Category Archives: User Groups

WordCamp Birmingham 2009 – Freedom of Speech

Over the weekend I attended WordCamp Birmingham 2009. For those of you who don’t know, WordCamp is a code camp for WordPress users and developers. WordPress is a very popular open source blogging engine. Users can download the WordPress engine from http://wordpress.org/, then customize it to their needs.

WordPress can do some pretty amazing things, many of the developers there specialize in customizing WordPress to individual corporate needs, and transforming WordPress to a full Content Management System (CMS).

In addition to being an open source engine, it’s sister sight, http://wordpress.com, is a hosting site. Through it you can create your own blog, for free. You can customize your blog from a variety of base templates, then add further custom tweaks through the various widgets and plug-ins offered by the WordPress.com folks. For minimal fees you can add a custom domain name, and extend the amount of space you have available.

That’s what I’ve done with this blog. Arcane Code is hosted on WordPress.com, and I pay the small fee (about 15 dollars US per year) to have the http://arcanecode.com URL. You may ask “gee Robert, you’re a smart guy, why let them host and not get the software from the .org site and host yourself?” You’re right, I am a smart guy! 😉 Seriously, I could host the engine myself, but to be honest I would rather spend my time writing blog posts than worrying about upgrading my blog software to the current version. I let the nice folks at wordpress.com take care of those headaches for me.

Of course there are a few restrictions with the .com site that I would not have with the .org software and self hosting. The biggest is no advertising, I can’t sell ads on the blog while it’s on the .com site. I’m also limited on templates and customizations, I have to use the built in .com templates, with the .org software the sky is the limit to what I want to do. For not having to deal with the headaches of managing my blog engine though, these are trade off’s I’m willing to make. One day in the future I may change my mind, but for now I’m quite happy.

But enough about the blogging software, let’s talk about WordCamp. For my .Net developer buddies or fellow SQL geeks, WordCamp is just like any code camp or SQL Saturday you’ve been to. Speakers are organized into one or more tracks. Most of the speakers are from the local community or surrounding region, with a few big wigs thrown in for good measure.

This year Innovation Depot hosted the Saturday tracks, one for developers and the other for bloggers. The blogger track was aimed at new users or folks who simply wanted to work with social media, and leave the technical considerations to others. The developer track was for the geeks who liked to customize and develop widgets and plug ins for use with WordPress. Lunch was some great BBQ, fitting for a true southern event.

The Sunday event took place at Shift Workspace, which is a facility where you can rent space to work in for under $50 US a month. Tables, comfortable chairs, coffee and soda, and all the wi-fi you can eat. It’s a nice place, and the format was very open. On the first floor small groups gathered to discuss and debate topics around the software. The second floor was the experts area, I saw many groups of two huddled around laptops, getting and giving advice on particular issues folks were having.

The highlight of the event was Matt Mullenweg’s lunchtime keynote on Saturday. Matt is the original creator of WordPress, it was his idea and his guidance that made it successful. In addition Matt also founded a company to host WordPress.com and provide extra services for advanced users. In addition to being a good businessman Matt is also a great speaker, his lunch time presentation was both informative and humorous.

Also in attendance was Dougal Campbell. Dougal was one of the original group of developers of WordPress. He and Matt have been working together on the open source software since 2003. Oddly enough this event was something of a historic occasion for them, even though they have been e-mailing and phone calling with each other since 2003, this weekend was the first time Matt and Dougal had actually met face to face! In the interest of full disclosure I should add that Dougal is my brother-in-law, he is married to my kid sister. But I won’t hold that against him.

The closing keynote on Saturday was from an Iranian Bahrainian blogger. In the interest of protecting their security I won’t say too much, but it was a very moving presentation that reminded us all of how great a privilege freedom of speech is. One Iranian blogger has already died in jail, and another Egyptian blogger is currently in jail right now for doing nothing more than speaking his opinions through his blog. 

I have to give the organizers high marks, the event was run well, lunch arrived on time, and plenty of it. There was a big crowd, I heard about 165 registered, and I think just about every one of them made it from the crowds I saw. We had such a good response the organizers even spoke about the possibility of creating a WordPress user group of sorts, and having smaller events either on a monthly or quarterly basis.

This was a really fun event. I saw some friends (and relatives if you count Dougal) and met a lot of new people. I talked to folks from Nashville TN, Charlotte NC, Atlanta GA, and one lady from New Jersey. I also heard about one person coming in from Arkansas and another from Texas. I also came away with some great ideas around social networking, and using various forms of multimedia to enhance information and knowledge transfer in the work place. I spoke to a lawyer who specializes in discovery and got into an interesting discussion about data mining of unstructured data. I also have an idea that might be relevant for a presentation next year. Finally I am struck with the notion of taking WordPress and making it a dashboard for a SQL Server Business Intelligence solution. Hmmm…..

All in all it was a great WordCamp, and I’m looking forward to the 2010 event.

Intro to DW/BI at the Steel City SQL Users Group

Tonight I’ll be presenting “Introduction to Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence” at the Steel City SQL users group, right here in Birmingham Alabama. If you attended my Huntsville presentation last week, I’ve already added some new slides and revised the deck, so it will be worth another look.

My slide deck is IntroToDataWarehouse.pdf . Come join us tonight at 6 pm at New Horizons, there will be pizza and fun for all.

UPDATE: Before the presentation I was showing a video of Sara Ford jumping off a tower to support CodePlex. Got tons of laughs so here’s a link to the video:

http://blogs.msdn.com/saraford/archive/2009/09/14/my-codeplex-jump-from-tallest-building-in-the-southern-hemisphere-the-full-video.aspx

Intro to DW/BI at the Huntsville User Group meeting

Tonight at the Huntsville User group I am presenting “Introduction to Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence”. The slide deck for my presentation is now available in PDF format at the link below. If you have attended this presentation in the past you may wish to download the slides again as I have updated it with new information.

IntroToDataWarehousing

SSIS For Developers at CodeStock 2009

At the 2009 CodeStock event I am presenting SQL Server Integration Services for Developers. This class will demonstrate tasks commonly done by VB.Net or C# developers within SQL Server Integration Services.

The sample project and documentation for the lab can be found on the code gallery site at http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SSISForDevs .

BSDA Presentation on Visual Studio Database Edition

Last week I did a presentation at the Birmingham Software Developers Association on generating sample data using Visual Studio Database Edition, often called by it’s code name of “Data Dude” for short.  You can find my original posting, which has links to the code gallery site at https://arcanecode.com/2009/04/02/sql-server-sample-data-the-sql-name-game/ .

During my presentation I was using Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition GDR R2, which you can find here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=bb3ad767-5f69-4db9-b1c9-8f55759846ed&displaylang=en 

This update assumes you have Visual Studio Database Edition installed. Most developers with an MSDN license have the Development Edition installed on their PC. When Microsoft announced the Database and Development products would merge in the Visual Studio 2010 product, they made the Development Editions of Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 available via MSDN. Go check your MSDN, and see if you have “Data Dude”. If so download and install it, then download and install the GDR R2 update from the link above. These will add new menus and tools to your Visual Studio environment.

Most notably you’ll look at the Data menu. there are menu options for Schema Compare and Data Compare. These will allow you to setup comparisons between a source and target for schemas or data.

SQL Saturday 7 is Tomorrow!

Just a reminder that SQL Saturday 7 is taking place tomorrow, May 30th, right here in Birmingham AL. There will be three full tracks, covering Database Development, Database Administration, and Business Intelligence. I will be presenting on “Introduction to Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence”.

In addition to a great education, there will also be free food, vendors for you to interact with, and some great prizes, including the grand prize an XBox 360!

If you haven’t registered yet scurry on over to http://www.sqlsaturday.com/eventhome.aspx?eventid=9 and register while you still have time! Capacity is limited, and as we enter into the home streach there aren’t many seats left.

SQL Saturday 7 Logo

Atlanta SQL Saturday – Full Text Searching

Let me start with a big thank you to everyone involved in the Atlanta SQL Saturday. It was a great event, well run and well organized. Also a big thanks to all those who attended my sessions, and put up with my cold.

Here is the information for the Full Text Searching presentation. Still working on the getting started with SSIS details, if you want to see the 2005 version it’s at http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SSIS . I’ll add the 2008 base in the next day or two.

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:

http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SqlServerFTS

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

Finally, you can find some videos I did for JumpstartTV at:

http://www.jumpstarttv.com/profiles/3177/Robert-Cain.aspx

SQL Saturday 7 is Coming!

I’m getting excited, Birmingham’s SQL Saturday is rapidly approaching. I’m lucky enough to be on the planning committee and we’re really getting jazzed up. It’s still early and we’ve already filled over 25% of the available seats.

It’s not too late though, we still have opportunities! First of all, we still have some slots left for speakers. We’ve received quite a few submissions so far, but there is still a few slots left. Get your submissions in quick if you want to be a part of this event.

Sponsors are also vital to the success of the event, we have some but still need more. We want to create a win-win environment to hook up local DBAs and SQL Developers with your company or school. This is a great chance to meet the folks in the community.

Most of all though, we need YOU! Yes, you the local DBA or SQL Developer. This is a great chance to not only get a free day of education, but hook up with your peers in the community. And if that’s not enough, we have some great swag lined up.

Don’t wait though, the Atlanta code camp filled up quick, and it looks like Birmingham is on the same track. Head over to the SQL Saturday site and register for SQL Saturday 7 now!

If you’d like more info, or are interested in sponsorship, speaking, or volunteering, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at sqlsaturday7@sqlsaturday.com.

SQL Server Full Text Searching at the Atlanta Code Camp

On March 14th, 2009 I presented “Getting Started with SQL Server Full Text Search 2005/2008” at the Atlanta Code Camp. This post has all the links relevant to my talk.

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:

http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SqlServerFTS

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

Finally, you can find some videos I did for JumpstartTV at:

http://www.jumpstarttv.com/profiles/3177/Robert-Cain.aspx

Alabama Code Camp Pictures

I took some photos of last weekend’s code camp, here are the best of them… Click on them to see a bigger image.

 

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Bruce and Glen get ready to kick things off.

 

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The crowd gets ready…

 

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Anticipation fills the room as the eager crowd waits for it to start…

 

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Glen kicks things off with the keynote.

 

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From the database track, Keith R presenting.

 

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“The Elder” doing his magic.

 

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William gave an interesting session on database hiearchies.

 

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Lunch time!!!

 

 

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The crowds are hungry

 

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Our first contestant in speaker idol.

 

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Our judges, made up of MVPs and Glen the Microsoft DE.

 

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The crowds enjoy the speaker idol presentations

 

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Another speaker idol contestant

 

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Todd giving his after lunch presentation

 

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Glen gives his “What’s in SQL Server 2008” presentation.

 

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I love T-SQL!

 

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Ryan presents on SQL Server Reporting Services. He was also the winner of Speaker Idol!

 

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Everyone gathers for the prize give-a-ways.

 

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Here’s what I won! 😉

Presenting SQL Server 2005 2008 Full Text Searching at Alabama Code Camp

On January 31st, 2009 I am presenting “Getting Started with SQL Server 2005/2008” at the Alabama Code Camp that is taking placin Montgomery, Alabama. This post has all the links relevant to my talk.

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:

http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/SqlServerFTS

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

Presenting SQL Server Full Text Searching at Alabama Code Camp

This Saturday, January 31st is the Alabama Code Camp in Montgomery AL. I’ll have the privilege of once again presenting one of my favorite subjects, SQL Server Full Text Searching. Don’t think this session is just for DBAs, I think developers will find it useful as well since I will include a demo code sample that calls a full text search query from a C# application. My session is currently scheduled last session of the day, and rumor has it attendees might have an extra chance at a give away at the end of my talk.

Speaking of give a ways, don’t forget the Speaker Idol contest. Still no entries, they are due to my in-box by noon this Friday the 30th! Five minute talk gets you a shot at a 1 year Premium MSDN Subscription.

See ya’ll there!

A Week of Windows 7

Since my last post the only thing I have installed is the Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Development tools. Since then I have worked with the various apps and can report these items so far.

First, no problems as of yet with the development tools, although so far I’ve only been using SQL Server Management Studio.

WinAmp works OK for playing music, but when I rip a CD the Media Library doesn’t always refresh correctly. I have to exit WinAmp and restart. Note this only happened about 50% of the time, the other half it flickered, but recognized that I’d inserted a new disk.

The NVidia graphics drivers seem to crash fairly often, about one to two times a day. They usually restart and everything is OK EXCEPT the Zune software. The UI on it goes blank. It still works, it happened today while I was playing some music and the music kept on playing, you just can’t interact with it. So far I’ve used task manager to shut down the Zune software and then I can restart it. It will work fine after that (at least until the next time the graphics drivers crash).

Every so often everything just freezes. Mouse doesn’t work, no keyboard input, no screen updates. I’m guessing it’s a graphics issue, but not really sure.

When launching a Virtual PC, they seem to take a long time to connect to the network. They will eventually connect (5 minutes is about average). Just be patient.

The installer for the SQL Server 2000 Northwind database sample crashed while I was trying to install. Fortunately i was able to install by extracting the SQL scripts from the zip file and using them to create the pubs and Northwind databases. (I need these for some code samples).

Everything else I’ve used seems to work OK. So at this point I seem to have all my software installed, so now I’m going to settle in and let my focus return to Data Warehousing and Analysis Services.

Don’t forget the Alabama Code Camp coming up at the end of January. So far we’ve had no entries for Speaker Idol, so as of now your chances of winning that 1 year MSDN Subscription seem quite good!