Monthly Archives: July 2012
Never Heard of SQL Saturday?
Karla Landrum (twitter|blog), Community Evangelist for SQL PASS, made the comment this morning on Twitter that there are many people out there in the SQL community who still have not heard about SQL Saturday, the free training event that is taking the world by storm at a location near you every Saturday of the year.
This does not shock me even though I have been in the know for a while now because I was once that guy who did his job and did not know much about PASS or SQL Saturday. There was a point where I had belonged to professional associations and decided that annual fees with little to no interaction was no longer for me. Thus, when I started focusing on SQL Server several years ago, I did not seek out any professional associations for the simple fact that I had associated them with an annual fee for a nice little add-on to my resume. I had belonged to the HTML Writer’s Guild, the International Webmasters Association, and the Capital PC User Group in Washington, D.C. I joined that group and then could never make the meetings because of my work schedule, but it looked great on my resume. There were a few other groups, but I honestly cannot remember them now.
This is not a knock on these groups as I am sure that they are wonderful groups for some people, but that to me was what these professional associations were. SQL PASS is so much more and then some. I honestly wished someone had told me about it years ago. So make it your mission today to tell someone about PASS. They may already know, they may not. Do them a favor and spread the word. Enjoy!
Fun With SSMS
Recently I was showing a friend a query in SSMS, cause that’s what geeks do. I typed ‘SELECT’ and then dragged the columns over to the query window. He said “whoa, how did you do that?” Which reminded me that we all learn little things that we assume everyone else knows but apparently not everyone knows them all. That is why I love blogging, because I can share and when I read your blog I can learn what you share. Maybe I know, maybe I do not. The SQL community prospers either way.
So here is the tip: If you grab the ‘Columns’ folder underneath the table in SSMS and drag it across to the query window, then all of the column names are listed which is helpful when you do not want to type 40 of the 50 columns that you want for a particular query. It is a nice little trick, but I wish it would just drag a handful or that it would insert brackets in there but beggers can’t be choosers. Or can they? Enjoy!
First UG Presentation Scheduled
It is with great excitement that I announce that next Thursday night, July 26th, I will be presenting my Seven Deadly Sins of the Database Administrator at the first user group meeting for the second (actually third if you count BI) Tampa user group. Confused? Don’t be. The Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group meetings are actually held in Clearwater (also known as across the bay) which makes them difficult to attend for professionals who work on the Tampa side of the bay. Therefore, we have received approval from PASS to add a second group to the area and its first meeting will be next Thursday. Now you are up to speed, so let’s proceed.
This is the same presentation that I presented at the Pensacola SQL Saturday last month, but I will try to extend it out to 15 minutes. In other words I will speak slower and add more ‘ums’ in there. Just kidding, I hope.
I will however do something different this time. Drum roll please. I am going to give this presentation from my iPad using the Keynote application and the new VGA out adapter that I ordered. Why you ask, because I am a geek and there is no real demo in this presentation. I will update you all after the presentation so stay tuned. Enjoy.
RIF, the Most Evil Three Letters Today
RIF. Reduction in Force sounds much better to the palette when you say it as RIF, then you do not have to attach guilt or any form of emotional attachment to the word. It is a kinder, gentler word to most, but if you ask me it is pure evil. He Who Must Not Be Named evil, that’s right Voldemort evil.
I have been through it eight times now in the last seven years and survived five times. That’s a pretty good winning percentage, but it is not a good situation to be in for anyone involved. The stress, anxiety, and worry are not healthy for anyone. I came out of the situations with a smile on my face and with a positive attitude, but it still can be a painful situation for your family especially. I hope that you never have to go through it. Enjoy.
Common Request from Vendor
These days it seems that I am getting more and more requests like this one:
Can you please backup XYZ database and then run the following command, UPDATE XYZtable.column SET FIELD=’somevalue’ WHERE KeyField = ‘value’?
Mind you, that XYZ database is a production database with a legitimate development and/or acceptance counterpart depending upon the importance of the data. Here is my usual response:
Sure. I would be happy to run that for you in the DEVELOPMENT environment. <Pause> What do you mean production is down and this needs to go straight to production? <Pause> So who changed this value to cause your application to go down? <Pause> The vendor says this happens all the time with the application? And this is the fix?
Unfortunately, these types of requests seem to be more common place when dealing with vendor databases, at lease in my environment. Having been a developer in a previous lifetime, this really bothers me. We called that a patch, where the vendor fixes the application to stop causing the problem especially when data was involved. Fix the problem, not the symptoms people. Enjoy!
AD Accounts Are Great, But…
Using Windows Authentication for your database is a great best practice to follow. However, one caveat to remember as one of my administrators found out today. Do not use that account as a login if it is also the account you use for your database.
We setup an AD account for his database, that part is great. He thought that was also the account to use as his application administrative account. Not a good idea because when he fat fingered the password this morning a few times, as people tend to do on Monday mornings when their coffee hasn’t fully kicked in, he locked out his application as well as the database sending 150 alert messages all over the department. This set off a chain reaction where he rebooted his server after unlocked the account and proceeded to call me and tell me that SQL was down and sounded the sky is falling alarm. He overreacted essentially.
When I figured out what he did, I explained the situation and told him that he needed another AD account for his application or I could setup another one for his database. He said he installed his application under that account and cannot change either one. Not the best scenario, but every time you fat finger the account you will bring the world down upon you. Your choice. He chose the road well traveled unfortunately. Enjoy!
While attending a viewing tonight for my wife’s cousin, I was once again reminded that life is too short to be unhappy. Live your life to the fullest and savor every minutes. Hug your family, call your friends, and spend time with them all.
Life is precious, it is a gift, do not squander it away. You have heard all of this before, but I am here to remind you that time waits for no man! Enjoy!
Saturday SQL Schoolhouse
Today’s installment of the Saturday SQL Schoolhouse is brought to you by the fine folks over at Idera Software. They offer free webcasts broadcast usually monthly with some of the biggest names in SQL Server. Better yet, is that all of those are archived here for your viewing and learning pleasure.
Check out this month’s webcast, recorded earlier this week by my friend Robert Davis (blog|twitter). In addition, they also have SharePoint and PowerShell webcasts for your learning goodness. Enjoy!
Changing the Change Management
Personally, I am not a big fan of useless processes or processes for the sake of having a process. Recently we underwent an audit and of course some processes have to change. I get that, I really do. They make suggestions for improvement, we implement those changes and everything is better. Hopefully.
Since that point our change management process has been evolving on a daily basis. I have asked for a written process and training on a few occasions since I have been here a little over a year ago. The change management target has been in flux long before I got here and my supervisor does his best to try to keep our department in line with the processes but across the board it is going in many different directions. The exact process really depends upon who you ask. This is a problem.
Ironically enough, the change management software was being changed on a weekly basis without any change management tickets. In other words, the change manager was not willing to use his own process for his realm of responsibility. That was another bad reflection upon the process.
I appreciate change management. What I do not appreciate is the process taking longer than the change with numerous fields to capture data. If I reboot a server, it takes two minutes for the change and ten minutes for the paperwork needed to do so. That is a bad process. Who watches the watchmen, I mean the change managers? Enjoy!
Color Coding SSMS
Finally got around to color coding my SQL Server Management Studio (2008) on my desktop today, which is a great feature if you haven’t set it up already. Essentially it changes the color at the bottom of your query window which is usually a light yellow. Why bother?
Well for me I set my production boxes to red, acceptance boxes to yellow, and development boxes to green to remind my brain whether it is safe to make changes to the environment. Once you have a few query windows open, you tend to forget to which environment that window belongs to. This is not foolproof, but it is a handy reminder to be mindful of your environment.
Not sure how to set it up?
Well using the registered servers feature, add your server and select the properties. Then choose the connection properties tab and select the ‘use custom color’ option and then press select to choose your color. Easy and remember to restart SSMS for this to take effect. Enjoy.