Like we talked about in what is a database, the concept of a database can be a bit daunting and it can be hard to see what it can do for you. In the article we played with the idea of using a database to index your home, which got me thinking that it wasn’t actually such a horrible idea. Humans tend to have a very square way of thinking and we often want to organise physical items and ideas into boxes. Which I am guessing is also why we invented what is called “relational databases”, which is fancy tech speak for things that belong together.
Things belonging together is a bit of an artificial concept though, but building a database of ideas or items can give you some insight into how you view the world. Exploring the concept of indexing your home, it could be a way to describe where physical items belong in your home, a list of house chores or even a status of fridge stock.
The real power of putting this information into a database though, comes from the myriad of programs who can process data directly from a database efficiently. You’ve probably heard of Excel or Sheets before, both of these can accept data from a database and for example help predict how much milk you’ll need next week or when your stapler will go missing next. To truly unlock a databases potential though, using a product like Grafana will let you set up goals and metrics that will update automatically as the database does.
This isn’t just limited to your home though, learning about and using a database to improve and automate your workloads can also make you a valuable employee in the office. You might be scared off by the large commitment it seems to require, but with the number of databases and programs available today, it has never been easier. With databases like SQLite, MySQL, MSSQL and many more, it is easy to find a database that suits you and are easy for you to learn. You can even get started just by downloading a program like HeidiSQL or DBeaver and just using their SQLite test database to play around in.
There is also a myriad of other database types, commonly referred to as NoSQL, which is fancy tech speak for “not relational”. Most of these have very specific purposes though, but can still be interesting if you want to do something different. One of these is time stamp databases like InfluxDB, which as the name suggests, is for keeping a small amount of data attached to a timestamp. Another is a documents database like MongoDB, that specialises in storing documents, not a document in the traditional sense though, but a format that is easily used to make documents with.
Once a using a database has become second nature to you, there is quite a lot of things you can map up like this. I will let your imagination guide you on this one though and hope that a database will become as useful a tool to you as it has been for me for several years.