Arggghhhhh

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
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Published on: June 30, 2011

I have a new tune stuck in my head now.  It got stuck there this afternoon shortly after my computer was forced into a reboot.  I was in the middle of writing a blog post, working on some stored procs and some general queries.  All of the sudden my system is shutting down and I can do nothing to prevent it.

After SSMS closes, my browser closes, the command prompt that is running a chckdsk is forced closed, then the logoff window appears and I see that windows updates are being applied.  SOME OF IT ITCHES!!!!!  Why can’t Microsoft allow us some latitude when running these updates?  I could understand it if the patches were scheduled to be installed and prompted a reboot – I got none of that.  Do I need to have critical updates forcibly applied to my systems so frequently?  And believe me this is occurring much more frequently than the mythological 2nd Tuesday of the month.

In the end I am happy that these updates did not toast my windows install like an update did a few weeks ago.  But I seriously have seen enough of these updates over the past few months and something has got to change.

70-450 Study Guide

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
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Published on: June 30, 2011

In my last post concerning my certification journey I said I may post a study guide.  I have thought it over and a sweetened condensed version of some of the topics covered would prove helpful.  Based on the Skills Measured page for the exam, one can determine topics to study and pretty much google for related materials.

So let’s start with the high level of skills measured.

Designing a SQL Server Instance and a Database Solution

Partition Switching

Collecting Data in regards to upgrade prep or installation and base-lining.

Best Practices

Capacity Planning

Compression

Designing a Database Server Security Solution

Encryption

Context Switching

Filestream Storage

SSRS Authentication

CLR

Designing a Database Solution for High Availability

Publishing Data

Database Mirroring

Clustering

Physical Architecture (Replication)

Designing a Backup and Recovery Solution

I won’t cover this topic at all.  This should be a high priority topic for all Database Professionals.  This is one of those areas that is best covered through practice and experience.

Designing a Monitoring Strategy

Correlate Monitoring Data – One should be acquainted with this topic.  I have heard it in interviews.  Furthermore, it really makes you a better DB professional.

Data Collectors

DMVs

Designing a Strategy to Maintain and Manage Databases

Filestream

Central Management Server

Resource Governor

Policy Based Management

Designing a Strategy for Data Distribution

SSIS Deployment

Distributed Transactions

SSIS Security

Linking Servers

 

As I said, this is a condensed version of some of the topics that I studied.  Since these topics map directly back to the measured skills published by Microsoft, they are topics well worth studying.  Whether or not they will be on your exam or not, who knows.  You should also note, that these links pretty much point back to broad-sweeping topics and are not specific in nature.  The one exception being the extra monitoring link I threw in because I feel it is important to know regardless of ability or exam preparation.

MCITP: 3 Down 1 To Go

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: June 27, 2011

Despite my desire to do one exam a week in pursuit of the MCITP Certifications for DBA and Developer in SQL 2008, other things came up that have slowed me down considerably.  It was only today that I realized that it has been one month since the last exam that I took.  No single event is at the root of this delay – there are multiple.

As you can presume based on the title, I passed another exam.  The latest exam was 70-450.  I have mixed feelings about this exam.  I also wish I could elaborate extensively concerning these feelings, but will not be able to without violating the NDA.  I will however, be able to discuss some of the concerns since I do not feel they pertain to the NDA.

First impression from the exam came within the first couple of questions.  That impression was that this exam really has less to do with technical skill than I think it should.  I felt that I was doing a lot of interpreting and extrapolating in order to derive a plausible answer.  Much of this was due to the poor grammar and incomplete sentences demonstrated throughout the exam.  Some of it was just due to assumptions one had to make concerning the scenario.

Second impression is that the exam cares less about the correct answer than trying to trip you up.  In doing this, there is a correct answer for the exam and then there is the real world correct answer.  I had heard this sentiment from others who had taken the exam and hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought until I was in the middle of my exam and I started to see a pattern.  There were a couple of questions that had no correct answer based on the question.

There is also an opinion out there that this exam tests you on what was in BOL at the writing of the exam – despite much of that information being recognized as incorrect now.  This leads me to my third impression.  This exam is more about memorization and finding obscure entries in BOL that may or may not be correct.

All of that said, despite those obvious problems surrounding this second tier of exams for the SQL 2008 track – the exam is passable and really not too terribly difficult.  I had expected it to be more in-depth.  I would also say that it is due to these problems that there should be some sort of Certification between the MCITP and MCM.  That notion was started some time ago – and I feel there is more validity to it now than there was one year ago.

All of that said, I hope to be finishing up with these exams next week when I take 70-451.  Then I will someday move on to complete the BI exams.  I may also post a short little study guide to cover some of the topics covered in 70-450.

T-SQL Tuesday #19 – Disasters & Recovery

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Published on: June 14, 2011

When I first read this article, I thought to myself “I have no clue on this one.  What could I write that would be unique or interesting?”

My Disasters

Have you heard that old axiom that bad things come in sets of three?  For me, I have three such tales and two of them have a correlation to SQL Server (at least in some degree).

Disaster the First – You Can see it Coming

This one is a slow, ongoing process.  We are in a state of watch and wait.  But it at least gives us a chance to prepare and thus be prepared.  We live in an area where a flood plain exists but once every 20-25 years.  It just so happens that this is one of those years.  Our neighborhood is preparing by digging ditches, building dykes and sandbagging the most likely flow areas.  We see it coming and we are making plans.

Disaster the Second – Efforts Didn’t Go According to Plan

Last Friday I was applying a software patch.  As you would have guessed, the patch did not go according to plan.  The patch actually corrupted windows files and caused windows to fail reboots.  I tried to repair the corrupted files (default action with Win7).  I also tried to restore to a previous checkpoint.  Last effort was to re-install Windows.  You know that means I had to re-install all of my apps as well.  Any settings in the apps (such as SSMS) would be lost.

In this case, I should have imaged my machine immediately prior to installing the patch.  In this case, I wanted to retrieve all of my SSMS registered servers.  In order to do that (even though I did not export the registered servers) I needed to locate the prior RegSvr.XML from the backup that the Windows Installation makes of an existing windows install.  In some cases this prior install will be relocated to windows.Old.  Search in that directory for the RegSvr.XML file and copy it to %username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Shell.  This will RECOVER the registered servers in SSMS that you had there prior to the reinstall.  Of course you would first need to reinstall SQL Server Tools prior to attempting this.

Disaster the Third – UnPlanned

After successfully recovering from that minor disaster, I encountered a new disaster only after two days of laptop use.  Upon arriving on-site yesterday morning (and mind you the laptop worked at the hotel) in Chicago (which is out of state for me), my laptop froze, rebooted and came back to “No Boot Disk.”  Well, I was completely unprepared for this midlevel disaster.  I didn’t have my reinstall discs with me.  I did not have my laptop backed up from the Friday disaster – I was still trying to get everything back to normal.  I had but one option – buy a new laptop and try to recover the hard drive later.

In trying to make sure it was not going to boot, I booted the system to a Boot CD (UBCD and a couple others) to be certain.  I was getting Int13h errors trying to find the drive.  I checked CMOS and CMOS did not see the drive.  I bought the new laptop and first tried to boot the new laptop from that HDD.  It too did not recognize it.  The drive was not even spinning up at that time.

Today, I have attached that drive to an external cage and connected via USB.  It’s alive!!  The data is still there but some clusters are corrupt.  That is fine so long as I get the data.  In this case, I don’t normally take daily backups of my laptop drives.  In the future, I will be taking more frequent backups of the laptop drives.  And now I have a backup laptop for cases just like this.

And once this last disaster is recovered, I will be copying settings from apps on that laptop to the new laptop – might save a little time.

June S3OLV Update

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Published on: June 9, 2011

This is a real quick update.  It has been requested that we go ahead and provide LiveMeeting for tonight as well.  Thus Charley will be presenting in person but the meeting will be available to all who want to attend.

Entry into this meeting is open to the public – join if you are interested.  Here is the original info on tonights meeting.

Here is the information you will need to attend the LiveMeeting.

Attendee URL: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups/join?id=M5QTCQ&role=attend
Meeting ID: M5QTCQ
Entry Control: Attendees have free entry

Come join for a new perspective on OLAP from Charley.

Meme Monday – Stupid Questions

Categories: Meme Monday, News, Professional, SSC
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Published on: June 6, 2011

This month we have an interesting topic for Meme Monday.  This is hosted by Thomas LaRock and the topics revolve in some way around SQL Server.  As Tom brought up, the saying is that “there are no stupid questions.”  I have long disagreed with that statement.  I think many people would disagree but it is a tool used by instructors to invoke questions from the crowd.  I think there are plenty of stupid questions.  For me, a stupid question is simply a question to which you already know the answer.

A common question that I hear that could fall into that category is “How do I select information out of table ZYX?”

For that question, pick your response du jour.  Typically the response may be preceded with at least one question trying to garner more information such as “Well, what data do you want to select from the table?”  If they can answer this question, then the first question seems a bit on the stupid side since they already know the essential pieces to the answer of their question.  This holds true, so long as the data retrieval is a basic SELECT.

So there you have it, short and sweet.

June 2011 S3OLV Meeting

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
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Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: June 6, 2011

It’s Grillin’ Time

OK, so we won’t be grilling inside the meeting – or even at the meeting.  But it sure sounds good.  There will likely be Pizza and drinks.

For any who are interested, The S3OLV meeting will be held this Thursday June 9 at 18h30 PDT.

This month Charley Jones will be test driving a new presentation.  He has been working feverishly to learn about cubes and how to create them.  He will be teaching us this month how to do this from the mind-set of an OLTP DBA in his presentation titled “OLTP Moving to OLAP.”  I think this will be a great opportunity for those of us who are weak or strong in OLAP to learn a bit and see how this transition may make sense from an OLTP perspective.

Come join the fray at the Learning Center.  At this point there will not be a LiveMeeting for this meeting unless I get enough feedback requesting it.  It would be nice to know there is a continued interest in having these meetings be available virtually.  And, thus that is really the only reason at this point.  If there is continued interest, I will create a LiveMeeting and share the information for the Livemeeting.

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