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24 Hours of PASS

Posted by sqlwiseguy on September 3, 2009

From 7:45 pm (Eastern DST) on Tuesday, September 1st until 8:00 pm on Wednesday, September 2 PASS provided free online seminars each hour.  It was a veritable who’s who in SQL Server and a great preview of what’s to come at the PASS Summit in November.  Unlike Tom LaRock (aka SQLRockstar)  and Jonathan Kehayias I did not try to stay up and attend every session, I chose to cherry pick the sessions I would attend, none of which were in the middle of the night.  The sessions I did attend went really well with only 1 minor technical glitch during a session, which is very impressive when you think that every session I was in had at least 250 attendees.  There were some issues with errors in the links to the sessions on the 24 hours of PASS website, but Twitter definitely helped there.  Here are the sessions I attended with a few notes on what I picked up:

Session 1 – 10 Big Ideas in Database Design – Louis Davidson and Paul Nielsen

A big one for me here was that Classes <> Tables.  While ORM tools want to create a class for each table, this does not really work with a good relational design there really is not a one to one relationship there.  With a truly normalized database you will probably need to have a class that spans multiple tables. 

Session 3 – Team Management Fundamentals – Kevin Kline 

This was probably my favorite session.  I am not a manager and I really don’t want to be a manager, but I do want to understand how to manage and especially how to run meetings.  Kevin offered lots of great advice, but my one takeaway was that every meeting should end with an ACTION PLAN.  You should know what is going to happen because of this meeting and what tasks you are responsible for.  I think I heard this phrase at least 4 times in the hour.

Session 11 – Effective Indexing – Gail Shaw

This was at 6:00 am my time, and I’m not a morning person, but as a DBA/Developer I don’t think you can ever know enough about Indexing so I made a point of being up for this session.  Gail is also a friend on SQLServerCentral that I have learned a ton from there and from her blog so I knew it would be a good session.  Gail did a great job explaining how indexes work with equality and inequality operators, and how they work from left to right so you want your most selective column used in an equality operation first in your key list.  I used to make the mistake of putting bit columns, like an active flag, first because they are typically used in every query.  This is a bad choice because they are typically not very selective. 

Session 13 – Query Performance Tuning 101 – Grant Fritchey

Wow! If this was a 101 session I’d hate to be in 401 session with Grant!  Tons of good information about creating a baseline so you KNOW if you are having performance problems, what to look for, where to look, and the tools to use to look (PerfMon, Profiler, oops, sorry Grant, SQLTrace, DMV’s).  One thing that Grant mentioned as did Paul and Louis, “normalization is not evil”.  Meaning that a properly normalized database (~3rd normal form) usually does not need to be denormalized for performance reasons, if you have proper indexes.

Session 17 – Building a Better Blog – Steve Jones

Another very popular session, I guess because so many of us have blogs now.  Steve had some great tips about keeping your blog technical/professional and if you want to blog about personal things start another blog.  He did hit one hot button issue when he recommended hotlinking images instead of downloading and embedding in your blog.  He believes you should hotlink because that can protect you better from copyright violations, while others considering hotlinking to be bandwidth stealing from the hosting site.  I don’t use many images, although it is recommended so maybe I’ll start. 

A main point he made was to “Praise Publically, Criticize Privately”.  Basically don’t call someone out in your blog.  If you have an issue with someone keep it private.  Remember that your blog is public so current and prospective employers may see it.  This is really just a good piece of advice for every situation.  I did disagree a little when he said he does not comment on blog posts where he thinks there is an error, but rather contacts the author privately. I do tend to comment on blog posts where I think there is an error, but I try to do it constructively and provide solid reasons and examples for my opinion.

Session 21 – What’s Simple about Simple Recovery Model – Kalen Delaney

I can’t say that I’ve read all of Kalen’s books, but I have read a couple so I knew there’d be good information in this session and there was.  She really covered much more than the title implies.  She discussed how the transaction log works and how the different recovery models affect the transaction log.  Between sessions like this and Paul Randal’s blog I think I may eventually understand the transaction log.  The main point is that you need to carefully choose your recovery model and understand that the Simple Recovery model does NOT mean that the transaction log won’t grow, but it does mean that you do not (cannot) back up the transaction and CANNOT restore to a point time.

Overall, it was a great event (series of events?).  As I mentioned in my post, No Training Budget Still No Excuse, with events like these there really is no excuse for not taking time for professional development.  It’s YOUR career and YOU need to manage it.  Even if you had to choose 1 or 2 sessions that’s better than doing nothing.  It was also a great preview of the PASS Summit as all the speakers will be speaking there as well.


Posted in PASS, Professional Development, SQL Server, Training | 5 Comments »

Active August – Final Recap

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 31, 2009

Well, I had a pretty good week this week.  I made an effort and met all my goals:

  1. Eat smaller portions – this is going well.  My body has adjusted to eating smaller portions so I am “filling up” faster and not feeling hungry as much.
  2. Healthier snacks – did a good job on this one as I ate more grapes and other fruit.  Very little in the way of junk.
  3. 20 minutes of purposeful exercise 6 days a week – didn’t really meet this one this week.  I had 2 days of basketball (Mon., Tues.) and on Friday and Saturday had to clean my kids school which was about 5 hours of moving furniture, sweeping, and mopping.  I counted that as my exercise.
  4. Sit-ups and push-ups every day adding 10 each week.  I made this one with some extra as I did 70 sit-ups and +0 push-ups on Friday night to close the week. 

Last week I weighed in at 180, Saturday morning at 178.5.  Here’s a chart to plot my weight loss:


Final Thoughts

I’m pretty happy with the weight loss, 6 pounds in a month.  It’s been about 2 years since I was last under 180 so I’m very happy with that.  As I have said all along, this is more about life style change and I think that has been pretty successful. I’m definitely eating less and eating healthier without really missing the snacking and junk food too much.  I’d like to continue to work on my diet and exercise and continue to slowly and steadily lose weight (1-2 lbs a week).  If I can keep that pace, I should be down to about 165 by the PASS SUMMIT and that would be great!

Thanks to Mike Walsh, for starting ActiveAugust, and others involved for keeping me motivated.

Posted in Fitness, Personal | Leave a Comment »

SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando Update

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 28, 2009

Event Record

This is the third year that Orlando has hosted a SQLSaturday.  In 2007, I was an attendee; 2008, I was an event volunteer and speaker; and this year I’m an organizational volunteer, event volunteer, and, most likely a speaker.  Because of my increased involvement this year I have gotten to see the event build up from nothing to what I would say is a great event.

Expanded Responsibility

My main responsibility as an organizational volunteer is selecting and scheduling sessions.  With 2 days left to submit sessions we have 65 sessions from 41 different speakers, including 2 MS employees and 10 MVP’s, which is up from 56 submissions and 38 speakers last year. Currently we are planning on 8 “tracks” with 6 sessions each, for a total of 48 sessions.

Expected Result

The goal is to have something for everyone from beginner to expert, developer to DBA, technical to professional development, traditional SQL to BI, and new technologies like cloud computing, so really there is no reason not to attend. 

Enrollment Recommended

The training is free (lunch provided for $10), continental breakfast, snacks and drinks throughout the day, post event social, and plenty of SWAG.  Why wouldn’t you attend

Posted in Community, Professional Development, SQL Server, SQLSaturday | Leave a Comment »

Access Denied, Not Possible

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 27, 2009

What’s going on here?

When trying to open Default Trace files on Windows 7 and SQL Server 2008 I got the “You don’t have permission to open this file” error.  My first and second thoughts were “How can this be, I’m an administrator!?”.  SO the first thing I tried was reading the files using fn_trace_gettable in SSMS.  This works, what is different between SSMS and Profiler?  Nothing that I can think of.

What’s Next?

First step, check permissions on the folder, yup, full control.  Second step, turn off inheritance.  Third step, bang head on desk!  So off to google/bing I went.  I found this post by the SQL Server PSS team, , which told me about the issue, but not a good way to solve it.  I can’t just grant rights to each file because the Default Trace rolls over and creates new files, I need rights all the time.  Then I found this post, which says the owner of the files needs to copy and paste them out to a another shared folder.  While not the most helpful idea for my situation I tried it, and it worked!  I’m still annoyed at this point because I don’t want to have to move the files to read them.

Finally, a solution

Once again it is Twitter to the rescue.  I tweeted my problem and got a pretty quick response from Brian Kelley (Twitter|Blog) asking about OS and if I ran Profiler as Administrator.  I answered Win 7 and Yes, I was mistaken on the Yes it turns out.  I thought because the account I was running under had administrative privileges that I was running as administrator.  This is not the case in Vista, Win 7, and Windows Server 2008 when UAC is on.  With UAC on you still need to run Profiler using elevated privileges by right-clicking and selecting “Run As Administrator”.  That is the answer.  I should also note that Ken Simmons (Twitter|Blog) also produced this answer.   Jonathan Kehayias (Twitter|Blog) also chimed in to let me know that you can set individual applications to always run as administrator by right-clicking, selecting Properties, Compatibility, and checking the Run as Administrator box.  All of this in about 20 minutes and this is after I spent at least an hour fighting with it and searching the internet for a solution!


I really need to get a better understanding of UAC, and believe it or not, Twitter works!

Posted in Problems, Profiler, SQL Server, Twitter | Leave a Comment »

Professional Growth – Community Involvement

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 25, 2009

As part of my professional development and to help raise my professional profile, I have become more involved with my local user group (OPASS) and with SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando.  With OPASS I have taken on the task of trying to find speakers.  This can be a bit of a daunting task as I am relatively new to the Orlando area (2 years) and have really just begun meeting the technical community in the last year or so, which means my personal network is limited.  I have found social networking, particularly Twitter, to be helpful in this area. In reality becoming involved in this task is forcing me to be more aggressive in networking, as I believe networking is not just meeting people, but also keeping in touch with them so that they can help you and you can help them.  I have been able to schedule speakers for the last OPASS meeting and the next OPASS meeting, now I just need to get someone for our November meeting.  Anyone interested?

With SQLSaturday I have been tasked with selecting and scheduling sessions.  At this writing we have had 45 sessions submitted by about 25 people.  Part of the SQLSaturday goal is to give local people a place beyond user groups to share their knowledge, so in most cases every person who submits a session will be selected, but it is still a lot of work as I have to check for similar sessions so we have a variety, group sessions into tracks, and, in some cases, deal with speaker scheduling issues.  I also need to contact speakers from past years, if they have not submitted, to make sure they know we are interested in having them back and because, to be honest, the more sessions we have submitted the more attendees we are likely to have as there is a greater variety in the sessions.  As I’ve worked through the process, I’ve definitely gained a greater appreciation for the job done by the PASS program committee as they have many more submissions than sessions available, while I basically just have to schedule the sessions submitted.

If you are interested in speaking at SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando you need to get you abstract(s) in by August 30th.  Here’s the link, http://www.sqlsaturday.com/callforspeakers.aspx

Posted in OPASS, Professional Development, SQL Server, SQLSaturday | Leave a Comment »

Types Matter!

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 24, 2009

Louis Davidson (@DrSql) had an excellent series on his blog on the Pillars of Database Design and the one of the key elements of his first pillar A Cohesive Design is to for data types to make sense.  I couldn’t agree more.  I have seen more problems caused by using a character type to hold dates or numbers.  The developers, in each case I’m sure, decided that they would verify the type in the application, and I would bet they did.  What they didn’t do, was consider the case where a user get access via MS Access or some other tool and now can enter/modify data outside the application.  This is how you end up with Nobember 17 or February 30 as a date, 1O (yes that’s an letter o) or A17 as a number.  Now when it comes time to query those values or use them in a WHERE or JOIN, what are you going to do?  You will get conversion errors if you try to convert them to the proper data type.  Here’s a recent thread on SQLServerCentral where you can see many of the problems using a “generic” data type causes.
Look if the column is supposed to store dates use the appropriate DATE data type, most RDBMS products have a few, and if it is supposed to store numeric data use the proper NUMERIC data type.  So if you are storing a person’s age you don’t need BIGINT or DECIMAL, SMALLINT will work fine.  This is one of the things a database is designed to help with, verification that data is of the correct type, don’t keep the database engine from doing what it is designed to do!
Thanks for your suppport!

Posted in Best Practice, Development, Rants, SQL Server, SqlServerCentral | Leave a Comment »

Active August –> Week 3 Recap

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 24, 2009

Well, I had a pretty good week this week.  I made an effort and met all my goals:

  1. Eat smaller portions – still working on this one.  Doing okay, although I do need to eat breakfast, I just hate getting up in the morning.
  2. Healthier snacks – I’m not necessarily having healthier snacks, but I have reduced.  We had company on Friday night so I had dessert (2 small brownies and a small piece of apple pie). Yeah, that’s a bad  mistake.
  3. 20 minutes of purposeful exercise 6 days a week – I made this one easily by walking every day except Friday with some extra work in the pool about several days.
  4. Sit-ups and push-ups every day adding 10 each week.  I made this one with some extra as I did 57 sit-ups and 47 push-ups on Friday night to close the week.  Didn’t add 10 sit-ups as I thought I only needed 55.

Last week I weighed in at 180.5, Saturday morning at 180.  Here’s a chart to plot my movement:

image I think dessert on Friday night is what kept me from getting under 180, there were mornings I was under, but couldn’t do it on the official weigh-in.

Posted in Fitness, Personal | Leave a Comment »

SQL Quiz #5 – SANs the Star the Show Must Go On(Mirroring)?

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 22, 2009

Okay, Jorge Segarra (@SQLChicken) tagged me in Chris Shaw’s (@SQLShaw) latest SQL Quiz, SAN’s and Mirroring.  I’m a little behind the curve on this one as I’ve been busy, and to be honest, I have no real experience with either, but I’ve always got an opinion.  So here we go:

  1. Do you feel that you have a reliable SAN Solution? If so what is the secret?
    • Since I don’t have a SAN solution I guess it’s as reliable as it can get.  My current workplace is migrating more to SQL Server, but we currently have 1 production SQL Server where the biggest DB is about 5GB , so we don’t need a SAN for SQL Server, at least not for space.  We could use a SAN for our Exchange and File servers, but those aren’t my issue.
  2. Describe database mirroring in laymen’s terms.
    • Mirroring is kind of like the star of a Broadway show and their understudy.  They both get the script, memorize all the lines, and rehearse all the scenes, but the understudy only gets to perform for the audience if something happens to the star.  The only difference is that in Mirroring once the understudy gets the starring role hopefully only you know the change happened.

I’m not going to tag anyone as this has been out a couple of weeks and I think all my blogging friends have been tagged.  Here are a few other people who answered:

Posted in Community, SQL Quiz, SQL Server | Leave a Comment »

SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando Pre-event Seminars Announced.

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 17, 2009

Wow!  Andy Warren has put together a week of low-cost seminars filling the entire week before SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando.  What a great list of speakers and topics.  Here’s the list:

  • Monday October 12th – Essentials of Managing SQL Server by Andy Warren
  • Tuesday October 13th – Learn Business Intelligence in a Day by Brian Knight
  • Wednesday October 14th – Real World Performance Tuning by Kevin Kline
  • Thursday October 15th – From Zero to SSIS by Andy Leonard
  • Friday October 16th – Performance Tuning Methodology by Buck Woody

I think that there is something for everyone in this list of sessions and if you don’t see what you want in this this list then sign-up for SQLSaturday as it will probably be covered in one of the sessions there.  If you don’t see what you are looking for suggest a session and someone may do it!

Posted in Professional Development, SQL Server, SQLSaturday, Training | 1 Comment »

Active August – Week 2 Recap

Posted by sqlwiseguy on August 15, 2009

Well, I had a pretty good week this week.  I made an effort and met all my goals:

  1. Eat smaller portions – this one is hard especially because I feel hungry most of the time.  I did okay, but probably still eat more than is really needed.  I really need to start eating breakfast every day which is supposed to help.
  2. Healthier snacks – I’m mainly not snacking although I did break down and have ice cream for dessert a couple of times and Friday night we had dinner at a friend’s house and they served some kind of caramel flan (a custard like dessert), that I couldn’t refuse.
  3. 20 minutes of purposeful exercise 6 days a week – I made this one easily by walking every day except Friday with some extra work in the pool about several days.
  4. Sit-ups and push-ups every day adding 10 each week.  I made this one with some extra as I did 50 sit-ups and 35 push-ups on Friday night to close the week.

As I have said before this effort is more about lifestyle change than weight loss which is why I don’t have an official weight loss goal, but losing weight is definitely welcome.  Last week I weighed in at 182, this morning at 180.5.  Here’s a chart to plot my movement:


I’d like to think I’m making progress in a healthy manner, but I have to be honest, I’d like to have seen 5 pounds a week gone instead of 2, but as I said, it’s about a healthier lifestyle not fast weight loss.

Posted in Fitness, Personal | Leave a Comment »