Wednesday, December 24, 2008

16 random thoughts and things...

I originally saw a similar post on a Friend's Facebook, and wanted to join in. I posted my results onto my Facebook, and now copy it here for others to read.

Even though it is not a SQL Blog, or related to IT, or even remotely linked to any of my hobbies or family life, I felt that from time to time, its nice to look behind the curtain of people's lives and see them for people, just like you and me.

When I posted this to Facebook, I also tagged people to do the same. In turn, they have done so and I have learned a lot about some of the folks that I follow on the intertubes.

If you read this and decide to post one similar, add a comment with a link to your rendition, so we can learn about you.


Rules: Once you've been tagged, you're supposed to create a note about yourself with 16 random thoughts, facts, goals, interesting things about yourself and tag 16 or more of your friends (including the person who tagged you). If you've been tagged, it's because someone wants to learn more about you!

1. I have lived in areas that have suffered from earthquakes (California, Utah, Argentina) but have never felt one myself. All areas i have lived in, have had earthquakes when I wasn't there.

2. I have never eaten a hotdog from a gas station.

3. I grew and wore a beard after getting married for 10 years. Shaved it on a whim, and freaked out my entire family. My children cried that they didnt know who i was.

4. During college, during a computer science hardware course, i successfully burnt up a resistor. I was told i shouldnt have been able to do that.

5. I have been slalom waterskiing for 20 years.

6. I grew up with a dislike for Cheesecake. Having tried it once in college on a date (my date made it for me), and I found it to be not that bad. However, since i had lived so long disliking it, I chose to revert to disliking it and have never had another piece since.

7. I dated a girl from South Africa for a short while.

8. One of my best friends dated and married a girl I dated and went out with for a time.

9. I have fractured my sturnum, and broke my arm, ankle and wrist.

10. I am an avid reader. It started with my parents paying my 25 cents to read a book. Once i got into the habit, they stopped paying me, but i didnt stop reading.

11. All my hobbies have a need for speed. Waterskiing, snowskiing, dirtbiking, racquetball, woodworking.

12. My first name is Todd

13. I will create things with Polymer Clay often. Christmas ornaments, gifts for neighbors, snowmen representing our family for Christmas, earings and pendants, and many other objects as the creative mood hits.

14. I have a great spacial sense and memory. I can revisit a place i was in many years prior and recall it.

15. I love cheese. All forms, all states, all kinds. If a meal is missing anything, its probably cheese.

16. I have read my spanish scriptures daily since serving a mission for my church in 88-90. Having been told by the prophet at that time that if we continue to read the scriptures in our learned language, we'd never loose it. And i consider myself fluent in Spanish, but out of practice. Given the opportunity to speak, i can get back into it easily.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The other day I blogged a list of 'My Firsts'. Simple things like first kiss, first state I lived in, and so on.

After reading this blog post, a twitter friend replied that he really enjoyed it. This was over twitter, of course. I went on to tell him that I had wanted to do one about SQL Server Firsts, and needed help. He came up with a couple 'Firsts', as did I. We did this on Twitter, and before we knew it, 40 tweets had come in with different ideas on 'Firsts'. All this occurred in the Twitterverse in under 1 hour.
I am sure that more are to come.

So, here are some sample ones i had come up with prior to this Twitter Attack.

1. table created without indexes
2. dropped data
3. dropped procedure
4. dropped table
5. dropped database
6. caused corruption

Now, I will proceed to unveil the ones that came in over the Twitterverse, giving props to the tweeps that tweeted them. Think about these, apply them to yourself. When did you do similar actions? which ones have you not done, thankfully?

1. checked "boost priority"

1. setup transactional replication

1. First time you forgot a where clause for an update or delete statement

1. Delete from XACT --Where XACTId = 102455312

1. corrected a developers faulty delete script and forgot a parenthesis, resulting in a 56M row delete that then had to be restored
2. Accidentally "Denied All" on SSO users table to to Authenticated Users

1. 1st time you accidentally deleted the Customers table in production replaced deeply nested cursors with a single set based operation (that was a rewarding day)
2. wrote SELECT * FROM table that made it into production
3. The first time I looked at an execution plan and understood what was going on.

1. When you dropped a table from production?
2. First time you truly grokked set-based SQL instead of doing things procedurally?
3. Tuned a query from 30 minutes down to less than one?

1. Built first sql cluster
2. Locked sql service acct due to rdp w/ a bad pwd
3. Stepped on stage for 1st time to host SQL Quizbowl. May have peed myself a little.

1. rebuilding index during production day
2. manual failover of cluster during production day
3. use ent mgr to reposition a column in table
4. old auditor that you had no idea how logins get added to a server
5. completely filled backup drive
6. pipe trace to table, fill data drive on prod server
7. Passed cert exams
8. attend PASS
9. migrate from sybase to mssql #
10. all developer to the mat because they knew crap about tsql and db design
11. wrote first article (for SSC)
12. presented talk at PASS
13. wrote first article for simple-talk
14. attend first PASS volunteer outing at Billy Bob's
15. server powered down because of routine building power outage would not come back up
16. rebuild master

1. started a job, instead of viewing history
2. created a history table on oltp system, forgot PK, clustered and non clustered indexes, just a heap
3. used tsql to perform backup, not the UI
4. created a trigger
5. wrote a cursor
6. then wrote a cursor that never stopped
7. then wrote a cursor that never stopped, and inserted too many records
8. wrote a ShowContig, got the results, and understood them
9. wrote a Show_Statistics, got the results, and understood them
10. performed index maintenance on a ginormous table, in production, during day, during busiest time of day
11. understood coalesce
12. presented on a SQL topic you knew little about to a large crowd
13. wrote first article for SQL Server Central
14. wrote first article for
15. started a transaction. performed an update. confirmed update succeeded. went to lunch. got a phone call...
16. created a Crystal report against SQL Server db
17. created a Reporting Services report against SQL Server db
18. moved master db
19. moved tempdb

For a full list of those that were tweeted, and others not present here, check out the Search feature of Twitter at and see how many #sqlfirsts are there. More have shown up since last night. I am sure that more will come in as time marches along.

I will gather more of these, clean them up, and sometime present them as a more cohesive list of SQL firsts. I believe that it's important for each of us to review items like this from time to time, and make a mental note of where we are in our respective career paths. We can then better realize that we all have made mistakes, all have learned different things along the way, and more importantly, can all help each other out. That is why you are reading this far anyway, you have a desire to learn more, to help yourself, and possibly help others. Reflect on how far you have come, and make goals for how far you need to go.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Firsts

I saw this on a friends blog, and thought it was an interesting idea.  I will attempt to answer these personal questions. 

My Firsts

1. Who was your FIRST prom date? 
Can't remember her name, remember the red dress.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? 

4. What was your FIRST job?
Glass shop in Tehachapi, Ca

5. What was your FIRST car? 
Datsun 710 station wagon

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? 
No one yet.

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? 
My Wife

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? 
Mrs. Huff

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane ride? 
Utah, to goto the Missionary Training Center

10. Who was your FIRST best friend and are you still friends with him/her? 
Todd Appling.  We reconnected recently over the internet.

11. What will be your FIRST thought when you wake up tomorrow morning? 
Do i have to really get up? can i snooze a bit more?

12. Where was your FIRST sleep over? 
No idea.  Probably my cousin Rick's in Simi Valley

13. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today? 
My wife

14. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? 
My own

15. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? 
snoozed my alarm

16. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? 
Beach Boys at summer fair in Bakersfield.  Stood on hay and watched them sing 20 yr old songs.

17. FIRST tattoo or piercing? 

18. Who was your FIRST kiss from? 
M'Lissa Weeks

19. Who was your FIRST boss? 
Everyone at the glass shop thought they were my boss

20. When was your FIRST detention? 

21. What was the FIRST state you lived in? 

22. Who was the FIRST person to really break your heart?
see answer to 18

23. Who was your FIRST roommate? 
My cousin Rick at BYU, Hinckly Hall

Cloud Computing and me

I was just reading in SQL Server Magazine an article about Cloud Computing, and agree with the premise the author portrayed.  Its a new hyped tech, and its something to get excited about.  I have been in IT for some time now, and have seen a lot of ideas come to the forefront, and make it big, while others, with excitement behind them, never really went anywhere.  

As an IT professional, its important to 'know' about these techs, but not necessarily buy in or follow the crowd.  I have tried hard to keep up with these new techs and simply keep myself aware of them.  If they seem to have the capacity to impact my career and employment, then I have to learn about it.  Otherwise, simple knowledge is necesitated.

So, along comes the latest 'hyped tech', Cloud Computing.  As far as it impacts me, its the opportunity for businesses to push their databases into the cloud, which pushes it away from the traditional DBA, and into a service delivery or supscription based business.  I would assume that a hosting company that offers 'Cloud' services would retain a few DBA's on their IT staff, so some jobs will simply shift from one company to another.  This sucks if you are the DBA that gets nixed because your shop pushed your databases into the 'Cloud'.  Its rocks for the DBA at the hosting company that maintans those databases.  Its a different gig than most of us are used too, as they would be in charge of many many databases.

But on a larger scale, some folks have predicted the demise of the DBA as we know it, with the advent of the 'Cloud'.  This may be true in a small scale, but I do not believe it to be so in the laerger picture.  Obviously there will be changes.  There are always changes.  I remember the day, while as a db developer, I touted the abilities of SQL Server to the tune that you didnt need a DBA to run and maintain it in your shop.  Fast forward a few years, and I have based my career direction exactly on top of the opposite of that premise.  I have become the SQL Server DBA that maintains your databases, the same ones I told you didn't need a DBA. It just happened that way.  So, we have to admit that there have been changes in our career paths over the last 10 years anyway.  Most DBA's are not born DBA's. They come from Development or Networking.  Meaning that they were programmers/developers/etc that touched the database, and soon became the experts, morphing themselves into DBA's.  Or they were on the networking/administration/etc side, and ended up having to install and support databases, and like devs, became the experts on the database, and morphed.  While I was in college, I took a database class, and thought, this would be cool to work with, but at the time, my options were to become a developer, not directly a DBA.  The experience that I gained from being on the other side of the fence has greatly improved my perspective as a DBA, and I wouldnt have it any other way.

Back to the 'Cloud'.  Think about your shop.  Your data.  Is the data important?  It had better be... Is it important that your data is secure?  You betcha.  Can unauthorized people see or access your data?  No way!  How many of your shops are constrained by SOX or HIPPA or SAS70 or some other auditing and compliance initiative?  How many of your shops encrypt your data to protect it from others? How many of you are actively monitoring your systems for intrusion?

My point in bringing all this up is that simply pushing your entire database into the 'Cloud' does not solve these issues.  I believe it opens a can of worms that will be difficult to overcome to secure and contain all these tasks.  There may be a way with 'Cloud' computing, but I don't see it yet.  I'm sure that there will be work in this direction, but in the meantime, its important to me to see how this may/will affect me.  

As I have been involved in many database with Auditing & Copmpliance issues, I don't see this data being pushed into the 'Cloud' right away.  Maybe pieces of the application can be broken up, and stored there.  Maybe we can have pieces, less secure pieces, out there in the 'Cloud'.  Some have suggested that GMail or similar mail apps are likely candidates for the 'Cloud'.  With this thought in mind, what parts of your business solutions could be pushed into the 'Cloud'?  I bet there are pieces that would reside there happily.  Support systems, internal applications, etc.   For example, we have a ticketing system that is hosted locally.  There are IT staff that are dedicated to its upkeep.  If cost is an issue, these positions could be removed and the application pushed into the 'Cloud', fairly easily.  Reassign the IT folks to other duties, let them spend less time supporting this 'Other' application, and let it go.  I'm betting there are many parts of your business, your daily processing, your web presence, that can happily reside elsewhere.  There will be issues with this, and its different.  But change is inevitable.  Maybe even your core database can reside elsewhere, in the 'Cloud', once some of the problems are faced and fixed.  I don't see a shop pushing their entire dbs out there yet.  Someday, maybe, but along the way, many changes will occur.

I don't see this as the demise of my job as a DBA, but I do see it as another way to more efficiently run a business, and unfortunately, I am only one cog in the wheel of my business.  No matter how important and influential I believe I am, and how vital my position is, I am just one piece of the puzzle.  I hope that I can continue to leverage my skills I currently wield, as well as be able to pick up new tricks.  In the end, I wanna work with databases.  Be it that those database reside in some server room somewhere, supported by an IT staff that maintains the hardware for me and network connections and monitors the SLA's and systems, or in my company, in some server room somewhere, supported by an IT staff that maintains the hardware for me and network connections and monitors the SLA's and systems.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Copy Paste goofed in Remote Desktop

Have you ever been remoted into a server, and your copy/paste seems to be dead?  
Not within the Remote Server itself, from from Remote to local.  This seems to occur to me ofttimes and i am unable to copy and paste things between the sessions.  This can be very aggravating when i am attempting to do certain operations. 

Someone at my company (Cybersource), informed us of a process that can be used to fix this issue.
In a command prompt, you can do the following.
    taskkill /F /IM rdpclip.exe /fi "USERNAME eq TBELT" && start rdpclip.exe

Each time i needed to execute this, i had to look it up, and copy it to the remote server.  Wait, i can't copy it... thats why i am having to do this.  So i would bring it up in notepad on my local machine, then retype it.  I hope i can hear you growning at this point, because senseless use of the keyboard is a hugely prohibitive issue for me.  If i cant copy/paste it, i feel dirty.

So, when i type it in to a new Remote Server, i add in a batch file on my desktop with this code in it.  I can simply execute it form the desktop now, whenever i have this issue.

Try it out.  It has been a great help to me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

SQL Quiz Part 2

I got tagged by SQLBatman to take part in Chris Shaw's quiz. 

From Chris's original Post : 


So here are the rules, please answer the question with at least two answers, once you have completed the answer please tag 2 people that you know to answer the questions as well. If you get tagged by this Quiz please let me know I would like to add all the results to the bottom of this blog so all the answers are in one place. 


The Questions for this quiz…

What are the largest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome those?


Here are my Answers…

1.  I was employed at my second job out of college for 5 years.  It was a small family owned business.  In the beginning, I was told that I would have job there for life.  Well, 5 years later, my boss called me into his office on an afternoon, and fired me.  He stated a few things that were rather random, said he didn’t have time to discuss it, and took off to goto a baseball game.

This was devastating.  In an effort to understand, I introverted and tried to see what I could do better.  Recalling mentoring discussions from this boss reminded me that I had a hard working well with others.  Having always struggled with my confidence, college allowed me to have received a descent education and gain some of that missing confidence.  I had overcompensated and become a pain to work with.  Always being busy, which lead me to be short with others, especially those that didn’t know the same things that I did.  I had gained a feeling and attitude of superiority.  And this translated into not working well with others.  They were idiots of course, and I was so much smarter.  

So in my next jobs, I tried hard to make myself smart, but not at the cost of being superior.  I constantly strive to be friendly and helpful and mentor, all the while attempting to learn more myself.  I believe I have made great inroads in this skill, and have a long way too go.  I have made and kept a lot of friends.  I have had groups and individuals express that I am a pleasure to work with.  Long way to go to be perfect, but I took a down time in my career, and tried to make lemonade out of it.


2.  Being the first DBA in a group that maintained an application with financial data and being forced into SOX compliance with no history of audits.  We had to become compliant in short order.  No processes existed, no history of data collected. No auditable trails to show off.  Some DBA's would cringe at this, and avoid it entirely.  Somewhere in the beginning, I think my brain broke, and i accepted the challenge.  

I was able to produce documentation for most of the control items in our process for the database.  Code was written and implemented that allowed us to monitor and report on activities in the database.  Changed jobs, security, permissions, updates, inserts, deletes, ddl changes, failed logins, etc.  A plethora of tools and knowledge came out of this scenario.  I became quick friends with the internal auditor and gained an insight most DBA's didnt have into the auditing world.  I went on to present my learning to user groups and internal customers as well as produce several articles detailing the work and systems produced.  Not grand at any scale, just one DBA with an appreciation for SOX, and understanding of how it can help out, an acceptance of its existence, and an agreement between me and it to cohabitate.


I tag Grant and Pat.  I may have to let them know via other means to ensure that this keeps going.  I would hate to be the deadend blogger that killed the quiz.


Twitter : what do i use?

What tools have i used to better grasp value from my Twitter experience?  Let me share them with ya.

Tools to Tweet from

Web :  

I used this for the first part of my Twitter life.  Became a pain to always be refreshing it. Still use the web when i need short sweet tweets, sitting with my laptop somewhere, in a conference, etc. But I have moved beyond this tool to others.


PC : TweetDeck, Twhirl

Both these apps have their good and bad points.  

I tried Tweetdeck first.  Love that it notifies me when tweets come in.  Love that it has multiple groups, columns of data, etc. Do not like the black background.

I tried Twhirl when I changed my password and Tweetdeck simply stopped working, with no way to alter the password.  Twhirl has an interesting transparency feature when you are not active on the app.  It also keeps good track of where i was reading, which tweets have been read.  It colors them well too, so i can visually see responses, direct messages, etc.  

I have both these tools installed in multiple machines, and use them both interchangebly.


Mobile : Twitterberry, Twibble, Blackbird, TinyTwitter.

Twitterberry : by far my favorite app so far for my Blackberry phone.  It has a clean crips interface. Links work well. Refreshes occur easily. Upgraded versions, and love new version even more. I can set the start screen up, and always goto friends timelines first.

Twibble, i struggled to like.  It started on friends timeline, so i liked that.  But tweeting needed to traverse through a few menus to find it.  Hotkeys were nice, except i didnt use them all, and would inadvertantly hit one and end up somewhere i had never been before.  When i altered the interface colors, i started liking it, since it was previously dark and black, and ugly, in my opinion.  The new color scheme is nicer to me.  But i still dont like it better than twitterberry.

TinyTwitter: someone suggested this app, so i downloaded it and tried it out.  I am simply waiting to remember to remove it from my phone.  Enough said.




Web based productivity or reporting tools



this is a fun site, and i suggest you visit it often to see how you are doing and using the tool of Twitter.  This has information about when you tweet most, during the day, and what day of the week.  What tools you have used to tweet from. Who you have replied too most often.

The charts are neat to look at and colored well.  A very informative site on your use of Twitter.


Twitmarks - Mark your gender

This website lets you put in a username, and it tries to guess whether you are male or female.  Not much use beyond the fun factor. But when someone tries your name, and it comes back 64% chance you are a female, you take notice and try to up your 'man' score.  Thanks to watching 24 one night, i am up to 99% male.  whew!

Super powerful to search all of the Twitterverse.  Put in words here, or #tags to find topics.  I grew up in a small town in California, and put that name into the search screen. Tehachapi. I was amazed at the people talking about my hometown. 

Expand this search capabilities to your minds limitations.  Amazing things can come from searching out whats been tweeted.

Twitter blog

Take some time to read through some other peoples thoughts on Twitter here.  Interesting stuff. 


Tweet Take

Back Up your Twitterings!


Tweet Scan

This let me download my tweets.  Better than Tweettake  did.  But i did have to supply my password.


Mr Twitter

A great little tool that analyzes your tweets, connections, etc.  Gives you a report of prople you should be following and other influential folks.



This is the list i could find off the top of my head, and from my browser history.  I am sure there are more out there.  Add them to the comments section and we'll see how big of a list we can provide to folks.