Jan 182018
 

I am very happy to announce pre-conference sessions for SQL Saturday Chicago 2018. We were fortunate to receive many submissions, and after careful deliberation the following were selected.

Pre-conference sessions will take place on Friday, 16 March 2018. You can find out more about the sessions, pricing, and register using the above links.

If you haven’t already registered for SQL Saturday, taking place on Saturday, 17 March 2018, registration is also open for that, however we are currently filling a wait list. Registering for a pre-conference session will allow you to bypass the waiting list.

Stay tuned for more SQL Saturday Chicago updates, and I hope to see you there!

Nov 292017
 

It’s no secret that Windows 10 likes to forcibly apply updates, and occasionally these forced updates can occur at very inopportune times. I’ve heard tales of forced updates ruining demonstrations and presentations not only at SQL Saturdays, but also at this year’s PASS Summit.

What most people don’t seem to realize is that this type of disaster can be prevented rather easily. Here’s how to prevent surprise updates in Windows 10:

Have The Right Version

All the settings shown here first appeared in the Windows 10 Creators Update, version 1703. By this point you probably have it on your machine (in fact, as I write this, the Fall 2017 Creators Update, version 1709, is now being pushed out to users.) But if you’re unsure of your windows version and want to check, right-click on the start button and choose “system” to bring up information about your PC.

 

So long as you have version 1703 or later, you’re good!

Advanced Windows Update Options

Navigate to this menu by clicking on the Start button and searching for “Advanced Windows Update Options”.

Once this window opens, you’ll see several options that can be configured:

(click to enlarge)

Towards the bottom is the silver tuna: the “Pause Updates” switch. As the very helpful description states, pausing updates stops their installation for up to 35 days (unless you un-pause it sooner). Once those 35 days are up, you must bring your device up-to-date before you are allowed to pause again.

Moving up from the Pause Updates switch are two drop downs that allow deferment of updates. “Feature updates”, which are released semi-annually, can be delayed for up to a year. “Quality updates”, the cumulative monthly updates, can be deferred by up to a month.

Moving up again, you will find the Windows servicing channel. The channels available to you depend on which edition of Windows 10 you are running, and a matrix is available here. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Microsoft is changing the names of the channels in the Windows 10 Fall 2017 Creators Update (version 1709).

The Current Branch is considered appropriate for home users, and receives updates as soon as they are available. Beginning in version 1709 this will be renamed to “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)”.

The Current Branch for Business receives updates a few months after they are made available, and is directed towards business users. Beginning in version 1709 this will be known as the “Semi-Annual Channel”.

Thank you, Microsoft, for taking some pretty straight-forward names and changing them to be nearly identical and way more confusing.

My Recommendations

Here’s what I do: if I have a presentation or other important event coming up, I pause updates a week or two beforehand. This gives me adequate time to test everything in a stable environment as well as the peace of mind that unexpected updates won’t occur. I also allow my feature and quality updates to be deferred by up to 15 days. That way, if an update does pop up out of nowhere, I’m not forced to install it immediately.

Nov 202017
 

I’m very happy to announce that registration is now open for SQL Saturday Chicago 2018! This year we have a new and larger location! Our event will take place at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL on Saturday, March 17, 2018.

If you’re not familiar with SQL Saturday, it’s a free day of training for data professionals, covering a wide variety of topics relating to database administration, database development, business intelligence, and professional development. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to network. Registration for the event itself is free, with an optional lunch provided for $15.

Our call for speakers is also open – please submit your session(s) by 25 January 2018! We are always looking for new presenters. One of the founding principles of SQL Saturday is to develop new community speakers, so if you’ve ever wanted to present at an event like this, please consider submitting!

Our call for pre-conference sessions is also open! If you are interested in delivering a pre-con, please email abstracts directly to sqlsaturday719@sqlsaturday.com. Pre-conference session abstracts will be accepted until Friday 22 December 2017 at 5:00pm CST.

I hope to see you all in March!

Nov 142017
 

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written for a T-SQL Tuesday, but I saw this month’s topic and felt compelled to throw my 2 cents in. Our host for the month, Ewald Cress (@sqlOnIce) is asking for us to write about people who have made a meaningful contribution to our lives as data professionals.

There have certainly been a lot of people who have helped me get to where I am with my career today, but for this post I’d like to take things back to the very beginning. He wasn’t my first boss, but was the first DBA I ever encountered in the professional world. He also got me my first real DBA position when a spot opened up on his team. Chuck Rummel (@crummel4), this post is for you.

The first time I met Chuck was at a job interview for what would come to be my first job out of college. I recognized Chuck’s name from all my years of Boy Scouting, and I seem to remember that he had highlighted the line of my resume that said I was an Eagle Scout. That served as a pretty darn good icebreaker, and we ended up spending just as much time talking about camping and outdoor adventures as we did about technical topics.

Like I said, I ended up getting the job…as a .NET developer. It turns out that even though I wanted to be a DBA really badly, most companies aren’t going to hire one straight out of college. Oh well – gotta start somewhere, and for me that was writing and optimizing code that pulled lots of data from databases. Databases maintained by a team that Chuck was in charge of. I can remember very clearly the first time I needed to add an index to improve a query’s performance, but I couldn’t add it myself due to lack of permissions. I marched around the corner to Chuck’s cube to request rights to create indexes and very promptly got shot down. It turns out that denying requests from developers is kind of a core job skill for DBAs, and I got to learn this first-hand by being on the receiving end for a while.

Helping and teaching others – what Chuck does best.

I can also remember the first time I passed a certification exam – it was something for SQL Server 2005. I was so proud of myself, and made a point of showing my result sheet to Chuck, partially (ok, maybe mostly) to show him that I really can do this DBA stuff. After about 2 years of developing applications, learning good querying practices, and maybe dropping hints that I wanted to work for him every once in a while, a position opened up on Chuck’s DBA team and I don’t even think I had to apply for it.

So now I’m a DBA, living the dream! I’ve got sysadmin rights and a boss I really look up to. Then my education truly began. Of course there was tons of database skills to learn along with details about the environment, but there’s also the finer points of business. While it’s quite easy to shoot down a rookie developer’s request for permissions, it’s slightly different when such a request comes from someone above your pay grade. Chuck, you taught me all of these things, and so much more. You taught me what it’s like to work on a good team with great chemistry. You taught me what to expect from a great boss, something that I’ve really only experienced once more since leaving your team. You also taught me that there’s no shame in wearing Far Side T-shirts that might have a hole or two in them to the office, because when your workplace explicitly states they have zero dress code these things need to be taken advantage of!

In short, thank you for getting me going on the path to where I am today by being a terrific leader, manager, and friend.