Editorial Republish: Mercenary

I’m out at the Redgate Data Privacy Summit today, so I’ve republished Mercenary.

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Ten Years at Redgate

This year was my 10th anniversary of working for Redgate. The actual date was a bit ago, but they held off my celebration until I came over. These are nice at Redgate, better than at some companies where I’ve seen someone in management just give a mention during a company meeting and a token gift. At Redgate we get a really nice gift, which was a Garmin Forerunner 645 for me.


At Redgate, the CEO comes around and does a 5-10 minute speech on the person, with some of his thoughts and memories, and also shares some stories that others in the company have sent in. There is usually a few embarrassing notes, and in my case, I got this picture, which is likely one that everyone thought would generate the most red from me. It didn’t, though I don’t think there are any really embarrassing pictures or video for me.


There was actually another 10 year anniversary the same day, for Tom Austin. He got a nice bike to ride, and got to share an embarrassing karaoke video with the company. Tom definitely turned red.

It’s interesting because I’ve known our CEO for almost the entire lifetime of his company, since 2002. He was the first customer of mine at SQLServerCentral and now almost 16 years later I’m working for him.

He had some nice things to share, and I also got to stand up and speak for a few minutes about my memories and the times I’ve enjoyed with the company. It was nice.

I also got a large custom card, full of photos. Some memories from it:

A goofy picture at some event. I saw a camera and made a face. It’s also neat to see myself dressed up for our annual awards at Christmas.


So much of my time at Redgate has been events, many of which have gone off amazingly well thnks to the efforts of Annabel (center below). She and I have traveled all over the world to lots of cities, venues, restaurants, and even a few running trails. My boss, Alice (below right) has been to a few, and we’ve shared lots of good times. Sometimes that wears me out.


SQLServerCentral is most of my career, but I definitely to get the chance to interact with customers and talk about our products. Of course, I’m on lots of stages, some of which are like speaking in a movie theater, which I’ve done as well.


The great Grant photo, but also some good trade show memories. My wife on stage with me at the Christmas awards. I’m thankful for all her support.


The current evangelism team. It’s a goo done. Not sure where I got that hat, but it certainly fit with my outfit at the Pass Summit. I also have enjoyed the times I’ve traveled with Carly to lots of events. She is amazing, and I miss her support and work ethic this year as she’s on maternity leave. At least she came to the office one day and let me hold little Elliot for an hour.

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I assume the top photos are from our 2012 SQL in the City tour of the US. The second one certainly is Chicago. Another great awards photo, which I was honored to host with our CEO last year.

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And the infamous horse photo. For one of our promotions, we wanted some different shots around Cambridge. At one point we went to a playground, and me being me, I jumped on a tow horse. The photo guy took at bunch after being slightly shocked at my antics.


We track these dates and a month or so before, the person’s manager needs to start collecting stories and planning a meeting for the employee’s anniversary. It’s a combination of a tribute and a roast, which the employee gets some input into. They pick their gift, since we want them to have something they’ll use. They also get to decide who comes, the entire company, one group, etc.

What’s strange with me is that I don’t know a ton of people in Cambridge, since I’m in and out, and we’ve had decent turnover. The guy that had his party an hour before me invited quite a few people, maybe 50-60. One of our popular IT guys had probably the whole company in Cambridge, well over 100 people, for his event a year or two ago.

I also can’t always remember who I know and don’t know, and it’s been a busy spring, so I decided to stick with my small Marketing group. I was more concerned I’d think to invite 20 people and then forget about 10 more, so a small ceremony for me. That’s fine, since I don’t love the individual accolades.

The work, which is a few people at random times across a month, and a few others that stop to think about their time with the employee and share stories, isn’t a lot, but it’s also not insignificant. This is a distraction, but it also helps us bond and be a little closer, celebrating a milestone together.

More companies could learn from this. It’s probably a $1000 ceremony with the gift, and certainly with the CEOs time, but it’s worth it.

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Music City Data

I’ve never spoken in Tennessee. I’ve wanted to visit, but the I’ve only managed to drive through a part of the state or transfer in the airport. That changes at the end of this month.

Music City Tech, a three day conference consisting of Coding, Agile, and Data tracks, takes place in Nashville on May 31-June 2. It’s at Vanderbilt University, and there are a lot of great sessions on the schedule.

I’ll be delivering two talks, one on DevOps and one on security/encryption on Saturday. I’m looking forward to the conference, with some great .NET and development talks on Thursday and Friday, with a nice spread of data talks on Saturday.

If you’re near the area, you can get tickets for a very reasonable price for the conference. I hope to see you there.

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Editorial Republish: The Value of Data

I’m busy today, in the Redgate office, rehearsing and practicing for the SQL Privacy Summit.

Today I’m republishing The Value of Data.

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Getting All Users

I saw someone that wanted to get all users from all databases on their instance. Seems like that ought to be simple, right?

The user wanted to use sp_MSforeachdb to query users, but wanted a single result set for all databases.  Why you need this, I’m not sure. I guess some auditing report. Or maybe looking to clean up and remove unnecessary users?

In any case, this turned out to be easy with a caveat. It’s not in one single statement..

DECLARE @MyUsers TABLE ( dbname VARCHAR(200), principalname VARCHAR(200), principalSID VARBINARY(MAX))
  INSERT @MyUsers
EXEC sp_MSforeachdb 'select ''?'', name, sid from [?].sys.sysusers'

SELECT top 1000
  FROM @myusers

Use the ? in the query to get the users from every db. Then store this in a table that you can pull back all the data.

This worked for me, though since I have some database names with a hypen (-) in them, I needed the brackets to get this to work.

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Reaching the Refactoring Redoubt with #SQLPrompt

I enjoy themes, and when I ran across the SQL Prompt Treasure Island, I had to take a few minutes and go through it. I wrote about Code Snippet Cove first, and this post finishes my movement around the map. The other items I’ve read about are:

Refactoring is Hard

One of the things that I struggle with, and I think many others do as well, is refactoring. Not that refactoring or changing code is hard, but remembering to get all the various places changed can be a challenge. It seems that any refactoring might change an item in three or four places, but then forget one more, which leads to bugs and embarrassment.

Fortunately, SQL Prompt has a few things to help. Smart Rename is one of these, which will let you know about all of the dependencies and places where code will change. This makes quick work of renames, which is something I’ve appreciate in other languages, but not T-SQL before this.

Note that renaming objects is still disruptive and can break connected applications, so this still should be undertaken with care, and in synchronization with renaming the objects in application code.

There are also the renaming of variables, which can be helpful when you realize that your short or obscure names aren’t helpful to others on your team.

Perhaps my favorite refactoring feature is the Encapsulate as New Stored Procedure. I think more people should be using stored procedures, and while we might experiment and develop code as a batch or query, we want to move this to a stored procedure. This feature makes this simple for developers, and it’s one you should ensure they know how to use.

There are other items in the treasure map, many of which are useful, but you’ll want to practice with them and decide which ones are most useful and helpful in your daily work.

If you haven’t tried SQL Prompt, download an eval today and give it a go. I bet you will love it and ask for your own copy.

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Interviewing Avatars

Imagine that you go to interview a candidate over Skype or even a phone call and the first thing you see or hear is: “Hi, my name is Hank, and I am an avatar. I will answer all your questions about Nick factually and completely, as if you’re talking directly to Nick. Are you still looking to fill this position?”

That’s a quote from a blog post about HR and hiring issues. In this post, the author talks about a new system that allows a job seeker to use an avatar as a way to quickly apply for thousands of jobs. While this might be nice for the applicant, would any of you want to interview an avatar? Maybe you would a few times, or maybe you’d even start to like this as a way to get some basic information about a candidate. Of course, if the candidate has loaded up all sorts of technical facts from Inside SQL Server or How Would You Move Mount Fuji, then maybe you’re less interested.

One one hand this is scary. On the other it’s awesome. I’d love to be able to answer some questions and provide some data about my career and goals and let an avatar go through initial screens. I wouldn’t want this to be used anywhere past the initial interview, but certainly it would help me to present a little more of myself in an interactive format. It could be a nice brand, and how fun would it be to interact with Steve’s avatar?

In some sense, we might move in this direction. After all, this just levels the playing field between candidates and employers. Plenty of recruiting and HR people use their own software or algorithms to make quick decisions about a large number of applicants. I certainly know that you need to stand out with your brand and ensure your resume and online profile attract attention and this could help with that.

Think about this. Is there a way to better present the data and information about ourselves, using technology to respond and help ensure that the position is a good fit for each of us? Hiring managers might use this, why not us? Actually, they are using Alex and Mya. Would this be a better way for you to control and show off some of your work? Even have the avatar show how you solved problems or responded to different situations? While this seems silly or science fiction, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of avatar-avatar interaction being used early in the process to decide if both parties should move forward.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 3.5MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and Libsyn.

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Finding Tabs in SSMS–#SQLNewBlogger

Another post for me that is simple and hopefully serves as an example for people trying to get blogging as #SQLNewBloggers.

Someone posted this as a question and I thought it was worth noting. I use SQL Prompt for formatting, and never worry if there are tabs in code, but I know there are people without this amazing tool.

I added some tabs to a script and want to replace them.

2018-05-04 09_50_15-SQLQuery1.sql - (local)_SQL2016.sandbox (PLATO_Steve (60))_ - Microsoft SQL Serv

I hit CTRL+H for the search and replace toolbar. The tab character is represented by a \t in a regular expression. I enter that, and then enter 4 spaces in the replace text box. I do need to click the “Use Regular Expressions” button, which is the one my arrow is on in the image below. It’s a little box with an asterisk in it

2018-05-04 09_51_39-SQLQuery1.sql - (local)_SQL2016.sandbox (PLATO_Steve (60))_ - Microsoft SQL Serv

When I do that, tabs are highlighted in SSMS.

2018-05-04 09_53_32-SQLQuery1.sql - (local)_SQL2016.sandbox (PLATO_Steve (60))_ - Microsoft SQL Serv

If I click “replace all”, I see 4 replacements, and if I check, the tabs are gone and spaces live.

2018-05-04 09_51_48-SQLQuery1.sql - (local)_SQL2016.sandbox (PLATO_Steve (60))_ - Microsoft SQL Serv


This is a quick post, an example of what you can do to show you’re building better work habits and learning about your tools.

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Power BI Desktop on the Mac

Power Bi is one of the neatest tools that Microsoft has built for data professionals. It allows anyone to build fantastic interactive visualizations that can help tell a story and help someone make decisions. There have been some amazing demo visualizations from Microsoft customers. I’ve seen a predictive maintenance visualization for airplanes, one for diabetes trends and a fun basketball visual. There are also a fantastic set of custom visual controls, quite a few of which are described in Devin Knights blog series.

If you don’t know anything about Power BI, there are lots of resources, including some amazing tips from the Guy in a Cube. Adam Saxton has an amazing channel and puts together some impressive videos with Patrick LeBlanc. They might be one of the best sources for learning to work with the tools. You might want to spend some time playing with Power BI as I can almost guarantee that you’ll build better reports with this tool than you would otherwise. You’ll impress your customers, clients, and boss with your design work.

Plenty of people have Mac laptops, especially business people, and for quite some time they’ve had to deal with a lack of native tooling. Certainly there are lots of software ports, and no shortage of web software, but there are always places where a lack of a native solution is problematic. I don’t know that we’ll get lots of software ported to a new OS, but there is a better solution. Containerization can help smooth the way.

A few years back I met the Kenji Obata, founder of Turbo.net. He was doing some interesting work with containers, and I was fascinated by their work. Since then, they’ve grown and refined their technology, and now they have Power BI for Mac available. As soon as I saw their walk-through video, I wanted to share the experience. It’s pretty amazing, and if I were still running OSX, I’d be looking to use some of the Microsoft tools I want on the native desktop.

This isn’t really native, but the experience feels native. The use of containerization technology might be debatable for databases, but for client applications, it’s amazing. The way that Turbo.net packages up applications is incredible. I like Turbo, and if you need to use Microsoft client applications on a Mac, you might give them a try. It’s not free, but it’s way better than virtualization and has some really cool features as well. I’m sure lots of non-technical people, especially management, that might build reports would love the experience of running Power Bi Desktop on their Mac.

They even have SSMS available as a turbo container for the Mac, if you’re interested.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 4.6MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and Libsyn.

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First Wave of Sessions for PASSSummit Now Available

The first wave of sessions for the #PASSSummit have been released. You can see the list at: http://www.pass.org/summit/2018/Learn/ConferenceSessions.aspx

I am honored to have a session on the list. This year, I’ll be doing a session called Minimizing the Impact of Data Breaches in Dev and Test Databases. This is a partner session, and I’ll talk about some of the issues with data security in your development area and show some ways that you can mitigate the problems.

There are some other really interesting sessions on the schedule, such as Ola’s  Analyzing Performance Problems Using XEvents, DMVs & Query Store and Faster SSIS from Andy Leonard.  Check out the complete list and start to find those sessions that will help you in your job. Use that information to help build a case for you to come to the Summit.

I expect we’ll see releases of more sessions across the next few weeks or months. Keep an eye out for new sessions so you can update your schedule.

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