Query Store & Spinlocks

David Fowler ran into an issue with the Query Store process experiencing waits due to spinlocks:

We were enjoying a nice peaceful afternoon when we hear panicked shouting that a SQL Server had become unresponsive and the customers were unable to do anything.

We moseyed on down to the server in question to take a look at it.  One thing stood out immediately, CPU was pegged out at 100% but SQL itself didn’t actually seem to be doing anything, transactions\second was on the floor. Unfortunately this happened a while back and I didn’t think to capture any graphs or metrics at the time so you’re just going to have to take my word for this.

The issue David ran into was subsequently fixed, making this a cautionary tale to keep those SQL Server instances patched.

Dealing With Zero-Value Rows In dplyr

Kevin Feasel



Kieran Healy shows an oddity in dplyr when dealing with zero-value records:

That looks fine. You can see in each panel the 2015 column is 100% Men. If we were working on this a bit longer we’d polish up the x-axis so that the dates were centered under the columns. But as an exploratory plot it’s fine.

But let’s say that, instead of a column plot, you looked at a line plot instead. This would be a natural thing to do given that time is on the x-axis and so you’re looking at a trend, albeit one over a small number of years.

This is behavior I hadn’t run into, and it does seem a bit odd.  On a totally unrelated note, Healy’s Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction is one of the best books on the topic.

The Good And Bad Of Dataflows

Teo Lachev gives us the lowdown on Dataflows in Power BI:

There is a lot to like about dataflows. I can think of two primary self-service scenarios that can benefit from dataflows:

  • Data staging – Many organizations implement operational data stores (ODS) and staging databases before the data is processed and loaded in a data warehouse. As a business user, you can use data-flows for a similar purpose. For example, one of our clients is a large insurance company that uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 for customer relationship management. Various data analysts create data models from the same CRM data, but they find that refreshing the CRM data is time consuming. Instead, they can create a dataflow to stage some CRM entities before importing them in Power BI Desktop. Even better, you could import the staged CRM data into a single dataset or in an organizational semantic model to multiple data copies and duplicating business logic.

  • Certified datasets – One way to improve data quality and promote better self-service BI is to prepare a set of certified common entities, such as Organization, Product, and Vendor. A data steward can be responsible for designing and managing these entities. Once in place, data analysts can import the certified entities in their data models.

Read on for some more positives and negatives.

Checking If Ports Are Open Using Powershell

Anthony Nocentino has a quick Powershell script to see if ports are open on a machine:

Ever want to confirm that a port is accessible from one computer to another? There’s a PowerShell cmdlet for that, Test-NetConnection. With the -Port option, this cmdlet will do a quick TCP three-way handshake on the remote system to confirm that the service is available and reports back if it succeeded or not. Check out that last line of output TcpTestSucceeded: False. That indicates that this port is not accessible. You can see, however, that the system is reachable via ICMP (Ping), PingSuceeded: True so we know that the remote system is alive, just not listening on the port we want to access.

For when your security team won’t let you install nmap.

Root Cause Discovery For Availability Group Failovers

Sourabh Agarwal announces a new tool to determine why your Availability Group failed over:

The first step in using the utility is to configure the configuration.json file to include the location of the data files and the details of the availability group for which analysis is being done. For a correct analysis, all replicas in the availability groups needs to be listed in the configuration file.

The next step is to capture the various logs from each of the replicas and add those under the data folder. The following files are required for the analysis.

  • SQL error logs

  • Always On Availability Groups Extended Event Logs

  • System Health Extended Event Logs

  • System log

  • Windows cluster log

This looks interesting.

What Power BI Costs

Eugene Meidinger delineates what is free versus paid with respect to Power BI:

The Power BI Service, think powerbi.com, allows for free users. These free users can create reports and upload them, but with a significant number of limitations. The biggest is you only have one way of sharing content to others. Specifically with Publish to Web, which essentially makes your entire report free to the public.

You also only have one way of privately consuming other people’s reports, and that’s if someone places content in Power BI Premium. Otherwise, other users can’t share their reports directly with you. Power BI Free users are truly and island to themselves.

One other thing worth nothing is that you can’t sign up with a personal email. David Eldersveld has a good blog post on the issue. As of this writing, the uservoice request to change this has 2,800 votes.

See here for some more limitations of the free version of Power BI.

Read the whole thing.


November 2018
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