Oct 222015
 

It’s nearly upon us! Next week, data professionals from around the world will gather in Seattle for the spectacle that is PASS Summit. A conference (and family reunion) like no other, we’ll share knowledge, war stories, fellowship, and also germs (because I’m pretty sure I’ve come home with some strain of the nerd flu each year.)

With over 200 technical sessions, there’s something for pretty much everybody. Building a personal schedule always proves to be an exercise not in finding a session you want to attend, but rather choosing which session you absolutely cannot miss because there’s 3 others you also want to see in that same time slot.

Yet amidst this bounty of knowledge being given away by leaders and experts in their fields, there are times when I opt to simply not attend a session at all. Instead of listening to a presentation, you’ll probably find me in a beanbag chair in the community zone chatting with others, out for coffee, or exploring some part of Seattle I’ve yet to find. Why? Because PASS Summit is about way more than attending sessions. It’s about community. It’s making connections and new friends, and catching up with the old ones you haven’t seen in a while. The real power of the summit is being in the same place as all these people, interacting, and getting to know them. Time is extremely valuable that week, and while sitting in presentations is a solid way to invest it, there are other ways to spend it that are just as valuable, if not moreso.

Buy the videos

Really. They’re so worth it. Like I said earlier, it’s not going to be possible to attend all the sessions you’ll want to see. And to be honest, you won’t always be in the best physical or mental shape to learn in a session. Perhaps you were at an evening activity pretty late and now you’re exhausted, or maybe you went on #sqlrun and decided that a #sqlshower* might be a good (and courteous!) alternative to making the first session of the morning. You can watch the videos whenever you like, and as an added bonus, they also support pause and rewind functionality.

Microsoft also gets it

Earlier this month it was announced that Microsoft would not be offering 50% off certification exams on site, as they have done in the past. At first I was upset, but then I continued reading and saw that they would be offering 50% off exam vouchers to conference attendees instead. This is a much better deal in my mind – you are now free to take a discounted exam back at home where you won’t have to miss out on sessions or other activities to do so. It’s one fewer distraction from making connections and learning from others, whether that’s inside or outside of a session.

To sum things up, your time at conferences is very valuable. Everything you do is paid for with time, over and above all the monetary expense you and/or your employer incurred to be there. However you spend your time, make sure you’re getting the most out of it. If you’re going to be attending PASS Summit this year, I’ll see you there, hopefully outside of a session!

 

* For the record, #sqlshower is NOT a group activity.

Sep 222015
 

There’s a little more than a month to go until two momentous occasions are upon us: PASS Summit, and the deadline for Argenis Without Borders 2.0!

If you’re not familiar with last year’s incarnation, Argenis Without Borders started as an office dare by Kirsten Benzel and ended up being an awesome campaign for Doctors Without Borders where Argenis Fernandez promised to wear a unicorn hoodie (see photographic evidence below) and others agreed to wear costumes and perform various humorous acts as different fundraising milestones were met. It was a tremendous success!

Maybe reaching our goal will help impress him!

This year even more people, including myself, have joined in on the fun. 16 of us have agreed to wear costumes or awesome hats if we hit the $5000 mark.

Only problem is, we haven’t reached that goal yet.

The good news is that there’s still more than a month left; donations are being accepted until October 27. It’s for an amazing cause, and we all know how generous #sqlfamily can be. So if you’d like to see me and 15 others wearing something completely off-the-wall, please donate here!

UPDATE: We’ve now hit the $5,000 mark. Great job, everyone! Guess I’ll have to figure out a costume after all!

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!