The first 10 books I will read in 2015

In 2014, I have read 34 books, I finished the Dark Tower books by Stephen King and read only 2 technical books, you can find the whole list here:

There are a bunch of books that I want to read this year, here are the first 10 that I will read.

  1. To the last man
  2. The confident speaker
  3. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 internals
  4. World War I The definitive visual history
  5. Lightroom 5 for digital photographers
  6. Pro SQL Server Internals
  7. Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches
  8. A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) 
  9. How to Win Friends & Influence People
  10. House of Leaves

As you can see, I already have more technical books in this list than I have read last year.

Some of these books I have in digital format and some make more sense to have as hardcopy

Here are the 10 books again, this time I included the author(s) as well as a link to Amazon so that you can check out the reviews

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara 

This is a World War I book and it was recommended to me by my brother in law. I like to read history books and since World War I started a hundred years ago last year, it is a good time to revisit the Great War

The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation by Harrison Monarth 

This book was given to me after I became a member of the APEX group at my job. Haven't heard anything about this but I will let you know what I think of it

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Internals by Kalen Delaney, Bob Beauchemin, Conor Cunningham, Jonathan Kehayias, Paul S. Randal and Benjamin Nevarez 

I have read every edition of this book since SQL Server 7, I have this book already in my possession for a while, I just never got to it.

World War I The Definitive Visual History by R. G. Grant 

This is a book I received as a gift for Christmas and it looks really nice with a lot of photographs. Some of the pictures are really interesting for example the soldier and horse both wearing a gas mask

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

This book will (hopefully) teach me how to use Adobe Lightroom 5

Pro SQL Server Internals by Dmitri Korotkevitch

Don't know much about this book, but I saw it at the PASS Conference book store, I decided to check it out

Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches by Don Jones and Jeffery Hicks

I am doing some Dev Integration DB builds at my job by using Powershell, this book will help me increase my Powershell knowledge (at least I hope it does)

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)  by George R.R. Martin

I read this book already once but since season 5 is around the corner, I wanted to read it again before the show is aired on HBO. This is my least favorite book out of the whole series

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I have heard some good things about this book from several people and podcasts

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski 

Recommended by a co-worker, supposedly this is a really weird book


This year I beat the Dow and the S&P 500 by more than 10%

This has been a good year for me in my trading account. I have beaten most of the indexes. Here is a pic where you can see how I compare to the market

So far this year I am up almost 26%. That is not bad when you look at last year when I was up over 30%. The best performer in my portfolio was Apple, I have 732.456 shares so that was a nice gain. I also sold Exxon Mobile right before OPEC decided not to cut production output. After I sold XOM I picked up Ambarella (AMABA) and Skyworks Solutions (SWKS). Both are up over 10% in less than 4 weeks. I also get nice didvidends, this year it was over $6,000 and I reinvest them so the gains are compounded




Looks like I walked the entire length of Africa

Just got this in an email from fitbit


You've earned the Africa badge

It's a jungle out there, but that's not stopping you—because at 5,000 lifetime miles, you've walked the entire length of Africa! If that's not a reason to go bananas, we don't know what is.


I seemed to have walked/run 5000 miles since I got my fitbit in May of last year. When you put that in perspective, it is the whole continent of seems pretty impressive... but then again..anyone could walk that in a 18 months

Anyway, if you use fitbit and need some more motivation, feel free to add me, here is my public profile link

Puzzles so big they ship with their own hand truck

I like doing puzzles, usually I do them between December 20 and January 3rd, during this time I am usually not working so I have some free time to do these puzzles. I was looking on Amazon today and noticed these two huge puzzles.

Keith Haring: Double Retrospect - 32000 Pieces Puzzle

This puzzle must be incredible difficult to complete, it would probably take me months to do this. Here are some details

  • Features a retrospective with 32 individual, brightly-colored images of Keith Haring's artwork
  • Includes 32,256 precision-cut pieces packaged in eight separate poly bags
  • Consists of just six colors plus black and white, adding to the already incredible challenge
  • Measures more than 17' x 6' long
  • Weighs 42 lbs and comes with its own hand truck

You can see how huge this puzzle is by lookingLooking at the picture below gives you a sense just how huge this puzzle is

Do you need to move the box around? No problem, this puzzle comes with its own hand truck

I am still not sure if I would ever do that puzzle and if I did what would I do with it after I finished it? Maybe hang it on the wall and pretend it is art? What would you do?


Ravensburger New York City Jigsaw Puzzle (32000-Piece)

This is another huge puzzle, instead of art it is of New York City, here are some details, it is petty similar to the Keith Haring puzzle.

  • 32000 piece puzzle featuring a panoramic view of NY City
  • Stunning photographic detail
  • Includes 32,256 precision-cut pieces packaged in eight separate bags
  • Measures 17 x 6 feet!
  • Weighs 42 lbs. and comes with it's own hand truck

Here is a picture of the puzzle when it is completed, assuming the person is not a hobbit, you can see that this thing is massive

What is a valid variable name in T-SQL?

On twitter Adam Machanic posted a question if anyone has a document that details what a valid variable name is, what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Did you know that you can have a variable named @@ or @@@@?

DECLARE @ int=5,@@ int
SET @@=@
DECLARE @@@@ int=@*@@
DECLARE @$$ int=@@@@
SELECT  @$$,@@@@

Running that will print  25 25

There is a Books On Line page that gives some details but it is not very explicit, you can find that page here Identifiers

But what is valid? Let's write a quick SQL script, we are going to use the spt_values in the master database to quickly generate a SQL statement which we can execute

Fiest step is to dump what we want into a temporary table

SELECT number,'declare @' + CHAR(CONVERT(VARCHAR(5),number)) +' int' AS stmt
INTO #test
FROM master..spt_values WHERE type='p'

SELECT * from #test

Running that will give you something like this if you have the output in grid not text


Don't be fooled by that the first 33 rows, those will be generated as @ and will appear valid, those are non printable characters

So let's continue with our SQL script after you created the temp table, run the following, if there is an error, the script will catch it and print the character number

DELETE #test WHERE number < 33
DELETE #test WHERE stmt like '%''%' OR stmt LIKE '"'

DECLARE @start int = 0,@end int =(SELECT max(number) from #test)
WHILE @start <= @end
    SELECT @stmt = stmt from #test where number = @start
        BEGIN CATCH 
        PRINT 'error ' + right('000' + CONVERT(VARCHAR(3),@start),3) + ' ' + @stmt

    SET @start+=1

Running that code will give you the following output

error 033 declare @! int
error 034 declare @" int
error 037 declare @% int
error 038 declare @& int
error 039 declare @' int
error 040 declare @( int
error 041 declare @) int
error 042 declare @* int
error 043 declare @+ int
error 044 declare @, int
error 045 declare @- int
error 046 declare @. int
error 047 declare @/ int
error 058 declare @: int
error 059 declare @; int
error 060 declare @< int
error 061 declare @= int
error 062 declare @> int
error 063 declare @? int
error 091 declare @[ int
error 092 declare @\ int
error 093 declare @] int
error 094 declare @^ int
error 096 declare @` int
error 123 declare @{ int
error 124 declare @| int
error 125 declare @} int
error 126 declare @~ int
error 127 declare @ int
error 128 declare @€ int
error 129 declare @ int
error 130 declare @‚ int
error 132 declare @„ int
error 133 declare @… int
error 134 declare @† int
error 135 declare @‡ int
error 136 declare @ˆ int
error 137 declare @‰ int
error 139 declare @‹ int
error 141 declare @ int
error 143 declare @ int
error 144 declare @ int
error 145 declare @‘ int
error 146 declare @’ int
error 147 declare @“ int
error 148 declare @” int
error 149 declare @• int
error 150 declare @– int
error 151 declare @— int
error 152 declare @˜ int
error 153 declare @™ int
error 155 declare @› int
error 157 declare @ int
error 161 declare @¡ int
error 162 declare @¢ int
error 163 declare @£ int
error 164 declare @¤ int
error 165 declare @¥ int
error 166 declare @¦ int
error 167 declare @§ int
error 168 declare @¨ int
error 169 declare @© int
error 171 declare @« int
error 172 declare @¬ int
error 173 declare @­ int
error 174 declare @® int
error 175 declare @¯ int
error 176 declare @° int
error 177 declare @± int
error 178 declare @² int
error 179 declare @³ int
error 180 declare @´ int
error 182 declare @¶ int
error 183 declare @· int
error 184 declare @¸ int
error 185 declare @¹ int
error 187 declare @» int
error 188 declare @¼ int
error 189 declare @½ int
error 190 declare @¾ int
error 191 declare @¿ int
error 215 declare @× int
error 247 declare @÷ int


So those are all invalid, as well as the single and double quote and everything between characters 0 and 32 since those are not really printable but how would you even use those?


So there you have it a quick and dirty script to test what is valid....


Exercise for you...expand this to use unicode......

WTF? It is cheaper to buy a CD + MP3 than just MP3 on Amazon

I was looking at the new Calvin Harris album on Amazon. The audio CD is $9.99, this includes the MP3 rip, it will show up in your Amazon library once you buy it

The MP3 album is $10.99

So how does this make any sense? Why wouldn't you get the CD, if you get a couple of other items or if you have Amazon Prime you can get the shipping for free?


My 3 favorite sessions at PASS Summit 2014

These were my 3 favorite sessions at the PASS Summit 2014. I attended 13 sessions and most of them, were good, some of them had a demo fail and one of them had several demos fail. So here are the 3 I liked the most, they are in order that I attended them


 [AD-400] Query Tuning Mastery: Manhandling Parallelism, 2014 Edition

Speaker:  Adam Machanic 

This was an excellent session, the content was superb and the delivery was top-notch. I was a little sad when the session ended, I wish it would continue.

You can find the demos here:


[DBA-500-HD] Inside SQL Server I/O 

Speaker(s):  Bob Ward 

What do I have to see that anyone who attended any of Bob Ward's previous sessions  at the PASS Summit, doesn't already know. you HAVE to attend his sessions, don't worry if the content might be to advanced for you. Fast paced, a lot of cool stuff shown and excellent delivery

You can find the demos here:


[DBA-305] Working with Very Large Tables Like a Pro in SQL Server 2014

Speaker:  Guy Glantser 

First session I ever attended by Guy Glantser. The delivery was perfect, the content was to the point and explained in simple steps.

You can find the demos here:


I also want to mention the following session, this is a pre-conference session so you won't be able to find the recording


Troubleshoot Customer Performance Problems Like a Microsoft Engineer 

Speaker(s):  Tim Chapman  Denzil Ribeiro 

Excellent session with a lot of good stuff, cool demos and tools were shown


Of course you might have attended a better session, but since it is impossible to attend all sessions I onlyknow about those that I attended, but you can leave me a comment telling me which ones you liked the best