Friday, 14 December 2018

Fun time Friday - A week is a long time in....

A week is a long time in...

SQL Server Land

A week is a long time in SQL Server land. This week I have been busy working on a version migration for one particular customer and looking at security, 'productionising' some servers and troubleshooting connectivity issues for another. As is usual for me no day has been the same.

It’s been a busy week. Despite this, I didn't miss the release of SQL Server 2019 CTP 2.2 - SQL Server 2019 promises to offer much in the real time data analytic field. At some point, likely the new year, I will spend some time exploring the new version to see in greater detail, so I can understand what new features will  be beneficial for my clients and customers.

You can read about the new features in SQL Server 2019 and also download SQL Server 2019 CTP 2.2 here on the Microsoft website.

With a new SQL Server version being released in 2019, and  also, and a more likely driver for upgrading, is SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2  going out extended support with Microsoft. Many of my clients will be looking to upgrade their SQL Server version in the New Year.  To ensure they are on a supported version of SQL Server.

If you need assistance with a version upgrade, from the discovering and planning phase, executing the migration plan or optimizing the platform afterwards we can help. Get in touch for a free consultation about your SQL Server upgrade.


If a week is a long time in SQL Server land, a day is a long time in politics especially  this week. Brexit,  again has been at the heart of the non-tech news for me this week. 

On Wednesday the Prime Minister faced a “No confidence” vote after 15% of her parties MPs (48 of them.) wrote letters expressing they have no confidence in the Prime Minister. By Wednesday evening she had won the confidence vote with 200 MPs voting in her favour, 117 of her own party voted that they had No confidence in her. She won the vote and she is now safe, from her own party for 12 months. 

How she will get 'The Deal' through parliament is now anyone's guess. Especially as several MPs who voted for her in the No Confidence vote have stated they won’t be supporting her Brexit deal. Add to that the opposition parties could decide they have no confidence in the government itself. I'll be honest neither to do I. All the while, the uncertainty rumbles on. There appears there won't be a general election this week but if carries on like this one thinks a General Election  can't be far away. The uncertainty continues.

After this week, there’s one full working week before Christmas – It promises to be an interesting one.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Fun-time Friday - Data outages, Security Breaches and Brexit

It’s been an interesting week here at We have been busy with a SQL Server version upgrade for a customer, the new solution combining Always On Availability Groups and merge replication. We have also been helping a customer with some on premises  SQL Server builds,  creating a new pre-production environment. Fun times - its good to know on premises is still a thing. It’s the news this week that has been most interesting.

O2 Data network meltdown 25 - 30 Million people affected

Thursday this week was an unusual and difficult  day for users of the O2 phone network. It seems that in the early hours of Thursday morning something fundamental in the O2 network broke. Meaning that some 25 million people (I have seen this quoted as being as high as 30 million, which include other suppliers who utilise the O2 infrastructure.)  had no access to data on their phones. How did people cope? It’s back up and running as of Friday morning, Software and a third party suppliers are being blamed along with an expired certificate.

I did find this tweet particularly funny

If it did nothing else, the O2 outage further highlighted how dependent people have become on using their smart phones and having internet access in particular. O2 have mentioned compensating customers for the outage, I haven’t seen any details on how that will work but it will be interesting to see how that materialises.

Marriott data breach

Affecting Starwood hotels... The following is an extract from an email I have received from Marriott telling me about a Starwood hotels data breach. I have stayed in  Marriott hotels on many occasions. I don't recall staying in a Starwood hotel however the fact I'm getting this email must mean my details are in their databases...Worrying!

"On September 8, 2018 an alert was received from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the guest reservation database...Security experts were engaged to help determine what occurred.  We learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014. Marriott recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it. On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.
The information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest ("SPG") account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences. For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES-128). There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken. For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information."

So someone has been rumbling around in this database for four years without anybody noticing, with access to a plethora of data including in some cases credit card information ...Oh dear! I suspect this will not be last the last we hear of this.


You can't round up this week without mentioning Brexit.  Let’s not talk about politics for too long or we’ll all get depressed, but it’s been an interesting  and possibly a slightly worrying week as Teresa May attempts to sell "The Deal" to MPs. (It doesn't feel like a great deal to me).

Every day in parliament this week has been the most important day in parliament’s history since... well the previous day. There is no doubt a long way to go before we get anywhere near a solution to the Brexit problem. Although if the "meaningful vote" is defeated on Tuesday next week, assuming the vote happens and is not delayed we might heading for a new Prime Minister or even another general election all before Christmas.

Interesting Times...I wonder what fun next week will bring.

Monday, 12 November 2018

A New Video - Create a DB Executor Role

A long long time ago, I wrote a blog post showing how to create db_executor role in SQL Server. There is a reader and a writer role but no execute role. So if you wanted a role that allowed you grant execute to all stored procedures and functions in a SQL Server database, you need to create a user-defined role

That blog post is the most read post on my blog even if it is nearly nine years old. So I decided to make a YouTube video from it

I won't re-post the original blog, I'll leave that back in 2010 but I have updated the old blog post to include the video and you can also watch the video here too.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Sharding: Horizontal Scaling in Azure SQL Database

David has produced a talk all about Sharding. Or if you prefer  horizontally scaling your Azure SQL database.

You can view the talk below, its about 45 minutes long and looks at all the aspects of what you need to do to "shard" Azure SQL Database

If you want to follow along with David's demo you can download his example scripts and files here.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Money Ball: Fantasy Football Kicks Off Tonight - Jeff's Degenerates

You might think that this blog post is out of place here but I'm hoping use some of the data that is  freely available on the internet to demonstrate some of the features of  R and data analysis so please hold in there and its a little break from the norm too

Fantasy Football

I have been persuaded for the first time since I was a young lad to enter a fantasy football team and in doing so I have ended up  entering several private leagues with different groups of friends. There is very little money involved and this is very much just for fun. The last time I entered one of these was before the internet was widespread back in the 1990s. To enter the game you had a buy a national newspaper enter your details on a coupon and mail it in - I don't think transfers and substitutions were even possible back then. How  times have changed since then... Actually the competition is quite fierce and with the internet you now have full control of you team and your squad and can make changes pretty frequently within the rules to you entered team.

I'm playing on the website my team name is Jeff's Degenerates and  there seems to be lots of people who  seem to be having a go at being the next, Pep, Klopp or Jose.

I'll keep you posted of the progress as the season progresses - This is my starting 11 for this week's games with some manual data analysis used during the team selection based of last season's players points total

Jeff's Degenerates Starting 11 

Super 6

In slight variant on the fantasy football I've also entered a super 6 league. The gist of this is where you predict the scores of 6 games playing on a Saturday afternoon. You get awarded points for the correct result and more points  if you get the correct score.

I think had a little bit of beginners luck last week there was no data analysis used at all, it was the first games of the season and there was no recent form to go on - I got 4/6 results 3 with the correct score, giving me a total 17 points. I'm not sure how many people play the competition I'm told its at least 10,000 maybe even 100,000. It could be more than that. Anyway my 17 points left me 638 spot across every player -  5 x 3 for the correct score and 2 points  for the correct result

Super 6 - Week 1 scores 

These are the scores I have gone with for this week

I'll try and remember to update you how I get on.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Free Session, Free Beer, Free Food - # Not the GDPR News

This is a final call for attendees. We are have the last few seats available in out #Not the GDPR news - Why projects fail seminar that is taking place in Cardiff on Thursday evening

Wonder why projects fail? Want to spot the signs of failure? Want to know how to turn failure into success? CPS Group are hosting an Interactive Seminar with Wyeden’s Mark Williams & Gethyn from (40+ years project experience between them). Wyenot come along, enjoy some drinks & food, chat with peer’s, listen & join in as you wish…& have fun? 

If you fancy some free beer, free food and a free seminar why not join Mark Williams and myself this Thursday evening. It is free for you to  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. 

Oh and you'll get to see what this face was all about

Monday, 9 April 2018

# Not the GDPR News -t minus 10 days

# Not the GDPR News -t minus 10 days

There is ten days to go and there are still some seats left for our #Not the GDPR news - a session on turning around failing projects.

Mark Williams and myself will delivering the session in Cardiff on the 19th April... in 10 days time! 

#Not the GDPR News

Please note that this is not a session on GDPR!

This is the session abstract

Wonder why projects fail? Want to spot the signs of failure? Want to know how to turn failure into success? CPS Group are hosting an Interactive Seminar with Wyeden’s Mark Williams & Gethyn from (40+ years project experience between them). Wyenot come along, enjoy some drinks & food, chat with peer’s, listen & join in as you wish…& have fun? 

It is free for you to  the link which will take you to the EventBrite website. Your name and email address is all you need to register. If you register and come along to the session on 19th you'll not only get a great session but there will be some free drinks (beers and soft drinks) and nibbles too. 

If you know someone, a friend of colleague who would also enjoy this session feel free to forward it on to them.

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