Kafka Connect Done Easy

Robin Moffatt shows how to build a simple Kafka Connect flow:

This is pretty cool – the update_ts column is managed automagically by MySQL (other RDBMS have similar functionality), and Kafka Connect’s JDBC connector is using this to pick out new and updated rows from the database.

As a side note here, Kafka Connect tracks the offset of the data that its read using the connect-offsets topic. Even if you delete and recreate the connector, if the connector has the same name it will retain the same offsets previously stored. So if you want to start from scratch, you’ll want to change the connector name – for example, use an incrementing suffix for each test version you work with. You can actually check the content of the connect-offsets topic easily:

This is part 1 of a mini-series, but does show you how to build connections to stream data from MySQL into Kafka and then into a flat file.

Power BI With What-If Analysis

Dusty Ryan shows off What-If Analysis in Power BI:

Next, I’m going to create a calculated measure that multiples Revenue Last Year by Revenue Target % Value. Here’s the formula for the calculated measure:

Revenue Target = [Revenue Last Year] * [Revenue Target % Value]

Now I’m going to add this new measure, Revenue Target, to my line chart. And now when I use my slicer slider bar, I can dynamically change my Revenue Target line on the chart!

This is pretty cool.  Definitely check out Dusty’s example; it’s something that might make many an executive happy.

Saving Statistics Sample Rates

Pedro Lopes shows off a new feature in the latest SQL Server 2016 CU:

When SQL Server creates or updates statistics and a sampling rate is not manually specified, SQL Server calculates a default sampling rate. Depending on the real distribution of data in the underlying table, the default sampling rate may not accurately represent the data distribution and then cause degradation of query plan efficiency.

To improve this scenario, a database administrator can choose to manually update statistics with a specific sampling rate that can better represent the distribution of data. However, a subsequent automatic update statistics operation will reset back to the default sampling rate, possibly reintroducing degradation of query plan efficiency.

With the most recent SQL Server 2016 SP1 CU4, we released an enhancement for the CREATE and UPDATE STATISTICS command – the ability to persist sampling rates between updates with a PERSIST_SAMPLE_PERCENT keyword.

This seems rather useful.

Substrings: Powershell Versus T-SQL

Shane O’Neill contrasts the SUBSTRING function in T-SQL with Powershell’s Substring method:

The main difference that I can see when using SUBSTRING() in SQL Server versus in PowerShell is that SQL Server is very forgiving.

If you have a string that is 20 characters longs and you ask for everything from the 5th character to the 100th character, SQL Server is going to look at this, see that the string does not go to the 100th character, and just give you everything that it can.

It’s a small difference but an important one.

Anti-Virus On Your Database Server?

Steve Stedman gives you food for thought if you need to run anti-virus software on your SQL Server instance:

In a perfect world, your SQL Server would be so secure that you would not need antivirus software, you would have behind layers of firewalls, nobody would ever connect with remote desktop to install anything, and it would always have all of the latest security patches… But that is not the real world.

Given that your SQL Server often times contains extremely valuable information, and that the damage that could be done by virus software, malware, and ransomware could be so great then it is strongly recommended that you run antivirus software on your SQL Server. There are some files that you will want to exclude from the virus check.

I’m not a big fan of running anti-virus software on database instances, but if you have to run it for whatever reason, be sure to check out Steve’s advice.

R Services 182 Error

Joey D’Antoni provides a solution to a tricky SQL Server R Services error:

Recently, and unfortunately I don’t have an exact date on when this started failing (though it was around service pack 1 install time) with the following error:

Msg 39012, Level 16, State 1, Line 10
Unable to communicate with the runtime for ‘R’ script. Please check the requirements of ‘R’ runtime.
STDERR message(s) from external script:

DLL ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER1601\MSSQL\Binn\sqlsatellite.dll’ cannot be loaded.
Error in eval(expr, envir, enclos) :
DLL ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER1601\MSSQL\Binn\sqlsatellite.dll’ cannot be loaded.
Calls: source -> withVisible -> eval -> eval -> .Call
Execution halted
STDOUT message(s) from external script:

Failed to load dll ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER1601\MSSQL\Binn\sqlsatellite.dll’ with 182 error.

Click through to see how to resolve this issue.

Putting Measures On Rows In Power BI

Meagan Longoria shifts our perspective by 90 degrees:

Back in January 2016, I wrote a blog post explaining a DAX workaround that allows you to put measures on rows in a matrix in a Power BI report. I’m happy to say that you no longer need my workaround because you can now natively put measures on rows in a matrix in both Power BI Desktop and PowerBI.com.

This is accomplished via a new formatting option for the matrix.

Click through to see how to pull this off.

Date Conversions In Oracle And SQL Server

Kevin Feasel



Daniel Janik compares Oracle and SQL Server date conversion functions:

There are many ways to create a date from a string. First you’ve got the CONVERT() function and the CAST() function. Next you’ve got DATEFROMPARTS(), DATETIMEFROMPARTS(), DATETIME2FROMPARTS(), SMALLDATETIMEFROMPARTS(), TIMEFROMPARTS(), and DATETIMEOFFSETFROMPARTS().

That’s a lot of functions for one simple task isn’t it? To be fair, it’s really more than 1 simple task. Each of these functions is meant to be paired with the matching data type so you get just what you want. To go along with these you also have the ISDATE() function which tests the value to be sure it’s a date.

I never liked the verbosity of the Oracle TO_DATE() function…but I am biased.


August 2017
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