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SQL Server DBA Tips & Tricks

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Sharing Remote Desktop Sessions

I work for a very large company where divisions are spread out literally all over the world. There are many times where I have to confer with someone else remotely in order to get something done or figure out an issue. When working on a server we all know and love using Remote Desktop to connect but did you know there’s a way to share your session so both parties can interact? Well did you know it’s built in to Windows 2003/2008?

To do this is actually quite simple and I’m surprised it’s not more well known. The first step is to remote in to your server as you normally would. Once you’re logged in, go to the Terminal Services Manager by clicking on the Start button, going to Administrative Tools and then opening Terminal Services Manager (NOTE: In 2008, Terminal Services manager is in it’s own Terminal Services folder under Administrative tools)

Once you open Terminal Services Manager you’ll see a box showing which users are currently logged into the system. The icon with the little guy’s green head is your session. Other sessions will show up with a white head (no, not the Clearasil variety).

Now right click the other user’s session and select Remote Control from the context menu. You’ll be asked which hotkey combination you want to use to end the remote session. By default the star key on your numeric pad + Ctrl key will end your session. Click OK to accept this default.

Once you click ok the other person will be prompted if they want to share their session. Once they accept you’ll be connected to their session! This allows both of you to control the same session so you can both type, move windows, check out settings, etc. Once you’re done simply hold down the Ctrl key and hit the star (*) key on your numeric pad to exit the session (assuming you used default escape Hot Key combination). This is a built-in function of Windows Server and makes a handy tool when collaborating with co-workers!

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Presenting at SQLSaturday #40 – South Florida

I'M ON A BOAT!

This is just a quick note to say that I’ll be in South Florida this weekend presenting at SQLSaturday #40. This weekend and the following week are particularly awesome for a few reasons:

  1. My birthday is Friday!
  2. Look at this lineup, it’s PACKED with #awesomesauce
  3. SQL BBQ on Sunday
  4. SQL Cruise next week!!!!

So…yeah, it’s going to be an awesome week for sure. On Saturday I’ll be presenting two sessions:

If you’re there please come say hi, even better come to my sessions! If not, don’t worry I won’t be offended as I’m going up against some awesome sessions (although I’ve noticed a trend where I always end up in same time slots as Brent!). So if you’re in South Florida area come join us, it’s free! Sessions start at 8:30 and go until about 4:30-5. Also even if you’re not attending you can connect with all attendees and speakers via the networking page. Hope to see you there!

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Tour de Career: Team Roles

In cycling each team is made up of nine riders. Each rider on a team can have a different specialization. A careful balance of skill sets on a team can determine if a team will stand triumphant on a champion’s podium at the end of the day or simply fade into obscurity. Today we’re going to talk about how a team works together to reach their final destination successfully.

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Tour de Career: Prologue

Tour de Career

It’s July and for some that means baseball and bar-b-ques. For me it means my birthday and Tour de France time. For those living in a cave, the Tour de France is the most prestigious professional bike race in the world lasting three weeks. Riders race all around France with the conclusion of the race occurring in the heart of Paris on the Champs-Élysées. Inspired by one of my mentors, Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter); who wrote a fantastic series of articles about the software business, I have decided to write my own professional development series on career development. In this series of articles I’ll be discussing various parts of career and professional development and how it mirrors the journey of the Tour de France. So strap on your helmet, jump on your career bikes and let’s start pedaling!

Prologue

Since this race spans a three week period, the race itself is broken up into  stages which last one day. Each day the stage is made up of a different route which can vary in distance, difficulty and terrain (e.g. flat areas, mountain, rolling hills). The very first stage of a Tour is referred to as the prologue. This is a short trial which determines who will be the designated leader for the race and wear the coveted yellow jersey.

At the beginning of our professional journey we all sit there at the start line looking at the long road ahead with anxiety, excitement and maybe even some nervousness. That’s okay! The important thing to remember is that this journey is a long tour and there will be many peaks and valleys before you reach that podium in Paris. This first stage is not so much where you set your pace for the race (as you’ll have plenty of chances along the way to change your tempo) but rather where you want to position yourself for the coming stages.

Some of us start our journey slower than others and start off towards the back of the pack while others come bursting out of the gates looking to wear that yellow jersey first. The thing to remember during this time is that this is only the start and you have a lot of road ahead to make up any lost time. Again, it’s important to emphasize that this journey is not a sprint so don’t lose heart if you feel “you’re behind everyone else”. In fact, as we’ll cover later, that position can actually be beneficial!

In the coming weeks we’ll be talking about all sorts of things you’ll face on the your career Tour. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the coming stages:

  • Team Tactics – Cycling has many tactics and every member of a team has his role to play. Are you playing yours?
  • Cancer Stinks But Your Attitude is what Matters – Adversity comes along what do you? Take a page from Lance Armstrong’s playbook and kick it in the teeth. You can give up or forge ahead and win big, you decide.
  • The End of a Stage Isn’t the End of the Race – You can be proud of your accomplishments today but don’t forget that you have more riding to do tomorrow.
  • Crashes, Walls and Bad Days – Every day isn’t full of sunshine and smooth roads. Sometimes you’ll crash, sometimes the cobblestones make it a rough ride. It’s how you deal with these obstacles that matters most.

 

To keep up to date with our team’s progress for the race, subscribe to my blog’s team radio channel (aka RSS feed). Hope you enjoy the ride!

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T-SQL Tuesday #008: Gettin’ Schooled

Here we go again with another round of T-SQL Tuesday fun this time brought to you by recent SQL Certified Master (MCM), SQL University professor, and my brother from another mother Robert Davis (Blog | Twitter).

This month’s topic is actually a series of really good questions:

We return to our days of youth to take a fresh look at learning. How do you learn? How do you teach? What are you learning or teaching? Or the coup de grace post would be learning something new and telling us about it.

So given that I established and run SQL University this topic is right up my proverbial alley!

How do you Learn?

I love the old adage “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”. My best learning tool is by doing, which I’m sure many of you can relate to. There’s only so much academic knowledge you can soak up before it starts spilling out. Honestly, if something isn’t relevent to me in terms of real-world application I have a much harder time grasping the concept. For instance a year or two ago when I first heard of PowerShell I looked at it and went “oh that looks cool…I guess, not sure what I’d do with it.” Fast-foward to a month ago and I finally get a chance to re-learn the basics and actually apply it before that lightbulb went off in my head that said “oh WOW, I GET it! I heart PowerShell!”. Without that opportunity to really apply the academic knowledge, the education itself goes to waste.

Thing is not every job you’re in will call for use of PowerShell, replication, mirroring, etc. so the next best step…do it yourself! The wonderful world of technology now allows us to build virtual machines on our laptops with relative ease. So if your shop doesn’t give you a proper sandbox to play around with advanced features then I highly recommend you install Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VirtualBox, VMLite or whatever your preferred flavor of virtual platform and get to practicing! If installing and configuring virtual machine’s isn’t your cup of tea (but I highly recommend as you learn lots of lessons by installing/configuring machines from scratch) there’s a free sandbox environment you can experiment with a fully configured SQL Server 2008 virtual machine at http://sqlserverbeta.com . This is a free, no-strings-attached virtual machine complete with AdventureWorks databases installed ready for you to tinker with brought to you courtesy of PASS, Dell and MaximumASP.

How Do You Teach?

Ah the Golden Rule: we learn it young and it applies forever. When I learn I like to be entertained a bit as well as soak up good knowledge. I also like to interact as much as possible. This being the case when I do a presentation I try to keep it lively as sometimes straight technical content is…well…boring. I’m sure that sounds blasphemous to some of my fellow geeks out there but you know its true. You’ll be sitting in a session with content that can’t really be demoed (i.e. internals talk). The secret to teaching is making a topic engaging enough that you don’t lose your audience.

 Although there’s a fine line between entertainment and being annoying. I’ve been guilty of this myself wherein in your attempt to keep it light you come off looking like a clown. Make sure you remember your root cause for being there and that’s to teach. Clowning has its place so remember to toe that line carefully…unless you’re Buck Woody then all bets are off!

What Am I Learning?

Anything and everything! I’m like a shark and learning is my water. If I’m not learning, I’m dying. SQL Server is a HUGE product and currently I’m starting to lean towards learning the BI stack. Another key thing that I keep learning and playing with is PowerShell. In all seriousness there’s ALWAYS something to learn and it doesn’t always have to be something as huge as learning an entire product line or feature. Start with baby steps. One cool thing I’ve seen recently is a series of blog posts called “One Cmdlet At a Time” in which Jonathan Medd (Blog | Twitter) learns PowerShell one cmdlet at a time. This is a great example of how you can tackle learning something one little bit at a time. In his case not only is he learning by doing so hands on but he’s teaching as well via his blog. It’s a win for everyone!

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Exceptional DBA of the Year 2010 Finalist!

This post is a tad overdue as the public announcement was a few weeks back but it’s been a topsy-turvy last few months for me. Anyhow this is just a quick post letting you know how absolutely honored and excited I am to be among the finalists for Redgate’s Exceptional DBA of the Year 2010 award!

This year’s award has 6 finalists as opposed to the regular 5 finalists due to the high quality of nominations. I’m happy to say that I personally know two other finalists: Jonathan Kehayias (Blog | Twitter) and Ted Krueger (Blog | Twitter). Both men are SQL Server MVP’s, community speakers, bloggers and all-around absolutely exceptional DBA’s and people. Although I don’t personally know the rest of the finalists (Kevan Riley, John Burnette, and Tracy Hamlin) I’m sure they are equally awesome given their nominations as well. I wish everyone the best of luck and encourage you to go to http://exceptionaldba.com , read everyone’s profile/bios and vote.

Articles about the award:

CNBC – Voting Opens for Exceptional DBA of the Year

Steve Jones – Who will be the Exceptional DBA in 2010?

Ted Krueger – Being a Finalist for the Exceptional DBA of the Year

Brad McGehee’s e-book – How to Become an Exceptional DBA (free)

Brad McGehee – Vote for the Exceptional DBA of the Year

Josef Richberg – On Being the 2009 Exceptional DBA

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