Path To Citus Con, for developers who love Postgres

Everyone learns differently. Grant Fritchey and Ryan Booz, database advocates at Redgate focusing on PostgreSQL, talk with co-hosts Claire Giordano and Pino de Candia to explore the learning resources available to developers and users in all the corners of the PostgreSQL world. What drives you to learn: need or curiosity? What can podcasts teach us while we bike to work? Are conference talks good for growing skills, or are they better for networking? What about books? And do older books still have much to offer? It turns out, most people need much more than one approach to build their knowledge. 

Some of the (many) links shared in the order they were mentioned: 

Creators & Guests

Host
Claire Giordano
Claire Giordano is head of the Postgres & Citus open source community initiatives at Microsoft. Claire has served in leadership roles in engineering, product management, and product marketing at Sun Microsystems, Amazon/A9, and Citus Data. At Sun, Claire managed the engineering team that created Solaris Zones, and led the effort to open source Solaris.
Host
Pino de Candia
Pino de Candia is a software dev manager at Microsoft since 2020 and is currently working on the Citus open source project. Pino previously worked on the managed PostgreSQL database service in Azure Cosmos DB for PostgreSQL, which includes Citus on Azure support for distributed PostgreSQL. Pino has lived in New Orleans since 2017.
Producer
Aaron Wislang
Open Source Engineering + Developer Relations at @Microsoft + @Azure ☁️ | @golang k8s 🐧 🐍 🦀 ☕ 🍷📷 🎹🇨🇦 | 😷 💉++ (inc. bivalent) | @aaronw.dev (on 🟦sky)
Producer
Carol Smith
Senior Program Manager at Microsoft in the Citus Community team. Previously at GitHub and Google. Horseback rider, cook, and armchair movie critic.

What is Path To Citus Con, for developers who love Postgres?

Path To Citus Con is for developers who love Postgres. Guests join co-hosts Claire Giordano and Pino de Candia to discuss the human side of open source, databases, PostgreSQL, and the many PG extensions (including Citus.) Produced as a monthly live show on Discord by the Postgres team at Microsoft, subscribe to our calendar to join us live: https://aka.ms/PathToCitusCon-cal.

My favorite ways to learn more about PostgreSQL
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CLAIRE: Welcome everybody to Path To Citus Con, the podcast for developers who love Postgres, which is now available on all your podcasts listening platforms. You can get to past episodes and transcripts, et cetera, at aka.ms/PathToCitusCon, all one word. I'm Claire Giordano.

PINO: And I'm Pino de Candia.

CLAIRE: And we are your hosts. And today's topic is "My favorite ways to learn more about Postgres." I want to introduce our amazing guests. We're joined today by Ryan Booz, who works at Redgate Software. He's formerly of Timescale, where he used to work. And I first met Ryan when he was a speaker at the very first Citus Con event. His talk was about pg_stat_statements, and since then I've run into Ryan at a number of Postgres community conferences, and he's just a dream to talk to.

RYAN: I appreciate that. It's really fun to be here. Thank you all.

PINO: And we're also joined by Grant Fritchey. Grant is a developer and DBA. Also works at Redgate, and many people think of Grant as an expert in Microsoft SQL Server.

In the last few years, he's added Postgres to his toolbox and he started speaking at Postgres events, including notably PGDay Chicago on the benefits of source control for your database. Hi Grant.

GRANT: Hey, how's it going? Thanks for having me.

CLAIRE: So let's get started. We want to talk about some of your favorite ways to learn more about Postgres.

Ryan, I thought we'd get started with you, and specifically how you got started learning about Postgres. And before we dive into details, I'm curious what your favorite types of resources were?

RYAN: This is a great question. I mean, favorite types of resources for me have always been community, quite honestly.

And so it's something we'll talk about more throughout this hour. I've shared the story a number of times, but for me, I actually started looking at Postgres in the late 90's, early 2000's, for a small project. And then... career happened, and I became a Microsoft .NET SQL Server developer and user for many, many years.

And then I was ready five and a half, almost six years ago, to look for a new job. And I thought I was going to help a small company in town who had a big data problem and I thought they were still using SQL Server. They neglected to tell me that they were leaving SQL Server, so I signed the contract.

And I showed up day one and they gave me a connection string and it wasn't to a SQL Server, it was to Postgres. And so I was just kind of thrown in, and you know, my reaction was, because I was so used to reaching out to the community to find help and to see where I could solve my problems, how I could learn more.

That was my first inclination is to start. Whether it's on Twitter, finding things like the Slack channel, the blogs, all the things we're going to talk about today, to try and start to find where that community was. And so I'm really thankful, as you've said, we've had a lot of great opportunities to connect at events and other ways through this community.

And it's been really fun to see that grow really to a worldwide connection. And so it's super fun, but that's where I start.

CLAIRE: Awesome. Grant, what about you? What types of resources were your favorites?

GRANT: Sure. Well, at the beginning, I'll tell you right straight up: it's the Postgres website, postgresql.org, that saved my bacon. I would not have been able to learn this without it. I found that doing searches on the internet, just like, you bingle or whatever search engine you use, was giving me some bad information. A lot of it was out of date, you know, version 9 instead of version 14 or 15.

And so I had to keep going back to the source of it all to start with. I've subsequently been finding more and more resources that are good, but initially it was all postgres.org.

CLAIRE: I think some of the volunteers who work on that website and keep it up to date will probably be, and especially all the people who work on documentation, will be happy to hear that.

PINO: It's pretty impressive. The documentation is very detailed, and a good read. Sometimes long, but worth the time.

RYAN: You know, I was going to mention this at some point. This year has been the first time I feel like I've been able to contribute a little bit to the conversation. I've followed the Pgsql-hackers news list for a long time.

I often feel very under-prepared to contribute much, but when it comes to documentation, it's been very, very interesting for me to really see how firsthand, how seriously documentation is regarded and the care with which changes are made, the discussion that's had around small and large topics. I was looking at a topic around the vacuum documentation.

It's just really, really interesting to have that back and forth and see how someone who's been contributing for 20 plus years of Postgres sees that kind of content and how we can interact and see what might be useful as Postgres develops. So I totally agree. It's really interesting to watch it happen in real time.

Anyone can do it. If you want to look at the mailing list, it's really cool.

CLAIRE: So well...oh, go ahead.

GRANT: I was just going to say that the one issue I hit with it, though, is that I have a very non-academic background. I am just shy of being blue collar in this job. And I did find the documentation to frequently be dense.

And so wading through it was sometimes difficult. Even though the information I needed was there, finding it was sometimes hard.

CLAIRE: Well, I think that may be part of why there's a whole cottage industry of blog posts that get written, right? That are conversational, that are meant to really explain a combination of concepts and background and definition, as well as instructions, right?

That, and to almost be written as if someone was sitting next to you at a coffee shop and they were your best friend and they were trying to explain it to you. I think there's definitely a space for that. It's important, right? To explain things in these accessible ways that work, not just for experts, but also for newbies.

That's my perspective on the value of blogs.

PINO: I've got a question for either of you. You introduced some of your learning as need-driven. And that makes sense. How much of your learning is need-driven versus just curiosity or keeping up with some podcast or blogger that you that you like. I personally like to listen to podcasts and they keep me company on my bicycle ride to work as I commute.

And it's not just about the information, but then you get to know the voices and if it feels familiar, what about you, and maybe Grant, I'll start with you?

GRANT: Well in my case i'm i'm still very much a reading-oriented person I've tried podcast learning and it just...

If I zone for a second, I'm lost. And so I just frequently can't follow them. So I'm much more about written material: books and blogs and websites are where I go. And so the driving force for me is still very much trying to build the structure upon which I'm going to hang my Postgres knowledge.

So I'm still just doing basics. It is very much need-driven. I'm not yet to the point where, "oh, that sounds cool. Let me go explore it." I'm still very much a beginner and still very much just picking up the basics.

CLAIRE: Ryan, what about you? Need-driven versus curiosity?

RYAN: You know, I think it's transitioned over time. I think that the more I've had the opportunity in these last two roles to focus on Postgres and the Postgres community and how people are using it and what the needs are, I'm more aware of places like Slack and Discord and the other areas, the other places where people might be talking about Postgres and so there's so much that comes to the forefront that I think, "Oh my goodness, what is that? That sounds really cool."

Right now, pgvector and the various things are being announced around that. I don't have a specific need at the moment, but it's caused me to really be curious and want to go figure that stuff out. So I'd appreciate if there were more podcasts around this kind of content, there's a great one.

You know, postgres.fm with Michael Christofides and Nikolay. And there's a lot of times I'll listen to that podcast and like Grant, it is easy to be distracted and have it playing, and something catches my attention to say, "Oh, okay, I know what the topic is about that sounds interesting."

So now I can go back and dig a little bit deeper. And it's just good to hear other people talk about these topics and things that we care about because it triggers an awareness.

PINO: I listened to that one as well. postgres.fm. I think they also record; they also do video. You can listen to both audio and video.

And I do find myself having to rewind when, if I zone out for a few seconds or just because I need to repeat some sections.

CLAIRE: Well, I suppose that is the beauty of virtual content, whether it's a podcast or a video is that you can rewind, that is one thing I wish I could do when I'm at an in-person event and don't get me wrong, I love in-person events, but sometimes if I got distracted or just got confused, I would love to be able to like, say, "Hey, stop. Go back 30 seconds, please. Repeat that." And of course, that's not an option there. So one of the benefits, I suppose, of listening to a recording.

So I know that the, the topic for today is favorite ways to learn more about Postgres. But before we dive into the more side, we're speaking to people who are already knowledgeable and active in Postgres and just want to learn more.

What about people who are just getting started? Do any of you, and this applies to you as well, Pino, have resources that you recommend to friends who are just getting started with Postgres? Whether that's books, courses, blogs community places, whatever.

RYAN: I'm happy to...

GRANT: As a junior person, I'll start.

RYAN: Go for it.

GRANT: Yeah, well, start off with the documentation. That is a great place to go. But I'm going to be really blunt here and say that I've started a blog series as I've been learning, I've been writing down what I learn. So for someone who's coming from SQL Server, for example, as I am, I've been writing a series of articles that are just completely focused on: If you know SQL Server, here's the same thing, but different in Postgres. Or here's stuff that's completely different in Postgres. So, we're working on stuff like that. That's one I would recommend right away. But other than that, I still will circle back to that original documentation as many times as I can.

CLAIRE: Well, that blog series, just to let everybody know, Grant was not being self-promotional there. I specifically asked him and, in fact, invited Grant to be on the show because I know there's a lot of SQL DB users out there and DBAs who are thinking about starting to work in Postgres. Maybe they're thinking about a new job, maybe they're consultants and they want to kind of grow that consultancy.

And so, having pointers to resources that help them take their mental model of the SQL Server landscape and move it over into Postgres is really important. So yeah, I think someone may have just dropped a link in the chat to one of your blogs, which is great.

PINO: I haven't taken a look at these, but I love the idea of learning with someone who's who's new to Postgres or more generally learning with someone who can't make assumptions about what you know, because they're starting from scratch or started recently. I know you started a few years ago, but still.

GRANT: Well, it's been a couple of years, but.

CLAIRE: When you talk about writing down what I've learned, it reminds me a little bit of what Simon Willison over in the Datasette world, the Django world does.

He was a keynote speaker at Citus Con: An Event for Postgres earlier this year. And so, therefore he was one of the first guests on this podcast before we had the tagline "for developers who love Postgres." And we were still figuring out what this podcast was going to be about, but he has a series of weeknotes that he publishes about the work he's done that week and also a bunch of Today I Learned blog posts that he publishes where he shares just the little things that he learned and that now delight him and that benefits so many people. So I'm glad you're doing it too.

RYAN: That was one of the coolest parts of that first episode. I really appreciated hearing how Simon approaches that kind of content and just sharing of knowledge. It was really cool.

CLAIRE: Well, and the concept, the title for that was "working in public" or "working in public on open source." And that is, I, I think for, particularly for people who work in commercial companies, maybe on closed source, it's a little bit of a different philosophy, a different way of doing things, but it's certainly more comfortable for those who do work in open source and everything they do is already in public.

But yeah, he's got some great best practices. I wish I could do more of what he does.

Ryan?

RYAN: I was going to say as far as beginning resources go, there are a few that I tend to go to, but one of the first is... Documentation is great, but there's a really good handful of excellent blogs that I look at, they take content that can be pretty dense in documentation.

They tend to bring it to a more hands-on level, as it were. One of the ways I find out about that, there are two ways. So one is Planet PostgreSQL. So if you don't know about Planet PostgreSQL, it's a blog aggregator. Anybody can submit their blog to be aggregated through the service. I'm sure someone put a links just planet.postgresql.org.

And so they have a Twitter feed, they have a Mastodon feed, so you can get up-to-date information about new blogs that have come out. So, there's so many things I've found through there. Part of that, "ooh, I see a shiny object, and I want to go figure out more about this." That's a really great way to do that.

And then, the second one I recommend often is actually the Postgres Weekly email. So it's put out by Cooperpress. It's a small, I think, generally family-run business that has JavaScript Weekly and a couple others. But the team there does a really good job at picking out just some really good stories for each week, you get in your inbox once a week, and inevitably, there's something there that I would have never thought to think through, "thought to think through," listen to me, I never would have explored or seen that side of the conversation if I wasn't a part of that weekly email. So I really do recommend it. It's not spammy and it's just gives you really good content to your inbox each week.

CLAIRE: Well, and Postgres Weekly isn't tied to any particular team or project or company. And Peter Cooper who runs Cooperpress is completely open. I think there must be a link somewhere on their website that says, "if you have ideas of things we should link to just send them to us."

So they're accessible and they're open and it's super useful. Big plus one for that. And Planet PostgreSQL is a wonderful blog aggregator. And yeah, I'm so glad there's a Mastodon feed. It's just a bot, right? That picks up all the new blogs that have been syndicated there.

PINO: I'll chime in and say, I mentioned podcasts earlier. And so, Scaling PostgreSQL by Creston Jamison is my go to to keep up with the blogs. So every week, punctually, Creston does a podcast where for about 15 minutes, he talks about three or four blog articles and he walks through them. Gives the highlights, can't go too deep with that amount of time.

But then he posts on his site, gives all the links if you want to go deeper, but it's a good way sort of to get a sense of what, you know, it's just hard to keep up with all the blogs. And so just getting a taste of what's out there. I find that really, really useful.

CLAIRE: Well, someone else just dropped in the chat and I've got to give a shout out as well.

Think that's a great, Scaling PostgreSQL podcast and having been a Citus Open Source Champion for many years, I'm very happy to have people talking about scaling Postgres, right, especially scaling out. But I also want to shout out to pganalyze and Lukas Fittl. He's got a "Five minutes of Postgres" video series, where he does the same thing. He looks at things that have recently been published, or new features that have come out and he walks through them. It's super quick. It's easy to digest. You're not signing up for like, an hour and a half tutorial. It's five minutes. And yeah, a lot of people sing its praises.

RYAN: Yeah. I think Melanie actually put a link to that in the chat a little bit higher up and totally agree with you. Really, really good stuff.

CLAIRE: Okay. So we've talked about Planet Postgres, Postgres Weekly, Scaling Postgres, Five minutes of Postgres, documentation, and Grant's blog series, that is specifically targeted at people who are SQL Server experts and want to learn more about Postgres, any other resources that all of you recommend for people who are new to Postgres who are just getting started? Maybe books?

GRANT: I do have a book link. I'm going to post that one later. Go ahead, Ryan.

RYAN: Well, no, I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

GRANT: Well, I mean, I'll bring it up in a second.

RYAN: Okay.

GRANT: Honestly, for people who are just getting started, I also, going back to postgres.org, there's a community link on the Postgres website. I went and put that in chat too. Community is so big. Learning from your peers, networking with people so you know someone personally, so you can then ask them a question you know, like, "Oh, my God, what is this vacuum thing again? Because I'm really confused." Having someone to answer those questions that's not some remote person that you've never met or somebody who wrote a book or some blog, you know, having someone nearby your home or nearby your business so that you can actually talk to him in person. I think that's huge and the Planet PostgreSQL has got a whole list of user groups around the world and also Meetup has got a bunch too. So, I didn't I didn't put a link to Meetup, but that is just such a fantastic resource is for that 2 minute chat to get that perfect answer fast. That's what humans are there for.

RYAN: It's a great point. I think that the pandemic has really took a toll on so many user groups. And I know that a lot of the Postgres user groups have had some issues, just some struggles getting started again, but I would feel remiss if I didn't, I'm not official in any way with postgresql.org, but there's been a very constant need, plea, ask for help for local user groups. There's a number that did exist and just need someone to kind of get them going again. So if you connect to the link that Grant gave you reach out to the postgresql.us or, you know, @pgus Twitter handle, a couple of areas like that.

I'm sure they would love to connect you with a user group that might be local to where you're at. Maybe you can help get it going. There's been a lot of requests lately.

CLAIRE: Well, and then in terms of getting help from other humans, there's a Postgres Slack. It is really quite active. A lot of Q&A happens on there.

And, I think Rob Treat said that he was going to be joining today's episode, so maybe he's on there. Can drop in a link if he hasn't already. And then there's I think there's IRC channels which...

RYAN: There's IRC. There's actually a Discord one. You know, it's run by a little bit different Postgres group, but it's also very active.

And many people that are on Slack are also on Discords. You'll see a number of people in both areas to help answer questions.

CLAIRE: And there's still a lot of people who ask questions on Reddit, right?

RYAN: Yeah.

CLAIRE: So there's a PostgreSQL subreddit. And then people also talk about Postgres even on the SQL subreddit.

So yeah, I guess the Postgres community subscribes to meeting developers where they are as well. And then Andreas Scherbaum sent me links to a bunch of Telegram groups where people talk about Postgres as well. And I'm not sure how much Q&A is on Telegram. And I gave myself a little note to go find out.

Well, what about books? Any favorite?

RYAN: Yeah. I mean, my comment was just going to be this. That's why I was interested to hear what Grant might have thought. Grant has written a number of books for SQL Server. So I know he has a perspective on just the book writing process and the value that the books really can bring both in learning and community and so forth.

But, I do feel like books in the Postgres space feel like they're just a little bit harder to come by and, I don't know why that is. There's some great books, Dimitri Fontaine's, which is already linked here in the chat there's a number of administration cookbooks through, I think, from people like Simon Riggs and others.

It's really, really good stuff there. A couple of virtual things: there's a really good book that was started by, yeah, the one that Grant just linked to, this is by Henrietta Dombrovskaya, and she ran PG Chicago, runs a user group there, really good contributor to Postgres. It's a really interesting book, it has a great data set attached to it, which has been updated two or three times now, so it's a really good demo data set.

And I feel like that's kind of where it ends right now, and I think that's an area that we keep saying, like, are there some new opportunities here to provide some content in a book form in some way? So I'd love to hear what people think about it.

CLAIRE: Well, before we go too much further, for people who are listening and can't see the text chat, I just want to name some names.

So Henrietta's book that you're referring to is PostgreSQL Query Optimization. Is that correct?

RYAN: That is correct. The Ultimate Guide to Building Efficient Queries.

CLAIRE: And then Dimitri Fontaine's book that you referred to, which was on my list to talk about today, because so many people have recommended it to me, is called The Art of PostgreSQL.

And The Art of PostgreSQL is geared, I know, towards app developers. And I haven't read Henrietta's book, so talk to me, who is that audience? And Henrietta's book being the one that is called PostgreSQL Query Optimization.

RYAN: Yeah. The book is more developer-focused, I'd say, so what I like about her approach in that book is that it looks at queries, it's an approach I've never thought about before. What does it really mean to talk about an expensive or what we would consider something maybe a large query versus a small query? What that looks like then from a query planning perspective. So it's not about administering the database.

It's not about backups, restores any of that. It really is about how to look at the queries that you're writing, the data that is being requested to satisfy the query and so forth, and how to think about what that might look like to re-imagine those queries and ways to use the features of Postgres to have better queries. Faster queries, so forth.

GRANT: Yeah, having written several books on performance tuning myself, I really enjoyed that book. I mean, I'm not done with it. I'm reading it real slow because I'm still learning everything. But, I love the way she broke it down on the idea of "What kind of query is it that you're trying to write?", as opposed to, well, here's here's how you fix your query.

It's like, wait a minute. Are you looking at OLTP? Are you looking at an analysis? And if you're looking at an analysis, you're going to write queries differently than you are in OLTP. In addition, you're going to build your database different, I hope then you will with OLTP, and that break down and approach I thought was really good.

I'm kind of jealous of it. I've talked about it that way a lot in presentations and stuff, but. When I wrote my books, I definitely still followed the kind of structural formula of, here's how you identify a bad forming query. Here's how you investigate. And then here's what you do to fix it. Her approach was, I think, great.

So, it's definitely worth the read. It's just not for beginners.

RYAN: Yeah, I'd agree with that. That's funny though, Grant, that was exactly my first take when I read the book, which is this "aha" moment of like, why have I never thought about talking about approaching query tuning like this? I really appreciated it.

CLAIRE: So, I remember talking to an engineer named Louise Grandjonc, who used to work at Citus Data and I think now works at Crunchy. And she was talking about her first year working in Postgres and she cited a book by Markus Winand that she had right there next to her computer that she consulted so much as she learned to optimize her SQL queries.

And it was called SQL Performance Explained: Everything Developers Need to Know about SQL Performance and the book's been around a while. I'm looking at it on Amazon. It looks like it was first published in 2012. So, gosh, 10 years. But...

RYAN: Yeah, for those who don't know, Markus has a website called Use the Index, Luke where, I would say earlier in my career, it was a go-to resource often. I will put that link in the chat, but, he talks about performance across multiple kinds of SQL, you know, whether it's MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres, internals, you know, really covers the gambit and just really good learning opportunities there about various operators, how things work, so I would agree.

CLAIRE: Yeah. Plus one for that website as well. I know in my first year working at Citus that blog and website got recommended to me quite a bit by people.

GRANT: One other book I'd recommend that's just completely not Postgres-oriented is for beginners, right? If you're just getting started in this stuff is Database Administration by Craig Mullins.

It's an old book. It's not gonna teach you technology. It's gonna teach you the job. And so it's, it's worth looking at. I'm just as a general thing. If you're just getting started on this stuff.

CLAIRE: And when you say it will teach you the job, which job do you mean? Because there's so many different roles that well, do you mean DBA?

GRANT: Well, he talks about that in the book. Talks about the difference between being a database developer versus a report writer versus a DBA versus analysis versus, you know, insert the wrinkle that that you're currently in here and it gets into that as well. So it's a very broad topic that covers in a very broad way, but it's really, I don't know, I found it great the first time I read it, especially when I was trying to help manage a team of DBAs and database developers. It made a real difference in sitting down and explaining to people, no, this is what we expect of you. And it was a good resource.

PINO: For all these resources, consumers, the readers, listeners have to think about or worry about whether the resource is up-to-date or whether it still has something important to say. Do you find that it's hard or easy to, you know, do mostly these resources, obviously the ones you've mentioned, you're recommending.

Is that a common thing, that there's some value you can still get out of out of the resources you find, or is it hard to distinguish the ones that, you know, are outdated and move past them versus the ones that still have a lot of use for new folks?

RYAN: That's a great question. I think it can be challenging. To Grant's point, and it's not the same thing that you're asking, but. Anything like this requires some amount of discrimination, you know, does this resource have what I need? Is it relevant? And it starts with Google, you know, I type something into Google or whatever your search engine is.

And did I go to the right version of Postgres in the docs? And so I think similarly, when it comes to blogs and other resources, one of the telltale signs for me lately has been, Postgres is making a lot of good yearly progress in its feature set, its capabilities, its responsiveness to issues, and just the actual development of Postgres.

And so, seeing that a blog or a resource is active, is updated, as someone just made the comment that Henrietta is already updating her book. It's only two years old, but she's trying to keep on top of what's going on within Postgres. That's a really good sign. And so it does take that little bit of effort to make sure that, hey, the Stack Overflow post, this Reddit post.

You know, this blog that seems to be a really detailed thing turns out is 10 years old and isn't terribly relevant. I think it just takes a little bit of effort, but usually it's pretty easy to understand where they're at. I'd say that's been my experience more than not lately.

CLAIRE: What I hear you saying, Ryan, and tell me if I'm putting words in your mouth, is that you do try to assess: is this information relevant? Is it current? And the answer to that could be the date that the blog post was published. Right? Oh, it was published last month, it must be current. Or it could be a little more complicated than that. Like, maybe the book is five years old or 10 years old, but it's still incredibly valuable because all those concepts are still true.

And in that case, how would you figure that out? The way I would figure that out is I would shoot out like a Slack question out to other experts and say, "Hey, I'm thinking about reading this book. Is it still relevant? I noticed it was published 10 years ago. Talk to me people." and the key is you got to discriminate and you've got to find out.

RYAN: Yeah. What you're saying is "community," which I love, that's a perfect answer, right? The more you can get integrated and put yourself out to be part of the community, it's so much easier to do exactly that, whether it's Twitter, Slack, or whatever else. "Hey, is this still a good, relevant resource?" And people absolutely share in a really good and relevant way.

I love that. That's great.

CLAIRE: Well, I suppose the other easy test of whether something is still relevant is if it's all about Postgres 9.3, right? Versus being about Postgres 15. Well, that's an obvious discriminator right there.

RYAN: Yeah, I totally agree.

CLAIRE: Okay, so we talked about the books a little bit, but not...

RYAN: I was just going to mention one other thing, because I think one of your questions when we talked earlier was about online courses.

I always say I don't know there are a ton. Of course, as soon as I say that, wonderfully, a number of people will put something in the channel here. You know, the one online thing that I've seen recently is a gentleman named Rob Conery, who actually, I believe works for Microsoft, has been there for quite a while.

He has done a few courses, both in book form and then an accompanying video. One of them is called... I believe if you look it up, A Curious Moon. And so he takes a real-life data set, and oh, Rob's a teammate of yours. So, he takes a real-life data set about I forget one of the satellites and space exploration, just kind of all the information that was brought back.

And it's a really interesting book. I've worked through it a little bit. So I think there's some neat things to learn there for beginner. Yeah, there it is: Big Machine. So, that's one I've come across. I have one partially done based on similar to Grant, SQL Server, Postgres, or SQL Server developers that I hope to make public someday.

But, I would love to know if there are more of the people have come across. Because I think it's an area, some people are very auditory and they need that engagement.

CLAIRE: For people listening to the podcast, I know there were a few pirated copies of A Curious Moon out there at one point, a couple of years ago.

I want to point you to the URL where you can find more about A Curious Moon and it's bigmachine.io is the domain where Rob Conery has published this. And I actually had the tab open already because I had three things I was going to mention that were in the books category for me, but you're right, A Curious Moon is not just a book.

And they were: The Art of PostgreSQL, Markus Winand's SQL Performance Explained, and this one. Thank you. So yeah, it's very creative, the way Rob goes about trying to help people learn and he puts a lot of thought into it. And in fact, he's published videos that help other people create really good demos, or really good videos, and he shared his best practices and his techniques. So if any of you are thinking of sharing your learning, not by writing, not by blog, right? Not by authoring a book, but by creating demos and videos I would go check out some of Rob Conery's, like, "how I did it" or "how to do it"- type videos, which I think are all on YouTube. If I remember correctly.

RYAN: Rob's a great teacher.

CLAIRE: Yeah. But let's back up for a second. Online courses. Are there any online courses where someone could learn SQL, right? How would you recommend someone do that? Because not everybody learns by reading. Some people have to do.

RYAN: That's a great question. I'd love to hear what others have to say. I know a few right now, so a couple of the book companies, whether it be of course, I'm not going to think of the book companies right now. There's the, you know, "learn something in a series of lunches" series. And someone's going to help me remember what book that is.

So one of our friends in the SQL server community is doing just a SQL book, learning SQL in a month of lunches, I think. And there's a lot of really good hands-on content. Something you sit down. I don't know if there's going to be an opportunity for him to start to... it's in preview right now.

I think you can get kind of early access to what is completed. He's close to being done. There's someone just referenced another one of Rob's book called The Little SQL Book. So again, at bigmachine.io.

CLAIRE: I love the title of that one. I'm looking at it. "Learn SQL While Watching Football This Weekend - Free!" that definitely makes it seem accessible.

RYAN: It does. I love it.

CLAIRE: Pino, what about you? Do you, or any of the engineers that you work with, have you ever pointed people to courses? That are online where they can learn some of this stuff?

PINO: Gosh, I think we have a set of exercises internally that we point people to, our new devs that join the team do.

And they're mostly focused around Citus. Certainly we point people to the Citus documentation and ask them to go through the examples there. That's useful, but specific to Citus, which is scale-out Postgres. But no, I'm not that familiar with other online courses.

RYAN: I would add, we haven't specifically talked about conferences yet, but I know, whether it's a PGCon, PGDay conferences, it depends if you're in Europe or the U.S. Recording can be a challenge in various regions of the world, but I know the PGCon U.S. events, whether they're New York City or wherever they are, often they will record sessions, and, most of the speakers will also include any example scripts and slides on the website.

So it's really easy to go to some of those see past events. PGCon and the like, see the slides, watch someone give the video, oftentimes even see the SQL they were running if they were giving a demo. So there's some really good opportunities there as well. Oh, great. And then Andrew just pasted in the chat.

Ha, I forgot about this, even though I recommended it just a week ago. Crunchy Data has a it's called Postgres Playground. It's an in-browser running Postgres version and you can actually add your own custom datasets, and they have a whole bunch of custom datasets to learn features about Postgres.

That's a really fun, cool way to do it. Totally agree. So it's Crunchy Data and it is just look up Postgres Playground and you'll find it.

GRANT: So this is an amazing list.

RYAN: It's really cool, huh? Yeah, there's a lot of good stuff here.

CLAIRE: Well, before we pivot to conferences that I know you just mentioned, Ryan, but I'm back on online courses for just a few more minutes. I have always wondered, and I'm wondering if anybody knows how useful the SQL course at Khan Academy is?

I know people brave about some of the Khan Academy courses as like a way for someone who, maybe their university degree was in something else and they want to learn to program and so they go there to take these online courses, and they're super useful. But how good is the SQL one? Would anybody recommend it on this show? Do any of you know? Because...

RYAN: I would simply say I haven't looked at it in a few years, when I used to manage younger developers who did not know much about SQL, it was one of my three or four, you know, we used to have like a Pluralsight subscription, so there might be some courses there we'd recommend.

I can't right now. I haven't looked in quite a while. But, the Khan Academy was one of them for just learning the basics of SQL. And it was helpful to those who took it, but to be honest, it's been quite a while. I think it's certainly worth an opportunity to look at it, for sure. Okay.

GRANT: And I just don't know. I did post a link to it's PostgreSQL tutorial. Sorry, SQL tutorial. And it's not perfect, but it's good. I've been using it for picking up bits and pieces when I got confused, so it's definitely a useful resource and it's very much a lesson plan.

CLAIRE: All right, so now let's pivot to conferences and whether all of you find conferences a good way to learn. And let's talk about the in-person side of the equation first, and then we can talk about what you hinted at a few moments ago, Ryan, which is when those talks get recorded, right? Because that's useful for everybody on the planet, as long as you have an internet connection. Right?

RYAN: Absolutely.

CLAIRE: So in-person learning at conferences, is that a way that...You all learn, or do you find yourself doing mostly networking at conferences?

RYAN: I don't want to jump in first every time.

CLAIRE: I know, I know. Grant, you go first this time.

GRANT: I'm kind of deferring to Ryan on all this stuff. I'm happy to go first. Funny enough, I've only been to two Postgres conferences so far, and I sat in quite a few classes. I spent time networking at both, absolutely I did, and I would never, ever skip networking at a conference.

And for anyone who just goes to a conference and only attends the courses and doesn't network, you're doing it wrong. You need to network. I've actually been going to these conferences and attending the sessions because it's a great way to pick up a bunch of skills quickly, because, yeah, you do see the same thing.

And in fact, I've attended a few of like, "oh, this person's talking on backup and this other person's also talking on backup." Let me go to both and see what they're saying that's different and I can start to put together more information. It's been great, which is completely the opposite of what I do now.

If I go to a SQL Server conference, where I almost exclusively spend my time networking and don't really attend that many sessions.

CLAIRE: Okay, so you're our guest and I don't want to pick a fight with you, but I've got to say that if you're an extrovert, and even though we only recently met I think it's safe to say that you're an extrovert Grant?

Am I right or wrong?

GRANT: You're no, no I'm very much an introvert.

CLAIRE: Oh, okay.

GRANT: Conferences destroy me. They are so hard.

CLAIRE: Okay. It's hard for introverts, some introverts to network at a conference, particularly if it's their first time, particularly if they're not yet expert in the space. So, I know a lot of people who their first time at a conference, they probably will do more attending of sessions and less networking, because they just don't know anybody yet. And so, I just want to say that that's an okay way to get started.

GRANT: Oh yeah.

CLAIRE: And, I'm really lucky in the Postgres world, my first Postgres community event, I was a speaker. And so, when you're a speaker, it just makes it super easy to meet people. It's super easy to start networking, because they just come find you, right? They have questions about your talk, or they just want to be supportive, maybe. But yeah, I get it. You're right. Networking is important, but it's hard.

PINO: I guess I'll chime in and say, I started in Postgres during the pandemic and I just haven't been to conferences except virtual conferences.

And in fact, the conference we run, and that has a little bit of a networking component as well where people can introduce themselves as speakers and so on, and participate in chats during the sessions. But it's a completely different thing. I mean, my experience in the last few years has been completely different from pre-pandemic and pre-pandemic, I was in different communities. OpenStack, virtual networking. And there, my experience was, as you say early on, I really tried to attend the conference talks and learn from the conference talks. And over time, I introduced myself to speakers or ask questions. The booths, I found very useful to just being able to wander around the company booths, ask questions often, not just company booths, but open source organizations that were represented there. And that was huge. But the pandemic ended that all that for me. It hasn't started up again. I wonder if others have the same, you know, what's been your experience, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there and going back to conferences.

RYAN: You know, similar to you, Pino, I've been back in Postgres for, you know, coming on six years, my experience going to conferences has only been since the pandemic. And so, whether it be virtual or having the fortune to even get back to the first Postgres conference, kind of in that couple weeks span in 2021, where we could have a couple conferences and then things shut down again.

And so I think it's changed the flavor of what people expect to get out of a conference. And to your point, Claire. Sometimes there's been that buildup of, well, shoot, now how do we fully interact again? And I think it still exists a little bit today. To Grant's point though, I think to me, what I've had to realize is just that you're absolutely right.

It's hard for an introvert to know how to interact. I think every conference that does a good job at making those spaces available to speakers that are very good there and I feel like it happens at every conference I've been to, which is really a blessing; that are very open to, say, "Hey, I would love to connect with you and hear your experience at Postgres" and, you know, please come find me.

"I would love just to hear your story." I see those things have an impact and I think the more that we can do that whenever we're part of an event or have an opportunity to lead an event, what have you, that's a great way to build community and have people have a great experience. So I agree, though, networking...

I'm a mix. I definitely have talks I really want to go see, but I have also learned that. Again, I tend to be able to connect with folks better if I really make an effort to go find them, you know. Hey, the first time I talked to Bruce Momjian, he felt like, you know, Bruce is big in the community.

He's been with this project forever, and I finally had the guts to walk up and ask Bruce a question, and then we talked for almost two hours, so, take the chance.

CLAIRE: I'm still circling around what Grant said a few minutes ago about how, if you're not networking at a conference, you're doing it wrong.

And while he's probably right, I'm still stuck on it. Like, is that fair? But I want to share that at FOSDEM earlier this year I ran into Floor Drees, who interestingly enough is going to be one of the guests in the next episode of Path To Citus Con in August. Along with Chelsea Dole. And we'll pitch that topic at the very end of today's session.

But Floor had a spreadsheet on her phone that she showed me that was her plan for what she needed to do at FOSDEM. I had never seen that. Maybe all of you do that, and I'm the only person in the world who doesn't, but she was just super organized in terms of not just what sessions she wanted to attend.

And at FOSDEM, you have to think about where the sessions are, because they're spread across buildings. It might take you 12 minutes to walk from point A to point B. But also, who she needed to meet and who she needed to connect with and what booths she needed to go to. And I mean, she had a plan.

And so I looked at that and thought, wow, okay. Like, those are goals. Those are FOSDEM goals for next year. Is that something everybody does?

RYAN: Not to that level. You know, I absolutely look at conference schedule anytime I go somewhere just so I do make sure, you know, sometimes it is specifically because of a speaker, there's someone I know is good in a topic I've never been able to be in the same space as them, and I want to hear how they talk about that feature in Postgres or whatever the conference is about. So I am intentional in that way, but not to that level. That sounds pretty cool.

GRANT: Yeah, I'm gonna confess to being very lazy about it, and I check the conference schedule, I mark off some sessions I'm interested in, and then other than that, I kind of let the wind take me.

CLAIRE: Well, there's something to be said for that. That letting the wind take you means you'll have these serendipitous conversations. Right? You ran into someone. The next thing you know, you're having lunch with them.

RYAN: Right. So, yeah, I wouldn't add one thing to your concern there, Claire, because I think it's really valid.

I would say, and I see some chat happening as well when it comes to, I probably would have stated it. In fact, written in my kind of notes in preparation for this was almost exactly what Grant said, that one of the best parts about being at a live conference, at least, is the opportunity to connect. And, you know, it might take effort, but I think there's a lot of value in that because you don't know what that will mean later in your career when you need help, later opportunities.

But I don't think it just stops there. There have been a number of...maybe that's one good thing the pandemic has taught us. It is actually really possible to form some good professional friendships, over this technology virtually. And so maybe you do see someone at an event and you're not comfortable, but then you're able to reach out to them afterwards.

And I think that the pandemic and that virtual communication has lowered that bar a little bit. And there's a number of relationships I have, some of which are in this chat room right now, that I've only met virtually. But I have no doubt when I have the chance to be in the same room, that will only enhance the friendship that we have.

So I think it can go both ways right now. And I think there's that opportunity we've gotten more comfortable with.

CLAIRE: If we go back 20 years, our opportunities to build virtual connections with people were just not nearly as good. Having wonderful video capabilities to have a conversation with someone who's thousands of miles away is really awesome.

And then we have a lot of platforms in which we can, I guess we could chat 20 years ago, but, like, Pino and I have never met in person. Ever. Have we, Pino? I don't think we have.

PINO: No, we haven't. We should.

CLAIRE: Isn't that crazy?

PINO: Yes, but we still work very well together and I think that's one of the wonders of the pandemic.

Yes. Like Ryan was saying, we've learned that we can collaborate for a very long period of time and very deeply without necessarily meeting in person. Although it's nice to.

CLAIRE: But if it were just voice, I don't think I would feel as close to you. I mean, having had so many calls where, we're looking at each other's faces on the big monitor that that makes a stronger connection, I think.

PINO: I have to agree with that. I think seeing people's expressions and yeah, body language, it's incredibly important. I'm looking forward to, I'm not experimenting with the augmented reality, but I'm curious to see how that enhances things further.

CLAIRE: Okay, so going back to the conferences question, and now I want to look at them virtually, do each and every one of you find conferences a good way to learn in terms of the talk recordings? I know that Melanie Plageman posted a link to, I think it was PGCon, it could have been a different Postgres event, in the chat, where all of those talks at PGCon, which has historically happened in Ottawa, Canada, every year, they do get recorded and they do get published on YouTube, ungated, of course, after the fact and linked to from this website's schedule.

And so she finds that a useful way to learn to go watch those talks. What about each of you? Ryan, you start this time.

RYAN: Well, I was just going to say we haven't actually mentioned this whole time. This is Path To Citus Con. I mean, I'm saying this because I am not a part of Microsoft, not a part of your team or anything.

The way that the team specifically around Citus Con has handled that event. It's just been top notch. The quality of the video, the care that you put into it. And so I think a lot of that content is not just excellent content, but the quality in which it's presented has been really good.

And so I would just advocate for people to check out the last two years and see what there is to offer there. And not because I have a talk in either of those, it just really is well done. So I appreciate that. I love that something like this was born out of it, to be quite honest. So that's really cool.

That's one I'd recommend to start with.

CLAIRE: Thank you for that. We did put a lot of effort into making those videos as good as they could be, although I will say that any talk video is only as good as the speaker and we were blessed with lots of great talk submissions into the CFP and some amazing speakers that we got to work with.

But so, whether it's PGCon, I don't think PGConf.EU records talks. I know in the past pgDay Paris has recorded talks. PgCon does. Citus Con: An Event for Postgres does. I'm sure there are others.

RYAN: Yeah. PGConf NYC has done it the last number of years. As far as I know that's right. Postgres conference, which is again, a separate group, but they have a YouTube channel, they have some really good webinars and previous, you know, maybe from 2019 and before, because again, the last couple of years. But there's still some really good relevant content on some of those YouTube channels too.

CLAIRE: And actually, particularly during the pandemic, when some of the user groups and meetups had to go virtual, that caused talks that were previously in-person and only accessible to, like, the 30 people in the room, it caused them to all go virtual. And so a lot of those are up on YouTube as well.

RYAN: And yeah, the Postgres group, the one that I know that does it monthly and has for a long time is it the, oh, now I'm forgetting.

It's not Portland. Oh, I can't believe I'm forgetting this. Is it California? One of the meetups they have every month and they have been recording and publishing all that stuff. I'll come up with it in a second.

CLAIRE: The San Francisco Bay Area Postgres user group.

RYAN: Yes. Yes. That's what it was. Thank you. I couldn't remember which Bay.

CLAIRE: I am in the San Francisco Bay Area, so near and dear to my heart. Yeah. They do record those. That's right. I've given a talk there.

RYAN: And they're from all over. I mean, I know odds. Who was on here. He's over in Europe and he gave a presentation late at night for him, and it was a recorded, and...

GRANT: That's one of the nice...

PINO: Those things are recorded. Is that right?

CLAIRE: What did you say? Pino?

PINO: Oh, I'm sorry for interrupting, but I was just asking, are those sessions both in person and recorded?

RYAN: The meetup currently is not.

CLAIRE: But in the past, pre-pandemic, the meetup was in person and it was recorded also. They had somebody doing the video recording and getting it online on YouTube later.

PINO: And I'll just chime in. I know that it's harder to do audio and just preparing video and audio for these sessions that are in person, but recorded. But, frankly, even if the quality sometimes is a little lower I still get a lot out of both styles, style where it's sort of one-on-one, and it's clear that the speaker was just being recorded, and that's great for quality.

But then in terms of just the naturalness of the session watching someone who's in front of a live audience, there's something to that as well that puts me more at ease, lets me connect. I'm not necessarily there at the same time, but I think those have a lot of value as long as the quality has to be good enough that you can follow, see the slides and so on.

CLAIRE: I know, as a speaker, it's a lot easier for me to get up on stage and present to a live audience. As long as I have enough people in the room to make it interesting and you just get energy from the audience. It triggers a part of your brain like, Whoa, I'm on stage. I'm performing. I got to nail this.

And when you are giving a virtual presentation, it's a lot harder because you get crickets back. You know, you can't see body language. You can't see interest. You don't really know if anyone's listening or watching or going to watch. And so there are some challenges, doing things virtually versus in person, but, obviously we've all learned to try to make both methods work.

PINO: Grant, I cut you off. Please go ahead with your comments.

CLAIRE: ...About conferences and learning from the recorded talks.

GRANT: Well, one of the beautiful things about recorded talks is if they have them and you're there live, you can go to one session and not feel guilty about skipping another session, because you'll be able to go back at least and see the recording.

So it's wonderful if you've got that resource. I mean, granted, I understand why conferences don't all have it for everything, but if it is there, it's a great thing to take advantage of.

CLAIRE: Yeah. Or if you have a serendipitous opportunity to go network and have coffee with someone, and it means you're going to miss this great talk, but you know you can watch it later, right?

GRANT: Well, sure. And if you are an introvert, that one-on-one conversation might be a little easier than trying to talk somebody in a hallway. So it gives you a chance to pull away and kind of quiet things down and still attend the conference as it were.

CLAIRE: All right, so we've talked about conferences, documentation, books, blogs, blog syndication, email newsletters, meaning Postgres Weekly from Cooperpress, the Postgres Slack, Telegram accounts the Postgres Discord. Postgres subreddits. Are there any other favorite ways to learn Postgres? For newbies or for experts.

Oh, we've talked about other podcasts. We've talked about video series on YouTube. Is there anything else that....

PINO: Claire, if we have a few minutes, I wanted to ask Grant about resources that help SQL server experts learn about Postgres and that question can also be generalized because some people like to that have a knowledge base in some other database, might find it useful to learn in a structured way that reflects their background. But let's ask, especially Grant the question specifically for SQL Server experts.

GRANT: Okay, so I'm going to be really short on this answer because: I haven't seen that much specific to that question, which is part of why I started producing my own stuff.

The one resource I can point you at that I have not taken advantage of is: Ryan has a pre-con on exactly that topic where he spends a day comparing the two and going through it. And I have got to sit through that at some point really soon. Ryan, you got to give it next week. Maybe just for me, but either way, that's the one resource I would say that I know of other than the stuff I've been producing.

So I'm sorry, I hate to answer your question so poorly.

CLAIRE: Well, Grant, let me ask you this, for somebody who is listening to this podcast after the fact, they don't have access to the text chat on Discord. What do they Google for to find your blog series for SQL Server experts who are getting started in Postgres and what you've learned along the way?

What's the name of the series?

GRANT: It's called Learning PostgreSQL with Grant and it's that simple. It doesn't come up as the top search. It's about fourth or fifth down at least the last time I did a search, but it should be on the first page.

CLAIRE: Okay, and is it a single blog post or is it multiple blog posts?

GRANT: Oh, we're up to about 11 or so now and more coming.

CLAIRE: Okay, so Learning PostgreSQL with Grant.

RYAN: Redgate hosts a blog, it's been a blog for many, many years, maybe 15 plus years, called Simple Talk. So from all over the community, many different databases, obviously a lot of SQL server stuff, but also MySQL and so forth.

And so we're adding more and more Postgres content now, which has just been fun to see happen and the engagement that's happening there. And if you're interested in writing, I'm sure that the Simple Talk editor would love to have some more people contribute Postgres content. So...

CLAIRE: Very cool.

RYAN: red-gate.com/simple-talk. I think it's hyphen. I think it's simple-talk.com.

CLAIRE: Well, I think what you're producing, there, Grant, serves a really important purpose. And I hope those of you who are listening to this, who are SQL Server experts, go check it out. And I'm sure if they have feedback, I hope they give it to you so you can kind of keep it going.

Sometimes, even, people love it. And they don't say they love it. And so you don't get that feedback, right? And so hopefully people will give you that plus one that'll kind of keep you going so that you get to 22 blog posts in the series.

GRANT: Oh, thanks. That's very kind.

CLAIRE: One of the things I also wanted to flag, I saw in the chat Melanie just linked to the Carnegie Mellon Database Group has hosted a series of talks, particularly through the pandemic. It was called Vaccination Database Talks. And and then it was let's see at first it was just probably like, oh, I don't remember all the names, but they were all about the different stages we all went through during the pandemic and he did it semester after semester, after semester, Andy Pavlo was one of the organizers.

And so, there is a whole Carnegie Mellon Database Group YouTube channel with all sorts of amazing talks. Not just about Postgres, about other database technologies as well, but it's fascinating. So definitely a plus one for that also as a place to learn. Okay.

RYAN: I'm just gonna, I think they're all in the chat, but I'll just throw out one or two more.

I know we're a little bit over time here, but CYBERTEC has been mentioned in the blog. Again, the CYBERTEC group out of Europe. Just some really excellent blog posts. They just do a great job tackling complex issues in Postgres and making it really accessible. So I often recommend the CYBERTEC blog.

Please check that out. cybertec.com is their website. Crunchy Data, who we've referenced a few times now. They have a really good blog. EDB, a number of these companies that have, you know, there's been some of the older guard, people that have really been a part of Postgres for a long time have ended up at some of these places and their content's just really, really good.

So, consider that. And then one of the other ones I was going to mention was oh, I honestly, is the Citus blog. There's one thing I really love about Citus. You know, there's a lot of content from before you guys were part of Microsoft, but this is still really good Postgres content I've really appreciated as I think it's a good example when there are updates to the Citus extension, the way in which you communicate and really dig into that content and what has happened and what you're adding is a really good example.

And so I really appreciate the Citus blog as well. I think many times I'll do a search, I still end up at the Citus Data blog, so definitely check it out.

CLAIRE: Yeah, we've morphed the Citus Data website to be more of a Citus open source project website. That's a lot of the commercial stuff from when it was a company prior to the acquisition is kind of all gone now and it's really focused on the open source project.

And in fact, the Citus 12 release is coming out soon. I'm not giving away state secrets by saying that because you can go into the GitHub repo, right? It's an open source project and you would realize that. And so, yeah, there's a lot of work going on now to get all those updates ready to go.

So we can roll out 12.0.

PINO: And we do try to update the older blog articles as well.

CLAIRE: Oh yeah. We put a note there saying like, "this is no longer up to date" or "go look at a newer version of this blog post." Yeah. We don't want people to be misled by some super popular blog that was written seven years ago.

So yeah, there's definitely an effort to keep things current. Thanks for mentioning that. Yeah. I think the CyberTec blog that you mentioned, I think they have somebody on staff who also works with the blog authors to try to make sure that the blogs are not too dense, that they will make sense to people, that things are...that complex things are explained in a way that makes them simple.

And I think that's really important. I know for our team as well, we have a bunch of blogging best practices. In fact, I gave a talk at PGConf.EU last year and FOSDEM about that very topic where we really take steps to try to make what we write as useful as it can be for people.

We don't want to make it hard for people to learn.

PINO: Sure. Claire, I think you just answered a question I've had for a while, which is who gets to decide when people say "this is a five minute read," "difficulty level: medium." And I always wonder, you know, what about the time I need to stop and think and reread. So maybe it's the folks that you just mentioned.

RYAN: I'll give one quick plug here I have to do it, I guess. So coming from SQL Server, I gave a talk maybe two years ago about community and trying to figure out Postgres community as someone new. And one of the initiatives out of that, we're 10 months in, we just had the 10th month.

It was an initiative based off of something that the SQL Server community has done for more than a decade now, which is a monthly blog event. So you have someone that hosts a month and they say, "hey, let's all write about topic X." And anyone can do it. No one's forced to write. But if you want to, you can contribute a blog post on one day a month.

Everyone does it together and publishes their blogs. So I finally started that. I call it PGSQL Phriday, PH Friday. I was trying to kind of take off from the T-SQL Tuesday thing. And so we've had 10 months now we're about to hit the 11th month, you can go to pgsqlphriday.com. And I'd love to have more hosts if people are interested in helping, you know, just again, it's about community people who sometimes haven't contributed, but want to, it's helpful if they can just be given a topic, it doesn't have to be deep and technical all the time.

We've had someone challenge people about exactly this: community. You know, how do you do better? How do you connect with the community in Postgres? And so there were five or six or seven people that blogged about their experience with community and how they figured out how to do it well. So, if that's anyone that listens now or later, please reach out to me.

i'm sure that my contact information be available...Twitter. You know, however, you can find me. Ryan Booz. I'd love to have you host a month.

CLAIRE: I am literally kicking myself for not bringing that up. I think that is a great way for people to learn. And I've loved seeing just folks from different Postgres companies and different countries all kind of jump on this bandwagon and support it and write blogs on the topics.

I think the most recent one was hosted by Alicja, who works on the PM team here at Microsoft, and it was about pgbadger. Is that right?

RYAN: Yep, that was it.

CLAIRE: What are some of the other topics that PGSQL Phriday has already covered and again Friday with a "PH."

RYAN: Yeah, I debated that one forever. Everyone has an opinion.

But anyway. We've talked about backups. We've been challenged by community. We have been asked about you know, your favorite use of pg_stat_statements. You know, just really across the gambit, and I promise you every month, not all of them are deep technical posts, it's just people sharing their experience, which for me, honestly, in the SQL Server world, that they have this event they call T-SQL Tuesday, and, there's a great mix of technical and kind of just professional stuff, and it really helped me feel like I could contribute something back and share an experience. And so that's the goal, that's the hope for it.

So I'd love to see more ideas. Nothing's too... I think anything that's around Postgres and SQL would be a great topic. So consider it.

PINO: Ryan, the posts that folks write, they write them in their own blogs? Then you link from them from PGSQL Phriday?

RYAN: Yeah, so they write them for their own blog.

So the idea all along has simply been that, originally, it was about community. Again, I'm going to borrow from the SQL Server side. It was about community. And it was about getting people to blog more, because that way we have more to share. And so, everyone writes from their own blog or in my case, I'm not trying to be too rule-focused.

So the first Friday of every month, basically the last Friday of the month before someone gives an invitation: "Hey, this month, I'm the host and we're going to talk about, you know, the best way to scale Postgres." And then everyone has a week to come up with whatever blog posts they want to contribute to that topic.

And then the goal is that on the first Friday of every month, people just make their blog posts public, they publish it, and they link back to the invitation. So everyone can see that connection. And then the host writes up a really short, "here's everyone who posted" so that there's a central place to link back to it.

So it's not a central repository. That website is really just to host the announcements to make sure that people can get to them.

PINO: What a great idea. Let me just ask, just in case, is there anything else that you brought in, you know, from your SQL Server background and experience and knowledge of that community?

RYAN: I mean, the other one is funny. Rob, if he's still on, Robert Treat, the one that he and I talked about at one point, which is interesting, in today's world where we're at with things, but there used to be, there is still a very active channel on Twitter called "SQL Help." It was actually my very first way to get connected to the SQL community, because I could just add a hashtag and within minutes I would have someone just give me an idea about the problem I was having.

PINO: So we've talked about something like that, obviously between Twitter and other things that are happening, maybe that's not as as relevant right now. I love some of these ideas the SQL Server community. Melanie's been posting some ideas in the chat about how to make events have some more social components to them.

And I think that the SQL Server community has done that often as well.

CLAIRE: I think as the Postgres community evolves and grows over time, there is nothing wrong with stealing ideas about effective ways of doing things. Whether it's helping people learn, or helping build community from other technology spaces.

Whether it's, in this case, SQL Server, or, you know, Python, or Django, or basically any community that's doing something really well. Because, you know, we're going to keep growing, and I hope the Postgres community continues to evolve and change, and there's nothing wrong with learning from others and taking playbooks that are already known to work.

So, I think it's cool. You know before we leave, I have one more shout out that I have to give. Andreas Scherbaum lives somewhere in Europe, in Germany, I think. And he's a longstanding member of the Postgres community. And a couple of years ago, he started a blog series called Postgres Person of the Week.

And while that doesn't help you learn about a particular feature or how to do things with SQL, it does give you insights into the people that are in this community. Developers, contributors, community members, and I think that's really useful, right? Just to understand that all these people got their start in different ways, come from different places, have totally different kinds of roles, and I think particularly for someone who's a newbie, it kind of can give you some insights into how your own path may be unique and different, but there is a path for you in Postgres. So.

PINO: How true. I want to second that, Claire, how true to know who's who in a community where, when community matters so much. Yep, absolutely. A valid really valuable resource.

RYAN: Let me just add on to that. It's a great website. It's a great idea. Andreas puts a lot of time and effort into those. And it gives you great view. Let me just quickly give a shout out also to Andreas and Alicja. When I, probably four years ago now, I don't know how long ago it was. I was still trying to figure out some things in Postgres, I was frustrated about some stuff. I threw up one or two Twitter comments like, where can I get help?

And they reached out in a matter of an hour or two and said, hey, we're available tonight to hop on a video call. And they did. And we were able to talk about just community and what some of those resources are. I could share, "here's what I'm used to." And so I love that there are.

You know, people like Andreas who just care so much about community and are really working hard at events and other places to make sure those things are possible. So good work and keep it up.

CLAIRE: Awesome. Well, I want to thank you, Ryan, and thank you, Grant, for joining Pino and me here today. I also want to give a shout out to our producers, Carol Smith and Aaron Wislang for making this all happen behind the scenes.

And of course, thank you to everyone that's on the live text chat, which is awesome. This show is going to be made available on all the podcast platforms now. So people, your friends, your teammates, your colleagues, whoever you want to recommend it to. Can listen to it online. It'll get published within the next two days.

If you go to aka.ms/pathtocituscon, all one word, "to" is not a number. It's the word: TO. There you will find an index of all the past episodes, which will soon include this episode. And then also a shout out that the next episode is going to be on Wednesday, August 9th at 10 a.m. Pacific, again, with Floor Drees and Chelsea Dole.

And that topic is going to be, "You're probably already using Postgres: what you need to know." So, yeah, we're excited about it. But, right now, we're excited about this conversation. So again, thank you, Pino, Ryan, Grant. This is great.

RYAN: Thank you. Thanks to both of you. It's really appreciate that you have continued this on and you have a vision to move this forward.

These kind of conversations in the community are just so helpful. So thank you so much for putting the effort in.

GRANT: Yeah, what he said, I really appreciate the opportunity and you guys are doing great work. Please, please keep it up.

CLAIRE: It's a lot of fun to make. And then those of you who are listening, if you have ideas for future topics, future guests you can always reach out to me on the Postgres Slack, or on the Citus Slack or even on Twitter. I'm @clairegiordano.

PINO: Ryan and Grant, very nice to meet you, and thanks to everyone in the audience for participating. Great chat, as well. I enjoyed it.

CLAIRE: All right, it's a wrap.

RYAN: Thank you, everybody. Been a pleasure.