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  • Blog Post: Free built-in Steps Recorder in Windows for Training, Demos and Documentation - oh, and Troubleshooting too

    There are a lot of features in Microsoft products that people don't know exist - and one of the most useful for IT pro's is the Problem Steps Recorder or PSR. This tool creates a web page compilation of every click or user action that you can annotate. It was originally designed for our support folks...
  • Blog Post: The Windows Azure Software Development Kit (SDK) and the Windows Azure Training Kit (WATK)

    Windows Azure is a platform that allows you to write software, run software, or use software that we've already written. We provide lots of resources to help you do that - many can be found right here in this blog series. There are two primary resources you can use, and it's important to understand what...
  • Blog Post: Windows Azure – Write, Run or Use Software

    Windows Azure is a platform that has you covered, whether you need to write software, run software that is already written, or Install and use “canned” software whether you or someone else wrote it. Like any platform, it’s a set of tools you can use where it makes sense to solve a problem...
  • Blog Post: Windows Azure End to End Examples

    I’m fascinated by the way people learn. I’m told there are several methods people use to understand new information, from reading to watching, from experiencing to exploring. Personally, I use multiple methods of learning when I encounter a new topic, usually starting with reading a bit about the concepts...
  • Blog Post: How Microsoft helps you NOT break your Windows Azure Application: Storage Services Versioning

    One of the advantages of using Windows Azure to run your code is that you don’t have to constantly manage upgrades on your platform. While that’s a big advantage indeed, it immediately brings up the question - how do the upgrades happen? Microsoft upgrades the Azure platform in periodic increments, and...
  • Blog Post: Computer books are dead. Well, some of them, anyway.

    I read a lot. I mean a LOT. It seems that computer professionals have much in common with medical professionals – we have to read in order to stay on top of our game. For me, this used to mean web sites, magazines, and other print medium, and of course lots of books. I’ve even written several computer...
  • Blog Post: Cloud Computing and the Importance of Code Diagrams

    Most mature development shops use various code diagrams to give a symbolic representation of high-level and database code structures. Standards such as Business Process Model Notation (BPMN), Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD) and the Unified Modeling Language (UML) are a few I use all the time. In the...
  • Blog Post: The Dark Sides of Consolidation

    Consolidation, as it applies to databases, is simply putting more databases or SQL Server Instances on less hardware. This is a good thing, normally, because it allows you to save on hardware costs and use what you have at it’s highest capacity. It also saves on energy costs, floor and rack space, and...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server Best Practices: Protect CmdExec

    In SQL Server, there are times that you need to do things in the operating system, and to allow that there is a feature called CmdExec. This is not always a good thing –whenever you leave the confines of SQL Server and go out to the operating system, you can cause issues, not the least of which are security...
  • Blog Post: After the Upgrade, it runs differently…

    I got a question yesterday in the mail that I thought I would just answer here in a broad context. While I can’t troubleshoot or do performance tuning from a distance, there are some interesting concepts and suggestions this e-mail brings up: “I have recently seen a change from SQL Server from 2005 to...
  • Blog Post: Changing the Primary Key Before You Have Data

    In my class this week, the students went through the inserts, updates and deletes that they had created for their database design, and then the moment of truth – creating the queries that answer the questions from the requirements. It’s often at this stage when you realize that the design isn’t exactly...
  • Blog Post: Color Me Corrected – Will the REAL sysobjects please stand up?

    A few days ago I posted a way to look at the Dynamic Management Views (DMV’s) using a query, which I then copy and paste into the Help viewer’s Index tab to learn more. Well, my good friend and Colleague, Cliff, pointed out that I was using the older sysobjects system table. Well, of course this is a...
  • Blog Post: How Microsoft Does IT - Updated

    I’ve pointed out this link before, and I’ll definitely bring it up again. Microsoft is one of the few companies I know, especially the big ones, that explains how they run their IT. We have a fantastic, I mean really fantastic site that you should definitely check out. Can save you lots of time, and...
  • Blog Post: Find and learn DMVs

    This morning I showed how I find DMVs, and find out how to use them. First, I just run this query:   USE MASTER; GO SELECT ‘sys.’ + name FROM sys.sysobjects WHERE name LIKE ‘dm%’   Then I copy and paste a result into the “Index” panel of Books Online. I also use a web search to learn more....
  • Blog Post: Commenting your Code

    You should always add descriptive comments to any code that will live longer than a single event. It's useful not only for the other unfortunate souls blessed with your code, but for yourself, years later, when you say "what was I thinking here?" I've recently had to debug some code and it...
  • Blog Post: Replacing the Books Online Search Feature

    Some time back, the Books Online team at Microsoft made a very cool macro on Live.com that would search within the on-the-web version of Books Online – a very handy feature indeed, since the search for the installed version of Books Online is, well, “less than optimal”. Anyhow, it seems...
  • Blog Post: SQL Server 2008 Books Online Update is Released

    I try not to post things that others have already discussed, but I make a few exceptions. I'll (re)tell you about security issues and service packs, and I'll also mention when Books Online is updated. I run into so many issues that are already covered in BOL, so I think it's important to track when new...
  • Blog Post: Help Me Help You

    Before I start this post, let me say that it is not pointed at any one person - if you've asked me for help recently, this isn't about you! The programming and administration computer disciplines are fairly unique, in my mind, in one interesting way: we help each other a lot. Since the beginning of the...
  • Blog Post: A Web Based Search for Books Online

    As many of you know, I used to work on documentation like whitepapers and Books Online for SQL Server. One of the main problems I've found with our documentation isn't that there is not enough content - we have over 65,000 pages in BOL alone - but that it is hard to find. The search tool inside the "fat"...
  • Blog Post: Of Patterns and Practices

    Does the data professional need to know about Patterns and Practices? Well, if you're on the development side of things, you're more than likely already familiar with this term. At the bottom it's a list of "best practices" that you use to solve computing problems. But does the data administrator...
  • Blog Post: Server Consolidation Done Right

    Consolidating your servers is all the rage, especially since you can save money by doing it. You can save not only on the hardware, but the licenses. To do that properly, you need a strategy. You start by detailing what you have, and then lay out the apps and where they could go. Microsoft has a tool...
  • Blog Post: Service Broker and the Need for Planning

    I mentioned yesterday about the database I was using implemented Service Broker. I wanted to mention (again) the incredible need for planning when you're setting up a project. Whenever you're working on something as distributed as Service Broker, you have to include the logical diagrams as well as the...
  • Blog Post: Check that database before you restore it...

    I'm on my way to the city of Seattle this morning on the train and I ran across an issue with a database restore. I've been working with Service Broker and then put it out of my mind. I then backed up said database and restored it the same instance as a test. Then things started going awry... Then this...
  • Blog Post: Versioning the Database

    If you write apps that hit a database that you own, then you probably want version control on the database itself. I always script out the initial database, and version that script. I also script the changes, and version those, and then script the entire DB again and version that as well. That allows...
  • Blog Post: Which Edition is Right for Me?

    I had a discussion the other day with someone who had some questions about Enterprise Edition of SQL Server 2008. In many cases, I've seen someone not using the "right size" of SQL Server. Many installations really call for Enterprise Edition when they are using Standard. They'll use an edition...
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