Author Archives: Airborne Geek

Seattle for Summit 5×5: No. 1

Seattle Coffee Works sign

via max137; Creative Commons

It’s now October (OK, over a week in), and that means for a lot of us SQL Server folks, we have the PASS Summit in Seattle to look forward to at the end of the month. Yes, fine, it tends to fall in November more often.

ANYWAY, a lot of us have gone there for a lot of years, and so we’ve seen a good chunk of downtown and know some good places to eat/such and things to do. So, although Denny’s already done his annual “Summit Firsttimers” webcast, I’m adding some more places/things for newbies and veterans alike. I’ve got five lists of five things coming up over the coming weeks to help you find some good coffee, fun things to do, and where to find all of us crazy people who tend to stay up too late most nights.

Coffee & Quick Bites

There’s a lot of good coffee and good food in Seattle, a lot of which is close to the convention center or otherwise within walking distance. This list of five places–in no particular order–are some of my favorite places to fuel up during the long week of partying learning.

Victrola Coffee Roasters

https://www.victrolacoffee.com/
310 E Pike St
I tend to forget the actual name of this place, so will refer to it as “telegraph” or similar old technology thing when I can’t get it together. This place is up on Capitol Hill up Pike St from the Convention Center and is home to some of the best coffee in town. It’s one of Joey’s favorite places to go, although it is a bit of a hike to get there, plus it can be a total house in the mornings. It’s still worth it, as the coffee truly is great.

Seattle Coffee Works

www.seattlecoffeeworks.com
107 Pike St.
In the opposite direction, down towards the Sound and the market and also on Pike Street is Seattle Coffee Works. As drinking coffee from the same place all week may not be what you’re looking for (also, you’re in Seattle, spread the love), this is another great option.

Cafe Campagne

http://cafecampagne.com/
1600 Post Alley
Do you like Croques Madame? Do you know what a Croque Madame is? If you answered yes to these–or you just looked up what it was and decided you can’t live without one now (good choice)–there’s this awesome little French restaurant/café in Post Alley in the Pike Place Market. Croques, real baguettes, the menu’s mostly/all in French, so yeah. If you’re into this sort of thing, it’s a nice Saturday or Sunday morning before you head out of town stop, but get there early, because this place gets pretty busy pretty fast in the mornings.

La Creperie Voila

http://www.lacreperievoila.com/
It’s in the Convention Center. On the street. Next to the Subway. No, the other Subway.
This is handy for grabbing breakfast on the way in or a mid-afternoon snack. Pretty cheap, pretty good, and location, location, location.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

http://roastery.starbucks.com/
1124 Pike St
Yes, not everyone likes Starbucks, I know. But, a few years ago, Starbucks built this enormous coffee roastery, tasting room, and general temple to the coffee bean. It’s a neat place to go to due to the elaborate coffee conveyor belts that populate the place to feed the roasters. They’ve got some good single-source coffees here and other stuff that you can’t get in regular Sbux stores, and unique mugs & such.

SQL Server 2017: New Security in Analysis Services Tabular 1400

With SQL Server 2017 going GA this week, there’s been a lot of talk last week and this about new and improved features; this post is no different, but, I’m going a slightly different direction.

SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular models were first introduced with SQL Server 2012 (suddenly that seems so long ago) and have undergone continual and sometimes rapid revisions ever since. This remains true with SQL Server 2017, with the introduction of decent list of new features and other improvements.

One of the most exciting for me is the introduction of built-in support for object-level security.

But, We’ve Had Roles and Row Filters the Whole Time!

We have; you’re right. But, one thing that Tabular has never had–or Multidimensional models, either–is a built-in, easy way to do security in the other direction–columns!

Row level security is a very robust feature, and remains great. However, if there are situations where some columns or tables in the model shouldn’t be visible by all users (think Personally Identifiable Information), there wasn’t really a way to handle this before. Hoops would have to be jumped through utilizing DAX and possibly utilizing two different copies/versions of the same table in order to implement this behavior. Sometimes there would even need to be different versions of the same reports, based on which user group they were intended to target (with the underlying security/configuration of the cube driving what the user could or couldn’t see). This was, generally, a pain.

Perspectives are/were never intended as a security feature, and that hasn’t effectively changed with this.

In order to utilize this new feature (and the others), your tabular models will need to be developed/deployed in the 1400 compatibility level. This can be set when creating new models, in addition to being able to upgrade existing models (but this is a one-way street).

Azure Analysis Services

Since AAS is still my favorite thing, I can’t talk about SSAS without plugging it a little bit. Although 1400 compatibility has only been available in the on-prem product for about 24 hours now, it has been available in Preview in AAS since May. This is indicative of Microsoft’s cloud-first strategy–features will be available here first, filtering down to the on-premises software “later.” This may not be for everyone, but I think it’s one of the great reasons to consider Azure’s Platform as a Service offerings (another one is the built-in high availability).

I’m speaking at SQL Saturday SAN–This Weekend!

SQL SaturdayAlthough this year has been pretty busy and I haven’t been speaking a whole lot this year, I’ve got a couple of sessions coming up this weekend at SQL Saturday San Diego!

I’ve got two sessions on the schedule; the first one is an introductory session to SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular modeling, and the second one is a bit of a more advanced (call it Intermediate) session where I discuss and demonstrate managing databases using Database projects in SQL Server Data Tools.

The Tabular presentation is designed for folks who are new to SSAS in general or the tabular flavor of it. I focus mostly on the development process of these apparatus and how to move from raw data to a model that is useful for business users to explore on their own.

In the SSDT session, I discuss some of the advantages of utilizing database projects to help manage your database schema in Visual Studio. This presentation also has a lot of demo time in it, and I help explain how to start from scratch and manage what I feel is the most important part of schema management: deployments.

We (DCAC) are also sponsoring, so if you are in the southern California area this weekend, come on out to SQL Saturday, say Hi, and learn some new SQL Server stuff!

Hey, you! Don’t Forget to Enable DB Mail in Agent

Raise your hand if you’ve been there: You set up a new SQL Server instance, configure Database Mail (test it), and then set up a nice Agent job to back up your databases. You configure it to send mail on job completion (so you can keep an eye on it not matter what), but it’s not sending mail. You test DB mail again, and it’s working. What gives?

This is kind of a gimme, but a few weeks ago I configured a new maintenance job (NOT a Maintenance Plan 😉 ) on a new-ish non-production server that didn’t have any other jobs on it yet. When it wasn’t sending mail, I stood around for a lot longer than I’d like to admit before I figured out what was going on.

The kicker is that you have to enable the use of database mail within the SQL Server Agent–this isn’t on by default.

As with most things in SQL Server, there’s a couple ways to turn this on. First is the GUI. The Alert System page of the SQL Agent’s properties dialog is shown here, and you can see right on the top where the main “Enable” checkbox is, along with dropdowns for the DB Mail settings you want to use. Flip that on, pick your desired mail settings (probably only have one setup), restart the Agent service, and your agent jobs will start sending mail as-expected.

Agent Properties dialog showing Mail Settings

There’s also the T-SQL route, which is useful for adding this configuration to a general “initial” script (such as ours: https://github.com/DC-AC/SQL2016_Scripted_Install) so you don’t have to worry about this on new instances that you install/setup. It’s a quick SP call to enable mail:

EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_set_sqlagent_properties @databasemail_profile=N’Main Profile’

Assign the mail profile you want to use, and go. The UI by default and greyed out (at least on a few 2016 instances that I’ve checked recently) checks the “Save copies of the sent messages in the Sent Items Folder” option. This option can be driven with the email_save_in_sent_folder parameter on the proc. Set it to 1 to turn on that option. True story: I have no idea where that mail gets saved on a SQL Server; I assume it goes to the “Sent Items” folder in the mailbox the profile is configured to use, but I’ve never actually configured this with a mailbox that I have access to to see.

This T-SQL step assumes SQL Server on Windows. If you’re doing this on Linux…well, it’s different. I’m not going to reproduce that work here, because it may change since SQL 2017 is still in RC at this point. So, if you’re doing this on Linux, check out the official docs for that process.

Moral of the story here: Don’t be a dumbass like me; turn on DB Mail in the Agent!

You Still Have Your Eclipse Glasses, Right?

Courtesy NASA/SDO

Although, yes, you should just keep them until the eclipse in the US in 2024 (or the one in the Andes in 2019, which I haven’t completely ruled out just yet, because I’ve become a crazy person), there’s another good reason to keep a pair or two handy:

Sunspots!

More specifically: GIANT sunspots!

Right now, there are two fairly-large sunspot areas on the face of the sun. They’re so big, in fact, that they can be seen without magnification. Just put on your eclipse glasses and take a gander. Both of them are pretty close to the center of the solar disk, as seen by the picture above (which is from late yesterday). These will continue to rotate left-to-right across the face of the sun over the next several days.

Take a look; this is pretty cool (bonus points if you work in an office and go out and stand in the parking lot looking up at the sun for no apparent reason).

Space Weather

My favorite site to keep up on this sort of thing is spaceweather.com. Our “space weather” is almost-entirely affected by the sun, so most things on the site lean that way. If civilization as we know it is about to be ended by another Carrington Event, this will be one of the early places to hear about it.

Eclipse Glasses

Quick note about eclipse glasses. Although I heard a few mixed reports about whether or not eclipse glasses would degrade over time and therefore only be safe to use for the next few years, this appears to not be the case:

Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015.

So, keep track of those things, as long as you’ve got good ones.