Monday, August 31, 2009

Active August – Final Recap

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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando Update

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Access Denied, Not Possible

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!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Professional Growth – Community Involvement

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,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Types Matter!

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!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Active August –> Week 3 Recap

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.

Friday, August 21, 2009

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

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:

Monday, August 17, 2009

SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando Pre-event Seminars Announced.

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!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Active August – Week 2 Recap

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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No Training Budget Still No Excuse

When I first started by career in IT and SQL Server about 10 years ago I lived in a small town in northern New Hampshire.  I used my location as an excuse not to attend user groups and other events, unless the boss was willing to foot the bill.  Now I realize my mistake, I’m in charge of my professional development, and now, location is no excuse.  Here’s a list of just some of the FREE training available online:

  • JumpstartTV - short (3-5 minute), specific how-to videos for SQL Server and .NET.
  • Channel 9 – MSDN’s video training library. This has videos on just about everything microsoft. Over 200 on SQL Server 2008 alone.
  • PASS - the Official Professional Association of SQL Server web site. PASS offers Virtual Chapters (user groups that meet online monthly).  Be sure to check out the upcoming 24 hours of PASS
  • Quest Software – Quest offers free webcasts on several technologies including SQL Server and some on Quest products but many general ones. Check out Quest Connect
  • SQLServerPedia - has video podcasts as well as blogs, wiki, and articles.
  • SQLServerCentral – forums, articles, scripts, blogs, and videos. What more can you ask for?

I’m sure there are other resources as well.

Now on to the FREE events. 

  • The biggest one for SQL Server, well, at least in my opinion, is the SQLSaturday franchise.  There have been about 20 over the last 2 years from Florida to Oregon.  I should make a disclaimer that I have spoken at 2, attended another, and the franchise is owned by my friend, Andy Warren and his partners.  Actually the first SQLSaturday event was when I met Andy, actually the day before at the Day with Celko event done in conjunction with the SQLSaturday.  It’s a full day of free SQL Server training with some national speakers along with the best local speakers.
  • Code Camps – these one day events for .NET are what SQLSaturday is based on, so if you need .NET training here’s a way to get it.
  • PASS – offers a SQLSaturday like event support with it’s Community Connections
  • User Groups – just BING or GOOGLE for [your technology and location] User Group.  I’m sure you’ll find something in your area.  PASS has a list of official chapters for SQL Server.  I know of Sharepoint, Java, .NET, and Agile user groups.  I’m sure there are others.

As you can see there are plenty of training options that will only cost you time and maybe travel expenses and that’s really an investment in you. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Office 2007 Pro Plus Installation Issues

Since I have an MSDN subscription I downloaded Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit this past week.  I installed it on my laptop and then began installing applications.  When I went to install Office 2007 Pro Plus it would start and then hang looking for  I attempted the install at least 10 times.  I tried copying the install from the CD to my hard disk, I tried moving to another location, I tried screaming and yelling at it to “Work you piece of junk!”, but to no avail.  I did look it up on the internet (I am currently using Bing Vs. Google).  The most promising link I found was to delete the 11.0 or 12.0 registry entry under HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office.  I did try this and it didn’t work.

I finally unpacked the cab file and saw that the files in it seemed to relate to MS Access.  I re-attempted the install, but this time I did not include Access and I went through all the tools installed and deleted any that referred to Access.  I did not write down what I found because I wasn’t planning to blog about it, and not planning on re-installing again!.  Finally at this point Office installed successfully.  I then re-ran setup, added Access, and viola, install complete.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Active August - Week 1 Recap

Well, I made it through the first week of Active August (Twitter) without killing myself.  In my first Active August post I outlined my goals and I'll recap here.

  1. Reduce portions at meals - I've actually done okay at this. How can I tell?  I'm hungry almost all the time!  I assume it is just my body adjusting to the reduced intake.
  2. Healthier snacks - This is a hard one for me, but I have done well, mainly because my wife hasn't made or bought sweets in the last week.  I mentioned in the original post that I wanted to replace my nighttime junk food with healthy food, but as I thought about I decided it would be better to eliminate snacking after supper.  I estimate that I would eat 250-500 calories of junk every night, which is about a pound a week. If I can eliminate that along with more activity I should lose a couple of pounds a week fairly easily to start.
  3. At least 20 minutes of purposeful activity 6 days a week.  I made 5 the first week.  One day I played basketball, but didn't do the extra 20 minutes, and 1 day I was sick.  Pretty good, although I need the 6th day to be honest.  I either swam or walked.  The swimming is a real workout.
  4. Sit-ups and push-ups every day adding 10 to my beginning total.  Believe it or not I made this one.  I started at 25 sit-ups and 15 push-ups to start and ended with 35 and 25, so my goal for next Saturday is to be up to 45 sit-ups and 35 push-ups.
I have to admit to feeling a bit more energy and sleeping better due to the increased activity.  It also has been easier because I have seen other people's activity on Twitter and have been challenged to continue by them.  Thanks to Mike Walsh for getting this thing started and for the others involved. Oh yeah, my starting weight was 184.5, and my weight this morning was 182.  Pretty good week as my goal is more of a change in lifestyle than just weight loss.  I'll be happy with that many pounds lost each week of the month.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Technical Presenters – Make your point

I caught this blog post, Who says technical presentations can't be engaging?, today thanks to Dana Coffey (@crazeegeekchick on Twitter).  My takeaway from the post is that good speakers tell a story. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you just tell stories, what it means is that you are organized and know where you want to go and how you are going to get there.  Think about some good stories you’ve heard or read, the speaker/writer didn’t just wander around, did they?  No, they were coherent and went from point A to point B.  Everyone group of friends has someone who can’t tell a story to save their life (if you don’t know who that person is then you probably ARE that person), and the common theme is that they can’t tell a story without wandering all over the place.  Well, the same principle applies to technical presenting, “A good story has a point”.

The best feedback I ever received about my speaking was in Bible school, when I had to teach a Bible lesson to the class.  At least 3 people in the class said, “I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to learn”.  If that’s the reaction, then you haven’t told a good story.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to know what you want your listeners to learn, and make sure your presentation takes them there.  If your presentation is “How to create SQL Server Login” stick to the point and don’t do into database roles because they have nothing to do with creating a SQL Server Login.

I hope I made my point.

Free Training! 24 hours of PASS

PASS is sponsoring a 24 hours of PASS event on September 2nd.  Consecutive live (Live Q&A also) 1 hour sessions by some of the best speakers in the business.  This event is loaded with MVP’s, authors, and SQL Server gurus.  Here’s a few names:

  • Louis Davidson
  • Kevin Kline
  • Brad McGehee
  • Grant Fritchey
  • Gail Shaw
  • Kalen Delaney

Wow! As far as I’m concerned that’s and impressive list.  I won’t be staying up 24 hours, but you can bet I’ll be taking in several hours.

It looks like a nice preview of what you can get at the PASS Summit, minus the networking, but free! 

Check it out and attend what you can!  Registration opens Wednesday, August 5th.