GROUP BY v DISTINCT (group by wins!)

Jamie Thomson (SQL Server MVP from the UK) threw out a challenge recently, and it was interesting to see the responses. His question was about string concatenation, and of course, FOR XML PATH(”) made a strong case for itself. It was put into SQL2005 for exactly this purpose. But I noticed that the responses using this pattern also used the DISTINCT keyword, to stop there being duplicate entries in the results. And this makes for a good opportunity for me to tell you about the difference between DISTINCT and GROUP BY. They might seem to be quite different, but if … Continue reading GROUP BY v DISTINCT (group by wins!)

Getting married today

Roslyn & I are getting married this afternoon. Again. But this time, for pretend. Her mum is getting her celebrant’s licence, and needs to conduct a pretend-wedding so that they can be sure she knows how to do it. So Roslyn and I are getting all done up, and trotting off down the beach to say some vows. I think we have to take our wedding rings off for it, which will be strange, as I don’t tend to take my wedding ring off. Hope it goes okay. Have to take it seriously for Mum, otherwise we’ll have to do … Continue reading Getting married today


Wot with GotDotNet disappearing soon, Paul Stovell asks the question what will happen to all the links to the site. Spot on, Paul. Rotten situation, so let’s hope Microsoft have a solution for this. Not least, it could remain in a read-only mode to make sure links don’t fail. GotDotNet content could also be moved across to CodePlex with a redirection service in place. Lots of people have used GotDotNet over the years. Hot site, we all agree. Jot down your support for Paul’s suggestion if you can.

BI Certified

Like Darren Gosbell, I took the beta exams for the two new SQL2005 Business Intelligence exams. Like Darren, following the beta period I was invited to help with the exam development process, and now that the results have come out, like Darren, I have two new certifications. MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Business Intelligence and MCITP: Business Intelligence Developer. I received invites to do beta exams in TFS and VSTO, but the beta period timing is bad for me, and I don’t think I’m going to get to do them.

Hiding the Office 2007 ribbon

Not that you’d want to of course… context-sensitive help by presenting a toolbar which is relevant to what you’re doing is great. But if it gets in your way, because you want the screen real estate to read a document or something, then there are a few ways you can make it disappear temporarily. The most complicated way is by using the Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu. “Of course!” I hear you say. Oh, that’s not you? Must be those voices again. Well, it’s the little drop-down menu that you can see next to the Undo & Redo buttons. And … Continue reading Hiding the Office 2007 ribbon

MVP Summit

Obviously there’s not much I can say here about the MVP Summit last week, unless you’re an MVP yourself, in which case you have probably heard it all anyway. 🙂 But as for what I can talk about – the summit was great. I met lots of people who I have known via the virtual community (and by reputation) for some time, but have never met in person. People like Simon Sabin, who lives in the town I caught the bus to school from when I was growing up, and who is a fellow SQL MVP. I caught up with … Continue reading MVP Summit

sys.database_files and sys.master_files (rather than sys.sysfiles)

Whenever there are changes, people can be slow to embrace them. One I’ve come across recently is that looking in sysfiles is no longer the best way of getting information about your database files. sys.database_files will tell you a lot more about them, and give you much nicer ways of filtering them. So for example, if you want a list of the log files for your database, try: select * from sys.database_files where type = 1 And sys.master_files will list them for the whole system. So it becomes really easy to look at the state of things from within T-SQL. … Continue reading sys.database_files and sys.master_files (rather than sys.sysfiles)

Great bible software from Laridian for free

As a leaving gift from my previous employer, I got a voucher, which works just as well for a supermarket as it does for anywhere else. This is cool, because I can then spend the money on groceries and buy something I want with the money I save from the shopping. It means that I can buy what I want, effectively for free, because it’s a gift. So I bought some bible software for my PocketPC. I got it from Laridian – because after trying a couple of different Bible software packages, I’ve really found it’s the best. If you’re … Continue reading Great bible software from Laridian for free

End of an era

I finish today in a job that I’ve had for over 4.5 years. It’s been an interesting time. During this time I’ve had time in hospital, seen both my kids have stints in hospital, seen my youngest start school, become an uncle four times over, reached my 30s, run a user-group, received the MVP award, had three trips to Redmond (with a fourth coming up soon), and of course, made many friends. But the new role is very exciting. It’s going to be great training for a living – I love training, and it’s going to be a lot of … Continue reading End of an era