Starting my journey to MCSE: Business Intelligence

MCSA Training KitsOne of my goals for 2014/2015 is to learn enough to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence.

I can upgrade my MCITP certification, but I decided to start from scratch with the SQL Server 2012 exams because it’s a great way for me to learn new features while my company is still using SQL Server 2008. I’m also sure it will be very useful for me to step out of my comfort zone of data warehouse development / architecture and dive into the scary world of database administration.

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 will remain in market without any alterations and passing the three required exams will be my goal this year. The MCSE exams will be updated with SQL Server 2014 topics and I aim to pass them later this year or early next year.

The three Training Kit books finally arrived yesterday: Training Kit (Exam 70-461): Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Training Kit (Exam 70-462): Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases and Training Kit (Exam 70-463): Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

Reviews range from “useless” to “excellent”. Based on my experience I can’t rely on these books alone, but hopefully they’ll be a great starting point and will help me identify what I need to work on. My own reviews will be posted as I finish the books and take the exams.

My plan is simply to work my way through each chapter and write down useful suggestions and improvements for my company. It’s easier for me to learn when I can relate the content to my work. I’m most excited about learning more about database administration since that’s not something I do every day, and most curious about the data warehouse part since I’m kind of already supposed to know my way around dimensional modeling and SSIS :)

I passed exam 70-461 (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in January 2015.
I passed exam 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in April 2015.
I passed exam 70-462 (Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases) in May 2015.

Have you recently taken any of these exams? What is your job and what did you find most challenging?

Notepad++ macros, a basic example

Notepad++ macrosMacros have become one of my favorite features in Notepad++. It is possible to record actions and play them back one or more times. You can save a lot of time not having to manually repeat the same process over and over. I always have Notepad++ open, so it is fast and easy to get the result I want in just a few seconds.

Notepad++ macros

This animation will show you how to use macros. You can find detailed descriptions and step-by-step instructions with pictures below.
Notepad++ Macros Animation

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A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013

PASS Summit 2013It’s not easy to write about PASS Summit 2013 in a structured way. Just like the summit was buzzing with energy I feel like running around tossing keywords and hashtags at people: #SQLFamily! Ribbons! First timers! Sessions! #SQLKaraoke! Exhibitor booths! It was all a little overwhelming, very exciting and awesomely fun at the same time.

Tip #1: Tweet and use hashtags! You’ll connect with many people in the community and they might even approach you because they recognize you from Twitter. #SQLFirstTimers, #SQLPass and #Summit13 worked wonders for me :)

This year the PASS Summit was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I traveled from Norway I arrived on Saturday to have a couple of days to adjust and be a tourist. Sunday was all about roller-coasters in Carowinds for me, so I’ll skip that day and fast-forward to Monday when the fun really began.

Even though this strictly wasn’t a part of the summit I have to mention Redgate’s SQL in the City event on Monday, since that really was my first experience with the SQL community. I hadn’t signed up for the pre-conferences at the summit, but was lucky enough to get to attend this event instead. Redgate’s tools have saved me a lot of time and frustrations, and it was a great opportunity to learn, talk with the developers and see people like Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey present live.

Redgate also invited attendees to an informal networking event on Monday night. Deciding to go to that event was a great idea as that was where I met a lot of great people for the first time. I also met quite a few people who asked me if I knew Tone, a fellow Norwegian whom they all missed. Unfortunately I didn’t, but we quickly got introduced via Twitter. Hopefully we’ll get together at the SQL Server User Group Norway one day!

Tip #2: Say hi to people! I’m a shy introvert and my first day alone in a foreign country at an event where I knew no one was truly terrifying, but I met a couple of great people who introduced me to some other great people who introduced me to some other great people and after a little while it became easier to introduce myself :) Just go for it!

Tuesday was the first day of the actual Pass Summit 2013 conference for me. I attended the “Get to know your community” session hosted by Kevin Kline and Kendal Van Dyke, met up with my PASS Summit buddy Aaron Nelson and the rest of his first-timers group, attended the First-Timers Orientation Meeting, and then the Welcome Reception. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke!

PASS Summit 2013 BadgeAll attendees had a name badge with their name, company, country and Twitter handle, as well as various ribbons on it. The badges were a great way to connect – you could easily take a look at the ribbons to see who were Speakers, Volunteers, MVPs (and more), instantly follow someone on Twitter, or just start a conversation about their company or home country.

On Wednesday I met a couple of nice ladies in the elevator at our hotel. We were all wearing our name badges with the First Timer ribbon, started to talk and decided to have breakfast together. For lunch I met up with fellow Norwegians at the PASS Chapter Luncheon. It was actually a bit strange to speak Norwegian again for an hour, but nice to get some new contacts in my home country.

Tip #3: Join someone for breakfast, lunch and dinner! There are always someone who are too shy to sit down at a table and introduce themselves, why don’t you try to be the one who joins them instead?

Between all the food and coffee breaks I attended my first keynote and sessions. Trying to build my session schedule was actually quite frustrating – there were always at least a handful of sessions I wanted to attend! I really look forward to getting the USB stick with all the session recordings so I can watch the sessions I missed. In the evening I attended the Exhibitor Reception where I learned quite a lot about the vendors and also got some nice SQL swag. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again)!

On Thursday I started to feel the effects of not enough sleep and too much #SQLKaraoke :) I attended the Women In Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion which was a lot more than an event just for women. The topic of the day was “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity”. I encourage you to watch it on PASS TV. One of the highlights for me was Gail Shaw‘s response to the question “Do you have to make an effort to fit in?” – “No I don’t, because I can’t bloody well be bothered”. That answer earned a lot of applause from the audience!

On Thursday night we all gathered in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the Community Appreciation Party. And as if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again again)! I had no energy for karaoke that night, but spent a couple of hours getting to know Bob Pusateri and Andy Yun even better before going to bed early. The next time I’m going to PASS Summit I will definitely work harder on not getting tired ;)

Friday was a bit of a sad day and I wished it could be Tuesday so I could start all over again and do even more. Learn more, meet more people, be more active in the community. But instead of looking back I’m going to take all of these great experiences with me, look forward and use the new inspiration and energy to grow personally and professionally in 2014. I hope to attend and volunteer at a SQLSaturday, maybe even help organize one in Oslo. I hope to share my new knowledge with my co-workers and help improve our solutions at work. I hope to learn even more and get to know my new connections better. Maybe I’ll even make my own presentation and be a first-time speaker some day!

Tip #4: Keep in touch with everyone you met and take good care of your new #SQLFamily :)

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft just announced Surface (instantly renamed by myself to All-I-Want-For-Christmas!), their brand new tablet PCs for Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro.

Surface comes with a built-in kickstand and a Touch Cover that is also a fully functional keyboard, making it easy to switch between tasks optimized for touch and type. A Type Cover is also available for a more traditional typing experience. It has two cameras, stereo speakers and dual microphones tuned for Skype, as well as a USB port and MicroSD card slot.

Surface by Microsoft
Surface with Touch Cover

Surface Type Cover by Microsoft
Surface with Type Cover

Surface Kickstand by Microsoft
Surface with built-in kickstand

Surface Side by Microsoft
Surface with full-sized USB port

Surface Touch Covers by Microsoft
Surface with Touch Covers and Type Covers

For more information, read the press announcement, watch the Microsoft Surface Event Keynote or visit the Surface product website.

(Taking my professional hat off and my geeky girly hat on, I would like to end this post with my initial reaction to seeing Surface for the first time: “OMG IT LOOKS SLEEK AND SEXY AND IT HAS COLORS AND THE PINK COVER WILL MATCH MY WINDOWS PHONE PERFECTLY AND I TOTALLY WANT ONE LIKE YESTERDAY!”)

Notepad++ remove duplicates, remove blank lines and sort data in one operation

Notepad++ remove duplicates, remove blank lines and sort data in one operationNotepad++ with the TextFX plugin makes it quick and easy to remove duplicates, remove blank lines and sort data in one operation. This is a typical case where Excel does the job, but as I always have Notepad++ open it is fast and easy to get the results I want in just a few seconds.

Remove duplicates, remove blank lines and sort data in one operation

Paste text into Notepad++
1. Paste the text into Notepad++ (CTRL+V). As you can see, there were 473 lines and half of them were blank.

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