I am sure that most of you out there, reading this post must be knowing Peter Larsson. This is a very familiar name in the SQL Server Community. You usually come across his name when you are stuck with a problem and desperately search on Google for a solution and end up on a forum post at sqlteam.com or in the MSDN SQL Server forums. Peter is a very active contributor in sqlteam.com and MSDN forums and a frequent blogger too. Most importantly, he is a key contributor at TSQL Challenges.
Peter Larsson, SQL Server MVP
Jacob: Please give a brief introduction of yourself
Peter: I am a 40 year old geek. I started out as a high-school teacher in mathematics and physics but turned IT in early 1990. I have used all versions of Microsoft SQL Server since version 4.2, with various length. I live in the southern part of Sweden with my girlfriend and 3 kids (Born 2004, 2007 and 2009). When I am not playing with some T-SQL code, one can find me in the movie theatre or at home, remodeling our house. I was awarded the MVP in July 2009 and now I know more about the things I didn’t knew about before. There are a few talented people out there!
Jacob: You had been quite active in the community, a very popular face at sqlteam.com and on msdn forums. What makes you so passionate about SQL Server and SQL Server Community?
Peter: I believe Microsoft SQL Server is an excellent product. But I also see that the product is often misused due to a number of reasons. Lack of knowledge is the bigger reason, all from small details as using proper data type to bigger issues such as bad indexing and no knowledge of execution plans.
Sometimes I am concerned about answers given from well-known names in the “industry”. I believe we all have an obligation to give accurate answers to the questions asked. Also, performance should be a factor in the answers and, if possible, using best practices.
Jacob: You are an active blogger. What are the topics you enjoy writing most?
Peter: I enjoy blogging about small code snippets that solves ”everyday” problems. I enjoy blogging about code that are real performance monsters!
But mostly I blog because I like the idea of questioning facts and challenging traditional ways of how to solve things.
Jacob: I find you helping an innumerable number of people on the forums. What are the most common questions that you hear people asking over and over again?
Peter: Questions about Dates and Times. This is number one! People seem to find date and time very confusing. Lack of proper indexing is another big issue.
And with the arrival of SQL Server 2005, more and more questions about XML is seen.
Jacob: What attracted you to join the TSQL Challenge Team?
Peter: I enjoy the idea to keep people alert and a challenge is an excellent way to do this. I think database programming knowledge is fresh; you have to learn new things often. If you don’t learn new things, you will stand still and write bad code, with worse performance.
Jacob: What according to you, is the contribution of TSQL Challenges to the SQL Server Community
Peter: It gives people a new angle. A new set of eyes of how to solve things. Hopefully they read and learn the winners suggestion and adapt the good parts.
Jacob: What is your message to the SQL Server Community?
Peter: Believe in yourself. Someone thought you were the right person for the position.
Get to know your code! When you receive an answer on a forum for a question, and you don’t understand it, try to dissect the code in smaller pieces. If you still don’t understand it, post back a message about the things you don’t understand. Read the basics in Books Online first. Don’t think using unknown code in your work is a good thing, even if it solves your problem and is 1,000 times faster than the code you use and understand. Someday the business rules will change (they always do), and if you need to change the unknown code you are in big trouble. The person who suggested the code may not be around anymore to help you.
Jacob: Are you excited about SQL Server 2008 R2? What are the cool features that you like?
Peter: I like the fact that every second version seem to be targeted for developers and every other second version seem to be targeted for administrators.
Version 7 had a lot of things for developers (functions is one) and version 2000 had a new things for administrators. Then again, version 2005 had a lot of thing for developers (windowed functions, cte’s, schemas and more) and now version 2008 has compression and all sorts of stuff for administrators (and tiny MERGE for developers).
So, in my eyes, I can’t decide of R2 is a new version or just an upgrade of 2008. R2 do have a lot of goodies for the BI people!
Jacob: What is your thoughts on SQL Azure?
Peter: It is a good thought, for companies and people not having enough money, knowledge and time to host their own SQL Server solution. Or using a web host who doesn’t support SQL Server or having databases larger than 4GB. In my preliminary tests I found SQL Azure to be limited of use; for example there are no DMV views. If you can host free SQL Server Express (with a limit of 4GB database) this is a better choice. In my tests, I discovered that Azure ran simple aggregation queries 4 times as slow as on my laptop using SQL Express.
I am also concerned about putting classified information in the cloud.