This month's T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Malathi Mahadevan (blog) - Non SQL Server Technologies. Mala wants you to share about learning things which arent SQL Server, but help to make us more well-rounded as the data world expands.
I don't know if this qualifies exactly, but I have been learning more about servers and hardware. I don't want to be a server architecture or administrator, but I can see how it helps to understand the hardware to do an even better job at knowing how sql responds.
It all started by using the monitoring tool Spotlight for SQL Server Enterprise from Quest. While there are multiple great tools out there, to me, this has a clean interface and is very helpful in seeing how the moving parts work together. I started wanting to understand all the metrics that the Quest team thought were important enough to visually show. Some of them I was familiar with such as sessions, blocking, cpu usage, and total memory, but there were others I didn't know about. Metrics such as buffer cache, page life expectancy, I/O speeds, etc., were not something I had not been exposed to.
Add to all of this, I had a co-worker at my last job who loved helping others learn and was happy to answer any question you threw at him. Saying he was the server guy doesn't do him justice, yet he still took the time to explain things as they came up. He opened my eyes to how memory coming off the north-bridge was going to be faster than the sticks of memory that are plugged into the motherboard, and why; or how and why the disk and raid configuration matters, along with many other things.
I cant say I know a lot of the hardware "stuff", it is a continual learning process for me. But, that is something that I believe helps me do a better job than I did several years ago. Also, even though a virtual environment doesn't see the underlying hardware in the same way, the concepts are still the same. My next foray will be learning about the cloud - but that is a topic for another day. :)