In this issue:

Tech News : General Interest

Tech News : Security

Tech News : The Lighter Side

SQL Server News : Bugs/KB

SQL Server News

SQL Server News : WebCasts

Microsoft News : Development

Microsoft News : General Interest

Blogs : Administration

Blogs : Analysis Services / BI

Blogs : Career

Blogs : Computing in the Cloud

Blogs : Database Design, Theory and Development

Blogs : Hardware

Blogs : High Availability/Disaster Recovery

Blogs : Performance and Tuning

Blogs : SQL Server 2012

Blogs : T-SQL

Database Weekly - www.databaseweekly.com

The Complete Weekly Roundup of SQL Server News

Hand-picked content to sharpen your professional edge

SQL Server News for 2013-04-22

SQL DBA Bundle Top 5 Hard-earned Lessons of a DBA
New! Read Lesson 3, ‘Six Scary SQL Surprises’, and learn from Brent Ozar and the other experts in the DBA Team. Read now.
SQL Source Control Database source control in just 5 minutes
It takes just 5 minutes to connect your SQL databases to source control. Got 5 minutes to spare? Get started now.
SQL Backup Pro New! Safeguard your SQL backups
Protect your backups from onsite disaster with SQL Backup Pro and a Hosted Storage account from Red Gate. Learn more.
Editorial - Excuses Execrating Excel

Have you ever been working with a spreadsheet and you get a message saying ‘Catastophic error’ followed by a sinister hex number? (&H8000FFFF for all you geeks) No, Microsoft; that’s not catastrophic. This is a catastrophic error, now that Excel has been accused of tanking the global economy. This is a bit more serious than a corrupted file on your disk. Sure, there have been some spectacular disasters before, as when a first-year associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton made an Excel reformatting error that mistakenly added a massive 179 contracts to an agreement to buy Lehman Brothers assets, or when JPMorgan lost $6 billion in 2012 on a credit-derivative bet due to an incorrect risk calculation on an excel spreadheet that drastically underestimated the risk, or when the same company admitted misreporting their ‘Value at Risk’ risk exposure for years due to an Excel error. But so far, there have been no Excel catastrophes to compare with the one that has misled global economists since 2010 about the growth of companies in a time of debt, and their reasoning and evidence has become a foundation of the arguments for spending austerity and debt reduction in the developed world, especially in the EU. Would the Greek debt crisis have been handled differently without it?

A paper, written by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, and published in 2010, showed with seeming authority that growth rates for countries where debt was over 90% of the GDP was 1% slower than it would be otherwise. It has now been discovered that it is riddled with methodological errors and inconsistencies, one of which is a fairly bad error in an Excel spreadsheet used for part of the calculation.

What’s strange is that it’s repeatedly been reported in this way – “Excel Error”, “Flaw in Excel Spreadsheet” rather than the more accurate version of the issue, which is a combination of some peculiar mathematics, some strange and poorly-explained methodology, and flat-out calculation errors. Excel gave the right answer: the error was in the question. It’s hard to imagine the same headlines if all the calculations were performed in R.

It might be that there are solid journalistic reasons for the repeat of the “Excel error” line, such as laziness. Far be it for me to suggest that this story was reposted endlessly with little analysis or original thought applied each time. It could be that (heaven forfend) enough of us use Excel every day that mentioning it in a headline marks its use here as a genuine case of human interest. It could be that the reporters have no understanding of the broader analytical issues. Regardless, it is disingenuous, like blaming a word processor for a poorly thought-out law. It reframes the story as the original authors being brought low by the shoddy tools they are forced – forced! – to employ, rather than a matter of their own error.

So is Excel evil? Clearly not, no matter what hyperbolic news reports would have you believe. It’s a tool, and like any tool can be used well or used badly. We suffer the same problem with the misuse of relational databases. When things go seriously wrong, the reflex reaction is to say that relational databases can’t cope with our big data. This may seem like a small matter, but when large and trusted media organisations blame the tools rather than the person, it perpetuates the notion. Even ambiguous language (“Excel error” could of course be an error made in or by Excel) doesn’t help here.

Of course, it could just be the final revenge of a disgruntled former Microsoft employee...

» Join the debate, and respond to today's editorial on the forums


The Weekly News

All the headlines and interesting SQL Server information that we've collected over the past week, and sometimes even a few repeats if we think they fit. These headlines are gathered throughout the week and are posted in real time at the website. Check there for information throughout the week or enjoy this weekly summary of the SQL Server world.


Tech News : General Interest

OpenStack Winning Converts Among Large Enterprises - Major enterprises, including BestBuy, Comcast, HubSpot and Bloomberg, are making major commitments to OpenStack technology for their IT infrastructures....(more)

Running the ROI numbers on BYOD - Are companies getting a good return on investment when employees use their own mobile devices in the workplace? Turns out, the answer is dramatically different depending on whom you ask....(more)

IT Woes Ground American Airlines Flights - An outage in a key reservations system has grounded all flights at American Airlines this afternoon, leaving passengers and gate agents unable to manage bookings or print boarding passes and causing backups at airports in many areas of the country....(more)

Tech News : Security

House passes controversial “cybersecurity” bill CISPA in 288-127 vote - The United States House of Representatives approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by a comfortable 288 to 127 margin. The legislation grants companies broad legal immunity when they share information related to online threats with one another and with the federal government....(more)

Java 7 Update 21 to fix bugs, change applet warning messages - Oracle will release a new version of Java on Tuesday that will include 42 security fixes and will make changes to how Web-based Java content will be presented inside browsers. Thirty-nine of the vulnerabilities patched by the new Java 7 Update 21 (7u21) can be exploited remotely without authentication, Oracle said in a pre-release announcement. Some of them have the maximum score on the CVSS 2.0 scale used by Oracle to rate the severity of vulnerabilities....(more)

Can Planes Be Hijacked by Android Phone? - It sounds like part of a Bruce Willis action movie: A hacker takes remote control of a commercial aircraft, using only an Android smartphone. A German security researcher said this week it can be done, but the Federal Aviation Administration is denying the claim. The researcher, Hugo Teso, works for German IT company n.runs and is also a commercial pilot. At the Hack in the Box security conference this week in Amsterdam, he explained that transmissions to commercial aircraft can be hijacked, thus hijacking the aircraft. ...(more)

Tech News : The Lighter Side

Turn an RSS feed into a 'Star Wars' crawl - StarRSS turns any RSS feed into the opening crawl from Star Wars, complete with music....(more)

SQL Server News : Bugs/KB

Cumulative Update # 6 for SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 - The 6 th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site....(more)

Cumulative Update # 12 for SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 - The 12 th Cumulative Update release for SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site....(more)

SQL Server 2012 RTM Cumulative Update 7 - The 7 th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2012 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site....(more)

SQL Server News

Develop and Test New SQL Server Apps, Scale Existing Apps and Unlock Hybrid Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services - Today Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, which includes Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks to keep your Windows Azure connected to your on-premises infrastructure and applications....(more)

SQL Server News : WebCasts

Tips & Tricks for Dates & Times in SQL Server (video) - Writing queries with date and time data types can be tricky! Join Kendra to learn tips and best practices for selecting the right data types, choosing the best performing functions to round (or truncate) values, and how to avoid common pitfalls with dates and times in SQL Server. If you have one year of experience writing T-SQL queries, this free 30 minute webcast is for you....(more)

Microsoft News : Development

Microsoft starts testing Visual Studio 2012 Update 3 - The Visual Studio team is continuing with its seemingly quarterly update pace, delivering the first public test build of the next update for Visual Studio 2012....(more)

Microsoft News : General Interest

Supreme Court debates whether “snipping” human genes merits a patent - The word of the day at the Supreme Court on Monday was "snip." The biotech company Myriad Genetics is defending patents that give it exclusive control over two genes linked to breast cancer. Critics have argued that Myriad merely "snipped" the genes from the human genome, and that this no more deserves patent protection than "snipping" a leaf from a plant or removing a liver from a human body....(more)

Microsoft's Windows 8 Plan B(lue): Bring back the Start button, boot to desktop - Microsoft may be moving toward bringing back the Start Button and allowing users to boot straight to the desktop with its coming Windows 8.1 release later this year....(more)

Blogs : Administration

Finding SQL Server Installs with Powershell, Again - Yep, I heard you loud and clear. There is more than one way to find SQL Server on your network. This time we will dig deep into the TDS protocol docs again along with a bit of guess work....(more)

Easy automation of SQL Server database maintenance - A while back I kicked off a survey asking what mechanism you use for running your regular SQL Server database maintenance....(more)

Blogs : Analysis Services / BI

Applying a Function to Every Cell in a Table in Data Explorer - Now that the PASS Business Analytics Conference is over, I can get back to playing around with Data Explorer and blogging about it. I’ve been working on a fun demo that I’ll try to blog about later this week, but in the course of creating this demo I came across a technique that I didn’t end up using but which I thought deserved a post on its own: how to apply a function to every cell in a table, rather than just every cell in a column....(more)

Blogs : Career

What Counts For a DBA: Bravery - As a DBA, you have the opportunity to act like a firefighter. In fact the term ‘fire-fighting’ is very often used to describe those tasks needed to find the root cause of a system outage because there are a lot of similarities. When fighting a real fire there is more to it than the obvious need to rescue victims,  you have to hunt for the cause before you can decide how to treat it....(more)

Blogs : Computing in the Cloud

Creating a Windows Azure Virtual Machine - the RIGHT Way - If you put the bare minimum into creating your Azure VMs, you're doing it wrong. There's a better way - there are a few steps you should take before you deploy a Virtual Machine, and a few steps after....(more)

Cloud Alternatives to Microsoft SQL Server - When people say “cloud”, they’re simplifying a lot of different solutions into a single catchphrase. Let’s break out the different options and compare them....(more)

Azure Virtual Machine: 56 GB memory and 8 Cores - I just noticed that there are 2 new machine configurations popping up for you to select when creating a new Virtual Machine:...(more)

Blogs : Database Design, Theory and Development

How Much Cache Do You Have? - Without looking in your SQL Server, do you know much data is cached in memory? You probably don’t and that’s okay; you shouldn’t know how much data SQL Server is caching in memory. We can’t control how much data SQL Server is caching, but we can control how we cache data....(more)

Data Warehouse modelling deliberations – foreign keys and unknown members - Earlier today I posted the following question on Twitter:...(more)

Blogs : Hardware

A SQL Server Hardware Tidbit a Day – Day 12 - For Day 12 of this series, I want to go through a common hardware upgrade scenario that I have been seeing quite a bit lately. Many people still have relatively ancient database servers (such as a Dell PowerEdge 1950 or 2950, or HP DL380 Gen 5) that are running either 65nm Conroe-based or 45nm Penryn-based processors. These 2006-2007 vintage processors were commonly known as Core2 Duo or Core2 Quad processors, and they were the last dual-socket capable Intel server processors to use SMP instead of NUMA. ...(more)

A SQL Server Hardware Tidbit a Day – Day 15 - For Day 15 of this series, I will be covering a few tools that can be used for hardware identification. Since quite a few database professionals do not have direct access to their database servers (i.e. they cannot login to their database server via RDP), I will talk about what you can learn about your hardware from T-SQL....(more)

Blogs : High Availability/Disaster Recovery

Custom Metrics for Monitoring Database Mirroring - SQL Monitor comes with plenty of metrics, but there are always going to be things that you want to measure that can't be done 'out of the box'. Taking database mirroring as an example, Grant shows that custom metrics can be used to monitor and alert whatever aspect of SQL Server or database that you need ...(more)

Blogs : Performance and Tuning

How expensive are column-side Implicit Conversions? - Last week I blogged about Implicit Conversions that cause Index Scans, and showed two charts for where implicit conversions could result in an index scan operation instead of an index seek during query execution. As a part of writing that blog post I thought it would be interesting to also look at the performance overhead of the column-side implicit conversion occurring, given that I’ve seen it’s effects a number of times in the last few weeks. Today my article How expensive are column-side Implicit Conversions? went live on the SQLPerformance.com site to show using Performance Monitor information on CPU usage and batch requests per second, the effect of the performance overhead when column-side implicit conversions occur that cause index scans during query execution....(more)

Blogs : SQL Server 2012

SQL 2012 System Health Reporting Dashboard – Visualizing sp_server_diagnostics results. - We have introduced the System Health Session in SQL 2008 in order to capture some critical Events to make post mortem analysis much easier. However in SQL 2008, by default the system_health session was only collected to a ring buffer and not persisted to disk. SQL 2012 truly provides more of a black box recorder with the introduction of sp_server_diagnostics and the associated data it exposes. ...(more)

Blogs : T-SQL

Tricks for Row Offset and Paging in Various Versions of SQL Server - Paging is one of the most needed tasks when developers are developing applications. SQL Server has introduced various features of SQL Server 2000 to the latest version of SQL Server 2012. Here is the blog post which I wrote which demonstrates how SQL Server Row Offset and Paging works in various versions of the SQL Server. Instead of giving the generic algorithm, I have used AdventureWorks database and build a script. This will give you better control over your data if you have installed the AdventureWorks database and you can play around with various parameters....(more)


Administrative