SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, August 10, 2006--Answering the Siren Call of the Blue Badge

SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, August 10, 2006--Answering the Siren Call of the Blue Badge

In This Issue:
Do you lie awake at night wishing for a blue-badge job at Microsoft? Now’s your chance! To land this dream job, you need to know SQL Server inside-out, produce elegant programmatic solutions, be passionate about teaching others how to get the most out of SQL Server—oh, and can you write?

Only two more days to participate in the Salary Survey, and only a couple more weeks to send in your SQL Server Innovator Award submission!

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  • Yes, I regularly do outside work for extra income.
  • Yes, but only occasionally.
  • No, but I’d consider it.
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  • No, I don’t want to.

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August 10, 2006

1. Perspectives

  • Answering the Siren Call of the Blue Badge

2. SQL Server Watch

  • Take the SQL Server Magazine Salary Survey!
  • You Could Be a SQL Server Innovator!
  • Product Watch: SoftTree Technologies and Oracle

3. Hot Articles

  • Q&A: When Upgrading, Check Compatibility Level
  • SELECT TOP(X): Database Mirroring
  • In a Nutshell: Keeping Up with BOL
  • Puzzled by T-SQL: Quaere Verum: Clustered Index Scans, Part II
  • Hot Threads: SQL Server General Discussion and Reporting Services

4. Events and Resources

  • SQL Server Magazine Connections Conference
  • Oracle and SQL Server: Cross-Platform Data Roadshow
  • A Database Utility for Lower TCO
  • 5 Tips for Choosing Antispyware

5. Featured White Paper

  • How Effective is Your Antivirus?

6. Reader Challenge

  • August Reader Challenge Solution: Generating 6-Digit All-Numeric File Numbers for Search
  • September Reader Challenge: Filtering Strings with Trailing Blanks

7. Announcements

  • SQL Server Performance Tips, Articles, and Forums
  • Save $40 On Windows IT Pro Magazine

8. Web Community

  • http://www.sqlmag.com

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1. Perspectives

Answering the Siren Call of the Blue Badge
by Brian Moran, [email protected]

Some little children dream of growing up to become a policeman, doctor, nurse, President, or perhaps even race car driver. My son Joseph “wants to be a fireman-elephant: He would have his own hose for putting out fires. At the age of 3, my daughter Emily declared her intention to be a best friend when she’s a grownup. So clearly, career aspirations are varied. But for many of you, the inner geek yearns for a blue badge. (Note to the uninitiated: “Blue Badge” refers to the color of the access badge that a Microsoft employee receives. Contractors and other people with access badges receive different colors. Cool and hip people know to say, “She’s a blue badge at Microsoft.” Read on if you dream of badges blue.

Recently, a colleague at Microsoft asked me to refer SQL Server experts who might be a good fit for the growing SQL Server User Education (UE) team. Instead of passing along a few names, I suggested I let the world know about the opportunity. Now let’s be clear: This isn’t the position to seek if you’re brand new to the field and know deep down inside that you don’t really have the depth of knowledge to compete for a job at Microsoft. But if you’re good—very good—you might be intrigued.

Microsoft created the title “Programming Writer” to fit the company’s growing interest in making SQL Server Books Online a world-class resource for demos, scripts, and examples in addition to plain old-fashioned documentation. Regular readers of this column know that I’m a great fan of this trend, and I understand why Programming Writers are essential to the cause. Let’s face it--many coders have not been granted the gift of prose (at least not until someone hosts English inside the CLR). And many good writers, well, can’t code their way out of a paper bag. So what’s Microsoft looking for in a Programming Writer? Here’s Microsoft’s introduction to the job description:

“Great documentation is about simplification—the flash of inspiration that lets you see that concepts you thought were hard can be taught in clear steps with concrete examples. Join a team dedicated to making data programming as simple as possible, yet robust enough for the largest applications in the industry. Your role on this team will be to educate developers by using concise prose and elegant code. You will spend much of your time on new technology, blazing the path that other developers will follow. You will help create the terminology, vocabulary, and coding practice for a new approach to data access.”

Other snippets from the job description include the following qualifications:

  • Demonstrated skill at crafting both code and prose
  • Passion for teaching customers about technology, and enjoy the challenge of learning new technology
  • Experience working with relational databases, using object/relational mapping and creating developer documentation
  • Experience with a variety of technologies and programming languages is also helpful. However, the most important experience you can bring to this job is a track record of quickly learning new technologies, clearly and accurately explaining those technologies to others, and developing inspiring sample applications for new technologies.

The following blog links might help you decide whether this career excites you. The first three links are to blogs from members of the team that you would be working with. The next four links are to the personal blogs from several leading members of the team.

Team blogs:

  • Data:
  • XML:

Individual team members’ blogs:

  • Michael Rys:
  • Michael Rys:
  • Erik Meijer
  • Brian Bec

Interested candidates should contact Microsoft at [email protected]

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2. SQL Server Watch

Take the SQL Server Magazine Salary Survey!
We need your help! SQL Server Magazine is launching its third SQL Server Magazine Industry Salary Survey, and we want to find out all about you and what makes you a satisfied database professional. When you complete the survey (about 10 minutes of your time), you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of five $100 American Express gift certificates. Look for the survey results—and how you stack up against your peers—in our December issue. To take the survey, go to

You Could Be a SQL Server Innovator!
If you've developed a resourceful solution that uses SQL Server technology to solve a business problem, you qualify to enter the 2006 SQL Server Magazine Innovators Contest! Grand-prize winners will receive airfare and a conference pass to SQL Server Magazine Connections in Las Vegas, November 6–9, 2006, plus more great prizes and a feature article about the winning solutions in the January 2007 issue of SQL Server Magazine. Contest runs through September 1, 2006, so enter today!

Product Watch
by Blake Eno, [email protected]

Normalize Audit Data From Different Database Platforms
SoftTree Technologies announced updates to its flagship product, DB Audit Expert, which provides new enterprise-class support for centralized audit repositories. DB Audit Expert lets you streamline auditing and compliance operations by using a central repository for SQL Server, Oracle, IBM DB2, and Sybase databases. Unified alerting and reporting provides centralized monitoring and alerting of all data access, updates, data structure modifications, and changes to security permissions. Pricing for DB Audit Expert starts at $329 per database server instance. For more information, contact SoftTree Technologies at 800-289-9256.

Oracle Enhances Integration with Visual Studio
Oracle announced Oracle Developer Tools for Visual Studio .NET, a free plug-in that lets you use Visual Studio 2005 to develop and deploy Microsoft .NET Framework-based applications with Oracle Database 10g. The tool lets you debug PL/SQL stored procedures and functions within Visual Studio 2005. Oracle also announced Oracle Data Provider for .NET, which supports ADO.NET 2.0. The combination of these two releases helps you become more productive building .NET applications and Web services with Oracle Database 10g.

Sponsor: Double-Take Software
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Learn what every IT Manager should know about protecting SQL Server, and identify the costs, risks, and advantages of each. Make sure that your disaster recovery and high availability solutions match your business needs.

3. Hot Articles

Q&A: When Upgrading, Check Compatibility Level
by Brian Moran, [email protected]

Q: When you upgrade a SQL Server 2000 instance in place, you might have noticed that the compatibility level of existing user databases doesn't change to a value of 90, the compatibility level of a native SQL Server 2005 database. Here’s how to check and correct the level in your environment.

Read the answer to this question today at

SELECT TOP(X): Database Mirroring
Now that Microsoft has added database mirroring to SQL Server 2005 SP1, check out how this important high-availability feature works to automate switching between databases. Read this article today and post your comments at

In a Nutshell: Keeping Up with BOL
In this week’s blog, Kevin Kline talks about why it’s important to download the latest BOL updates.

Puzzled By T-SQL: Quaere Verum—Clustered Index Scans—Part II
In this blog post, Itzik talks about his recent findings concerning clustered index scans (Part II).

Hot Threads:
SQL Server General Discussion: Access Query Doesn’t Work in SQL Server 2005
Reporting Services: Web Interface Problem

4. Events and Resources

SQL Server Magazine Connections Conference
Now in its sixth year, SQL Server Magazine Connections returns November 6–9, at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. Get down to business today with SQL Server 2005. Interact with and learn from an all-star lineup. Register for one event and attend sessions of the concurrently run events for FREE!

Cross-Platform Data Roadshow
Oracle professionals will cover key concepts about Oracle and SQL Server in enterprise database computing. This event provides invaluable information about the benefits of 64-bit computing on the Windows platform, SQL Server BI for Oracle, high-availability proof points for SQL and Oracle, and much more.

Does your SQL Server deployment suffer from low utilization rates, suboptimal availability, and management challenges? Learn to overcome these difficulties by deploying a database utility that can help lower your cost of ownership by 70% and can react to changes within 30 seconds. Live Web Seminar: Tuesday, August 22

Randy Franklin Smith outlines five evaluation points to consider when choosing your antispyware solution in this free podcast. Download it today!

See the complete Windows IT Pro Network guide to Web and live events.

5. Featured White Paper

Antivirus or patching software alone isn’t enough to protect your valuable systems from spyware. Learn how an enterprise antispyware solution gives you an affordable—and most important, effective, solution to spyware. Download the free whitepaper today!

6. Reader Challenge

August Reader Challenge Solution: Generating 6-Digit All-Numeric File Numbers for Search
by Umachandar Jayachandran, [email protected]

The August Reader Challenge, "Generating 6-Digit All-Numeric File Numbers for Search," had no winners. You can read a recap of the problem and the solution to the August Reader Challenge at

Now, test your SQL Server savvy in the September Reader Challenge, "Fixing a Faulty Lookup Query" (below). Submit your solution in an email message to [email protected] by August 17. Umachandar Jayachandran, a SQL Server Magazine technical editor, will evaluate the responses. We'll announce the winner in an upcoming SQL Server Magazine UPDATE. The first-place winner will receive $100, and the second-place winner will receive $50.

Here's the challenge:
Jeff is a database developer who needs to develop an application that keeps track of Unicode strings in a database table. The Unicode strings are 40 characters long and include trailing blanks, which are significant for comparison purposes when looking up specific values in the table. Jeff uses the pubs sample database and creates the test table and data by using the following T-SQL batches:

USE pubs
SELECT identity(int) AS id, CAST(au_lname AS nvarchar(40)) AS name1, 
CAST(au_fname AS nvarchar(20)) AS name2
FROM dbo.authors
CREATE CLUSTERED INDEX idx__a_name ON _a(name1)
INSERT INTO _a VALUES(N'Test Name 1 ', N'Test Name 1')
INSERT INTO _a VALUES(N'Test Name 1', N'Test Name 1')
INSERT INTO _a SELECT a1.name1, a1.name2 FROM _a a1, _a a2

To test how he can look up specific items using the name1 column from the table, Jeff writes the following simple query:

DECLARE @n nvarchar(40)
SET @n = N'Test Name 1 '
SELECT *, datalength(name1) FROM _a
WHERE name1 = @n

But the query doesn't give the results he expected; Jeff gets the entries with and without trailing blanks. For the sample data shown, the query returns rows that have name1 as Test Name 1 without a trailing blank and Test Name 1 with a trailing blank. However, Jeff expects the equality operator to perform an exact match thereby returning only the row with name1 as Test Name 1.

What is the flaw in the query? Why doesn't the equality operator consider the blanks significant? And how can Jeff modify the query so that he gets the expected results efficiently?

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7. Announcements

SQL Server Performance Tips, Articles, and Forums
Get hundreds of free tips and articles on SQL Server performance tuning and clustering. And get quick and accurate answers to your performance- and cluster-related questions in our forum. All from the SQL Server performance and clustering authority: SQL-Server-Performance.com.

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8. Web Community


Hot Threads


New Instant Poll


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