Rob Farley

Rob Rob Farley has been consulting in IT since completing a Computer Science degree with first class honours in 1997. Before moving to Adelaide, he worked in consultancies in Melbourne and London. He runs the development department in one of Australia's leading IT firms, as well as doing database application consultancy and training. He heads up the Adelaide SQL Server User Group, and holds several Microsoft certifications.

Rob has been involved with Microsoft technologies for most of his career, but has also done significant work with Oracle and Unix systems. His preferred database is SQL Server and his preferred language is C#. Recently he has been involved with Microsoft Learning in the US, creating and reviewing new content for the next generation of Microsoft exams.

Over the years, Rob's clients have included BP Oil, OneLink Transit, Accenture, Avanade, Australian Electorial Commission, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the Royal Borough of Kingston, Help The Aged, Unisys, Department of Treasury and Finance (Vic), National Mutual, the Bible Society and others.

Did you mean to come here? My blog is now at

25 May 2006

Batfink shirt / cap

I was thinking... Quite a few people only know me through MSN Msgr. And I don't have my own face as my Display Picture, I have Batfink - obviously. So I was thinking that before TechEd (or any other event where people might not know me), I should get myself a shirt with Batfink on it. Or a cap if I can't do that. Good idea? Perhaps my Arsenal shirt will do.

Paul's now MCPD!

I got a text message from Paul this morning. It was about 10am in Sydney. He'd just earned himself MCPD-Windows. Yesterday morning he had never sat a Microsoft exam in his life. Today he's just passed his third and has earned himself MCP, MCTS, MCPD. What a legend!

24 May 2006


Today I sat 70-290. It's a sysadmin exam, but I needed it to complete my MCDBA, and perhaps it's fair enough that there's some . Anyway, today I got my 8th Microsoft certification. Yay for me.

I'm actually more proud of Paul Stovell. He sat his first two ever MS exams today, and is now MCTS-Windows. Tomorrow he's sitting another one, and more next week. Well done Paul.

18 May 2006

Cavemen and interfaces

The other day I downloaded the Cavemen beta (thanks Frank & Andrew) for my PocketPC. The game's really good. The interface suits a tablet-interface really well. Got me thinking a bit about how many applicatons would really be much more suited to using a pen than a mouse. I know that I keep wanting to get a decent image editor for my PocketPC. I like playing around with images, and it would be so much easier to do it with a pen than a mouse, even though the screen-size is obviously so much smaller. When I get a tablet pc, it'll be so much easier. Fathers' Day is coming up soon, right?

Guts ripped out

Today my team lost. We had come so far. Led the game. 15 minutes from the end, we conceded two goals, and that was the end of a dream. Well done guys. We'll be there again, and will win next time.

17 May 2006

World Cup tipping - please join!

I'd like to invite all the readers of my blog to join the mini-leagues I have set up at a couple of World Cup tipping places. One is tipping, the other is fantasy league. Both free to enter, and both are just for bragging rights (although if you win the whole site, you can get some cash).

The tipping is at and the fantasy league is - the code to join my league is 31847-7496.

I know the guy who runs FPLI - he's the guy who gave me his seat at Highbury for the Villa game recently. Great guy.

Not 'free retake', but 'free practice exam'

...with the bonus that if you pass the practice exam, you don't have to do the real thing.

I was talking to a guy at work this morning about the free retake offer from Pearson Vue. I think the best way to think of it is that it gives you a free practice exam. This guy is a sysadmin here day in, day out. So he should know his stuff already. A few skims through the summary pages of a study guide book, and that should be enough preparation for a practice exam. And if he passes it, then great - he doesn't need to do the real one. And if he fails, then he's had the perfect preparation for the real thing.

'Expert' interviewed by BBC

I normally wouldn't post something like this, but it's just a classic piece of journalism.

16 May 2006

MCTS for Al - he just did it

A while back I had a chat with Alastair Waddell. I told him he should take advantage of Pearson Vue's free retake offer to do some of the new certifications. Because he's been using SQL2005 for about a year (and he's a smart guy), he ought to know enough to pass without studying, and if he does somehow fail something, he can retake it for free.

So he took the plunge, and is now MCTS:SQL2005. Well done Al!

I'm telling everyone I think of to take advantage of the retake offer. I figure that if you are already working in the space, you should be able to pass these exams already. So book in and try. And if you fail, use the free retake offer to try again. But here's my tip: While you're in there, make yourself lists of the stuff you feel you need to study. You can't take those lists with you, but after you've left, write those things down and use them to bump your score up a few marks for the second time. But hopefully you won't need the second time, and you can use your list to just brush up your skills.

15 May 2006

MCPD now

I got my results for the exams 547-9 today. I passed all 3. That makes me a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer - Windows Developer. It should be a few times over (Web Developer and Enterprise Applications Developer too), but I didn't sit 528 in beta. So I'll either sit that this week and get it out of the way, or I'll wait for the results in my upgrade exams, which will mean I won't need it. MCDBA next I think.

12 May 2006

Returning the wrong type on purpose

There is a 3rd party application we put scripts into from time to time - it's a pretty good app on the whole, but these scripts have to be VBScript.

Anyway - I pull data out of a database to use in these scripts, and have recently found that I have had to tell my query to return numbers as varchar. The reason? Because when I try to use CLng on the data (which I like to do in non typed languages), it complains that my numbers are bigger than 2 billion. So instead I'm putting more functionality into my query, and doing my subsequent maths there, returning the data as a pre-formatted varchar ready to just get printed out. I feel dirty and have to go home to wash.

New stylus from Kyle Grovers

I dropped into the Battery Bar (no proper website???) this evening in the Adelaide Arcade (that's the one where the fountain is in Rundle Mall). I got a new stylus for my XDA IIs. I'd lost the others.

The guy who served me was Kyle Grovers. We got talking. (I know, you're all thinking "Really Rob? You're normally so shy and retiring...") So anyway - I thought I'd blog about him. Now if he googles himself (is that allowed?), he might find a mention. He was really helpful. Suggested that a piece of sticky tape around a stylus can help stop you losing them... so long as you can do this before you actually lose them of course.

My new stylus has a pen inside it, which makes it even more useful. I would've rather had a multi-pack, but this will do.

Arsenal in Paris, Rob at the Rosemont

I don't get to go to Paris. But I do get to go to the Rosemont Hotel (on Hindley St) to watch them. Kick-off is at 4:15am, so I'm going to be a little bleary next Thursday. If you're not in Adelaide, then find out where your local Arsenal supporters are going to be.

SQL Group and Architecture Group

Yesterday was a big day for user-groups in Adelaide.

At lunchtime, our SQL Server group met - Nick Ward (SQL Product Specialist with Microsoft) spoke on Service Broker. Over 40 people again. Fantastic food, fantastic talk, lots of great feedback in the eval forms. Personally, I love the idea of using Service Broker to create asynchronous triggers. That's nice. :) You can get Nick's notes from

In the evening, a new Architecture group formed. I couldn't go, because Roslyn's not 100% well this week (nothing serious thank goodness). But Derek Munneke went, and tells me they had 15 people rock up. It's going to be a regular thing, and it's now part of IASA. Was talking to Clarke Scott today, and he's really excited about the whole thing too. Perhaps we can show Melbourne up a bit! (Which is exactly what Adelaide should be doing...)

10 May 2006

Quick security update tomorrow

Tomorrow (Thursday 11th for those of you reading this later), we have the Adelaide SQL UG meeting as usual. Nick Ward speaking on Service Broker - should be good. Good crowd coming too - about 40 people again (that reminds me, I need to look through the lists to see if it's the same 40 each time).

Here's the new thing though - just before Nick gets up to speak, we're going to have a quick update from Carl Jongsma, a local security expert. He has stuff to tell us about some recent patches. More here once I've heard what he has to say.

08 May 2006

Adam Cogan in Adelaide

The rumours are true. Adam Cogan is coming to Adelaide at the end of May. And I don't mean just roughly at the end of May, I mean the 31st. All afternoon. 12-4pm. That's a Wednesday too, so it'll be a nice mid-point to the week.

He's coming to do an event on VSTS. VSTS is so cool, and remarkably relevant to SQL users too.
Adam's going to be showing us about how it can help manage buglists and work items, things like that. Now, I know that SQL Developers always write bug-free code, but you can't deny there are times when you want to get someone else in your team to do something. So come along and find out how the Team bit of VSTS works.

Nick Ward's coming

This Thursday, Nick Ward from Microsoft will be at the Adelaide SQL group to speak about Service Broker. This is one of those meetings you will probably think "Oh, we don't do Service Broker, I won't bother going...", but you'd be wrong to do that! So wrong!

Fact is, Service Broker is one of those things that you have probably underestimated. It is a very powerful tool. So come along and find out why.

06 May 2006

So sore...

My wisdom teeth came out on Thursday. Apparently Day 3 is the worst for pain and swelling, and then after that, you swap from cold packs to hot ones, and start recovering. I don't know whether Day 3 is Saturday or Sunday, I guess it depends on whether you start counting from 0 or 1. I guess VB fans would say today is Day 3. I'd say it's tomorrow. Either way, I'll start using hot packs tomorrow, and hope that the pain reduces.

Pain killers are my friend... And I'm thinking I shouldn't've booked in to do exams on Tuesday and Wednesday (ones I didn't get to do in beta).

01 May 2006

MCT now

I've applied to become MCT, and now have 3 extra letters to go with the pile I already had. That makes it MCP, MCSD, MCAD, MCSD.Net, MCTS, MCITP, MCT. MCPD will come soon (with beta exam results hopefully), and I might do MCDBA with some of the vouchers, even though it's been superseded by MCITP.

MCLC is an interesting one. That's Learning Consultant. For people who train and also consult. So I figure that's something worth applying for some time. It's not available in Australia yet though. Plus, you have to be an MCT 'in good standing', not just a newbie MCT.