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

Working smarter, not harder, as a DBA

The butterflies were flying!  This was my first presentation for Triad SQL PASS user group, and any group for that matter.  I started attended our local SQL PASS chapter back in the fall of 2011 while I was between jobs.  Kevin Goode was the one who got me thinking about doing a presentation, and after I had a few months under my current position as DBA, I came up with a topic: how to work smarter as a DBA.  I found that starting a new DBA position requires working on understanding your environment quickly without disrupting the day-to-day business.  This presentation gives you insight into tools that keep our servers running smooth and the training that keeps me up to date of the latest trends.

Here is the link to the PowerPoint slides.

Here is the link to the DBA Standards Document.

Here is the link to the server specific install settings and configuration.

Here is the link to the backup script I use each night.

Here is the link to the server side security audit script.

Here is the link to the database side security audit script.

Here are the links to the setup scripts that are used after the install of SQL Server 2008 R2.  Just edit the files based on your environment:

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,

2011 was the year of #SQLFamily

As the name suggests, SQL Family feels like family.  There is no other professional organization in the world that supports a product line as well as #SQLFamily.  My introduction to #SQLFamily was in the summer of 2011 when I decided to get back into SQL Server full-time after going to the dark side, management, for the two previous years.  I had a strong background in SQL Server 2000 & 2005 but not the full-time experience under 2008 & 2008 R2.

As I started searching for training opportunities for SQL Server, I came across Pragmatic Works.  Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the year, they have a one hour web cast on all areas of SQL Server.  This allowed me to catch up on what was new under 2008 and brush up on the daily DBA tasks that I was accustomed to.  Each of the presenters had a personal blog and twitter address that had even more content over the session that was offered.  This got me interested in blogging for myself and starting to use twitter.  As I started searching for ways to get started in blogging and using twitter, I came across Brent Ozar (blog, twitter).  He built a great guide to help understand what twitter was all about.  I wasn’t interested in following celebrities or sports figures, I just wanted to use it for SQL Server.  It just so happened that Brent was a DBA and a photographer.  This one-two punch was just the right mix to start me on my way into WordPress and Twitter.

As I started following Brent, I started reading posts from him and other SQL Server professionals about the passion the SQL Server community had for helping others.  This was perfect for me as I started on my way to becoming a full-time DBA.  Each new blog entry or twitter post gave me a new understand of SQL Server and how strong the community was.  This also introduced me to PASS and the local user groups that were offered in my area.  As I started attending the local events, that same passion within the on-line community was equally as strong at the local level.  This allowed me to network with other SQL Server DBAs and get their input on ways to get back into the field full-time.

The local PASS events lead me to SQL Saturday.  I was able to attend the Atlanta #89 event in the fall of 2011.  This was very eye-opening for me.  There were over 400 people gathered for a full day of free training on a Saturday.  I was finally able to meet a few folks that I had only meet via twitter.  The highlight for me was hearing Bob Ward from Microsoft talk about wait types.  His session was level 500 and then some.  It was cool to see the inter-workings of SQL Server from one of the people who has access to the source code.

By the fall of 2011, I was already talking to a few companies about DBA positions and felt confident about finding the perfect DBA job.  As I accepted my current DBA role, I thought back to the family that got me there.  With out #SQLFamily, this would have not been possible.  This has given me the drive to give back to the community so others out there can find their perfect DBA role like I did.  My first step is our local PASS chapter and presenting during the summer of 2012.  I’m also working on blogging more regularly throughout the month, so others can learn from my view of being a SQL Server DBA.

I love being a part of the #SQLFamily.  Looking forward to a great year in 2012!

September’s Inaugural Triad SQL BI PASS User Group

I attended the inaugural Triad SQL BI PASS User Group last week hosted by Inmar in Winston-Salem NC.  DataMasters provided the pizza before the meeting and Wayne Snyder [twitter] from Mariner USA was the guest speaker that talked about the top 10 reasons to upgrade to SQL Server Denali.  Melissa Wittner [triadsqlbi@gmail.com] is the Chapter Leader for the new group and did a wonderful job getting the group start and the meeting organized.  You can visit the chapter’s website here.

Future meetings:

  • October 23rd Performance Point
  • November 29th Dashboards
  • December 8th Social @ Foothills Brewing Company
Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade List:
  1. SSIS Enhancements
  2. Master Data Services Enhancements
  3. Data Quality Services
  4. Column Indexes
  5. SSRS w/ SharePoint
  6. SSRS Data Alerts
  7. PowerPivot Enhancements
  8. DAX (Data Analysis Expression) Language
  9. SSAS Tabular Model
  10. Project Crescent
Wayne spent the next hour doing a deep dive demo for some of the items in the top 10 list.  Wayne has spent the last 9-12 months working in Denali and it shows.  He was able to show the group all aspects of SSIS, column store indexes, and PowerPivot.  This has energized my interest in Denali and trying a few of these new features in my lab.  I’m looking forward to attending this user group on a regular basis.

September’s Triad SQL PASS User Group

I attended a great session September 15th 2011 at the Triad SQL PASS User Group with Jason Hall from SQL Sentry demonstrating the advantages of SQL Sentry’s Plan Explorer over the built-in SSMS plan explorer.  You can find Jason under @SQLSaurus on Twitter. The meeting was hosted by Dynamic Quest, and everyone’s favorite pizza and soda was served before the meeting started at 6:30pm.

Jason went through 7 example queries to show how the SQL Sentry Plan Explorer reporting results compared to SSMS.  Sentry’s product is free and integrates directly into SSMS.  Here are some other advantages with Sentry’s Plan Explorer:

  • Features color scaling from yellow to red so you can easily identify problem areas.
  • Features separate I/O and CPU costs to identify disk vs processor intense queries.
  • The plan viewer is must more condensed than SSMS’s view.  This enables you to see the whole plan much easier.
You can download Plan Explorer for yourself here and test things out.
Doug Purnell