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

On Looking and Acting the Part

A neighbour of mine blamelessly became unemployed at a dangerous age. In some desperation, he took a job as a driver for a firm of undertakers. Though good humoured, and the perfect companion for an evening at the pub, his looks are dark, taciturn, sad. He drove in sunglasses, enhancing the effect, and was habitually solemn whilst driving. His rise through the ranks of undertaking was meteoric. Soon he was a pallbearer and leading a team at funerals. In no time, grieving relatives asked for him specifically. His face, his demeanour, was perfect. To his surprise, a shining and lucrative new career now lies ahead of him, for as long as he wants it.

I thought of my friend when advising someone who wanted a career as an IT consultant. I recounted the hard lessons I'd learned whilst working as a database consultant over several decades, advising banks, large corporates and government departments. Your face must fit. You must look and act the part. If you do, the work is easy because the muddles that large corporates get themselves into with databases are almost always technically simple, but all attempts at resolution become gridlocked by human nature, preconceived notions, embedded interests and persuasive false prophets.

The ideal consultant first gets a clear idea of the nature of the logjam by listening, and then facilitates a resolution while humiliating nobody and convincing everyone that it was their own skill that fixed the problem. This requires a straight face. I have seen the careers of rookie consultants die in front of my eyes, as they throw themselves back from their workstation laughing and bellowing, 'who the hell wrote this garbage?' Technical competence is insufficient for the role.

There are certain disadvantages to being self-effacing. I once dealt so successfully with a sticky database problem within a government department that a couple of years later, they asked to have me back. However, I'd been so anonymous the first time around that they'd forgotten my name. The agency, in their usual amoral way, said they didn't know either and offered them someone cheaper who happened to be 'on the books'. I only heard about it later.

Appearance works both ways. Now that I look like Grandpa, the sort of Grandpa that has to be told how to switch on a mobile phone or use a handset for the telly, I encounter a sense of disbelief, in most of the workplaces I visit, that I could possibly know anything about technology. Youngsters often feel obliged to explain simple database concepts to me.

I could no longer do consultancy. Ironically, I know far more about databases now than I did then, but on the other hand, I'd stick out like a sore thumb, looking absurd in a suit and grumpier when confronted with foolishness. Much of IT work is less to do with the technology and more about working easily in a team. Perhaps a career in undertaking beckons, but I'm not sure that, even there, a role can be found for someone who looks like a biblical illustration of a vengeful Jehovah.

Phil Factor

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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

Checking for Database Events Using Extended Events and SQL Monitor

Even DBAs who aren't of a nervous disposition, would want to know if a database was stopped or removed. They would also be intrigued by the sudden unrehearsed addition of a database to a production server.

Custom Deployments from Source Control using SQL Compare Command line

Giorgi Abashidze explains how his team use a 2-phase deployment process with SQL Compare Command line, and some SQL Synonyms, to automate custom deployments for each of their customers, while only needing to maintain one branch per release in source control.

Data Categorization for AdventureWorks using SQL Data Catalog

Josh Smith shows how to use SQL Data Catalog to perform a 'first cut' data classification for one your SQL Server databases, identifying all columns that are likely to hold personal or otherwise sensitive data.

Static data in SQL Change Automation SSMS plugin

Kendra Little sat down with the SQL Change Automation Dev Team to get some insight into how they build the product with the customers in mind. SQL Change Automation 4.1 included adding support for the tracking of static data tables to the SSMS extension. This was a direct result of the communication and work the team have carried out with their customer base. Read Kendra’s blog to find out more about the release and the work that goes into delivering these updates.


The Curious Case of… transactions rolling back during DBCC CHECKDB

You find messages in the error log saying that when DBCC CHECKDB was executed, it was causing transactions to roll back in the database – how could that possibly be allowed to happen? Don't panic, it isn't. It's a bug.

Don’t install SQL Server from a mounted ISO

SQL Server is available for download as an ISO file. You can mount it as a virtual drive and access it as though it was on physical media....except that there appears to be a problem with how SQL Server is packaged, which can randomly cause the installation to fail.

The curious case of the sqlcmd password

In August last year I posted about a command line parser problem I ran into with AzCopy, which I eventually resol

working with sql client aliases

SQL Client Aliases allow you to connect to a SQL Server instance using another name.

Finding Older SQL Server Updates

John Sterrett explains how you can find prior SQL ...

Building SQL ConstantCare®: Which Recommendations Do People Mute?

Our SQL ConstantCare® service sends you daily recommendations for specific tasks that will improve your SQL Server’s health and performance. Next to each recommendation, there’s a Mute link that...

When the DBA is Deadlocked

When I launched The Noncluttered Index last year, ...

Memory Optimizer Advisor

Previously I wrote about In-Memory Optimized Tables, in this blog I am going to discuss how to determine which tables could benefit from being In-Memory by using a tool...

Azure SQL Database

Azure SQL Database Edge - Public Preview

Azure SQL Database Edge offers built-in ONNX runtime support, built-in streaming support ability to deploy from the Azure IoT Edge as a module, and has <500MB small-footprint container.

Common Things Admins Miss in Azure SQL DB

This is by no means a complete list but more of a personal list of features I have seen not setup or just missed out when looking at Azure SQL DB.

Azure Synapse (SQL Data Warehouse and Data Lake)

Query Identification in Azure SQL DW (Synapse Analytics)

Niko Neugebauer explains his admiration for the query labeling feature of Azure SQL DW, and would love for it to be ported to SQL Server & Azure SQL Database.

Career Growth and Certifications

Where programming languages are headed in 2020

As we enter a new decade, we asked programming exp...

Computing in the Cloud (Azure, Google, AWS)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs Azure Features List

After much reading through the internet looking fo...

Conferences, Classes, Events, and Webinars

Extend DevOps to Your SQL Server Databases

Free webinar on Tuesday January 21 3-4 PM Central / 8-9 AM AEDT - Your business depends on rapidly deploying high-quality changes to databases while minimizing risk to data. Join Microsoft MVP Grant Fritchey to learn how to protect business-critical data and improve software delivery with Redgate’s Compliant Database DevOps solution for Microsoft SQL Server and Azure SQL Database.


Comments and More in PowerShell

Comments are helpful when programming in any language, and PowerShell is no exception. In this article, Greg Moore demonstrates how to use comments to document code and to add prerequisites in PowerShell with #Requires.

Data Visualisation

SWDchallenge: small multiples

Pick a dense dataset or visual that feels tough to consume in a single graph, break it up to create a small multiple chart, and share it in the SWD community.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

Why I like the ‘Release Flow’ branching strategy with Git for database DevOps

When people begin applying DevOps principles to database development using Redgate tooling, often one of the first steps in the process involves getting database code into version control. Questions...

Debunking the Common Misconceptions Related to DevOps

Click to learn more about author Hemanth Kumar Yamjala. Every business today aims at achieving faster time-to-market with quality products or services. This is needed to stay competitive as...

HA/DR/Always On/Clustering

The Perils of Querying SQL Server Replicas Under Load

An apparently "simple" bug, with duplicate badges being awarded, surely easy fix in SQL, turns out to lot trickier than it sounded.

Managing Agent Jobs on Availability Group Servers

Agent jobs, they can be a right pain to manage when you’re running availability groups. The problem is that Agent jobs are not AG aware, which means that if you failover our AG, more often than not you’re going to end up with a ton of jobs failing on your old primary.

Performance Tuning SQL Server

Performance Tuning Means 3 Things

Managing what requests are made, managing the efficiency of each request, managing the hardware capacity available to satisfy requests.

Causality Tracking in Extended Events

When you enable causality tracking for an extended events session, you can see all the behavior associated with a given task and the order in which it occurred.

Quickly Detecting CPU and Memory Pressure On A SQL Server

Erik Darling presents his 'pressure detector' store procedure; a set of DMV queries that will give you different levels of detail about memory and CPU usage currently taking place on a server.

Let’s Design An Index Together Part 3

Erik Darling concludes a series on index design, and explains why it amounts to more than just predicate indexing.

Unclogging SQL Server

Erik Darling investigates a performance problem where the OLTP queries, which used a UDF, were fine but the reporting queries that reused the same function were slow.

Understanding Implicit Conversions

A quick search will tell you that implicit conversions are pretty awful for performance, and in particular drive CPU usage. That’s not news. There is an aspect of this I think a lot of engineers don’t understand; why does it cause performance issues?

What is TempDB Spill in SQL Server? – Interview Question of the Week #259

When SQL Server uses TempDB when any query does not have enough memory to do its operation, it is called TempDB Spill. Let's learn today. First appeared on What is...


Big Data Clusters – A Deeper Dive into the Data Pool

One of the key components of a Big Data Cluster is the data pool. Within that single data pool, there are two SQL Server instance...


Share Different Visual Pages with Different Security Groups in Power BI

How to assign different security for different pages of Power BI report

Improve Power BI Adoption with the new Activity Log

Any user with the Power BI service administrator role can access the new activity logs either through the API directly or using PowerShell.

5 reasons to use aggregations in Power BI

Most people think aggregations is only applicable to petabyte scale data sets. That doesn’t have to be the true though, in this blog post I wanted to give my take on it and why it might be applicable to your current, smaller, model.

Power BI Dataset Refresh Scheduling Using Outlook And Power Automate

Chris Webb suggests a good use for the new “Refresh a dataset” action for Power Automate, to schedule refresh of your datasets from a calendar in Outlook.

Get the List of FOLDERS only in Power BI using Power Query

The Get Data From Folder option in Power BI will just give you a list of files. There is a little trick that can help you to get a list of folders too.

Using Calendars and Dates in Power BI

You can use a host of time-intelligence functions in DAX to calculate everything from simple year-to-date totals to moving averages and average opening and closing balances. In this article, Andy Brown shows how to model various scenarios with calendars and dates, and how to get around some of the issues you may encounter.

Power BI On-premises Gateway Cluster Monitoring (Power Platform API)

Failover clustering and load balancing was introduced to the Power BI On-premises (aka Enterprise Gateway) almost two years ago in the...

Power BI Get Data from Multiple Files in a Folder on OneDrive for Business, No Gateway Needed

I have written another blog article previously about how to set up your Power BI to get data from a file in OneDrive for Business folder without needing gateway....

Getting a List of Power BI Pro Licensed Users

Brent Powell shares a Powershell script to retriev...

Taking Power BI Charts to the next level and more… (Roundup | January 13, 2020)

Thanks for watching this week's Power BI news roundup!

What the heck is a MEASURE TABLE in Power BI???

Ever wonder what a measure table is in Power BI? Or how to create one? This is a great way to organize the measures within your data model in...

Professional Development

Five ways to reduce impostor syndrome

This T-SQL Tuesday is about Impostor Syndrome. I think that the term gets used in a broader context than the original meaning. From Wikipedia: Imposter Syndrome is a psychological...

T-SQL Tuesday #122 – Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome. If there was ever a phrase that brings about the dreaded Writer’s Block it would be Imposter Syndrome. I’m going to fall back to what I know I can talk...

T-SQL Tuesday #122: Being authentic

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Jon Shau...

R Language

Sudoku game with R

Tomaz Kastrun presents the the R helper function for you to solve even the most complex Sudoku grids.

The 'Spelling Bee Honeycomb' puzzle: efficient computation in R

Which seven-letter honeycomb results in the highest possible game score? To be a valid choice of seven letters, no letter can be repeated, it must not contain the letter S (that would be too easy) and there must be at least one pangram. Solving this puzzle in R is interesting enough, but it’s particularly challenging to do so in a computationally efficient way.

Working with Windows CMD system commands in R

From time to time, when developing in R, working and wrangling data , preparing for machine learning projects, it comes the time...

Reporting Services

Show Reporting Services usage statistics with Grafana

Alessandro Alpi describes an efficient way of showing the usage statistics of our SQL Server Reporting Services hosted reports, using a Grafana dashboard.

SQL Server Security and Auditing

Permissions required for row counts to show up on Object Explorer Details

I ran into a rather obscure permissions problem the other day. Since I wasn’t able to figure it out on ... Continue reading The post Permissions required for row counts...

Security News and Issues

Windows Vulnerability Serves as Warning to Patch Immediately

Microsoft has already issued a patch for the latest Windows vulnerability, which organizations should apply right away to avoid exposure to malware.

Two Data Security Predictions for 2020

Click to learn more about author Don Boxley. As we enter another new year and kick off a fresh decade, it’s a great time to call out some technology...


Can SELECT * Make a Query Go…Faster?!?

Brent Ozar demos a neat edge case where SELECT * queries actually ran faster than picking a subset of columns.

Introduction to Gaps and Islands Analysis

T-SQL window functions simplify solving many complex queries. In this article, Edward Pollack demonstrates how the functions can be used to find gaps and islands in a dataset.

T-SQL 101: #52 Using TRANSLATE to make multiple string replacements in SQL Server

I previously mentioned that there were three functions for replacing values in strings. We saw REPLACE and STUFF. The other one is relatively new (SQL Server 2017) and it's...

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