Laptop Recommendations for 2019

Every few years I upgrade my laptop. I try to get through three years with them, and I’ve had some good success. At the same time, I’ve also had some wear out sooner, especially with the amount of travel that I do some years. I had one laptop last just a year before it started to constantly crash on me. That one was just out of warranty, which was a shame. Since then I’ve usually paid extra for a warranty to get a couple years of service out of each machine.

It’s not quite that time for me, but it’s getting close. My laptop is about 2 1/2 years old and I’m starting to have some thermal issues. Changes in temperature often cause a crash when I come out of hibernation, which isn’t what a traveling presenter likes to see. I’m also starting to have poor battery performance. A full charge recently netted me only about 3.5 hours before the battery warning came on at 20% left.

I have been pleased with my HP Spectre x360 model right now. It’s held up well and I’ve enjoyed using it. The arrow keys are a little oddly placed for me, but overall, everything else has worked well. There’s a new model, which is one of those I’m considering, but I am keeping an open mind.

This week, I’m asking you what models you might recommend that you’ve used. One you’ve owned or had a friend own that seems to perform well. Keep in mind that I travel quite a bit, so durability and weight matter.

I used to want a 32+GB RAM machine, but these days I do more in the cloud or with smaller demos, so I think 16GB is really the sweet spot for me. A fast CPU and 512GB-1TB storage is nice. I’ve done well with 512 across the last two years, but you never know how things will change, so a 1TB is something I’m considering. As much as I’ve enjoyed USB-C, I still sometimes like the convenience of USB-A, especially when on the go and not wanting to pull out some sort of adapter (like on a plane).

Let me and others know this week which models have worked well for you. While many of us don’t necessarily get the choice of brand, some do, and many might be able to influence the model that they receive. Most of us want a laptop we enjoy using, and having a few recommendations gives us confidence that we’ll choose one that works well for the next few years.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher or iTunes.

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SQL in the City Comes Back to Seattle

This year at the PASS Summit, Redgate is holding our SQL in the City Summit as one of the pre-con events at the conference. You can add this in as a part of your conference registration and come learn about DevOps and how to build the best software development process for your database. We’ll focus on the Redgate solutions, but our speakers will talk about the general practices and ideas as well.

sitc-summit-social 1200x630- Seattle

We’ll just give specific examples with the amazing Redgate Toolbelt tools.

I’ll be there on Monday, Nov 4, for our SQL in the City and hopefully I’ll see a few of you there as well. Kendra and I also have a pre-con talk on Tuesday on development patterns, so you can add in both and spend two days with me.

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More Network Restrictions

This past year has seen quite a rise in ransomware attacks. Certainly some big ones (Baltimore, Florida) are reported in the media, but there are lots of smaller ones that don’t make the news. As I’ve been attending some events in the last couple months, I’ve talked to various people that disclose they’ve had ransomware issues. Most of those didn’t make the news, but the events did cause IT staffs to scramble, work long hours, and forgo other tasks that might be improving the organization or helping customers.

We know that there will be attacks on our organizations in the future, and some of them may be successful. Almost everyone is regularly attacked, though most are repelled with simple firewalls and better coding to prevent SQL injection. There are other things we can do, and certainly other groups in IT that need to worry about systems, but I suspect we’ll start to see one more change in how we work.

Recently I was accepted to speak at SQL Saturday Memphis and really enjoyed the trip. However, when practicing one of my demos early in the am, I had trouble connecting to some remote resources. It wasn’t obvious what the issue was, and since I wasn’t in control of the endpoint for demos, I worried that the instratructure had an issue. Not what you want to see on a Saturday before a demo.

Eventually I narrowed this down to port 1433 being blocked. Not a big deal as I had a VPN, but certainly something to be concerned about for a database professional. However, then I thought about the ransomeware and other security issues many organizations have had. Maybe some restrictions are a good thing.

I wrote about networking segmentation, as did Joey D’Antoni, and I think this is where we will move in the future. After the SQL Slammer worm, plenty of organizations changed networking policy to hide port UDP 1434, which was good. I think some have gotten lazy, and the security issues we are seeing today might change things.

That’s going to mean less access for people to connect to machines. That also means we need to think about DevOps style automation pipelines for code. We need to learn more about how to let machines run scripts for us and limit access. That way if our machine is attacked, we won’t necessarily be able to spread the issues to servers. We’ll still have plenty of other machines that might get hacked, but hopefully we can protect our servers.

Security has become a bigger part of the job for all IT pros, and certainly critical for database pros. I hope that most of you embrace more stringent security and not try to circumvent it. Use automation, proxies, and more to keep your systems secure. And if they don’t quite work as you’d want them to, learn how to adjust them and work with the system, not against it.

Steve Jones

Listen to the podcast at Libsyn, Stitcher or iTunes.

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Setting Permissions for a SQL Server backup folder–#SQLNewBlogger

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

While testing a script recently, I needed to set a few backup folders for my instance. This was a striped backup, and using one folder wouldn’t make sense. In modern OSes, we can’t just create a folder and expect that our processes can read it. We need to explicitly set permissions.

It’s fairly easy for SQL Server, but since it wasn’t obvious, I decided to take a minute and document this.

If I create a folder, say c:\sqlbackup, I see this kind of thing in properties on my Window 10 machine.

2019-10-08 14_53_19-SQLBackup Properties

If I click “Edit”, I get a similar view.

2019-10-08 14_53_27-Permissions for SQLBackup

Now, my SQL Server process can’t access this. If I try to restore a backup from here, I’ll get a permissions error.

That’s fine. In the Permissions, I can click Add and I’ll get this dialog.

2019-10-08 14_53_35-Select Users or Groups

From here, I can enter “NT Service\MSSQLServer” or “NT ServiceMSSQL$SQL2017” for a named instance. My named instance is SQL2017.  Note the space in “NT Service”

2019-10-08 15_00_49-Select Users or Groups

If I click the “Check Names”, this will resolve for the built in service account.

2019-10-08 15_00_53-Select Users or Groups

Then I can click OK and set the appropriate permissions.

If your service account is something not built in, it’s usually easy to find and add, but for build in accounts, you need the “NT Service”.


You can take a simple thing here that you needed to solve and write about it. This took my about 5 minutes to solve, playing with different names, and then about 5 minutes to write.

Showcase your knowledge today.

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