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

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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.

Tis the Season

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Tags: ,
Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: December 15, 2010

This month has been quite the month for change in my family.  The changes that we are experiencing did not end with the birth of our baby girl two weeks ago.  My employment is changing too.  Along with the employment change comes another change – moving back to Utah.

My wife and I feel that it is considerably better for our family to live in Utah closer to extended family.  The schools are better, we have family, and more room to grow.  The added benefit is that my car windows are less likely to be shot out while living in Utah (as has happened to me pulling into my driveway here in Las Vegas).

Since we are moving, and my employer is in Las Vegas, it stands to reason that my job would be changing too.  My employer has been gracious enough to allow me to telecommute part time from Utah (woohoo).  I also am working on filling in the work gaps with some other projects / contracts.  This is a step in the direction of becoming a consultant and running my own business.  All of that actually makes me nervously excited.

Here’s to changes and here’s to Happy Holidays.  Both of these changes are huge gifts for my family.  My children are extremely excited to be able to live closer to cousins and grandparents (not to mention aunts and uncles).

T-SQL Tuesday #13 – Business Requirements

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: December 13, 2010

Business Requirements

We have made it yet another month and to yet another episode in the continuing saga known as TSQL Tuesday.  This month we are being hosted by Steve Jones ( Blog | @Wayoutwest ) of SqlServerCentral fame.  Steve has asked us to speak a little bit about business requirements, interpreting those requirements, and some of the pitfalls that may or may not exist in the whole communication process of getting a project done.  Now, can somebody please explain the requirements for me?

What issues have you had in interacting with the business to get your job done?

I think a common area that is easily overlooked when it comes to requirements and interpretation of requirements is report creation.  A common problem is that there are no defined or written requirements for the creation of a report.  When there are inadequate requirements, it is easy to miss the intention of the report and thus frustrate the business group that requested the report.  Another problem that can arise is the perceived inaccuracy of a report – even when all business requirements are properly met and signed off by the requesting business group.  How can that be?  Let me explain.

Perceptions

A recent problem was brought to light that revolved around the creation of two similar reports.  The reports were to be used by different business groups and each was requested by a different group.  The values in the reports no longer match due to a change requested on ReportA by GroupA.  GroupB doesn’t think this is accurate and wants both reports to match.  Small problem is that both reports should not produce the exact same results based on requirements and usage.  The report for GroupA has some extra requirements and filters placed on it to prevent the users from seeing data about former employees.  The report for GroupB is different in that it should show an overall summary for all data, even data of former employees.

Re-Alignment

Managing business requirements is almost as much about managing the perceptions of the business users as it is understanding what the business truly wants.  It is important that you are able to help them understand what it is you will be doing, what you can accomplish, when you can do it, and what impact it may have on other business parts (if they are known).  When an issue arises, it is best to approach the business and try to understand what the disconnect is.  In the case of the example of two reports outlined, I had to research and test both reports to get a better understanding of what the problem was.  Once I did that, then it was a matter of explaining the findings to the business.  From there, a discussion between business analyst and the two departments for which the reports serve needs to take place and an agreement made.

Conclusion

This is a rather short and straight-forward entry for this month for TSQL Tuesday.  This is a delicate subject and I am sure many people will have many more tales to tell.  I think it is most important to approach the business and try to help them understand what you understand from the requirements and get it hammered out before too much development has been done.

December 2010 SSSOLV Reminder

Categories: News, Professional, SSC, SSSOLV
Comments: No Comments
Published on: December 8, 2010

Here is a quick reminder and a repost of the announcement from last week.

This month we will be broadcasting the meeting once again.  This month the technology bug will not bite us like last month.  I can feel it – we are bound for a problem free evening ;).

For any that are interested in attending this presentation virtually, you are welcome to attend.  Here is the information that you will need in order to attend the meeting.

Attendee URL:  https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups/join?id=8Z4B6M&role=attend

Meeting ID:  8Z4B6M

Wayne Sheffield is going to be presenting to us this month.  His presentation will be on the subject of Table Variables and some myths concerning those.  It is certain to be well worth your time.

December 2010 S3OLV Meeting

Categories: News, Professional, SSC
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 30, 2010

It is amazing how the months just seem to fly by these days.  I probably say that every month.  It seems appropriate though.

This month we will be broadcasting the meeting once again.  This month the technology bug will not bite us like last month.  I can feel it – we are bound for a problem free evening ;).

For any that are interested in attending this presentation virtually, you are welcome to attend.  Here is the information that you will need in order to attend the meeting.

Attendee URL:  https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/UserGroups/join?id=8Z4B6M&role=attend

Meeting ID:  8Z4B6M

Wayne Sheffield is going to be presenting to us this month.  His presentation will be on the subject of Table Variables and some myths concerning those.  It is certain to be well worth your time.

Voting Day is Here

Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 2, 2010

Tis the season for voting and SQLServerPedia has thrown out an election as well.  The SQLServerPedia awards are under way and voting will last until Nov. 9th.

Surprisingly, I have a couple of nominations.  I would ask for your vote and am delighted by every single vote I get.

I hope you vote for the best in each category.  Let’s get out and make our voices heard for something that really matters.  There is a lot of good stuff that has been nominated.

You can cast your vote here.

T-SQL Tuesday #012 – Skills

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: November 2, 2010

November is upon us and in some areas this also means that the leaves have changed color.  With the change in leaves we also have a change in TSQL Ones…err Tuesday this month.  The change is with good reason as well.  November is a busy month in the DBA world.  PASS is holding the Summit Nov 8 – 11 in Seattle (that involves the second Tuesday).  We have Connections this week in Las Vegas (despite being in Vegas, I won’t be there due to budgetary constraints).  And we have Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter) hosting TSQLTuesday this month.

Paul has chosen the topic of “why are DBA skills necessary?”

You know, like nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…

Oh wait, maybe I do have some of those computer skills.  I don’t have nunchuku skills though, and that could be useful from time to time.

As a DBA, we occasionally have the opportunity of attracting a new client or a new job or a new database.  It seems that more often than not, some of the skills requisite (at least they should be) of owning a database are missing.

Some of these include:

Backup and recovery of a database
Indexing
Disaster Recovery
Normalization and De-normalization
Performance Tuning
Server Patching
Proper Storage recommendations
De-fragmentation
File and Filegroup Creation
Performance Troubleshooting
User and Database Security
And more…

And more…

I want to touch on some of the other skills of a DBA.  These are the skills that a DBA must use in order to be successful (besides knowing the craft).  For me, these skills help make the job just a bit easier and they seem to be present in many of the top tier Database Professionals.  For me, these skills include:  Communication, Participation, Sense of Community, and Drive.  These may also appear as attributes – but I think they are things that a professional can work on and improve on to improve in the work place.

Communication

This is a skill employed in many different ways in the profession.  Many have chosen to communicate via blogs and via speaking at events, while others have written books.  This skill is a must have in the day to day business and helps to mend fences between DBA and business as well as DBA and Development.  Learning how to interact with both the positive as well as the harsh feedback is critical to career growth.

Participation

As a database professional, it is essential to be involved in meetings and the decision making process.  Just being present does not always mean that you are participating.  Are you engaged in thought of getting out of the meeting or about the next level on Angry Birds?  Or are you listening, taking notes (if necessary), and interjecting comment that is constructive to the meeting?  When a task comes across your desk, what is your reaction?  Do you just do it or do you interface with the requester to ensure that the request meets the needs?  Occasionally it will happen that the requirements do not reflect the true need from the person making the request.  Without talking to that person, a level of frustration is accomplished when you return to them having completed the request but not having fulfilled the underlying needs.

Sense of Community

One of the best networks available to use is the social network for the Database Professional.  There is a good amount of people always willing to help via twitter (#sqlhelp) and online forums (sqlservercentral.com).  A good DBA knows his/her limits and knows that they don’t know everything.  Admit it early and be willing to rely on the community when you don’t know something.  Part of being a good database professional is knowing where to find help and where to find the answer.  This also ties in with the communication skill.  There is no need to memorize every nook and cranny of SQL Server.  Learn how to take notes, create documentation, and how to talk to the community.  This will help you learn more about SQL as well as help you build friendships.

Drive

This one is a lot more difficult.  A skill that is helpful in being a better Database Professional is an internal motivation to be better and to create a better database environment no matter the employer or project.  If this means longer hours or making significant changes – then do it.  Sometimes it also means that we need to make a list and present the good with the bad of the environment and then make suggestions on how to improve.  If you are really good and don’t put in any extra effort – imagine how good you could be should you dedicate a few extra hours here and there to becoming a better Database Professional.

Oh and the other stuff

I don’t want to completely ignore those important skills.  There are many accidental DBA’s out in the world due to a database having come into existence.  Many times a database can exist without a DBA due to various variables such as vendor support, little to no activity, or low criticality of the data.  Many times one of these databases eventually explodes into being much more than initially planned (high transaction or high criticality or even reduced vendor support).  At this point a DBA is needed.  DBA’s help protect the data and are an investment for the company.  A DBA can help provide timely information as well as protect the data and ensure business continuity.  For me, it is a worthwhile investment – and not just because I do the work.

In Conclusion

Today is Election Day throughout the United States.  Get out and Vote!

There are elections at SQLServerPedia, SQLRally and then there are also the political elections.

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