18 January 2011

The Abaculator

I enjoy using Red-Gate products.  Really.  I even suspect that the SQL Prompt code-completion product reduces the time it takes me to write SQL.

I enjoyed their recent add likening Hand Coding your SQL to an Abacus, while SQL Prompt was likened to a Calculator:

Think how much more efficient you could be with this product!  We can even get supporting evidence from the inter-webs showing just how slow the Abacus really is when compared to our electron chomping marvel:

Oops!  I had a feeling that the abacus would turn out to be pretty fast, but three times faster?  And that's just a virtual abacus - think of the power and air conditioning costs this 9 year old mathematician will save.

Now I'm slightly embarrassed to be a SQL Prompt user.

Red-Gate might want to take a lesson from MathSecret on this one.

13 January 2011

Hacking The Doctor's Credentials

Brent Ozar just published his Microsoft Certified Master certificate along with a call for enhancements.

I never excelled at Photoshop Tennis, but thought I'd take a stab at it using Microsoft's recent jab at VMWare as a starting point.

Of course, Brent's breadth and depth of SQL and IT experience, along with his presentation and writing skills, do a SQL master make.

Congratulations on the MCM!

10 January 2011

Lies, Damned Lies, and Resolutions

Thank you to Microsoft MVP and rampant blogger, tweeter, and silver-screen maven Jen McCown for hosting this month's T-SQL Tuesday (#14).  Congratulations, Jen! (Yes, I'm a fan of the Midnight DBAs)

Many people claim they don't make new year resolutions.  A few of them are telling the truth.  The rest have secret resolutions they won't disclose for fear of failing publicly.  I fall in the latter category.

With this in mind, I have not resolved to get a SQL Server Certification: I have pre-purchased an Exam 4-Pack to cover a double MCITP and am sitting the MCTS: SQL Server 2008, Database Developer today.

I have also not resolved to participate in a T-SQL Tuesday:  I am writing and submitting my first post right now. Insecure?  Yep.  Letting it trip me up?  Not this time.

These things started off as secret professional resolutions, but I've decided to take action on them.

I still have other secret resolutions, mainly recycled secret failures from years past.  Will I be acting on them?  Some yes, and some no.  Will I put them out there as "resolutions" and risk the public failure?  I guess so.
  • That 100 extra pounds (45 Kg / 7 stone) I've acquired since settling down?  Nope.  Not going to resolve it.  I am, however, "resolving" to spend some quality time with the exercise bike so I can manage the stairs better and let the weight take care of itself.  You have my permission to call me on it in a couple months.
  • Replace the broken dishwasher?  Nope.  I'm going to hire somebody who's good at it to do it for me.  I make my living specializing in SQL Server and don't expect my clients to be especially brilliant with database systems.  Why should I expect to hack together a home repair that's anything but mediocre?  A quick note here: my house of full of mediocre but largely functional do-it-yourself jobs, so letting this go is a bit of a challenge for me.
  • Speak at the local SQL Server User Group?  If they'll have me again.
So, nothing spectacular, just a few public steps out of the comfort zone.  Won't you join me?

You can't afford what?

Tibor Nagy recently did a nice intro to Populating a SQL Server Test Database with Random Data.

It was a good primer to generating gobs of data, but part of the problem the solution was addressing wasn't technical: "I heard about some excellent commercial tools but they are expensive and my company cannot afford them."  The first commercial tool that comes to mind is Red Gate's SQL Data Generator, which isn't expensive by any measure, least of all a DBAs time.

It sickens me when a company can afford to squander days of a $50/hour DBA's time hand rolling something that could be had commercially for only a few hundred dollars.  How can a company that can afford a DBA not afford a simple tool that will save days of effort and free up that expensive human time so it can be spent solving business problems?

To illustrate, a company where I used to work had an extravagantly expensive suite of database design, monitoring, and migration tools.  That was well and good, but the migration tool took hours to compare a simple database, and often didn't succeed (though you still had to wait hours to find out).  The result was a lot of squandered time and production releases that were often missing database objects or permissions.  Ouch!

This company frowned on any suggestion to evaluate a different tool-set, so one of the DBAs, who believed more in getting things done than toeing the line (this gave him a reputation as a something of a cowboy), downloaded a trial copy of Red Gate SQL-Compare and started playing with it.  This DBA's compare times went from hours to minutes (or less) and he no longer had last minute manual compare frenzies prior to production releases.

After a few more DBAs started using the evaluation - the tool completely paid for its purchase price in the first week of evaluation - the company finally realized that all this "free" salary time was being squandered, and decided to make the purchase.  The enterprise-class database tool was put to rest, along with its rather generous annual maintenance fees, and they never looked back.

Though I have yet to work there, someday I will work at or run a shop where each DBA has his or her own annual tools budget equal to roughly a single day's pay that can be used to purchase simple tools about which they are passionate.  They gain experience managing a corporate budgetary item and get the power and confidence to use that money to save even more money without any corporate red-tape, thank you very much.