Jul 09 2010

Delivering the Bad News

It’s a Friday, the day governments & companies traditionally deliver bad news. I recived the bad news earlier in the week, but I’m passing it on now:

The Standard is dead.

Let me first say, a couple of authors are right in the middle of finishing up articles. Those will be completed and published and you’ll get paid.

Andy sums up some of the reasons why the Standard failed very nicely in his blog post. I agree with them, if not where the responsibility lies. Andy takes most of it on himself because, well, he’s that kind of guy, may the gods bless him. But, the fact is, I took on the job and just wasn’t prepared for what it would entail. The “editing” part of the job was hard. If you think it’s easy to tell people, “No, we’re not going to make you famous and give you $500,” think again. It was tough. But, actually, that was the easier part of what was needed.

The real difficulties were two-fold. First, pushing the documents through the pipeline. Frankly, that was a pain. Sometimes, I was the bottleneck, sometimes it was other people. But it required a great deal of attention and diligence and I wasn’t always giving it my all. Second, and this is the biggie, it really needed to be marketed, constantly, and widely. It needed to be up in people’s faces, all the time. I needed to be the one pushing that, hard. I blogged about it occasionally and I tweeted about it a few more times, but, here again, I didn’t give it the real attention it needed.

Yeah, I’ve got excuses for the shortcomings, some are valid, some aren’t. I’m not going to bother with them because frankly, they only really matter to me and Andy. Suffice to say, I did the job I could do and it wasn’t adequate.

So, the SQL Server Standard is dead, again. I think that makes it’s third death, depending on how you count them. Who knows, the thing keeps coming back like Dracula in the old Hammer films, we could see it again.

Thanks to everyone who wrote for it. Thank you, the few people who clicked through and logged in to get the chance to read it. Thanks to all the editors and photographers and everyone else involved. Thanks, a lot, for magnificent work as the head technical editor, to Brad McGehee (blog|twitter). Thanks, most of all, to Andy Warren (blog|twitter) for giving me the opportunity. Sorry I dropped the ball on this.

Apr 21 2010

SQL Server Standard: Volume 7, Issue 3

FINALLY!

It’s not like Don Gabor had the article done in January or anything…oh wait. He did have the article done in January. However, it looks like we might be breaking the log jam and we’ll be publishing a number of SQL Server Standard issues.

Anyway, do you want to learn how to talk techie to non-techies? You do? That’s excellent because I’ve got a fantatic article by Don Gabor (blog), just for you. Please go and read it.

Jan 13 2010

SQL Server Standard Volume 7 Issue 1

Kathi Kellenberger‘s fantastic new article is available in the latest issue of SQL Server Standard. There are a lot more articles in the hopper. Keep an eye out for them. We’re providing you with the best writers giving us some of their best stuff. Go and check it out. If you’re not a member of SQL PASS, it’s free to join, and you’ll get access to this article, lots more like it, as well as other stuff.

Jan 04 2010

SQL Server Standard Article Abstracts

I’d really like to publish your article in SQL Server Standard. All I need from you is an abstract, a description of what the article will be. I’ve posted this before, but I’ve never provided examples. So, to get people started, here are a few examples of articles that have been accepted and will be published (shortly I hope).

Here’s a great example from Andy Leonard. It includes a great amount of detail, more than I need to make my decision, but with this much detail, the decision is much easier because I know exactly what this article is likely to look like:

   I’m interested in writing an article on SSIS for SQL Server Standard. I’d like to cover ways packages can exchange information at run-time. There are a couple obscure ways parent-child packages interact that make for some interesting design opportunities and architectures – especially when combined. For example, most SSIS developers realize Events “bubble” up through EventHandlers; so that if a Control Flow contains a Sequence Container which contains an Execute SQL Task, an error generated at the Execute SQL Task will raise the tasks’ OnError EventHandler, then the Sequence Container’s OnError EventHandler, and finally the OnError EventHandler of the package. What’s not so well know is: If a package calls another package via the Execute Package Task, the calling package is said to be the parent (or master) package; the called package is the child. In this scenario, events raised in the child at the package level will bubble to the parent package.
   The second obscure behavior is variables in the parent package are inherited in the child package. The cool thing is: they’re inherited ByRef – unlike parent package configurations, which pass variable values ByVal from parent to child. ByVal is one-way communication; ByRef is bi-directional, which means I can make a change to a variable in the child package and that change will persist in the parent after the child package has completed executing.
Here’s one from Sam Bendayan. It’s sharp and clear and defines the article in a way that I can understand what will be covered. It’s shorter than Andy’s, but it’s still enough:
It is common knowledge that Application Programmers and DBAs don’t get along in many cases, and the root of this is that the two technologies are fundamentally different.  It is also common knowledge that many Application Programmers write SQL as part of their job.  However, often their familiarity with loop-based programming is their undoing, taking them down strange SQL paths that produce bad SQL code and make their relationship with the DBAs even worse.  This article will show how difficult the transition is, even if it doesn’t seem to be at first, and how you have to adjust your thinking in order to successfully program in T-SQL.
And finally, one from Michelle Ufford. This is the most concise example and I would be less likely to accept it if I didn’t already have a good working knowledge of Michelle, her abilities and skill set. But still, this is enough:
In this article, I will give you a practical overview of how to design effective partitioning schemes.  I will cover good partitioning design, the differences between aligned and non-aligned indexes, and some examples of when to use each.  I’ll also discuss some issues to be aware of when designing partitioning schemes, including performance, replication, and sliding-window considerations. 
If you’re waiting because you think putting together the abstract will be as much work as the article itself, it won’t be. Four or five sentences that clearly define a topic that can obviously fill out 3000+ words is all that’s needed. At this time we’re only accepting articles from writers with some experience, but nothing extensive (previous articles in a technical reviewed publication or three articles in a peer-reviewed publication or a book). Send the abstracts to [email protected].
 
 
 
Dec 02 2009

SQL Standard Update

Andy Warren in the latest PASS Connector has posted an update on where we’re at with the SQL Server Standard. I’m so happy that Andy has been keeping this out in front of people. It provides some impetus to get the work done. Except for the authors thanks (and they’re receiving $500, so they should say thank you), there’s very little feedback on the Standard to show whether or not people are interested, if the goals and ideas are worthy… In other words, you guys need to let us know what you think about the thing.

Two more articles are in the hopper to be published. Another has gone into copy edit. We’re technical editing two others. That’s five more, so you guys can expect to see another ten weeks worth of SQL Server Standard. But after that…

Don’t you want $500? Just submit an abstract and your writing history to [email protected]. We’ll get you started.

Oct 27 2009

SQL Server Standard, Volume 6, Issue #1

It’s alive! It’s alive!

That’s enough from Colin Clive.

It’ll be out for the Summit. SQL Server Standard lives again! Although, not quite in the same shape as it used to be. But hey, stitching stuff together out of dead tissue is messy work.

I want to thank our first author who had to suffer through quite a few growing pains and help us blaze a trail through the woods, Thomas LaRock. I want to thank my boss at PASS for all the support especially the time I started whining, Andy Warren. And there’s this other guy, who has helped just a ton in this effort in every way, and lead the technical edit team, Brad McGehee. We have a photo credit to Pat Write for the front. Craig Ellis has done a yeoman’s labor putting together all the layout & art stuff, especially when you consider he had me making artistic suggestions (gave my wife a laugh anyway). The technical editors on the first article are K. Brian Kelley, Jose Santiago Oyervides and Tim Mitchell. Finally I have to thank Kathy Blomstrom for all her hard work editing and laying out the final.

To all you guys, thanks for working so hard through this process. I have bad news though. We have to get another one together in just a couple of weeks.

I’m probably stealing a little bit of Andy’s thunder by announcing it here. I don’t think he’ll be too mad at me.

I hope the community appreciates all the hard work these people put into this. Each of them did a great job. If you see them at the PASS Summit, be sure to say thanks.

Oct 15 2009

SQL Server Standard Update

The first article should be out within a week or so (knock wood).

I hav a winner for the contest to help us pick the artwork for the cover. Leo Pasta. Congrats. Get in touch with me at: grantedd -at- gmail.com so that I can send you your prize.

Oct 02 2009

Free Stuff and a SQL Server Standard Update

Great news. We’ve managed to get one article all the way through the process. We’ll have our first publication out within a couple of weeks. We might even get a second out at the PASS Summit. We’re working through the final details on contracts, author payments and the layout of the magazine, including cover art. That brings up a question. The intent is to publish high quality articles by great authors (and believe me, we’ve got exactly that coming down the pike). In order to reflect this, instead of just an HTML layout, we’re going with Adobe Acrobat so that we can get that magazine feel, but online. My question… We’re trying to decide what to do with cover art. Our options are:

  1. Some type of stylish picture, say, stamps or coins, or maybe pictures of tables to show off the idea of a database’s tables… you know art
  2. A picture of the author. Personally, I wouldn’t wish my own photograph on someone at the scale we’re looking at and I’m pretty sure others won’t either, but it’s a possibility. It’d look a bit like the Wrox books.
  3. Just plain old, boring, text. I really don’t like this idea. I don’t think it’s in keeping with the idea of a “magazine” even though we’re doing it all online. Still, it’s an option
  4. Something I haven’t thought of

I’m putting the question out. Do you like those Reilly books that have some non-sequitor line drawing on them? How about the Simple-Talk books, all of which (and I didn’t know this until this morning and I have a book published by these guys) have a picture of a gate, for Red-Gate? Simple books like Apress with an abstract graphic & some text?

I’m fishing for ideas here. We’ve got a few days. Mind you, I’ll make a decision with or without your comments, but I’d really like to hear what people think. If we use your idea (assuming it’s not just “I like #1″) I’ll ship you out a copy of my performance tuning book. If we pick one of our own ideas, I’ll randomly draw from one of the commenters. Either way, you’ve got a shot at the book.

Oh, and while I have you reading, I still need more abstracts. We have to feed the beast.

Sep 30 2009

SQL Server Standard Update

Just to keep people who might be interested up to date on what’s happening with the SQL Server Standard relaunch. I’ve received some fantastic abstracts on a wide range of topics from a diverse group of SQL Server DBA’s and Developers. From that, we’ve got a lot of articles in the hopper going through technical edits and second drafts. Three articles have made it all the way to copy edit. They should be done soon. I’m positive you’ll see at least one of them, maybe two, before the PASS Summit.

I need even more abstracts so I can publish even more articles. If you meet the qualifications to write for us, please submit an abstract to my PASS email address: grant.fritchey – at – sqlpass -dot- org (unobfuscate the obvious). Any topic that relates to SQL Server, Reporting Services, Integrations Services, Analysis Services, ORM to SQL Server, PowerShell to SQL Server, Monitoring, Tuning, Designing, Coding… There’s an audience out there that want’s to hear from you.

Aug 03 2009

SQL Server Standard

PASS is relaunching the SQL Server Standard with a wholly new approach and format. I’ll put more out about it as it becomes available. I just wanted to get the word out now, as far and as wide as I can. Basically submissions are open for articles. We’re only interested in publishing experienced writers who’ve published in some other tech-reviewed medium (Simple-Talk, books, SQL Server magazine, the old SQL Server Standard, are a few examples).  If you’re interested, send me a direct tweet @GFritchey or an email to grant.fritchey -at- sqlpass.org.

All the details will be published soon over at the PASS web site. Short info for those interested:

  • experienced writers who are members of PASS
  • abstracts can be 4-6 sentences describing the thrust, scope & length of the article
  • articles will be 2000-4000 words long
  • authors will be paid $500 for a completed article

Again, more info as I get it.

A couple of points that are going to be emphasized in other places. The intent here is to provide content for PASS, not compete with great sites like SQL Server Central or Simple-Talk. I like those guys and will continue to try to write for them. I am not competing with them and neither is PASS (I’m not because I know I’d lose, and lose big). We’re trying to go for high quality, in-depth articles. That’s why we only want experienced authors. We see this as a possible path of growth and maybe a way to work towards presenting at PASS. There’s going to a lot more information about this communicated very soon. Watch for it.

If you’re wondering why I’m making the call here, and accepting submissions, I volunteered to be the editor. We’ll see how that works out.