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October 20, 2005
2. SQL Server 2005 Watch
3. News & Views
4. Reader Challenge
5. Events and Resources
6. Featured White Paper
7. Peer to Peer
9. New & Improved
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by Brian Moran, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week, I want to talk about the SQL Server Front Runner program and a funny story about penguins that I heard at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Summit. Oddly enough, they're related.
First, the penguin story. Microsoft General Manager for the SQL Server Engine David Campbell shared the story during his keynote. According to Campbell, when Microsoft was launching SQL Server 7.0, the company sent several senior technologists to convince key customers to upgrade from SQL Server 6.5 to 7.0. During one visit, one of the engineers asked the customer, "Have you ever watched a nature program about penguins?" Apparently, when penguins return to the sea after breeding, they all congregate at the sea's edge, waiting to see who goes into the water first. No one wants to be the first one in because a sea lion might be waiting to eat them. However, the crowd of penguins gets bigger and bigger until either someone gets pushed in or some brave soul jumps in. The first one in either gets the most fish or gets eaten. The engineer told the customer, "You should be the first one in so that you can get the most fish."
Funny thing was, PASS President Kevin Kline was the customer who first heard the penguin story all those years ago. You can read his account of the story in his In a Nutshell blog at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=171D0:285886 . (In case you're wondering, Kevin wasn't devoured by sea lions, orcas, or any other marine life during his upgrade process.) Of course, the point of the story is that someone does need to be first.
So how does this relate to the Microsoft Front Runner challenge? The SQL Server 2005 Front Runner home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=171D7:285886 ) explains that participating Microsoft Partners will get help in being among the first Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to get their SQL Server 2005 applications to market. The site lists other benefits, including 10 hours of BetaOne Services pre-launch technical support; a VeriTest voucher to take the SQL Server 2005 Platform Test (an $800 value); and marketing offerings, including use of the Front Runner stamp, a press-release kit, and more. In addition, 200 eligible Front Runner ISVs will receive $5000 in marketing funds.
So, it would be easy to end by saying, "Who wants to be the first penguin?" But you know what? By the time the SQL Server 2005 release to manufacturing (RTM) happens, dozens of SQL Server 2005 applications will have already gone live inside and outside of Microsoft. And although it's easy to poke fun at Microsoft for pulling Database Mirroring at the last minute, that decision was a brave move that prevented you from being eaten by an orca. Upgrade to SQL Server 2005 right away? You'll hear many reasonable arguments for and against. But if you choose to upgrade soon, you won't be the first penguin. Microsoft and dozens of other customers have already scared away the orcas.
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2. SQL Server 2005 Watch
Visual Studio 2005 makes it easier for developers to write secure applications without spending great amounts of time learning about securing their applications. Microsoft has released a white paper, "New Security Features in Visual Studio 2005," that details the security enhancements in the upcoming Visual Studio release. The paper helps developers understand the security implications of the decisions they make. The tools developers use to build and ship applications can make it much easier to ship secure applications. You'll learn that most of the tools and enhancements in Visual Studio 2005 require little extra work and can greatly improve the overall security of your applications. You can read the entire white paper at
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3. News & Views
Microsoft Touts 64-Bit Migration
Microsoft announced the 64-Bit Computing Advantage Migration Program, a free program that helps independent software vendors (ISVs) move their applications to 64-bit systems. The program includes a 3-day 64-bit migration lab; high-level, ongoing technical support; an executive summit series; and ISV business and marketing opportunities for participants. Microsoft is offering the program in partnership with Intel. To register and get more information, visit the program Web site at
Results of Previous Instant Poll: Developer Activities
"How much of your time do you spend on application-developer activities?" Here are the results from the 58 votes (deviations from 100 are due to a rounding error):
New Instant Poll: Home Databases "What do you use at home for a database?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine home page ( http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=171DF:285886 ) and submit your vote for - SQL Server Express
4. Reader Challenge
October Reader Challenge Solution: Consolidating Data from Various Sources by Umachandar Jayachandran, email@example.com
Congratulations to Narcissa Ramich, a Senior Database Developer for Cheapflights Limited in London. Narcissa won first prize of $100 for the best solution to the October Reader Challenge, "Consolidating Data from Various Sources." Only one submitter met the expectations set by the problem for the October challenge. You can read a recap of the problem and the solution to the October Reader Challenge at http://lists.sqlmag.com/t?ctl=171C8:285886
November Reader Challenge: Grouping Sequential Changes Now, test your SQL Server savvy in the November Reader Challenge, "Grouping Sequential Changes"(below). Submit your solution in an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 27. Umachandar Jayachandran, a SQL Server Magazine technical editor, will evaluate the responses. We'll announce the winner in an upcoming SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. The first-place winner will receive $100, and the second-place winner will receive $50.
Here's the challenge: Steve is a systems analyst in an IT department for a midsized company. As part of a batch process, data is extracted from his production database, which logs activity into a table at periodic intervals. Each activity entry contains a flag that indicates a particular state. The batch process performs two operations in an infinite loop. As part of the logging, the process includes the time when the operation was started and a flag indicating the state. A sample schema with data is shown below.
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:00', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:01', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:02', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:03', 1);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:04', 1);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:05', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:06', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:07', 1);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:08', 0);
INSERT INTO Activity values( '2005-10-01 06:09', 1);
SELECT * FROM Activity;
In our example, let us assume that the Flag column is a bit data type and the values toggle from 0 to 1 and vice versa. The CreateTime column is a smalldatetime value that's always increasing. Steve is trying to do the following:
1. Group changes in the Flag column in the sequence in which they occur based on the CreateTime value2. Determine the start and end values of CreateTime for each group
The expected output of the query should be:
------------------- ------------------- ------
2005-10-01 06:00:00 2005-10-01 06:02:00 0
2005-10-01 06:03:00 2005-10-01 06:04:00 1
2005-10-01 06:05:00 2005-10-01 06:06:00 0
2005-10-01 06:07:00 2005-10-01 06:07:00 1
2005-10-01 06:08:00 2005-10-01 06:08:00 0
2005-10-01 06:09:00 2005-10-01 06:09:00 1
Help Steve write a query that will get the expected results showing the changes in the Flag column value in the order in which they occurred and the start and end times when the changes occurred.
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6. Featured White Paper
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7. Peer to Peer
by Microsoft's SQL Server Development Team, email@example.com
I've configured my SQL Server 2000 database maintenance plan so that everything works--except the transaction-log backups. Why will full backups work but not transaction-log backups?
One of the most fundamental aspects of T-SQL querying is filtering data. Besides logically limiting the rows that a query returns, filters can affect a query's performance. A filter is one of the most important query elements that SQL Server's optimizer examines to determine whether to use an index and to determine the access method to apply in the execution plan. But some of the most frequently implemented solutions for filtering data in stored procedures have serious performance problems. In his October T-SQL Black Belt column, Itzik Ben-Gan looks at two common implementations, discusses those implementations' performance problems, then explores a better implementation. Read this article today and post your comments at
In this week's blog, "Stupid Developer Tricks," Kevin Kline reports that his clients have recently been complaining about developers who lack adequate skills. Kevin recounts some scary developer stories and wonders whether they are indicators of a widespread problem. Read the blog and send Kevin your "developer tricks" today at
Hot Threads: Check out the following hot threads, and see other discussions in our 30 SQL Server forums.
SQL Server 2005 General Discussion: Deploying Reporting Services Without IIS
Replication: Pull Subscription--Validate Does Not Work
Data Transformation Services: DTS Package Crossover Access Through Trigger
Development: Patindex Mystery
Data Access: Stored Procedure to Reduce Network Traffic
Tools: Viewing Variable Values in SQL Server Profiler
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9. New & Improved
by Dawn Cyr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you used a product that saved you time or made your job easier? Tell us how your favorite product solved a SQL Server problem for you, and if we print your submission in the magazine's Hands On department we'll send you a SQL Server Magazine t-shirt. Send your email today to email@example.com!
Sonasoft announced the addition of intelligent standby capability to its SonaSafe for SQL Server, backup-and-recovery software that provides unique capabilities including automated backup and point-of-failure or point-in-time recovery. Users can back up and recover one database, multiple databases, one SQL server instance, or an entire server. Key benefits of the product include a template-driven automated backup plan; the ability to recover from anywhere; compression, which reduces storage costs by up to 85 percent; a Web-based interface; an automated, policy-based purging functionality; the ability to manage multiple servers through a management console; and excellent diagnostic capability. SonaSafe supports SQL Server 2000 and 7.0, and a free evaluation copy is available on request. For more information, contact Sonasoft at 408-927-6200.
ProClarity announced the public beta of ProClarity 6.1, the next major release of the ProClarity Analytics Platform. Interested parties can download the beta to take advantage of new features that include advanced support of the Unified Dimensional Model (UDM), a redesigned dashboard, and a new charting engine. In addition, ProClarity offers organizations working with Microsoft buisiness intelligence solutions resources including Webcasts and white papers. To download the beta of ProClarity 6.1 or for more information, contact ProClarity at 208-344-1630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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