Press "Enter" to skip to content

Day: January 4, 2022

Enhancing Color Photographs via Generative Adversarial Networks

Neil Saunders re-colorizes photographs:

When I’m not at the computer writing R code, I can often be found at the computer processing photographs. Or at the computer browsing Twitter, which is how I came across Stuart Humphryes, a digital artist who enhances autochromes. Autochromes are early colour photographs, generated using a process patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903. You can find and download many examples of them online. Stuart uses a variety of software tools to clean, enhance and balance the colours, resulting in bright vivid images that often have a contemporary feel, whilst at the same time retaining the somewhat “dreamy” quality of the original.

Having read that one of his tools uses neural networks, I was keen to discover how easy it is to achieve something similar using freely-available software found online. The answer is “quite easy” – although achieving results as good as Stuart’s is somewhat more difficult. Here’s how I went about it.

Click through for the process and some really nice-looking post-production photographs.

Comments closed

Using a Kafka Client with Azure Event Hubs

Niels Berglund takes us through one way to work with Azure Event Hubs:

This blog post came by, by accident, lol. A couple of weeks ago, I started to prepare for a webinar: Analyze Billions of Rows of Data in Real-Time Using Azure Data Explorer. One of the demos in that webinar is about ingesting data from Apache Kafka into Azure Data Explorer. When prepping, I noticed that my Confluent Cloud Kafka cluster didn’t exist anymore, so I had to come up with a workaround. That workaround was to use Azure Event Hubs instead of Kafka.

Since I already had the code to publish data to Kafka and knew that you could use the Kafka client to publish to Event Hubs, I thought I’d test it out. I did run into some minor snags along the way, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it. Then, at least, I have something to go back to. This post also looks at how to set up an Event Hubs cluster.

Click through to see it in action.

Comments closed

Air-Gapping Backups

Chad Callihan notes an increasingly dangerous problem:

I’m guessing that we’ve all dealt with a computer virus or malware at some point in our lives. Dealing with these issues can range from annoying to absolutely devastating.

Even at their worst, viruses or malware are not typically on the same level as a ransomware attack. Sure, you may hate not being able to access your games or documents on your laptop due to a virus. But when a company is attacked with ransomware there are more financial complications.

Ransomware has picked up steam in recent years, making the idea of keeping backups air-gapped more appealing.

I chatted with a consulting client of mine yesterday about this very thing. One of their customers was hit by a major ransomware attack which put them behind for an entire year (and would have been considerably worse if they hadn’t been using my client’s software, as it has both cloud and on-prem components, so they could safely fall back to the cloud side while they rebuilt their entire on-prem infrastructure from scratch). Recent ransomware will not only encrypt the files on local disk but will also try to figure out where backups get stored, access that location using the backup service account, and encrypt those backup files as well.

Comments closed

Implementing GREATEST in SQL Server 2019

Ronen Ariely is on a mission to be the greatest:

The function GREATEST returns the maximum value from a list of one or more expressions. It returns the data type with the highest precedence from the set of types passed to the function.

This function was added to Azure SQL. At this time, it is supported in Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure Synapse Analytics serverless. 

Unfortunately, it not yet supported on SQL Server on premises and synapse dedicated sql pool.

Click through for a pair of alternative constructs while we wait for GREATEST on-premises.

Comments closed

Getting Started with KQL

Steve Jones starts learning about the Kusto Query Language:

I saw an episode of Data Exposed with my good friend, Hamish Watson. He talked about KQL (Kusto Query Language) being the next query language you need to learn. I was skeptical of the title, but I decided to give this a try.

In the episode, Hamish points out a cheat sheet from Microsoft, which I thought was a good resource. However, while watching the video, I browsed over to the demo site Microsoft has at You need an Azure account to log in, but this is a demo site where you can query some Log Analytics data. The new query window below is what appears when you go here:

If you’re already familiar with the way Splunk’s filtering language works, KQL follows from it. It’s a worthwhile language for Azure-based administrators to know, as it’s the most powerful way to get data out of Log Analytics.

Comments closed

Why Did It Recompile?

Grant Fritchey answers an interesting question:

Strictly speaking, a recompile isn’t really a performance tuning problem. In fact, a lot of time, recompiles are desired because they reflect changes in statistics which are likely to need a new plan. However, you can get really excessive levels of recompiles because of a variety of different issues. So, identifying the causes can be a pain. Here’s one way to get it done.

Click through for an extended event which does the job.

Comments closed

Building an SSMS Database Solution

Andy Leonard has a four-parter four us on database solutions in SQL Server Management Studio. Part one provides an introduction:

I like Microsoft Visual Studio a lot. I know some members of the team that developed Visual Studio, and they are scary-smart individuals who have forgotten more about developing software than I will ever know.

For some reason, I am not fond of SQL Server projects in Visual Studio. I believe the reason is that I am not familiar with the template. Please note I used the word fond intentionally. It’s an emotion. In this case, it’s all about me. I believe my emotion would change if I took the time to learn more about the Visual Studio SQL Server project template.

I continue to attempt to learn VS database projects. In the meantime, I prefer SQL Server Management Studio solutions.

Part two shows how to add a new query:

One solution is to add instrumentation to T-SQL scripts. I personally like to write T-SQL scripts that idempotent (a fancy way to describe “re-executable with the same results”). One way to write idempotent T-SQL is:

1. First check for the current state

2. Provide feedback (instrumentation) on the status

3. Provide more feedback on actions driven by the status (yep, more instrumentation)

Part three includes tables and views in the mix:

Click the “New Query” button in SSMS and add the following T-SQL:

Part four includes stored procedures:

Note the DDL to manage stored procedures is very similar to the DDL for managing views.

If all goes according to plan, the first execution of the s.i DDL T-SQL statement should generate the following messages:

Andy also shows how to use SQLCMD to create a proper deployment script.

Comments closed