Over the last few months, my colleague Steve Abraham and I have been working with a team at Microsoft who have been creating one of the new IPD (Infrastructure Planning and Design) Guide for SQL Server 2008 as part of the Microsoft Solution Accelerator series. The main author was Melissa Stowe.
Rather than a deep technical guide on how to deploy the product, these guides are targeted at those who are making the decisions about what to deploy and those who are involved in planning deployments, to make sure they don't miss any key decision points.
I've been running a number of sessions around the world on the full-text search capabilities in SQL Server 2008. In the sessions I've been delivering, I find three groups of people in the room:
People that have never used FTS in any version (most of the room)
People that have old pain associated with FTS (some people)
People that are using it and wondering what's new in 2008 (almost no-one)
I think there is now a really, really good story to tell. In earlier versions of the product, FTS was a well-kept secret but was painful to manage and was problematic in terms of performance.
In their new book: Pro Full Text Search in SQL Server 2008, Michael and Hilary do a good job of telling that story. I got to read it while travelling up to Sydney yesterday. It provides very solid coverage of iFTS in SQL Server 2008. The only aspect that I would have liked to see more coverage on was performance. However, the inclusion of a sample iFilter for LaTex was a real plus.
If you have any interest in building applications that your users will love using, you should be looking into iFTS and this book is a great introduction to the topic.
Most that know me well are aware I have an adult daughter with Rett Syndrome. It's a rare condition that pretty much exclusively targets girls.
Recently, I received an email from an old school mate that told me about a project he's involved with. They decided to paddle kayaks from Victoria to Tasmania across the Bass Strait. This is a treacherous section of ocean that often hits the news when boats (or crew members) are lost in the annual Sydney to Hobart race. I cannot believe they attempted this in kayaks.
I'm so proud of Dan (Williams) for doing this and for the funding they have raised for research into Rett Syndrome. Details on their "Paddle for Hope" are here: http://paddleforhope.com.au/
The RDs (Microsoft Regional Directors) are one of the most amazing groups of people I deal with and I'm honoured and humbled to be a member of the group. There is rare talent amongst the group. Every day, I find myself amazed by both the breadth and depth of knowledge. I also love the off-the-wall humour.
Our lead Kevin Schuler does a great job of looking after our interests and of herding the cats. I was really pleased to receive a global impact award from Kevin today, covering 2008. It looks excellent and I'm pleased to see that it features "The Region". If you haven't looked into "The Region", I'd suggest doing so. I don't have time to read all the blogs by all the Regional Directors. I wish I could read them all but "The Region" is the next best thing. It's a moderated feed of the highest quality posts made by Regional Directors. You'll find the main feed here: http://www.theregion.com/ShowRSS.aspx.
makes it look pretty clear that Microsoft Retail Stores are on the way. David Porter has been appointed to head up this initiative. He's been at DreamWorks for the last year or two but was with Wal-Mart for 25 years prior. That should bring some interesting retail experience into the company.
Today officially ended up getting to 46.4 in Melbourne. That's 115.5 for those still on Fahrenheit and way, way too hot no matter what you measure it in.
So we headed off to see a movie. Took a while to park. No-one seemed to want to park anywhere that wasn't under cover. No big surprise there.
We ended up seeing "Gran Tourino", the Clint Eastwood movie. He was actor, producer and director. What an excellent piece of work from him. Clint is a grizzly old Korean War veteran who used to work in the Ford plant in Detroit. His world isn't what he'd imagined it would be. His relationship with the Asian neighbours made for a great story. I won't spoil the plot by telling you anything too much about it but we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
A while back, I took a look at Levelator (from the Conversations Network) and it was a bit rough around the edges. It's a tool that take an audio conversation like a podcast and evens out the audio levels of the different speakers. This is no easy trick. I normally spend a while on this with every podcast we produce. I've still had comments that sometimes my voice is almost deafening but the guest is a bit quiet. I've found the main problem is that people you interview vary their amplitude enormously at different parts of the interview.
Today, I pulled down the latest version and tried it and have to say I love it. You'll see the effect of it in the latest SQL Down Under show (ie: show 43). The interface for selecting files, etc. is still a bit funky, there don't seem to be good options for naming input and output files and I'm surprised it doesn't deal directly with mp3 files (I converted to WAV via Audacity before using it) but the effect that it produces and the cute screen animations are both excellent.
We're now going to go back and "levelate" all the previous shows. This should improve them quite a bit.