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Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

If you’re in PR, I will be giving a presentation on “Getting Started with SQL Azure” on October 7. It will cover the basics (kind of like a sales rep) but the demo is going to wet your appetite! To find out more or to register for it , go to PRPASS.ORG (warning, it’s in Spanish). Later on, I’ll post the ppt for you viewing pleasure! (for my english speaking crowd, there is a excellent ppt by Lynn Langit, which covers SQL Azure more in depth)

UPDATE (Oct 6, 2010): As promised, my “Empezando con SQL Azure” (Spanish only).

UPDATE 2 (Oct 6, 2010): For those of you who went to the presentation, I promised to answer if Full Text Search was supported; quick answer, no. Also, to answer my friend Bercero’s question, Load Balancing is guaranteed, so the response time is really based on your connection, the optimization of the query and optimization of the db.

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Well folks, after a brief hiatus in updating, I’m back with some interesting tidbits from my experience in TechEd/BI  North America 2010. TechEd/BI  took place in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana, on the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from June 7th to the 10th.

It was my first trip to New Orleans and to the TechEd/BI to tell you the truth. I went with my good buddies and co-workers Carlos Bercero and Alan KooMicrosoft did an outstanding job on accommodations and transportation to the event. Tour buses which were arranged by routes from the hotels to the convention center on specifics times (there only caveat was that from 11:00 to 4:00, there were no buses, so if you needed to get back to the hotel, it was either taxi or a 20 minute walk, depending on your hotel). We stayed at Mariott Canal Street, which was pretty close to the convention center. We got a decent rate ($199) and the room was comfortable (thou imagine three people staying on a room; tight, but comfortable enough).

But enough about minor details; you’re here for the good stuff. And I’ll try to give you my walk-through of the event.

 Day 1 (Welcome to the Madness)

Upon arriving to the sea of people on the outer halls of the convention center, we wandered and merged into the current of techies flowing into the registration hall. There were quite a few lines for registration and all were full. All expect two tiny lines which had no more than 6 people. Curiosity got the better of my friend Carlos and he dashed away to see if he could get registered there. Upon arriving to the line, we were informed that the line which we were, was the BI line. The other lines were for TechEd people only. Seems that the BI conference and the TechEd conference were merged into the TechEd/BI conference. Interestingly enough, both Carlos and I were registered as BI, while Alan was TechEd. Sorry Alan!

After getting our swag (nice blue messenger bags, while TechEd got grey/green backpacks), we noticed that our badges were yellow, while Alan’s was black. Pay attention to this detail, it’ll come up later in the story. In all badges, there was a mini-conference map, which gave th names of the different sessions, times and rooms where they would be given. Now for the KeyNote.

KeyNote (or the Sum-Up of all the topics to be on the conference)

The KeyNote was a great motivator speech. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sugar-coated speech like most motivational talks are, but it got you excited on all the technology that we were going to be seeing for the next four days.  Cases in point: Visual Studios 2010. Specifically, IntelliTrace. This new feature (only on Ultimate) allows you to, while you’re debugging, to collect data about a managed application in the background, including information from many framework components such as ADO.NET, ASP.NET and System.XML. These IntelliTrace events allow the developer to see what has previously occurred during execution, and most importantly, to “step back in time” to see prior states of the application without having to restart the debugger.

Another case in point: Windows Azure in the Cloud. Yes, those mystical words that Microsoft has been talking about for quite some time now. For those of you wondering: Windows Azure™ is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the internet through Microsoft® datacenters.

Still to come: The Avatar plug and the Chicago Tribune plug. I’ll spare you those minutes which I’ll never have back.

Unified Communications: Strong platform with  cool features, but what got my attention was the 720p resolution video out of the box.

Windows 7 Phone: Now THIS was a great topic. This OS will give the iPhone a run for its’ money. The UI is smooth and pleasant to look at. Also, the integration with Office, Sharepoint and Exchange is so seamless, that collaboration on documents (in real time) using your phone is well, amazing! Instead of repeating stuff (as I did before), check out this article. You can check it out, I’ll still be here.

Codename: Dallas. This was a most interesting demo showing Bing Maps and Silverlight coding. Check out the Keynote; It’s better to see it than read of it.

After the KeyNote, we decided to check out the Expo and have lunch. I don’t remember what I had for lunch, but I do remember that it wasn’t a memorable one, or a satisfying one at that.

Session #1 – Configuring PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2010 (1:00 – 2:15)

If you have read my blogs before, or know me for that matter, then you should know that PerformancePoint (Planning to be precise) is one of my strong points. So I decided to attend this session. The speaker was Josh Zimmerman, which from his performance on this session and the recommendations he later gave, told me that he knew his stuff and wasn’t a know-it-all.  He began with a quick survey of audience knowledge and Kerberos errors (which immediately got my attention). One of his key points was pointing out how PerformancePoint changed from being installed on a specific web application and had to be on a specific site. This time around, it became a shared service, so it could be used by different web sites and not be tied to another web app for resources.  Also, learned that Secure Store is Single Sign On – the next generation. The only drawback from this session was that the demo broke down, due to the whole convention center network going down. Still, it gave me a good sense of the changes (Unattended Account vs Application Pool),  and security (Claims, instead of Kerberos).

Session #2 – Advanced Reporting Authoring Techniques with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services (2:45 – 4:00)

Be careful with Titles versus content. I came to the session expecting something, and got something unexpected. It talked about authoring techniques which I already knew (from experience) and it felt not as an advanced session, but an intermediate. Then came the new features, which sparked interest, but it was really overview,  and since I was going to be looking into it on the next session, it became tedious. If you want to see it, follow the link.

Session #3 – Introducing the New Features in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services (4:30 – 5:45)

Now, this session was a very informative one, since  I didn’t know the new features. First, the speaker Peter Myers is a very charismatic speaker. Second, the features were explained perfectly. For example, Sharepoint lists can be used as data sources and that we can now (finally!) do aggregations of aggregations in Reporting Services (sample: Avg(Sum(Field.MyField.Value)). Also, the Lookup feature. Lookups help you bring information from different datasets into the main dataset. Imagine using a Join between two datasets. That alone is a great feature. And of course, let’s not forget Maps, Rendering specifics for Output ( you can actually specify how the excel export is going to look like (and naming the sheet!), dynamic page breaking, bottom to top text rotation (imagine 270 degrees text) and Atom Feeds. Watch this session!

Partner Expo & Technical Learning Center Reception (5:45 – 9:00)

Continuing the madness, we regrouped to enter the trenches of product placements, booth girls, food, booze, prizes and general swag. After stuffing ourselves with food and beverages, we walked around and tested the waters. Microsoft was smart in the way the splitted the Expo into three cubes of interest. Cube Yellow was BI, Cloud, Database, Office, UN (Unified Comm), and Windows Phone. Cube Red was Management, Security, Windows Embedded, Virtualization, Windows Client and Windows Server. Cube Blue was Architecture, Application Server, Development, Web Platforms.

Alongside said cubes, were the partners which were related to said cubes. It ranged from sharepoint integration, and visualization, to learning centers, development tools, backup and restore, security (all aspects) to desktop integration and cloud computing.  We walked and looked and took some of the better stuff home. I got inside a freakishly large portable freezer, for implementing mobile data centers.

And that concludes Day 1 of my tale. Tune in for day 2, 3 and 4 of TechEd/BI North America 2010! (Thanks to Mr. Alan Koo for a lot of the pictures that I used and will be using on this blog)

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While working for a retail chain client, I came upon using Excel Services for their intranet. They already had Reporting services reports, but wanted the freedom of creating pivotables in Excel and uploading them into their site. Their information came from cubes in Analysis Services.  So Kerberos is the sure-fire way to alleviate the “double hop” security problem.

Using these superb articles from Martin Kearn, an MCS Consultant based in the UK and of course, good old MSDN, I was able to setup Kerberos for Excel Calculations and for Reporting Services for Databases and Cubes. Knowing very little in Kerberos, I read and gave it the old college try on a testing environment. Two days later, success! So the idea now was to implement it in production, hence the checklist. It’s not an ultimate checklist, but it will help you keep in “check” all steps to ensure a successful implementation.

The checklist is here.

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Windows 7, revisited

Well, I’ll tell you the truth. My opinion changed completely. Windows 7 is a great OS. I recently received my fixed laptop (old saying: Blacksmith’s house, wooden spoon) and I decided to give Window 7 another go. Why not? So the saga continues.

Installation

Oddly enough, this time around, no need for the sata drivers. Everything was done in less than 10 minutes. Just like Vista and XP! Thou be careful 64 bit fans! There is great support for your devices, but there will be some devices that will need Vista 64 drivers. Or no support at all! (read my earlier post on RTM). And there is a great little app that will check your processor to see if it can handle 64 bits, it’s called SecurAble. Follow the link, if you want to know.

First Login 

Like I stated above, there could be some devices that will probably need you to download their respective drivers. On my case, all the devices were accounted for. On my work laptop, only the ACPI energy level driver was needed. (So, if you have a Lenovo Ideapad,  you’ll need to use the Vista 64 drivers, else your battery consumption will be cut short). The system readjusted the resolution to the maximum setting, so I didn’t even had to go there. Sound came online without a hitch. So, the only thing that took time was looking for 64 native apps. As an afterthought, if you can, get TeraCopy, it’s a great little 64 bit tool that speeds up copying files from devices to devices. I can vouch for it.

Overall

Windows 7 is not the Holy Grail of OS, far from it. But it is pretty stable. Hasn’t crashed or BSOD on me yet! And it is aesthetically pleasing (pretty for us common word users). And don’t forget speed. It is a very fast loading, great response giving little OS that could. Like the TV ads say: “it was my idea!”. A much better improvement over Vista.

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I’m still discovering some new things with my toys. Example in case, I installed Windows 7 on my HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer), which I’ll blog later about it, and when I was configuring my PS3 controller via bluetooth, I noticed that my Iphone discovered my HTPC. Interesting!

Once I did the pairing, I noticed that the Iphone thought my HTPC was a headphone. Finding it odd, yet predictable (I know…I know) I went to my sound setting. True enough, my HTPC saw my Iphone as a headset (redundant, are we?). But curiosity got the better of me. I went to check the microphone section. True enough, a bluetooth microphone. Still, my tech senses were tingling, so I checked the properties. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I could redirect the microphone sound thru my default sound device. My first thought was denial. But in the pursuit of the truth, I tested it. And sweet sounds coming from my Iphone came thru. And in good quality too!

I wanted to say great quality, but sometimes, and I mean twice in 30 minutes, you could hear gaps in the communication. Still, a clearer sound than normal (my sound system is pretty good) and best of all, no wires! No having to connect it to the computer and pray that the shuffle do a good job; you don’t like that song? Skip it!

Purist will debate that you should have all your music on your HTPC. True. But think about it. You have guests over. Or a party. People don’t like a particular song. Or are looking for a specific song. Your machine is not close, or you don’t want people to try and mess with the machine while searching. You just use your Iphone as a makeshift remote. And remember, you can lock the Iphone and still use the Ipod function.

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An interesting thing happened to me today. I added a field to a fact table that I had. As normal, I did the change in my data source view as procedure dictates, and create the new measure on my cube. Everything looked fine and dandy until I tried to deploy the cube. Right off the bat, this error came up: “OLE DB error: OLE DB or ODBC error: Invalid column name ‘<ColumnName>’.; 42S22″. Huh? What happened? I double checked the DSV and the cube (thou not entirely as we’ll see further down) and everything looked ok. Re-deploy, re-discover same error.

A Google browse and an hour later, I read on www.sqlservercentral.com forums that it could be the partitions. And then the proverbial lightbulb turned on in my head. I forgot to recheck the partitions, to include the field in the select statements for the fact table. Lesson learned? If you use partitions, always check them when you add a field to your fact table.

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For all you folks here in Puerto Rico, PRPASS is having an event this week (November 5th) where they’ll be discussing SharePoint (The Business Tool for Business People) , which will be a level 100 (Introdutory) chat  into the wonderful world of Sharepoint. Also, they’ll be discussing SQL CLR Basics, which will be a level 200 (Intermediate) chat lead by my good friend and my first mentor, Carlos Bercero from Nagnoi.  If you are interested, just follow the link after this to join in; hope to see you there!

prpass.org

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