I’ve always been a big fan of challenges and competition, in the years that led up to becoming a Microsoft Employee, I worked together with several consultants in a strong competitive database world. It’s with that intake that I gladly agreed to be a guest judge on Be the Next Microsoft Employee.

When working for Microsoft, one of the key strengths is the diversity of a team, different personalities, different opinions on how a solution should be built, or a project should be executed upon.

Be the Next Microsoft Employee reflected that, and we had our competitors working together as a team, encouraging the kind of team work that is so critical, while maximizing each individual team member’s talent.

And certainly there was a lot of talent on the team, but unfortunately on the team challenge: NO WINNER, since they lost as a team.

I was impressed with all candidates, but in the T-SQL debugging challenge for which we had the Washington State Ferry as the ‘timeclock’, there was one candidate that impressed me the most. The “SQL Hulk” Alex, did lead the team to the correct solution eventually, but was unfortunately overruled by “Captain Zimm” Stacy and “Turbo” Mike.

Now the interesting thing is, had Alex voiced his opinion more strongly, they most likely could have resolved this SQL Puzzle in less than 10 minutes, and would have set the judges for a tough selection and had
"The Buckster" worried.

Because that didn’t happen, … the team of judges felt that we had no clear winner, since they lost the entire challenge. It’s that simple: you win as a team, you lose as a team.

Because Alex truly impressed me with his knowledge on the task leading towards the solution, I did feel that he had the strongest T-SQL knowledge, a value that I truly appreciate as a Microsoft Certified Master.
When I shared that feedback with my peer judges we decided to award Alex the technical prize.

One of the lowlights was the un-preparedness to suggest and present their solution to the judges.
As Track Owner for the Database Track at major events, I certainly value preparedness when it comes to presenting on any topic, despite the fact that you might have had lack of preparation, or even a solution to present.
Rock – paper – scissors is not the right strategy to determine on who is going to present, and even more, you need to know and agree on the answer prior to delivering a presentation.

In each of the candidates, I discovered what I was looking for in the next MSFT employee—a diamond in the rough. With the right coaching, each of those candidates has the great potential to succeed and exceed in the day to day job working for one of the largest IT organizations in the world.

While we had a joyful ride on the ferry under nice Seattle sun (incredible but true), it did feel great to be a judge, having gone through the tension on how close they actually were to the actual solution was a key highlight.
The error occurred in this challenge is certainly one that people make when writing triggers, which truly comes down to understanding on how triggers work and deal with the inserted / deleted tables as part of the trigger action.
As guidance you should review http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms191300.aspx and clearly understand those concepts. When a trigger fires, it necessarily does not produce a single record in the inserted, deleted table, which truly relates to the error message occurred.
Still can't believe they were so close, but yet so far out.

Now what was up with “Which takes longer: making coffee or installing SQL Server”?

In my presentation at TechED North America , I showcased that SQL Server deploys incredibly fast on a Windows Server Core platform, by performing command-line based installations, also called “unattended installations”. The entire session was recorded and posted on the Channel 9 TechED North America page here.

As a SQL Server DBA, you  probably want to explore many more of our SQL Server Hands-on coolness, which you can do on our online hosted lab platform: www.microsoft.com/sqlserverlabs.

Happy SQL Server everyone – and good luck to our contestants getting ready for their final episodes..

 Dandy Weyn