Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Orlando .NET Code Camp 2009 Recap

On Saturday, 3/28, I presented Useful T-SQL Statements You May Not Be Aware Of at the 2009 Orlando .NET Code Camp. Despite some glitches with the projector I think the presentation went well. About 20 people came and there was a lot of good dialog, a few laughs, and even even something pretty unique – right in the middle of the presentation the space shuttle Discovery flew over Orlando on its way to landing at Kennedy Space Center and we heard the double sonic booms.

A lot of great questions were asked, including a few that stumped me. I promised to find out the answers and blog about them, but unfortunately I made the mistake of not writing them down at the time. If you were at my session and I didn't\couldn't answer your question, please leave a comment and I will make sure to get you the answer.

Because of a scheduling conflict I was only able to be there for my presentation, but from what I've read elsewhere – see here, here, here, and here – it was a great day for everyone who came.

I've posted my slide deck and samples for download below.

Download: Useful T-SQL Statements You May Not Be Aware Of.zip

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Launch Replication Monitor Without SSMS

I manage a lot of replication publications\subscriptions and when I get a latency or agent failure alert it always bugs me that I have to go through 5 steps to launch Replication Monitor: launch SSMS, go to my server in object explorer, expand the treeview, right click on the Replication node, and choose the menu option to launch Replication Monitor. To make things easier I did what I think Microsoft should have done in the first place and created a shortcut to the Replication Monitor executable in my start menu and on my desktop.

To create a shortcut for yourself open up Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\100\Tools\Binn if you're running SSMS 2008 or C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Tools\Binn if you're running SSMS 2005. Right click on sqlmonitor.exe and choose Send To > Desktop (Create Shortcut). Now you've got a shortcut on your desktop that will launch Replication Monitor with a simple double click! (You'll probably also want to rename the shortcut to something like "Replication Monitor")

Unfortunately the default icon doesn't look great in anything bigger than 16x16 so I replaced it with a really nice (and free!) icon from iconspedia.com that looks much better:

Activity-monitor-48 Happy monitoring!

Visit: Activity Monitor Icon on iconpedia.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day – Celebrating Women In Technology

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. I don't normally post off-topic things, but this particular subject hits home for me. No, not because the first computer language I learned in college was Ada 95. It's because I admire what a certain rocket scientist whom I call my sister has done.

A mechanical engineer by degree, she worked as an intern for a summer at NASA on the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and knew exactly who she wanted to work for when she graduated. Unfortunately politics and the federal budget left her hanging for 2 years, but she finally got the call and went to work at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. She spent many years working on nuclear propulsion systems for probes destined for the outer planets of our solar system while working her way up the NASA ladder and earning a Master of Mechanical Engineering degree to boot. Today, after 18 years, she's a Branch Chief in NASA's Propulsion Thermal Analysis group and won't tell me what she's working in - though in all fairness she can't because it's classified.

Not only do I admire what she's accomplished technically, but that she's excelled in what is normally regarded as a a male dominated field and a NASA management culture that has a reputation for…well, lots of things that prompt talent to depart for the private industry. She's worked hard  to get where she is and is the kind of role model that young women interested in science can look up to.

Great job, sis!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Data Mining With Google Insights For Search

I recently read a NYT article that highlighted how Google search data is being used to predict flu outbreaks at a regional level and in some cases a week to 10 days before they're reported by the CDC. It turns out that a good portion, if not all, of Google's search data is available for anybody to query using Google Insights for Search BETA. You can search on multiple terms and filter by time, geographic region, and category.

For example, look at the worldwide results for cloud computing. Interest has steadily gained in the last 18 months(follow the link and you'll see that surprisingly the peak interest comes from India - the US ranks 6th on the list):

Cloud Computing

What about social networking sites? Here's the almost exponential rise in popularity of Twitter in the last few months:


Putting it into perspective, look at how Twitter compares to more established sites like MySpace and Facebook:

Facebook vs. MySpace vs. Twitter

In the graph above MySpace is the red line, Facebook is the yellow line, and Twitter is the little tiny blue bump in the lower right corner. Three things stand out: MySpace's popularity has peeked and it's on a slow decline, Facebook is red hot, and Twitter has a long way to go before it's as popular as the others.

Given that Google is the de facto search engine for most people it's easy to see how useful – and powerful - this tool can be.