August 11, 2016

SSIS troubles

Posted in SQL Server, SSIS at 1:36 pm by David Taylor

I have an SSIS 2008 R2 package that, for three days in a row, 8/9, 8/10, 8/11 of 2016, has given me the following error:

Error 0xC0011008. Failed to load the package “<Package Name>” from SQL Server “localhost”. Make sure the package exist on the SQL Server and you have the correct credential to access it.

Error 0xC0011008 while preparing to load the package. Error loading from XML. No further detailed error information can be specified for this problem because no Events object was passed where detailed error information can be stored.

This package has been running for well over a year without issue, and nothing has changed, that I know of. It runs under my account, which has admin privileges. When I run the Control package that calls this package, either from BIDS or from a separate SQL Agent job that just calls this package, it runs fine. It’s just in the overnight run that I get this error.

Prior to 8/9/16, this has run without error for well over a year, as I said earlier.

There are no entries in the Event log, which makes sense as the error line states that there wasn’t.

Can anyone help me with this?



June 20, 2011

Thanks so much #sqlcommunity !

Posted in SQL Server at 9:44 am by David Taylor

This perforce has to be a short note, as you will see, things are very busy right now, but I wanted to take a moment to send a giant THANK YOU! out to the SQL Community in general, and to a few people specifically.

Why am I so thankful, you ask? I got a job! I will be the SQL Server DBA at a prestigious private school in New Hampshire, where I will get to work with the latest SQL 2K8 R2 running on Windows Server 2K8 R2. They are building a data warehouse for reporting, and consolidating a bunch of disparate older product data onto SQL Server, and I can’t wait!

OK, you say, you got a job. Again, why are you so thankful to us, you ask? Simply because it wouldn’t have been possible, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of you guys. The PASS Chapter folks, the SQL Saturday folks, all the people at last year’s Summit, the folks who answer #sqlhelp, and just the community in general. I learn from you guys every day, and it is this learning that has allowed me to get to this position.

I specifically want to call out a few folks who went the extra mile for me personally, and know that these folks are not listed in any particular order, and if I leave someone out, I am so sorry! Thank you Jorge Segarra (Blog | Twitter), Mike Walsh (Blog | Twitter), Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter), Tim Radney (Blog | Twitter), Adam Jorgenson (Blog | Twitter), Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter), Nicholas Cain (Blog | Twitter), Paul Randall (Blog | Twitter), Julie Smith (Blog | Twitter), Audrey Hammonds (Blog | Twitter), Jes Borland (Blog | Twitter), All the SQL University professors; all of these people and so many more have helped me, taught me, made me a better person, inspired me, made it possible for me to turn in my two-week notice this morning, and go home to New England.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you!

April 25, 2011

#sqlpass AppDev_VC Presentation Tuesday 4/26 at noon Eastern

Posted in SQL Server at 8:33 am by David Taylor

I’d like for you all (y’all, if you’re in the South 🙂 to join us at the Application Development Virtual Chapter on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at Noon Eastern, to enjoy the infamous Louis Davidson present on Great Relational Databases.

The link for the LiveMeeting is this –> Attendee Link

The blurb for the presentation is (from the AppDev_VC site)

Characteristics of a Great Relational Database
April 26, 2010, 12 PM Eastern
Louis Davidson
Attendee URL: LiveMeeting

When queried, most database professionals would mention normalized as one of the most important characteristics that tell the difference between a good and bad database design. I won’t disagree in the least, but there is so much more to be considered.  Even if you did a great job of normalization, poor naming, poorly implemented keys, too many or too few indexes, and so on can derail your design.  In this session I will present seven primary characteristics of a design that differentiates between an ugly design that will have your colleagues nitpicking you to death and one that will have them singing your praises. Characteristics such as comprehensible, documented, secure, well performing, and more (including normalized, naturally) will be discussed.

Louis Davidson

Louis has over 15 years as a corporate database developer and architect. Currently he is the Data Architect for the Christian Broadcasting Network and NorthStar Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Nearly all of Louis’ professional experience has been with Microsoft SQL Server from the early days to whatever is the latest version currently in beta.  Louis has been the principal author on four editions of a book on database design, including one for SQL Server 2008. Louis’ primary areas of interest are database architecture and coding in T-SQL, with experience designing many databases and writing thousands of stored procedures and triggers through the years.

How do I attend?
Attendee URL: LiveMeeting

April 11, 2011

#sqlpass AppDev_VC Presentation Tuesday 4/12 at noon Eastern

Posted in SQL Server at 10:00 am by David Taylor

Among a bunch of other things that I do, I am also the Volunteer Coordinator for the Application Development Virtual Chapter of the Professional Association for SQL Server (AppDev_VC of PASS). We had one of the best Marketing Coordinators ever, recently made SQL Server MVP Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter), but as is the case with many great people, he has left us for other pursuits. This leaves us here at AppDev_VC with myself and our awesome Speaker Coordinator John Jakubowski (Blog | Twitter).

Now, I’d like to think that I’m the best at getting things done in a timely manner, but, like everyone, I am only human, and one thing piles on another, priorities get shifted, and things fall through the cracks. This time, it was the marketing for the VC that fell through. I think it was a case of I thought someone else was doing it, someone else thought I was doing it. Wasn’t getting done!

In an effort to correct that, I present this blog post 🙂

We are pleased and proud to announce that Andy Warren (Blog |Twitter) will be presenting for us Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 12 NOON Eastern time! His presentation will be on building applications not only for end users, but for DBAs to like also! I, for one, can’t wait to hear what he has to say, and I hope to see lots of you there also! Below I have copied the Description and Attendee links that are also posted on the AppDev_VC site,

Building Applications That A DBA Will Love
April 12, 2011, 12 PM Eastern
Presenter: Andy Warren
Attendee URL: LiveMeeting

It’s natural for the focus to be on the end user when we build applications, but it’s important and worthwhile to build into our design some things that make it easier for the DBA to provision, tune, and support the product we deliver. So what does a DBA care about? Performance of course, but also security, scalability, space usage, and yes, even documentation. This presentation will cover tips in a number of areas that address the concerns of the DBA, and we’ll talk about why you should care about making the DBA happy too!

Andy Warren

Andy Warren is a SQL Server consultant and trainer who occasionally writes some code too. He’s on the PASS Board of Directors, was a founding partner in, started the SQLSaturday event format, and is currently a SQL Server MVP. Andy blogs at, and can be reached via Twitter as @sqlandy and on LinkedIn at

How do I attend?
Attendee URL: LiveMeeting

October 5, 2010

#sqlsat48 Thoughts

Posted in SQL Server at 10:00 am by David Taylor

Forgive me readers, it has been too long. Seems the last time I sat down to write a blog post, it was to tell you about a SQL Saturday I attended, and now I am doing it again. Good thing I go to a lot of these things, you might never hear from me 🙂

Seriously, though, I have had a month of too busy and not enough learning. My job entails doing both Quality and Data work, and lately we have been having a lot of Quality problems, so I have been doing less Data work. Not none, but just maintenance stuff, nothing to write here about.

I am very excited to tell you about this past SQL Saturday, though, if you’ve a mind to listen. It was so exciting for a couple of reasons. One, because I go to so many of these things, I get to see people more, people I highly respect and admire, and this trip was no exception. Two, I was a speaker at this particular event, and this time (as opposed to my session in Tampa in January) it actually went well!

This event was held in Columbia, SC, put on by the Midlands PASS Chapter headed up by K. Brian Kelly (Blog | Twitter), whom I met for the first time in Nashville at #sqlsat51. They did a really good job up front with planning, had a great venue at the Midlands Technical College, and a wonderful restaurant for the speaker dinner, a place called Grecian Island, which served both Greek and Italian food.

Another reason this was to be a great trip was that I was to have a riding buddy for the trip. Tim Radney (Blog | Twitter) got up with me on Twitter asking if I was going, suggesting we could ride together. Tim is a fellow member of the Columbus, GA PASS Chapter where I am also a member, and, as I had to pass through Columbus on the way, it would be perfect to pick him up and ride with him. Unfortunately, in the days leading up to the weekend, he took ill, and so I made the trip solo. Fortunately, as the day got older, Tim felt better and got himself to Columbia, so he didn’t miss out on the SQL Goodness.

I arrived early to the Speaker Dinner; I got to meet up with Brian at first, then others started to arrive – Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) , Godfather of SQL Saturdays; Julie Smith (Blog | Twitter), one of the first people I ever met at a SQL Saturday, who came to present her Cool Tricks to Pull from your SSIS Hat (who also brought her Mom, who became the group’s Mom for the weekend J); Aaron Nelson (Blog | Twitter), *THE* PowerShell Guru, and one of my partner volunteers with the Application Development Virtual Chapter; Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter) himself; Ed Wilson (Blog | Twitter), Microsoft’s Scripting Guy, who brought his Scripting wife, who is a lovely lady; Eric Humphrey (Blog | Twitter), another of my partner volunteers at AppDev_VC; Jessica Moss (Blog | Twitter), Business Intelligence Queen, Stuart Ainsworth (Blog | Twitter), who gave me impetus to start out speaking; Geoff Hiten (Blog | Twitter), from whom I first learned about Bad SQL and how to fix it, and of course Jose Chinchilla (Blog | Twitter), newly named President of the Tampa BI User Group. Wow, I have made some incredible friends along the journey, and it feels so good to have these high caliper people walk into a room, see me and say “Hi, David!” If I hadn’t mentioned it lately, the SQL Community Rocks!

During the afternoon, Tim Radney was driving up to us, and he got to the restaurant in time for me to have the privilege of introducing him to several of the SQL Community’s Rock Stars. I was very happy to be able to do so!

I did meet others that night, but I am notoriously bad with names, and need to meet folks more than once to be able to remember them, so if I met you this weekend and didn’t mention you, I am sorry, and please reintroduce yourself in the comments!

In the morning, I shared breakfast at the hotel with Stuart, and then drove the few minutes to the event site. Did I mention great planning? I was at one of the recommended hotels, which put me no more than a mile or so from the facility, so easy-peasy getting there! Registration was a very calm affair, people behind the tables having it pulled together very well, an envelope for every registered attendee, those for speakers with a double asterisk on them – each filled with sponsor raffle tickets preprinted with name and contact info, and enough eval forms for every session one might attend.

The opening remarks were held in a large enough auditorium to hold everyone, during which we learned that all the speakers would be given Prize Tickets to give out during their sessions to those they felt deserving, something that would ease raffle pressure at the end of the day. Sponsors were setup in an area right at the bottom of the stairs to the majority of the classrooms, and incidentally, the way to the lunchroom, so you couldn’t help but stop and chat with some of the nice folks that were there. Someone else mentioned in their wrap up that there should have been more onsite presences, and I agree, I think there were only four actual vendors present.

I started my day with Jessica Moss, and I can’t imagine a better way to start the day! She did her presentation Make Reporting Services Work for You, a very good slightly higher level than intro into what can be done in Reporting Services, using some of the higher level things like adding custom code and expressions into a report. As it turned out, I was on a BI track this day, aside  from my session.

Next I joined Wayne Snyder (Blog | Twitter) in his Information Visualization – Making great Charts. I started out my journey in SQL Server making charts and graphs, etc. in my day to day work as a Quality Technician, graduating to creating Digital Dashboards, which I learned about by reading Steven Few. This session was all about how the eye and brain sees elements of visualization, and how to use those ideas to develop best practices. Very good timing for this session, as I have been tasked with making a new set of dashboards for our production facility.

I took the next hour off from joining any session, as I wanted to spend some time networking, and of course I was the only attendee to do so, so I spent time in the speaker room talking with some of the other speakers (and getting Andy Leonard to autograph my copy of Deep Dives! 🙂 There were some very interesting discussions going on about how different shops work, and Project Manager expectations vs. reality. It was so high level I mostly listened, though.

Then it was lunch time, during which Stuart Ainsworth demonstrated a new RedGate product, SQL Source control. Looks very promising and Stuart did a great job of letting us know its best uses.

After lunch it was my session. We had trouble with the projector, enough so that it took three guys helping me before we finally got it going, and I was almost ten minutes into my time. I had a really cool video I wanted to play to go along with my mascot Kermit, but we were late enough that I just launched into my talk. I spoke about “driving around” SSMS, and how to do things with the mouse or the keyboard. I was lucky enough to get permission from Brad McGehee to use part of his “Brad’s Sure DBA Checklist.” I used the ten points in the “Day to Day” portion of the list, showing how to do each of the things with the mouse and with scripts. Thanks so much, Brad!

I’ll be honest here, I only had three people in my session, but I will be even more honest in saying that each of them learned something from me, and that, my friends, gives this learner a brightly glowing feeling! To be able to give back to the community has been a big goal of mine. I didn’t do so well in my first foray into speaking back in January, but I think I found the right session for me to present at this point in my learning and career that I can use to give back successfully.

After my timeslot, I then went to see Julie giving her SSIS presentation. I had actually seen her do this topic before, but boy, has she improved it! Not that it was bad last year, not at all, but it’s much better this year than I remember. Maybe I had no idea what she was talking about before, and I understand it now, or maybe she made changes to it, I don’t know, I just know it was rocking good! She tells things you won’t find anywhere, saving much pain in the learning process. Thanks, Julie!

The last session I attended was also a BI session, John Welch’s (Blog | Twitter) Processing Flat Files with SSIS. John is a very good presenter, covering all sorts of details that can sneak up and bite you if you’re trying to do this type of activity. This was also good timing, as I am starting to get into doing things like this at work, also. (Just between me and you, though, he’s not nearly as pretty as Jessica or Julie 🙂

At the end of the day, the SQL Saturday staff had the closing ceremony, thanking everyone for attending, volunteering, speaking and sponsoring, and then held the sponsor raffle, giving away software licenses, MSDN Subscription, training time with a local training company, cameras, etc.

All I can say in the end was I had a really good time, I think I have found the beginning of my speaker groove, and I can’t thank Brian and his cohorts enough for such a great event! If you’d like to experience it, albeit second-hand, you can find speakers’ PowerPoint decks and demo scripts at

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again, the SQL Community Rocks!

August 30, 2010

#sqlsat51 thoughts

Posted in Development, Learning, SQL Saturday, SQL Server at 10:00 am by David Taylor

Thoughts on #sqlsat51

I made the trip up to Nashville to attend SQL Saturday #51 last weekend (August 21), and I am so glad I did! I’ve written, and read, ‘reviews’ of SQL Saturdays before, detailing things like how registration worked, whether there were enough signs pointing the way, how foot traffic flowed, etc. These are good, and probably helpful to people putting on SQL Saturdays, but one thing I learned this time was that you blog for yourself, and hope others are interested. Consequently, I will be blogging not about the mechanics of this SQL Saturday, but how I experienced it, and what I took away from it.

First, though, I’d like to say that I drove up Friday morning, and stayed at a hotel in Franklin, TN. This was about 20 miles from the event, but I justified staying that far away because I drove over six hours to get there, another 20 minutes the next morning wouldn’t kill me, and I found a hotel with an indoor pool and a decent breakfast for under a hundred dollars. Franklin, I found out, has a really neat downtown area, has a great Italian restaurant, and has a Woodcraft store in town! Nearby is a place called Arrington Vineyards, a local winery. They have a tasting, some incredible Riesling, and jazz on the lawn. Nice relaxing afternoon and evening after the long drive.

For this SQL Saturday I wanted to take a little different tack than I usually do, based on the schedule and speakers. SQL Saturdays are known for their excellent technical content, and I usually fill my day with technical learning. To be sure, I attended several excellent sessions with some highly technical content, but my focus for this one was ‘professionalism’ for lack of a better word. I also wanted to make sure I was taking care of the ‘Connect’ part of ‘Connect, Share and Learn,’ touching base with SQL folks I have met over the last year, and meeting as many new folks as would be practical.

I don’t think I can write these next lines and convey the enthusiasm I actually felt, so you’ll have to use your imagination. These are in the order they happened. I met Thomas LaRock (Blog | Twitter)! I met Andy Leonard! (Blog | Twitter) I met Joe Webb (Blog | Twitter)! I met Douglas McDowell (Twitter)! I met Jeremiah Peschka (Blog | Twitter)! I met Glenn Berry (Blog | Twitter)! I met Kendra Little (Blog | Twitter)! I met Brian Kelly (Blog | Twitter)! I’m going to be accused of name dropping! Sorry, but being able to meet these stars of the SQL world just blew me away! Not to mention all the folks I met that are like me, ordinary people who are stars in their own lives, but not well known outside their own circles. And it was awesome to see people I only see at these events, but interact with on Twitter. I think one of the highlights of the day was when I was walking down the hall and Jessica Moss (Blog | Twitter) (whom I met in Charlotte) smiled and waved and said “Hi, David!” I about fell over when that happened! I was recognized by someone I greatly admire! I tell you what, the SQL Community Rocks!

Now to get into the sessions themselves. One of the best things about SQL Saturday is the number of sessions. One of the hardest things about SQL Saturday is the number of sessions! How do you choose? This time around I chose to focus on the sessions and speakers that covered Professional Development, and in time slots that didn’t offer the subject, get into technical sessions covering things I feel I need or am ready to learn.

First up was Andy Warren’s (Blog | Twitter) Building a Professional Development Plan. I never realized how important having such a plan would be. Andy went over covering how much time do you want to spend on your development, how much money you want to or can spend, and, most importantly because you are probably working on your development outside your normal working hours, how much of your personal life are you willing to give up. Throughout, he emphasized keeping records – what you’ve gotten accomplished, how much time and money was spent. This, I found, was a recurring theme. Write. Take notes. Keep records. These things come in handy. Planning your development, actually writing out your plan, makes your goals concrete and accessible, and keeping good records allows you to see if you are accomplishing what you set out to do.

I then went to see Douglas McDowell’s Realizing ROI for Business Intelligence Projects.  While this was geared more toward a business ensuring ROI on a given project, there were a lot of good ideas for individual professional development, and realizing ROI on any project. I had been taking notes on Evernote all morning, and for this session, the only note I took was “Get this slide deck!” It’s available on the SQL Saturday site.

Following this I attended Fundamentals of SQL Server Internals, presented by Jeremiah Peschka. This was one of those sessions I felt I was ready to learn. Internals in SQL Server is a huge subject, a fact confirmed by Jeremiah. His style was great, though, as he explained concepts to a packed room in an easy manner, pointing out how the various parts of a query get handled by different parts of the Query Engine. His slides are also available on the SQL Saturday site.

Then it was lunchtime, and time for the keynote put on by Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter) and Thomas LaRock. They made it a good time, and the food was great.

After lunch was another Professional Development type session, this one put on by Jeremiah Peschka. Here he reiterated Andy’s points of making plans and keeping records. He illustrated by pointing out that when review time comes around, if you have been keeping records all along, you can easily show what value you have added to your employer’s business. This emphasis on record keeping must mean something… J

I’m going to admit that I went to Kendra Little’s Take the Awesomeness Home: the Data Collector more to meet Kendra than to learn about the Data Collector. She was someone I followed on Twitter and wanted to meet. Her talk on the Data Collector was very informative, though, and it pointed out to me a couple of things I didn’t know about it. One was that it is not intended to gather data on the server it is on, and secondly, it’s true it can’t be removed easily. I only have one server in my environment, so there is no sense in me having it, but I can only disable it. Ah, well, at least I learned how to use it if I get into an environment where I can.

The last session of the day was Thomas LaRock’s What Are You Waiting For query tuning session. As far as technical sessions went, this one was the one from which I could take the most immediate usefulness back to my server. Using DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) from the Six Sigma world, you go through your queries, defining what’s right and wrong, measure the results, analyze for improvements, make controlled changes, then hit the cycle again. His presenting style was both funny and informative, and his generosity was tempered with tough love J

Overall I had a great time, and learned a great deal. SQL Saturdays are hands down the best training deals out there for SQL Server, with so much given by volunteers, and so much received by attendees. My next SQL Saturday I have submitted a session for, in an attempt to give some back.

Thanks so much, speakers, volunteers, sponsors and PASS!

July 20, 2010

I’m an MCITP SQL Server 2008 DBA!

Posted in Certification, Learning, SQL Community, SQL Server, SQL University at 10:00 am by David Taylor

Last week, I passed the Microsoft 70-450 exam, PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. I have the SQL Community to thank for it, and I’ll outline why as we go. Mainly, I was asked to write a blog post about how I prepared for the exam, so I will cover what I found helpful, and what I found not so much.

The preparation starts, as with all Microsoft exams, on Microsoft’s Learning site. For this exam, one would start at, which gives the overview, skills measured, preparation, and community links. The overview gives just that, the 50,000 foot look at the exam and the intended audience, along with what Microsoft thinks should be the set of features and concepts the candidate should have experience in. Good enough. I then skipped right to the Preparation Materials tab, thinking I would, like I did for the 70-432 MCTS exam, order up a Training Kit. How often do you see these two words together? #Microsoft – #Fail!

What I found was the following, copied verbatim from the page:

Preparation Tools and Resources
To help you prepare for this exam, Microsoft Learning recommends that you have hands-on experience with the product and that you use the following training resources. These training resources do not necessarily cover all of the topics listed in the “Skills Measured” tab.

Classroom Training
There is no classroom training currently available.

Microsoft E-Learning
There is no Microsoft E-Learning training currently available.

Microsoft Press Books
There are no Microsoft Press books currently available.


OK, plan B. Apparently Microsoft isn’t interested in training their users for a product that has been on the market for two years, and has actually been superseded by an R2 product! Looks like I needed to find my own way to study for this thing. Luckily, I am a member of the online SQL Server community, and can learn from the best! So, following Buck Woody’s school of thought, I turned to the Skills Measured tab.

If you haven’t seen it, this exam covers a lot. I mean a whole lot! The list of skills measured is actually kind of intimidating, at first. There are seven broad categories of features covered, with innumerable bullet points within each category, which in turn all have multiple objectives. I had taken the MCTS in February, and that was a little difficult, now I had scheduled the MCITP for July 6th, figuring that six months should be ample time to prepare for it.(I know, I know, I missed the Second Shot deadline, but there were reasons.) I was starting to wonder if that were long enough.

The first thing I did was look to see what was out there besides Microsoft’s non-offerings. I had heard good things about Train Signal, and they were having a sale, buy their Advanced SQL Server 2008 Database Administration Training DVD, and get their Windows Server 2008 R2 Training DVD free. Their DVDs do not come cheap, but one thing I had going for me was that getting certified was part of my annual goal at work, so they footed the bill.

So I sat through the 20-some hours of videos, thinking through 60-70 percent of it, ‘I know this stuff! And I am being talked to as if I were in the studio audience at a taping of Barney the Dinosaur!’ Really, it wasn’t that bad, but for something that bills itself as ‘Advanced Training,’ they sure spend a lot of time on the basics! Overall, I would say it’s a decent reference to have around, but I’m not sure it’s worth what they’re charging.

Next, I figured that I should have followed my first instinct, and turned to the community. I asked around a bit, and heard that several people had gone several ways, but the common denominators were Books Online, and Practice.

Always, it’s the basics that works. If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise. If you want a good retirement, live frugally and save. How often is it that we lose sight of these things?

So for the last few weeks before the exam, that’s what I did. I went down the list of objectives in the Skills Measured list, looked up each term I didn’t already know in BoL, and tried each thing out that I could on a test server (my home computer, really – I don’t have a real ‘test server.’ At the time, (and even this moment) I did not have the proper setups to actually practice or perform any of the multiserver HA stuff, like clustering, or replication. I only have one little server box at work, with a whopping 2GB ram, and my home computer to play with. So really, I just read through everything I could about those technologies, trying to at least make sure I had a proper understanding of the concepts.

Throughout, as I said in the beginning, I had the community of which I am so proud to be a part. Every day folks were writing multiple blog posts, SQL University had a week on Certifications, just all kinds of resources to learn from. Actually, some of the best tidbits came from people’s #sqlhelp questions on Twitter, as they tried to figure out why one or the other of the things listed in the Skills Measured wasn’t working, the answers given were actually found as some of the multiple choices on the exam!

So that’s how I prepared. I found out what the requirements would be, I determined how to learn those requirements, I got a nifty couple of training videos, then I followed the community’s recommendation – I got back to basics. I followed the RTFM method, and practiced all I could. Now, because of all that, you are now reading the words of a Certified Professional.

June 3, 2010

I’m a #SQLU Faculty Member!

Posted in Learning, SQL Server, SQL University at 10:00 am by David Taylor

I read a blog today, about blogging, and one of the takeaways I got was that spending words apologizing for not blogging (or not blogging often enough) is a waste of your time and mine, so I will stop wasting your time.

This blog’s about learning and it’s about SQL and about learning SQL. They say the best way to learn is by teaching (See Buck Woody’s post about this). In that vein, I have taken on a teaching position. Maybe a small one, in the larger realm of things, but you gotta start somewhere.

I will be taking a week of lessons as a faculty member of good old #SQLU, SQL University, that awesomeness created by Jorge Segarra, better known in the Twitter world as @sqlchicken. My week will be all about Database Design, and, if you saw the databases I manage, you would cry, but it’s been a great learning opportunity, so I feel qualified.

So if you haven’t been following #SQLU, get over there and get your learn on! This semester has had some of the greats of the SQL World, with subjects so far covering Documentation, Professional Development, Security and Auditing, Tools of the Trade, SSIS Design and Development, PowerShell, Parallelism and Testing and Refactoring. Some heady subjects, lots to learn. And don’t forget to also get over to Thomas Larock’s (@SQLRockstar on Twitter) blog for the weekly Basketball practices, where he teaches you to use the knowledge you are gaining.

I look forward to serving you, the students of #SQLU, and working with the Faculty already in place. And maybe I’ll even get me a #SQLU Faculty Member Tee shirt to go along with my #SQLU Alumni shirt!

May 10, 2010

#sqlsat38, from an attendee’s seat

Posted in Learning, SQL Saturday, SQL Server at 10:00 am by David Taylor

I had a thought for a blog post while talking with Jorge Segarra (Blog | Twitter) regarding SQL Saturday, which I will get to at the end of this. I am writing this while actually in the sessions at SQL Saturday 38, and thought I would write the recap as I experience it. The disconnectedness should be brilliant! {Edit before I post this – The tenses change from present to past, and each session description was written throughout the session, so don’t expect cohesiveness in this one! ~David} 

Everybody does the “registration was quick/slow” “they need more signs!” what they did right/wrong type of post. Let me tell you that, up until this first session I’m in, so far these types of things are going really well. From my perspective, having attended now 5 SQL Saturday events in 7 months, what I really am into is the networking and the learning (see title of this blog!) 

Left to Right, me, @sqlchicken's signature rubber chicken, Tory Gallant (@gratefuldba), Eric Humphrey (@lotsahelp)


During the hour between registration opening and the first session, there was a great crowd of people milling about in the lobby of the building. During this hour, I got to run into at least half a dozen folks I had met before at various events, and then I met a few I never had before. One guy I met even told me about a job available, and even had the job description paperwork with him. Now, I know SQL Saturday is a learning adventure, but job leads aren’t a bad side effect! 

So I’m right now as I write this paragraph in Jorge’s session of SQL University 101, first session of the day. I know I don’t need the 101 session, but I like Jorge, and he often goes off on higher level tangents. In fact, while I am typing, he’s talking about internals and SAN alignment. There are a large percentage of women in this session, great for WIT (Women in Technology). He’s also covering Twitter, and #sqlhelp, and the other great resources out in the interwebz for SQL Pros. Throughout, the SQL Community was emphasized (pimped) to those folks that don’t know about it. Amazing how many in the industry don’t know about the resources available to them, much like me a year ago! 

Jorge Segarra (@sqlchicken) with his famous signature rubber chicken


Next, I stayed in the same room to listen to Brandie Tarvin (website | Twitter) present on Joining and Aliases. Again, a bit of a beginner session, but at this time pretty much all the sessions are, and I spoke to Brandie before the session, and she said that she might go more advanced depending on response, so there. The room was SRO, with more than a dozen sitting on the floor or standing around the edges. She’s very knowledgeable in the subject, covering from basics through advanced joining of tables. Tips like swapping INNER and OUTER to see where missing data might be. Good session overall. 

Brandie Tarven (@WannabeWriter06) answering questions


After this session was lunch, pizza on the piazza 🙂 During lunch were several vendor sessions, and also several mini-sessions. I actually missed most of these because I was hob-nobbing with the twitterati on the piazza (learning AND networking, remember?) but I did jump in on “Introduction to Reporting on a Cube with SSRS 2008” by Dustin Ryan. I sat way in the back because I came in late, and he had no mike so it was hard to follow, but it looked interesting. MDX is not my strong point, but it was nice to see some in action. 

Pizza on the piazza


Next up was “Demystifying SQL Deployments” a presentation given by Rodney Landrum (Twitter), a SQL MVP. Starting his talk about SOX and HIPAA, I knew I was in the right session. These things really need to be learned. As he went along, he discussed the various staging environments, Dev, QA, Staging to Production, then went on to talk about change management and workflow. I don’t deal with ANY of this where I work, so I was glad to see it covered. He ended with demos of different ways of packaging data to move it, including scripting databases and Red Gates’ SQL Packager. Very cool session. 

Rodney Landrum (@rodney_landrum) presenting


Following that was Aaron Nelson’s “Virtualize This!” session. I have seen this on the schedule for the last three SQL Saturday’s, but it was always trumped by another presentation. This time, I finally saw it. I sat in the “Heckler’s Row” with Jorge Segarra, Eric Humphrey (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) and Jose Chinchilla (Blog | Twitter). Configuration looks ‘fairly’ easy, the box it’s running on needs to have some oomph for sure. During it, Jorge tweeted “The Demo Gods are not pleased!” should give you an idea how things were going at that point. A very interesting session, one that went just over my head ( a good thing) so I have stuff to look up so I  understand. 

Aaron Nelson (@sqlvariant) presenting


Heckler's Row!


The next to last session of the day was Plamen Ratchev’s (Blog) “Refactoring SQL for Performance.” This is another of those subjects I consider “good to know.” He started by debunking the myth of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ One type of refactoring was normalization of data in-place (create new tables and move data, then create a view referencing the new table, named the same as the old table) then the queries can be simplified. Next was using upgraded features, when applicable, such as ROW_NUMBER / OVER ranking and the new MERGE statement. “To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often” ~Winston Churchill. This was a very detailed session by a very knowledgeable presenter. 

Plamen Ratchev Presenting


The final session of the day for me was the SSIS Iron Chef competition. 

Iron Chef SSIS


This was done in Tampa, at SQL Saturday #32, but I mostly missed it there. When I walked into the room, epic music was playing on the sound system, Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter) and Adam Jorgenson (Blog | Twitter) were preparing their tools, anticipation was in the air! Once it started, these people put on a show! A mix of Iron Chef America and some comedy troupe show. Devin Knight (Blog | Twitter), the challenger, chose from among four “chefs” (including Troy Gallant in the role of Donald Dot Farmer!) to compete with his own blood, Brian Knight. The jokes about each other’s SSIS packages (Swollen, red packages, etc.) were rampant. Brian had his ETL written in about 20 minutes, Devin about five minutes later. Brian built his data warehouse, and Devin, falling behind, jumped right to the new powerpivot, using that as a data warehouse. And he finished it in a matter of seconds, with charts, while Brian was building reports. Brian then broke out the maps, spatial data visualization aids available in R2. With one minute to go, charts were popping up on both screens, and the crowd counted down the last five seconds. Brian and Devin explained how they did what they did, and the judges deliberated. They gave their comments, and chose the Iron Chef Jacksonville, one of the chefs that wasn’t chosen, Mike someone or other. I didn’t get it, but hey, the rest was fun. 

The Iron Chefs line up


Once the competition was over, the attendees that had been in the other sessions were brought into this room for the closing ceremonies. Scott Gleason recognized speakers, volunteers and attendees, with a special shout out to all the women who showed up, pointing out the Women in Technology section of PASS at Then the loot was given out. There was a Woz signature iPod, a Flip video camera, a $100 gift certificate to Best Buy, books, shirts, licenses for software, great stuff. Once all was awarded, they announced the after-party at a place called Seven Bridges, with free billiards and appetizers, but by this time I felt I had to bow out. I had a five hour trip in front of me, and had been up since early in the morning, so I just went to see the beach, then got on the road home. 

Happy attendees leaving the event


Oh, and the thought I had last night that actually prompted this post is this; the SQL Saturday website is a terrific learning resource! One negative thing about every SQL Saturday is that you can’t attend every session. And, for most people, one can’t attend every SQL Saturday. But at the SQL Saturday website, (if presenters are diligent) there are the session slide decks, and often scripts that illustrate those decks. If you miss a session, you can usually get the jist of it from the download, and there are often resources in those decks that point out further information. As a knowledge repository, the SQL Saturday website is hard to beat! 

One final thought, added just before scheduling this post – Jacksonville is a really nice city. I’d never been, but I took a little time before getting on the road to see a bit of it, and I really like it. Except for the heat, it reminds me a lot of home (I’m from Boston and environs). I’d like to go back sometime, if I get the opportunity. 

Jacksonville Beach, the afternoon of #sqlsat38

May 5, 2010

Speaking for #sqlpass

Posted in SQL Server at 10:00 am by David Taylor

I am a fortunate soul. I have seen Aaron Nelson’s (Blog | Twittermap of all PASS chapters in the US, and there is one near me. Fifty miles away, but check the map, that’s nearby, relatively. Not only that, but the chapter’s former president, Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter), moved away last fall, making its future an unknown, but Jon Boulineau (Twitter) stepped in to fill the gap, and the chapter had its ‘re-inaugural’ meeting last Tuesday, April 28, 2010. Finally, fortune smiled on me because when Ken and Jon were in discussions about handing over the reins over the winter, they sent me an email, asking me to present for the group at that meeting.

This was a big deal for me. Ken is huge in the SQL Server world, an author, an MVP, a holder of five SQL certifications. Jon is the new president of the PASS chapter. These guys got together and asked, of all the people they could have asked, me to present at the first meeting after Ken left. Naturally I said yes! I have only presented once before, at SQL Saturday #32 in Tampa, just this past January, but I could not pass up this opportunity to get more involved, to help my SQL Community friends, to Connect, Share and Learn. And I did, in spades.


The evening started simply enough, we met in a meeting room at the main branch of the Columbus library. Jon had provided some snacks and drinks. There were only a few people there when I arrived, so I shook a few hands, met a couple new people, and set up my borrowed-from-work laptop on the podium. When we got started promptly at six, there were only about eight of us in the room. Not a great turnout, but, as I found out, not bad, either, as it had been a few months since the last meeting, and people had stopped paying attention to the website, etc. so the only folks there were those that knew Jon or word of mouth friend of friends.

Jon started with a question to those few of us present – what do we want the group to be? We had a lively discussion about the role of SQL Server in our lives, and discussed even other RDBMS products, even including NoSQL in the talks. We brought up many points about how some of the people in the room supported several vendors’ products in their day to day work, not just SQL Server. Of course the ‘SS’ in PASS stands for SQL Server,  hence the main reason for meeting as a PASS chapter, but with such diverse experience in the group, it was decided that while the main topic of discussion would revolve around SQL Server, the focus of the group would be the professional development of its members. It’s about the people, baby!


After about a half hour of discussion, it came time for me to present. I did the same presentation I did at SQL Saturday, Trending Reports in SSRS, but this time I had the benefit of attendee feedback from the first time, and I had changed things up a bit this time, spending less time on the descriptions of my company and how we do things, and more time on how the reports were built in BIDS. I ran into a couple glitches when I got to the point of deploying the report that I still don’t understand, but I blame it on the laptop and configuration issues. A laptop is not a server, for sure!

There were some great questions throughout the presentation, and lots of interaction. Some of the folks present had not played in SSRS, and yet were writing reports every day. I got to show off some of SSRS’ features, including ways to automate reports, delivering them in emails and to file shares, and in various formats to either, for example as Excel files or pdf files. I am no expert by any means, but I have played with all of these features, and was able to share knowledge with others who had not.


Presenting, especially to a smart group of people, is a two way street. Through both people’s questions, and through discussions of others’ use cases, I learned quite a bit about the different ways people were reporting against their SQL instances. I also learned quite a lot about how businesses outside my own operate and how SQL Server is used in those businesses.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience. It is my sincere hope that more people come out and join us as time goes on. I think that will be the case as word gets out. We’ve got some great speakers lined up for the coming months, both live and through LiveMeeting, which will give us the opportunity to get speakers that we couldn’t otherwise because of travel.

I’d like to thank Ken and Jon for inviting me to speak, and I can’t wait for next month, to be an attendee!

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