Microsoft, SQL Server, SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group, SS SLUG

SS SLUG Kaleidoscope – June 2012 Action

It’s the time for the July meetup and the June post is just coming out. Delay on my part was because of a hectic schedule. Nevertheless, better late than never, so thought of typing it now at least.

The June meetup was held on 20th June 2012 and the events lined up for the evening were,

Sanjeewa along with a demo of the installation gave some salient insights which are ignored during the process of installation. Actually, not ignored as such but rather taken for granted and how any one would blindly opt to proceed with the default settings of the wizard without digging deep. He made some recommendations for installation and mentioned the basic Software and Hardware requirements. Overall it was an informative session as I only had witnessed another installing it and actually had no knowledge of the how things worked out during installation.

Prithiviraj in his session made a comparison between Seek and Scan, where Scan would be a better option in a particular instance though Seek seemed to be the hot favourite. Finally Gogula began his session on explaining the new structure for certifications, the use of it and how one could groom their career path. This session answered a continuously bugging question in my mind which was, “Why should I go for a certification when I have a degree?” Basically, what I understood as the purpose of it is that if you’re a person who knows where you’re heading, certifications are a good way to build the road ahead of you and besides you also have an additional advantage with the “Certified” tag behind your name when you’re applying for jobs 🙂

According to where I stand, the importance of the topics discussed at the meeting were ordered in a descending order for me. Where the first session was the least important (but if I get to install in the future, it’ll definitely come handy 😉 ) and the last session was the most important (as an undergraduate who’ll be finishing the degree pretty soon and looking out for opportunities).

The July meetup is planned for today and I’m sure there will be something for everyone to get from it.

 

 

Microsoft, SQL Server, SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group, SS SLUG

SS SLUG Kaleidoscope – May 2012 Action

After a month’s break SS SLUG came into action, but with a low attendance this time, probably because its the season of convocations and many of the regular attendees were missing or lack of communication about the meeting. Nevertheless, this month’s meeting was pretty concise and compact, likewise the post comes out short and early.

The meeting kicked off with two sessions that were lined up for the evening.

  • Windowing Functions in SQL Server by Dinesh Karunarathne
  • Breaking an SQL Myth in 300 Seconds – Table Variables with less data does not go to tempdb by Dinesh Asanka (MVP, SQL Server)

Dinesh K. explained that Window Function, is primarily a function that affects a particular set of rows and there are three types of Window Functions.

  1. Ranking Functions
  2. Aggregate Functions
  3. Analytic Functions

He did an in-depth explanation of each type along with a small demonstration. With regard to the third section, he went on to explain the new improvements in SQL Server 2012. A side comment was made that, this function thought it seems very useful, doesn’t come that handy with big data sets.

Next in line was Dinesh A., with a new segment, where he had to bust an SQL myth within 300 seconds. The myth for the evening was, “Table Variables with less data does not go to tempdb“. He proved a point with a demonstration on Temp Tables Vs Table Variables Vs CTE.

Overall view, this time meeting compared to the previous meetings was played at a lower key. So let’s see if June will raise the bar higher…

SQL Server, SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group, SS SLUG

SS SLUG Kaleidoscope – March 2012 Action

A bit late on the post, but the March meeting memories are fresh as the dawn. It’s quite interesting to see the latest change of, effort and thought, incorporated to bring something new at every meeting. So this month’s blazing new category introduced was the “Lightning Talks“. Following was the roller coaster ride, planned for the evening.

  • Anything – SQL Lightning Talks
  • SQL Server 2012 – What’s New by Dinesh Asanka (MVP)
  • Tips on boosting your career

Ever heard of lightning not striking the same place twice? Well if you were present at the SS SLUG meeting, you would’ve seen it strike not once, not twice, but five times consecutively, at the same place and no casualties reported. The strikers were given a 2 minutes each to share their knowledge on anything related to SQL. The first striker was, Gogula Aryalingam (MVP) on the topic, My Data Mart is Better than Your Data Warehouse. The presentation was compact, concise and hit the nail. Following him was Shiham Samsudeen on Try… Catch…T-SQL Style. A simple topic, explained with easy to understand code snippets. Next was about Data Compression by Sudesh Wijayathilaka. It was a topic that would’ve been ideal for an individual session as it covered a vast area. But he tried his best to put out the basics related to the topic. Supun Thrikawala spoke of Table Variables, The good and the bad. He presented a comparison between Temp variables vs Table variables. The final striker for the lightning session was Avantha Siriwardana who spoke on SQL Server Standards. He explained on why the protocols were presented and why people should consider using them. The change was interesting and there could have been more interesting tit bits covered in the lightning talks by some more speakers.

Dinesh Asanka (MVP) took over the stage, to introduce the new features available with the new release of SQL Server 2012. Though the intention was to give a mere theoretical heads up on the new goodies, but the hype created by the attendees required a few demos and gave birth to the idea of explaining those features in individual sessions.

The next session was personally, the cream of the crop for me. It was something I was looking forward to as a university undergraduate and which I actually found quite handy. And yes, it was also more than just tips. The four maestros of SS SLUG, in no particular order, Preethiviraj Kulasingham, Dinesh Asanka, Dinesh Priyankara and Gogula Aryalingam shed some light to those of interest. It kicked off with stories directly from their bags, in order to show that, what matters is the start and the dedication you are willing to put, even if you were to start from ground zero. There was a brief up on certifications offered by Microsoft for those who are interested in building a career along the SQL route. Preethiviraj Kulasingham, mentioned four areas of focus if you really wanted to venture in this path.

The third one is at its pinnacle while the latter is an emerging field. Likewise, there were some advice on Do’s and Don’ts and what was expected from an interviewer’s perspective of both experienced and fresh graduates. What grabbed my attention was, how passionate each of them sounded with regard to the knowledge and skills required. Generally, the gamble of dollars comes to mind as you start off with career guidance tips, but this was different. It didn’t occur to anyone till the very end. For once, the emphasis was on knowledge, skill and passion.

April meeting, let’s see what they’ve rolled up in their sleeves.

Microsoft, Windows

Windows 8 Consumer Preview : Starter, Main Course and Dessert

Almost a week since Windows 8 Consumer Preview was out and I got my hands on it today. Heads up on the post, for the Windows fans: it ain’t gonna be “Microsoft Friendly” and for the rest of the crowd: nor is it gonna be “Anti-Microsft”. And no, it’s not on the fence either 😉

Starter, Installation Process.

The entire process took a fine 40 minute ride. I installed Windows 8 in my virtual machine. What I expected was a normal wizard that would let me select the options and keep on clicking Next and Tada! it would boot the new OS. And I wish life was that easy or rather Windows 8 was that easy. As the process begun, this is where I got stuck,

Product Key

If anyone is wondering, why I spent a long time with the installation, this is one reason. Because I had to seek Google’s help for this. I don’t understand the importance of this step for a Consumer Preview version and if it is important, it should have been mentioned in the official site (providing the key). Next, time minting process was creating an entire New Windows Live ID to be used as the login credentials. There was no option to use the existing IDs. Hopefully, it will be accommodated in the final release.

Lifting the veil off, this is what I got.

Windows 8 Home ScreenMain CourseCritical Analysis. Things that I like are, I completely love the metro style and the entire look of it. The categorization of the tiles and easy access to different apps comes very handy. Concise, it is an improvement of a mobile OS made available to tablets and desktops. But is it really User Friendly, when it comes to desktops? That’s an evident concern. When we are talking of business on the go with mobile phones and tablets, then Windows 8 is most definitely one of the best options available. But when you scale it down to the desktop usage of it, unless you’ve been bitten by the tech bug, a conventional user might be taken back.

For instance, though I like the look and feel of it, initially I was wondering around with the basic functions pertaining to a program. Like, how can I close this window? Where do I click when the buttons are overlapping? How can I see the programs that are open? With regard to Internet Explorer, how do I go Back? (And yes, I tried it out without checking out the Demo Video) For a second it even struck me, whether they were planning to promote keyboard shortcuts. And when these functions cannot be executed fast, that could burn time as well as few blood cells. Looking at the Consumer Preview version, Windows 8 needs a lot of things to be fixed/changed, bearing in mind the users who will be solely depending on their desktops. Because unlike the touch devices, getting your way around and executing your normal tasks can be bit cumbersome. But if you are using both the tab and the desktop, this would not be a problem as you would have a knowledge of how things work and it’s just a matter of moving from touch to non-touch.

Going further down, what’s the difference in the core functionality of Windows 8? It is said that there’s enhanced performance and improved boot time (approximately 8 seconds). Performance, so far seems good but couldn’t see a significant difference compared to Windows 7. Boot time, yes it’s reduced. On one hand I’m glad that Microsoft had brought a significant enhancement with regard to the kernel and I wish they experimented more and introduced more changes other than just adorning the same old features without considering a change to the kernel.

DessertMy Conclusion. From a personal viewpoint, would I choose Windows 8 for my mobile or tablet? Yes, one because it is tailor made for it and two, it is indeed good. Would I choose Windows 8 for my desktop? YES! With a bit of a mumbling for few days, I would most definitely conquer it!

SQL Server, SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group, SS SLUG

SS SLUG Kaleidoscope – February 2012 Action

Very Interesting Twist this time! Follow the trail to see how their plan to climb high on the Action Meter worked well.

The evening kicked off with Gogula Aryalingam’s (MVP) session on Why OLAP? How OLAP. Lucky that I’ve read a bit or two about it prior to the session, else I would’ve ended up counting the number of chairs in the room. Before jumping into OLAP (OnLine Analytical Processing), Gogula explained about OLTP. He explained the limitations of it and how they can be overcome with OLAP. He went on to explain the basic differences between OLTP and OLAP, for instances OLAP uses the concept of Cubes over two dimensional tables. In cubes users can define multiple dimensions of data and map them accordingly. This would help in querying out results quicker, compared to OLTP. OLAP comes with a bigger advantage where one doesn’t have to break their heads over writing queries. Instead it’s a simple 2 step procedure, Drag n Drop! But if someone insists on the hard way out, they still have the option of writing queries for OLAP using MDX. He also explained that at present Data Marts are gradually replacing Data Warehouses. (Please refer Gogula’s comment on the post) The session wrapped up with a demo on how to use OLAP and proving a point that it is one of the best solutions for hard core reporting and analysis for both tech savyy and non tech savyy.

The much awaited event of the evening, Whirlwind DBA Demos by the Pearson Lanka DBA Team was up next. This was the first time they’ve incorporated something like this in the meet up I believe and it was indeed a good idea. It kind of elevated the interest of the meet up unlike the monotonous predictable routine of having 2 main sessions limited to heavy technical topics. And honestly, it was the first time I found the meet up to be very exciting 🙂

So the demos focused on the main day to day activities and issues faced. 6 presenters from the field, did mini presentations, 10 minutes each, on the following:

  1. Logical Partitioning for Better Performance by Dinesh Karunarathne
  2. Why Filtered Indexes? by Jude Pieries 

  3. Profiler as a QA Tool by Sanjeewa Jayawickrama
  4. Log Tail Backup to Recover Data by Dinesh Asanka (MVP)
  5. SQL Gimmicks by Prithiviraj Kulasingham (MVP)
  6. Reading Deadlocks by Susantha Bathige

Jude kept on emphasizing that “You should know your data” in order to get the ultimate use of Filtered Indexes. Sanjeewa spoke of the importance of Profiler for QA by providing a practical example, where there was a failure in Production because of not conducting a thorough test and how it could’ve been eliminated if they had used Profiler. Though Dinesh A.‘s topic was not a scenario faced on a daily basis, but he showed how prevention is better than cure by providing a demo. Preethi mentioned that, demos similar to the ones he showed can be found at sqlworkshops.com.

Overall the evening went well and the Demos were indeed a good add on to the meet up because they were light weighted plus very useful tips. Looking forward to another exciting event, the lightening talks planned for the next meet up.

Android, Android Forums Sri Lanka, Programming

Etisalat Android Forum 2012

Etisalat AndroidThe second Etisalat Android Forum was held on Friday 28th January 2012, at Cinnamon Lakeside. The day was divided catering two categories of people.

  • Morning – Advance Class for Android Developers
  • Evening – The ABC’s of Android for Beginners

I personally wanted to attend the evening session, because I didn’t know anything else other than the existence of an OS called Android. Doh! But because of my lecture schedules, I realized that I won’t be able to make it in the evening and just thought of peeping around at the Advanced Class though I had a strong feeling that I wouldn’t understand a thing they would be talking. And when the sessions kicked off…. as usual to my surprise, the topics discussed were definitely related to my domain of knowledge, so Thank God, that I went for it without chickening after seeing the topic! 🙂

Okay now, getting down to the real deal…The morning sessions were divided as following :

  • Session 1 – Why Should You Android? by Buddhika Siddhisena
  • Session 2 – HTML5 vs Native by Misha Seltzer
  • Session 3 – Android widgets? by Shan Sinnathambi
  • Session 4 – Panel Discussion – Localizing Apps
  • Session 5 – Getting the Best out of Your App

Before I dive into the sessions, this review is not a full review of the Forum as I was unable to stay for the entire forum for the Developers. I’ll be only elaborating on the first 3 sessions and a bit about the 4th session. So if you wanna know about the entire event, better search another post 😉

A short video was shown on how Android has reached across the world and how it has become one of the giants when it comes to the Mobile world.

Why Should You Android?

Android WristwatchAs usual Bud’s presentation was very interesting. He spoke of the very basics to give a heads up to those who didn’t have the slightest idea about Android. The session started off with the introduction of the OS, its architecture and other basics about Android. He gave some examples on how the Android OS was used in various products like Refrigerators, Smart TV’s (Google TV)and the future of it (Android Wristwatch).

Later on Bud gave some areas of focus for the developers to venture into.

He shared some ideas which were implemented using LED to detect the blood pressure Android Fridgeand pulled out some innovative ideas from his creative head as well. Later on he gave some steps to follow in the process of developing an App in both HTML5 and Native form. These are the 2 basic modes in which one could develop and app. If you are not into Java and hard core programming you can opt for HTML5 and if you are into Java you can go for Native.

Native HTML5
Java HTML, CSS, JavaScript
Download the Android SDK Develop App
Download Eclipse Test on Webkit Browser
Develop app Test on Emulator
Test on Emulator (Available in Android SDK) Test on Device
Test on Device Test on Server
Convert to Native via PhoneGap

One thing to note was the emphasis on registering your app with Google. Apps registered are more reliable and secure.

HTML5 vs Native

Along with the intro given by the former speaker on this Misha who came from Google, Israel to speak at the forum was geared to encourage users to use HTML5 and then re-encourage them to use Native as well 🙂 It was a balance view on the two. Misha also spoke on Apps / Web for Mobile. He showed that the beauty of Native was that it was directly connected to the hardware. He went on to explain how one could write only a few lines of code to achieve what PhoneGap offered and it is not necessary that one should always rely on it. Some useful links from which the presentation was inspired were also provided for those who were interested in digging deeper.

The speaker also explained some useful code snippets that can be used during the development process. For instance, configuring the touch aspects, GeoLocation, etc; There were some interesting demos by the speaker, but on a personal level, I thought that the level of interest had a slight drop after the first speaker. It could have been a bit more interactive and interesting in terms of the content covered. And I personally don’t fancy anyone reading out a code snippet off of a slide unless a live demo is done with it.

Android Widgets

Android WidgetsShan took over the stage and gave some knowledge to the audience on how to create a simple Widget. The first demo was a simple Digital Clock, secondly he did a demo on widgets which were based on LBSLocation Based Service and at last Shan showed how to create a widget using embedded Google Maps.

  • Steps to create a simple widget
  1. Create an Android Project
  2. Create Java Class – public class MyWidget extends AppWidgetProvider
  3. Create Code
  4. Create UI XML file – Edit the view for the widget
  5. Update Android Manifest file (AndroidManifest.xml)
  6. Create WidgetProvider file.
  • GeolocationLBS

Shan explained that there were two types of LBSs.

  1. Location
  2. Location Maps

Main techniques to get the location are, GPS, Cell Tower Triangulation and Wi-fi Triangulation. In order to enable LBS you have to enable the LocationManager class.

  • Embedding LBS  – For this you need to get a Google map API key.

The drawback of this session, is similar to the previous, reading out codes from the slide…Big NO! And the presenter also failed to keep the enthusiasm level high with his presentation.

Panel Discussion

Next the stage was set for some of the major players of the field to contribute their views. Two of who were Dhanika Perera and Harsha Purasinghe.

Dhanika spoke on Localization of Apps. A maestro in localization, he showed that only 10% of the Sri Lankan population qualified in English Literacy and 90% of the population had the need of localized apps. He proved this need by drawing a comparison between a news app that was only available in English released two months ago and another news app available in both Sinhala and Tamil released a month ago. Hands down, the download rates of the bilingual app compared to the English app was higher by a broader margin within a month of its existence. Since there is a need he encouraged those who were interested to explore this area.

Harsha taking over, was intimidated by the Android fanatics because he was inclined towards IOS 🙂 Nevertheless, he gave his view on Android in the Enterprise. He presented three types of models available in the market,

  1. Appstore Model
  2. Traditional Advertising Model
  3. Dynamic Model – Where one is able to come up with their own terms and conditions.

Therefore he explained about these models and how one could cater to either one of these to get their apps across to the world.

Right after his speech, I escorted myself out where I was surprised with a free gift of 10GB data 🙂 But more than that I think I value the knowledge I gained from the forum and I’m glad that I attended it!

Programming, SQL Server, SQL Server Sri Lanka User Group, SS SLUG

SS SLUG Kaleidoscope – January 2012 Action

After celebrating the success of the last October meet up for two months, the first SS SLUG meet up for 2012 was held on the 18th. Last meet up had a significant turn out, where the place seemed too small to accommodate the attendees. But disappointingly, this time there was a lesser crowd.

Getting down to real business, the meet up was lined up with two sessions.

Before hitting off with his session, Dinesh A. mentioned that the content of his presentation was taken from msdn. According to which, Resource Governor, is a feature available in SQL Server, where it allows you to set limits on the resource consumption of SQL Server workloads and in turn help you manage your workload. Then he elaborated on the main concepts of Resource Governor,

  • Resource Pools
  • Workload Groups
  • Classification

What was to be noted was the mentioning of the creation of two resource pools and mapping of workload groups when SQL Server is installed.

  1. Internal resource pool and Internal workload group
  2. Default resource pool and Default workload group

The interesting part is that, the Internal group and resource pool act as the highly privileged or reserved. You cannot or should not try to modify it, because the basic commands are specified for those and are not accessible for modifications. The session ended with a comprehensive demo of how to assign a maximum and minimum CPU usage percentage for an SQL Server workload and there by monitor the CPU usage as well.

Next on stage was Dinesh P. whose session was a bit overhead for a newbie like me, but still was worthwhile for those who are well grounded in the arena. Initially he planned of getting an audience involvement by starting off an open discussion on what everyone has done to eliminate round trips. But as usual it took a fortune to get the people talking 🙂 Moving on, he spoke of the various difficulties faced and then came to the point on how to solve the issue. What I picked up was, which I wasn’t aware of, a data type called the “Table Data Type“. Dinesh did a demo on how to use the data type and Merge technique to eliminate roundtrips.

Overall rating of the session was GOOD 🙂 Am I looking forward for the next meet up?? YES, let’s see what they’ve got next time 😉