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Okay, forget the shirt idea.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about starting a web site where you could get your own custom Twitter shirt.  Here’s what the visits looked like:

Social-Shirt.com Visits

Social-Shirt.com Visits

I got roughly a thousand visits in two days when I posted the blog entry, and after that – silencio.  Got a lot of retweets on Twitter, lots of people saying they were interested, but….

My Twitter Shirt

My Twitter Shirt

Nobody actually bought one!

Well, other than me, as shown here.  I offered free ones to a few Twitter celebrities, and nobody was interested even in free ones!

Interestingly, Zazzle (the t-shirt vendor) lists shirts by how hot they’re selling, and my Twitter shirts were consistently in the top 1/4 of the list of Twitter shirts – even though I hadn’t sold a single one.  Evidently nobody else is getting rich off these either.

I loved this as an experiment.  I had a business idea, and I was able to get it off the ground in minimal time with minimal skills and minimal investments – roughly $10 for the domain name, and around $2 for the traffic on Amazon S3.

I learned that people aren’t quite ready to wear their Twitter profile on their chest.  This makes sense, as a lot of us have our own picture as our avatar.  I tried selling shirts without the picture, too, but that just didn’t have the pizzazz factor.

So I imploded it, slapped WordPress on there, turned it into a Twitter shirt portal, and did some links to Zazzle.  I left it up until the domain expires, but I’ll be surprised if anybody ever buys a shirt off there.

Except me.  You’ll recognize me at user group meetings because I’ll be wearing my Twitter profile or StackOverflow score when I’m not presenting.

Upcoming PASS Chapter Meetings

I just added an Upcoming Events tab on BrentOzar.com to list my upcoming sessions at PASS Chapter meetings.

February 12 – Columbus SQL Server User Group – Columbus, OH
Perfmon and Profiler 101

These two tools are the key to successful performance tuning.  Brent will show how to get started with these tools, how to slice and dice the results, and even how to data mine the results to look for interesting trends.  (I’m presenting this one remotely using LiveMeeting.)

February 19 – West Michigan SQL Server User Group – Grand Rapids, MI
Perfmon and Profiler 101

These two tools are the key to successful performance tuning.  Brent will show how to get started with these tools, how to slice and dice the results, and even how to data mine the results to look for interesting trends.

March 3 – West Michigan SQL Server User Group – Kalamazoo, MI
Topic to Be Announced

I’m working with Tim Ford to pick a topic for this meeting.  This group normally meets in Grand Rapids, but we’re doing a meeting down in K-Zoo to talk to the locals.  Driving long distances on a weekday is hard enough for DBAs, and it makes sense to have these local meetings too.

March 11 – Tucson Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) – Tucson, AZ

I’ll be in Tucson filming my presentations for the Spring 2009 SSWUG Virtual Conference, and I’ll drop in on the Tucson PASS chapter meeting.

May 19 – IndyPASS – Indianapolis, IN
SAN Multipathing: You CAN Get There From Here

SANs are expensive pieces of hardware that offer a lot of performance and failure protection.  The key is multipathing, yet DBAs rarely get exposed to it.  Brent knows firsthand: he managed data warehouses and SAN storage, and was able to wring much more performance out of his SANs when he learned multipathing.  He’ll explain the basics of multipathing, how to test for failover protection, and how to configure your storage to get the most performance possible from your investment.

If you’d like me to present remotely at your user group, drop me a line at brento@brentozar.com.  I know everybody’s travel budgets are pretty much shot for 2009, so I’m betting we’ll see a lot more remote presentations this year.

More SQLServerPedia syndicated bloggers

We’ve added two more bloggers to our syndicated SQLServerPedia blogroll:

Jason Massie of StatisticsIO.com

Known as StatisticsIO on Twitter, Jason not only blogs, but produces the Captain Varchar(MAX) and the Pagelatch Posse comic:

Jeremiah Peschka of Facility9.com

Jeremiah is Peschkaj on Twitter, and some of his recent blog entries include:

  • Retrieve the top X random results from a query – you just use select top X, right? Not so fast – Jeremiah shows an exposure to SQL injection.
  • Flexible database-level roles – security roles come up a lot in enterprise-level deployments.  If you’re a DBA in a small shop, you may want to start learning about role-based security to help you grow your career.
  • How I get by without sysadmin – working for Quest, this stuff comes up a LOT! People want to know how they can work with the least permissions possible because the security team keeps locking them down.  Jeremiah talks about how he does it.

We’ve got a few more in the works – stay tuned!  If you’re interested in signing up too, just drop us a line at ask@sqlserverpedia.com.

SQL Server and Cloud Links for the Week

SQL Server Links

Why Identity Fields Aren’t Bad – if you think identity fields are to be avoided, read Aaron Alton’s blog about it.

How to Create a Calendar Table – every DBA needs this script, which generates a table full of dates.  For example, I’ve had users say, “Give me a list of sales by date,” and when I give them the list, they say, “How come July 4th is missing?”  Well, because we were closed, you moron, but then they think it’s a bug in my query because I should have the date along with zero sales.

HBA Queue Depth Recommendations for SQL Server – queue depth is one of those gray areas that isn’t too well-understood.  I barely understand it, and what I understand is probably wrong, but at least it matches with this post by Joe Sack.

Fixing views with SELECT * – if you have a view with a SELECT * statement in it, and you change the underlying table definitions, the view won’t refresh to match the new schema.  Denis Gobo demonstrates it with T-SQL scripts.

PASS Update from Andy Warren – man, I get tired just reading these things. Being on the board is a lot of work.  Andy also wrote about his work philosophy in another post, Ruthless Focus – or as I like to call it, agony.

PASS Europe Summit Call to Speakers Open – I’ve submitted a handful of proposals, and I’m going to submit more this week.  (Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Hate me because I might go to Germany, where the DBAs know how to party.)

First beta of standalone SQL Agent replacement – Denny Cherry is writing a SQL Server Agent for the free Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition, which doesn’t include any Agent functionality.  This would give you the ability to run jobs on your Express Edition machines.

SQL Server 2008 System Views Poster available to download – the Solid Quality Mentors crew put this out for Microsoft, and it’s a free download.

Cloud Links

SimpleDB in Visual Studio

SimpleDB in Visual Studio

New SimpleDB Management Tools for Visual Studio – okay, now SimpleDB is starting to get really sexy.  Mindscape’s brought out a tool for $30 that lets you query SimpleDB and manage it inside Visual Studio.  Me like.

The Junk Drawer

Eye Chart for Geeks – if you can read this, your eyes are l33t.

LaidOff Camp – I’m burned out on the “Camp” names for things (how can it be a camp if it’s not overnight?) but I feel bad for these guys, who are getting together to get employed.

Microsoft Charity Challenge Recap – Tim Costello writes about his experience at this event, which brings techies together to build applications for charities in a short time window.  When I talk to junior DBAs and developers who want to break out into a senior level position, one of the tips I give is to talk to local charities and nonprofits.  They need IT help, and you can make a big difference in a short amount of time.  They’re thankful for the help, and you get good experience without having to convince a client to pay you.  Plus, since it’s a charity, you can tap your virtual friends on the shoulder for help and they’re more likely to pitch in for a good cause when you get in over your head.

Dishonorable Mention: The 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History – Car & Driver documents cars that never should have won the awards, but did.  (Hey, I liked the Merkur XR4Ti.  I even ordered the brochure via snail mail, and I wasn’t even old enough to drive!)

StackOverflow adds “bounty” for answering questions

I thought StackOverflow was addictive before, but now it’s electronic crack.

The latest feature is a reputation bounty.  If you want a question answered faster, you can offer a portion of your own reputation score as a bounty.  The question stays open for 7 days, and it’s on the Featured Questions tab of the site.  (You’d better believe the top answerers are watching this tab closely.)

When you accept someone’s answer, they get the bounty.

If after 7 days you haven’t accepted one, the top-voted answer gets the half of the bounty.

Thank God they’re not using real money, only reputation scores.  If they used real money, I’d probably stay up all night hitting refresh, waiting for new questions to come in.  High Score!

First round of SQLServerPedia syndicated bloggers

Wow – that went better than I could have hoped.  When I first wrote about syndicating your blog at SQLServerPedia, I figured we’d get maybe a handful of bloggers taking us up on it.  Instead, setting up syndication is now my primary job duty, hahaha.

We’ve got more people waiting in the wings (more on that in a sec) but here’s our first round of syndicated bloggers:

Bob Horkay of LifeAsBob.com

Some of Bob’s recent blog posts include:

  • How to alter a table’s column from varchar to datetime – sounds easy, but the way SQL Server Management Studio does it generates a lot of overhead.  Bob shows a faster way with less production impact.
  • Problems with the IsDate function – this was the subject of a recent StackOverflow bounty question, too.  The IsDate and IsNumeric functions don’t always work the way you’d expect, and to get around it, you may have to code a custom extended stored procedure.  (I’m not kidding.)
  • His home-brewed beer recipe – now, obviously this falls outside of the SQL Server syndication section, but just looking at the pictures makes my mouth water. (It’s five o’clock somewhere – here, actually!)

Jason Strate of Digineer.com

Also known as h4ppyd4y on Twitter, Jason’s been blogging a lot lately, including:

  • Presenting at the SSWUG Virtual Conference – like me and Tom LaRock, among many others, Jason’s doing a set of sessions for this spring’s conference.
  • The Over() Clause – I’ve never used this, and I swear I’m going to read this article and pay attention.  I keep hearing about this.
  • Searching the cache for execution plans – when a user comes running in saying a stored proc was slow five minutes ago, you can find out why by looking at its execution plan after the fact.  Jason shows how.

Michelle Ufford of SQLFool.com

I’ve mentioned Michelle aka SQLFool before because of her index maintenance script contributions at SQLServerPedia, and now she’s contributing blog entries too!  Some of her recent posts:

  • Fragmentation on replicated tables – replication means copying data from one place to another, but not necessarily maintenance statements.  Michelle explains the important difference.
  • Index clean-up scripts – before you make new indexes to improve performance, are you sure you need the ones you’ve already got?
  • Indexing for partitioned tables – doing partitioning is one of those cutting-edge things that isn’t as well-documented as it could be.  Michelle talks about why you may not want to partition your indexes the same way you partition your tables.

Mike Walsh of StraightPathSQL.com

Also known as mike_walsh on Twitter, he writes a straightforward (get it?) blog about SQL with some good business advice like:

  • New vendor interview – before a vendor foists a crappy product on you that requires SA logins, wouldn’t it be nice to ask a few basic questions?  Mike lists his.
  • Do you focus too much on your backups? – like my buddy Bryan Oliver always says, there’s only one reason DBAs do backups: to restore.  Focus on your restores.
  • Empirical evidence – I had a question recently from a user who kept insisting that I tell him what solution would be the fastest for his specific environment.  There’s only one way to find out: test it there.

Tom LaRock of SQLBatman.com

PASS Board of Directors member, caped crusader, and blogger, with recent highlights like:

  • SQL Server 2008 Training from Microsoft – Tom attended a hands-on lab with tutorials on the new features in SQL 2008. He gives a walkthrough of each session.
  • My Vision for the PASS SIGs – want an inside peek at what he’s got planned for the Professional Association for SQL Server? Sadly, it doesn’t involve bacon, but…
  • Whale Bacon – like Bob Horkay’s home-brewed beer post, this one won’t be syndicated either, but it’s funny as hell.

There’s many more to come.  I’m working with several other bloggers to get their RSS feeds set up and get MySQL to stop crashing when I import big feeds like Jason Massie’s.  It keeps saying something about an MVP-ness size problem.  Odd.  Will follow up tomorrow with more bloggers.

I’d like to thank each of these bloggers personally for helping expand the community knowledge base.  They’re writing really good, useful stuff, and hopefully by getting them more exposure, we’re doing a favor to all of the community.

SharePoint Backup Webcast with Joel Oleson

I remember my first SharePoint administration work.  When I started at Southern Wine as a DBA, I had a ton of application databases to manage, and one of them was a SharePoint database.  The Project Management Office had started using SharePoint Services to hold stuff, and they’d really started piling it on – documents, project plans, pictures, you name it, all stored in SQL Server.  It made me cringe – files don’t belong in the database, I said.  It was too late, though.

I just backed it up like any other application database: full backups nightly, transaction logs every 15 minutes, made the Sign of the Cross when I walked past the server, the usual stuff.  (I’m a recovering Catholic.)

One day, it happened.  Somebody called to say they’d deleted a document out of SharePoint and they needed it back immediately.

I’m a DBA.  I think of recovery in terms of databases, tables and rows.  If somebody says they deleted a row, usually they’re a developer, and they know things like the exact database and table name, plus the primary key of the record.  I restore the database to another location, pull the row out via a query, and insert it into the live production database.  Emergency solved.

SharePoint, that’s another animal entirely.  The user is just a panicked end user, nothing more, who says things like, “I can’t remember exactly what the document was called, but it’s the one that’s gone now!  Go find it!”

Awww, man, come on…

More and more, more of us DBAs are getting stuck in this situation.  We’re being told that SharePoint is ours to manage, ours to back up and most painfully, ours to recover when something goes wrong.  To prepare for that, Joel Oleson (aka SharepointJoel.com) and I are doing a webcast on February 19th called Effective Backup and Restore Strategies for Your SharePoint Service.  We’re going to cover how to go from chaos to smooth sailing using the native tools as well as Quest’s SharePoint stuff like Recovery Manager.

Joel does the same thing at Quest Software that I do, except he’s in the SharePoint team.  He’s well-known in the SharePoint world, he’s writing an upcoming O’Reilly book on SharePoint, and he’s on Twitter as JoelOleson.

You can register for the SharePoint backup & recovery webcast, and if that one sounds interesting to you, we’ve got several other upcoming SharePoint webcasts as well.  You can find ‘em on the Quest Events list – choose SharePoint in the Technologies dropdown box.  You can also switch to the Webcast Archives tab and view a bunch of past webcasts we’ve done on SharePoint.

How To Become an MVP? Measure Your MVP-ness

Your Book Cover

Not Much MVP-ness

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how to become a Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional).  I’m not an MVP, and I don’t know exactly how to become an MVP, but I know people, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it all boils down to a simple quiz.  Sharpen those pencils and let’s get started!

Question 1: If you wrote a book, what would be on the cover?

  • A black and white sketch of an animal (+2)
  • “Building Web Applications with Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP” (-1)
  • A pirate preparing to rapture a woman in a long dress (-2)

Question 2: When will you start using Windows 7?

  • Already using it on my primary workstation (+2)
  • When the Release Candidate comes out (+1)
  • I used Vista, and I’m not using Windows again until it goes up to 11. (-2)

Question 3: How do you feel about the Microsoft Certified Master program?

  • It’s a great idea for ISVs and consulting companies (+2)
  • Is there a braindump for it yet? (+1)
  • I could go to Tahiti for that kind of money (-1)

Question 4: Describe your primary Windows workstation.

Commitment

Lots of MVP-ness

  • The OS is on a raid 0 of solid state drives. (+1)
  • I’ve got a second 24″ just for Perfmon. (+2)
  • It’s a virtual machine on my Macbook Pro. (-2)

Question 5: How many Zunes do you have?

  • Only one, because they keep getting cool new features via firmware updates (+1)
  • Two. I had to buy another one on 12/31/2008 because I couldn’t go without it for a single day. (+2)
  • Three, one for each Zune tattoo (+3)
  • None – but does my iPhone count? (-2)

Question 6: What search engine do you use?

  • Google (-1)
  • Live.com (+1)
  • Live.com, and since I manage group policy, I’ve set my entire company’s default search to Live too (+2)

Question 7: How do you get help from other DBAs?

  • I open Outlook Express and post a question in the MSDN newsgroups (+2)
  • I write a blog entry and people leave the answer in the comments (+1)
  • I’m a paid member of ExpertSexchange (-2)
It Never Lies

It Never Lies

Checking Your MVP-ness Score

(Hint: say “MVP-ness” out loud and you’ll get it.  Well, you may not get it, but you’ll understand it.)

  • Negative: it’s okay. You can watch the next Steve Jobs keynote with us.
  • 0-4″: Outlook not so good, and neither is your chance of becoming an MVP.
  • 5-9″: You’re in! Expect your MVP certificate in the mail soon!
  • 10″ & over: John Holmes called, and he wants his MVP-ness back.

WhiteHouse.gov is not a blog.

I keep hearing people patting themselves on the back saying, “Look – our President has a blog!”

Hmmm.  It doesn’t smell like a blog to me because:

  • There’s no comments
  • There’s no trackbacks
  • There’s no personal touch – it’s very, very clearly written by marketers (and certainly not the President himself)

If the White House blog is considered a blog, then check out WaMu’s new blog:

WaMu Blog

WaMu Blog

Oh, sure, it might LOOK like a list of press releases with an RSS feed – but no.  It’s a blog.  Just like the White House one.  For realz.

All hail the new era of corporate openness and blogging!  Woohoo!

Syndicating Your Blog at SQLServerPedia

I’m a big believer that bloggers should run their own personal blogs, under their own personal domain names, to maximize their long-term investments in themselves. You’re building a brand for yourself, and you want to control that asset no matter what.

But What If You Want More Readers?

I’ve talked to bloggers who say they’re frustrated blogging on their own sites because they don’t have enough readers. They feel like they’re toiling alone in the dark, with nobody seeing their work. They’re not dying for readers, but they want to know that their work isn’t going in vain. If they post a valuable solution, a hard-to-write article, or a timely tip, they want to know that it’s going to benefit the most readers possible.

We’ve got a solution that lets you keep your independence and gets you more readers: syndicate your blog at SQLServerPedia. We’ll “echo” your blog posts from your own SQL Server blog automatically.

Syndication Means You Stay In Control

Syndicating your blog at SQLServerPedia doesn’t mean changing the way you write. If you’re like me, you blog about all kinds of things, not just SQL Server. We’ll help you set up a “SQL Server” category on your blog, and our syndication software only picks up blog entries in that category.

You can – and should – still blog about whale bacon, your favorite music, or your adventures in Vegas without feeling like you need to clean up your act for syndication.  If you feel like blogging about personal stuff ten times in a row, then do that – we’re not going to pressure you to keep up a minimum number of SQL Server posts per week in order to be syndicated.

How You Benefit From Being at SQLServerPedia

At the bottom of every blog post on SQLServerPedia, we show a list of related blog posts. Take a look at the bottom of this post by Kevin Kline to see an example. If you blog about something related to an existing hot topic here at SQLServerPedia, your blog post will show up as a related post on that existing link – thereby getting you more readers.

We also put time and effort into publicizing our site. We give out SQLServerPedia t-shirts at user group meetings, PASS events, and code camps. We run ads for SQLServerPedia online and in print magazines. We threw quite a nice relaunch party at the PASS Summit, some of which I even remember.

And it doesn’t require any work on your end – no logins to manage, no new blog editor to learn, no copy/pasting between blog systems. We just automatically suck your blog entries out of your RSS feed.

Bring SQLServerPedia Readers To Your Site

You know me: I’m a very big cheerleader on building your own brand. I wouldn’t set this up if it wasn’t about building your own brand too.

In your syndicated blog entries, you should link to other personal blog entries you’ve made that your readers may find interesting. They click the link, they go to your site to read the article, and they see you as a person instead of a faceless SQL-only blogger.

You should also link to your Twitter feed so readers can communicate more with you, get to know you better, and ask questions about your blog entries.

What If You Don’t Have A Blog Yet?

If the whole concept of starting your own blog sounds like too much work, we’ve got an answer for that too: you can blog at SQLServerPedia without your own blog.  We’ll give you an author account, show you how to use it, and let you write to your heart’s content.  Our only restriction is that your entries need to focus on SQL Server.

If you want help getting started, one of our editors (probably me) can proofread and fact-check your work before you publish it.  Write the draft on the web, and then ping us, and we’ll look it over for you before you post it just to make sure it makes sense.  I’ve worked with a few up-and-coming bloggers, and they all seem to value that initial handholding to make sure they’re not doing something crazy.

Why Is SQLServerPedia Doing It?

Our mission for SQLServerPedia is to be the community-owned resource, built by the SQL Server DBA community, for the community. There are a lot of really good bloggers out there that have gotten burned out toiling away in the dark, and I don’t want them giving up. If it’s exposure you want, we can help you get it.

Plus, SQLServerPedia has guys like me and Kevin who blog at multiple sites. Syndication just makes this whole process easier, as you’ll start to see by my own blog posts being syndicated. My SQL Server blog posts will appear at both BrentOzar.com and at SQLServerPedia.com.

Getting Your Blog Syndicated

To get started, email ask@sqlserverpedia.com. We’ll work with you to answer any questions you might have, and we can have it set up in no time.

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