• Installing future SQL Server updates with confidence

    Great to read that Microsoft are now making the “cumulative update” packages ‘recommended’ installs, and the updates themselves will be easier to obtain - no longer requiring a email address to download directly, and also being listed in Windows Update Catalog (and maybe in the future as an optional update on Microsoft Update).

    As a developer, I’ve often installed the latest CU (cumulative update) just because I like to be current on my own PC – but I’ve traditionally been more conservative with production SQL Servers that I’ve had to look after over the years. In the latter case I’ve installed the latest service pack, but only added a CU if it seemed likely to address any issue we might be having at the time.

    With this change, now pushing out the latest CU can be done with more confidence and probably should be considered part of maintaining your SQL Server infrastructure. Quoting from the above article:

    You should plan to install a CU with the same level of confidence you plan to install SPs (Service Packs) as they are released. This is because CU’s are certified and tested to the level of SP’s.

    A few years back I remember thinking that the SQL Server team had really set the standard for releasing regular updates for their products (especially compared to the lack of updates at the time to fix problems with older versions of Visual Studio 2005/2008). Since then the VS team have upped their game, and now they are pushing new major servicing updates out around every quarter. That doesn’t include out-of-band updates to VS extensions that are done more frequently.

    So it’s great to see the SQL Server team stepping up the pace another notch.

  • How I first heard about Lean

    A quick shout-out to Flinders Medical Centre’s Redesigning Care. They implemented Lean a few years ago to improve how their hospital functioned. After hearing about what Lean was and what they were doing, I then discovered that Lean had been applied to developing software too.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Lean in a healthcare setting, contact them via their webpage, or check out their overview video on YouTube

  • Laptop comparisons

    So after a bit more research, I’ve come up with a shortlist of laptops to consider. Most vendors (with the exception of HP and Microsoft) give you quite a few options to customise during the order process. For my own reference, I’ve also included the specs of my current laptop – the Dell XPS 1645 – to contrast how hardware has progressed over the last 5-6 years.

    My mandatory minimum requirements:

    • i7 CPU
    • 8GB memory
    • 512GB SSD
    • Touch screen
    • Lighter than 3Kg

    Nice to haves:

    • Xeon CPU
    • 16GB memory
    • PCIe SSD

    Laptop feature comparison | | Dell XPS 1645 (Circa 2010) | Dell XPS 13(9350) | Dell XPS 15 (9550) | Dell Latitude E7450 | HP ZBook Studio 15 E3 Mobile Workstation

    ThinkPad X1 Yoga - Core i7

    Microsoft Surface Book

    CPU Core I7-820QM Processor (1.73GHz) i7-6500U (up to 3.1 GHz) i7-6700HQ Quad Core (up to 3.5 GHz) i7-5600U Processor (Dual Core, 2.6GHz, 15W) Xeon® E3-1505M v5 (2.80 GHz, up to 3.70 GHz), 4 cores)

    Intel Core i7-6600U Processor (up to 3.40GHz)

    i7-6600U (2.6 up to 3.4 GHz)

    Cache 8MB L3 4M 6M 4M 8 MB


    4 MB

    Memory 8GB Dual-channel 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 x 4GB) 8GB LPDDR3 1866MHz 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133Mhz (8GBx2) 8GB (1x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3L 8 GB DDR4-2133 (1 x 8 GB) 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz 16GB LPDDR3
    Storage 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive 512GB PCIe Solid State Drive 256GB (SATA3) 256 GB HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SSD    

    512GB Solid State Drive, PCIe-NVMe

    512GB SSD  
    Video Video Card -ATI Mobility RADEON(R) HD 4670 - 1GB

    Intel(R) HD Graphics 520

    NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5

    Intel® Integrated HD Graphics 5500

    NVIDIA® Quadro® M1000M (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)

    Intel HD Graphics 520

    Intel HD Graphics 520 + Nvidia GeForce 940M GPU with 1 GB of memory

    Display 15.6 Full High Definition(1080p)      
    1920x1080 13.3 inch QHD+ (3200 x 1800) InfinityEdge touch 15.6” 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch 14.0 FHD (1920x1080) 15.6” diagonal FHD UWVA IPS anti-glare LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)

    14” FHD (1920x1080), IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch

    13.5” PixelSense™  3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) 10 point multi-touch            
    Network Wireless Network Card -Intel(R) WiFi Link 5300 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-c DW1820A 2x2 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz + Bluetooth4.1 DW1830 3x3 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz + Bluetooth 4.1 Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265AC 802.11ac/a/b/g/n 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.0 LE Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® 4.0 combo Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2x2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.1, vPro

    802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible Bluetooth 4.0

    Battery 9-cell (85WHr) Lithium Ion 56WHr Integrated Battery 84Whr battery 4-cell 52 Whr Lithium Polymer 4-cell 64 WHr Li-ion prismatic

    4 Cell Li-Polymer Battery 52Wh

    12 hour              
    Weight 3.06Kg 1.29kg 2kg 1.56Kg 2Kg 1.27kg+ 1.516 Kg
    Dimensions (W x D x H) 380 x 260 x ? 304 x 200 x 15 357 x 235 x 17        

    337 x 232 x 20

    375 x 255 x 18 333 x 229 x 17 232 x 312 x 23          
    Service 3-Year Premier Service 3Yr ProSupport : Next Business Day Onsite Service 3Yr ProSupport : Next Business Day Onsite Service 3 Yrs Next Business Day Onsite Service 3 years standard parts, labour and on-site limited warranty 3Y On-site NBD upgrade from 1Y Depot/CCI 2-year hardware warranty
    Price (as at 25th Feb 2016) $2,100 (as at 2010) $2,879 $3,379 $4,441.80 $5,481 $4,118.51 $4,199


    • Where choice was offered, maximum CPU and memory selected
    • All prices in Australian dollars, including GST. Enterprise agreements or other arrangements/discounts/specials might give better prices.
    • Enterprise and/or special business programs may offer additional hardware choices/customisations.
    • Where offered, 3 year support was chosen
    • No Office subscription was included
    • Windows 10 Pro 64bit


    I think I’ll forget about a Xeon CPU - can’t justify the premium price. Maybe one day!

    Most of these devices have built-in batteries, so the option of buying a spare battery (like I did with my 1645) simply doesn’t exist these days.

    Looking at that list, I think the models that stand out are the XPS 15, X1 Yoga and Surface Book. I’ve probably been looking most closely at the Yoga, but the XPS deserves some closer attention – especially as the price seems a bit more affordable. The Surface Book looks nice, but for me I think it’s in 3rd place behind the other two.

    Let me know of any corrections or suggestions for other models that I should consider and anything I’ve overlooked.