Extended Events and Data Types

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Published on: April 14, 2015

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Today is another one of those installments in the long-running TSQL Party held monthly (a.k.a TSQL2SDAY).

This month we have an open invitation from Mike Donnelly (blog | twitter), asking us to talk about something new we have learned and then to teach about it. You can read the invitation in Mike’s own words on his blog.

Coincidentally, the topic is both pretty straight forward and easy on the one hand while somewhat difficult on the other hand.  Mike said: “The topic this month is straight forward, but very open ended. You must learn something new and then write a blog post explaining it.” I find the topic to be difficult because I will usually blog about a topic when I have learned something new. On the other hand, sharing new stuff  is pretty straight forward and enjoyable.  Enter the brain split!

So, what I have learned recently?

Quite a bit.  But what would I really like to share on this occasion?

For today, I would like to share more information about extended events.  XEvents are great.  There is a wealth of information to be garnered from XEvents.  Furthermore, XEvents provide a great opportunity to keep learning.

While researching some events to help troubleshoot a specific issue, it dawned on me that there was some info that I had only looked at when I was looking at specific events.  I started wondering how much of that info was out there.  So here I will share some of this information that is available to you via queries within SQL Server.  Much of this info is attainable through the re-purposing of some scripts I shared previously – here.

Custom Data Types

This wasn’t too much of a surprise because I had seen them throughout and taken advantage of the custom data types to get better information.  But I might consider these custom data types to be more of the EAV model coming through than custom data types.  One can expose the custom data types through an evaluation of data in the map_values DMV.  Let’s take a look at a script that would lay the groundwork to see these data types.

Evaluating this data, one will see that in addition to the “standard” datatypes such as integer, there will be a “wait_types” data type.  This data type will map to all of the wait types available through extended events.  Additionally, the event that is associated to each of these custom data types is exposed through this query.  When getting ready to use an extended event, knowing the kinds of data that will be exposed through a data point in the session will make the session data more usable.  Knowing there is a custom data type (yes, it is really just a key value pair), can be extremely helpful.

Collection Flags

Many of the available events have “customizable” collection flags exposed.  Understanding that these collection flags can be on or off is essential to saving some hair.  Not all data is automatically collected for all events.  Some prime examples of such events that do not automatically collect certain pieces of data are sp_statement_completed and object_created.  The nice thing about these flags is that they have a value of “customizable” in the column_type field.  Another good thing with these flags is that the description field gives a little documentation on what the behavior should be for the “on” and “off” states.

There is a good reason that some of those may be off by default.  The addition of this information may cause an additional load or may be information overload.  It is up to the consumer to determine if the data is going to be of significant importance.  Once determined, enable or disable the flag as appropriate.

These queries provide a good amount of information about the extent of custom data types as well as the collection flags that may be available to use when creating event sessions in SQL Server.  Understanding that this data and these options are there is important to capturing better event info.

Security as a Fleeting Thought

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Published on: February 10, 2015

Today we have another installment in what is known as TSQL Tuesday.  This month we have an invitation and topic given to us by the infamous Kenneth Fisher ( blog | twitter).

TSQL2sDay150x150Today, the invitation is for us to share our stories on how we like to manage security.  Or at least that is the request that was made by Kenneth.  I am going to take a bit of a twist on that request.  Instead of sharing how I like to manage security, I am going to share some interesting stories on how I have seen security managed.

Let’s just call this a short series on various case studies in how to manage your security in a very peculiar way.  Or as the blog title suggests, how to manage your security as an afterthought.

Case Study #1

dbsecurityWe have all dealt with the vendor that insists on the user account that will be used for their database and application be one of two things.  Either it needs to be sa or needs to be a member of the sysadmin fixed server role.  The ensuing discussion with those vendors is always a gem.  They insist the application will break, you as the diligent DBA prove otherwise, and then the senior manager sponsoring the application comes around with a mandate that you must provide the access the vendor is requesting.

Those are particularly fun times.  Sometimes, there is a mutual agreement in the middle on what security can be used and sometimes the DBA just loses.

But what about when it is not a vendor application that mandates such relaxed security for their application and database?  What if it happens to be the development group?  What if it happens to be a developer driven shop and you are the consultant coming in to help get things in order?

I have had the distinct pleasure of working in all of those scenarios.  My favorite was a client that hosted ~700 clients, each with their own database.  There were several thousand connections coming into the server and every single connection was coming in as ‘sa’.  Yes, that is correct.  There were no user logins other than the domain admins group on the server – which was also added to the sysadmin security role.  That is always a fun discussion to start and finish.  The look of color disappearing from the clients’ eyes as the realize the severity of the problem.

Please do not attempt this stunt at home.

Case Study #2

In a similar vain, another one that I have seen far too often is the desire to grant users dbo access within a database.  While this is less heinous than granting everybody sysadmin access – it is only a tad better.  Think about it in this way – does Joe from financing really need to be able to create and drop tables within the accounting database?  Does Marie from human resources need to be able to create or drop stored procedures from the HR database?  The answer to both should be ‘NO’.

In another environment, I was given the opportunity to perform a security audit.  Upon looking over things, it became very clear what the security was.  Somebody felt it necessary to add [Domain Users] to the dbo role on every database.  Yes, you read that correctly.  In addition to that, the same [Domain Users] group was added to the sysadmin server fixed security role.  HOLY COW!

In this particular case, they were constantly trying to figure out why permissions and objects were changing for all sorts of things within the database environment.  The answer was easy.  The fix is also easy – but not terribly easy to accept.

Please do not attempt this stunt at home.

Case Study #3

I have encountered vendor after vendor that has always insisted that they MUST have local admin and sysadmin rights on the box and instance (respectively).  For many this is a grey area because of the contracts derived between the client and the vendor.

For me, I have to ask why they need that level of access.  Does the vendor really need to be able to backup your databases and investigate system performance on your server?  Does that vendor need, or are they even engaged, to troubleshoot your system as a whole?  Or, do they just randomly sign in and apply application updates without your knowledge or perform other “routine” tasks unknown to you?

I have seen vendors change permissions and add back door accounts far too often.  They seldom if ever are capable of providing the level of support necessary when you are stuck with deadlocks by the second or blocking chains that tie up the entire server.  In addition, they are generally unavailable for immediate support when a production halting issue arises in their application – or at least not for a few hours.

This is specifically in regards to application vendors.  They are not your sysadmin and they are not your DBA.  If they must have RDP access or access to the database – put it under tight control.  Disable the account until they request access.  Then a request can be made and a note documented about why the access is needed.  Then the account can be enabled, monitored and disabled after a specified amount of time.

Please do not attempt this stunt at home.

This also changes when that vendor happens to be providing you IT functionality and is not specifically tied to an application.  Those relationships are a bit different and do require a little more trust to the person who is acting on your behalf as your IT staff.

Conclusion

I have shared three very dangerous stunts that are sometimes portrayed to be done by professionals.  Do not try this in your environment or at home.  It is dangerous to treat security with so little concern.  Security is not some stunt, and should be treated with a little more care and attention.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, an audit is your friend.  Create some audit process within SQL Server or on the Local server to track changes and accesses.  Find out what is going on and be prepared to act while you build your case and a plan for implementing tighter security.

Minor ailments and Healthy SQL

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Published on: January 13, 2015

TSQL2sDay150x150One of the things that DBAs love to do is keep their servers running and healthy.  A healthy server, after all, is your ticket to a stress free day and a full night’s sleep.  Granted this not a guarantee but it sure helps make life easier.

We are always looking for the big ticket items to keep the servers tuned and purring.  But from time to time, like with humans, it’s not Ebola that takes us down but the little sniffles and minor aches and pains that keep us from doing our best.

This month as a part of the TSQL Tuesday party, Robert Pearl (blog | twitter) has asked us to write about Healthy SQL and the things that make SQL go yum.

Nagging Cough

Like that tickle in the back of the throat, that makes you cough now and again, there is an occasional tickle that can bug SQL Server and cause some pain here and there.  I have written about this nagging cough in the past.

The problem with this ailment is that since it is not always a cold, or always present, it is often times missed and frequently hard to diagnose.  I talked about this previously as one of those things that should be checked from time to time.  This is that nagging synonym* cough.  You can read about it here.

That’s great, we can take a little cough syrup, fix some synonyms and feel a lot better about SQL Server in the morning.

Aching Joints

Ever have one of those trick knees that decides to give out on you out of the blue?  You might be walking up the stairs (or down the stairs) and suddenly the knee is gone and you end up flat on your face.  And it could be great most of the time, it’s just that once in a while the knee decides to give a little twinge of pain, fold up and drop you to the floor.

SQL Server has a similar problem with this next one.  I come across on a frequent basis, within SQL Server, an bad knee in the form of a linked server.  Sure, I can hear you saying that linked servers are always bad.  Fair enough!  I have seen linked servers work wonderfully and most of the time they cause pain.

The type of pain with a linked server I would like to share today is around more of an edge case (like standing on the edge of the stairs with your knee about to give way).

As a good DBA would want to do, you may want to restore your databases to a test environment on a routine basis to ensure the backups worked and that you have a functioning recovery point for your databases in the event of a disaster.  I was working on just that sort of thing for a client recently when I ran into this beautifully pain filled knee.

This customer had not one, not two, not even three instances of this problem.  They had a glorious 492 instances of this problem.  The vendor for this client decided the best thing to do would be to replicate the production database to a separate database to help offload performance.  This other database happens to be on the same server (so no performance offload).  While that is not the most intelligent thing to do, it is not the end of this ailment.

In addition to the replication, there were 492 views that utilized linked servers to UNION ALL data between the two databases.  The data in each table between the two databases (in this case) is the same.  So we have a linked server to UNION ALL this data between two databases on the same server that is replicated.  Wowza!

Now, due to this linked server proliferation in the views to get to data the long way around, when restoring this database to a test environment there is a lot of cleanup work left to be done.  After all, the restore of the database is only a piece of the healthy backup puzzle.  You would want to test the data and the application against it.

Gratefully, this kind of cleanup can be made easy by doing a simple search and replace when querying sql_modules to find any views or stored procedures need to be updated to work in the test environment.  Here is an example of such a script to help fix that problem.

Take the results from a query such as that and now, I can either change the views en masse or I could copy all of the results from the ModCode column and paste those to a new window.  Using a regex (to replace all GO statements with a GO \n as shown in the pic) or something like SQL Prompt to prettify the code would be pretty easy from there to make it more useful.

Capture

Of course, this only helps address the issue with the linked servers in the views.  The same problem would exist with stored procedures.  It is up to the DBA to know which ones need to be changed and which should not be changed.  Just understand that linked servers are there to present yet another nagging symptom to keep your server from being healthy and worse is they help keep you from being healthy (remember the lack of sleep they cause).

If you are interested, I also have this article to help you find those pesky linked servers before you start diving down the restore rabbit hole.  The article will help evaluate the scope of linked server use and has a query to help identify linked servers.

*Funny afterthought is that both of these niggles that can help decrease health of your SQL Server have ties back to Linked Servers.  If you read the links, you will see what I mean.

T-SQL Tuesday 61: A Season of Giving

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Published on: December 9, 2014

TSQL2sDay150x150Tis the season for TSQL Tuesday.  Not only is it that season again, but it is also the Holiday season.

During this season, many people start to think about all of the things for which they are thankful.  Many may start to think about their families and friends.  And many others will focus more of their attention to neighbors and other people in the community.  This is often done regardless of how well you may know the people or in spite of ill feelings that may exist for the people at other times of the year.

Yes, it is a good time of the year.  And to top it off, we may even get to enjoy snow during this time of year while we sip hot cocoa, learn SQL and eat pies of many different sorts.  Yes! It is a glorious time of the year.

I already have a couple of SQL books to read as I cozy up close to the fire with my children near.  (Oh yes, it is never too early to learn SQL.)  A little SQL roasting on the open fire so to speak.  Awesome time of year.

With all that is going well and all the SQL I can be learning, it is also a Season of Giving.  It is because of the time of year that Wayne Sheffield was probably prompted to invite all of us to write about that topic for this months TSQL Tuesday.  You can read the invite here.

But thinking about that topic and the time of year, I wanted to talk briefly about some ways I know the SQL Community gives back.

Doctors without Borders

A really well known opportunity this past year that helped people to give back to the community was hosted by Argenis Fernandez (twitter) and Kirsten Benzel (twitterhere.  The two of them had this fantastic idea to involve the SQL Family in driving a fundraiser for Doctors without Borders.  They had publicized various goals to make it fun and achieved a lot of those goals.  This was an event I would like to see again and it was one that accomplished a lot of good.

Christmas Jars

Christmas JarEach Christmas season there is a phenomenon associated to a book called Christmas Jars.  People from all across the country anonymously donate a jar to somebody in the community that may have hit a stretch of hard luck.  In the jar is a variable amount of money for the family to use to help with whatever they need during that time.  You can read more about that here and here.

The Christmas Jars is something that my children do each year.  They find a family somewhere in town and find a way to get the jar to the family anonymously.  The amount of money is never the same, but the intent and love is always the same.  They are doing it to help their neighbors without any publicity.  They know the good that is brought from the love they show to their neighbors.

Watching my children participate in a worthwhile way to give makes me happy.  I hope it is something that will stick with them throughout their lives.

Community

All of that said, the TSQL Tuesday invite asked for what we plan to do in the upcoming year for the SQL community.  This is a really hard topic to answer.  It kind of depends on what opportunities become available in the upcoming year.  I can say this though, I do plan to continue to help and give where I can.

T-SQL Tuesday #58 – Security Phrases

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Published on: September 9, 2014

TSQL2sDay150x150Today is once again TSQL Tuesday.  This month the event and topic are being hosted by Sebastian Meine (blog | twitter).  You can read all about the topic this month on his blog inviting all to participate.

Despite Sebastian being a real cool kid, I was not too hip to the topic this month.  Not because it is a bad topic or anything, it’s just that I really had nothing that seemed to stand out as easy to write for the blog party.

Then all of a sudden, a nice fat, juicy pork chop landed right in my lap.

The Pork Chop

A client requested that I make some changes to a task on a development server for them.  As it happens, the task is a powershell script that was being run on a schedule via a Scheduled Task in the Windows “Scheduled Tasks” control panel.  Making the requested change is a no-brainer of a change – or it should have been.

The change was to change the owner/executor of the scheduled task to the service account for the SQL Service.  By doing that, they would be less likely for the job to fail in the future due to an employee leaving the company.

As luck would have it the client DBA happened to know the password for the service account.  When changing the task to use the service account with the supplied password, we soon discovered that the supplied password caused the service account to become locked.  OUCH!

Maybe it was just fat fingered?  Nope, no dice!  As it turns out the DBA had the incorrect password and did not know the correct password.  Worse, nobody else knew what the correct password was.  Due to this issue, I proposed that the sysadmins and I work together to get the password changed.  That is to be done at a future date.

In addition to this, we decided that the passwords need to be more accurately documented.  These should be stored in an encrypted vault (the application is your choice).  But the mere use of an encrypted vault is far better than the use of a sticky note to document passwords (and I have seen that far too often at client sites).

This is just a short and sweet post for the day.  I think that it demonstrates problems that can arise from bad password management and also the risks that could come from that password management.  In our case, it was at least a Dev server with minimal users.

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and Community

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Published on: August 12, 2014

TSQL2sDay150x150Look at that, it is once again that time of the month that has come to be known as TSQL Tuesday.  TSQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party that occurs on the second Tuesday (most generally) of the month.  This event was the brainchild of Adam Machanic (Blog | Twitter).  

Anybody who desires to participate in this blog party is welcome to join.  Coincidentally, that open invitation is at the base of this months topic – Family and Community.  The invitation, issued by Jeffrey Verheul (blog | twitter), for this month said the following.

This month I would like to give everyone the opportunity to write about SQL Family. The first time I heard of SQL Family, was on Twitter where someone mentioned this. At first I didn’t know what to think about this. I wasn’t really active in the community, and I thought it was a little weird. They were just people you meet on the internet, and might meet in person at a conference some day. But I couldn’t be more wrong about that!

Once you start visiting events, forums, or any other involvement with the community, you’ll see I was totally wrong. I want to hear those stories. How do you feel about SQL Family? Did they help you, or did you help someone in the SQL Family? I would love to hear the stories of support, how it helped you grow and evolve, or how you would explain SQL Family to your friends and family (which I find hard). Just write about whatever topic you want, as long as it’s related to SQL Family or community.

What is it?

We have all likely seen SQL Family thrown about here and there.  But what exactly is this notion we hear about so often?

I think we have a good idea about what family might be.  I think we might even have a good idea of what a friend is.  Lastly, I might propose that we know what a community is.  When we talk of this thing called SQL Family, I like to think that it is a combination of family, friends and community.

mushroom

These are people that can come together and talk about various different things that span far beyond SQL Server.  We may only see each other at events every now and then.  Those events can be anything from a User Group meeting to a large conference or even at a road race (5k, half marathon, marathon).

These are the people that are willing to help where help is needed or wanted.  That help can be anything ranging from well wishes and prayers, to teaching about SQL Server, to lending a vehicle, or anything along that spectrum.

I have seen this community go out of their way to help provide a lift to a hotel or to the airport.  These people will help with lodging in various circumstances when/if they can.  These are the people that have been known to make visits to hospitals to give well wishes for other people in the community.

Isn’t that what friends / family really boils down to?  People that can talk to each other on an array of topics?  People that go out of their way to help?  Think about it for a minute or three.

T-SQL Tuesday #54 – Interviews and Hiring

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Published on: May 13, 2014

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This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Boris Hristov (blog|twitter) and his chosen topic is “Interviews and Hiring” – specifically interviewing and hiring of SQL Server Professionals.

 

This is a pretty interesting topic from a few different angles.  Boris proposed a few topics such as the following list.

 

  1. The story of how did you get hired on your latest position?
  2. The most interesting interview you ever had?
  3. How do you think an interview should be handled? What should it include?
  4. Any “algorithms” of how to find the perfect candidate?
  5. If you are the one that leads the technical interview – what do you focus on?
  6. What are the most important questions to ask for the various SQL Server positions out there?

Any one of these ideas would be good fodder for a blog article.  A combination of these topics might prove more interesting.  I think I will try something a little different.  I want to broach the topic of the use and abuse of interviews.

infinte

There are two interviews that come to mind that might be good examples.  The first is the infinite interview.

In the infinite interview, the candidate comes in for a full day of interviews (a surprise to the candidate).  If you were lucky you might have been informed in advance that the interview would be an all-day ordeal.

You arrive on-site and are shuttled from one interviewer to the next and so on throughout the day.  Most of these people will have absolutely nothing to do with your work queue or your job duties.  Most won’t be able to spell SQL other than maybe having a book that somebody might have given them.

In one such case, I had the opportunity to be grilled all day long.  The peak of the interview(s) occurred when their dev team sat down in an office, gave me chalk and eraser and required me to redesign their database that they took 6+ months to design and were still in the process of fixing bugs.  Lots of memorization based questions centered around developer (not database) terminology.

In short this pretty much felt like a free consultation session for them.  Once finished, I got to show my own way out the door.  Not by choice but by them being too busy for it.  And in the end not a word from the company.

The second kind of interview comes in the form of stump the chump.

stumpThis is another fun type of interview.  It can come in many forms.  Sometimes it can be in the form of free consultation.  Sometimes, the interviewer just gets his rocks off trying to prove he is smarter or that you are not as qualified as you say you are.

In the type where it comes as free consultation, the interviewer has usually been trying to resolve a production issue for quite some time and just can’t figure it out.  They will present a partial scenario to you and see if you can figure it out on limited info.  If you can’t, they might come back with “We already tried that” or they may provide more info.  Again, this is all in an effort to try and resolve a problem that they couldn’t.  Sometimes  it is often to try and save face with the boss showing that even an expert couldn’t do it.

The alternate style, the interviewer knows from the start that you may be overqualified but really wants to just prove they are as smart or smarter.  Often times it just proves that they have some really erroneous understandings about SQL Server.  One such interview, the person seemed to have an explicit Oracle background and wanted to get into the internals of SQL Server.  He wanted to get into index trees and tried to go down the path of some io statistics for queries based on a bunch of unknowns.

There is really only one thing to do in these types of interviews.  Once you recognize what is going on (be it stump the chump or the never-ending interview), politely excuse yourself and look for a position somewhere else.

T-SQL Tuesday #53 – Work Hard, Play Hard, Joke Hard

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Published on: April 8, 2014

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It is April and April Fools has only just begun.  Well, or so Matt Velic (blog | twitter) would have us believe.

Matt decided that this month for TSQL Tuesday, he would pull out all stops to help us break out the inner prankster in ourselves.

You can read all about it from his invitation here.

Reading the invitation made me immediately flash to a couple of recent possibilities or things that maybe others had done.

For instance, I thought about the April Fools post I did about Backups in SQL 2014.  Mix a little truth and a splash of fun and you have a believable April Fools blog post.  You can read that post here.

Then I thought momentarily on a great post by Paul Randal for April Fools.  Paul talked about a great prank that could be pulled on some co-workers and it would really get them in a frenzy.  You could read about his Day 0 checksum issue here.

Then I flashed to something a friend tried to pull on me.  He sent me a script to the following tune.

[codesyntax lang=”tsql”]

[/codesyntax]

For the seasoned DBA, the joke in this one is easy to spot.  But it will still catch some people and it could provide a good laugh.

But my favorite piece of seriousness to parley in the workplace comes from this gem.

ae83_phantom_keystroker_v2

This gem from our friends at ThinkGeek®, can provide several minutes of hard laughter.  You plug this into an USB port that is not very visible and then camp out and watch for the fun to begin.  If they are typing in SSMS, you could end up with some real fun (random key strokes inserted into keywords etc).

Whatever you do, please do not attempt this with somebody who will be connecting to a Production instance.

T-SQL Tuesday #051: Bets and Results

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: February 18, 2014

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The line for this months TSQL Tuesday required wagers be made concerning the risks and bets that have either been made or not made.

At close, we saw 17 people step up and place remarkable markers.  Today, we will recap the game and let you know who the overall winner from this week of game play in Vegas just happened to be.

poker-hands

 

This is about some bets, so we needed to understand some of the hands that might have won, right?

Let’s see the hands dealt to each of our players this past week.

Andy GalbraithAndy Galbraith (b|t) shared a full house of risk this month when talking about backups.  Do you have a backup if you haven’t tested it.

“without regular test restores, your backups do not provide much of a guarantee of recoverability.  (Even successful test restores don’t 100% guarantee recoverability, but it’s much closer to 100%).”

 

Boris HristovBoris Hristov (b|t) thought he was feeling lucky.  He couldn’t imagine things getting worse.  He even kept reminding himself that it couldn’t get worse.  He was dealt a hand and it was pretty good – and then everything just flushed down the drain.

A disaster with replication and with the storage system – ouch!

 

Chris YatesChris Yates (b|t) wanted to push his hand a little further than Andy this week.  Chris went all-in on his backups.  At least he went all-in early in his career.

The gamble you ask?  Chris didn’t test the backups until after he learned an important lesson.

“I’ve always been taught to work hard and hone your skill set; for me backups fall right into that line of thinking. Always keep improving, learn from your mistakes.”

 

Doug PurnellDoug Purnell (b|t) shares another risky move to make.  In this hand, Doug thought he could parlay maintenance plans into an enterprise level backup solution.

What Doug learned is that maintenance plans don’t offer a checksum for your backups.  After learning that, he decided to stay and get things straight.

 

Jason BrimhallJason Brimhall (b|t) took a different approach.  I took the approach of how these career gambles may or may not impact home, family, health, and career in general.

There is a life balance to be sought and gained.  It shouldn’t be all about work all the time.  And if work is causing health problems, then it is time for a change.

It’s important to have good health and enjoy life away from work.

 

Jeffrey VerheulJeffrey Verheul (b|t) had multiple hands that many of us have probably seen.  I’d bet we would even be able to easily relate.

In the end, what stuck with me was how more than once we saw Jeffrey up the ante with a story of somebody who was not playing with a full deck.  If you don’t have a full deck, sometimes the best hand is not a very good one overall.

 

Joey D'Antoni

Joey D’Antoni (b|t) had a nightmare experience that he shared.  We have all seen too many employers like what he described.

The short of it is summed up really will by Joey.

“The moral of this story, is to think about your life ahead of your firms. The job market is great for data pros—if you are unhappy, leave.”

 

K. Brian KelleyK. Brian Kelley (b|t) brought us the first four of a kind.  Not only did he risk life and limb with SQL 7, but he tried to do it over a WAN link that was out of his control.

When he bets, he bets BIG!  DTS failures, WAN failures, SQL 7, SQL 2000, low bandwidth and somebody playing with the nobs and shutting down the WAN links while laughing devishly at the frustration they were causing.

 

Kenneth FisherKenneth Fisher (b) thought he would try to one-up Jeffery by getting employers that would not play with a full deck either.

From one POS time tracking system to another POS time tracking system to yet another.  Apparently, time tracking was doomed to failure and isn’t really that important.

That seems to be a lot of hefty wagers somebody is willing to lay down.

 

Matt VelicMatt Velic (b|t) brought his A-game.  He was in a no prisoner kind of mood.

Matt decided he was going to real you in, divert your attention, and then lay down the wood hard.  Don’t try to get anything past Matt – especially if it wreaks of shifty and illegal.

The way he parlayed his wagers this month was a riot.

 

Mickey StueweMickey Stuewe (b|t) was the only person willing to Double-down and to even try to place a bet on snake-eyes.  With the two-pronged attack at doubles, she was able to come up with two pairs.

To compound her doubles kind of wagers, she was laying down markers on functions.  Check out her casino wizardry with her display of code and execution plans.

 

Rob FarleyRob Farley (b|t) was a victim of his own early success.  He had a lucky run and then it seemed to peter out a bit.  In the end he was able to manage an Azure high hand

Rob reminds us of some very important things with his post.  You can get lucky every now and again and be successful without a whole lot of foresight.  Be careful and try to plan and test for the what-if moment.

 

Bobby TablesRobert Pearl (b|t) rolled the dice in this card game.  He was hoping for a pair of kings with his pair of clusters and the planned but unplanned upgrade.

There is nothing like a last minute decision to upgrade an “active-active” cluster.  In the end Bobby Tables had an Ace up his sleeve and was able to pull it out for this sweet pair.

 

Russ Thomas

Russ Thomas (b|t) ever have the business buy some software and then thrust it on IT to have it installed last minute?

That is almost what happened in this story that had some interesting yet eventual results.

Russ weaves the story very well, but take your eye of the game at hand!!

 

Sebastian Meine

 

Sebastian Meine (b|t) brought needles to the table.  That is wicked crazy and leaves quite the impression.

Maybe he thought he was going to inject some cards into the game to improve his hand.  I was almost certain he had nothing going, but magically he was able to produce some favorable data.

Oh, that was the point of his post!  Have a weakness? It will be found, injected and exploited.

 

Steve Jones

Steve Jones (b|t) had a crazy house going.  Imagine 2000 or so people all trying to help you make your bets and play your hand.  That is a FULL house.

Of course, his full house was more to deal with a misunderstood risk with the application and causing performance problems in the database.

In the end, they fixed it and it started working better.  A little testing would have gone a long way on this one!

 

Wayne SheffieldWayne Sheffield (b|t) in perhaps the most disappointing and surprising turn of events, Wayne ended up with a hand that could have won but he folded.

Well, Wayne didn’t fold but there were some bets that resulted in people folding and maybe worse in the story that Wayne shares.  This can happen when you are betting on something you know nothing about and really should get somebody to help make the correct bets for you.

 

House

And to recap, the overall winner was…

the HOUSE.  With a winning hand of a royal flush.

Thanks to all of the SQLFamily for participating this month.  There were some really great experiences shared.  The posts were great and it was a lot of fun.  I hope you got as much enjoyment out of the topic and articles this month as I did.

Risking Health, Life and Family

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: February 11, 2014

TSQL2sDay150x150Since announcing the topic last week for T-SQL Tuesday, I have thought about many different possibilities for my post.  All of them would have been really good examples.  The problem has not been the quality but in the end just settling on my wager for this hand.

You see, this month T-SQL Tuesday has the theme of risks, betting on a technology, solution or person, or flatly having had an opportunity and not taken it (that’s a bet too in a sense).  Sometimes we have to play it safe, and sometimes we have to take some degree of risk.

If you are interested, the invite for T-SQL Tuesday is here and the deadline for submission is not until Midnight GMT on 12 February.

It’s a Crapshoot

craps-0208When all the dice finally settled, I decided it would be best for me to talk about some recent experiences in this Past Post.

First a little dribble with the back story.  Just don’t lose your focus on the price with this PK*.  Readers, please don’t Press and be patient during this monologue.

Over the past year I have been pushing hard with work and SQL.  I was working for a firm as a part of their remote DBA services offering.  As time progressed and I became more and more tenured with the firm, I found that I was working harder and harder.  Not that the work was hard, but that there was a lot of it.

Stress rose higher and higher (I must have been oblivious to it).  At one point I started getting frequent migraines.  I went to the doctor to try and figure things out.  I visited the chiropractor to try and figure things out.  The chiropractor proved to be useful and had some profound advice.  He asked me how many hours I would sit in front of the computer on a daily basis (since that was my job).  My reply to him shocked him pretty good.  I was putting in regular 20 hour days.

Having weekly chiropractor sessions helped somewhat with the migraines but it was not nearly enough.  I figured I would just have to deal with it since we couldn’t figure out what the root cause was (yeah we were trying to perf tune this DBA).

In addition to the chiropractor and traditional medicine to fight migraines, I also tried some homeopathic remedies.  Again, similar results.  It seemed to help but wasn’t an overall solution and not a consistent solution.

Later in the year I found something that seemed to help a little with the migraines too.  I started using Gunnars.  Sitting in front of a computer for 20 hours a day on most days, it made sense there might be some eye strain.  Wearing the Gunnars, I immediately felt less eye strain.  That was awesome.  Too bad it did not reduce the migraines.

After more than a year of having regular migraines, I found that the migraines started occurring more regularly (yes there was a baseline).  Near the end of 2013, I found that there was a period that I had eight straight migraine days.  These migraines typically lasted the duration of the day and there wasn’t much I could do outside of just dealing with it and making sure work got done.

Notice the risk?  What are all of the risks that might be involved at this point?  Yes, I was risking my health, family and work.

Russian Roulette

rouletteNear the end of the year 2013, I made a very risky decision.  I decided to part ways with the firm and pursue a consulting career.  This was as scary as could possibly be.  I was choosing to leave a “Safe” job knowing that I had a job and secured income – so long as the company did well.

Not only was I choosing to gamble with the job change and risking whether or not I would have work flowing in to keep me busy, I was also risking the well-being of my family.  With a family, there is the added risk of ensuring you provide for them.  This was a huge gamble for me.  Not to mention the concern with the migraines and whether I would be able to work this day or that based on the frequency and history of these things.

In this case, the bet on Green came up GREEN!  Over two months into this decision I have yet to have a migraine.  For my health this was the right decision.  I have also been lucky enough to be able to get myself into the right consulting opportunity at the right time with the right people.  Because of that, we have been able to keep me busy the whole time.

With all of that said, thanks to Randy Knight (@randy_knight) for bringing me in as a Principal Consultant at SQL Solutions Group.  With the change to consulting, Randy has helped to keep my hours down to less than 20 hours a day.

ssg

The thing about those 20 hour days is there were several people trying to get me to back off.  They’d say things like “leave it for tomorrow” or “the work will still be there.”  That may be true, but the firms clients had certain expectations.  Learning when to back off and keep the foot on the gas pedal is something everybody needs to learn.  For me, I felt I had to do it because it was promised to the client.  Now as a consultant, I feel I can better control when those deliverables are due.  Thanks to Wayne (@DBAWayne) for continuing to point this out as a symptom of “burnout.”

In the end, it took making a risky change to avoid the burnout and get my health back under control.

*PK in this case is a term for a pick ‘em bet and not in reference to a Primary Key as is commonly used in SQL Server.

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