Time-zone change less of an issue with SQL Server 2008

Today the clocks went forward in most parts of Australia. And in the UK, clocks went back. I spoke to my grandmother in the UK last night – my grandfather turned 83, but he wasn't well enough to speak.

And I imagine that in both locations, the fact that there was either an hour that didn't happen or an hour that got repeated could potentially have caused issues whenever the time of an event was recorded.

In SQL Server 2008 though, there is a new data type called datetimeoffset. This data type stores the date and time, but also includes time zone. So therefore, if your server is applying daylight saving (and therefore changing time zone), you may have less of an issue now.

Incidentally, the function you should use is no longer getdate(), but now sysdatetimeoffset(). This function, along with sysdatetime() and sysutcdatetime() returns a value which is easily cast into the appropriate data type.


Paul Stovell is just too smart. About six weeks ago I heard a presentation of his at the Adelaide .Net User Group, and he mentioned that SyncLINQ was coming. A couple of weeks ago he sent me a movie that he'd put together, saying "Don't blog about this yet, but…"

Since then I've told a good handful of people about this, but now I'm blogging too.

The idea behind SyncLINQ comes from the fact that Paul writes LINQ queries, but being into data binding in a big way, he was getting frustrated at the fact that changes to the underlying LINQ source weren't bubbling up to his user interface. So he fixed it. The result is SyncLINQ.

The idea is simple – SyncLINQ raises an event that can tell the user interface that something is different in the underlying data. Use it with standard data binding, and the binding will cause the interface to change. A whole bunch of functionality, for almost no extra code.

Well done, Paul.

A tribute

It seems my hero may not last the day. Martyn Graham Farley, my grandfather.

When I was a child, I thought he knew everything. As I grew up and realised that nobody knows everything, there was a part of me that considered that if anyone came close, it would be Grandpa.

When I was a boy mourning the death of my father, he was someone who also missed Dad, someone who could tell me stories about him, someone who shared many of Dad's views of the world.

100_2052a_sm As an adult, Grandpa has been a link to my past. A time when I lived on the other side of the world, when Christmases were cold, and life was carefree.

I have had conversations with him that I'm sure I will remember forever. I wanted him to be always around so that we could continue having them. I remember talking to him on the phone (long-distance) during the last overs of the cricket when England beat Australia, and celebrating England's rugby wins with him. I remember telling him about my kids being born, and about the child of mine he may never meet.

He is always passionate. Always caring. A man who adores his wife and family.

He's strong. "The heart of an ox," his doctor said a handful of years ago. When the rest of his body failed him, his heart remained ever powerful. Literally and metaphorically.

His mind has always been incredible. He wasn't just the person who knew everything there was to know, but he achieved everything there was to achieve: a successful career at Rolls Royce, rising to become MD of the Small Engine Division; a Professor Emeritus at the Royal Military College; Engineer of the Year; President of the Royal Aeronautical Society; on the boards of several universities. He even helped NASA with the Shuttle engine. There was nothing he couldn't do. If he had achieved that today, he would be all over the Internet. Instead, there's a only a couple of pages that refer to his work in setting up a school for managers in engineering at Cranfield.

He has been my hero in so many ways. I have looked for similarities in the mirror, and hoped to be like him. I have enjoyed every time he's told me he's proud of me.

Above all, he has been my friend. I pray I see him again one day.

The best way to pass a Microsoft certification exam

For a limited time only, Microsoft are giving you the chance to have a second shot at any IT professional, developer or Microsoft Dynamics exam. Brilliant!

The way this works (and the way I encourage all my students to do this) is that if you register for this offer and then take an exam, you can take it again some time later for free. Yes, free.

So now let me ask you – which one are you paying for? The first one, or the second one?

It may feel like you're paying for the first one, but don't be fooled. You're actually paying for the second one. The first is just a practice. A chance to get a feel for the exam, a chance to find out how to target your study. Don't lose sleep over the first one. If you use the product, don't even study. Just rock up and see how you go. When you leave, you'll have a piece of paper telling you the areas you didn't do so well, plus you'll know in your head that you need to study up about some particular area.

Don't consider that you get a free 'second shot'. Consider that you get a free practice exam, that comes with the bonus of giving you credit for the real one if you pass. The lack of stress in the first one will actually give you an increased chance. These exams are not a 'single-shot only' thing, like university or high-school. Accept that the first sitting is a learning experience, and pay for the second.

SQL Down Under talks, and England wins

This weekend is getting better and better. With England winning in both the football and the rugby, my mood is pretty good anyway – despite having to give the first presentation of Sunday morning at the SQL Down Under Code Camp. The local TV channel sent cameras just after I finished, so I think I managed to avoid having my presentation on the local news. At least, I hope they came just after I finished… otherwise I didn't notice them lurking in the corner.

I taught the crowd about MERGE & Table-Valued Parameters, and got good feedback from various members of the audience. Hopefully people will be able to take the content and use it to try things out in SQL2008 when they get back to the real world.

Now, Grant Paisley is presenting about Analysis Services Best Practices. I've heard Grant give this talk before, but it's still good. With Darren Gosbell, Greg Linwood and Kevin Kline still to come today, it's going to be good. Poor France though… with Scotland beating the Ukraine in their Euro 2008 qualifiers, Les Blues need to win both their remaining matches to qualify for the tournament, and Scotland probably only need to a draw against Italy to go through.

SQL Code Camp concludes, plus poor Catherine Eibner

The SQL Down Under Code Camp finished this afternoon after a successful couple of days, but was marred by the news that Catherine Eibner, whose company sponsored the Influencers Party at TechEd AU this year, had shattered her wrist and was in hospital having surgery.

Catherine is becoming a big supporter of the SQL Server community in Australia, and even has a couple of user-group presentations coming up. Why not pop along to her blog and wish her well – I'm sure she'd appreciate it.

SQL Down Under Code Camp begins

Two days of intensive SQL Server training, thanks to experts from around Australia and Kevin Kline from the US. All the Australian SQL Server MVPs are coming (five here so far, two more coming soon).

The coffee is great (thanks Peter), the company is great, and there are so many more people here (than last year) because there is also a Security Camp on at the same time. All the user-group leads are here, including Perth and the new Hobart group (Jason Cook's getting this going), which means every Australian state is represented.

I'm sure other people will be blogging about this too, so keep your eye out for them. I'll try to blog more later on today.

User Group meeting with Christine Bishop

Yesterday we had Christine Bishop come to Adelaide. She's the Product Marketing Manager for SQL Server and BI for Microsoft Australia. That makes her handy to know if you're in the SQL space, and we had a nice crowd come along to the user group to meet her.

One thing that made this meeting different to the usual is that Christine isn't overly technical. She's not bad, but compared to the people in the crowd listening to her, she would've been in the less technical half. Normally we'd have some in depth technical session, showing people how to do particular things, but this time we looked more at the business side of things.

Feedback was good, and for those people looking for something a little more technical I demonstrated a quick point about SSIS and one about the use of row_number() to make sure that only the three most recent records for each category were stored in a table. I might post about these more another time.

Free SQL training at events in the UK and Australia

…and I'm not even referring to the User Groups which run regularly. The ones I'm referring to are SQLBits and the SQL Down Under Code Camp.

SQLBits was in the UK last weekend, and was a massive success. I would've loved to have been able to attend, but it's a bit far to travel (I guess about 12000 miles). They had over three hundred attend, which is fantastic! Adelaide User Group regular Martin Cairney was there, and presented the talk he gave in Adelaide earlier this year. It seems to have been received well.

And this coming weekend is the SQL Down Under Code Camp in Wagga Wagga. It should be a great event, with well over a hundred people there. If you're able to get to Wagga, I thoroughly recommend it.

MVP award renewed

I got a nice email this morning, telling me that my MVP status has been renewed for another year. Just went through the whole NDA process again, so that I can continue to be listed at https://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile/rob, and continue to use the MVP logo.

I don't know who is in the list of new MVPs this trimester yet. It's always good to find out who has been recognised for their efforts in the community. My tip is that Jeff Wharton will get awarded soon – he's very active in the community, and runs the SQL Server User Group in Canberra. He's even going to be speaking at my user-group in Adelaide in December, as well as making the trip out to TechEd Barcelona to help with HandsOn Labs there.