Stack Overflow Developer Survey Data Available

Julia Silge has a post looking at the Stack Overflow 2018 developer survey:

Starting today, you can access the public data release for Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey. Over 100,000 developers from around the world shared their opinions about everything from their favorite technologies to job preferences, and this data is now available for you to analyze yourself. This year, we are partnering with Kaggle to publish and highlight this dataset. This means you can access the data both here on our site and on Kaggle Datasets, and that on Kaggle, you can explore the dataset using Kernels. Kaggle is awarding two $1,000 awards over the next two weeks to authors of top Kernels on the Stack Overflow dataset.

Looks like an interesting data set.

A Non-Relational Database Taxonomy

Thomas Henson has a taxonomy of non-relational databases:

Columnar Database

The first type of NoSQL database is the Columnar databases which is optimized for reading and writing columns of data as opposed to rows of data. Column-oriented storage for database tables is an help drive down the input/output requirements for database. Since the I/O profile is lowered, overall storage footprint is lowered. One main feature of Columnar Databases is their ability to compress data. Instead of data being written in traditional row orientation, Columnar databases use column orientation. Each column will be associated with column key. Checkout this example from my HBase Blog Post.

He then goes on to describe the other three types.  I agree with the taxonomy he uses.

Configuring SQL Agent For Linux

Steve Jones shows how to install and configure the SQL Agent for Linux:

When I first started playing with this version, I noticed that SQL Agent was disabled. That’s not great, since SQL Agent is a great tool for various tasks in SQL Server. I can’t start the agent from here, as the underlying implementation is different, and I’m not really a host OS admin when connecting in SSMS.

After checking which patch level I was at (CU6), I changed to my Linux console, and ran the configuration utility. For Linux, this is mssql-conf.

It’s not an overly complicated process but the process is a bit different from Windows, so check it out.

Gaining SQL Server Access Without A Login

Jason Brimhall shows how you can push your way onto a SQL Server instance without a login:

If you really cannot cause a service disruption to bounce the server into single-user mode, my friend Argenis Fernandez (b | t) has this pretty nifty trick that could help you. Truth be told, I have tested that method (even on SQLExpress) several times and it is a real gem. Is this the only alternative?

Let’s back it up just a step or two first. Not having access to SQL Server is in no way the same thing as not having access to the server. Many sysadmins have access to the windows server. Many DBAs also have access to the Windows server or can at least work with the sysadmins to get access to the Windows server in cases like this. If you have admin access to windows – then not much is really going to stop you from gaining access to SQL on that same box. It is a matter of how you approach the issue. Even to restart SQL Server in single-user mode, you need to have access to the Windows server. So, please keep that in mind as you read the article by Argenis as well as the following.

Beyond the requirement of having local access to the server, one of the things that may cause heartburn for some is the method of editing the registry as suggested by Argenis. Modifying the registry (in this case) is not actually terribly complex but it is another one of those changes  that must be put back the way it was. What if there was another way?

As luck would have it, there is an alternative (else there wouldn’t be this article). It just so happens, this alternative is slightly less involved (in my opinion).

If you’re counting, that’s three methods for the price of one.  It’s also an important reminder that if an attacker has administrative access to your Windows server, there’s not much you can do to prevent that attacker from gaining access to SQL Server.

Tell Me When tempdb Is Low On Space

Dave Mason shows how to configure alerts to fire when tempdb is low on disk space:

Naturally, the job runs on a predefined schedule. But how frequently should we check disk/available space for [tempdb]? The temporary nature of [tempdb] makes this a difficult question: objects within aren’t saved from one session of SQL Server to another, and evidence to explain runaway growth or loss of available space may be gone before an assessment can be made. Whatever schedule I decide on, I’ll always wonder if it’s frequent enough (or too frequent).

It’s tempting to “over-schedule” a job’s frequency, perhaps as much as every X seconds. Asking SQL Server “Are we out of disk space?” over and over again doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, though. It reminds me of Bart and Lisa asking Homer “Are we there yet?”until he snaps. Ideally, instead of asking, I want SQL Server to *tell me* when disk/available space is running low.

Read on to see how Dave does this.

HASHBYTES Performance In SQL Server

Joe Obbish takes a look at how HASHBYTES doesn’t scale well:

The purpose of the MAX aggregate is to limit the size of the result set. This is a cheap aggregate because it can be implemented as a stream aggregate. The operator can simply keep the maximum value that it’s found so far, compare the next value to the max, and update the maximum value when necessary. On my test server, the query takes about 20 seconds. If I run the query without the HASHBYTES call it takes about 3 seconds. That matches intuitively what I would expect. Reading 11 million rows from a small table out of the buffer pool should be less expensive than calculating 11 million hashes.

From my naive point of view, I would expect this query to scale well as the number of concurrent queries increases. It doesn’t seem like there should be contention over any shared resources, so as long as every query gets on its own scheduler I wouldn’t expect a large degradation in overall run time as the number of queries increases.

Joe’s research isn’t complete, but he does have a conjecture as to why HASHBYTES doesn’t scale well.  That said, the most interesting thing in the post to me was to see Microsoft potentially using bcrypt under the covers for HASHBYTES calculation—if that’s really the case, there actually is a chance that sometime in the future, we’d be able to generate cryptographically secure hashes within SQL Server rather than the MD5, SHA1, and SHA2 hashes we have today.

Securing Power BI Report Server

Steve Hughes gives some advice for securing a Power BI Report Server installation:

You have essentially three layers of access to the report file security in Power BI Report Server.

  1. The portal itself can be secured. You can and should limit access to the reports by only allowing specific users or groups access to the report portal.
  2. Folders can be used to provide more granular security over a group of assets in the report portal. In the image above, I created a folder called PBI Secure Reports. A specific AD group has access to this folder. If a user does not have permissions to the folder, the folder does not show up in the portal and they cannot access the folder or the assets, including Power BI reports, stored in this folder.
  3. Individual reports can be secured as well. I never recommend this option as it becomes administratively difficult to manage. However, the capability is there is a single asset needs to be secured in this fashion.

These options work for any asset stored in the Report Portal and are not limited to Power BI reports.

Power BI Report Server is a different animal from standard Power BI, so securing it will be a bit different as well.

Resizing Azure Managed Instances

Jovan Popovic shows how to resize Azure SQL managed instances with Powershell:

Azure SQL Managed Instance is fully-managed SQL Server Database Engine hosted in Azure cloud. With Managed Instance you can easily add/remove cores associated to the instance and change the reserved size of the instance. You can use PowerShell to easily manage size of the instance and automate this process.

As a prerequisite, you need to have Azure SQL PowerShell libraries to configure Managed Instance. You would need to install Azure RM PowerShell and  AzureRm.Sql module that contains the commands for updating properties of Managed Instance.

Read on for a demo.

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