Saturday, November 18, 2017

TSQL Tuesday #96

This month's T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Ewald Cress (blog | twitter) - Folks Who Have Made a Difference

There are 3 people who have really contributed positively to my career in data.  Two are in a dba role, the other wasn't anywhere close. They all helped in a different way, which is why I am listing them all.

The first person I want to talk about is a past boss.  When I was starting out in my career, I was an administrative assistant in the pharmacy department of an HMO.  The head of the department, Mary, was a pharmacist and very friendly, yet tough.  She worked with a committee of doctors to set policy within the HMO we worked for, and it affected all of the members we served throughout Florida.

I did the normal administrative assistant type of duties, but she allowed me to stretch beyond those borders and do other stuff that was helpful as well.  One of those pet-projects that I worked on imported prescription utilization data into an Access database, manipulated it, then exported the results in both Excel reports and Word documents.  I was so proud of what was done, and should have gotten the hint that was the direction I wanted to go in (but of course I didn't at the time).  I still think about her.  She helped me in more ways than I realized and was a very good mentor (and boss) to have!

The next person who contributed to my path was a dba I used to work with, Stuart.  When I realized I should actually be in IT, I found a job as a report writer for a local company.  I worked my way into being a developer, and then started working with databases more.  I would ask Stuart all kinds of questions and he was always patient.  I think he recognized that I wanted to learn, and that I wasn't questioning the decisions behind processes, but wanting to understand for knowledge.  He helped me learn the basics of things so that I can explore more on my own.  For example, he sat down with me and helped me understand how to prioritize the list of database objects in the FROM statement and why it mattered.  That jump started many nights of studying to figure out even more.  I still talk to him from time to time and hope to be a friend for many years to come.  He also always had great stories to listen to!

I admittedly don't know how to thank either of them for their patience and understanding.  The best thing I can think of is to help others in a similar manner.  I feel all gooey inside when I think about them and hope that I can have that affect on someone else one day. :)

The third person who I wanted to talk about is Sean McCown.  I met him at a SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge a few years ago where I attended a session he presented on Powershell.  That particular SQL Saturday was my first one ever.  I hadn't even known that type of event existed until that year.  The event was fantastic and I was so excited during and after (I have to give a shout out to the BRSSUG - they are awesome people)!  The way he presented the information and answered questions was something I hadn't really experienced before.  It was very clear that he enjoys what he does, and his upbeat personality draws people in.  I remember being in awe and wanting to do that too.  He also recorded himself, as he does with most of his sessions.  That was the first time I really had thought about and started researching what it takes to brand myself.  Him and Jen also put on a weekly webshow at DBAs@Midnight, which is an incredible way to talk to them regularly. Since then I have been a speaker at a few SQL Saturday events and user group meetings - partly in thanks to him. I still think back to the initial excitement and feel so thrilled that the SQL community is filled with so many wonderful people!

 

 

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Working with current and previous rows in text files

An issue came up today where the vendor was sending a text file, but the text for some of the lines was on multiple lines, rather than a single line.  After researching, I found out that I needed to compare a line of text and based on certain criteria append it to the prior line.  I couldn't just strip certain end of line markers because it was mixed.

I am using a dummy test file in this example, but here is how everything played out:

Read more: Working with current and previous rows in text files

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Using Notepad++ to change end of line characters (CRLF to LF)

End of Line characters include CR or LF.  Windows uses both CRLF at the end of a line, whereas Unix uses only a LF.

  • CR = Carriage Return
  • LF = Line Feed

Recently, while troubleshooting why data wont import successfully as part of an automated process, I was pulling a subset of data out of the main text file, but the end of line markers weren't correct.  I copied several lines using Notepad ++ and it automatically used CRLF markers.  The automated process expected the end of line markers to be LF to be read by the SSIS package properly.

This article will help job my memory when I run across this again... but hopefully it helps someone else too! :)

First off, within Notepad ++ to see the end of line markers, you need to indicate you want to see them.  Click on View > Show Symbol > then either Show End of Line, or Show All Characters if you want to see spaces and tabs, sometimes the second option is easier).

Read more: Using Notepad++ to change end of line characters (CRLF to LF)

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TSQL Tuesday #59

This month's T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by RealSQLGuy - Tracy McKibben (blog | twitter) and he is calling out for all Heroes!

What a fabulous topic! I really had think about it though. I think I have 1 personal hero and 2 professional heroes. I should give a disclaimer here - I have a hard time picking a favorite anything, so this just follows suit I guess. :)

First, my professional heroes (not listed in any specific order):

  • Stuart - I used to work with Stuart at my previous employer. I didnt think of him in this regard at the time, but looking back I do. He was the DBA, and I was more of a programmer/database developer. Every time I had a question, he would explain why and I would walk away feeling smarter, not dumber. I have worked with people who made you feel like an idiot when you asked a question, and I never had that from Stuart. In fact, he would explain in depth if I asked. For instance, he taught me tricks on query optimization, rather than just doing it and giving it back to me with no explanation. I remember a specific moment at my current job: it was the first time I changed a 45-min cursor within our ETL process to a 5-10 min set based query. I was ecstatic! I dont think I would have thought of it in that way without working with Stuart before. In all honesty, when I think of a DBA, he is what I think about. I work with the BI side of things now, so it is different than my work then, but I wouldnt have the confidence I do now without that experience.
  • Chris - I used to work with Chris at my previous employer, too. He is the type of person that is very smart, down-to-earth and nice. He also speaks code fluently as another language (or he at least seems to). :) He is my hero because if it werent for him, I would probably not have realized that I am not a programmer. Sure - I can do it. But, watching him be able to understand and code so quickly and easily, I realized that is not my natural-born skill. For me, I have to look up syntax and really dig into a project because it didnt come as easily for me. The hero part comes from him being such a great guy about it. He also took the time to help you without making you feel stupid in any way. How many people do you know that are so good at what they do, but dont have the ego behind that? I am the type that feels heavily responsible for what I am doing, which sometimes means I keep grinding at a project or multiple until I feel like it is perfect - and it never is. When I realized I am not a programmer, it made me think of what I can do that easily - and that is what led me to working with data much more.

I have saved the best for last - my personal hero:

  • My Mother - She is kind and sweet and everyone loves her! She is what I want to be (when I grow up - haha). I have had some very challenging years and I dont know how I would have gotten through them without her. I am a positive person, but she helps me think in that way when I really dont want to. Maybe I have someone at work who doesnt like me and it shows - I take things personally and next thing you know I am not thinking happy thoughts, much more hurt. She helps me get back in the right mind-set and not to worry about it. She tells me - I need to let it slide like water slides off a duck's back. I will admit, I hate hearing her say that - but she is right and I know it. :) I also like knowing she relies on me as much as I do her - so its not all 1-sided. :) I am lucky enough to be able to say my mother is my best friend and is definitely a super-hero!
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TSQL Tuesdays # 57

Jeffrey Verheul (blog | twitter) is hosting TSQL Tuesday. He thought of a great topic: SQL Family and community.

I first heard about the SQL community by way of the SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge (Aug 2012). I hadn't heard of anything like that before. I didnt have a twitter account and I hadnt been in a true DBA role, so when I wanted to learn more, I just thought of books. Once I went to the SQL Sat BR, it was like a whole new world opened up for me. I loved how the leaders interacted with each other, joking and kidding around - and honestly - I wanted that! I was a little too much in AWE of everything that day to approach anyone, but left with some awesome tips I had learned and couldnt wait for more.

I learned about their user group and even though I was an hour away, I wanted to attend. Life got in the way, so I didnt attend many in that next year. However, when 2013 rolled around, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and submitted to be a speaker. I had some previous experience with public speaking, so I was only nervous about the technical content portion. They chose me and after I presented, I realized I was completely addicted! I was thrilled to meet people who I had learned from the previous year. It was an amazing experience all around.

I have since spoken at the user group in Baton Rouge, this year's SQL Saturday in Baton Rouge (cant get enough of them), at 2 virtual chapters, and the SQL Saturday in Dallas (Nov 2013). Each time I have had the priviledge of meeting more and more people; each time I get a little awe-struck, and each time I feel relaxed and at ease when actually talking with them.

I have since started a user group here in Lafayette, LA (although I still travel to BR for meetings too). One of the main reasons I started the group was to have people closer to home that I could connect with in the same way I do with others throughout the community. It is amazing to know that even though I have a lot I need to learn, I havent met anyone who judges me negatively for that. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I dont know of any other IT community who responds to others in such an overall friendly way and I feel priviledged that I get to be a part of it.

P.S. - I mistakenly put someone else's name as the host for this month - and it turned into yet another example of how great this community is. I hadnt talked with him before, but I guarantee you when I meet him I will remember this and based on his messages, we will both chuckle in a nice way. :)

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Tech Fest - Houston - 2014 (I'm Presenting)

I will be presenting on Sept 13, 2014 at Houston TechFest! This is an amazing opportunity and I am very excited.  You can check out all the sessions being given by clicking here.

I will be presenting on: Data Warehouse Indexes and ABCs of SSIS

Make sure to follow them on twitter for updates: @HoustonTechFest or #htechfest

Sept will be here before you know it - See you there!

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Data Warehouse Indexes

A datawarehouse environment is used differently than a transactional environment, so architecture and indexing strategies should also be different. In this presentation, we review what the ultimate goal of an index really is, what the point of a data warehouse is, and how they relate to each other. You will also learn common practices for indexing the different types of warehouse tables, specifically dimension tables, fact tables, and staging tables. We will review cases when it is useful to have summary level fact tables, in addition to detail level fact tables. Then, lastly, we will look at the benefits, and gotchas, of using columnstore indexes.

You can get to the presentation slide-deck by clicking here.  There are helpful notes on most of the slides.

The script referenced in the slide deck can be downloaded by clicking here.

Also, there have been a number of requests to be able to get the cute frog pics, so here they are!

This session is also available via a recording, which can be found by clicking here.  It was presented to the Data Architecture Virtual PASS chapter (although it has been updated since then, the majority of the presentation is the same).

Presented at:

  • August 2, 2014 - SQL Saturday Baton Rouge (Abstract)
  • May 6, 2014 - Data Architecture Virtual Chapter ** recording available (YouTube Recording)
  • March 12, 2014 - Baton Rouge SQL Server User Group
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