Delivering the Bad News

July 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm (sql server standard) (, )

It’s a Friday, the day governments & companies traditionally deliver bad news. I recived the bad news earlier in the week, but I’m passing it on now:

The Standard is dead.

Let me first say, a couple of authors are right in the middle of finishing up articles. Those will be completed and published and you’ll get paid.

Andy sums up some of the reasons why the Standard failed very nicely in his blog post. I agree with them, if not where the responsibility lies. Andy takes most of it on himself because, well, he’s that kind of guy, may the gods bless him. But, the fact is, I took on the job and just wasn’t prepared for what it would entail. The “editing” part of the job was hard. If you think it’s easy to tell people, “No, we’re not going to make you famous and give you $500,” think again. It was tough. But, actually, that was the easier part of what was needed.

The real difficulties were two-fold. First, pushing the documents through the pipeline. Frankly, that was a pain. Sometimes, I was the bottleneck, sometimes it was other people. But it required a great deal of attention and diligence and I wasn’t always giving it my all. Second, and this is the biggie, it really needed to be marketed, constantly, and widely. It needed to be up in people’s faces, all the time. I needed to be the one pushing that, hard. I blogged about it occasionally and I tweeted about it a few more times, but, here again, I didn’t give it the real attention it needed.

Yeah, I’ve got excuses for the shortcomings, some are valid, some aren’t. I’m not going to bother with them because frankly, they only really matter to me and Andy. Suffice to say, I did the job I could do and it wasn’t adequate.

So, the SQL Server Standard is dead, again. I think that makes it’s third death, depending on how you count them. Who knows, the thing keeps coming back like Dracula in the old Hammer films, we could see it again.

Thanks to everyone who wrote for it. Thank you, the few people who clicked through and logged in to get the chance to read it. Thanks to all the editors and photographers and everyone else involved. Thanks, a lot, for magnificent work as the head technical editor, to Brad McGehee (blog|twitter). Thanks, most of all, to Andy Warren (blog|twitter) for giving me the opportunity. Sorry I dropped the ball on this.

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SQL Server Standard: Volume 7, Issue 3

April 21, 2010 at 2:07 pm (sql server standard) (, , , )

FINALLY!

It’s not like Don Gabor had the article done in January or anything…oh wait. He did have the article done in January. However, it looks like we might be breaking the log jam and we’ll be publishing a number of SQL Server Standard issues.

Anyway, do you want to learn how to talk techie to non-techies? You do? That’s excellent because I’ve got a fantatic article by Don Gabor (blog), just for you. Please go and read it.

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So You Want to Write a Book?

February 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm (sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

What the heck is wrong with you?

Still interested? Fine. I’ll tell you my take on this whole business. I’m only an expert on this if you take the adage that the expert is the guy that’s a page head of you in reading a book. To date I have published two full books and three chapters in a third. I can easily think of enough people who all have more experience than that with book writing that I’d have to take off both shoes to count them all.

Is anyone still reading? Cool. So you have the desire to write a book? Let me pop your first bubble. You will make very little money. This bears repeating. You will make very little money. If you were to figure out your hourly rate for writing this book, something I’ve never had the guts to do, you’ll cry yourself to sleep at night for being such a total fool to agree to write a book.

Still here? Let me pop your second bubble. Your home life/free time/family time/sleep cycle/excercise will suffer. Yes, that’s right. You’re getting paid pennies and you’re suffering for it.

Glutton for punishment? OK. Here’s how you do it. Do you have an idea for a book? If not, stop here and go and think of one. I’m assuming a technical readership since this is a geek blog about geek topics by a geek. Do you think you know everything there is to know about… oh, I don’t know, SQL Server 2008 hierarchy data, and you’re convinced you can fill 200+ pages talking about it? Great! You’re on your way. Pick a publisher. I’m not providing links or suggestions here. If you don’t know any book publishers that means you’re not reading books. If you don’t read them, I don’t think you should write them. Stop here and go read a technical book, preferably one of mine.

Have a publisher in mind? Go to their web site. Every one I’ve looked at has a “write for us” web page. Follow the directions there and submit your idea. You’re now on your way. I’m sure things are different for the big name authors or authors outside the technical sphere, but since you don’t have a name and you’re writing technical books, that’s pretty much all you need to do. You don’t need an agent or a lawyer. You’re going to get a non-negotiable contract from the publisher and you’re going to sign it because you want to write a book. Assuming they like your idea. Ah, but you’re not done with simply submitting the idea. You need to do two other things, and these won’t be easy. You need to define your market. Are there more than 20 people interested in reading a book on the hierarchy data type? Sound easy? It is a bit. Here’s a more challenging one for you. You also need to define how your book will stand out from the rest. If Itzik or Kalen has written 50 pages on hierarchy data types… ready for it… how will your 50 pages be better than theirs?

Stopped crying? Other options are to write articles for publication in places like SQL Server Central or Simple-Talk or SQL Server Standard (and I know the editor from SQL Server Standard most intimately, he needs articles). A few articles about the hierarchy data type and you’ll be a recognized expert. Now, if one of the publishers decides, “Hey, we could really use a book on the hiearchy data type,” and they happen to notice your article, you might get invited to write for them. Or, someone else writing a book needs a chapter on the hiearchy data type, they may contact you to help out. Or, if you’re constantly hanging out on one of the online discussion sites answering detailed questions about the hiearchy data type, the publisher or another author may find you and ask you to write a chapter.

Anyone still here? Of the two approaches, I’d suggest writing articles first. That’s going to do two things for you. First, it gets your name out there and you’ll get noticed. That’s how I did it. Second, it’ll let you decide if you like writing. The first time you get an article back that’s gone through a serious technical edit and it looks like someone has questioned every other word you wrote and the comments, while kind, bash through your arguments and ideas like a wrecking ball… you get to decide how much you like writing. A book is 50 times worse.

Want more? That’s about all there is. There are lots of details when it comes to the act of writing the book, how versions are managed, the writing schedule, promotion (if you get any), how you split the oodles of cash with your co-authors, if any (authors I mean, there will be very little cash), that sort of thing.  Networking is a useful tool. I wrote my second book because I happened to be at a publishing party for an author and I ran into his editor. A short conversation and a couple of emails later… I’m losing sleep and skipping exercise for very little money. Having friends and contacts will lead toward getting partnered up for a book. That’s how you can get tapped to write a chapter or three.

Still reading or have you all long ago stopped reading because this book writing thing is way too much of a pain?

Would I do it again? In a heart beat.

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SQL Server Standard Volume 7 Issue 1

January 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm (sql server standard) ()

Kathi Kellenberger‘s fantastic new article is available in the latest issue of SQL Server Standard. There are a lot more articles in the hopper. Keep an eye out for them. We’re providing you with the best writers giving us some of their best stuff. Go and check it out. If you’re not a member of SQL PASS, it’s free to join, and you’ll get access to this article, lots more like it, as well as other stuff.

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SQL Server Standard Article Abstracts

January 4, 2010 at 11:09 am (sql server standard) (, , , )

I’d really like to publish your article in SQL Server Standard. All I need from you is an abstract, a description of what the article will be. I’ve posted this before, but I’ve never provided examples. So, to get people started, here are a few examples of articles that have been accepted and will be published (shortly I hope).

Here’s a great example from Andy Leonard. It includes a great amount of detail, more than I need to make my decision, but with this much detail, the decision is much easier because I know exactly what this article is likely to look like:

   I’m interested in writing an article on SSIS for SQL Server Standard. I’d like to cover ways packages can exchange information at run-time. There are a couple obscure ways parent-child packages interact that make for some interesting design opportunities and architectures – especially when combined. For example, most SSIS developers realize Events “bubble” up through EventHandlers; so that if a Control Flow contains a Sequence Container which contains an Execute SQL Task, an error generated at the Execute SQL Task will raise the tasks’ OnError EventHandler, then the Sequence Container’s OnError EventHandler, and finally the OnError EventHandler of the package. What’s not so well know is: If a package calls another package via the Execute Package Task, the calling package is said to be the parent (or master) package; the called package is the child. In this scenario, events raised in the child at the package level will bubble to the parent package.
   The second obscure behavior is variables in the parent package are inherited in the child package. The cool thing is: they’re inherited ByRef – unlike parent package configurations, which pass variable values ByVal from parent to child. ByVal is one-way communication; ByRef is bi-directional, which means I can make a change to a variable in the child package and that change will persist in the parent after the child package has completed executing.
Here’s one from Sam Bendayan. It’s sharp and clear and defines the article in a way that I can understand what will be covered. It’s shorter than Andy’s, but it’s still enough:
It is common knowledge that Application Programmers and DBAs don’t get along in many cases, and the root of this is that the two technologies are fundamentally different.  It is also common knowledge that many Application Programmers write SQL as part of their job.  However, often their familiarity with loop-based programming is their undoing, taking them down strange SQL paths that produce bad SQL code and make their relationship with the DBAs even worse.  This article will show how difficult the transition is, even if it doesn’t seem to be at first, and how you have to adjust your thinking in order to successfully program in T-SQL.
And finally, one from Michelle Ufford. This is the most concise example and I would be less likely to accept it if I didn’t already have a good working knowledge of Michelle, her abilities and skill set. But still, this is enough:
In this article, I will give you a practical overview of how to design effective partitioning schemes.  I will cover good partitioning design, the differences between aligned and non-aligned indexes, and some examples of when to use each.  I’ll also discuss some issues to be aware of when designing partitioning schemes, including performance, replication, and sliding-window considerations. 
If you’re waiting because you think putting together the abstract will be as much work as the article itself, it won’t be. Four or five sentences that clearly define a topic that can obviously fill out 3000+ words is all that’s needed. At this time we’re only accepting articles from writers with some experience, but nothing extensive (previous articles in a technical reviewed publication or three articles in a peer-reviewed publication or a book). Send the abstracts to grant.fritchey@sqlpass.org.
 
 
 

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SQL Standard Update

December 2, 2009 at 9:01 am (sql server standard) (, , , , )

Andy Warren in the latest PASS Connector has posted an update on where we’re at with the SQL Server Standard. I’m so happy that Andy has been keeping this out in front of people. It provides some impetus to get the work done. Except for the authors thanks (and they’re receiving $500, so they should say thank you), there’s very little feedback on the Standard to show whether or not people are interested, if the goals and ideas are worthy… In other words, you guys need to let us know what you think about the thing.

Two more articles are in the hopper to be published. Another has gone into copy edit. We’re technical editing two others. That’s five more, so you guys can expect to see another ten weeks worth of SQL Server Standard. But after that…

Don’t you want $500? Just submit an abstract and your writing history to grant.fritchey@sqlpass.org. We’ll get you started.

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SQL Server Standard, Volume 6, Issue #1

October 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm (PASS, sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , , )

It’s alive! It’s alive!

That’s enough from Colin Clive.

It’ll be out for the Summit. SQL Server Standard lives again! Although, not quite in the same shape as it used to be. But hey, stitching stuff together out of dead tissue is messy work.

I want to thank our first author who had to suffer through quite a few growing pains and help us blaze a trail through the woods, Thomas LaRock. I want to thank my boss at PASS for all the support especially the time I started whining, Andy Warren. And there’s this other guy, who has helped just a ton in this effort in every way, and lead the technical edit team, Brad McGehee. We have a photo credit to Pat Write for the front. Craig Ellis has done a yeoman’s labor putting together all the layout & art stuff, especially when you consider he had me making artistic suggestions (gave my wife a laugh anyway). The technical editors on the first article are K. Brian Kelley, Jose Santiago Oyervides and Tim Mitchell. Finally I have to thank Kathy Blomstrom for all her hard work editing and laying out the final.

To all you guys, thanks for working so hard through this process. I have bad news though. We have to get another one together in just a couple of weeks.

I’m probably stealing a little bit of Andy’s thunder by announcing it here. I don’t think he’ll be too mad at me.

I hope the community appreciates all the hard work these people put into this. Each of them did a great job. If you see them at the PASS Summit, be sure to say thanks.

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SQL Server Standard Update

October 15, 2009 at 7:43 pm (sql server standard) (, )

The first article should be out within a week or so (knock wood).

I hav a winner for the contest to help us pick the artwork for the cover. Leo Pasta. Congrats. Get in touch with me at: grantedd -at- gmail.com so that I can send you your prize.

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Free Stuff and a SQL Server Standard Update

October 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm (PASS, sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, )

Great news. We’ve managed to get one article all the way through the process. We’ll have our first publication out within a couple of weeks. We might even get a second out at the PASS Summit. We’re working through the final details on contracts, author payments and the layout of the magazine, including cover art. That brings up a question. The intent is to publish high quality articles by great authors (and believe me, we’ve got exactly that coming down the pike). In order to reflect this, instead of just an HTML layout, we’re going with Adobe Acrobat so that we can get that magazine feel, but online. My question… We’re trying to decide what to do with cover art. Our options are:

  1. Some type of stylish picture, say, stamps or coins, or maybe pictures of tables to show off the idea of a database’s tables… you know art
  2. A picture of the author. Personally, I wouldn’t wish my own photograph on someone at the scale we’re looking at and I’m pretty sure others won’t either, but it’s a possibility. It’d look a bit like the Wrox books.
  3. Just plain old, boring, text. I really don’t like this idea. I don’t think it’s in keeping with the idea of a “magazine” even though we’re doing it all online. Still, it’s an option
  4. Something I haven’t thought of

I’m putting the question out. Do you like those Reilly books that have some non-sequitor line drawing on them? How about the Simple-Talk books, all of which (and I didn’t know this until this morning and I have a book published by these guys) have a picture of a gate, for Red-Gate? Simple books like Apress with an abstract graphic & some text?

I’m fishing for ideas here. We’ve got a few days. Mind you, I’ll make a decision with or without your comments, but I’d really like to hear what people think. If we use your idea (assuming it’s not just “I like #1”) I’ll ship you out a copy of my performance tuning book. If we pick one of our own ideas, I’ll randomly draw from one of the commenters. Either way, you’ve got a shot at the book.

Oh, and while I have you reading, I still need more abstracts. We have to feed the beast.

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SQL Server Standard Update

September 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm (PASS, sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

Just to keep people who might be interested up to date on what’s happening with the SQL Server Standard relaunch. I’ve received some fantastic abstracts on a wide range of topics from a diverse group of SQL Server DBA’s and Developers. From that, we’ve got a lot of articles in the hopper going through technical edits and second drafts. Three articles have made it all the way to copy edit. They should be done soon. I’m positive you’ll see at least one of them, maybe two, before the PASS Summit.

I need even more abstracts so I can publish even more articles. If you meet the qualifications to write for us, please submit an abstract to my PASS email address: grant.fritchey – at – sqlpass -dot- org (unobfuscate the obvious). Any topic that relates to SQL Server, Reporting Services, Integrations Services, Analysis Services, ORM to SQL Server, PowerShell to SQL Server, Monitoring, Tuning, Designing, Coding… There’s an audience out there that want’s to hear from you.

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