T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community – RECAP

Last week I had the privilege to host this months T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The subject was SQL Family and community, and a lot of people participated. There were a lot of great blog posts, and I wanted to make a complete list for you that contains all the blog posts of this month:

 
Warwick Rudd (Blog | @Warwick_Rudd) posted: SQL Family and community

Boris Hristov (Blog | @BorisHristov) posted: SQL Family and SQLHangouts

Cathrine Wilhelmsen (Blog | @cathrinew) posted: #SQLFamily – Pay It Forward

Mickey Stuewe (Blog | @SQLMickey) posted: SQL Family to the Rescue of a Local Community

Chris Yates (Blog | @YatesSQL) posted: SQL Family and Community

Ed Watson (Blog | @SQLGator) posted: SQL Family and Tripping the Light Fantastique

Aaron Bertrand (Blog | @AaronBertrand) posted: A SQL _VARIANT Use Case (No Pun Intended)

Jason Brimhall (Blog | @sqlrnnr) posted: SQL Family and
Community

Adam Mikolaj (Blog | @SqlSandwiches) posted: SQL Family and community

Glenda Gable (Blog | @ggable313) posted: TSQL Tuesdays # 57

Andy Yun (Blog | @SQLBek) posted: A #SQLFamily Story

Wayne Sheffield (Blog | @DBAWayne) posted: SQL Family and Community

Steve Jones (Blog | @way0utwest) posted: SQL Family and Community

Kenneth Fisher (Blog | @sqlstudent144) posted: SQL Family

Rob Farley (Blog | @rob_farley) posted: Nepotism In The SQL Family

Ricardo Leka (Blog | @BigLeka) posted: SQL Family and community

Jeffrey Verheul (Blog | @DevJef) posted: SQL Family and community

 
I want to thank all participants for their beautiful posts for T-SQL Tuesday. And thank you Adam, for allowing me to host this month!

If I missed your post, please let me know, and I’ll add it to this post.

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is “SQLFamily and community”. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Jeffrey Verheul (Blog | @DevJef).



 
This months topic is SQL Family and community. The reason I chose this topic is the great SQL Server community. As I mentioned in my opening post, at first I didn’t know what to expect from the community, when I first started working with SQL Server. But it didn’t take long to notice the reason why everyone was to enthusiastic about it. They say the SQL Server community is friendlier and more helpful than all other communities. But it is?

It’s all about helping
A few years back, I attended a developer conference in the Netherlands called TechDays. One of the session I got to see was a session about spatial data by Bob Beauchemin (Blog | @bobbeauch). And yes, here is where the obsession for spatial data started I think. After the conference I started to play around with spatial data, and eventually I ran into a problem. At that moment I couldn’t find any useful resources online, and I knew Bob would know the answer.

After thinking about it a day or 2, I finally decided to mail Bob. This was a big step for me, because I was about to email one of the people I highly respect and look up to. The expectancy wasn’t too high, because he couldn’t possibly have the time to answer my stupid email. So I took the bull by the horns anyway and pressed send.. But to my surprise, it didn’t even take an hour before I received an answer. From Bob. THE Bob. I couldn’t believe it! The big Bob Beauchemin took the time to not only read my email, but even provide me with an answer to my question. And of course the answer was spot on, and precisely I needed to overcome my problem.

After that, I regularly emailed Bob about questions, interesting cases I came across, and many more things. But I didn’t send him an email for too long now, and I still hope I get to thank him for this in person one day. But this is where the community-vibe hit me.

 
From knowledge base to blog
When you get to work on all different kinds of projects, you end up with notepad files all over your desktop, USB hard drives, etc. At least, in my case that’s where it started. In order to create a structure in all these small solutions and notes, I decided to put them online. So basically I wanted to create a small knowledge base and one location where I could save scripts for myself, that I wrote before and might need in the future again. But after a few months, people started to thank me for my posts. I couldn’t understand why, because the posts were so basic, and sometimes totally gibberish in my opinion.

But after a while, I started to like the “blogging” (which was just brain-dumping until then). The blog posts became more coherent, written for a broader audience, and they were easier to follow and implement for readers. So the brain dumps grew into something new: useful information that other people could actually use! One of the things I’m most proud of until now is the spatial data series I wrote (yes, again spatial data). It grew from just 1 post (the basics of spatial data) to a series of 11 posts where I guide readers from the basics to building their own reports. This series was inspired by readers and colleagues that asked questions, and questions I had myself.

 
Online community
One of the greatest discoveries for me was the community on Twitter. Anyone you can imagine from the community is on Twitter, and available within a few clicks. And they all take the time to answer questions! This came as a big surprise to me at first. There are so much interesting people you can follow, interact with, and that can help you with technical challenges you have. In most cases, when you post a question with the hashtag #SQLHelp, you’ll get an answer within minutes. And you answer could come from anybody: An MCM from the UK, MVP from Australia, DBA from the US, a BI guy from South Africa, etc. All kinds of people with different skill sets and technical interests. And the variety of people make it worth while to follow and interact with them.

 
When strangers become friends
After being “active” in the community for a while, I started talking to some people of the SQL Server community online. At one moment I asked one of them to review a blog post, to see what she thought. That was the start of a friendship that brought me a lot the last couple of years. She introduced me to some other SQL Server professionals, that I consider close friends now. These friends support me, push me to do stuff when I need it, and help me in any way possible. They inspire me to do better, and take the extra step to achieve the goals I set myself. They are there when I need them, and that is the most important thing. And all of that because of SQL Family and the community! The community that I couldn’t believe to be more than a bunch of people with the same job and technical interests.

 
FORG
Being involved in the community is really cool, and there are benefits of that. For example, Red Gate gave me the opportunity to become a member of the Friends of Red Gate program, which was and is a great honor for me. I’ve loved using their tools for years, and now they gave me the opportunity to help make these tools better, by being part of this program. And hopefully there are a lot of cool things coming up, because I still have a lot of dreams and goals I set myself when I became a part of this program.

 
If you’re not involved yet, get involved!
The reason you should get involved in the community, is the fact that it’s really nice to help people, and you get so much in return. Getting help from someone is great, but helping other people makes you feel even better. At least, that’s my experience. So if you’re not already involved, start visiting local events like SQL Saturdays or online events like virtual users groups. It’ll give you insight in other SQL Server subjects, and show you that other people struggle with the same problems you do!

T-SQL Tuesday #57 – SQL Family and community

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

 
This month I’ll be the T-SQL Tuesday host, and I’m really honored! Thanks Adam, for this opportunity!

 
The topic
This month I would like to give everyone the opportunity to write about SQL Family. The first time I heard of SQL Family, was on Twitter where someone mentioned this. At first I didn’t know what to think about this. I wasn’t really active in the community, and I thought it was a little weird. They were just people you meet on the internet, and might meet in person at a conference some day. But I couldn’t be more wrong about that!

Once you start visiting events, forums, or any other involvement with the community, you’ll see I was totally wrong. I want to hear those stories. How do you feel about SQL Family? Did they help you, or did you help someone in the SQL Family? I would love to hear the stories of support, how it helped you grow and evolve, or how you would explain SQL Family to your friends and family (which I find hard). Just write about whatever topic you want, as long as it’s related to SQL Family or community.

 
The rules
– Your post must be published between 00:00:00 UTC and 23:59:59 UTC on Tuesday 12th of August
– Include the T-SQL Tuesday logo in the top of your post, and your post must link back to this one (trackback and comments are moderated, so it might take some time before they’re visible) or tweet about it using the hashtag #TSQL2sDay
– If you like this, check Steve Jones’ (Blog | @way0utwest) blog post that contains the list of topics, and contact Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic) if you’d like to host

Friends of Red Gate Project

A few weeks ago I received the official confirmation that I’ll be a part of the Friends of Red Gate 2014 program. This program allows the participants to directly communicate with the product teams, provide feedback to teams, and try out beta-builds of tools.

 


 
The Red Gate tools are easy to use, and give you the upper hand on administering servers and databases. So together with other Friends of Red Gate, we decided to write a series of blog posts about the tools. The first one will be posted tomorrow. In these blog posts, we will try to show you why you should use their tools, and what problems they can solve for you.

 
The group that will write posts just like me consists of 3 other people:

 
Mickey Stuewe (Blog | @SQLMickey) from Orange County, USA
Chris Yates (Blog | @YatesSQL) from Kentucky, USA
Julie Koesmarno (Blog | @MsSQLGirl) from Canberra, Australia

 
So when you’re interested in reading about the tools from Red Gate, or you want to see how people use the same tools in different jobs, you should definitely check out this series!

Building an empire, but how and where?

As you might have read in my previous post, I set myself some goals this year. One of these goals is to move my blog to a more permanent location. I started out on Geekswithblogs.net, but after a few months I’ve moved to this location. But now I want to move to a more permanent location, including my own domain name(s).

All I really need at this moment is a WordPress host. No need for extra storage (I use Dropbox and SkyDrive for file-storage), or any other stuff (as far as I know). I’m only looking for a WordPress host, with 2 or 3 domain names attached. But what are the options?

 
Azure
One of the options is Azure, where you can rent a virtual machine, or just host your website. One of the advantages of having a virtual machine is that you can manage your own machine. You can use your own machine as file storage, and maybe even to host more services in the future.

One of the disadvantages is the cost of a whole package. If you want to rent a small virtual machine and some storage, your looking at a monthly cost of about € 25,- (around $ 33,-). That’s a lot of money. But on the other hand, they’ll move your website and storage on hardware failure. So your website will have an almost guarantied up-time.

 
Web hosting package
Another option is buying a web hosting pack at for example GoDaddy. There you get a WordPress host, unlimited websites, unlimited space and bandwith (a pretty good deal if you ask me), and they also add a free domain name. This looks like the deal I want, except for all the bad stories I heard about GoDaddy…

 
Just domain name(s)
It’s also possible to buy a domain name, and point it to your WordPress.com blog. This can be purchased via WordPress.com. Then your blog is still hosted by WordPress.com, and you still can’t use the full potential of a WordPress.org install. On the other hand, WordPress.com is a big player in the market, and how often will it be offline?

 
That’s where YOU come in!
To be honest, I need your help. I’m not that into hosting plans, hosting providers, etc. So if you can help me out, I would greatly appreciate it! You can leave a comment below, or you can Tweet or mail me.

T-SQL Tuesday #33 – Trick Shot

T-SQL Tuesday is a recurring blog party, that is started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic). Each month a blog will host the party, and everyone that want’s to can write a blog about a specific subject.

This month the subject is trick shot. If you want to read the opening post, please click the image below to go to the party-starter: Mike Fal (Blog | @Mike_Fal).



The topic of this month is trick shots. Thinking about this subject, I decided to search for the literal translation on Wikipedia:

“A trick shot (also trickshot or trick-shot) is a shot played on a billiards table (most often a pool table, though snooker tables are also used), which seems unlikely or impossible or requires significant skill.”

So a trick shot is a trick that’s unlikely or impossible. Isn’t that something we hear everyday? I know I do! A few quotes I overheard last week:

“No, this can’t be done differently”

“No, this cursor is set-based”

“I have this query (500 lines of code), and it doesn’t do what I want/what I build. Can you fix it?”

In at least 2 cases it ended up with me being right (unfortunately for them, and our company). But fixing the issues took some time, a lot of talking (or, as a manager would call it, coaching), and a fair deal of patience. But then came the hard part: rewriting the code. How do you rewrite a query, based on a cursor, into a set-based operation? There’s your trick shot! :)

Another example of a “trick shots” was creating a solution for a spatial data problem. My colleagues created an application that saves polygons into the database. But unfortunately, it we didn’t use the .MakeValid() function. That meant that some polygons were invalid, and some objects actually contained more then 1 polygon (which should have been stored as multi-polygon). When querying this data, the execution of the query retrieving the geography object failed because of the invalid objects. Finding these objects it the biggest issue.

Well, surprise, a cursor was the solution! For every string of coordinates retrieved, I entered a TRY-CATCH block. There I tried to convert the array of coordinates int a valid polygon. And if it failed, I added it to a memory table of invalid polygons that I declared in the query. The results from the table were printed at the end of the script, so the developer that ran the script could fix them. Normally I’m against the usage of cursors, but sometimes a cursor is usefull to find a problem, as you just saw.

What I’m actually trying to say, it that is that a trick shot isn’t unlikely or impossible, as long as you know what you’re doing. It takes a lot of practice, trial and error, and patience to master a certain skill. And, like in most cases, the only thing that’s holding you back is your own mind and imagination. So try to search for new things, keep challenging yourself to learn new things!

Welcome #1000!!!

I never thought that I would get a chance to say this, but I’m proud to announce that on the 31st of May, I could welcome my 1000th visitors on this blog. And only in just a few months!

It all started on the 21st of September 2011, when I finally decided to create an online brain-dump for myself. Posting things I needed to remember, or (possibly) going to use again in the future. The more articles I wrote, the more visitors started reading my articles. This came as a surprise to me!

Then I decided to create a WordPress blog, to get a better layout of my blog, and more functionality in the back-end CMS.

So on the 3rd of November 2011 I copied all my previously written posts to my WordPress blog, and thereby finished my blog-move. From that date, I only posted new articles posts on this blog you’re reading now.

Since that time, a lot has changed. I started to monitor Twitter feeds (#SQLHelp and #SQLServer) for interesting subjects to write on, and try to write about (at least I think so) interesting subjects and problems.

Just last week I published my 25th article. And I hope to double this number in 2012.

From this place I want to thank you for reading and/or following my blog, and I hope I can provide you with more interesting stuff in the future. So if you have any subjects for me, or questions you want answered, please contact me and I’ll try to create a interesting article for you! ;)

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