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Born SQL with Randolph West

Randolph West solves technology problems with a focus on SQL Server and C#. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP who has worked with SQL Server since the late 1990s. When not consulting, he can be seen acting on the stage and screen or doing voices for independent video games.

Public Service Announcement: check your backup notifications

The Azure cloud platform lost a data centre for a number of hours recently due to inclement weather. This affected many customers — including Microsoft’s own services — for almost an entire day. Given that the cloud is ostensibly designed to mitigate downtime by way of distributing workloads across multiple… Read more

0 comments, 104 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 19 September 2018

Bulk insert issue with UTF-8 fixed-width file format

Fellow Canadian Doran Douglas brought this issue to my attention recently, and I wanted to share it with you as well. Let’s say you have a file in UTF-8 format. What this means is that some of the characters will be single-byte, and some may be more than that. Where… Read more

0 comments, 130 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 12 September 2018

Dates and Times in SQL Server: AT TIME ZONE

Continuing the series on dates and times in SQL Server and Azure SQL Database, this week we look at the hint AT TIME ZONE. In Azure SQL Database, the regional settings of the database are set to UTC by default. It is also advisable to store dates and times in… Read more

0 comments, 143 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 5 September 2018

Repair Visual Studio for Mac: Extension node not found in path

A few months ago I ran into a problem after updating Visual Studio for Mac, where it would not start. The actual error message (which I retrieved from a log file) said: Extension node not found in path: /MonoDevelop/Core/WebCredentialProviders Knowing what I know about complex software, it was unlikely that… Read more

0 comments, 128 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 30 August 2018

A software architect replaces a relational database with a relational database

Content warning: This is the second (and final) rebuttal essay about why someone is wrong on the Internet. It is no doubt biased. It might go into technical detail. Parts of it may be wrong. It may contain flippant remarks and editorialising. There are links to external references that may… Read more

2 comments, 147 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 29 August 2018

Relational databases aren’t the problem

Content warning: This is the first of two rebuttal essays, about why someone is wrong on the Internet. It is no doubt biased. It might go into technical detail. Parts of it may be wrong. It may contain flippant remarks and editorialising. There are links to external references that may… Read more

14 comments, 2,958 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 22 August 2018

Do you even PowerShell, bro? An ode to dbatools and dbachecks.

Shall I compare thee to Management Studio? Thou art more scriptable and consistent. Those out-of-memory errors do tend to lose hours of work. And I mean, SSMS doesn’t run from the command line. Sometimes I get those line-endings errors, Not to mention IntelliSense bombing out; And figuring out which tab… Read more

0 comments, 205 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 15 August 2018

Why you should not use SELECT *

A shorter post this week, but an important one. Last week, Erik Darling commented on my post saying that we shouldn’t use SELECT *, which was both amusing and accurate. Amusing, because a number of the example T-SQL queries in that post made use of this construct. Why not? Why… Read more

2 comments, 359 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 8 August 2018

Don’t do these things in SQL Server

Recently Brent Ozar posted a link to the PostgreSQL “Don’t do this” page, which I am shamelessly reproducing below, re-tailored for a SQL Server audience. Don’t use -P with sqlcmd sqlcmd is a cross-platform interactive command-line utility that allows you to connect to a SQL Server (or Azure SQL Database)… Read more

7 comments, 401 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 1 August 2018

Repair SQL Server on Linux after an Ubuntu distribution upgrade

SQL Server 2017 is supported on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Long-Term Support), however that version of Ubuntu Linux is now more than two years old, so you may be tempted to update Ubuntu to a more modern release such as Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). Unfortunately (as of this writing), SQL… Read more

5 comments, 229 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 25 July 2018

Data lakes and swamps, oh my

I was lamenting to my friend and fellow MVP Shamir Charania (blog | Twitter) that I didn’t have a topic for this week’s blog post, so he and his colleague suggested I write about data lakes, and specifically Azure Data Lake. What is a data lake? This is what Wikipedia… Read more

0 comments, 2,827 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 18 July 2018

Performance as a feature, software developer edition

Relational database management systems (RDBMS) like SQL Server and Azure SQL Database are very good at managing normalized data. Efficient storage and retrieval of data is the name of the game, so performance is a feature. That’s why SQL Server (and other RDBMS products in the market) keep as much… Read more

2 comments, 213 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 11 July 2018

Community recognition

On the first day of January 2017, I was honoured to receive an email naming me as a Microsoft MVP in the Data Platform category. In the previous couple of months leading up to that, I had been contacted by Microsoft about the process, based primarily on this very blog… Read more

0 comments, 205 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 4 July 2018

Update your production servers and stop making excuses about it

Folks, we all like to make sure we’re doing our level best to make things work smoothly. So why am I staring at someone’s server that has never been updated since it was first set up almost three years ago? Do better, so that I don’t have to yell at… Read more

0 comments, 193 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 27 June 2018

Dates and Times in SQL Server: DATENAME()

Last time we looked at DATEPART(). This post is all about the DATENAME() function. So many similarities There are many similarities between DATEPART and DATENAME. Where DATEPART returns the date or time part as an integer, DATENAME returns the part as a character string. This DATENAME function also takes two… Read more

0 comments, 720 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 20 June 2018

Dates and Times in SQL Server: DATEPART()

In my previous posts in this series we’ve seen reference to Transact-SQL (T-SQL) functions that are used to get the specific part of a date and/or time (year, month, day, hour, minute, second, etc.). This week we’ll go through one of them and see how it works. Introducing DATEPART, a… Read more

0 comments, 202 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 13 June 2018

T-SQL aside: replace PRINT with RAISERROR

I was minding my own business innocently reading a blog post by Erik Darling, when this tip smacked me in the proverbial forehead. I even learned something that had always bothered me but had been too lazy to investigate further. Tip #4: Know Your Place Don’t be afraid to use… Read more

3 comments, 1,026 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 6 June 2018

Dates and Times in SQL Server: the problem with DATETIME

Recently I wrote a post about date and time functions you should never use, which contained an opinion I’ve expressed previously that some people have disagreed with, namely that DATETIME is a terrible data type which you should not be using in new development. The motivation for this position is… Read more

1 comments, 231 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 30 May 2018

Virtual Log Files: 200 or 1000?

Last week I had the privilege of reviewing possibly the best SQL Server production environment I’ve seen in Canada. During the follow-up meeting, the senior DBA and I had a discussion about Virtual Log Files (VLFs), disagreeing on the maximum number of Virtual Log Files a transaction log should have.… Read more

1 comments, 391 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 23 May 2018

Dates and Times in SQL Server: more functions you should never use

Previously we looked at four built-in functions to get the current date and time in SQL Server and Azure SQL Database using Transact-SQL (T-SQL). We identified that out of the options provided, SYSUTCDATETIME() is the recommended method because it relies on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), and uses the DATETIME2 data… Read more

10 comments, 3,729 reads

Posted in Born SQL with Randolph West on 16 May 2018

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