T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: March 13, 2012

Another month and another opportunity to write about an interesting topic.  This month hosting TSQL Tuesday is Argenis Fernandez (Blog | Twitter).

This month, Argenis has invited us to talk about demons from our past.  Ok, not necessarily demons but at least share why you might be a Jack of All Trades or a Master of something or nothing.

Thinking about the topic, I thought of some very good stories.

Jack of All Trades

Back in the day, I worked in a one-man IT shop.  On any given day, my duties involved configuring SOHO routers and firewalls as well as higher end Cisco equipment.  I was also responsible for Active Directory, pc maintenance,printer repair, Exchange, domain registrations and all things SQL.

My least favorite duty was that of Janitorial Engineer.  It was amongst my duties to ensure the restrooms were stocked and that the toilets were free-flowing.  I can’t necessarily say that this skill helped advance my career.  I can’t say that it was even helpful at home.

I can say that this duty did help me make the decision to specialize more in SQL Server – though I was already headed in that direction.

Master, erm…

Like Argenis said in the TSQL Tuesday announcement, I don’t much consider myself an expert or master of anything.  I do think I am rather proficient and I do recognize many shortcomings within the vast technology, we love, called SQL Server.

I aligned myself with this technology because of the constant challenge and opportunity to learn.  I enjoy working with SQL Server.  I still do not find as much pleasure in plumbing as I do in SQL Server.

What is a Favicon?

Categories: Blogging, News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: March 8, 2012

If I were to show you the tabs in the following pic without a description, would you recognize the websites to which they belong?

I would dare say that you would likely recognize them.  Not due to the labels on the tabs, but quite possibly due to the icon on the tab.

Sometimes these icons are the logo for the respective site.  Sometimes, it is just something that might be fun.  In either case, it is something that helps brand the site in a fashion suitable to you.  These little icons are called “favicons” and they are pretty easy to put in place.

If you haven’t considered doing it, I think it would be worth the effort to create one.  It is a means to brand your site.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to do it.

Tutorial

I used a free website tool to create my favicon.  You can find it here.  The tool is appropriately called favicongenerator.

 Prior to being asked how to create one, I had no clue what those little pics were called.  Nor did I know how easy it was to create one.  It took me a few minutes searching the internet to figure out what it was called (I think I started by searching for “tab icon internet”).  Once I learned that it was called a favicon, it was easy to find instructions on how to create it.  Now it should be just a bit easier.

My Top 5 for 2011

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 28, 2011

I have seen a few recap posts bouncing around the net and started thinking about my own blog.  So out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at my top 5 posts for 2011.

So, since I already subscribe to Google Analytics, I decided to check the stats in there.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t give me good information on what has been read through a feed reader.  For those views, I have only been able to track down the info for the past 30 days.  So for the fun of it, (and even though the numbers don’t match the feeds) let’s take a look at the most popular posts for the past year – based on Google Analytics.

5.  Activity Monitor and Profiler – This is a post where I talked about using Profiler to discover the behind-the-scenes queries that Microsoft wrote in order to give us the Activity Monitor tool.

4.  SQL Bitwise Operations – I have a few posts similar in nature to this one.  As the name implies, I demonstrate the use of bit-wise operations within SQL Server

3.  A little Dance with SSIS and Informix – This one is rather surprising.  This was written in July of 2010.  Yet, it makes the Top 5 list for 2011.  This article follows my trials with working out an SSIS package that required connecting to Informix.  I think this article is a very useful one in troubleshooting those pesky packages that involve Informix.

2.  SQL 2008 DTS – Starting to see a trend here.  This is another one of those articles I wrote as I was troubleshooting DTS backwards compatibility.  This has been a very handy reference for myself.  As luck would have it, this was also written in July 2010.

1.  70-450 Study Guide – The most popular post of the year (according to Google) was my little study guide.  This study guide merely gives links back to various topics as outlined on the Exam page on the Microsoft site.  There is useful content there to help learn some of the material for being a better DBA – and yes it will help in studying for the exam.  But the guide is designed as a high-level overview and does not delve into specifics.

When I take a look at the feed stats for the past 30 days, I get a much different picture than what Google Analytics provides me.  I am sure if I had the proper tools or even the proper configurations, I probably could see an entirely different story for the entire year.  As it is, these are five useful articles and worth the read.

 

May 2011 S3OLV Meeting Reminder

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: May 10, 2011

This is a quick reminder of the upcoming May meeting for the Las Vegas SQL Server Users Group.  We will be meeting on May 12, 2011 at the usual time and at the usual place.

We would really like to get a gaggle of database professionals out to support the group and the speaker this month.  Erika Bakse will be treating us to a slick presentation on MDX.  You can see the original info on this upcoming meeting here.  Time, date, meeting info, abstract, etc is all available in that original post.

My Public Events RoundUp

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: No Comments
Published on: May 10, 2011

As a part of my careers goals, I am trying to remain involved in the community through various engagements and events.  Recently, I was able to present to the South Africa Johannesburg group as a part of SQL Saturday 83.  I posted an announcement on that opportunity here.

I wanted to briefly cover my experience with that presentation.  I was quite pleased with the presentation and know that I could have done better with it.  That is where practice comes into play with each presentation.  One area of concern was trying to invoke group participation.  The group in JHB participated quite well – considerably better than the last time I presented this particular presentation.  I don’t think the book giveaways had much to do with it since I didn’t even mention that.  Also, they were participating well before we did the first book question.  I might have been a bit punchy during the preso – lack of sleep and sinus meds might have contributed.

I would like to thank everybody in JHB for a great job.  It was nice having a panorama camera available so I could see the group too.  That was very helpful.  I have not heard back yet if the recording is going to be made publicly available.  If so, I will pass it along so more of you can poke fun at me. 😉

This week, I will be giving that very same presentation to the DBA Virtual Chapter.  That presentation will be Wednesday May 11, 2011 at 12PM Mountain Time.  Since this is a virtual chapter, that means the presentation will be done via livemeeting.  If you are interested, you can register and attend the meeting via these links.

Registration: https://www.livemeeting.com/lrs/8000181573/Registration.aspx?pageName=c7pzbgr25qrpqxt5

Attendee: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/8000181573/join?id=P4583F&role=attend

I hope to see a few people on for this presentation.  It is a low-level kind of presentation and is aimed at creating useful documentation with sql scripts (thus helping reduce cost).

January 2011 Meeting Recap

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: January 20, 2011

One week ago today the Las Vegas User group held our monthly meeting.  One week ago today, at that meeting, we had our best attendance in over a year.  It sure felt good to have a great turnout.

At that meeting, Wayne Sheffield presented to us on temp tables and table variables.  He presented us with a ton of great material.  Many people learned something useful.  Better yet, we got through the meeting without technical difficulty.  We recorded the meeting and it is posted on the livemeeting website for your consumption now.  Near the end of the video, Wayne has requested that you fill out a form at speakerrate.com.  Anybody that was at the meeting, please do so as well.  Please enjoy this little offering from S3OLV to you as you look to learn more about SQL Server.

Recording Details

Subject: January 2011 S3OLV
Recording URL: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups/view
Recording ID: GZ76C7

Thanks to all who attended in person and over the net.  It was a great meeting and we sure enjoyed putting it together this month.

January ’11 Meeting Reminder

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Published on: January 12, 2011

If you saw my blog post the other day, you know that S3OLV has a meeting this Thursday (Jan 13, 2010) at 6:30 PM PST.  If not, then you can read that post from here, and then read the rest of this post.

Over the past few months we at S3OLV have been having a tremendous amount of problems with our meetings.  Some of those problems have to deal with the technology.  Some of the problems have to deal with low attendance.  Well, this post is mostly an update on both of those fronts.

As of this evening, we have ~20 people committed to attending this meeting.  That is the highest number I have seen in the last year.  I am real excited to have this many people show up.  We have had decent numbers show up when only 7 or 8 people commit.  If we have people attend that did not commit – that is awesome.  This month I sent out a few reminders of the upcoming event.  That seems to have helped.

On the technology front, I went through a dry-run of the livemeeting with our Presenter Wayne Sheffield.  We made sure audio, bandwidth, and video all worked.  Wayne also spotted a few things he wants to improve between now and tomorrow.  Prior to the meeting we will do another “mic” check to confirm again that all is well.

A third problem was the meeting location locking us out last month.  Oh that was extremely perturbing.  The center has apologized and has confirmed that the space will be available and open tomorrow.  We’ll see on that one if they follow through – but at least they apologized.

I will be signing on at about 6PM PST (7 MST and 9 EST) to do the “mic” check and get the meeting rolling from Utah (hence the MST).  Even from remote, I plan on helping in any way I can with the Las Vegas UG.  For instance, some of the things I can do from remote would be to continue to line up speakers, do presentations, get the newsletter effort rolling, site transition to blog, and move our mailing list to a database on SQL Server that we can manage (less dependency on outside sources).

We are looking for comments and recommendations.  Furthermore we are looking for talented people to help in these efforts.  One area we could really use some help is with the MARKETING.  If you know what you are doing and how we could better advertise our SQL Group to the area – then please drop us a line.

I hope to see many of you online on January 13th at 6:30 PST (UTC -8).  This meeting will be good!

January 2011 S3OLV

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: January 10, 2011

Tis the calm before the storm.  At least it feels like that.  The invites have all been sent.  The presenter lined up.  Reminders have been sent and now we are down to just a couple of reminder blogs and finger crossing.

If you have been following the adventures of the LV UG, you know that the past couple of months have been a real riot.  Definitely not a riot in a good way.  We are talking about problems from all directions and frags blasting our efforts to pieces.  This month we buck that trend.

One thing for certain that will be different this month is that I will be participating virtually.  I will be attending the meeting through our livemeeting setup – remotely.  For those wishing to attend like me, you can do so by following these two simple steps.

  1. Copy this address and paste it into your web browser:
    https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups/join
  2. Copy and paste the required information:
    Meeting ID: GZ76C7
    Location: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups

Our meeting will be held at 6:30 PM PST (Jan 13, 2011), but you are welcome to join the meeting starting at 6 PM PST.

This month we have a guest presenter from the east coast who will be talking to us about temporary tables and table variables.  There is a lot of good info to be gained from this presentation.  Wayne Sheffield is the presenter and we are glad he has given us a second shot at this presentation.  He, like me, will be presenting from remote.

Powershell, Me and the MCM part II

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: December 20, 2010

Last week I posted the first part of this series.  I thought it would be a good idea to give a little follow-up on how my foray into Powershell as I attempted to download this videos.

Attempt 1:  Failed miserably.  I did not have enough disk space and thus only downloaded about half of the videos.  I tried to remedy this by changing the path to a different volume but that threw out some error messages.  The script works best when continuing to use the $env variable in the path for the location to dump the files.

Attempt 2:  From a different machine this was working beautifully until I noticed that every once in a while a file would error out and the download would resume with the next video in the list.  When I attempted to look up those particular videos, they were all present.  So I restarted thinking it was a local environment problem.

Attempt 3:  I figured out that attempt 2 was failing because my laptop was going to standby – duh!!!  I disabled the standby and finally got the download to work from start to finish without fail.

Now, I can place these videos on my Android and watch/listen from anywhere I have my phone.  Since I have an auxiliary port in my car, I can just plug the phone in, let it charge, and listen to the videos while I commute – through the car speakers.  It is nice to have such a high-level of training material available for a quick refresher or for that first time through.  I recommend people get on board and take advantage of what Microsoft, Paul Randal, and others have given to the community through this training.  Since I pay out of pocket for my training – this is the right price for me.

Thanks for the Christmas Gift.

Powershell, Me and the MCM

Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: December 16, 2010

If you haven’t heard yet, Microsoft has made some significant changes to the MCM program.  The changes make the certification more accessible to the masses.

You can read more about that from sources such as the following:

  1. Grant Fritchey
  2. Jason Strate
  3. Glenn Berry
  4. Microsoft

This post is not so much about the changes.  More it is about the information dissemination related to the MCM.  I saw on twitter that there were some videos available to watch concerning the MCM training.  I was curious where these videos were so I decided to go looking for the videos.  In my search for the videos, I came across the Blog post referenced above by Jason Strate.  In that post, he has a link to the videos.  I decided to check out the videos and I decided to start downloading them so I could use them as study aids as I work on the MCITP.

Downloading those videos one by one is somewhat tedious and time consuming.  Thus while some were in the process of downloading, I started working on a few other things and saw another twitter post come across about a Powershell script to download those MCM training videos.  This is great news – except I have never run a powershell script.

Well, no time like the present to learn.  First thing to do is to check out the blog article about the script – it has a few downloads.  The blog post is by Eric Humphrey, and can be found here.  After having read what he had to say about the script and downloading the necessary files that he lists, it was time to find out how to run a powershell script.  A little looking and I came across this article.

Excellent I am well under way now to run this script.  After following some of the recommendations in that article (e.g. security settings), it was time to look at the script and see what I needed to know from there, such as paths required for add-in files or paths for destination files.  Some quick adjustments to the userprofile path and to the download directory, as well as copying the HTMLAgilityPack into the userprofile path – and we are all set.

Now I have the script running and downloading the files – but it looks like it is going to be running for a long time.  This is a very useful tool for me at this moment.  This demonstrates another use for Powershell as well.  I haven’t yet decided that I will pursue the MCM, however I will use these videos to improve my knowledge base on SQL server.  I would recommend that people go check out these videos.  It was somewhat surprising to me to see that many of the pages had not been viewed very frequently at all.  This is great training material.  I recommend getting it and adding it to the reference material you may already have.

If you are just looking to browse the videos individually, you can find the site here.

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