Traditionally, the time between Christmas and New Years is a bit
slow. Many people take time off from work and, for those of us still
working, it's a good time to catch up on all of those low priority
projects that have been on the back burner for the last several months.
If you find yourself with a few extra hours, why not engage in some
first-hand learning with the new features of SQL Server 2008 R2? Here
are two great resources to get you started.
First, take a look at betaforsqlserver.com, a partnership between MaximumASP, Dell, PASS, and Microsoft.
When you register, you get your own sandbox SQL Server 2008 R2
including support for .NET and PHP, along with Reporting Services,
Analysis Services, and Integration Services. It almost makes me
believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch!
Second, why not try your hand at one of the most exciting new
features in SQL Server 2008 R2, PowerPivot for Excel? You can play
with it to your heart's content at the new Microsoft Virtual Labs, another great service for learning in real albiet sandbox VM Hyper-V labs.
I know in my own case, it's often tough to find a free server
somewhere where I can set up and install the sandbox environment. On
top of that, even during a slow week, I rarely enjoy spending my time
configuring an entire environment. Why not solve both problems at once
with this fast and easy method of learning the news features?
Hope this helps! Happy New Year,