Sunday, June 7, 2009

SQL Saturday

Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

I spent the day yesterday (June 6th) at the Portland SQLSaturday event.

Way cool, but, of course, I ran into the predictible "Access? I'm sorry" bias. (More on that later.)

I sat through sessions on:
  • Table and Index Partitioning (If you manage many millions of rows of data you need to know about partitioning, otherwise, not so much. )
  • SQL Indexes Implementation in Practice (You DO need to know about this regardless of the RDBMS you use, including JET)
  • T-SQL Best Practices (My favorite session because it was closest to the ground, had the best examples and the best transferability to what we do with Access queries.)
  • Understanding SQL Injection for Devs and DBAs (I asked about client-servers installations. Even if you DON'T have a public-facing web site, you need to be aware of, and prepared to prevent, these attacks.)
  • XML and Relational Databases (No, XML is not relational. Yes, it has a very important role to play in your database anyway.)
  • SS 2008 Transparent Data Encryption Performance Tests. (This is pretty cool technology and, in the right situations, very valuable. However, it is limited to Enterprise Editions of SS 2008, so if your shop isn't there yet, it's hard to get too excited.)
There was a separate track of sessions, many of which also sounded interesting and useful. If they were comparable to the ones I attended, they were also awesome.
Most of the presenters promised that, at some point, their notes and slide decks will be available for download. I'm definitely going after two: T-SQL Best Practices and SQL Indexes.
You Want Fries With That?
Okay, so I met a guy in the first few minutes of the morning, while we were waiting for the speakers to get set up. He introduced himself as an ex-softie who'd "worked on Excel", back in the day. I thought he might be interesting to talk to and stopped to chat. When I told him I am an Access developer, he responded, "I'm sorry." Okay, then; that tells me all I need to know here. Interestingly enough, by the end of our conversation he revealed that he is currently unemployed and gave me a copy of his resume. Apparently he did not see the irony in that gesture, although it did not escape me. I harbor no ill will, and I hope he catches on in a shop where his skills (and attitudes) are appropriate, but it's not likely we'll be calling him soon, I'm afraid.
I Can Relate to That
I really enjoyed the session on XML in SSL Server even though I doubt I'll be using it any time soon. SS 2008 supports XML. It will be more and more valuable in large SQL installations. The presenter did a great job of explaining relational design principles to boot. Worth the price of admission (free) all by itself. If you get a chance to try it out, and have the time and resources available, figuring out how to incorporate XML ought to be worthwhile.
The Fundamental Things Apply As Time Goes By
Access is, and always will be, my tool of first choice. The fundamentals of Good Database Design don't change, and those of us who find it an endlessly fascinating and challenging environment will always have a friend in Access, I believe.
Still, it's pretty cool to think that you can encrypt and decrypt a hundred thousand rows of data with only a minimal impact on performance--if you happen to have that much sensitive data hanging around in your database.
So Long, Pardner
On a personal note, I got my final divorce papers this week. I just got back from a jewelry store, where I had my wedding band cut from my finger after 33 and half years.
To sum up my week, therefore, I can think of no better words than Frank's.
To Yolanda:
I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm; most of all, when snowflakes fall, I wish you love.