Jul 212015

I’m extremely honored to once again be part of the speaker lineup for PASS Summit. This will be my 4th year in attendance and my 3rd year speaking, and the joy of being there never gets old. It’s an incredible gathering of people from all over the world who are passionate about data, and returning each year feels like a family reunion.

This time around I will be presenting about security, a topic near and dear to the hearts of many, especially with the number of newsworthy security breaches that have occurred the past few years. I’ve always wanted to present a beginner-level topic, and this year I got my wish. I’ll be talking about the basics of security in SQL Server: how to make sure everyone requiring access to data gets exactly what they need and nothing more, and that people with no business seeing certain data have no ability to. Here’s the abstract:

SQL Server Security Basics
The past few years seem to have had more than their fair share of high-profile data breaches, not all of which were caused by sophisticated hacking attempts. This session explains basic methods for securing your SQL Server by making sure you’re not leaving the proverbial front door unlocked (or in some cases, wide open). We will discuss the different levels and methods that can be used for granting and restricting rights, as well as the pros and cons of each. You learn steps you can take to design databases with securability in mind from the beginning, so that you can better protect your data later. We also demonstrate scripts that can help audit user rights and make sure logins don’t have any more permissions than they need. Security doesn’t need to be scary! Attend this session and gain a solid foundation on which to build your DBA career.

If you haven’t signed up for PASS Summit yet, register today! There’s still time to negotiate with your employer and see if they can help cover some or all of the cost. It’s an incredible investment in your career. If you want to learn from some of the best in the world, this is where you go to do it. I really hope to see you there!

Jul 162015

I’m happy to announce I am running for the PASS Nomination Committee! Please check out my candidate profile. I also have an election page here on my blog with more information which I will be updating frequently.

What is the NomCom?

Per the Nomination Committee page:

The Nomination Committee (NomCom) administers the election process for the annual PASS Board of Directors election.

The primary role of the NomCom is to measure each candidate against a set of criteria set by the Board of Directors. The NomCom evaluates the answers to a questionnaire returned by each Board applicant. In addition, the NomCom as a group interviews each Board applicant who has passed the initial application process. The NomCom then presents a list of recommended candidates to the Board of Directors, which then approves the final slate.

Why am I running?

I’ve been a member of PASS for 6 years now, and while I’ve volunteered for and presented at many events, I want to take a more active role in something that drives the organization. Being part of the NomCom and assisting with the election process seems like an excellent way to do that. If elected, I promise to be firm, yet fair in evaluating candidates. I want to make sure the best possible people make their way onto the ballot.

How does voting work?

NomCom elections opened today, July 16, at 8:00am Pacific Time and close on July 21 at 12:00pm Pacific Time. All members who completed their myPASS profile by 11:59pm Pacific Time on June 1, 2015, are elegible to vote in both the NomCom and Board of Directors elections. You will receive a link to vote via email, and that link can also be found on your myPASS page. To verify that you are eligible, check out Bill Graziano’s post from the official PASS blog.

I would appreciate your consideration and your vote. Thank you very much!

“My name is Bob Pusateri, and I approve this message.” (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

Jul 142015

I’m so happy to be able to contribute to this month’s T-SQL Tuesday! Andy Yun picked an excellent topic: default settings. Defaults exist for a reason: in the absence of a user’s preference, they represent the option that the application’s author(s) believe will generally work the best for the greatest number of people.

All that being said, if you’re reading this blog, you probably aren’t the average computer user, and you probably aren’t a fan of all the default settings your applications choose. I’ve got plenty of defaults for different applications that I despise and do my best to change as quickly as possible. Here’s a few that really grind my gears:

Windows File Extensions

I like to see the full names of my files, including the extension (the “.”, typically followed by 3 or 4 characters after the file name).  Windows tries to be helpful and by default doesn’t show the extension if it recognizes the file type. For example, the Microsoft Word document “Letter to Grandma.docx” would be shown as simply “Letter to Grandma”. This may be fine for many, but I’m not a fan.

No file extensions. Boooo.

File extensions. Much better!

To enable their display in Windows 7 (yes, that’s what I use at home) from any Windows Explorer window, go to “Organize” > “Folder and Search Options”, then the “View” tab. Here you’ll find a list of checkboxes, one of them is called “Hide extensions for known file types”. Uncheck this box and you’ll be able to see the extensions for all files, not just the ones Windows can identify.

Hidden Files

Not only do I like to see file extensions, I also like to see all my files. Windows allows files to be marked as hidden, which means they still exist on disk, just they are not displayed in Windows Explorer. While this can be useful to keep prying eyes away from files, it is not a security feature in any way, shape, or form.

To enable the display of hidden files, go back to the very same window we found the file extension option in (“Organize” > “Folder and Search Options” > “View” tab). The list of checkboxes has a section for “Hidden files and folders”, and its options are “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives” or “Show hidden files, folders, or drives.” Now you’ll be able to see everything.

Line Numbers in SQL Server Management Studio

This is primarily a SQL Server blog, after all, so I had better include something SQL-specific. SSMS has plenty of default options that are worth changing, but one of the first ones I take care of is adding line numbers. I like to be able to quickly see what line I’m on by glancing at the left margin of the query window. I understand why the default doesn’t include them, but being a programmer at heart, I like to see them. They comfort me.

To add line numbers in SSMS, go to Tools, then Options. Under “Text Editor”, select “All Languages”, then check the box to display line numbers.

(click to enlarge)

So there you have them, arguably my top 3 favorite defaults to change. I hope you found this helpful, and thank you Andy for the excellent topic!

Jun 242015

I’ve been to nearly all the SQL Saturday locations in the Midwest at one point or another, but Indy has been one of the very few that’s evaded me. (Minnesota, you’re next!) I’m very happy to be presenting in The Circle City this year at SQL Saturday Indianapolis on August 8 2015! I’m really looking forward to being part of the tremendous group of presenters put together by the organizing committee.

My presentation is all about the wonderful new features in SQL Server 2014 other than In-Memory OLTP, more commonly known as “Hekaton”, which was it’s feature codename. In-Memory OLTP is arguably the most significant feature in 2014 and tends to get the most love, but SQL Server 2014 offers plenty of other awesomeness that far more environments can benefit from. This session gives those other features some much-deserved attention, and shows attendees how they can take advantage of all the new improvements.

If you haven’t already signed up for SQL Saturday Indianapolis, register now! I hope to see you there!

Jun 042015

My love of collecting data isn’t limited to work, I’m just as happy doing it at home. From the typical digital keepsakes such as documents and photos to geekier things like detailed utility records and 10 years of fuel consumption info for my car, I’ve got quite the little hoard.

The usefulness of some of the data I save can be debated, but one dataset that’s helped me tremendously over the past few years is a spreadsheet of all my SQL community activity. Any time I speak or volunteer in any capacity, I record the following:

  • Name
  • Date
  • Location
  • Website Link
  • Total number of attendees/participants (I’ll ask an organizer for a ballpark guess)
  • If I volunteered in any way, a brief description of what I helped with

If I presented, I also add:

  • Title of presentation
  • Number of attendees in the session*
  • Link to session description page
  • Constructive feedback from comment cards, face-to-face, etc

*This can be tricky. Some people come in after the session starts, and others will leave before it ends. What I do is take a headcount right before I start. If I get comment cards following the session, I’ll take the greater of my initial headcount or the number of cards I receive.

Why do this?

First of all, you’ll have actual numbers for how many presentations you’ve given and how many people you’ve reached. If you submit abstracts for PASS Summit, they ask for this information as part of your speaking experience. It’s also my understanding that the Microsoft MVP program wants similar numbers if you are nominated.

Aside from all that, this data helps influence what topics I submit for SQL Saturdays and user groups. If I spoke about indexing in a particular city last year, I’ll be sure to submit other topics this time around. On a more personal level, whenever I’m feeling incompetent or irrelevant, looking back on a list of all the things I’ve done can be an excellent morale booster.

So if you’re the least bit involved in the SQL Server community (or volunteering anywhere else, for that matter), I’d recommend keeping track of it. The effort to create and maintain a spreadsheet like this is minimal, and it will never be any easier than it is right now.