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March 20, 2003—In this issue:
- Reading Between the Lines
2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Releases Fix for Disappearing DTS Designer and Enterprise Manager
- Results of Previous Instant Poll: Reading the EULA
- New Instant Poll: Security Gains?
- Microsoft Mobility Developer Conference
- SQL Server Magazine University e-Learning Center
- What's New in SQL Server Magazine: The New Visual Studio .NET
- Hot Thread: dbo Not Found
- Tip: Importing Word Documents into SQL Server
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Control Database Activity from Your Wireless Device
- Manage MSDE
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, email@example.com)
Two weeks ago, the SQL Server Magazine Web site ran an Instant Poll that asked, "Do you pay attention to TPC benchmark scores?" Eighty percent of respondents said, "No, we don't use TPC information." That result isn't surprising. Many people don't think the test environments that vendors create accurately reflect how customers use the products in their businesses. One reader expressed this opinion, which many of you probably share: "It is nice to know that SQL Server is capable of those kinds of performance numbers. But could you break it down to actual usage statistics—a more realistic installation of a database server with, say, two or four processors running a business application that supports up to 500 users and performs a few hundred transactions per minute? How would Microsoft compare with Oracle or DB2 in that kind of test? High-end TPC numbers are interesting to read, but numbers that compare to the real world would be even more interesting." As I mentioned in last week's commentary, it's unlikely that you'll ever see apples-to-apples comparisons of real-world benchmark numbers coming directly from the vendor community. No sane vendor would compare its product to that of a competitor using a typical business system. In such a comparison, there would be a "winner" and a "loser." Database vendors are pretty smart. They all have the ability to run private benchmarks to try to beat a given score. But vendors publish numbers only when their products are the winners. When a vendor's tests provide an unfavorable result, that vendor simply chooses not to publish the score. However, you can draw some interesting conclusions if you think about the benchmarks that aren't published. For example, I visited the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) Web site last Friday and sorted all the TPC-C scores by total system price in ascending order. In other words, I sorted the TPC-C results by how much the system actually cost to build and focused on the least expensive systems. SQL Server 2000 had the 49 least expensive TPC-C scores, measured by total system cost. These 49 scores were split pretty evenly across single-CPU, dual-CPU, and four-CPU solutions. Microsoft also had 49 of the top 50 TPC-C scores measured by Price/tpmC, which is a price-performance ratio. (You can download all the TPC-C scores in .xls file format at http://www.tpc.org/information/results_spreadsheet.asp .) As of March 13, the TPC site had 104 active results. Microsoft was the only vendor to list a TPC-C result for any configuration with fewer than four processors, and of the 104 active scores, Microsoft had posted 30. The site listed a total of 30 scores for servers that used four CPUs. Oracle had three scores in this category, Sybase had two, and Microsoft had the remaining 25 scores. Don't most of you run systems that range between one and four CPUs? You might not find an apples-to-apples comparison on real-world platforms, but the TPC-C numbers—or lack of those numbers—in the one- to four-CPU space speak loud and clear. Perhaps other vendors simply aren't interested in publishing scores based on real-world server configurations. That's entirely possible. Or perhaps other vendors haven't published scores in that price range because such scores wouldn't put their products in a favorable light. I'll let you draw your own conclusion. In last week's commentary, I also mentioned the DeWitt clauses that most major database vendors (except IBM) include in their End User License Agreements (EULAs). A DeWitt clause says you're not allowed to publish a benchmark number unless the vendor gives you permission. Most people tend to be strongly against rules that suppress the free flow of information, so I expected many comments about these clauses. But alas, just one reader shared his views. So I'll be more explicit this week: What's your opinion of the DeWitt clauses that prevent independent people from running their own benchmarks and publishing the results? This topic isn't as simple as it might seem, and I'll explain why in a future commentary. But first, I'd love to hear your opinion.
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2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS
Microsoft has released a fix for a bug in SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3). When you upgrade to SP3, the Data Transformation Services (DTS) Designer and Enterprise Manager might disappear unexpectedly because of an access violation. Before it disappears, Enterprise Manager might generate an access violation message.
Although Microsoft has a supported fix for this bug, the company is still testing the fix. Therefore, if the bug doesn't severely affect your system, Microsoft recommends that you wait for the next SQL Server 2000 service pack, which will contain the thoroughly tested fix.
If you want to apply the fix right away, contact Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS). You can obtain a complete list of PSS phone numbers and information about support costs at
The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you read the End User License Agreement (EULA) before you install new software?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 461 votes:
- 3% Always
- 11% Sometimes
- 32% Rarely
- 54% Never
The next Instant Poll question is "Do you think that your organization's network is more secure or less secure than it was a year ago?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and submit your vote for 1) More secure, 2) Less secure, or 3) Not sure.
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Visual Studio .NET has experienced slow enterprise adoption in its first year, but the product includes new features that might make database developers want to speed up the adoption rate. In his March SQL Server Magazine column, "The New Visual Studio .NET," Michael Otey describes seven of these new features. Read the full article online at
While trying to insert a query from a development server to a production server in Query Analyzer, msturek got the error message "Login failed for user 'sa'." Msturek wasn't sure why this error was important because he's using Windows authentication, but he checked his sa account anyway. When msturek right-clicks the sa account in Enterprise Manager, he gets the SQL-DMO error message "The name 'dbo' was not found in the Users collection. If the name is a qualified name, use \[\] to separate various parts of the name, and try again." So far, the only direct impact msturek sees is that he can't perform cross-server queries, but he's concerned that the error might indicate a bigger problem. Offer your advice and read other users' suggestions on the SQL Server Magazine forums at the following URL:
(contributed by Microsoft's SQL Server Development Team, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q. I want to load Microsoft Word documents into SQL Server, then index the documents so I can use them in relational queries. How can I import and index the documents?
A. SQL Server lets you import Word documents in several ways. Let's look at the most common methods. Note that before you load the documents into SQL Server, you need to create an image data-type column to store the data. You can then import the documents by using the textcopy.exe command-line utility to read the image files into the database. To obtain basic documentation about this tool, at a command prompt, type "textcopy /?". Another approach for getting the Word documents into SQL Server is to write import code by using the ADO Stream interface. You can find sample code for this interface in the Microsoft article "HOWTO: Access and Modify SQL Server BLOB Data by Using the ADO Stream Object".
Alternatively, you can move the binary data to SQL Server. The Microsoft article "HOWTO: Retrieve and Update a SQL Server Text Field Using ADO" explains this approach. Moving the binary data lets you store parts of the data in the database and is useful when you need to control the data format. For example, if you want only between 1000 and 1010 bytes of the data, importing the binary data can be much faster than using the ADO Stream interface because SQL Server doesn't need to retrieve as much data from disk. People often use this technique to store bit masks that represent application on and off switches.
SQL Server 2000 comes with sample code that demonstrates how you can move the binary data. To view this code, just follow the ?\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\80\Tools\DevTools\Samples\ado path on the drive where you installed the code samples from your SQL Server 2000 CD-ROM. Expand the executable, then look in the Visual Basic (VB) directory to find the Samples subdirectory. In the Employee sample, notice how the code uses the FillDataFields() function.
To index Word documents, SQL Server 2000 provides the full-text search component, which uses a mix of technologies to index large text and image columns. When you perform a full-text search, you need to specify which file type the image column contains and which filter you need to extract meaning from the binary data. For more information about using full-text search, review the topic in SQL Server Books Online (BOL) and read David Jones's article "Build a Better Search Engine," July 2000, InstantDoc ID 8828. Note that indexing Word documents doesn't magically produce a set of relational tables that contain keywords from your documents. However, indexing the files lets you include these Word documents in your searches. Possible ways of extracting keywords from the data include
- Using OLE automation to read user-defined keywords from the document. Save these keywords in relational tables at the same time you load the document.
- Using OLE automation to open the document and save it in Text (.txt) format. To extract the words that are important to you, work through the text file with your own "word breaker"—a program that looks at each word in the document, discards noise words such as "a" or "the," and stores each unique word together with a count of each word.
- Searching newly full-text-indexed documents for specific words, then entering the words in relational tables.
SQL Server 2000 provides several powerful tools and interfaces that allow fast loading, searching, and retrieval of binary Microsoft Office documents.
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5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Xora announced Mobility Connectors for DBAs, which let DBAs who manage SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, or any Java Database Connectivity (JDBC)-compliant database, monitor and control database activity from wireless devices including pagers, cell phones, and PDAs. The Mobility Connectors also let you remotely access your database through automated speech recognition and through standard Web browsers. You can use the connector to respond to and perform the operations necessary to keep the database running optimally and reliably. For pricing, contact Xora at 650-314-6460.
White Bear Consulting announced a new version of MSDE Manager, an ADO-based application that provides management tools for Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE). You can also use MSDE Manager with a full SQL Server license. You can use the software to edit and execute SQL scripts; list, create, and drop logins; list, create, drop, back up, restore, attach, and detach databases; list, create, and drop database roles and modify memberships; and list, schedule, and drop automated backup jobs or T-SQL statements. Pricing is $36 for a single-server license. Contact White Bear Consulting at email@example.com.
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