November 2009 - Posts

A ray of light?
28 November 09 12:57 PM | MartinBell | 2 comment(s)


I was interested to read Richard Barden’s appraisal of the SQL Server market this week on This confirmed by own findings from talking to people at SQLBits, in that the market is noticeably better than this time last year. This will come as a welcome relief to anyone who has had a hard year finding employment. Hopefully his predictions will turn out to be correct.

Unfortunately I have also heard that some unpalatable practices being employed by some agencies; such as using the recession as an excuse to increase their margins and in some cases over 30% going to the agency.

Agencies may have their part to play in the contractor market, but it seems to me that there is a lack of accountability and accreditation for someone who is a position of trust by both contractor and client.

The standard of service an agency provides to a client can vary considerably. Good agencies will only submit candidates that actually fit the given criteria and have been pre-vetted to make sure that they do, bad agencies will just keyword search and throw as many CVs as they can at the client. As a contractor you want your CV to be the one that sticks out, not just one of a pile that goes straight in the bin.

When so much seems to be governed by cost and duration, I always wonder how many contractors have not been submitted for a position because the agent thinks they would not be chosen because of cost, even they would provide the best service? What happens if someone on a higher rate could do the same job in half the time, thus saving on the overall cost? When is an agent a barrier rather than a facilitator?

Trust is the key for any relationship between contractor and agent. Unfortunately trust can not be gained instantly, and the short timescale between being submitted for interview and accepting a contract is not long enough for this trust to be validated. If this trust breaks down the client and the contractor will be the ones that suffer the most.

It seems that agencies have some way to go to clean up their act and become more transparent. Organisation such as The Recruitment & Employment Confederation have their code of practice, where standard 2 calls for honesty and transparency. Unfortunately membership is not compulsory but it could be a useful indicator.

The future may be looking brighter but it seems that agencies may have already missed their chance to clean up their act.

Scottish Area SQL Server User Group Meeting, Edinburgh - Thursday 26th November
23 November 09 08:40 AM | MartinBell | 1 comment(s)

I thought I would try something slightly different at the user group on Thursday, so here is the itinary: 

SQL Nuggets Competition

A look into the Newgroups – Martin Bell

In this session I'll look at using the newsgroup as source of information, inspiration and perspiration. How you can learn for the postings in newsgroup and forums, if you want to ask a question, the how, why and what to post and I'll look at some of the posts and how to set about answering the questions.


18:30 - 19:00 - Introduction, Networking and Food

19:00 - 19:50 – SQL Nuggets competition

19:50 - 20:00 - Break

20:00 - 20:50 – A look into the newsgroup – Martin Bell 

20:50 - 21:00 - Close


Microsoft Office at Waverley Gate

Registration will be necessary as I have to submit registrations to Microsoft on Thursday morning.

You can register here

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Another SQLBits Conference is over!
23 November 09 08:28 AM | MartinBell | with no comments

Another SQLBits is over, but as an organizer there is still plenty to do! After each conference we go through a post-mortem and try to identify what worked well, what could be done better!

We have had lots of people complementing us, either directly or by email on how much they enjoyed it and how well it. Celtic Manor was a great venue and I know that some people regretted not taking more advantage of the facilities there. I think it was far superior to anywhere we have been before and even the food was a class above what we have come to expect. I’m sure that people will talk about this event for a long time to come and it raises the bar yet again if we are going to surpass what we have already achieved.

We will be posting on the website the presenters slide decks and the videos of the session when they have been processed. We will be sending out emails to let you know when they are available.

Everyone who registered for the event should already have in your inbox a link to your personalised survey. If you could take a few minutes of your time to complete this and give us useful feedback, it will help us when making our decisions about the next event.

Finally thank you to all our sponsors, without their support the event would not be possible.

SQLBits V is over, long live SQLBits VI :)

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22 November 09 08:10 AM | MartinBell | 1 comment(s)

The October update of Books online was released on the 17th November as the July 2009 update. Confused?


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SQLBits Car Sharing
15 November 09 08:56 PM | MartinBell | with no comments

Only a few more days before we kick of SQLBits V at Celtic Manor. After what seems like a very long time, we are now at the stage where there are just a few last minute things to do before travelling down to Newport.

We have put together a car sharing page at for those people who wish to share the costs of travelling to the event. To use the page you will need Silverlight 3.

Anyone who hasn’t seen the agenda can find the it at

Please remember that if you can no longer make the event to cancel your registration using the link sent in your registration confirmation email.

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New CTP release of SQL Server 2008 R2 available
14 November 09 07:17 AM | MartinBell | with no comments

Thursday saw the release of the November CTP of SQL Server 2008 R2.

It can be downloaded from
here and a CTP of the feature pack which can also be downloaded here, this includes a new version of Books Online for this release.

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