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Database Weekly
The Complete Weekly Roundup of SQL Server News
Hand-picked content to sharpen your professional edge

The harsh reality of charitable IT work

Like many in the IT industry, I enjoy spending a proportion of my time doing IT work for charities and not-for-profit societies. It is educational, illuminating but it can get quite rough. Anyone who has set up an unknown projector and unseen laptop for a presentation will know all about the tensions and dramas involved. I once got fired from my unpaid role in running a website for being useless. I was quite indignant about it. In IT, it always seems very ruthless to fire someone just for being useless; I was once reprimanded for doing it.

It is a very salutary experience, after years working in the industry, to be told that you are useless at IT. After the initial shock, however, it sinks in. At work, we can strut around, look good in stand-ups, give ace PowerPoint presentations, prepare dignified strategy documents, and yet have no real technical skills at all, beyond perhaps a narrow specialism. In real life, this just bewilders people. We're IT people: we are supposed to know about pivot table rotations, and the quirks of WordPress, the mysteries of routers, and the chaos caused by injudiciously inserting an image into a Word document.

It is a strange quirk of the IT industry that technical skills seem unimportant, especially in IT Management. I once spent several years working with a data expert who looked so dignified, like an old-testament prophet, that meetings fell into a reverend silence whenever he spoke. When he retired, however, nothing went wrong. Although I cringed under the imagined weight of the workload he once carried, and which now would be my lot, nothing ever arrived.

Outside the bubble of the industry, things look different. When things go wrong, we are expected to share some of the blame.

"Why isn't the members database working properly? Nobody's been told about the President's Dinner in the Club House next week!"

"Erm…I'm the User Experience Expert"

This sort of response will illicit strange looks, and certainly won't do you much good. After all, a consultant surgeon is still capable of wading in with the scalpel in an emergency. They don't just attend meetings and write positioning papers. They would never have just one specialized skill.

Architects are expected to be able to design building. Accountants don't forget how to account, and no solicitor would dare to call himself one without some knowledge of the law. In IT, reality is often somehow suspended. I can recall an IT company once that once required their workforce to do a proportion of charitable work for local people in need. Eventually they gave up because the charities concerned could detect no useful skills that they could bring to the demanding and wide-ranging IT work that many voluntary organisations must undertake. Sometimes reality hurts.


Phil Factor

Join the debate, and respond to the editorial on the forums

Redgate Database Devops
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.
Vendors/3rd Party Products

Upsizing the SQL ConstantCare® Database Servers

Brent Ozar on how they manage costs, with a growing workload, when running the databases that store diagnostic data from customers' SQL Servers and Azure SQL Databases.

How to Complain Bitterly using SQL Data Generator

How to use reverse regex expressions in SQL Data Generator to fill a text column in SQL Server with fake, but very realistic complaints.


Hitting Parallel_Redo_Flow_Control waits with Availability Groups

An explanation of how a maintenance job to rebuild/reorganize indexes triggered an outage on Stack Overflow.

Cumulative Update #11 for SQL Server 2016 SP2

The 11th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2016 SP2 is now available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site.

Slow clustered index rebuilds within SQL Server

Kevin Chant summarizes the common reasons why clustered index rebuilds, for rowstore indexes, could be slow.

Service Pack – Fix Missing MSI issue

Annette Allen discovers a really cool little MS utility (FixMissingMSI) that can help you fix ,or at least help you identify, any missing MSIs, when you need to apply a Service Pack.

Azure Databricks and Spark

Azure Databricks: Delta Lake, Part 1

Delta Lakes give us the ability to create tables using Azure Databricks, with many of the fantastic features commonly found in proprietary database technologies such as ACID transactions.

Backup and Recovery

How Does Accelerated Database Recovery Work?

Accelerated Database Recovery is new with SQL Server 2019 and Azure SQL Database and used to decrease the time for rolling back large operations and database recovery. In this article, Forrest McDaniel explains how it works.

Computing in the Cloud (Azure, Google, AWS)

Understanding Azure Storage Options

The choices found when provisioning storage in Azure can be overwhelming. In this article, Monica Rathbun explains the options to help your organization research which storage might be right for your solution.

Conferences, Classes, Events, and Webinars

2019 highlights and learnings with Kendra, Steve, Grant and Kathi

Wednesday December 18 16.00-17.00 GMT/ 10.00-11.00 Central - Microsoft Data Platform MVPs Kendra Little, Steve Jones, Kathi Kellenberger and Grant Fritchey come together for this festive webinar special to discuss their highlights and favourite memories from throughout the year.

Redgate SQL Provision

MS Teams - posting results of a SQL query as a table via Powershell

PowerShell code that will post the results of a SQL query, as a table, in a channel within MS Teams.

Data Mining / Data Analysis

Distributing Jupyter Notebooks

Grant Fritchey simply saves his notebooks to a Github repository, but is there a better way to distribute them?

Data Privacy, Compliance, and GDPR

The Need for a Data Catalog

In the event of a breach of personal data, any organization must produce proof that they understand what data they hold and where, and how it is being used, and that they have enforced the required standards for access control and security. To make all this possible, it is essential to build a complete model of the data and its lineage, and a data catalog is the first step in this process.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

Introduction to DevOps: 10 Guidelines for Implementing DevOps

In this last article in the series, Robert Sheldon discusses ten guidelines that will help organisations implement DevOps successfully.

ETL/SSIS/Azure Data Factory/Biml

SQL Server Best Practices for Data Quality

Accurate data is imperative for an organization to conduct cost effective decision making, marketing promotions, mailings, database bloat impacting performance, storage and more.

Beginner's Guide to Azure Data Factory

Catherine Wilhelmsen completes her 12-part series, covering the fundamentals of Azure Data Factory.


Building REST API with Python, Flask and Azure SQL

A common task for a developer is to create REST API using Python. Thanks to JSON support, using Azure SQL database to support your API is as easy as writing to a text file.


Time functions in DAX

Time functions in DAX are used a lot, mainly because time slicers are one of the most frequently used slicers in Power BI.

Performance Tuning SQL Server

Encrypted Stored Procedures and Query Store

If I force a plan for a query that’s part of an encrypted stored procedure, will it work?


How to Build your First Power BI Dashboard

At our company we have chosen Power BI as our corporate Business Intelligence (BI) tool for enterprise reporting and self-service analytics. I’m tasked with creating a dashboard in the Power BI service. How do I start?

Testing Performance Of Power BI Reports In The Browser, Part 2

How you can find out how long it takes for your report to run in a browser.

How I Designed a Layered Donut Chart

A simple chart that nevertheless catches the eye, thanks to clever display of the measures and values.

Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI performance

James Serra discusses the different ways you can make Power BI queries run faster, and whether you still need Azure Analysis Services or if the tabular model (i.e. “cube”) within Power BI is enough.

Calculate Totals in Power BI: Using Iterators in DAX

An easy method to calculate the total using Iterator functions in DAX

Creating Power BI Layouts using PowerPoint

Using layouts in Power BI allows a user to make their visuals stand out better and whatever is designed in PowerPoint will fit onto a Power BI page perfectly!

Professional Development

What would you say you do here?

It is important that other is your organization understand the value you bring to it. Taking the time to explain it will help you build better relationships.


Step by step Querying SQL Database with Python by using Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio Notebooks work just like Jupiter Notebooks and support T-SQL. In this post, I will show you how to install and query a SQL Server database by using a Notebook and the Python 3 Kernel.

Reporting Services

SSRS Azure VM Checklist

Kathi Kellenberger's troubleshooting checklist for setting up an Azure VM running SSRS.

SQL Server Security and Auditing

When Too Much is Not a Good Thing

Exploring various different options for minimizing risks of extending "too many permissions" to users. With a little planning and care, we can find various ways to fulfill user requests without compromising the environment.

Who needs data access? Not You!

How to keep the footprint small and restrict access to SQL Server data to the necessary minimum.

Internals of TDE Encryption scan

This post explains how the encryption scan works, to ensure all the existing user data on the data files is encrypted.

SQL Server on Linux

Installing Microsoft SQL Server 2019 on Linux, Part II

System requirements, installation and general tips for setting up and running SQL Server 2019 on Linux.

Introducing Replication and Change Data Capture (CDC) for SQL Server 2017 on Linux

When SQL Server 2017 was introduced on Linux platform, the replication and CDC capabilities were unavailable. For many users of SQL Server who wanted to adopt SQL Server on Linux platform, unavailability of this feature was a limiting factor.

Tools and commands for running SQL Server 2019 on Linux

Kellyn Gorman explains what database professionals need to know before upgrading or migrating SQL Server onto Linux.

Security News and Issues

Generated Passwords, UX and Security Absolutism

Troy Hunt, on why the idea of generating a password for someone, to thwart brute force password attacks using previously-used credentials, just doesn't add up.


SSMS Tip: Vertical Text Selection

Occasionally, I’ll stumble across one of those neat tricks that makes me ask myself, “Why didn’t I know about this years ago?”. This next tip was one such discovery,... The...

Waiting For Deadlocks

Erik Darling suggests that setting a lock timeout that’s shorter than five seconds might be more efficient than waiting for deadlock monitor to catch the problem, and then rerunning the query.

All The Problems With Select *

Erik Darling on the two most compelling reasons not to use SELECT * in SQL Server.

T-SQL Tuesday 121 – Gifts received

The SQL community and the art of giving.

Online, Resumable, and WAIT_AT_LOW_PRIORITY operations in SQL Server

Kendra Little give a rundown of the current state of ONLINE operations in SQL Server.

Greatest, Least, and SQL Server

Erik Darling fashions a query to find the max value from two columns, or even across two tables.

NULL complexities – Part 1

Itzik Ben-Gan starts a series about NULL complexities, with coverage of what NULLs are, how they behave in comparisons, NULL treatment inconsistencies in different language elements and more.

Changing a column from int to bigint, without downtime

Andy Malllon shows how to to minimize downtime when altering data types using ALTER TABLE...ALTER COLUMN as an online operation, and a few other tricks.


The logic for referential integrity can be implemented in application code, but to make sure that it is enforced, include foreign key constraints in the database design instead. In this article, Joe Celko talks about the history of references in SQL and the options available today.

Virtualization and Containers/Kubernetes

Improvements in Windows PowerShell Container Images

How did the Server Core images get over 40% smaller?

Using SQL Server on Docker

On the installation and configuration of Docker containers on the Microsoft Windows platform.

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