24 Hours of PASS

August 31, 2009 at 1:42 pm (PASS) (, , , )

Or, as you should tell your boss, 24 hours of free training by many of the leaders of the industry presenting original sessions that will teach you about topics from SSIS to Spatial Data to Index Selection to CLR performance to… well, you get the idea. This shouldn’t be a hard sell for anyone to their boss. “Hey, remember that problem we had the other day with the database that was in simple recovery mode? Yeah, well, Kalen Delaney is presenting for an hour on just that topic.” Your follow-up question to the boss, should then be, not, can I, but “Do you want me to get a meeting room and project this for everyone?”

Developers, designers, architects, administrators, and managers are going to be able to find something interesting to learn about during this 24 hours of intense training. You won’t be alone while attending. I’ve heard that upwards of 3000 people have registered and that number is growing. You can even watch and listen with people like Tom LaRock, who is planning on hitting all 24 sessions and blogging, tweeting, whatever, live as he does it.

Get over to the registration page and pick the sessions that look best to you.

I’m even presenting one sessions at Noon GMT (8 AM EST) on Query Performance Tuning 101. I’ll try to give you the basics for going back & tuning your database, from identifying what is running slow and why, to figuring out how to see where the problems are, to fixing the query/index/table/whatever. It’s a 50,000 foot introduction to performance tuning and optimization. It’s based on the work I did recently for Rob Walter’s new book “Beginning SQL Server 2008 Administration“. You can get even deeper into the subject by hitting my last two books “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled” and “Dissecting SQL Server Execution Plans.”

And after the 24 hours, have another chat with your boss. You want to attend the PASS Summit in November so that you can get even more time with all these great people and many, many more. If you need help selling him, check out the return on investment page for some great ideas. Come on. If 24 sessions is great, how mind-numbling fabulous will 160 sessions be?

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SQL Server Standard Update

August 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm (sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication)

We’ve received wonderful support from the community. Brad McGehee has a list with great people on it who have volunteered to be technical editors. A bunch of people have inquired about writing for the reincarnation of SQL Server Standard (SSS). I’ve accepted, to date, eight different abstracts. I’ve started learning what it means to be an editor. I’ve gone through first drafts on four articles from some great people. They’re smart and you’re going to love the information they’re putting together for you.

But, we need more. A lot more. Please look over the requirements and if you meet them, consider sending us an abstract (send it to grant.fritchey -at- sqlpass dot org).

A few suggestions to help you out.

  • Right now, we’re looking for technical articles. But that doesn’t mean I only want SQL Server articles. We want .NET, XML, CLR, SMO, PowerShell… anything that’s technical and related to manipulating data, databases, or database servers. PASS is for developers every bit as much as it’s for DBA’s.
  • Write about something that you have a passion for. Yes, a good article on the precise behavior of indexes during a page split could be interesting & useful, but you’re only going to be able to make it as interesting as you are interested in the topic. You need to get excited about what you’re going to write.
  • Fill out your PassPort entry before you send me the abstract. I can’t accept it, no matter how magnificent it might be, until you do.
  • Have fun. Bring out your voice. Make the article sing. Include a funny story about the time you dropped a production database as part of your article on backups. Not every technical piece needs to be completely dry. A little bit of humor (even a very little) goes a long way. But you don’t need to be funny, just write in an interesting fashion.

Those are just a few ideas. You don’t need to apply any of them (well, except for the PassPort entry, that you have to do).

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#ActiveAugust Final Post

August 29, 2009 at 12:30 pm (Misc) (, , )

I haven’t done well with this. I missed a post. I missed a bunch of workouts. I put on weight. Basically #ActiveAugust for me was one giant bag of FAIL. Anyway, I finished up the week with a couple of days teaching karate. I did workouts before class, including a tabata on the heavy bag and just general calisthenics, shadow boxing and practicing techniques. I got my chainsaw back from repairs today. I cut & split wood for about 2 1/2 hours. Final weight 201 from a start of 194. That’s +7 in four weeks. Not good. Is the next month going to be #StarvationSeptember? That’s what I need.

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PASS Board Nominations

August 25, 2009 at 6:50 am (PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , )

I think the Professional Association of SQL Server users (PASS) is an extremely important organization for SQL Server DBA’s. Even if you’re not a member, you’ve never attended the Summit, gone to a local chapter meeting, read the magazine (while it was in print), took part in the special interest groups, or even read the technical articles available on the web site, you know, or work with, someone who has. What’s more, the people who get involved with PASS are the ones that are growing and expanding. PASS members are the ones that are becoming leaders in the industry. PASS members influence the direction Microsoft takes with its products. PASS, it’s members and volunteers, foster and grow the speakers, teachers, writers and MVP’s that are showing you how to perform your craft as a DBA or developer in better, faster, stronger ways. Even if you’ve never been directly involved with PASS, you’re involved with PASS.

Why am I bringing this up? Because the nominations are open for the PASS Board of Directors. They need strong, invested individuals to help move this organization, that you’re using, in the right direction. If you know someone that you really think can make a difference in this organization, you need to put their name forward. Further, you need to make sure you vote on the Board members that you think will most positively affect the organization. I understand, from people who participated in past elections, that it’s frequently only a very few votes separating the winners from the losers. You can make a real difference by nominating and then voting for the people that will keep this thing running, and running the right way. Get out there and make it happen.

 On a side note, one or two times I’ve seen my name come up as a possible candidate. My current position is completely in line with William Tecumseh Sherman; I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected. Not yet anyway. I’m still struggling to keep my local users group going (I need speakers by the way, please). If I can’t keep that afloat, what business do I have running something as large, and as important, as PASS? None.

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New Book

August 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm (SQL Server 2008)

Well, three chapters. The latest book I worked on is up at Apress. I only have three chapters in this one, backup, restore & performance monitoring & tuning. It’s written as an introductory book, targeted to help get people started as a DBA. I haven’t read the chapters from the other authors, but Rob Walters is a terrific writer & a great guy and Carmen Taglienti has a wonderful reputation, so I suspect their work will be everything you could ask for. Of course, it’s not real until you can get it on Amazon.

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What happens when you use WITH RECOMPILE

August 21, 2009 at 8:09 am (SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQLServerPedia Syndication, TSQL)

I saw this question and my immediate thought was “Well, duh, the execution plan is recreated by a recompile.” But, someone a bit smarter than myself suggested that, in fact, no plan was stored in cache, forcing a new plan to be created each time the query was run.

So, which is it? Does a plan get added to cache and then removed every time the procedure is called, or do you get nothing in cache and the “recompile” is actually a compile every time? As Mr. Owl says, let’s find out. I have a small script that looks like this:

TABLE [dbo].[Test](
[col] [varchar]
(10) NULL

TABLE [dbo].[Test2] 


INTO dbo.Test


('Val3') ;

INTO dbo.Test2




PROCEDURE dbo.spTest


SELECT t.col

FROM dbo.Test AS T

JOIN dbo.Test2 t2

ON T.col = t2.col

WHERE t.col = 'Val2' ; 

The reason I’m using two tables is because a single table query as simple as this would create a trivial execution plan. These are never cached. Now I can execute the query and then check to see what was put into the cache, just like this: 


spTest ;



sys.dm_exec_query_stats AS deqs
CROSS APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(deqs.sql_handle) AS dest

dest.text LIKE '%spTest%' 

When this is run, I get nothing returning. It’s not in the cache. But if you alter the procedure to take out the WITH RECOMPILE statement and then re-run the procedure and search against the DMV’s, it’s there. Gail had it right.

Funny thing. Because I had thought about this the wrong way, I quickly checked my book to see how badly I was off… I had it correct there. Whew!

Lesson learned: Don’t rely on my memory.

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Two Book Recommendations

August 20, 2009 at 6:42 am (PowerShell, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQLServerPedia Syndication)

I have two new books that I can heartily recommend. This isn’t a review of either book since I’ve only just started reading them. However, I’ve used each to solve a couple of small problems within a day of having them on the shelf. To me, that proves their worth.

First up is Michael Coles new book “Pro SQL Server 2008 XML.” I’m still a bit jittery with XQuery… OK, I have a hard time writing XQuery and I have to look up how to do every step and I still get things wrong. Anyway… There are two entire chapters devoted to how to use XQuery and an appendix with an XQuery & XPath reference. Great stuff. Look for an extended review several weeks from now after I’ve had a chance to go through the book. Well done Michael.

Next is “Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Administration with Windows PowerShell” by Ananthakumar Muthusamy & Yan Pan. Yeah, I know, you’re either in the camp of “what the heck do you need PowerShell for” or “Oooh, there’s a book on PowerShell oriented towards SQL Server.” I’m obviously in the latter. Ever since Lori Edwards sent a tweet that she was reading the book, I was excited. I immediately jumped on Amazon & ordered the book. I’m happy with it. It’s THICK with code samples. I used it to solve a problem I was having with a little script. I’ll definately be using this book more.

Now the hard part is trying to get both books read.

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SQL Server Standard Writing Guidelines

August 13, 2009 at 7:37 am (sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication)

Well, actually, these are the guidelines for submitting anything to SQLPASS, but it includes the guidelines for SQL Server Standard. If you’re considering submitting an abstract (and please, don’t consider it, do it) read through there for the basic information.

I’ve accepted six different abstracts so far on a variety of topics. It’s going to be some good stuff from some really smart people. A sampling of topics includes; expanded use of tally tables (table of numbers), designing partitioning schemes (I’m looking forward to this one), multi-level SSIS project dependency and communication, how to read and interpret execution plans (not by me), and a full description on triggers.

We need more. If you’ve got writing experience, please, write an article for SQL Server Standard. Abstracts are all that is required to get going. You can send them to grant.fritchey@sqlpass.org.

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Excellent Blog List

August 12, 2009 at 9:37 am (SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, TSQL)

For the one or two you that are not reading Buck Woody’s blog (and why aren’t you), you may not have seen that he’s posted a recommended reading list of the blogs that he reads on a regular basis. This list must be reviewed by you, now. Go on, I’ll wait here till you get back.

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SQL Quiz 5: SANs Mirroring

August 12, 2009 at 8:05 am (SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

My turn to answer Chris Shaw’s questions “Do I feel I have a reliable SAN solution?” and “Describe Database Mirroring for the layman?” Thanks Tim. I’ve a feeling you’re going to be disappointed.

Hell, how should I know? Want to talk about a black box? Our SAN, as far as I’m aware, is run by a group of crack-shot ninja assassins and powered by pureed virgin unicorn. This strange mix of esoteric skill, magic and blood is evidently able to provide us with just about perfect up time. Once, one of the ninja’s must have gone rogue (speculation) and had to be put down by his brother ninjas because we had a drive disappear on the cluster server. It took us a couple of hours, but it recovered as if it was never gone.

Honestly, I just don’t know. We’ve done performance tests and we’re getting more than adequate I/O. I know that we don’t have all kinds of specialized luns catering to the tempdb or log files. Instead we have what appear to be drives that we can use for storing data. It just works. Our team has tried communicating with the ninjas, uh, I mean SAN administrators, but they kind of just nod their heads, ask us how much space we need, and suppy us with another drive. 

I’m not sure how I’d describe this to the layman. I’d say it’s like a stand-by pump, but automatic. If the main pump goes down, the valves automatically switch and the stand-by pump comes online. Our business people have learned what fail-over clusters work like. I could tell them that it’s like a fail-over cluster, but without the shared drives, which makes it safer in a lot of ways. However, beyond reading about mirroring, I have yet to implement it, so it’s all theory for me.

So to sum up, the answer to both questions is, I don’t know. Pretty pathetic, but honest.

Let’s tag… Tim Mitchell & T-Jay Belt. Those guys should have more going on than I do.

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