Formatting with RegEx in SQL Server

Shane O’Neill has a problem:

This is a contrived example but I was given a script that got the “Discipline”, “DocumentVersion”, “DocumentNumber”, “SectionNumber”, and “SectionName” out of the above.

And while it works, I hate that formatting. Everything is all squashed and shoved together.

No, thanks. Let’s see if we can make this more presentable.

Shane has a regular expression. Now Shane has two problems.

In all seriousness, regular expressions are extremely powerful in the right scenario. Shane mentions being okay with it not in the database engine and I’m usually alright with that, but there are cases when it’s really helpful like figuring out if a particular input is valid. One example I have on a project is finding legitimate codes (like ISBN) where you can solve the problem easily with a regex but my source data is abysmal. I can use the SQL# regular expression functions to drop into CLR and figure out whether that value is any good, something I would have a lot more trouble with in T-SQL alone.

DBAs Aren’t Going Away, DevOps + Automation Edition

Grant Fritchey argues that the DBA role is here to stay:

One of the reasons I love DevOps so much is because I’ve done it successfully. I’ve worked on teams that built fully automated deployment mechanisms to get code from Dev to Production. Further, we automated the creation of dev & test servers. We automated the creation of production servers too. We automated the heck out of everything.
And then they fired me…
Kidding.
When we started building our DevOps processes, I was supporting two development teams. As we got better at automating our work, I was supporting three teams. By the time we had fully automated all the various processes, I was supporting between five and seven teams at different levels.

To support Grant’s point, I’ve had a draft in my personal blog entitled “The Cloud is not Stealing Our Jobs” from May of 2017 that I never got around to finishing. Back in 2017, that was what was going to kill the DBA role.

The role has certainly changed over the years. I suppose if your definition of a DBA is someone who lays out indexes starting on certain drive sectors to take advantage of rotation speed on that single 5400 RPM spinning disk drive AND NOTHING ELSE, then your job might not be there. But that describes exactly zero people I have ever known in the industry.

Combining Windows And Linux Docker Containers

Rob Sewell crosses the streams:

This is NOT a production ready solution, in fact I would not even recommend that you try it.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend it on any machine with anything useful on it that you want to use again.
We will be using a re-compiled dockerd.exe created by someone else and you know the rules about downloading things from the internet don’t you? and trusting unknown unverified people?
Maybe you can try this in an Azure VM or somewhere else safe.
Anyway, with that in mind, lets go.

That’s the kind of intro that makes me want to try it out.

Tying The Power BI Threads Together

Eugene Meidinger has a corkboard with a bunch of pushpins connecting photographs and newspaper articles together with string:

Part of that announcement was them talking about the Common Data Service. When I first heard about CDS months ago, I was again confused. It sounded like some weird semantic layer for the data in Dynamics CRM. Maybe useful if your data lives in Dynamics 365, otherwise who the heck cares.

Oooooh boy was I wrong. Microsoft is aiming for something much, much more ambitious than an awkward pseudo-database layer for people who don’t like SQL. They are aiming for a common shape for all of your business data. They want to want to create a lingua franca for all of your business data, no matter where it is. Especially if it’s hiding in Salesforce.

Now, do I expect them to succeed? I’m not sure. I’ve learned the hard way that every business is a unique snowflake, even two business in exact same industry. But if anyone can do it, Microsoft has a good shot. They’ve been buying up CRM / ERP solutions for decades.

There’s some good stuff in here, including the realization that Power BI is not strictly intended for database developers.

Creating Minesweeper In Power BI

Philip Seamark has fun with a classic Windows game reimplemented in Power BI:

The latest addition to my recent series of DAX based games is the classic Minesweeper game.  This is the game where you are presented with a 9 x 9 matrix of squares.  There are 10 hidden mines and you can either step on a square or place a flag where you think there might be a mine.  If you are lucky enough not to step on a square that contains a mine, you will get clues that help you identify where the mines are.

Click here if you would like to see the final publish to web version.

Click here if you would like to download the PBIX version to go through the code.

Still better than the Windows 10 version.

Running Google Translate Inside SQL Server ML Services

David Fowler shows us how to use SQL Server Machine Learning Services to call the Google Translate API via Python:

In my recent post, Installing External Modules into SQL Server’s Python I had a look at just how simple it is to import external modules into Python so that they can be used within SQL Server.

In this post I’d like to show you a little something to demonstrate how we can integrate one of these modules into SQL Server and just how powerful this can be.

This is really just for fun and it may not really be something that you’d want to put out into production but when I happened to notice that there’s a Python module that interfaces with Google Translate, I wondered to myself if it’d be possible to write a procedure that could take a string and automatically translate it into our native language.

There are a couple of setup steps but once you get past them, it’s easy going.

Choose Your Next SQL Job Title

Tomaz Kastrun has created a job title generator in T-SQL:

While writing a sample random function in using T-SQL Server, I have remembered, why not write a job title generator for T-SQL domain only. You might have seen so called bulls**t job title generator and similar, but this one is T-SQL SQL server specific.

So, why not come up with random, yet funny T-SQL job titles. And making it, I have to tell you, it was fun. And I was simply hitting that F5 button in SSMS, to get new job title generated and laugh out loud.

It took me a few clicks, but I got “Qualitative R ggplot library Stackover subscriber,” which might be hitting the mark a little close.

The Gartner Hype Cycle, AI Edition

Alex Woodie reviews the latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech:

Democratized artificial intelligence is one of five trends driving Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which it updates this month, as it traditionally does during the month of August.

The analyst group took a slightly different approach with this year’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Tech and grouped the 35 individual technologies into major groups, which includes digitalized ecosystems, do-it-yourself biohacking, transparently immersive experiences, and ubiquitous infrastructure, along with democratized AI.

The five trends will “blur the lines between human and machine,” Gartner says. “CIOs and technology leaders should always be scanning the market along with assessing and piloting emerging technologies to identify new business opportunities with high impact potential and strategic relevance for their business,” writes Mike J. Walker, research vice president at Gartner.

It’s an interesting exercise and parlor game.

Tic-Tac-Toe In T-SQL

Riley Major continues his series on tic-tac-toe:

We could give it some smarts. For example, we know that in our game, we can only choose X or O, so we could put a data constraint on the Play column. And we know that in our game, you can’t play on the same space more than once, so we could put a unique constraint on the combination of GameID and Position. You could even be really creative and enforce our game’s alternating player moves by putting a data constraint on the Player column such that it equaled 1 when (Turn Modulo 2) equaled 1 and 2 otherwise. (Really it wouldn’t need to be a data column at that point, just a calculated column.)

But imposing those restrictions robs our data structure from its raison d’être. It’s no longer a general purpose game play storage system; it only works for our game.

Instead of saddling the data storage itself with all of those rules, we could enforce all of the game mechanics through our data interpretation and manipulation logic. When we saved a game move, we could make sure that an X or O was played and it could check to see whether the specified square was already used. When we analyzed a game to determine a win, all of the criteria could be housed in that consuming query. But this flexible design isn’t done inflicting its complexity on us.

Riley covers a number of T-SQL features in the process of this post.

Tic-Tac-Toe In T-SQL

Riley Major implements Tic-Tac-Toe in T-SQL:

It turns out there’s a concept called bitmasking which can work a lot like this cardboard cut-out process. (Props to Dylan Beattie for his quick visual demonstration at NDC Minnesota which drove this point home.) First, you represent your game state with a bunch of bits (“OXOOOXXXX” yields “0100011110” for our example above, remembering that we’re padding that last 0 just to make the powers 1-based instead of 0-based) and then you represent your winning state with a bunch of bits (“0000001110” for our example winning state here). Now you use the magic of “bitwise math” to compare the two.

For our use, we want to find out whether our mask exposes the winning three bits. We want to block everything else out. With bits, to check if both items are true, you use “AND” (0 and 0 is 0; 0 and 1 is 0; 1 and 1 is 1). If we apply that “AND” concept to each bit in our game, it will squash out any values which don’t match. If what we have left matches the mask (fills in all of the space we can see through), then we have a match and a win.

The twist in all of this is that the end result doesn’t quite work as expected, but it was interesting watching the process.  That said, there’s a good reason why we don’t use T-SQL as a primary language for development…

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