Semi-regular web-link clearance – March 2010

Five Pervasive Myths About Older Software Developers

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday.  A friend joked to me, “Hey, guess that means you’re too old to program anymore!”  I laughed on the outside, but it gave me pause.  Age discrimination is nothing to laugh about in our field.  COBOL guys faced this problem years ago as Java guys like me were ascending the ranks, and we laughed heartily about legacy code and their inflexibility with new technology.

The Art of Negotiation According to Pawnstars

The other day I caught a marathon of the show Pawnstars. On the surface, it’s kind of a blue collar version of Antiques Roadshow and at first I thought it was a pale rip-off of the original. But after watching a dozen or so episodes and a couple Antiques Roadshows, I’m convinced I like this Pawnstars show more, mostly due to the more modern items being discussed that I can recognize versus the Roadshow saying an ugly broken victorian chair is worth $250k which makes no sense to me.

Download YouTube Videos the Easy Way

There are some programs and browser extensions to do this, but we’ve found that the easiest and quickest method is a bookmarklet that was originally posted on the Google Operating System blog (it’s since been removed). It will let you download standard quality and high-definition movies as MP4 files. Also, because it’s a bookmarklet, it will work on any modern web browser, and on any operating system!

Firefox: Massive Extender 0.9.1

Extends the Mozilla Add-on Collector with batch actions making it possible to install, uninstall, enable and disable entire collections or personalized selected items en masse.

SQL Injection Attacks By Example

A customer asked that we check out his intranet site, which was used by the company’s employees and customers. This was part of a larger security review, and though we’d not actually used SQL injection to penetrate a network before, we were pretty familiar with the general concepts. We were completely successful in this engagement, and wanted to recount the steps taken as an illustration.

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eTrust AntiVirus, and directories / processes you should exclude from scanning.

Computer Associates used to recommend excluding particular processes and directories from eTrust anti-virus scanning.  This, I found, was very important with Microsoft SQL Server, as it would cause a significant performance hit.
You would do this via setting the following registry keys, under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ComputerAssociates\eTrustITM\CurrentVersion\Realtime

Reason for exclusion List of processes to be excluded, separated by "|"
Microsoft SQL Server sqlserver.exe  sqlservr.exe
Microsoft Exchange store.exe
  and some others …

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Learning T-SQL – Revisited

Teach Yourself Microsoft T-SQL In my current job, I get to write data extracts.
eg. extract data from an SQL database, using Microsoft Access as the front-end. Not my preferred tool, but it’s what I’ve got.

Thought it would be useful to brush up on my T-SQL, so I purchased the book on the right.

Best darn little book I’ve found on Transaction SQL. The 10 minutes refers to each lesson. And there are 30 lessons all up. This will be a book which I’d going to end up using as a quick reference.

Now if you want to teach yourself T-SQL, I’d suggest the following:

  1. Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft SQL Server T-SQL
  2. SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services
  3. .Net Framework version 2
    (if you don’t already have it)
  4. Membership of (it’s free), the question of the day is worth it for knowledge reinforcement.

Update August 2009:
Writing SQL Queries: Let’s Start with the Basics, by Microsoft is worth reading as well.

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Should I compress my SQL Database when backing up? – Maybe …

SQL Server 2008 Backup Compression
– by Varun Dhawan, over at MSDN blogs.

It’s a useful option for saving space with backing up to disk, but I would disagree with the guy over tape backup savings.

Some tape units have built-in hardware compression which already compresses the data being stored on tape.
Which means there is no advantage in compressing data if you are going to be writing it straight to tape.

As I found when testing compressing large ISAM databases back in the 90’s.  The data was already compressed so the tape drive couldn’t compress any further.

So the answer is:
Yes, if backing up to disk.
No, if backing up straight to tape.

Details on tape compression from an old Sony FAQ:

Q: What is the tape capacity of the SDT- 5000/5200 tape drive?

A: With the SDT-5000, tape capacity will vary depending on the length of the tape and whether hardware compression is enabled as follows:

Tape Native Capacity Typical Capacity with Compression
60m 1.3 GB 2.6 GB
90m 2.0 GB 4.0 GB
120m 4.0 GB 8.0 GB

NOTE: The SDT-5200 supports native capacity only.
The typical performance of the compression IC in the SDT-5000 drive is shown in the following table:

Data Type Compression
Bitmaps 6.9 to 1
Database 3.9 to 1
CAD 3.8 to 1
English 2.9 to 1
Source 2.9 to 1
Spreadsheet 2.5 to 1
Desktop Pubs 2.5 to 1
Binary 1.7 to 1

As the table indicates, the more random the data is, the less compression is possible. This is due to the fact that data compression operates on the principle of reducing the redundancy in the date string and random data has very little redundancy.

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