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May 16, 2002—In this issue:

1. COMMENTARY

  • Staying Ahead in the Security Game

2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • Results of Previous Instant Poll: Beta Program Participation
  • New Instant Poll: How You Troubleshoot

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Immediate Access to T-SQL Solutions!
  • Are You Wasting Time Searching for SQL Server Answers?

4. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)

  • Data Quality and the Bottom Line
  • Rich, Interactive Web-based Reporting!

5. RESOURCES

  • What's New in SQL Server Magazine: Query Analyzer Shortcuts
  • Hot Thread: Failed Login
  • Tip: Recompilation and Coding Owner Prefixes

6. NEW AND IMPROVED

  • Simplify SQL Server Tasks

7. CONTACT US

  • See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

1. COMMENTARY

  • STAYING AHEAD IN THE SECURITY GAME

  • (contributed by Brian Moran, news editor, brianm@crosstier.com)

    Have you applied the latest SQL Server security patch? And how can you stay on top of all the security fixes coming down the pike from Microsoft and other sources? Security is an important topic in IT regardless of which technologies you specialize in, and lately I've been thinking about SQL Server security quite a bit. I'm planning to weave security discussions into my SQL Server UPDATE commentary during the next several weeks. But this week, I tell you about the most recent security patch from Microsoft, available online at the following URL, and one way you can stay abreast of Microsoft security patches. http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/bulletin/mS02-020.asp

    The patch in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-020 (SQL Extended Procedure Functions Contain Unchecked Buffers) addresses an unchecked buffer security vulnerability that could let an intruder either crash your SQL Server or—even worse—run code of the attacker's choice. Neither option is particularly pleasant, and Microsoft's understated recommendation is to "apply the patch immediately to affected systems."The security bulletin provides instructions for applying the patch. Before you download the patch, you need to install SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 2 (SP2) or SQL Server 7.0 SP4. You'll find more details about the specific nature of the vulnerability in the Microsoft article "FIX: SQL Extended Procedure Functions Contain Unchecked Buffers".

    Staying up-to-date with the latest security bulletins can be difficult, but that's the way to find a particular vulnerability before intruders do. To stay current, subscribe to the Microsoft HotFix & Security Bulletin Service at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/current.asp.

    Trying to keep the intruders out without keeping on top of the latest security announcements is like playing video games against a Microsoft Xbox master who knows the secret codes that you don't know. The odds aren't fair, and you'll probably end up dead. The HotFix & Security Bulletin Service will ensure that you have the latest security information from Microsoft. Computer systems will always have undetected security vulnerabilities, and we'll always have intruders. It's the nature of the game. The trick is to be vigilant and proactive in your approach to security management.


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    2. SQL SERVER NEWS AND VIEWS

  • RESULTS OF PREVIOUS INSTANT POLL: BETA PROGRAM PARTICIPATION

  • The voting has closed in SQL Server Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Has your company participated in Microsoft SQL Server beta programs?" Here are the results (+/- 1 percent) from the 192 votes:
    • 15% Yes, several times
    • 11% Yes, but only once or twice
    • 39% No, but we'd like to
    • 35% No, we're not interested

  • NEW INSTANT POLL: HOW YOU TROUBLESHOOT

  • The next Instant Poll question is, "What's the first resource you turn to for troubleshooting SQL Server problems?" Go to the SQL Server Magazine Web site and submit your vote for 1) SQL Server discussion forums, 2) Microsoft online resources (TechNet, Knowledge Base, or Books Online), 3) Other SQL Server professionals you know, 4) Microsoft phone-based support, or 5) Other.
    http://www.sqlmag.com

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    3. ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO T-SQL SOLUTIONS!

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  • ARE YOU WASTING TIME SEARCHING FOR SQL SERVER ANSWERS?

  • The SQL Server Magazine Master CD gives you realtime, high-speed access to all the articles, code, and expertise from every issue of SQL Server Magazine ever published. Unique search features let you find what you need fast. Order your copy today!
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  • DATA QUALITY AND THE BOTTOM LINE

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    5. RESOURCES

  • WHAT'S NEW IN SQL SERVER MAGAZINE: QUERY ANALYZER SHORTCUTS

  • As a SQL Server DBA, you probably use Query Analyzer every day to analyze SQL statements. In his article "Query Analyzer Shortcuts," SQL Server Magazine Senior Technical Editor Michael Otey shows you how to speed the process by using seven keyboard shortcuts that make Query Analyzer a more effective and productive tool. The article appears in the May 2002 issue of SQL Server Magazine and is available online at the following URL:
    http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=24349

  • HOT THREAD: FAILED LOGIN

  • Member js is having trouble executing a SQL Server job because his login failed even though he has the appropriate permissions. Offer your advice and read other users' suggestions on the SQL Server Magazine forums at the following URL:
    http://www.sqlmag.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=8&threadid=6126

  • TIP: RECOMPILATION AND CODING OWNER PREFIXES

  • (contributed by the Microsoft SQL Server development team)

    Q. In the June 2001 issue of SQL Server Magazine, you mentioned that to avoid recompilations, thereby improving performance, you can "try coding the object owner for referenced tables, views, and procedures inside your stored procedures" when submitting a query (e.g., select col1 from dbo.table1). Does SQL Server recompile if two tables with the same name exist in the database (e.g., dbo.table1, fred.table1)? Further, does SQL Server recompile the stored procedure if only dbo.table1 exists in the database.

    A. SQL Server recompiles a stored procedure or a cached query plan even if only one table1 exists, because through the recompilation process, SQL Server checks the catalog for the appropriate object that the connection context issuing the query should use. When you don't qualify the owner name, SQL Server enters the compile code and acquires a COMPILE lock on the procedure. SQL Server eventually determines that a new plan isn't required, so at that point, SQL Server doesn't recompile the plan. However, when SQL Server takes the extra step of acquiring a COMPILE lock on the procedure, in situations of heavy load, blocking can occur. For more details about blocking contention, see the Microsoft article "INF: SQL Blocking Due to COMPILE Locks" ( http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q263889).

    Qualifying the table or view and the columns you use is also good practice. Qualifying those entities ensures that the query will continue to work as you expect—even if the underlying tables are altered—because the code explicitly names the tables that hold the columns you need. Otherwise, adding mycol1 to Table2 would cause a namespace clash and break the query. The following code snippet qualifies a table and columns:

    SELECT a.mycol1, b.othercol1
    FROM dbo.Table1
        AS a INNER JOIN dbo.Table2
        AS b ON a.myid=b.otherid

    Send your technical questions to questions@sqlmag.com.

    6. NEW AND IMPROVED


    (contributed by Carolyn Mascarenas, products@sqlmag.com)

  • SIMPLIFY SQL SERVER TASKS

  • Red Diamond Software announced DBA Toolkit 2.0, a collection of tools that make routine SQL Server tasks easy for DBAs. The product includes features such as JobStyles, which lets you define backup procedures; JobScheduler, which provides a graphical calendar view of job schedules; and DataScripter, which creates SQL insert statements from your data. The ScriptLibrary feature lets you organize existing scripts and store procedures in user-defined categories. For pricing, contact Red Diamond Software at 303-229-5258.
    http://www.reddiamondsoftware.com

    7. CONTACT US


    Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:

    • ABOUT THE COMMENTARY — brianm@sqlmag.com
    • ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER IN GENERAL — mcrockett@sqlmag.com

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