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August 2016
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Syndication

I'm leaving tonight.

Not forever, but for a couple of weeks. While that's not a big deal for many people, I've rarely been away from home for more than a week. My longest business trips have been 11 days. Short, I know, but that's the way I like things. Many of my colleagues think nothing of taking trips for multiple weeks, traveling the entire time. However, even during my six week sabbatical, I was at home the majority of the time. Perhaps that will change as my children get older since my wife likes to travel, but we'll see. Certainly I've started to get used to living out of a suitcase, working on a laptop, and having minimal material things around. I expect the next few years will have me working out of our horse trailer as my wife teaches clients or participates in races. 

"Up, Up, and Away"

Direct download: upupaway_121_v1390.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

When the census was last taken in the US, it was still mostly a paper affair. My wife and I sat down with the form, filled it out, and mailed it back to the US government. While much of the data is publicly available, the process of gathering the data was primarily an analog process. That was in 2010, and governments are trying to do things differently. I suspect our 2020 census in the US will be mostly a digital effort, though I hope the companies setting up the applications learn from other countries' issues.

Australia had their census this year, 2016, and they planned on having most citizens complete the form online, with a requirement to opt-in to get the paper version. However, things didn't go smoothly. There was a DDOS attack on the night the census was set to collect data. There were also concerns from many people over data privacy. All in all, not a great showing for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and their IT contractors. Things got worse in the weekend after the census was scheduled when a few university students built a website designed to handle a larger load than the government over a weekend for substantially less money.

Read the rest of "Better Coding"

Direct download: bettercoding_120_v1389.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I've been working in technology for over 25 years. As I look forward in time, I suspect I have less time left in a data professional career than I've already experienced. That's fine, and while I don't plan on retiring anytime soon, I know I likely will retire before another 25 years pass.

While it might not be as much of an issue for me, I do think it's important to think about where your career may go. I ran across this post on the future of IT Pros and thought, "this sounds familiar." A friend I knew used to manage a 20,000+ Exchange system for a large company. In 2000, he was sure that the advances in email technology from Microsoft would mean that he wouldn't have a job in five years. Within two he had moved on to another industry altogether, trying to establish a new career before he was made obsolete.

Read the rest of "The Future for Database Administrators"

Direct download: futureITPros_119_v1388.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

One of the main issues with connecting databases to the Internet is that if a hacker finds a way to get access to the database with credentials, perhaps using a well known account (*cough* sa *cough*) and a weak password, they can get a lots of data. However, even if your database is not on a DMZ or addressable from the Internet, chances are some application that accesses your database is connected to the Internet. Websites are a perfect example of this.

That means our data security is controlled by the security of the web application, and the security coding practices of our developers. That's a scary in many cases, primarily because we, as an industry, don't do a good job of actually sharing secure coding practices and habits widely. As much as people talk about and publish information about writing secure code, this doesn't get spread around to many developers, who have years and years of bad habits. Even here at SQLServerCentral, we don't have nearly enough information on SQL Injection, which is something I need to work on.

Read the rest of "Security Leaks from Websites"

Direct download: securityleaks_118_v1187.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

One of the things I used to show people in SQL Compare was the ability to generate a quick rollback script by switching the source and target. We can generate a deployment script going from Dev to Production, switch the source and target, and then generate the rollback script, from Production to Dev. This was the automation of a manual process I used to go through, examining changes made in deployment scripts and producing the reversing changes for various schema items.

Really the only object that causes us problems is the table. We can easily grab previous versions of views, functions, stored procedures and other code objects, applying them on top of our deployment without worrying about maintaining state. We can go back and forth with different versions of code. Certainly our applications might have issues, but the database itself works fine and deployment is quick.

Read the rest of "Is Rollback Feasable for Database Changes?"

Direct download: rollbacknotgood_117_v1386.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

Many DBAs and operational staff regularly stress over software deployments to production systems. Even when the administrator has built and tested the deployment scripts, there is still a nagging fear that something will be missed, incurring downtime for systems. I think automation, building an ALM And DLM process, as well practicing deployments in other environments is the way to alleviate concerns, but that's a discussion for another day.

However, I had a question this week that is related to the deployment process. I'm curious, do you smoke test your production deployments?

Read the rest of "What's Your Smoke Test?"

Direct download: smoketest_114_v1383.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I'm a bit believer that better data, and better software can help our governments around the world operate more efficiently, and better work for our citizens. I appreciate what Tim O'Reilly has said where he notes that we want governments to "specify less and do more." Whatever your political leanings, I think that most of us would like to have our governments work better, whatever that might mean for us.

I ran across a short piece on the design principles of the GDS (Government Digital Service) in the UK. The details are inside of a set of tutorials that you get when you subscribe to Safari Books Online, but I did find a short list of their basic principles. The first seven are:

Read the rest of "Designing for the Public"

Direct download: designpublic_116_v1385.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

I noticed that my company, Red Gate Software, was looking for a support engineer in our CA office awhile back. It's a good job, and while the salary is lower than that which experienced SQL Server professionals might make elsewhere, there are some good benefits, not the least of which are a generous vacation allowance and the chance to get a sabbatical. At first, I suggested looking at recent graduates from local colleges for candidates, as well as junior people at user groups or SQL Saturdays, but then I had another thought.

Working as a support engineer can be an interesting job, seeing lots of different types of problems with software. It can also be less stressful since you work on lots of small issues without looming,  deadlines. With great benefits, it might be the kind of job that an older technology worker would want. Especially if this were a part time position. Experienced, semi-retired professionals might really enjoy this job. I know this is something that might intrigue me in 15 or 20 years.

Read the rest of "A Slower Job"

Direct download: slowerjob_115_v1384.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

This isn't data related, but a story caught my eye recently, and I suspect quite a few of you will enjoy reading it.

One of the tasks I had to do in university was try and rewrite the landing software for the Mars Viking lander. This was in a software engineering class, and we treated the task like a project, each of us having to work on different parts and integrate them together. We had the same requirements in terms of memory and disk space, though not CPU. We ended up building a small piece of software that worked in the professor's simulation, but the real joy was going through the process and solving the problem. It was quite a challenge.

Read the rest of "To Infinity and Beyond"

Direct download: infinityandbeyond_113_v1382.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

A few years ago, I had a keyboard die. At the time, I needed something quickly and ended up with a Logitech wireless model that included a mouse. I'm not sure of which model, but I've ended up getting two or three more Logitech devices over the years. I think I go through a keyboard every 18-24 months, though the mice seem to last longer. For me, having devices available without cords is more important for the mouse than the keyboard, but since Logitech will bundle them, I get both at the same time. I'm currently with a K350 keyboard and an M510 mouse, both of which seem to hold up well.

However, I'm at home, usually working alone, so I haven't been concerned much about security. In corporate environments, I remember playing jokes by moving someone's mouse to my desk, and giving them a disconnected replacement, trying to mimic their movement. Or doing the same with a keyboard. That's a great typing challenge if you ever try it.

I thought about those times when I read this piece on the security of wireless keyboards, or maybe the lack of security. Apparently a relatively simple device can intercept and replace, or just record, keystrokes made on a variety of keyboards. These devices use their own dongles, not a Bluetooth connection, and security is non-existent. Perhaps I'll take one to the Redgate office this fall and see who's actually vulnerable.

Read the rest of "Keyboard Hardlines"

Direct download: keyboardhardlines_111_v1380.mp3
Category:Editorial -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

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