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SQL Data Aggregation Aggravation

When we have to deal with and store a lot of data, it makes sense to aggregate it so that we store only the information we actually need. If we get this right, this works well, but the design of the system takes care and thought because the problems can be subtle and various. Joe Celko describes some of the ways that things can go wrong and end up providing incorrect, inaccurate or misleading results.… Read more

Fighting Evil in Your Code: Comments on Comments

One of the most glib generalisations you can make about development work is to say that code should be liberally commented, or conversely that it should never be commented. As always, the truth is more complicated. There are many different types of comment and some types are best treated firmly with the delete key, where others are to be cherished and maintained assiduously. Even though it is hard to find two developers who agree on the topic of commenting, Michael Sorens warily sketches out the issues and the battleground.… Read more

Personal Data, Privacy, and the GDPR

Now that there have been well-publicised examples of the awful consequences of data breaches and data misuse, there is increasing public pressure for legislation on privacy and personal data that has enough clout to prosecute serious offenders. In the vanguard has been the EU data protection regulation, soon to be succeeded by the GDPR. It defines IT practices for data that are likely to extend worldwide. William Brewer gives a rundown of what he sees as the implication for IT practice.… Read more

Development Delusions: That it is Enough to Build a Better Mousetrap

You've written a superb, clever, application that you are trying to encourage your colleagues to use. They're not interested. Why? You've neglected the documentation. Surely, the saying goes 'Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door'? Nope, not without comprehensive and complete documentation and marketing, it won't. Documentation is the secret of ensuring that good software will succeed. … Read more

Your Professional Development and the PASS Organization

There are so many ways of keeping your technical skills and knowledge up-to-date. There are books, articles, conferences, video courses and so on, but nothing beats discussion and debate with professional people in other organisations facing a similar range of technical challenges, some of which you share, and others you maybe haven't yet. PASS is unique in providing just this vital ingredient for database professionals using the Microsoft Data Stack.… Read more

Which Edition of SQL Server is Best for Development Work?

You might think, as a developer, that nothing but the best is good enough as a development database. You might be mistaken. There is a lot to be said for LocalDB, but Ed Elliott argues that every edition has its pros and cons, and you need to consider Cloud-based resources, VMs and Containerised databases too. There is a whole range of alternatives and how you choose depends on the type of database you are developing, but for Ed, LocalDB gets the five-star accolad… Read more

Strengthening the Foundations of Software Architecture

The term 'Architecture' seems to imply a plan that you can't easily subsequently deviate from. It's true that, if you abandon software architecture, you end up with a big ball of mud, but maybe the art of software is to make change much easier by planning how to implement each feature, tackling dependency issues, splitting functionality into small discrete components and considering how they should interact with each other.… Read more

The IT Manager’s perspective: People as an Asset

Information Technology is fast-changing, but the people who work in IT need to have a good chance of a long-term career. That means keeping up to date, not only in their current speciality, but in the wider sphere of the technology they work with. IT managers must make sure that keeping up to date with technology is part of the day to day activity of their people. How should they make sure it happens?… Read more

Continuous Delivery from the 19th Century to TODAY

It somehow feels like the end of an era. The National Weather Service of the USA's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides AWIPS 2 (The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) which has now advanced to the point that allows for the change to mixed-case letters. The switch will happen on May 11, after the required 30-day notification period to give customers adequate time to prepare for the change. Grief counsellors?… Read more

The Practical Problems of Determining Equality and Equivalence in SQL

In theory, it is easy to determine whether data is equal to, greater than or lesser than a value. Real-world data types can be surprisingly tricky, even for gauging data equivalence. Because SQL cannot remain aloof from any application's data types, you need to be aware of the ways and pitfalls of individual datatypes and how you can test for equality, equivalence, similarity, identity and all that jazz… Read more

Hilary Mason: Geek of the Week

Founder of machine intelligence research company Fast Forward Labs, Hilary Mason is the Data-Scientist-in-residence at Accel, and the former Chief Scientist at bitly. She is famous for proving that social media users like to share breaking news and current events, but are more likely to read inane gossip, watch sneezing pandas, or play online games.… Read more

Barbara Liskov: Geek of the Week

Barbara Liskov is one of the great pioneers of Computer Science, She was one of the first US women to achieve a PhD in computing and  is the inventor of  two computer languages, as well as contributing a number of ideas to system design, especially related to data abstraction, program methodology, object-oriented design, fault tolerance, and distributed computing… Read more

Alfred Aho: Geek of the Week

Before the advent of PowerShell in Windows, we reached for AWK for those information-processing tasks that required just simple code of a few lines. AWK, and the principles that were embedded in it, became the bedrock of many languages that followed, including Perl. It was created by Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger and Brian Kernighan; and it was included in the UNIX distribution. We a asked Alfred Aho how it all came about.… Read more

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