Taking a photo walk to a BBQ

This month’s #tsql2sday is being hosted by Aaron Bertrand (t|b). Aaron gives us a choice this month to talk about our passions outside of the SQL Server community or our T-SQL bad habits. I don’t have enough time to bore you with all my T-SQL bad habits so I’ll try to inspire you with my #SQLBBQ & #SQLPhoto passions.

When I not architecting SQL Server solutions at Elon University, I’m usually behind a camera or BBQ cooker. Both of these passions allow me to exercise the creative part of my brain when I’m away from the office.

I got the photography bug right before my son was born. I started with a point-and-shoot Sony Cybershot but was so frustrated with the delay in taking a picture. I love the digital photos when they turned out, but getting a consistent focus was difficult. My next purchased a Nikon D70 DSLR. This camera was a life changer for me. Having the ability to shoot 3 frames per second was eye-opening. I no longer had to deal with missed shots or not knowing where the focus point was set. I used the D70 for another 6 years before upgrading to my current setup, the Nikon D300s.


I continued taking photos over the years but with the onset of smartphones I don’t pull out my Nikon as much. The iPhone has been an asset to my photography just because it is always with me. What I really enjoy doing is taking photos at PASS events. Back in 2012, before my first PASS Conference, I reached out to Pat Wright (b|t) about joining the photo walk during the conference. What ended up happening was a full day “pre-con” of photography on the Sunday before the conference. We ended up at Snoqualmie Falls and the surrounding area and I had blast taking photos with Pat. We continue to have our photo “pre-cons” before PASS and other SQL Saturday events. This is a great time to talk shop about photography and SQL Server. I’m looking forward to PASS 2018 in Seattle and future photo walks.

Photo Albums:

2012 PASS Summit

2014 PASS Summit

2016 PASS Summit


2017 SQL Sat Charlotte


My other passion is cooking, specifically BBQ. I own a few grills but my favorite is a cooker that has a 3×6 foot cooking surface. It is fueled by propane but has a shelf for a piece of wood like hickory or oak. I bought the cooker from a friend about 15 years ago and have loved experimenting with different cuts of meat. My go-to meal is whole chickens, baby back ribs, and mac & cheese. The best part about the mac & cheese is it is just store bought Stouffer’s, but when it is left on the cooker for a few hours, it comes out with an amazing smokey flavor. During last year’s #sqlvacation, Kevin Kline made a stop at our user group in Greensboro, NC and I brought in the cooker for the meeting. I love sharing the food and wish I had a bigger cooking surface to cook for an entire SQL Saturday event.

Hope to see you on a photo walk or cookout very soon!

Doug Purnell

Spectre/Meltdown Baselining

This month’s #tsql2sday is being hosted by Arun Sirpal (b|t). The topic this month is how we conquered a technical challenge. The area I’ve been spending the most time in recently is baselining for the Spectre/Meltdown patches that are coming. We have a monitoring tool from Idera, SQL Diagnostic Manager, on our key production boxes but I wanted something consistent across all boxes that we could use for tracking and baselining wait types.

The Spectre/Meltdown can have a significant performance impact on servers running Windows Server OS that have intensive IO-intensive applications. SQL Server falls right into this area. We need a way to identify CPU changes across all our instances (dev/test/prod) while we apply the patches

There are plenty of queries to help identify wait types but I was looking for something that could be put into place quickly as patches from VMware and Microsoft are being released this week. I found the perfect one, sp_BlitzFirst from Brent Ozar Unlimited.

Their solution gives you the wait stat breakdown and reporting to help you identify baseline changes. When you have limited time to put something in place, these types of solutions from community partners are a great place to start. Having baseline wait stats has been on my list for years. There was always another project that was pushed to the front of the list, but now Spectre/Meltdown is at the top of my list!

I used the following blog post to get me started. We have all of our instance registered and organized under a Central Management Server. This feature allows us to run a query across multiple instances at once. I pulled down the latest First Responder Kit which includes the script to schedule and a Power BI report to analyze the results.

The next phase was how to identify a process to baseline. We don’t have any automated tools to regression test our apps (something else to work on) so I needed something to stress our SQL Server instances and record the wait types throughout the patching process. Once again the fine folks at Brent Ozar Unlimited had a blog post for this problem as well. Using SQLQueryStress, we can simulate a load on our SQL Server Instances and record the wait types. After each patch, we can execute the same load and compare the results using Power BI.

When faced with a technical challenge like Spectre/Meltdown, having a process in place to baseline your SQL Server Instances is important to show how changes to your environment can have lasting effects on performance.


2012 To Do’s for #SQLFamily

As I sat down and wrote out my goals for 2012 for my job, they didn’t take into account my blogging, user groups and #SQLFamily.  This is why this is a perfect #mememonday project.  You can read more about #mememonday here from Thomas Larock (Blog, Twitter).

I’m fairly new to the #SQLFamily.  I didn’t start getting involved till June 2011 and up to now, didn’t participate in monthly blogging like #mememonday or #tsql2sday.  For the past 8 months have just been digesting information like I was eating at Golden Corral.  Twitter, webcasts and RSS feeds can take hours a day to stay updated.  I still find it hard to get through all the Twitter feeds a day and finally had to limit the number of RSS subscriptions under Google Reader so those didn’t get behind as well.  As I write this, I can see TweetDeck notifications going off every few minutes.

So here are my personal goals list for #SQLFamily in 2012:

  1. Continue to attend Triad PASS and Triad BI PASS.  The part that I’m going to work on this month is to blogging about my experiences.  I’ve seen a few other posts related to this item and thought it was a great idea.  This will help others that have not started, to attend their local PASS chapters to see the topics discussed how much fun they are.
  2. Start attending the virtual PASS chapters.  There are some great virtual chapters held every week that discuss topics that you may not otherwise receive at your local events.  Here to, I aim to blog about each one to keep my writing skills fresh.
  3. Present at Triad PASS in June 2012.  Our local Triad PASS chapter leader, Kevin Goode, asked me to present and I decided to jump in.  This will be my first time ever presenting anything outside of lunch and learns through work.  I have not picked a topic yet, but because I started a new job in November 2011, I’m thinking about walking though my management processes for my new SQL Server instances.
  4. Stay involved in #mememonday events.  This was started by Thomas Larock  (Blog, Twitter) and I’m looking forward to these monthly blogs. This is a great way to blog about something that you otherwise may not write about.  I feel too many times and get in my comfort zone of daily DBA tasks and don’t stretch my boundaries to learn new things with in SQL Server.
  5. Start blogging for #tsql2sday.  This was started by Adam Machanic (blogTwitter) and just like with #mememonday, will give me the opportunity to participate in blogs about items I’m unfamiliar with.  This will require researching a topic and writing about it.  I’m looking forward to this one.
  6. Midnight DBA.  Sean (blog, Twitter) and Jen (blogTwitter) make this live broadcast a blast.  I’m guilty of falling asleep before the show starts but my goal this year is to catch at least 2 shows a month live.  The pre and post shows are just as fun as the main show.  They cover technical topics with a fun twist and their sense of humor keeps me laughing through the entire show.  This will be another event that I plan to blog about.
  7. Brent Ozar PLF’s Tech Triage Tuesday.  This is a great half hour weekly webcast that covers all aspects of SQL Server.  Brent Ozar (blog, Twitter) and his team, cover topics from performance tuning to SANs, each week is a must see.  As you can guess, I’m going to blog about these as well.

My goals this year for #SQLFamily are all around bringing awareness to the training opportunities that are available to everyone.  Whether you are able to attend these events live or watch them from the comfort of your home, my goal is to spark interest in all the events.  This is how I was introduced to #SQLFamily back in June 2011 and I hope I can do the same for other SQL Server DBAs and developers out there.

Have a great year #SQLFamily,