another leading cause of BurnOps. Let’s start with work/life balance and what that means. It simply means that you spend enough time with your family and friends along with the personal time that’s much needed to be successful at work. Start with a personal time that’s needed. Ask yourself this question “Do I have enough time for myself?“. If the answer is negative please refer to my earlier posts about Are you a workaholic? and Is 24x7x365 days+6 hours and leap seconds availability possible? In our long-term planning, there are times you may need to revisit academic career or some sort of certification which will bring additional stress to work/life balance. Life is too short to miss this train to find work/life balance.

We also need to acknowledge Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) role that helps us remove the toil and build new features efficiently in a scalable manner. The goal is to remove the recurring issues with a satisfaction which should help work/life balance in return.

In conclusion, BurnOps is a reality you may face in some parts of our career. As long as it’s short-lived with minimal damage it’s okay to learn some lessons from it. Taking a long break, changing locations and focus area, as well as employers, are other options to overcome this outcome.

Is 24x7x365 days+6 hours and leap seconds availability possible?

Can you really be available at all times?

Wired, connected even addicted to reality, yes you can. We live in a connected world. Either you are the technical or non-technical person in the business world you are bound to connect to corporate networks. In our personal lives, we are always connected to the internet.

Are we too much connected?

Studies say we are. In other words, bots rule the Internet and non-deterministic algorithms shape our lives. This is where the internet evolved past twenty years. It came all good with some caveats such as data breaches, stolen identities, manipulation via social media and more. When we are reviewing social media feeds we don’t always realize what’s out there isn’t the latest and greatest. It’s what others wanted us to see over their interests in terms of marketing. Usually what we see is a result of user reactions shaped by in today’s actions likes, views, shares behind the scenes of sponsors.

If you are reading personal development books like I do, you’ll hear the following theme:

  • Do not use the internet before and after your bedtime.
  • Do not respond to emails interactively.
  • Do not respond to emails you’re cc’ed on first.
  • Do not post or share information you aren’t absolutely sure it’s true.
  • Do not enable notifications blindly, remember to mute group conversations.

Do’s and Don’ts are several but what’s important here is how did we become connected 24x7x365 days + 6hours and leap seconds.

Is it really necessary to be connected to the world at all times?

In my case, I’ve felt like that for several reasons.

  1. My job required me to be on-call or part of the escalation for over two decades.
  2. Increased family responsibilities after having children for what-if scenarios.
  3. Immediate family and friends possibility of reaching for help.
  4. The social life that demands you to be available and responsible in some sort.

I categorize above responsibilities in different orders at times but it feels this is how our lives shaped as far as availability concerned.

Smartphones, not so smart people –

How to get away from staring at our smartphones is actually easy. Find yourself a hobby that will limit your availability, responsibility, and attachment to smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and computers. If you realized I’m not even mentioning TV sets as they were the dummy boxes of the previous era. In that age and time, the non-book reading generation was attached to TV via sitcoms, tv series and more. In reality, it wasn’t any different than today. The same rule applied as we have watched and listened to what others wanted. I find a very good use of TV time by watching lots of documentaries, adventure, and expedition series and some news if not at a major sports event.

Going back to hobbies, exercise is one of the best and cheapest hobby you can find yourself disconnected even for a small period of time. I will get into exercise and diet post details later.

Years ago, I started exercising for 15 minutes every morning before checking my phone. If the world failed apart when I was on sleep, literally if it didn’t ring or page, 15 minutes or less would not make a big change. If it’s that important phone should have made some noise to wake me up. Although I sleep very light my smart watch tells me that there’s a period about one and a half hour I’m out of the world.

I have several hobbies that keep me occupied and let me learn something new every day but I hope these tips also help others to be disconnected at times.

Learning the Fundamentals

I would like to talk about my thoughts on learning new things while not forgetting the value of fundamentals. Where I come from history, culture and values are the most important things before learning something new. It is always interesting to learn new things and excel in the area of expertise you are targeting. And we all want to do things fast cause there’s so much information to digest in such short time frame.

Start from the beginning:

What you need to do is start from the beginning not end. Start to study your subject all the way even before its inception times. This way you can visually understand why and where it came from. Remember humans invent to solve problems. If you are doing something new you are solving an existing problem thus you need to know why are you doing that. If your goal is to learn how to play a new musical instrument don’t go just buy the most expensive one at first. That won’t help. What you want to do is learn fundamentals of the music via most simple instrument possible. Flute or keyboard in this case. Learning guitar, violin or drums would come much later stage. If you apply the same rule here in business life you’re much better off getting there and become an expert.

Mastering takes time:

It’s believed that approximately 10,000 hours needed to master a single subject. I’m probably excluding the talent factor in this estimate. If you are talented enough to work and reach higher mastery levels in a shorter timeframe you are either gifted or else extremely lucky to do so. To sustain success in a long run during business life, there are a lot of challenges in front of you. One of that is competing with others who have done the same work for a prolonged time. While trying to catch up with latest and greatest it’s better to start dedicating more time to it.

Time and material on single subject pay off over time:

One thing I found useful is to focus on a single subject at given time. The focus is important in this case of learning while becoming subject matter expert. If we go about the same example above on musical instrument before you’ve mastered the piano skills you wanted to move to electric guitar. Now you are not only failed to learn basics you have opened another hell gate for figuring out techniques behind how electric guitar works with its amplifier, pedals and the sound system around it. This is all fun nothing wrong with it but it will set you back maybe classic or acoustic guitar would have worked better to start with. Again if you apply the same rule in your business life to focus on a single subject, you will see goals are becoming much easier to achieve. It’s not to say there aren’t other techniques such as “Deep Work”.

In conclusion, we are living in technology era with cutting-edge resources at our disposal. When there’s a need to learn something new make sure to spend enough time to learn fundamentals first. This method of building knowledge from the ground up will help you to become more efficient in your endeavor.