30 September 2008
30 September 2008

And so it came to PASS…

On 18-21 November this year, in the great city of Seattle, PASS will be holding their 10th annual conference. If you work with SQL Server, you should attend if you possibly can. It’s an independently-organized summit, but with the hand of Microsoft firmly up its sweater. This means plenty of real-world technical sessions from community … Read more
21 July 2008
21 July 2008

The myth of over-normalization

I’ve always been suspicious of denormalizing an OLTP database. Denormalisation is a strange activity that is supposed to take place after a database has been normalized, and is assumed to be necessary in order to reduce the number of joins in queries to a tolerable level. C.J. Date is quite clear on this; well, he … Read more
08 July 2008
08 July 2008

VB.NET: The Ugly Duckling

One of the greatest pleasures of programming in C# is that wonderful, giddy, feeling of superiority one has over VB.NET programmers. In C#, one has a vague awareness that what one is doing has elegance and style. It must be the effect of the curly braces. By contrast, VB.NET steadfastly maintains its status as the … Read more
24 June 2008
24 June 2008

SQL Server Tumbleweed Awards

Several parts of SQL Server look as though they were started and then suddenly abandoned. The classic example is the TEXT datatype. Phil Factor has a theory on most things, and in this case it’s that the programmer responsible for implementing the TEXT datatype at Microsoft succumbed to the unbearable pressure of the job, one … Read more
06 June 2008
06 June 2008

CLR, beer and turkey

It is strange that two important programming techniques in a SQL Server Database can’t be done in TSQL. The first is, of course, being able to read multiple results from a stored procedure. You can do it in ODBC/ADO and so on, but not in TSQL. The other obvious failing is that one cannot write … Read more
27 May 2008
27 May 2008

The Object-oriented Orthodoxy and the DBA

Server Management Objects (SMO) is a very impressive product. SMO (and its previous incarnation, SQL-DMO) is essentially an object-oriented interface into the management of SQL Server installations and databases. It provides an intuitive way for the VB or C# programmer to automate any operation that can be performed via SSMS. We’ve run a few SMO … Read more
13 May 2008
13 May 2008

The DBA Daily Checklist

The average DBA has to perform many routine checks on his or her servers. There will be daily checks, weekly checks and, probably, monthly checks. A short while ago, we were having quite a debate about what items would be on the DBA Daily checklist. Because we all like lists with ten items in them, … Read more
29 April 2008
29 April 2008

Bad Database Security

The Daily WTF recently reported that the Sexual and Violent Offender Registry of Oklahoma had to shut down its website for ‘routine maintenance’. It turns out that this routine maintenance was necessary because 10,597 social security numbers from sex offenders had been downloaded, by SQL injection. Sadly, this is not an isolated case. There has … Read more
01 April 2008
01 April 2008

That ain’t a database, it’s a spreadsheet!

“That ain’t a database, it’s a spreadsheet!” From the Sayings of Phil Factor There is a world of difference between an enterprise-level relational database and a ‘repository of persistent data’. Until you’ve had the experience of dealing with a high-volume, high-transaction database with large amounts of data, the truth of this doesn’t really hit home. … Read more
17 March 2008
17 March 2008

Not the right place

Many orthodoxies, or ‘truisms’, exist in IT; rules of programming that emerge in the light of shared experience and are then passed on from programmer to programmer and instilled as “the right way” to tackle a certain problem. The difficulty is that many of these truisms persist long after advances in technology have rendered them … Read more
27 February 2008
27 February 2008

How should you layout code?

It is strange to see the heat generated over arguments about how code should be formatted. With Visual Studio, of course, it isn’t much of an issue, as it is done for you, but the closer you get to the ‘live free and die’ communities of the LAMP platforms, the more contentious it gets. Likewise, … Read more
12 February 2008
12 February 2008

SQL Server Diagnostics

SQL Server diagnostics are a mess. To monitor the well-being of a server, you need to be able to inspect all logged errors, have a whole raft of performance information, WMI data, and be able to study the history of backups and scheduled jobs. You have to monitor server downtime, low disk space, low physical … Read more
29 January 2008
29 January 2008

Katmai: Ship date or ship-shape?

By now, most of you will have read the news of the delay in releasing SQL Server 2008. It all seems fairly typical Microsoft, though I wouldn’t want to be overly critical, even if the bizarre blog announcement, written in strangled Dalek-speak, was almost beyond parody (although Phil Factor had a good attempt). In reality, … Read more
22 January 2008
22 January 2008

The Decline of IE and the rise of browser-based desktop applications

Until recently, the Internet Explorer V8 group had been a pretty taciturn bunch. However, a few weeks ago, Dean Hachamovitch suddenly popped up with a blog entry announcing that the new IE8 browser had passed the Web Standards Project ‘Acid2’ test. The blog was full of aspirations about Microsoft’s commitment to standards, and their Acid2 … Read more
08 January 2008
08 January 2008

TSQL and the Tower of Babel

It is always a bit of a strain to program in several languages at once. A simple task like writing a database-driven website will involve you in at least three, maybe more. The experience of diving into JavaScript, VB.NET, and TSQL, all at once, is one that most human brains aren’t, in evolutionary terms, designed … Read more
15 November 2007
15 November 2007

LINQ and vNext

The history of IT is littered with the corpses of software companies that assumed that a solution that worked well in particular circumstances would necessarily become a generic panacea. Who, for example, now remembers the past giants of the Workflow industry? The Orcas chrysalis is now hatching into the Visual Studio 2008 butterfly. Well, most … Read more
31 October 2007
31 October 2007

What are the most innovative .NET tools?

We all have our favourite websites. Not the ones we read as part of our job, but the ones we scan whilst munching sandwiches at the desk or, surreptitiously, during an application build process. I’m hooked on giveawayoftheday.com at the moment. It is a site that gives away licensed software. It features a different product … Read more
18 September 2007
18 September 2007

Registering for PASS: the deadly game

MONDAY, 17 September 2007 On a slightly overcast Denver Monday morning, I strolled into the Colorado Convention Centre, intent on registering for the PASS conference. I stared in wonderment at the distinctive blue bear, entered the building, and followed the sign for “PASS registration”. I duly approached the registration desk. “Hi, I’m here to register” … Read more