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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

Thanks For Stopping By

Yesterday I passed 300,000 views on the blog. Recently I went over 1,000 comments. My little joke on Tuesday garnered over 2,000 views alone. I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by and reading about my struggles to understand SQL Server, Azure, our amazing community and whatever else… Read more

3 comments, 197 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 3 April 2014

SQL Server 2014 New Defaults

Today, April 1st, 2014, marks the release of SQL Server 2014. There are tons and tons of great new methods and functions and processes within the product. We’re all going to be learning about them for quite a while to come. One of the most exciting though is one of… Read more

10 comments, 286 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 1 April 2014

Save Money On Your Training Server

You can spend less money. Some of us are lucky. We work for very large corporations who can easily set aside a spare desktop or even space on a rack for a server on which we can train. Others of us are not as lucky. We work for smaller organizations… Read more

10 comments, 1,349 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 25 March 2014

PASS DBA Virtual Chapter Talk

I almost forgot to tell you about the Database Administration Virtual Chapter meeting next week, March 26th, 2014. I’ll be doing a talk about query tuning in Windows Azure SQL Database. It’s a talk I’ve given before (it was in the top 10 at the PASS Summit last year). Come… Read more

0 comments, 185 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 21 March 2014

Query Tuning Near You

It really is so much easier to just throw hardware at badly performing databases. Just buy a bigger, faster server with more and faster disks and you can put off doing tuning work for another 6-9 months, easily. But, for most of us, sooner or later, our performance problems get… Read more

0 comments, 294 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 19 March 2014

Finding Mistakes

Ever had that moment where you start getting errors from code that you’ve tested a million times? I had that one recently. I had this little bit of code for pulling information directly from query plans in cache:

WITH XMLNAMESPACES(DEFAULT N'http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/showplan'),
QueryPlans AS
(
SELECT RelOp.pln.value(N'@PhysicalOp', N'varchar(50)') AS OperatorName,
RelOp.pln.value(N'@NodeId',N'integer')…

Read more

2 comments, 177 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 18 March 2014

SQL Saturday: You can’t have it all.

SQL Saturday’s are awesome! Let’s get that clear up front. The organizers of SQL Saturday events are glorious individuals. Let’s get that clear too.

I want to be up front about those things because, well, I’m going to be critical.

First though, I want to establish my bona fides… Read more

10 comments, 184 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 17 March 2014

sp_updatestats Is Not Smart

No, I don’t mean the use of sp_updatestats is not smart. It’s a fine, quick mechanism for getting statistics updated in your system. But the procedure itself is not smart. I keep seeing stuff like “sp_updatestats knows which statistics need to be updated” and similar statements.

Nope.

Not true.

Wanna… Read more

4 comments, 216 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 11 March 2014

Speaker of the Month, March 2014

This never gets easier. I was able to attend a bunch of sessions in the last month from a number of speakers that I’d never seen before. A lot of them were good, very good. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I think the general level of… Read more

3 comments, 207 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 7 March 2014

Let’s Talk Query Tuning

I spend quite a bit of time writing about query tuning on this blog. I’ve written (re-written and am actively re-writing) books on query tuning. But what I like most is talking about query tuning. I love giving sessions at various events on different aspects of query tuning, but, what… Read more

2 comments, 203 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 27 February 2014

SQL Intersection, Spring 2014

I am terribly jazzed to be involved with this amazing event, SQL Intersection. It’s featuring some truly amazing speakers presenting on important topics. It’s being held here on the East Coast, right near the Mouse, the Duck and Dog. This is one of those conferences you need to… Read more

0 comments, 857 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 26 February 2014

Approachable? Sometimes.

Deservedly so, I got called out for a bit of attitude I displayed in a recent blog post: Time for a Quick Rant. Steve Hood took the general attitude of “Do this or I will beat you” to task in his blog post The Approachable DBA.

Granted, my… Read more

10 comments, 1,141 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 25 February 2014

The CASE Statement and Performance

In case you don’t know, this query:

UPDATE dbo.Test1
SET C2 = 2
WHERE C1 LIKE '%33%';

Will run quite a bit slower than this query:

UPDATE dbo.Test1
SET C2 = 1
WHERE C1 LIKE '333%';

Or this one:

UPDATE dbo.Test1
SET C2 = 1
WHERE C1 = '333';

That’s… Read more

10 comments, 4,539 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 18 February 2014

SQL Server 2014 and the New Cardinality Estimator

Cardinality, basically the number of rows being processed by an operation with the optimizer, is a calculation predicated on the statistics available for the columns in question. The statistics used are generally either the values from the histogram or the density. Prior to SQL Server 2014, and going all the… Read more

1 comments, 214 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 12 February 2014

Speaker of the Month, February 2014

I didn’t get out to many events in January, so I was somewhat limited in the pool of presenters that I could choose from. Luckily for me, that pool primarily consisted of the entire Caribbean since I was on the SQL Cruise. There I got to see some of… Read more

0 comments, 185 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 7 February 2014

Thank You!

I am humbled and honored (and more than a little horrified) to be on this list of the Best of PASS Summit 2013. I mean look at those names. Every single one is a person I look up to and respect and learn from constantly. How I made a… Read more

0 comments, 212 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 6 February 2014

Book Review: The Phoenix Project

Let’s get this straight right up front, the thought of reading a novel that’s about IT is so repellent, so repugnant, just so horribly wrong, that it’s kind of hard to fathom why I would even attempt it. What’s even more difficult for me to fathom is how much I… Read more

6 comments, 960 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 5 February 2014

Time for a Quick Rant

This is an actual quote from what we can only assume is a functional human being:

The database is very big so we stopped taking backup’s.

Eight lords a leaping are you kidding me? Seriously! Seriously? By the Great Gu and all the Valkyries in Valhalla, you stopped taking backups… Read more

10 comments, 217 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 20 January 2014

Database in Source Control

Many years ago, I was working with a great DBA. Seriously, a very smart and capable guy. He told me, “We need to put the database into source control, just like app code.” And I just laughed. Not because I disagreed with him. I knew he was right, but I… Read more

10 comments, 276 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 15 January 2014

Sausage Making

For those who don’t know, I work for Red Gate Software. I’m not a developer, but I work directly for the development teams so I spend a lot of time with them. This week I’m over in the UK, where they are headquartered, meeting with the different teams and… Read more

6 comments, 1,447 reads

Posted in The Scary DBA on 8 January 2014

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