Monday, February 22, 2010


SQL Server MVP Deep Dives: Book Review


I didn't buy this book the day it came out because despite the fact that all 53 of the contributors are SQL Server MVPs (indeed some of the the world's leading experts and practitioners), I wondered if the fact that there were so many authors, it might mean the chapters would be just 'sound bites' with only a moderate amount of interesting content.

I could not have been more wrong! In fact, it is the complete opposite. Over the last 4 weeks, I've learnt something significant and useful each time I've picked this book up, either directly about SQL Server or one of the associated technologies. I challenge you to pick this book up, open it at random and read a couple of pages, and not learn something useful.

The blurb states "This is no ordinary SQL Server book" and it's not.  There are insights and practical know-how that are the result of years of real-world experience working with SQL Server.

The book is divided into 5 sections, broadly divided into the 5 job roles based around SQL Server:

  1. Database Design and Architecture
  2. Database Development
  3. Database Administration
  4. Performance Tuning and Optimisation
  5. BI Development

The 59 chapters cover material for newcomers and pros, developers and DBAs alike, including some of the new features of SQL Server 2008.

Purchasing the hard copy book, also gets you bonus access to a free pdf version of the book. [The authors of this book have donated 100% of their royalties to support War Child International]

An excellent book, and I'm glad I bought it. Highly recommended.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Microsoft Certification Second Shot

Microsoft’s certification second shot is back, offering you a free retake if you do not pass an IT professional or developer Microsoft Certification exam the first time. You must register, obtain a voucher code, schedule, pay, and take the first and (if necessary) the retake exam before June 30, 2010. This offer applies to all Microsoft Learning IT professional, developer, project management, and Microsoft Dynamics exams, including academic exams.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010


SQL Server Management Studio Tools Pack

I blogged about Mladen Prajdic’s SSMS Tool Pack a year ago, but I thought I would mention it again as it is so useful and perhaps not as well known as it should be. It has been upgraded, with the current version at 1.7, and contains features including:

  • SQL Snippets
  • Window Connection Colouring
  • Query Execution History and Current Window History
  • Format SQL
  • Search Table, View or Database Data
  • Run one script on multiple databases
  • Search Results in Grid Mode or Execution Plans
  • Generate Insert statements from resultsets, tables or database
  • Running custom scripts from Object Explorer
  • CRUD stored procedure generation
  • It works with the Full and Express versions of SQL Server Management Studio 2005 and 2008.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010


    SQL Server 2005 and 2008 Service Pack Release Schedule

  • SQL Server 2008 SP2: Target release date Q3/2010.
  • SQL Server 2005 SP4: Target release date Q4/2010.
  • More details here.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010


    Haloscan Comments Gone

    Apologies to anyone who has ever left comments on my blog; I have not deleted them! The free Haloscan service I’ve used since I started this blog shutdown a few days ago, and there was no obvious way to export/import the old comments.

    Tuesday, February 09, 2010


    Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Release Candidate now available

    Just announced on Soma’s blog:

    Today, we are making available the Release Candidate (RC) for Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 to all MSDN subscribers.  The RC will be made available to the world on Wednesday, February 10th. The RC includes a go-live license for people who want to deploy in their production environment.

    Monday, February 08, 2010


    SSW TFS and SharePoint Event: Perth

    If you haven’t seen it already, SSW are running a nationwide TFS and SharePoint 2010 event that lands in Perth Weds, March 3rd.

    Session 1 (9am – 1pm): Team Foundation Server 2010

    Team Foundation Server 2010 (TFS) for Successful Project Management

  • How to successfully gather requirements with User stories
  • The right way to use work items
  • The way to complete a work items and send a 'done'
  • How to use templates for your standard work items
  • The extra work items that developers always forget
  • What is good and bad about Excel and Project integration
  • What you can use from the built in reporting as well as the Project portals available from the SharePoint dashboard
  • The important reports to give your Project Manager
  • Visual Studio 2010 Team System - An Overview. Visual Studio 2010 Testing with Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 - the life of a bug

  • What the new features for testers and developers
  • How you now care - even if the tester can't reproduce the bug
  • How to stop struggling to find the source of the bug in your code
  • How can you streamline the testing process and make sure you don't repeat the same bugs
  • How to automate more and reproduce bugs easier and discover problems sooner.
  • Session 2 (2pm - 6pm): SharePoint 2010

    What's new in SharePoint 2010

  • UX support for Silverlight and Ajax
  • Their Web Content Management System
  • Digital Asset Management System (for videos)
  • Visual Studio 2010 tools for SharePoint 2010
  • Developer Platform
  • Office 2010 integration
  • RESTful Web API
  • Tagging and Rating
  • Something About Mary (SharePoint and Office 2010)

  • Using SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 together
  • Where it fits with other important Microsoft products like CRM 4 and TFS
  • Examples of how Word and Excel can be integrated into business processes (separate from SharePoint)
  • Examples of how Word, Excel, PowerPoint can be combined with SharePoint to improve visibility/searchability/versioning across the company
  • Overview of how data can be synchronized between SharePoint and external data sources (eg using Access and Excel)
  • Overview of what 'workflow' (really!) means
  • How Office can be incorporated into company workflows with SharePoint
  • Extending SharePoint with Office SharePoint Designer 2010 (free!)
  • Where VBA and VSTO fit in terms of how solutions can be developed
  • Examples of other interesting Office/SharePoint integrations (eg the the Atlassian SharePoint Connector and Atlassian Office Connector)
  • The cost of this 1 day only event is $110 per session or $190 for both. You can book a place at the above link.

    Both sessions will be presented by Adam Cogan, who is the Chief Architect at SSW and one of only 3 Microsoft Regional Directors in Australia. I have seen Adam present several times and his delivery is always very good.

    Friday, February 05, 2010


    C# 4.0 in a Nutshell


    C# 4.0 in a Nutshell, Fourth Edition

    I'd normally put a disclosure at the end of a post, but as I was one of the reviewers for this book, and Joe Albahari gave me a copy, I felt I should mention this up-front.

    That said, it doesn't alter my opinion: if you program in C#, you owe it to yourself to have a copy of this book to hand. It will improve your understanding of C# and the .NET framework; it will improve the code you write and I suspect it will pay for itself the first time you pick it up.

    This just released fourth edition is expanded upon the previous, and at slightly over 1000 pages I'm not sure how much longer the 'nutshell' tag will be appropriate! (Not the fault of the authors, more the evolution of C# into a mature language with many features). It includes coverage of new topics such as parallel programming, code contracts, dynamic programming, security, and COM interoperability. In all, there are 26 chapters covering the basics right through to the more advanced topics of threading and parallel programming. There is a comprehensive section on LINQ, including examples that work with both LINQ to SQL and Entity Framework.

    The code examples and explanations are concise, extremely clear and easy to understand. The code examples from Chapters 2 - 4, 6, 8 - 10 and 24 are freely available as part of LINQPad, a very useful tool written by author Joe Albahari (and downloadable from )

    I'm a fan of the format O'Reilly use in their books, and in particular it seems like it could have almost been created with this book's authors in mind, as it complements their lucid writing style and aids the flow of the text . Very few books could proclaim on the front cover that they are "The Definitive Reference" and it actually be true. This book does and is. But it's not just a reference. It will benefit newcomers and seasoned developers alike.

    The only slightly disappointing thing is the Index. Joe informed me that he knew about this; it seems something went awry during the publishing process, and a less than stellar index was included. Let's hope that future reprints have an updated index. There is of course a searchable electronic version available. Update: Joe has informed me that the index was updated.

    It would be pointless to go into any more detail, as I would no doubt be unable to the book the justice it deserves. A full contents list is available at the O’Reilly link above. I was honoured when Joe Albahari asked if I would be one of the reviewers, and I was humbled by the credentials of the other reviewers. Many thanks to Joe and Ben for writing such a useful book.

    Thursday, February 04, 2010


    Have your Cake and … Laugh at it!

    Cake Wrecks what more can I say!


    Amazon Bloated?

    Having been recently shaped down to 72kbps on my Cable broadband (only 2 more days of pain!), I've just discovered that Amazon's web pages have become so large, that despite several attempts, I am unable to open a book entry on their site without the page timing out. Presumably this is because no one in the US has dial-up speed internet access anymore. I had noticed a significant pause previously when accessing at full cable speeds, but a few seconds delay seemed acceptable.

    Does this mean Amazon is losing sales to dial-up customers?

    Wednesday, February 03, 2010


    SQL Search

    RedGate have released SQL Search, a SSMS plug-in, which gives users the ability to search their database schemas to instantly locate any term in stored procedures, functions, views and more. It’s currently free.

    • Find fragments of SQL text within stored procedures, functions, views and more, such as finding all occurrences of 'SELECT *' in views and stored procedures.
    • Quickly navigate to objects wherever they happen to be on your servers
    • Find all references to an object


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