SQLBits 7 – Saturday Conference Rundown
Starting my third day at SQLBits with a hat-trick of talks on technologies I’m unfamiliar with was a bit of a head-bender but an enjoyable one nonetheless. The first talk I chose was a great overview of how to use completely free tools (SQL Server Express 2008 R2, among others) with completely free spacial data (Ordnance Survey’s Open Data) to create spatial reports in Reporting Services. Since it’s not an area I’m working in at the moment I didn’t get any major take-aways but I do have an understanding of what’s possible and how to go about it – if you’re in the same boat you should check out FWTools, Shape2SQL and Grid InQuest.
The second talk was Matt Whitfield‘s ‘CLR Demystified’ and not being a developer I’ll admit that much of it went over my head but I get the basic principles and most importantly I know what’s possible and where I might make use of CLR. The most interesting avenues for me are the ability to write custom aggregate functions and define custom data types – I was also impressed with the opportunity to increase performance in certain text processing / forward log parsing situations.
The next talk I attended was a gentle introduction to PowerShell and James Boother did a good job of showing where it might be useful for admin tasks, in particular the example of purging old backup/log files based on age lit my eyes up. There was also a demo of PowerShell authenticating with Twitter and posting tweets as admin alerts, alas the demo failed but that could well have been a timeout on the Uni’s WiFi network or just plain old demo-gremlins. I must say thou that I still can’t view PowerShell with some sense of disappointment because with all it’s flexibility and power it’s so damned wordy and many of the tasks it performs could be achieved with less code that a good old Bash script.
As with Friday I attended Quest‘s lunchtime session run by Kevin Kline, Ian Kick, Brent Ozar and Buck Woody – they’re some of the most experienced guys in the SQL community and when you get them together they’re funny as he’ll too so I was both entertained and informed in their myth-busting quiz.
My first afternoon talk was Gary Short’s session on NoSQL which predictably sparked a few polite but irate rebuttals from argumentative DBAs but the session itself was an excellent whistle-stop tour of the predominant NoSQL technologies and use cases. I was encouraged to hear from someone experienced in the field that nobody has quite put together all the pieces to hook up BI tools (that traditionally expect relational/dimensional models or OLAP sources) to the NoSQL back-ends, it’s a shame since I might need to do so pretty soon – I guess I’m going to have to get my hands dirty then!
The final talk was from Kevin Kline of Quest who covered SQL Injection, it was an informative talk that gave me pause for thought about a couple ‘best practices’ that I probably ought to harden a little. Kevin recommended a few tools that I’ll definitely be checking out at some point, notably:
- HP Scrawlr
- Source Code Analyser for SQL Injection
- Assessment and Planning Tool
- Discovery Wizard
And a few handy sites/articles:
Once more it was a great conference and the free day was every bit as good as the paid day, I can honestly say that I walked out of the event already looking forward to the next one.