February 2011 - Posts

What a day, well what a week really. I found out last week that I passed the Microsoft Certified Master Exam and that I needed to decide to sit the Lab part next. I decided to get it done in a few days of down time I have before going to the MVP summit so scheduled it for today.

Five and half hours later I had finished, after a few visits to the toilet. (lesson learnt don’t drink too much during your lab).

The lab is marked by humans which I think is a great thing given the various ways of doing things in SQL Server.

I’ve know been told I have passed and so I am now the newest MCM kid on the block.

I will be blogging about the experience as others have done over the next few weeks, probably after the MVP Summit.

What I will say is that I did a post about a year ago about how easy the mcm http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/simons/archive/2010/04/06/sql-server-mcm-is-too-easy.aspx . In it Brent comments he states that people that cram for the lab didn’t succeed, and that is something now I will wholeheartedly confirm. Not everyone knows everything and the lab allows for that, but you need to know how everything works even if you don’t know how to do it. If you don’t you won’t have enough time.

I hope to be helping more people become MCMs in the UK and elsewhere so keep posted if you are interested, of drop me an email http://sqlblogcasts.com/blogs/simons/contact.aspx

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If you’ve had your ear to the twitter ground you will have seen that the provisional agenda for SQLBIts has been put online. http://sqlbits.com/information/agenda.aspx

You will also notice that we have put on a little weight. Yes we’ve eaten too many sessions meaning we have to extend to another room from the 10:50 onwards. This means you have 6 sessions to choose from rather than the normal 5. Whats more to get even more sessions in we’ve looked at those that have registered and decided they are early risers and so have put on some breakfast sessions. This run from 8 til 9 on the Saturday morning. If you can’t get there for that time don’t worry you will still get the same awesome experience you’ve had at previous SQLBits, specifically breakfast will be served up until 9:30.

In addition to the extra sessions we are doing lightning talks, this allows new speakers to speak for 5 minutes on something they are passionate about with out having to prepare a whole hour long session.

We always get feedback that people didn’t get to see the sessions they wanted so we hope that by providing more sessions and extending the day we will meet your craving for SQL server content.

What's more will all these changes it means we are able to allow almost all the speakers that have submitted to present either a full session of a lightening talk.

If you aren’t registered yet you need to do so quick. Firstly the early bird discount finishes at the end of the weekend and secondly we are running out of space. I predict we will be full within a few weeks.

Posted by simonsabin | 2 comment(s)

The recording of my session from SQLBits last year has now been fixed so you can watch the whole thing.

You can watch or download the recording from here

http://www.sqlbits.com/Sessions/Event7/10_things_you_should_never_do_with_SQL_Server

Things I cover are indexing, truncating the transaction log, reindexing, shrinking databases and more.

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This really is a note to give people a gentle nudge. If you are thinking about coming to SQLBits then you need to register soon.

We’ve never had to close registrations this early but it looks like we will be full my mid March. Some of the training days will be full before then.

With the early bird rate ending at the end of February we could see SQLBits filling up even sooner.

So if you want to come to SQLBits in Brighton in April. Make sure you register soon.

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If you’ve ever used SSIS you will have found that getting a decent layout is a pain. It would be nice to have more features to help layout things nicely.

Jamie has proposed such a suggestion to allow you to align objects to each other, a bit like what you get with reporting services.

Have a look at Jamie’s suggestion and vote for it if you agree https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/644668/ssis-snap-to

Posted by simonsabin | 2 comment(s)

This is part of a series on the Crappy Code Games

  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

Tips on how to win

Each test has some different aspect that will define how you win. In this post we will give you some tips on how to try and win.

As a starter why not watch some of the sessions from previous SQLBits 


  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here

To register/enter the games go to http://www.crappycodegames.com/enterCompetition.php

This is part of a series on the Crappy Code Games

  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win    

Why should I attend?

The crappy code games isn’t all about winning, its also about having a good time and learning about SQL Server.

Even if you don’t want to enter the competition I think its valuable for you to come along to the heats and the final in Brighton as a chance to meat SQL Server bods and also to learn about SQL Server and storage.

In my job as a consultant one of the areas I find the most misunderstood is storage. This makes it very difficult for you as a SQL person to be able to argue to your server/SAN people that its not SQL that’s at fault, its the storage.

SANS are seen as the solution to all performance problems and that SQL Server just doesn’t scale. In coming along to one of these events you will see how SQL Server can truly scale.

Some of the things you are likely to learn if you come along are the different IO generated by different actions in SQL, backups, queries, parallelism, inserting, sorting and checkpoints.

They are also going to great social evenings with food and drink available. The location of the events is

Manchester - Revolution Bar, Deansgate Locks, March 17th, 6:30-11pm

London - Revolution Bar, Tower Hill, March 31st, 6:30-11pm

Brighton - Grand Hotel, April 7th, 6:30-11pm


  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here

To register/enter the games go to http://www.crappycodegames.com/enterCompetition.php

This is part of a series on the Crappy Code Games

      
  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win   

What are the prizes?

There are loads of them at both the heats and the final.

At the heats the top three coders at each event >will take home Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, along with some great prizes such as Steve Wozniak signed ipods, developer laptops, Win-Mo phones, Xbox 360 S consoles, t-shirts and more.

And then in the final all nine medalists (including the three winners from the Brighton event) will be honored at the Crappy Code Awards Ceremony held during SQLBits 8 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Steve Wozniak will personally present awards to the top three dbA-thletes, those who achieve the highest scores out of all nine medalists. The grand prizes you will be competing for are:

Gold: A hands-on flying day in high performance aircraft for two at Ultimate High plus Fusion-io flight jackets.

Silver:One day racing experience at Palmer Sports where you will drive seven different high performance cars.

Bronze: Pure Tech Racing 10 person package at PTR’s F1 racing facility includes FI tees and food.

That’s a lot of prizes, and some awesome prizes at that.

So get entering to see if you can push SQL Server to its limit.

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here


      
  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here

To register/enter the games go to http://www.crappycodegames.com/enterCompetition.php

This is part of a series on the Crappy Code Games  

  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win    

What are the challenges?

There are 4 games that you can enter. Each one is to test a different aspect of SQL Server.

  • The High Jump: Generate the highest I/O per second
  • The 100 m dash: Cumulative highest number of I/O’s in 60 seconds
  • The SSIS-athon: Load one billion row fact table in the shortest time
  • The Marathon: Generate the highest MB per second in 60 seconds

The system that you will be running your code against will have Fusion IO storage, obviously. This means that the normal rules for storage don’t apply. If you look at the specs for the IODrive http://www.fusionio.com/products/iodrive you will see that it can achieve ~ 750MB/s and ~120,000 IOPS. That’s shed loads more than spinning disks (you’d need 1200 disks to get that amount of IOPS)

For tips on Tips on how to win

The High Jump: The highest IO rate

Contestants are required to run their own TSQL queries to generate the highest peak ‘read’ load they can over a testing period of 1 minute to win. 

The Pages/sec performance monitor counter will be used to measure the number of pages that have been read in a second.

The 100 m dash: The highest total IO throughput measured in pages read over 1 min

Contestants are required to run their own TSQL queries to generate the highest total ‘read’ load they can over a testing period of 1 minute to win. 

The Pages/sec performance monitor counter will be used to measure the pages that have been read.

The SSIS-athon: The highest transaction rate measured in Write Transactions over 1 min

Contestants are required to run their own TSQL queries to generate the highest total  ‘Write Transactions‘ load they can over a testing period of 1 minute to win.  The highest Total Write Transactions in 1 minute figure returned by the script below wins. A transaction must involve changes to - at Least – two data tables in the AdventureWorks2008R2 databases related by one or more foreign key constraint(s).  A transaction must result in at least one record being added to a table, so there is a net increase in the number of records in that table at the end of the transaction.

The performance monitor counter 'Write Transactions/sec' will be used to measure this

The Marathon: Load one billion row fact table in the shortest time

The Fact Table to inflate must be the FactInternetSales table in the AdventureWorksDW2008R2.  Referential integrity must be maintained with all associated dimension tables and foreign keys need to be in an enabled and checked state at the end of the test.  Contestants may use any data embedded in TSQL statements and/or reference data already contained, in or derived from, FactInternetSales or associated dimension tables– no other data is to be used.

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here


  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here

To register/enter the games go to http://www.crappycodegames.com/enterCompetition.php

This is part of a series on the Crappy Code Games

  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

Who can enter?

Anyone can enter the competition, whats more anyone can just come along for the evening. All the evenings are aimed at being a social evening with food and drink.

So just think of them as usergroup meetings with

The evening will have lots of SQL bods in attendance and I'll be trying to help out anyone that wants some help.

I’m also seeing if people would be interested in a session on how storage works with SQL Server, the different IO characteristics for things like the transaction log, data files, reads and writes, read ahead and more.

So even if you don’t want to compete then why not register and come along and see what you can get out of storage.

Why not get some stats from your storage system and compare with what is being achieved in the challenges.


  1. The background
  2. Who can enter?
  3. What are the challenges?
  4. What are the prizes?
  5. Why should I attend?
  6. Tips on how to win

You can find the details of the events and Terms and Conditions here