MetaPost: Windows Live Translator

Thanks to the smart people at Microsoft Research you can now have your blog posts and web pages translated into several languages – how cool!

Andrew Duthie – aka .Net DevHammerposted about this new Live functionality on his blog:

This is a pretty cool tool, from the Windows Live folks, called Windows Live Translator. You give it a URL, and it takes care of translation from English to Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and many more, and from various of these languages back to English.

:{> Andy

Applying SQL Server Service Packs and HotFixes

Some notes about the SQL Server Service Pack Installation Engine. I like it – a lot. The new engine goes to great lengths to prevent my having to bounce a physical server to apply a service pack. No matter how you slice it, it takes less time to stop and restart a service than restart the server.

You will reach a point in the installation where a dialog similar to the following displays:

If I were to suggest one change for the SQL Server Service Pack installer, I would suggest disabling the Next button until the check is complete on this “Checking for locked files” screen. A lot of people have been conditioned by disabled buttons to click-if-it’s-enabled. So they see the Next button available and just click through this step. The step allows you to do this and stops the check for locked files. However…

  • Some Service Pack (or hotfix) patches may not be applied as a result.
  • You may be required to reboot the server to complete the Service Pack (or hotfix) installation.

So for now, no blindly clicking the Next button!

When locked files are discovered the dialog displays something like the following:

My advice: Stop here, open the Services console and stop each of the identified services manually. After each has been stopped, click the Refesh button and you should see the next screenshot:

If you do not see this screenshot, you haven’t stopped all the impacted services. Rinse and repeat until you get a “No locked files found” message. Then click the Next button.

As installation progresses you will see a screen similar to the following:

This screen shows you what’s being updated and gives an indication of progress. Progress indications good.

When the Installation Progress indicates all is complete, click the Next button to proceed. A summary displays all SQL Server-related services and their Service Pack / HotFix disposition:

Be sure to restart the services you manually stopped before proceeding!

This explains why some service pack installations don’t “take.” If you believe you’ve installed an SSIS SP, for instance, but are still seeing that pesky issue that was supposedly resolved, this could be why.

:{> Andy

New Features Announced In SQL Server 2008

Buck Woody, Microsoft SQL Server Program Manager, recently posted a list of enhancements in the works for SQL Server 2008 RTM in the SQL Server MVP newsgroup. The usual suspects were included in the list: Policy-Based Management (formerly DMF), Resource Governor, Multi-Server Query, PowerShell, and IntelliSense – but there are also some interesting additions that I’d not heard about until reading his post.

The big addition: Activity Monitor, described in the post thus:

The new Activity Monitor was written from the ground up with the perspective of the DBA needing to chase down a performance problem in real time. Modeled after the new Windows Resource Monitor, DBAs can quickly see the active sessions, wait states, file I/O, and long running queries in a command console like UI.

I’m excited! I currently lug around a collection of scripts (… that I keep promising to add to an application one day) to check hither and yon for performance gotchas.

Another addition: Database Diagram / Table Designer Safety Additions which add safety checks “for operations that that would drop an object or cause data loss.”

You will also be able to launch Profiler “from a Query Editor Results window to the SPID of the query.” This sounds very interesting. If I’m reading this right I’ll be able to execute sp_who2, obtain the SPID of a long-running query, right-click (or something) and start a Profiler trace pre-configured to capture activity of this SPID. You can also launch the SPID-centric Profiler from Activity Monitor. I will be using that a lot!

New right-click options in the Query Results Window will allow users to “select a range of rows in the Results Grid and copy the headings as well. Also, you can select individual cells and copy them with headers if you wish.” This sounds like the copy functionality we have in SSIS Grid Data Viewers. I can tell you from expereience this is handy feature. It’s very useful to be able to copy a few multi-selected rows – including row headers (especially when you’re working with a couple hundred columns!) – and paste them into Excel for analysis.

 A new “Info Bar” provides pre-validated navigation cues in many screens.

The Open Table feature limits the number of rows returned. Has this ever happened to you? You right-click a table in SSMS and select Open Table only to hog server resources just so you could take a peek at the data? It’s happened to me… (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

There are also a few changes to ShowPlan – mostly related to XML / graphics interchange. I remember seeing some of this in early SQL Server 2005 pre-releases but I believe it was cut from the 2005 RTM. Nice to see these options – they’re great for documenting issues.

Performance Studio will contain a host of performance tuning reports – another exciting feature! The whole Data Collection database has me stoked – have you seen this feature in CTP6? It’s pretty cool.

Last but not least, the team has decided to include – drum roll please – the T-SQL debugger in SSMS!

I can hardly wait to see these in action, and it’s very cool of the SQL Server Team to give us visibility into these planned features along with permission to blog about them (thanks Buck!).

:{> Andy

SSIS 2008 Data Profiling Task

Jamie Thomson has posted a great series on the SSIS 2008 Data Profiling Task.

The Data Profiling Task allows developers to quickly assess key statistics about data in a database table. When I say “statistics” I mean things like column value and length distribution, column null ratio, column patterns, and functional dependencies. You can learn more in Jamie’s series or at MSDN.

One very cool feature is the ability to set up a Single Table Quick Profile to quickly configure and capture desired statistical data.

Once you capture the data, you use a separate stand-alone tool for viewing the results: the Data Profile Viewer.

SQL Server 2008 CTP6 (February 2008) includes a functioning version of the Data Profiling Task in SSIS 2008.

:{> Andy

SSIS 2008 Data Profiling Task

Jamie Thomson has posted a great series on the SSIS 2008 Data Profiling Task.

The Data Profiling Task allows developers to quickly assess key statistics about data in a database table. When I say “statistics” I mean things like column value and length distribution, column null ratio, column patterns, and functional dependencies. You can learn more in Jamie’s series or at MSDN.

One very cool feature is the ability to set up a Single Table Quick Profile to quickly configure and capture desired statistical data.

Once you capture the data, you use a separate stand-alone tool for viewing the results: the Data Profile Viewer.

SQL Server 2008 CTP6 (February 2008) includes a functioning version of the Data Profiling Task in SSIS 2008.

:{> Andy