Good Reads

Thanks to Tekzilla, I found an interesting website called Good Reads. Good Reads allows you to quickly and easily enter the books you own into the site so others can see what you are reading, want to read, etc. It also makes it handy when you are a book lover like me, and have a hard time remembering which books you own and don’t own.

You can organize your books into bookshelves. It comes with three built in shelves: read, currently-reading, and to-read. You can create your own shelves, and a book can be on multiple shelves. I’ve organized my bookshelves by topic, so far I have shelves like sql-server, powershell, c-sharp, f-sharp, to name a few. You can find my list at:

I like this concept, in the past I’ve always used an on-line bookseller when suggesting a book. Now this gives me a way of sharing my book list without looking like I’m a marketer. Another valuable feature, the site lets you create reviews for each book and give it a one to five star rating.

Right now I have added my most recent books. The ones on the bookshelf in my office in easy reach (or that have spilled onto a stack on my desk due to lack of bookshelf space) that get used a lot. I love books as a learning medium, so wind up buying a lot. Eventually I will add more of my current computer book collection. Also right now I’m focusing on my computer books, but will eventually add some of my recreational, self improvement, and business books.

Check out Good Reads and my list when you can. It’s free, and pretty quick to add your book list to. If you create a list feel free to leave a comment with a link so we can see what you are reading!

Productivity and Toilet Seats

Recently I bought a new toilet seat. It’s freed up my time to do more productive things. Now, before you hit the speed dial to have the old Arcane Coder hauled off in a pretty white jacket with straps and shiny buckles on the back, bear with me.

You average toilet seat takes about 4 seconds to put down, assuming you do it gently and don’t slam it. I recently spent a few extra dollars to get a spring loaded toilet seat. All I have to do is nudge it and it gently lowers itself to the lowered position. 1 second of my time to nudge, versus 4 seconds. Not to get too personal, but we’ll say I need to lower the seat 4 times a day on average. That means I’ve saved 12 seconds a day. Doesn’t sound like much, but count that up over a year, it winds up saving me 73 minutes a year. What can I do with that 73 minutes a year I’m not spending on doing something as mundane as lowering toilet seat? Play XBox with my kids, read a book, listen to a podcast, or even write blog posts.

I’m always looking for ways to save time, as time is the one thing we all have the same amount of. Do you have a laptop you regularly take between home and work? Get a second power supply and mouse, leave one at home and one at work. You save a lot of time and effort by just unhooking your laptop and dropping it in your bag versus having to fiddle with all the cords, plugging and unplugging.

My Zune is another productivity gadget. Using it I can keep up my education via podcasts while doing things like driving, cutting the grass, or even shopping. Likewise my PDA keeps a lot of information at my fingertips, which saves me from running back and forth to my PC several times a day.

Time is the one equalizer, the one thing we all have the same amount of. In my mind then, any sort of gadget which gives us back time to do other things is a worthwhile investment.

So what kind of tools do you use to gain productive time in your life?

TechEd 2008 Wrap Up

Whew. I’m finally home from TechEd 2008. It was an incredible week. First off, it was quite lucky for me in terms of swag. I came home with: XBox 360 Elite; Office 2007 Ultimate; Book on Sharepoint Web Part Programming; 2 games for the XBox; 8 Gig Zune; and more extra large t-shirts than I could carry.

I also got to meet a lot of great people, and find some speakers to add to my favorites list. Having heard them on Dot Net Rocks I knew Kimberly Trip and Paul Randall were good speakers, and just as friendly off stage as on. Matthew Roche, Buck Woody, Dan Jones, Donald Farmer, Peter Ward, Allen White, Maciej Pilecki, well I could go on with the list of great speakers but these were among the ones that stand out.

The InBetween weekend event was outstanding. The user groups really did a great job in a short amount of time putting together an awesome weekend. In addition to presenting my own session I also enjoyed attending ones by Barry Ralston, Andy Warren, Brian Knight, well there I go again. It is well worth staying over, or arriving early and getting in on the weekend event if you are going to TechEd.

By far though, the most important thing I came home with was knowledge. I learned an incredible amount. That knowledge will make me more valuable to my employer, who invested their money to send me. It will also make me more valuable to my coworkers, as I share the knowledge and have more answers to their questions. I’m also more valuable to the community, as I go back to user groups and share what I’ve learned there in presentations.

All in all I’d say TechEd was a great investment of time, money, and brain power.

Interview with Andy Warren on his Birmingham Visit

After the SQL Saturday event Inbetween the TechEds I had a moment to interview SQL Server guru Andy Warren about his upcoming trip to Birmingham Alabama. Andy will be speaking at the Steel City SQL group on June 17th and holding an all day class on on Performance Tuning on June 18th. You can find my interview with him, in MP3 format, here:

Andy Warren Interview

Note the audio is raw and uncut, but will give you all of the information you need.

The TechEd Day 1 Report

Wow, what a day. It was go go go all day long. I even attended sessions during lunch, so as to get every last bit of knowledge I could. I went to a lot of good sessions today, but by far my favorite was the session Kimberly Tripp did on Indexing Strategies. She was able to take a boring subject like indexing and not only make it understandable but entertaining. When you find yourself excited about the thought of spending time looking at your indexes, you know you’ve been trained by a master!

After the session she stayed and answered questions, and again from the floor she and her husband Paul were there again sharing their brain power. I enjoyed the session so much I’ve just spent 20 minutes juggling my schedule for the rest of the week so I can squeeze in another session they are doing later in the week. If you ever get a chance to see them speak, I would highly recommend it. If you cannot in person, at least check out their blogs at SQL Skills. She also did a series of webcasts, you can find links at

Enough fun for today, need some rest for tomorrow is another day of geeking out.

I went to the Inbetween TechEd Conference and All I Got Was This Lousy XBox 360 Elite!

As you know from my previous entries, I am in Orlando attending TechEd, at the IT Pro week. In the weekend between the Dev and Pro conferences Microsoft turned over the Orange County Convention Center to the Florida User Groups. Spearheaded by the ONETUG group, this event was made possible through the cooperation of many user groups. I attended the SQL Saturday sessions that were held on both Saturday and Sunday, and they even let me hog the stage for an hour on Saturday and give my presentation on Full Text Searching in SQL Server 2005 and 2008.

I had a blast, and met a lot of great people. I have to admit I was surprised at how many folks were there just for the Inbetween conference and not TechEd. Out of the 45 folks who were in my session, all but 2 said they were local folks there for just the Inbetween conference.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I did indeed win something. Bear with me, as it’s a great story. At the Saturday night party they were giving away 3 XBoxes, two of which were randomly drawn for. Well the young lady who won one of them did not wish to keep it for whatever reason, and asked if she could draw another name, which she did.

Well the guy who won that night had his name drawn during Sunday’s giveaway of 7 XBoxes. He came up and told the story, and said he wanted to do the same thing, even though no one would have said a word had he decided to keep it. Well he drew and it was my name he pulled out of the box! I wish I could remember his name so I could say thanks again.

I’ve always wanted an XBox, but could never quite justify the expenditure. Now I have a new toy, and my kids are very excited over the prospect of playing some games with daddy. I think this will be a great gizmo for some daddy/kids together time.

Let me get serious for one moment, and give a big thanks to all the groups who came together at the last minute, and to Joe Healy, Florida Developer Evangelist, for giving the user groups the chance to show what they can do. It seems almost fashionable to bash Microsoft these days, but how many other companies would bear the expense of something as costly as the convention center and give it away to the user community?

Thanks to all for a great time, I hope the Inbetween conference becomes a regular feature at all future TechEd.

Presenting SQL Server 2005 2008 Full Text Searching at the TechEd 2008 InBetween conference

On June 7th, 2008 I am presenting “Getting Started with SQL Server 2005/2008” at the InBetween SQL Saturday conference that is taking place between the two weeks of Microsoft TechEd. This post will have all the links relevant to my talk.

Detailed descriptive material can be found on my blog,, with links to specific posts below.

First off, the slides and sample code can be located at the Code Gallery site I setup specifically for Full Text Searching with SQL Server:

Look on the downloads page to see various projects around SQL Server Full Text Searching. I’ve created one “release” for each of the projects around FTS. Be sure to look on the right side at the various releases in order to see the various projects.

Next, you can get started with the basics by reading these entries on my blog:

Lesson 0 – Getting the Bits to do Full Text Searching in SQL Server 2005
Lesson 1 – The Catalog
Lesson 2 – The Indexes
Lesson 3 – Using SQL
Lesson 4 – Valid Data Types
Lesson 5 – Advanced Searching

After that you’ll be ready for some advanced topics.

Can you hear me now? Checking to see if FTS is installed.
Exploring SQL Servers FullTextCatalogProperty Function
Using the ObjectPropertyEx Function
Using FORMSOF in SQL Server Full Text Searching
Creating Custom Thesaurus Entries in SQL Server 2005 and 2008 Full Text Search
Creating and Customizing Noise Words in SQL Server 2005 Full Text Search
Creating and Customizing Noise Words / StopWords in SQL Server 2008 Full Text Search
Advanced Queries for Using SQL Server 2008 Full Text Search StopWords / StopLists