Saturday, February 24, 2018

What I did for the week ending 2018/02/23

In no particular order, here are the learning opportunities I took advantage of in the last week:

  • I listened to ReverseDSC with Nik Charlebois on RunAs Radio. 
  • Opinion: The unspoken truth about managing geeks by Jeff Ello. I read this once a year and I recommend it to anyone who interacts with IT people.
  • I watched the "Implementing a Data Warehouse" by "Free Training on YouTube. 
    • I am reviewing what I need to know for the 70-463 exam. I took the 70-461 and 70-462 exams ages ago, then got busy and never got around to taking the 70-463 exam. 
    • The videos are a little dated, since they are from the SQL Server 2012 era. The same firm has videos for 70-462.
    • There are also old videos for 70-463 at the Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) site. I've watched those before, and I should probably sit through them one more time.
    • Why am I reviewing? I never feel "comfortable enough" with SSIS, even though my experience goes back 18 years to DTS, because I use SSIS so sporadically.
  • I started a Pester class at MVA. Apparently, reviewing for 70-463 doesn't keep me busy enough :-/. More seriously, I think Pester is really great and one of the cleverest things that's come out of PowerShell (which I also think is really great). I want to exploit Pester as much as I can, as a DevOps "thing".

Friday, February 16, 2018

What I did for the week ending 2018/02/16

Before I get into the mundane things for this week, I'd like to point out that all support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 is ending on July 9, 2018. Microsoft's page covering this is here.

Some things to consider:

  • If you are subject to data regulations such as HIPAA, PCI and perhaps even SARBOX, running an unsupported version of your relational database manager may put you out of compliance. 
  • Even if this is not the case for your organization, migrating to a supported version may provide significant performance benefits. I've never heard anyone say "My database is too fast". 
  • With data compression now a feature of the Standard Edition, you may be able to realize savings in storage space, I/O bandwidth and related resources. 

If you have SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2 databases that you need to migrate to a supported version, I can help. Contact me. I have experience with nearly every obsolete version of SQL Server, going all the way back to SQL Server 6.5.

Here are my online learning experiences for this past week, in no particular order:

  • Test-Driven Development with Pester, with June Blender on YouTube
  • Running SQL Server Integration Services within a SQL Server Virtual Machine to do More with Less Money with Jimmy Wong at SQL PASS Summit 2016

Other things I've been working on this week:

  • I've written some data-import code in PowerShell. SSIS seemed overkill and the client doesn't have any SSIS resources to support a SSIS project. 
  • I've been trying out sp_blitz. While I knew about sp_blitz, I had never taken the time to look at before. It's actually found a few curiosities that had never noticed in certain old databases.
  • I found one or two "quirks" in dbatools
  • During my "training time" this week, I have been concentrating on reviewing for the 70-463 test which I intend to take this quarter.

Friday, February 9, 2018

What I did for the week ending 2018/02/09

I find that posting these small learning experiences helps keep up by drive to watch them, so I will continue to post them here. I hope that you find them as interesting and/or useful as I did.

Here are the online learning experiences for this past week, in no particular order:

  • Monster Text Manipulation: Regular Expressions for the DBA with Sean McCown at SQL PASS Summit 2016. This might have been the clearest explanation of REGEX that I've ever encountered.
  • Scalable Application Design with Service Broker With Allen White at SQL PASS Summit 2015
  • DBA Mythbusters with Paul Randal at SQL PASS Summit 2015. Paul Randal is always worth listening to.
  • Columnstore Indexes in SQL Server 2014: Flipping the DW Faster Bit with Jimmy May at SQL PASS Summit 2015
  • Emotional Intelligence for Engineers with April Wensel at ngAtlanta, on YouTube.
  • Application Patterns for Azure SQL Database with Tony Petrossian at SQL PASS Summit 2015
  • Foundation Session: Developing Modern Applications on Azure with Asad Khan, John Macintyre, Pablo Castro, Shawn Bice, Tony Petrossian at SQL PASS 2015
  • Install an AlwaysOn Failover Cluster and Availability Group with Ryan Adams at SQL PASS Summit 2015
  • Dimensional Modeling Design Patterns: Beyond the Basics with Jason Horner at SQL PASS Summit 2016
    • Listened to Query Store and Automatic Tuning in SQL 2017 with Erin Stellato on the RunAs Radio podcast
    • SQL Server 2017 What's New on YouTube
    • Cool New SSMS Features for DBAs on YouTube. SSMS has lots of things hidden away in it and, every now and then, someone points out something else that I didn't realize was there.

    I can't provide direct links for the SQL PASS Summit videos because the SQL PASS site doesn't work that way. I apologize for the inconvenience.

    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    What I did for the week ending 2018/02/02

    I find that posting these "what I've done" entries once a week helps me keep my momentum up, so I'm going to keep doing it.

    I watched the following talks: 

    • "How to Build a Virtual Test Lab for SQL Server" with Ed Leighton-Dick & David Klee at SQLPASS Summit 2015 
    • "Analyzing your ETL Solution with PowerShell" with AndrĂ© Kamman at SQL PASS Summit 2015
    • "Change Data Capture Case Study and Checklist" with Uwe Ricken at SQL PASS Summit 2015

    The most stand-out moments from last week's efforts include:
    • I altered a SQL Server partitioning configuration that I had set up a number of years ago. Even though I implemented partitioning as a "Plan B" for this particular application, it has worked surprisingly well. I haven't had to touch the configuration since I implemented it. I wouldn't have to touch the partition configuration now, but application has survived well past it's initially estimated retirement date.
    • I improved my Pester skills. I've got a lot of infrastructure and configuration tests running now. The weak point, I think, is the overall organization of what I've built. Looking at what I've done, it seems haphazard to me, but I am not entirely sure what "better" should look like. Everyone seems to have their own manner of breaking out or categorizing things via file/Describe/Context/It and their own way of looking through items to be tested. The sqlcollective/dbatools folks intend to release a set of best practice recommendations implemented as Pester tests this spring. I intend to raid them for ideas on how to organize dozens of tests of various sorts. I'm also sure that there is some overlap between what they intend to roll out and what I've been doing. I may need to retire some bespoke code in favor of community-supported code.
    • I installed the latest Pester on a couple of my workstations, updating from 3.4.x or so to 4.1.x. I have seen one or two differences. I haven't bothered to read about the improvements that come with the new version yet (though I do like -Show very much).
    • I removed several dependencies on external code from a code base that I maintain.
    • I updated a toy solution of mine, though the SSIS project in the solution proved to be a problem. The take-away is: If your copy of Visual Studio 2017 (which you *know* has SSDT installed ) doesn't seem to support BI projects (SSRS, SSAS, or SSIS), then you probably don't have the latest version of SSDT installed. VS doesn't seem to update SSDT bits as part of the usual "update extensions & tools" process.
    • I managed to get through a debugging session in VSCode without it crashing on me. This is a first for me. Either VS Code is getting better or I've learned something about how to use the debugging modes that VS Code provides.
    I'd also like to promote the next Philly-area SQL Saturday a tiny bit. SQL Saturday 714 will be held at Montgomery County Community College on April 21, 2018. I skipped SQL Saturday last year, so I haven't been since the event was held at Microsoft's facility in Malvern and I'm curious to see how it will work at this particular venue.