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I have been appointed as PASS Regional Mentor for the Greater Southeast

I have been appointed as PASS Regional Mentor for the Greater Southeast by PASS (http://www.sqlpass.org). I am truly honored to volunteer for this position to help improve our PASS community. These are BIG shoes to fill.

I will be joining my good friend Tim Radney (Twitter | Blog) oversee 28 chapters across 6 US states (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, and SC) as well as the Netherlands Antilles. The complete list of chapters that make up the Greater Southeast can be found at: http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/USGreaterSoutheast.aspx.

What is a Regional Mentor? What do Regional Mentors do?

In Karla Landrum’s (Twitter | Blog) own words:

In general, a PASS Regional Mentor can be defined as the following:

Passionate community volunteer

  • Dedicated to PASS and the SQL Server community
  • Understands the value of giving his/her time and talents to helping others increase their knowledge and skills and improving the overall community

PASS ambassador

  • Understands PASS and its mission and represents the best of PASS to Chapters in his/her area
  • Works to keep PASS accountable, on track, and meeting the needs of its members

Primary point of contact for Chapters

  • RM facilitates 2-way communications: resources, benefits, and news from PASS to Chapters and Chapter needs and feedback back to PASS
  • RM knows who to contact at PASS, at the local/regional Microsoft office, area sponsors, etc. if Chapters need something or have questions

The full blog post of Karla Landrum on “What is a Regional Mentor” can be found at: http://karlalandrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/what-is-a-pass-regional-mentor/

What does being a Regional Mentor means to me?

My personal view is that  a Regional Mentor is a facilitator and nothing else. This position is not a bureaucratic layer on top of PASS Chapters. I’m not a Regional Mentor to supervise, police, decide, or interfere with day-to-day activities of PASS Chapters. It is meant to be the first level of contact, but it does not mean Chapters can’t talk directly to PASS staff and leadership.

Regional Mentors can help PASS Chapters acquire swag, books and even speakers for their Chapter meetings. Regional Mentors can also open doors from personal contacts, contacts established by PASS or even contacts that other Chapters have already established.

Regional Mentors can also help by providing best practices and guidelines on how to run a succesful Chapter or event from past personal experiences as well as experiences from other Chapter leaders and PASS management.

Regional Mentors can also help Chapters leverage as a group on common challenges and issues, for example: incorporating as a non-for profit, learning how to deal with taxes, managing finances, structuring the chapter leadership, obtaining legal representation, obtaining special discounts, sharing of event materials and equipment, coordinating events and speakers, etc. These are just examples of some of the ideas and initiatives for the Southeast Chapters, so be in the lookout for some discussions around them.

What do I have to offer?

As President for the past 3+ years of the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence PASS Chapter (http://tampabaybi.sqlpass.org), organizer/co-organizer of  3 SQL Saturdays, and speaker at more than 35 events like SQLSaturdays,  I understand the challenges and time committment of PASS Chapter leaders. 

Throughout my community involvement, I have created a good network of SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals, Chapter leaders and community rockstars. In addition, I have established great relationships with “blue badges” (Microsoft employees), PASS leadership and staff and have direct points of contact at many companies that offer products and services related to SQL Server and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies.

It is my desire to help Chapters that need from my past experience, network, ideas and initiatives, and role as a facilitator . It is my intention to let Chapter leaders continue to keep doing their invaluable jobs and not interfere or serve as a barrier to their activities.

I’m here to facilitate!

Windows 8 Activation Error: DNS name does not exist Error Code: 0x8007232B

The Windows 8 Activation may fail while using the online activation process. You may receive an error screen similar to this:

Image

This issue was documented in this Microsoft Support article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929826 for previous versions of Windows but also applies to Windows 8. The cause according to this article is:

As the support article explains, the issue has to do with the default behavior of the activation wizard in certain installation media. Depending on where the installation media was obtained from (for example MSDN or TechNet subscription download) the activation wizard  by default will look for a Key Management Service (KMS) host on your internal network. It will not try to activate using the internet to reach Microsoft Activation servers.

In my case, I downloaded the Windows 8 Pro ISO file from my MSDN subscription. The installation binaries from the MSDN ISO file uses a temporary / default key to install as I was not prompted for an installation key. This installation key is apparently a temporary key that tells the Windows 8 activation wizard to look for a KMS host on the local network only and not try Microsoft’s activation servers online.

The solution is to manually change the product key to a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) most likely provided with your MSDN or TechNet subscription. To change the product key, use the slmgr.vbs script included with your Windows installation. The steps to manually change the product key are as follows:

1. Open an elevated Command Prompt (CMD) in Windows 8. Elevated means, Command Prompt needs to be run as an administrator. To do this, go to Windows 8 Start (click on the Windows key), locate the Command Prompt shortcut on your tiles (or search for it on your Apps) and righ-click on it.

2. The option to Run as Administrator appears on the bottom toolbar as shown in the following screenshot:

3. Once the elevated Command Prompt opens type the following command and press ENTER:slmgr.vbs /ipk “Your 5×5 Product Key”

For example:

4. After you press ENTER you will receive the following confirmation message within 10 seconds:

5. Once you receive this confirmation message you may proceed to activate Windows 8 using Microsoft’s activation servers online.

Top 3 Reasons Why Evernote is worth $1 billion to me

Everyone heard about Facebook’s recent purchase of Instagram for $1 billion dollars. No one can imagine how they came with such price tag for a bunch (a big bunch) of pictures with special filters added. I never used Instagram and I don’t think I will ever. I’m happy with my regular’ol Flickr, Twitpic and Picasa.

One free application that is really worth $1 billion is Evernote. Why? Well, it’s way more than just another online organizer to me. And it’s even better than the Trapper Keeper I carry around.

Reason #1: No more emailing back and forth
One of the best reasons why Evernote is so valuable is the fact that I can write notes or take pictures of a whiteboard with my smartphone and they will auto-magically synchronize with my laptop and iPad or vice-versa. No more emailing back and forth so that I can download them. The notes and pictures go right into my user-defined notebooks I saved the notes under and show up wherever I have Evernote configured.

Reason #2: No more wallet full of receipts.
As a consultant I travel a lot and taming my receipts monster for my T&E reports is not an easy task. At the end of a week-long trip my wallet looks somewhat like a juicy double-decker burger. With Evernote, I can take a picture of the receipt with my smartphone, tag it and upload it to my expenses notebook. I can do it right there at the restaurant when the waiter or waitress brings the check and add notes related to the expense.

Reason #3: Share & Grab
Another reason why Evernote is so valuable is the fact that I can share my notebooks and notes with other people. Imagine how cool it is to brainstorm and whiteboard and be able to share those notes, pictures, videos, links, etc with your teammates. Awesome, right! Well, it doesn’t stop there, you can even use third-party extensions and applications like ifttt.com to save content to an Evernote notebook from Tweeter, Facebook, email and other channels based on the criteria that you define. Make sure to check-out the Evernote Trunk section for a complete list of apps.

Just wanted to share this as I find it very useful and believe that applications such as Evernote should be the next billion dollar company. Please comment with other ways you use Evernote for: Recipes? CRM? Reminder? Your own private Facebook? sa password vault?

SQL Server Upgrade error: It is not possible to change the SQL Server features to be upgraded in this release. Validation errors. There are no features selected for upgrade.

On a recent project I was asked to “upgrade” a licensed SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition to SQL Server 2008R2 Enterprise Edition. I have done this multiple times with no issues. The “kicker” was that the upgrade required a 48-hour turnaround time but no installation media for SQL Server Enterprise was going to be available in that same timeframe due to a delay in the procurement process.

In order to meet project requirements and gain some time, a team member suggested we go ahead and do the “upgrade” using a downloaded copy of SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation Edition since Evaluation Edition contains all the Enterprise features that were required. Once the installation media for SQL Server 2008R2 Enterprise arrived, we were to simply upgrade the Evaluation Edition to Enterprise Edition.

My immediate response was that going from a licensed edition to an evaluation edition was not possible. It is not a “natural” upgrade path and is actually considered a “downgrade” as you are going from a licensed edition to an unlicensed edition. As a professional I had to back this statement up with official Microsoft documentation. As a geek no matter what the documentation said I had to try it myself to see what happened. So I did both.

Documentation
A quick search of Books on Line on SQL Server 2008R2 led me to the following MSDN article titled “Version and Edition Upgrades” (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143393(v=sql.105).aspx) . This article is great as it outlines all the supported upgrade scenarios for all versions and editions of SQL Server. A quick scroll towards the bottom shows that the only two upgrade paths supported for Standard Edition is Enterprise and Datacenter. As a matter of fact this article shows that there is no support going from any other edition to Evaluation Edition.

Additionally, there are a couple of footnotes at the bottom. An important footnote to take a look at is footnote No. 2. Although the statements in footnote No. 2 are within the context of failover clusters, some of them also apply to stand-alone installations. In this footnote it is clearly stated that SQL Server 2008R2 Standard to SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation upgrade is not supported.

Test

I wanted to see for myself the error message generated if I tried to carry out the upgrade anyways. Of course I did not try to do this on the actual client’s environment. That is a big no no! I decided to spin up my own sandbox virtual environment. The steps I followed on my test were:

  1. Install SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition (Database Services, Analysis Services, SSMS, BIDS)
  2. Reboot
  3. Upgrade SQL Server 2008R2 Standard Edition to SQL Server 2008R2 Evaluation Edition using the Upgrade Setup Wizard from Installation Center.

As I went through the Upgrade Setup Wizard I got the following validation error as expected:

In summary, you cannot upgrade from a licensed SQL Server edition to SQL Server Evaluation Edition. It is perfectly possible though, to upgrade from SQL Server Evaluation Edition to other licensed SQL Server editions. For more details on the supported upgrade paths refer to MDSN article: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms143393(v=sql.105).aspx.

The affordable self-service BI revolution has started.

I am officially announcing that I have now become an independent consultant and business owner. Becoming independent has always been my dream and I have now decided to follow that dream. I believe it is the right time to do it for my family and myself. It’s time to soar!

Why did I leave Pragmatic Works?

Simple. I wanted to follow my career goals and carve my own path. It was a hard decision to leave Pragmatic Works as I really enjoyed the work environment and had great relationship with the top brass Brian Knight, Adam Jorgensen, and Sam Washburn as well as my co-workers. The folks at Pragmatic Works gave me a lot of opportunities to learn and grow for which I am forever grateful. It is a great company to work for and highly recommend working for them. I would return to work for them in a heartbeat.

What are my plans?

First of all, I have created a corporation, called Agile Bay, Inc. (http://www.agilebay.com) through which I will be providing Business Intelligence consulting services, Software Development, Training and Staffing services. I will also be doing contract work and hiring BI and Software developers to take on some of these jobs.

My plan is to focus on self-service Business Intelligence solutions using the Microsoft toolset, including:

  • SQL Server Database Services
  • Analysis Services
  • Reporting Services
  • Master Data Services
  • Data Quality Services
  • SharePoint
  • Performance Point
  • PowerPivot
  • PowerView
  • & more…

I will continue leading, volunteering and sharing my knowledge in the SQL Server and Business Intelligence community and in PASS.

Enter the affordable self-service BI revolution

The new release of SQL Server 2012 will bring a lot to offer in the BI space. I truly believe it will be a game changer and many companies will embark in new Data Warehouse, Business Intelligence and Master Data Management projects. Some of these projects may have been put on hold due to licensing and development costs. This is where SQL Server 2012 will shine as it introduces lower BI licensing costs with the new SQL Server Business Intelligence Edition. Organizations will no longer require Enterprise Edition to do all the cool things Microsoft has to offer with their BI suite.

Additionally, the shift to the BI Semantic Model and the focus on self-service BI will open a lot of doors to consulting firms with lower overhead like mine. Enter the affordable self-service BI revolution!

Hitting the ground running

I am very grateful to the fact that the word has spread out among my immediate professional network and have already been booked for projects and contract work several months ahead.

I have tried not to market myself or my company too much during this initial phase as I want to manage my growth more organically. I am in the process of hiring BI developers at all levels, so if you are interested feel free to contact me via http://www.agilebay.com/#!contact.

 Mission

My mission is to empower individuals and organizations through the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset.

Vision

My vision is to be the catalyst and leader of the affordable self-service Business Intelligence revolution.

Value proposition

There are many alternatives available when chosing a consulting firm to help you achieve a succesful Business Intelligence, Data Warehouse and Master Data Management implementation.  My value proposition is to achieve this same success at an affordable budget and by providing you with the knowledge transfer and mentoring needed to continue your own development efforts.

The sales pitch

 You need an experienced and expert professional to help you with your design and development efforts.  I have experience and expertise. Let’s talk.

You may contact me through my company’s website at http://www.agilebay.com/#!contact or through email: info@agilebay.com

I’m also available for any quick help through email at jchinchilla@sqljoe.com. Make sure to check out my blog at http://www.sqljoe.com as well.

Afterthoughts: IT Pro Camp Orlando 2012

This past Saturday January 21, 2012 I had the opportunity to speak at my first IT Pro Camp in Orlando, FL. This event was put together by Blain Barton ( Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter ), Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist and Chad Miller ( Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter ), Microsfot MVP and Senior Manager of Database Administration at Raymond James Financial.

Event

The event went very smooth and had a good turnaout. Food was amazing. They reallly outdid themselves with good old southern BBQ.

Presentation

I presented a session titled Introduction to Microsoft Business Intelligence (Slides), focusing on the basic concepts of BI and Datawarehousing, the Microsoft toolset and my Top 5 Rules of Wisdom for succesful BI. I had a great turnaout, about 25 attendees. All of the attendees were very engaged and asked excellent questions. I enjoyed presenting to the Orlando crowd.

Picture credits: Russel Faustino. See more pictures of the event here.

Other IT Pro Camps are being added. Check the IT Pro Camp website here to keep up to date.

Click on the picture below to download my Intorduction to Business Intelligence powerpoint presentation.

 

 

Master Data Services Error: Resolving from a long-running stucked Staging Batch with Status “Queued to Clear” or “Not Running”

In some ocassions,  you may run into a runaway, long-running or stucked staging batch with Master Data Services in SQL Server 2008 R2. The issue happens most frequently when a fairly large batch of rows are being processed for update or deletion.

The issue has to do with Service Broker, either due to a timeout or notifications not being received or received incomplete.  You can confirm the issue when you query the queue [mdm].[microsoft/mdm/queue/stagingbatch]. You will see one or more messages in this queue. After searching through a couple of forum threads I found the solution to be fairly simple: rollback transactions an re-enable Service Broker. The steps are as follows:

  1. Set the MDS database in single user mode and rollback uncommitted transactions.
    ALTER DATABASE [MDS] SET  SINGLE_USER WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE;
  2. Re-enable Service Broker on the MDS database.
    ALTER DATABASE [MDS] SET  ENABLE_BROKER WITH NO_WAIT;
  3. Set the MDS database back in to “regular” multi-user mode.
    ALTER DATABASE [MDS] SET  MULTI_USER WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE;

Once the MDS database is brought back online, all queued messages should be cleared out and MDS database will be able to communicate normally with Service Broker.

You can check Books on Line for more information on the difference between “NO WAIT” and “WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE” options when issuing the ALTER DATABASE command here. Pinal Dave has a good post about the difference between these two options as well here.

Hope this post has helped you. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

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