Sunday, June 26, 2016

If at first you don't connect, try again...

I've noticed on several occasions that my first attempt to connect to an Azure Sql Server using SQL Server Management Studio 2016 doesn't always succeed.

First attempt

The fix? Press OK and try again. 

I have no explanation but it always seems to connect the second time.

I'm assuming you have your security and firewall rules setup correctly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Azure Status Alerts via Outlook Rules

My current duties involve production support for an Azure PaaS application, therefore, I must know when Microsoft Azure services are experiencing issues.

I do have alerts set up on the Azure portal and in Application Insights to notify me when availability or performance thresholds are violated but I also need to know if there is a global or regional issue that might affect our app so that I can respond and notify the staff when appropriate. Azure status changes are reported on the Azure Status web page.

The following will describe how to use the Azure Status page RSS feeds and Outlook rules for notification if things go sideways in Microsoft Azure.

The Azure Status page has RSS feeds for nearly all of its services. 

First, You'll need to add relevant feeds to the RSS Feeds folder in Outlook. I am using Outlook 2016. 
Click on the orange RSS feed icon for each service you are interested in to show the feed URL, copy the URL, and add to your Outlook RSS Feeds folder by right-clicking the RSS Feeds folder. This brings up a context menu where you can select "Add a New RSS Feed...".  

Enter the URL for the feed in the dialog box and click Add.

Here's what my RSS Feeds folder in Outlook looks like currently.

Then, create rules to forward a copy of the RSS posts to your Inbox so that Outlook will notify you when an Azure Status change has occurred. You will NOT be notified if you simply move a copy to your Inbox. Outlook notifies me when new mail arrives in my Inbox on both my laptop and mobile phone.

You must check the box in red below for these rules to work properly.

With the above in place, I am now being alerted by Outlook on my laptop and mobile phone when a status change occurs on the Azure Status page. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

February was busy but good...

February was very busy because I had to prepare for my 18th SQL Saturday, prepare abstracts for the 2016 PASS Summit Call for Speakers and keep up with big things happening at work. <Cue sad violin music...>

I submitted two sessions for SQL Saturday Tampa and ended up giving both of them. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

My morning session on Monitoring and Alerting for an Azure PaaS Application earned me Speaker of the Month from The Scary DBA and PASS EVP Grant Fritchey. I truly appreciate his recognition and feedback. I WILL incorporate it in future sessions.

In the afternoon, I did a session on how to lock down SQL Server so that DBAs don't have unfettered access to business data. This makes your Compliance staff smile, trust me. 

After SQL Saturday was the final push to get my abstracts done for the 2016 PASS Summit Call for Speakers. They were due the Wednesday after the Tampa SQL Saturday. Do you now understand why February was busy? I submitted four abstracts for consideration for this year's PASS Summit. Two were technical and two were professional development.

Allen White always starts his talks with a little blurb about how we all know something that we can teach others to encourage new speakers.To prove that point, this guy asked me questions via Twitter about my security session. I got a huge kick out of someone with such a stellar reputation score on asking me for help.

Finally, I've joined my company's Toastmaster club in the hope that it will improve my speaking skills for future PASS events.


Monday, January 11, 2016

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Idol "Round of Death"

Hi. I wanted to wait on my recap of this event until I had seen the video of my Speaker Idol session at PASS Summit 2015. I come on around 14:30.

Speaker Idol is purely a test of your presentation skills. Probably one of the most grueling tests because it is very difficult to cover a topic effectively in FIVE minutes. I also try to tell a story when I speak. So, in five minutes it has to be really concise. My topic was SQL Injection. Could you imagine what a disgruntled speaker could do with SQL Injection? Of course, this is all hypothetical. 

I thought beforehand that the eventual winner would have to do what a speaker does typically during a PASS Summit session. Talk, do a demo and wrap up. I also like speakers who throw in a few laughs along the way so I was hoping someone like that would win. No time for Q&A in this format so you are spared that part of the test. 

I used Office Remote for Android to control my PowerPoint 2016 deck. This is a very new phone app and it was the first time I had used it in a live session. I really like this app and will continue to use it but I do need to get better using it so that as the judges correctly indicated it doesn't become such a distraction.
This app basically gives you Presentation View on your phone and allow you to run your laptop in Duplicate Screen mode which minimizes the breaks when you switch between the deck and your demo tools. I did use ZoomIt successfully and I still have a few "umms" to eliminate. I could have formatted the code to be easier to read but that would have revealed the punch line at the end of my presentation. Finally, I wish I had found that sound cord to plug into my laptop for my ending because I though AC-DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top" was a fun way to end for Speaker Idol. I had gone into the room more than once to check out the tech layout but didn't find that cord. 

The judges' comments were very helpful for all the rounds and it will definitely help me to improve as a speaker. I'm hoping the exposure I got at Speaker Idol will help me get selected for next year's PASS Summit. 

My Speaker Idol round should now be called the "Round of Death" because the eventual winner and runner-up were in it. Congratulations to David Maxwell for his well deserved victory. I think he will do a great job next year.

I'm glad I did Speaker Idol but I have to say the normal abstract process is the less stressful way to go if you want to speak at PASS Summit. 

Happy New Year!