Antelope Canyon

This morning, we rode into Navajo Nation land to see Antelope Canyon. It’s one of a number of slot canyons in the area. Unlike other canyons, this one had very narrow openings at the top. This meant it was pretty dark (and cool, thankfully) even at midday.

Nate, our guide, grew up in the area and told us a lot about how the canyon formed (mostly water, a little wind). He also played some flute for us, and pointed out the best places to take photos from. Hopefully, my shots will turn out well.

One other interesting bit of trivia Nate shared was that Britney Spears shot a music video in the canyon.

Arches National Park

A couple of days ago, we left Torrey and headed for Castle Valley, UT. Our purpose there was to visit Arches National Park, especially the famous Delicate Arch.

Once we got to the park, we found not just beautiful arches, but balancing rocks as well. Some of them looked as if they were placed on top of the massive stone columns by giants. Getting to Delicate Arch was a long, steep hike. It took almost an hour to walk the 1.1 miles. We got there before sunset (when it is supposed to be the most beautiful) to avoid going back downhill in the dark.

We stayed at yet another great bed & breakfast there, the Castle Valley Inn. In addition to a main house, it has a number of cabins, all set in an apple orchard. It also has a big hot tub, which proved perfect for stargazing. We met a French couple there who are currently living in northern Virginia.

The next morning, we got to sample the apples in fresh apple juice and as spiced apples on our pancakes. We also had a nice conversation with one of our innkeepers. They turned out to be very experienced travelers, with multiple trips to South America, Europe, and Africa under their belts.

Bryce Canyon

After breakfast at the Spotted Dog Cafe, we bid farewell to Springdale, Utah (and an excellent hotel, the Desert Pearl Inn) and headed to Bryce Canyon. The biggest difference between our two canyon experiences so far was elevation. At the highest point we could drive today, we were over 8900 feet up. We spent three or four hours there, driving to different overlooks and stopping to take photos. After the tough hike yesterday, my travel companions and I opted for a much shorter one.

From Bryce, we drove to Torrey, Utah. It was a beautiful and terrifying drive. Beautiful because of the sandstone cliffs and trees. Terrifying because of the substantial number of hairpin turns, the rocks, trees (or really long fall) awaiting any misjudgment, and my pedal-to-the-metal friend that I was attempting to keep in sight.

After surviving that drive, and checking in at Skyridge Inn Bed & Breakfast, we had dinner at the Diablo Cafe. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen “free range rattler” on a menu (and no, I didn’t eat any). What we did order was very good. The dessert was excellent.

Even better than good food and great dessert, was having a hot tub outside my room to relax in and look at the stars before bed.

Zion National Park

We spent most of the day inside Zion National Park (in Springdale, Utah). The centerpiece of it is a large canyon made mostly of sandstone. Even though we’re in the middle of the desert, there is a surprising amount of greenery (pine trees, cacti, etc). It turns out that the desert can be quite beautiful.

Hiking to the Emerald Pools was very tough (we took the steeper of the two routes by accident). It wasn’t just the rocks, but the fact that a lot of them were covered in this really fine sand. That made our footing rather treacherous, but we made to all the pools there were to see.

It’s a lot easier to see the stars at night out here–so different from home with all the lights and traffic noise. Springdale has narrow roads, and traffic is light enough now that you can hear crickets more often than cars passing by.

Stack Overflow is Live

Stack Overflow is a great new programmer Q & A site from Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky.  I (and about 500 other developers) got a 5-week headstart on using it as part of the private beta test.  As good as googling for answers to development problems has been, Stack Overflow is a big improvement.  I’ve already gotten answers to questions that I was able to use in my own work.

If you write code for a living, I strongly encourage you to check out the site.  They support OpenID, so you can use your existing Yahoo! or Blogger (other other OpenID-compliant) identity to register with the site.  You can use it anonymously as well.

Now I’m Blogging for Work Too

In addition to the entries I post here, I’ve started blogging for my employer, along with some of my colleagues.  If you’re interested in blog posts more specific to agile software development, check out all the posts here.  My first post there begins a discussion of what enterprise applications can learn from games.

New Toy

Vacations and holidays are my primary excuses for buying new toys.  Since I’ve got a trip to the American southwest (at least the Utah and Arizona parts) coming up soon, I figured I’d buy a new lens to capture the landscapes and canyons I plan to see.  Since I don’t have any truly wide lenses, I settled on a Tokina 12-24mm for the Nikon D70s I shoot with.

I bought it used on clearance from Penn Camera, which probably saved me at least $100.  I’ve never shot anything as wide as 12mm (I think it’s technically 18mm because of the multiplier effect) before, so we’ll have to see how the vacation shots turn out.

Granting full permissions to all tables and views in a database

One of my assignments is to write a script that will grant CRUD (create, read, update, delete) permissions to a database role.  SQL Server Management Studio does a nice job of generating scripts for adding logins, roles, and adding users to roles, but isn’t terribly clever about granting permissions across types of database objects.  Some of the difficulty has to do with not having upgraded to SQL Server 2005 yet.  Thanks to some helpful people at Stackoverflow and a page I found through a Google search, I was able to put together a script that handles the permission-granting part a bit better.

Step 1 was to develop a query that generated all the commands for granting permissions.  Here’s the query I got from Stackoverflow that retrieved all the user tables and views:

SELECT * 
FROM information_schema.tables 
WHERE OBJECTPROPERTY(OBJECT_ID(table_name),’IsMSShipped’) = 0

This query is especially useful because it filters out system tables and views that can appear if you query the sysobjects table.

Using a cursor to apply permissions to all the tables was something one of my colleagues first suggested.  I only found this implementation today, and adapted it for my purposes.  The change I made to the code in that implementation is in the select statement.  I populated the @tables variable this way:

SELECT ‘GRANT SELECT, REFERENCES, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE ON ‘ + TABLE_NAME + ‘ TO ‘ + @role
FROM information_schema.tables
WHERE OBJECTPROPERTY(OBJECT_ID(table_name),’IsMSShipped’) = 0 

@role is declared earlier in my script as varchar(50).

I still need to grant execute permissions on the stored procedure.  I’ll need a different select query to accomplish that.