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The Voice of the DBA

Visitor Parking

Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren as Steve is on holiday.

The building where I work right nowh as about 10 parking spaces reserved for visitors The spaces are reasonably marked on the pavement as ‘Visitor Parking – 2 Hour Maximum’. It’s a nice gesture for visitors certainly. Several times over the past few months an email has gone out from the management company reminding everyone that visitors spaces are for visitors and asking for whoever owns vehicle X to please move it right away or it will be towed away. This past Friday it happened again, about 1 pm. At 3 pm – the deadline set – I watched people start to gather at the window to see what would happen as the car was still there. Nothing was happening right then, but the consensus was ‘tow the car’.

I was more ambivalent. I’m in favor of playing by the rules and certainly towing the car was within the rules, but I had to wonder why the car had not moved. Was it a visitor to the building that didn’t get the email? A visitor that was off site now with someone from the building, maybe a long lunch or a business meeting where they rode together? Or just a scofflaw betting that they were all talk and no tow?  Was it worth ruining the afternoon for the schmo that owned the car?

It’s an interesting situation.

One way to solve this is to just go zero tolerance. If it’s over two hours it’s towed. No email, just gone. Put the onus on the tenants that are being visited to remind the visitors of the two hour time limit. It may not be the most visitor friendly policy (imagine you’re there to close on a mortgage and it takes more than 2 hours!).  Another is to put a note on the window of the vehicle saying ‘this was your freebie, next time you get towed’ and keep a list. This has the merit of not harming real visitors while still having some teeth to the policy. Or, more simply, just paint over the visitor parking signs and call the whole thing a bad idea. Or, just stick with the current plan where the email goes out and usually the car moves and sometimes it doesn’t.

So, imagine you’re the person who sets the policy and makes the decisions. Would you have had the vehicle towed? And whether you would or not, would you change the visitor parking policy or do you like it the way it is now? Post your answer in the discussion forum and also check there to find out what the management company decided to do!

Andy Warren from SQLServerCentral.com

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

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Yesterday's Question of the Day

Yesterday's Question (by Steve Jacobs):

Given the query below, what values will not be returned when you execute the query? 

Note:  Order of results is not important for this question


CREATE TABLE #temp ( a CHAR(50) NOT NULL );
INSERT INTO #temp
        ( a
        )
        SELECT 'Jeff'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jefe'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jeffe'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jefferey'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jeffery'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Geoffery'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Steve'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Stephen'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Steven'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Stan'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Smith'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Smyth'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jon'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jane'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jacobs'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Jose'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Dinah'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Dynih'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Phone'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Fone'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Fawn'
        UNION ALL
        SELECT 'Faun'
DECLARE @name VARCHAR(50)
DECLARE @phonic VARCHAR(50)
DECLARE @cr CURSOR
SET 
@cr = CURSOR FOR
SELECT a,SOUNDEX(a)
 FROM #temp
OPEN @cr
FETCH NEXT FROM @cr INTO @name, @phonic
WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0
    BEGIN
        IF ( SELECT COUNT(@name)
                FROM #temp
                WHERE SOUNDEX(a) IN ( @phonic )
           ) > 1
            SELECT DISTINCT @name
                FROM #temp
                WHERE SOUNDEX(a) IN ( @phonic )
        FETCH NEXT FROM @cr INTO @name, @phonic
    END
CLOSE @cr;
DEALLOCATE @cr;
DROP TABLE #temp;

Answer: Geoffery, Steve, Stan, Jacobs, Jose, Phone

Explanation:

Answer: Geoffery, Steve, Stan, Jacobs, Jose, Phone

For those who like phonics and have written applications that perform "general (advanced) fuzzy lookups," the example above shows that while SOUNDEX is a good idea, it has its drawbacks.  In combination with DIFFERENCE, it (the two) become more "exact" in lookups, but, still lacks a true fuzzy lookup.  I have written many of these in the past (C, C++, .Net, JAVA and yes, SQL (T-SQL)) and all of them have a couple of items in common:

  1. A "dictionary" of the most common and common "sounding" words and letters (i.e., PH = F) \ Common Translations
  2. Vowel mapping and phonetic translation (Y = I or I = Y)
  3. Language (English, Spanglish, Slovak, etc.)
  4. Ranking index

If you were to replace the cursor, and implement a simple select with the difference function, your results would be dramatically different:

SELECT a
 FROM #temp
 where DIFFERENCE(a,'Phone')>=3

Result: Jon,Jane,Dinah,Dynih,Phone,Fone,Fawn,Faun

As you can see, to perform a more efficient and "exacting" fuzzy lookup, soundex and difference are not enough and lacking in many ways (but using Full-Text Search brings it closer).  The ideal solution for any fuzzy lookup or "close to exact match" is a true programming language solution.

Soundex:  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms187384.aspx and http://www.archives.gov/research/census/soundex.html

Difference: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms188753.aspx

Full-Text Search:  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms142571.aspx


» Discuss this question and answer on the forums

Featured Script

Create tables and indexes with a Store Procedure

Dario Palladino from SQLServerCentral.com

I needed something to create all my database tables into another new database I've just created but I didn't wnat to do that by hand so I created this Store Procedure starting from a Jonathan AC Roberts idea that he developed on indexes. (http://www.sqlservercentral.com/Forums/Topic401784-562-2.aspx)

This script creates a store procedure that you can run every time you need to recreate your database somewhere else. 

Just create you new DB and run this SP on your Production DB. Then, run the results into the new DB where you want to replicate all the tables.

If you find error or you think it could be done better, please advice me, I'm really open mind and looking for new knowledge.

I hope you found it useful.

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