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Event Space tour pictures: SQL Saturday – Kansas City

Pre-event tour

When planning a SQL Saturday event, you should know all the relevant details prior to booking that space, as well as taking a tour of it with your team 30-60 days prior in order to get a feel for/discuss how things need to be set up. The SQL Saturday KC volunteers took a tour of Cerner’s Riverport Campus last week. While I had been there once before for a vmware user group conference, I needed to tour again so we could determine the event flow / configurations.

Background on the Cerner Riverport Campus

In North Kansas City, there’s a cluster of gambling Casinos, including Harrah’s, Ameristar, Isle of Capri. Sam’s Town was another gambling spot, but closed in 1998.  I’m not 100% sure, but I believe Cerner purchased the property then. They re-purposed this facility for training, office space, and so on.  However, they kept the character of the place by leaving a lot of the casino signs, etc intact!

The pics!

This place is huge-  approx 28,000 sq ft , but I wanted to share some of the pictures we took of the facility so you can get just as excited about this event as we are!! Check out our speakers , submit your own session , and/or register today!

And my favorite feature of SQL Server is…*drumroll*

Ken Simmons ( blog | twitter ) currently has a contest in which one can win a MSDN subscription by doing 1 of 3 things (or all 3, if you want to maximize your odds of winning).

This entry is focused on talking about my favorite feature of SQL Server.

The suspense is killing me! What is it?

Oh Noes! What is it???

I’m really not taking the easy way out here when I say it’s Books Online. Why? There’s so much to SQL Server, so many functions,  new features with each release…it’s impossible to remember it all.

It’s especially helpful for me, as I’m currently studying for MCTS 70-433 and have the self paced training kit by MS Press. The book is pretty good, but sometimes I want to read more about a particular function,  etc.  For example, I was reading about/doing some examples with the OUTPUT clause the other day. I wanted to check out what was in BOL, so I highlighted OUTPUT and hit F1. Badda-bing!

Do you need to know how to  install SQL Server? It’s got a tutorial. Want to know more about High availability? Performance? Monitoring? Security? Full Text Search? Filestream? It’s all in there….plus more!

In any complex system, you need great documentation in order to succeed.   Microsoft has certainly done a fantastic job in creating a solid reference w/ BOL. That’s why it’s my favorite!

PoSHpiphany – I’ve seen the light….and it is Powershell

Janice Lee ( blog | twitter ) asked where she should get started with Powershell, and instead of a reply,  I decided to blog about it.

Baby steps

This week has been pretty exciting for me as far as technology epiphanies go. One of the things I love most about learning new IT skills are the “AH-HA!” moments. In this case it’s with Powershell.

On Monday, @MidnightDBA ( blog | twitter ) tweeted that Sean would be leading a “Powershell for complete beginners” webinar as part as Pragmatic Works‘ free training.

I’ve read/tweeted a few blog posts in the past regarding powershell, and always wanted to dive into it. However, I’ve got so many other things I need to learn first, that I figured it’d be one of those “nice to haves” and “I’ll get to it later”. Not any longer! Sean kept it simple,  made it easy to see why / how I could use this in my daily job. It really took away the intimidation factor for someone like me, as I’ve not had much experience with programming languages outside of T-SQL.

Good news…Sean’s presentation is available on demand here.  Watch it!!

“Ah-HA!”

"Take on.... Powershell" (?)

I started to see where  I could use it immediately  when Sean started talking about scripting out tables. The timing couldn’t have been better, as this could really help me in a current project I’m working on!

MidnightDBA ‘s Powershell #awesomesauce post shows how easy it is:

There are SMO solutions, but there’s a definite efficiency, elegance, and convenience to having everything you need in a single line of code.

dir | %{$Table = $_.Name; $_.script() | out-file c:\$Table.txt}

Start SQLPS from within SSMS 2008 (just right-click your database of choice in the Object Explorer, and “Start Powershell”). The SQL Server Powershell will open, with the path to your chosen database already loaded.

Later on that day…

Meanwhile....back at SQLPass HQ...

Figuring that it’s best to strike while the iron is hot, I decided to attend  Chad Miller’s ( blog | twitter ) SQL Pass App Dev Virtual Chapter presentation on “ETL with Powershell” that same day.

Chad definitely covered a lot, and it was a great complimentary follow up to Sean’s presentation. I liked his logical approach and explanation for using powershell for non-complex ETL tasks.  He discussed more than just ETL, and I saw more ideas that  I could use immediately.

One of his examples showed was how little code it took to get disk space, and other info from a server via WMI-Object calls. He’s automated this within SQL Server by creating a job.  You can view his presentation on demand here along with the slide deck and code examples here.

Moving forward

I’m happy that I decided to participate in those sessions, and am messing around with some of the useful code examples (using Quest’s Power Gui). I also found this example via The Lazy Admin, which I thought was cool. It’s getting a list of running processes, then piping the results out to html.

I requested some advice on good Powershell books, and @SQLVariant ( blog | twitter ) was kind enough to provide me with some suggestions:

Windows Powershell: Best Practices

Windows Powershell in action (FYI, there is a 2nd edition coming out soon, covering 2.0)

@SQLVariant has some great Powershell links from his blog, check it out.

On that note, @Dave_Levy ( blog | twitter ) also has some great resources for those asking the question “Where do I start with Powershell”?

Hope this helps!

Why I’m voting for @SQLChicken for Exceptional DBA….and you should too

If you haven’t voted for Exceptional DBA , please do so here .

In the initial nominations,  I submitted my vote for Jorge Segarra  ( Blog | Twitter )  as Exceptional DBA. When checking my twitter feed this morning, I was happy to see that he had made the final cut, and I cast my vote for him again!  BTW, congrats and best of luck to all of the other nominees.

Why I voted for Jorge

After purposefully avoiding twitter for years (based on ignorance of it’s true value), I came across a social media article about the “top programmers you should follow”.  I thought to myself , “This could be valuable for SQL Server…I need to get on there and start following experts”….so I did.

One of the first people that really made an impact was @SQLChicken . Even though I was new to twitter, he was one of my first followers. He made an effort to make me feel welcome and  provide help/support. He does the same for others, too, which is why I think he’s one of the main players in helping the SQL twitter community to be the success that it is.

B-b-but mikeSQL, being helpful and supportive doesn’t mean you should be voted Exceptional DBA!!!

Indeed. Look at the other things he’s done this year:

1.  Started SQL University , which has turned into a tremendous success

2. co author  Pro SQL Server 2008 Policy-Based Management

3. Pro blogger – he’s syndicated on SQLserverpedia , rated “MSDB” by SQLRockstar (blog | twitter) , blogs on MSDN (ex: Backup and Recovery Basics )

4. Landed himself a shiny new gig with @SQLScottGleason

I’m probably missing a few more supportive points, but these are the ones that come to mind.

Vote for @SQLChicken!

Segarra

Keeping track of your wins, FTW

Yesterday, I was discussing  the process of filling out a self review.  Steve Jones  ( blog | twitter ) and Janice Lee ( blog | twitter ) encouraged me to blog about this, so here I am!

Writing a self review should be easy

My first few self reviews in the corporate world were  difficult.  I’d sit and stare at these organizational and departmental objectives, company values, and so on… trying to remember what I did to actually fulfill them. Sometimes it would take me days to think back through the problems that I had encountered and solved,and putting them into the review form. Each time I went through the process, I promised myself: next time I would be prepared.

Keeping track of wins

I started organizing my emails into folders based on context, one of which was ‘success’. All of the positive feedback I received from management, colleagues and clients is placed into this folder. I also put emails that include summaries of major problems I’ve discovered/troubleshot/resolved in there.

Linking it all together

When review time came around again, it pretty much wrote itself due to the content that I had amassed in the months prior.  Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit.  I reviewed all of the emails that I’d dumped in the folder, copied/pasted the key points  into a text file. Then, I  categorized them by where I felt they fit into each business/organizational objective.  At that point, I simply copied and pasted the content into the form and prefaced it by “[summarize the objective], I have met XYZ objective, , here are some examples _____, ____ and ____”.

Hopefully, if you’ve kept track of your successes and can translate those into meeting your objectives, you then have a good business justification for a raise.

Archiving the SQL funnies – #SQLMovieQuotes #youmightbeaDBA

If you’re participating in the SQL Server Community on  twitter, you’re aware of  #SQLmoviequotes and #youmightbeaDBA.

The need to archive these tidbits of hilarity has been discussed. Thanks to @SQLChicken ( Blog | Twitter ) , I found out about a great service named Twapper Keeper . This site can create archives based on #hashtag, keyword, or @user.

I went ahead and created an archive for both #SQLmoviequotes (http://www.twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/sqlmoviequotes) and #youmightbeaDBA (http://www.twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/youmightbeadba).

Hope you enjoy them!

Taking charge: professional development in the short term

markvsql ( twitter | blog ) put up a great post today about professional development, as a response to Andy Warren’s ( twitter | blog ) webcast from last week on the same topic.

Two of the main points from the blog post/webcast that I wanted to quickly touch on are these:

  • No one is going to build your career for you. You have to take ownership of that yourself.
  • Building your career requires resources like time and sometimes money.

The timing of this topic bouncing around in the SQL Community is actually perfect.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I’m looking for a new opportunity.  There have been a few jobs I’ve been presented with that were tempting, but not exactly what I wanted.  Brent Ozar’s (Twitter | Blog ) post made me think twice about making the wrong move.

If you follow me on twitter or read this blog, you’ll know that I’ve talked about getting two MCTS’ (432 & 433). It hasn’t been coming along as quickly as I’d like.  To help expedite the process, I’ll be taking classroom based courses for these two certs to light a fire under my *ahem*.  This is really where points above about taking charge AND  requiring resources comes into play. In this case it’s both my time AND money. I know it will pay off in many ways, though.

So, I’ll be starting a 12 day (36h) class for 70-432 next week. I would have preferred to take the 433 class first, because that’s what I’ve been studying for, but it wasn’t offered until early July.  Regardless, I’m pretty pumped about doing this! I know I’ll get a lot out of all of the interaction that a classroom setting brings,  much more than going through the book myself.  Plus, Ill have a few local people to study with!  After I get through that class, I’ll hopefully be able to pass the test on the first try…and move on to 70-433.  If I pass the dev test, I will have completed this year’s goals a whole 4 months ahead of schedule. :)

I’ll definitely be writing about my experiences, and hope you’ll follow along! :)

EDIT: 5/18 -  the 432 class was canceled, due to lack of enrollment. Bummer.  Still gonna move forward!

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