Handy Query: When Did My Instance Start?

Handy Query: When Did My Instance Start?

My company has a rule. We must reboot each of our Windows servers at least quarterly in order to ensure they have the latest patches. Finding out how long a Windows server has been up has long driven us nuts. However, SQL Server does know how long the instance has been up.

What is one of the things that SQL Server does when it starts? It recreates tempdb! That means if we can determine when tempdb was created, we know when SQL Server started.

SELECT crdate [INSTANCE START TIME] FROM master.dbo.sysdatabases WHERE NAME='tempdb'



This works in my environment because we have business rules in place that say when we stop a SQL instance, we reboot the server. Additionally, all of my instances are standalone (non-clustered) SQL instances.

When one door closes… #sqlsatbostonbi

When one door closes… #sqlsatbostonbi

There is an old adage that says when one door closes, another one opens. That’s exactly how SQL Saturdays work in Boston these days.

My team just wrapped up SQL Saturday #364 Boston 2015, and today we’re announcing that SQL Saturday #437 Boston 2015: Business Intelligence Edition will take place on Saturday, October 17.



Our calls for both sponsors and speakers are now open.

I can’t believe we’re already planning our next event. Karla from PASS thinks I’m nuts. She’s probably right. But between the two events, I’m going to take a little time off and go back to my day job.

We raised $1,605 for @rosiesplace

We raised $1,605 for @rosiesplace

As a SQL Saturday organizer, I have a fun job. I get to help people learn more about SQL Server. But as I have written before, I wanted to see if we could do even more good for the community as a whole.

This year, I got to have some fun after the event, too. It was an absolute honor to sign a check at my local bank in order to obtain a treasurer’s check made payable to Rosie’s Place, Boston’s Sanctuary for poor and homeless women. With the help of our participants, speakers, and sponsors, we raised $1,605 to help further the mission of Rosie’s Place.


This is the note I included with the check.

Dear friends at Rosie’s Place,

On behalf of Bay State Data Professionals, the organization that hosts SQL Saturday Boston, a free day of technology training for database professionals, I’m thrilled to present you a check for $1,605 as a donation to Rosie’s Place.
Most of our conference attendees have good jobs. It only made sense to ask people to help those who need it. We don’t have to worry about food or clothing. That’s why we asked our sponsors to pay a little extra to buy a raffle item that we could use in a fundraiser.
This year, we chose to help raise money for a local charity, and Rosie’s Place was the obvious answer. I’ve seen the amazing work you do, and I’m happy to help raise money to help you further your mission.

With great respect,

Mike Hillwig, Lead Organizer
SQL Saturday Boston 2015

When I worked for Shawmut, we regularly volunteered at Rosie’s Place. They really do have an incredible mission, and I’m thrilled to help them raise a little more funding to help them do more.

SQL Saturday Boston 2015 #sqlsat364

SQL Saturday Boston 2015 #sqlsat364

SQL Saturday Boston 2015 #364 has come and gone. We had an AWESOME day.

Our speakers are all amazing people and great presenters. The feedback from the participants was consistently full of praise. We had about 240 people attending the event, which is pretty impressive when you consider that we had really nice weather that day. It was sunny and bright, which meant our attrition rate was high. That’s the risk we took when scheduling a spring event. It was the first nice weekend day of the year.

This year, we went back to Cosi for lunches instead of Subway. The feedback on that was good, too.  In fact, the only complaint we got was about the air conditioning in our facility, which is a common issue.

Our speakers loved the speaker event we held Friday night at Legal Seafoods in Cambridge.

We also donated our extra food to Boston’s Pine Street Inn, which was 68 boxed lunches. Additionally, we raised $1,605 for Rosie’s Place. I will be depositing cash on Tuesday and picking up a certified check for them.


Opening SQL Saturday. Photo snagged from Brent Ozar’s Instagram feed

Events like this just don’t happen without a small army of volunteers. My team of Robert Padilla, Paresh Motiwala, and Melissa Riley made this happen. And our volunteers, under the leadership of Paresh, ran the event. The hardest thing I had to do on Saturday was get in front of the crowd and speak a few times. Our volunteers were incredible, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them.

Group Therapy at #nesql

Last Thursday was our monthly user group meeting at New England SQL. Our speaker was Andy Novick, and he was talking about SQL’s Hekaton technology.

As usual, I opened the meeting with announcements and then and did a little networking event. We like to call it mandatory fun. The idea is to get people moving around and talking to each other. I’m a firm believer that if you sit next to someone you already know, you’re absolutely doing it wrong. User groups are about networking as much as they are about learning about the technology.

I broke the group into five smaller groups and gave them a task. Everyone in the small group was supposed to share a challenge they had in their environment that day and the group was to give them suggestions on how they might resolve it. For example, in the group I was in, we had a guy whose database objects aren’t the same as what’s in source control. Another group was talking about a performance problem. The chatter was lively. People were sharing their problems and solutions. This is what a community does.

I love doing this. It gets people talking. Sometimes I just make people stand up and great the people sitting next to them.

My colleagues who are introverts hate this. They’re precisely the ones who need to be introducing themselves to others.

Handy Script: Testing Database Mail Configurations

Handy Script: Testing Database Mail Configurations

In my environment, we enable database mail on every instance. While we have very few clients or applications that use it, we use it to have our servers call for help when something goes wrong. That means it’s really important that database mail be configured properly. One of the things we have on our peer review checklist is to test database mail. One day, while working with a member of my team, I saw how cumbersome it was to click through the GUI to send a test email. This little script was quickly born:

declare @body nvarchar(1000)
declare @subject nvarchar(1000)

select @body = 'This is a mail test from '+@@servername
select @subject = 'Mail test from '+@@servername

EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_send_dbmail
@profile_name = 'dbmail',

If you see something that shows your message was queued, it’s a good indication that SQL Server was able to send the mail message.



The next step is to validate that the message was received. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent messages that just never made it through.


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