Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Windows 8.1 Upgrade Deletes VirtualBox Host-Only Network Adapter

Windows 8.1 was released to the Windows Store last week and aside from having to download the same 3.9 GB update on each machine I've installed it on it's been a relatively easy and smooth update. I did, however, run into one small problem related to Oracle VirtualBox. When you install VirtualBox a "Host-Only" network adapter is installed in Windows to allow guest VMs to communicate with the Windows host, as the screenshot below shows:

Network Connections Window

Unfortunately the Windows 8.1 upgrade process deletes the network adapter. After the upgrade you'll be faced with a warning message in the VM properties window and your VM won't start.

VirtualBox VM Settings Window

The fix is easy - just reinstall VirtualBox. It's not a bad idea, actually, as at the same time as Windows 8.1 went live so did VirtualBox Version 4.3. The latest version has a few nice improvements that make it worth the upgrade, including: Multi-touch support, virtual USB webcam, a new NAT adapter that enables hosts and guests to communicate without requiring a host-only adapter, and the ability to record the entire VM session to video.

As always, if you upgrade VirtualBox it's a good idea to upgrade the guest additions as well.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

SQL Power Doc Update - Version

I'm at the 2013 PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC, this week, and presented a session about documenting your databases using SQL Power Doc. I'm blown away that it's been downloaded over 3,000 times since version 1.0 and have received some really great feedback from people using it in their environments.

To celebrate Summit week, the presentation, and the download milestone I'm pleased to announce that version is now available! Full release notes are available here, and you can download the latest version here.

In addition to lots of big fixes, this release includes three significant features:

  • I've corrected an issue with connectivity to named instances running locally using the Shared memory protocol. This has been a big annoyance since a lot of people are trying out SQL Power Doc on their local machines where they're running named instances of Developer Edition. Out of the box Developer edition has only shared memory enabled so this is nice to get this fixed.
  • I've added columns to the tabs for Server Permissions, Server Roles, Database Permissions, and Database Roles in the Database Engine workbook with the TSQL syntax to recreate the permissions/role associations.
  • I've added Windows API calls to resolve the members of AD Groups used for Server logins. This is especially useful for auditing because you can now see the actual members of the group at the time the server was documented.

Big thanks for the 3,000+ people who have downloaded SQL Power Doc so far and I hope you enjoy the new version!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Does The PASS Community Mean To You?

In less than 72 hours I'll be in Charlotte with over 3,000 of my closest SQL Server friends for the 2013 PASS Summit. This year I'm excited to be co-hosting two "Get To Know Your Community" sessions with my friend Kevin Kline (Blog | @kekline) on Tuesday afternoon before the opening reception. Geared towards folks who are new to the PASS Community, we're going to be covering the many ways attendees can stay connected with the PASS (and SQL Server) community once the Summit is over.

We've been working for the last few weeks on the slides and feel pretty comfortable with the material, but it still feels like we're missing something. That's where you come in...

Imagine you're introducing someone to the PASS Community for the first time. You've got a sentence or two to tell them what makes it great and hook them or they lose interest and move on. What do you say?

Leave a comment below and let me know why you think the PASS community rocks. I'll use the (SFW) comments in our slide deck Tuesday afternoon. This is your chance for 15 seconds of fame - don't let it PASS you by. (har-har!)

See you at the Summit next week!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

T-SQL Tuesday #47: My Best SQL Server SWAG

This blog post is part of T-SQL Tuesday, a monthly SQL blog party with a rotating host and common topic. This month marks #41, hosted by me!...and the theme is showing off my best SQL Server SWAG (Stuff We All Get!).

Confession Time

I love SWAG. I admit it. When I first got involved in the SQL Server community I would relish the chance to get my hands on freebies, regardless of what it was. Over the years I've picked up a ton of things. I don't keep most it anymore - these days it gets brought back home for my kids or distributed to MagicPASS. Some things are just too good to let go, though.

How do I decide what to keep? If it's one of a kind or useful it ends up staying with me. When I came up with the idea for this month's topic I had one or two things in mind, but for fun I decided to walk around my house and include everything I came across. What follows is a pictorial of what I found.

My Favorite SWAG

First, there's the USB thumb drives from various vendors. I remember the day when these things cost $20 or more for a 512 MB drive. Nowadays they're a dime a dozen (literally!). Yes, that SQL Sentry drive doubles a bottle opener. The PASS and SQL 2012 branded drives are Power Sticks - a drive + battery that can be used to recharge phones. These have come in handy on Scout camping trips and long days at theme parks. IMG_0810

I've gotten a lot of laptop backpacks but I've already got a pretty nice bag that's held up well for 4 years now so I end up giving most of them away. The 2011 PASS Summit speaker backpack, however, has been put to use by my son as his school backpack. It's held up remarkably well - it's on school year #2, outlasting the last few pairs of shoes I've bought him. (Hmmm, what would SQL branded sneakers look like?)


At the 2012 PASS Summit speakers received a techtrap as a gift. This is basically a rigid 6" x 8" rectangle with elastic cords woven on to one side to keep cords, chargers, and small electronics together. It's found a permanent home in my laptop bag.


Coffee mugs are great for coffee snobs lovers like me. The red one in this picture is from SQLSaturday #13 (Atlanta 2009) and the silver from SQLSaturday #21 (Orlando 2009). The mug is from SQLSaturday #49 (Orlando 2010) and is the first thing that came to mind when I decided on this month's topic. It's handmade, one of a kind, and is just the right size for a 12 oz cup of joe. I love this mug so much that I glued the handle back together after it broke once!


Usually when you speak at an event you'll be given a shirt to wear - a uniform for the day to identify that you're a speaker. Most are polos, but there have been some really interesting ones over the years: a football jersey (SQLSaturday  #164, Cleveland 2012), Chef Hat and Apron (SQLSaturday # 151, Orlando 2012), Hawaiian shirts (SQLSaturday Tampa, various years), and a Cuban style shirt (SQLSaturday #226, South Florida 2013).  I've given many my shirts (there's just too many to keep them all!), however I tend to keep the ones that look nice, are comfortable to wear, or are really unique. There's one, in particular, that I just can't seem to part with because it's so rare: My speaker shirt from SQLSaturday #1, held in 2007 in Orlando.


Speaking of rare, here's an embossed leather folio I got from SQL Sentry for participating on a Customer Advisory Board prior to SQLSaturday #33 (Charlotte, 2010). IMG_0817

At the 2010 PASS Summit I was nominated for a (now defunct) SQLServerPedia award, and to say thanks Quest Software gave nominees a set of Bucky Balls. These are small, very powerful magnetic balls that you can form into various shapes. You can't get these anymore - they've been banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. My kids loved playing with these as much as I did, though admittedly I got really worried about the younger ones swallowing them. They've since sat on a shelf where, over time, they've started to rust with age.


My friends at Red Gate not only make kick-ass software but have been known to give out some really nice gifts, too. At the 2010 PASS Summit they presented their Friends of Red Gate members with a picture frame that also displays the date, time, and temperature. (I've removed the picture to restore it to it's "original" condition as it was presented to me)


What would a SWAG collection be without a duck (or four) from Idera? My little ones love playing with these in the bathtub. (Do they make the gold colored ones anymore?)


Now for something really unique - pins! Pam Shaw (@pamshaw) starting making lapel pins for SQLSaturday #62 (Tampa 2011) and since I'm from Orlando (where pin trading at Disney is sort of a big deal) I've been grabbing them whenever I can. We made a set for SQLSaturday #151 (Orlando 2012) and I've been hoping that these would really take off. Much to my dismay, they're not as popular as I had hoped.


I mentioned SQL Sentry had a theme going. Those folks really love their beer and in 2011 they gave away a silicon pint glass (aka the Silipint) that I quite disappointingly did not manage to get my hands on. I made sure not to repeat that mistake at the 2012 PASS Summit and got my hands on their awesome embossed leather pint glass sleeve. There's even a great story behind them - Oowee, the manufacturer, partners with the Autism Society of North Carolina to employ autistic adults who hand-sew each sleeve.


At the 2011 PASS Summit everyone got a deck of SQL Server playing cards. At the end of the Summit there were cases of leftovers so I grabbed a few boxes (each box had a dozen decks in them) and carried them back home in my backpack to give away at MagicPASS. I had so many I was able to give away a deck to every new attendee for a few months!


Finally, one of the neater things I've ever picked up...With every release of SQL Server Microsoft has everyone who worked on the product sign a 4 foot tall version of the box that it ships in. The boxes are put on display in Building 35 on Microsoft's Campus (where the SQL Server team is housed). For the release of SQL 2012, Microsoft had (normal sized) commemorative boxes made and I was fortunate enough to grab one earlier this year.


See You At The PASS Summit

And with that, I'll close by saying I'm looking forward to the 2013 PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC, next week. I'm excited about the learning, the networking, and of course - scouting out some new great SWAG to add to the collection!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

T-SQL Tuesday #47: Your Best SQL Server SWAG

TSQL2sDay150x150The Stuff We All Get!

Fall has arrived which means it's conference season: Connections is happening this week, the PASS Summit is just around the corner, SQLintersection at the end of the month, and SQL Server Live! in November...and that's not including all the SQLSaturdays happening every weekend as well.

Conferences are great for learning and catching up with friends and #SQLFamily...but let's admit it - we all like to roam the vendor halls to score free stuff, too! Some things we grab to bring back to the office, user group, or family at home; every now and then you pick something up and say, "no way anyone's getting their hands on this!"

For this month's topic we're going to have a little fun. I want to hear the story about the best SQL Server swag you've ever received. No cheap tchotchkes here - we want to know about the good stuff. Tell us when, where, and how you got it. Make sure to include a picture, too, because you know you want to make the rest of envious at your prize SWAG!


A few rules to follow when participating:

  • Your post must be published between 00:00 GMT Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, and 00:00 GMT Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
  • Your post must contain the T-SQL Tuesday logo from above and the image should link back to this blog post.
  • Trackbacks should work, but if you don’t see one please link to your post in the comments section below so everyone can see your work

And some optional (and highly encouraged) things to also do:

  • Include a reference to T-SQL Tuesday in the title of your post
  • Tweet about your post using the hash tag #TSQL2sDay
  • Consider hosting T-SQL Tuesday yourself. Adam Machanic keeps the list.

About T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday was started by Adam Machanic (Blog | @AdamMachanic) in 2009. It’s a monthly blog party with a rotating host, who is responsible for providing a new topic each month. In case you've missed a month or two, Steve Jones (Blog | @way0utwest ) maintains a complete list for your reading enjoyment.

I'm looking forward to seeing your best SWAG!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Tainted PASS Elections

Another PASS Board of Directors election cycle has come and gone, and with the results now announced I'd like to congratulate the winners ...except I can't - not yet, anyways, because the elections have been tainted by the possibility of duplicate votes affecting the outcome.

On Saturday, Sept 28, Stuart Ainsworth (Blog | @codegumbo) published a blog post in which he admitted voting three separate times for Allen Kinsel (Blog | @AllenKinsel). His ability to do so was due to a well known issue where a PASS "member" is nothing more than a registered email address. Over the years, like many of us (myself included), Stuart ended up with several PASS accounts under different email addresses.

Ironically, Allen's platform was based on fixing this very issue:

"Making an additional IT investment to bring PASS’s membership roster up-to-date. Updating the roster will allow PASS to have better knowledge of our worldwide membership and to provide members with better benefits."

Allen lost the election by four votes. Granted, Stuart's votes were for Allen and not another candidate, but it got me thinking...if Stuart did it and admitted it, who's to say that other people did the same but didn't admit it? I'd like to think that wasn't the case, that we're all professionals who took the moral high ground despite a very glaring flaw. But as Ronald Reagan so often said, "Trust, but verify". Therein lies my problem with the results - Allen lost by four votes. A few dishonest people could have easily swayed the election. I could care less if we were talking about a homeowner's association election but we're not; we're talking about the Professional Association for SQL Server, an organization with an annual budget of $8+ million USD. I'm not an attorney, but part of me wonders if there are potential legal issues with this loophole existing and not taking any action to prevent it.

PASS President Bill Graziano (Blog | @billgraziano) was notified about Stuart's admission on Saturday shortly after it went live. What the PASS membership at large doesn't know is what happened after that. I could find no official mention by PASS on the elections website or in the discussion forums. As of this morning I haven't seen anything posted to the PASS blog or otherwise mentioned by Bill or elections chair Rushabh Mehta. My sources tell me the NomCom was not called upon for advice on how to handle Stuart's admission. It's frustrating, to say the least. It feels in some ways like the "old" PASS of pre-Andy Warren days where transparency was optional.

Call To Action

PASS members - especially the candidates who finished outside of the top 3 - deserve better.

First, the elections committee needs to come clean and let us know if anything was done to verify the accuracy of the results in light of Stuart's admission and if so, what.

Second, the Election Review Committee should be reconvened. It's been several years since the last and it's time to take a look at the election cycle again, determine what's worked, what hasn't, and make any necessary recommendations to the Board.

Third, and most importantly, under no circumstances can this ever happen again. The PASS Board of Directors needs to make a commitment to clean up the membership list and close the loophole that allows for duplicate voting before next year's election.

I will be at the 2013 PASS Summit in 2 weeks, and if there is no response from PASS on this call to action prior to then I will bring this up in person at the Board of Directors "meet and greet". I trust that the Board will do the right thing.