Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ask away...

Funny thing in a talk today… Room full of technical people, plus a sales rep. Talking about availability. Put up a slide:
slide
I explain it – I even put my hand on the LGWR circle, explain what it does – how it can send data. Go to next slide (question and answer slide – we are at the end). At that point the sale rep says “hey, can you go back a slide”. I do – he asks “what is that LGWR thing, is that a product, I’ve never heard of it?”

Much laughter at that point and he has no idea why. I explain what LGWR is to him (the rest of the room was mostly DBA’s and Developers, they already knew what it meant).

That reminded me of something I just read the night before in “The Tipping Point” – a book recommended to me by many others that I finished reading the night before. One of the stories in that book was about a test where people competent in some area were asked to develop a series of questions that were “hard but not impossible” to answer. They would invariably have questions about their area of interest.

They were directed to ask these questions to someone not competent in their area of expertise. The person being asked to answer would not feel “so smart” as a result (they had no chance of answering really). Afterwards the person asked the questions was asked to rate the intelligence of the person asking the questions – they invariably would rate them very high.

You can appear to be really smart if you know a little more than most of the people in the room. Or, you can appear to be speaking in a foreign language…

So, what is the point? This is why I believe there are no dumb questions – none. We all know what we know. We don’t know that which we don’t know. Ask away, nothing is too small to ask about.

I’m glad he asked – it was a chance to make lighthearted fun of him (self deprecating humor is always good), but he also now “knows” to some degree what LGWR means in the future. I’m not afraid to stop someone to explain an acronym/internal name of something when they are talking to me. It can help a lot actually – the presenter/people around the table will know from then on in “must talk in different terms”. As someone that talks to many different types of people, I rely on these cues to know how detailed to be about something. I think that others appreciate it as well.

Maybe this is why I get nervous if I get a ways into something and there are no questions – to me that means “I must be talking way beneath them, they already know this, they are getting bored”. Or, it means “I’m speaking in a foreign language, way above them and they are totally not getting a single thing”

It was a good call though – a 2 hour talk turned into a 4 hour conversation. Those are the best.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back it up...

Having backups is something I am totally into.  Remember though, it is the ability to recover that counts – having backups is not enough.  I’m not just talking about database backups, but rather file system backups of your computer.  How many of you backup your desktop/laptop on a regular basis?

The reason I’m bringing this up is because last weekend my son’s hard drive started failing.  He let the chkdsk run over night only to find out in the morning it had sort of “erased or otherwise made inaccessible hal.dll”.  That is a rather important file for getting windows to start.  He was a little bummed as his schoolwork was on there (yes, he backed it up – onto a pendrive, which he could not find – back to that “it is the ability to recover” comment.  Further, the backup was out of date).

So, I took the disk into work and borrowed an external USB enclosure for the little IDE drive.  Fortunately we were able to get the homework and some other data off of there.  Now he too has a 300GB drive as do I (well, I have more than one) and my wife.  He’ll be backing up more often to a drive that is just too large to “lose”.

Anyway, I’m always looking at how I backup.  I’ve written before about Unison, a freeware tool I’ve been using for a long time.  With that, I backup my really important stuff to three different machines – two at home and one at work.  In a true disaster (I’m on the road and lose my slides) I can always pull from one of those sources assuming I can get on the network.

With the addition of the 300 GB hard disk though, I’ve added another layer.  The disk I bought came with “bounce back express” which was adequate (I upgraded to “professional” to get some more options).  That does a full disk scheduled backup and can do disk synchronization in a manner similar to Unison (but nothing has done the synchronization as well as Unison so far…)

Over the last couple of days – I started playing with something else all together though.  A more real time sort of solution from NTI that permits versioning as well (you have to like that price until the end of December).  As I open and close files – this runs in the background and makes a copy to the external disk.  As someone who writes a lot – I think I’m going to like this (especially the versioning ability).  How many times have I had Word refuse to open my file – having the last 10 saves of it would be a life saver at times.  And since my laptop only has an 80 GB hard drive – the 300 GB should be able to hold multiple versions of many files.

So, now the routine will look something like this… When I’m at home at my desk, I’ll virtually be mirroring my laptop in real time.  I’ll still use Unison to sync up between the three external machines from time to time (like right before I unplug from home to go on the road).  When I come back from being on the road – bounce back professional will sync the laptop drive with the external disk and the NTI software will keep me in sync from then on out.

I’m sure it will be a function of how you work as to whether some like the above could work for you.  For example, if I actually ran a database on my laptop – that would probably not work so well (the NTI software).  But when I’m at home, I run the database on one of my two linux servers – at work on some server there.  On the road, I keep my virtual machines on external USB drives (better performance having a drive for the OS and a drive for the database) and back them up manually (just copy the VM’s onto my laptop as a last ditch backup).  So, for me it looks like this will work.  

At the very least, the NTI software is a fairly neat idea – you can point it at only certain directories if you wanted, I’m doing the entire machine right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How to be a Programmer...

Yesterday I wrote about a “fake” interview with Bjarne Stroustrup.  Today, I’m writing about a real article - How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary by Robert L. Read.  Even though it says “a Programmer”, it really means “software developer” I think.  

This is an excellent paper, many people in our industry would benefit from reading it.

There are too many really good sections in this paper, so I’ll just pick a few that really struck a chord with me.

Learn to Debug - What great advice.  This is something I am personally pretty good at (very good at if I don’t say so).  I laughed when he said “Debugging is fun, because it begins with a mystery.”.  How true.  “Debugging requires creativity and ingenuity” how very very true!

How to Fix Performance Problems – “The key to improving the performance of a very complicated system is to analyze it well enough to find the bottlenecks, or places where most of the resources are consumed.”.  I think he has read Optimizing Oracle Performance (or maybe it was the other way around).  This quote sounds funny at first “Often, the bottlenecks in performance will be an example of counting cows by counting legs and dividing by four, instead of counting heads.”  But it was really insightful – given the surrounding paragraphs.  Find that quote and read the next paragraph about what to do when you run out of low hanging fruit.  In my “Is Tuning Dead” talk – this is what I talk about.  The software is getting really good at fixing low hanging fruit, there is none left for us many times.  Read states “What do you do when you start to run out of low-hanging fruit? Well, you can reach higher, or chop the tree down”.  Sometimes the tree needs to be chopped down – I call it “look to your algorithm – you want to go faster – you’ll need to take a serious look at that”.

How to Deal with Intermittent Bugs – “The intermittent bug is a cousin of the 50-foot-invisible-scorpion-from-outer-space kind of bug.”.  Good examples in there, something I spend lots of time investigating myself.

How to Conduct Experiments – Indeed!  Read that list in the paper.  “First, try to be very clear about your hypothesis, or the assertion that you are trying to test. It also helps to write the hypothesis down, especially if you find yourself confused or are working with others.

How to Stress Test – can anyone say “test to destruction”.

How to Balance Brevity and Abstraction -  “There is a certain dogma associated with useful techniques such as information hiding and object oriented programming that are sometimes taken too far.”.  Strange, I feel the same way about “generic data models” and their ilk. And then he closed with “It is relatively easy and certainly a good idea to confine non-portable code to designated areas, such as a class that makes database queries that are specific to a given DBMS.”  Yeah, “specific to a given DBMS”, that sounds so nice.

How to Tell the Hard From the Impossible – say no more.

Anyway, read the paper – you’ll either a) enjoy it because you learned it the hard way or b) appreciate it having the information/advice given to you because you are in the process of learning it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What goes around, comes around...

I started my career as a PL/I programmer working on IBM Mainframes. It was there I first learned about databases (SQL/DS on the IBM 3080 – or was it a 3083… and DB2 on MVS).

After PL/I – I learned REXX (the restructured extended executor). A very neat language, to me it beats perl and many of the other scripting languages still.

Then came – C. C is awesome, it is simple, it is lean, mean and very clean. (There were short run ins with Pascal, Lisp, and Prologue in there too but nothing ever came of them for me). Sure, I shot my self in the foot many times learning C. The other languages protected me from many things (PL/I – very flexible, very very safe though with compile options like subscriptrange to do array bounds checking, stringrange for buffer overflows and the like), but C was rather unforgiving. Early on I spent a significant portion of my day hitting ctl-alt-delete on a DOS box when something went wrong (when de-referencing a NULL pointer typically meant wiping out your interrupt table, crash). When ctl-alt-delete didn’t work, had to pull the plug. Then I discovered Coherent unix and wiped DOS/Windows off my PC and did it right (no more reboots when something went horribly wrong).

Then, in the late 80’s/early 90’s – this “thing” called C++ came out. A fellow by the name of Bjarne Stroustrup invented it. It did this thing called “object orientation”. It was going to revolutionize programming as we knew it. I fell for it. Bought every book written about it. Learned it. Tried to use it. Thought I must be doing something wrong – the joy was gone. This was not easy stuff. This did not make my life better. This was not good. But – everyone else was saying it was so we plugged along (you cannot be the only developer saying “this isn’t good” if everyone else is seemingly happy with it. In hindsight – I think we were all afraid to be the first to say “something is horribly wrong here”. I myself escaped from there to an Ada project – never to return to C++ again. C – absolutely, still use that language to this day.

So, why am I telling you this? Because I just stumbled upon this article (http://artlung.com/smorgasborg/Invention_of_Cplusplus.shtml) last night. (Yes, I realize it is tongue in cheek, “not real”)

I am somehow reminded of some other language upon reading that… Especially when I read:

And, as I said before, every C++ programmer feels bound by some mystic promise to use every damn element of the language on every project.

Anyway, made me laugh. What goes around comes around.

And for the truly bored. Check out this.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Some Sites...

I was reading Scott Spendolini’s blog about this thing called the “Konfabulator”.  Seems pretty neat so far.  Howard Rogers was commenting there he found it intrusive and CPU consumptive.  It doesn’t seem to graphically intrusive to me so far and the CPU use is fairly low on my machine – so I’m giving it a try.  Like Scott – I have ample RAM (2gig) and plenty of screen real estate (1650x1080 and 1600x1200 side by side).  I’ve been wanting a network monitor like xnetload from Unix land for windows for a while – and Konfabulator  has some.  Also, the volume control widget is nice.  I’ll see how it goes.

Another interesting site I stumbled upon reading another blog entry is Technorati.  It indexes blogs only – I’ve found the google blog indexing to be a bit “flaky” (many times I cannot find my own postings using google for some reason).  Technorati seems pretty comprehensive in its index.  Found a couple more blogs I didn’t know about.

Lastly, another way to waste time and bandwidth is the flickr interesting pictures page.  Just be careful about who can see your monitor before you click it.  Sometimes (not often) there can be some pictures not appropriate for…. Well, you know what I mean.  Mostly, they are just interesting pictures.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good for a grin...

This Dilbert made me laugh out loud.  Very nice…

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals

Probably one of the two best books about Oracle this year is…. Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals by Jonathan Lewis. I’ve seen a couple of other blogs out there that say the same and I do agree.

This book is, well, in a word – amazing. If you have ever been baffled or bemused by “why the heck did the optimizer do that”, or as Jonathan wrote on page 299:

I am reluctant to call something a bug unless I can work out what Oracle is doing and can prove that it’s doing something irrational. Too many people say, “It’s a bug” when they really mean “I don’t know why this happened”.

You will absolutely love this book. In it you will discover the how’s and why’s of the optimizer. Why statistics matter, how they matter. What’s up with histograms – when and where do we need them, what affect do they have.

Sprinkled throughout the book are random insights like this one:

There are many ways to implement Oracle systems badly, and as a general rule, anything that hides useful information from the optimizer is a bad idea. One of the simple, and highly popular, strategies for doing this is to stick all of your reference data into a single table with a type column. The results can be catastrophic as far as the optimizer is concerned….

And then is goes on to say why. That is what I really really like – it goes on to say why. I hate it when statements are made and no reasoning is made “why”. You will find none of that in this book.

Jonathan did one thing in this book that I’ll definitely be “stealing” myself. One neat thing is every chapter ends with a list of script names and descriptions. In the text, he references these script names as well. That way, when you download the code – you have a straight reference to the sample you should be running. I’ve used the (extremely poor) naming convention of “demo001.sql”, “demo002.sql” and so on. Next book – they’ll all have names and I’ll be referencing exactly like he did. Very nice.

The attention to detail, the simplicity of presentation (I don’t care what level of Oracle user you are – you will be able to read this book and get it). If you are ‘advanced’ (ok, I’ll put myself into that category), you’ll learn things you did not know before. If you are ‘beginner’, you’ll know lots more than some advanced people after reading it. The surprising thing? It isn’t that hard. Well, it wasn’t to me anyway – maybe the math background I have helped. You do not need 10 years of experience with Oracle to get this stuff, and if you have 10 years of experience with Oracle – you will get new knowledge you never had.

I’m on my second scan of it – re-reading things that I didn’t fully absorb. What I’ll be doing lots in the future is referring to it. I got the gist of everything, I know where to go when I need to explain “why”. Or maybe I’ll just post the link to the book.

And remember, this is “I” of “III”, two more to come…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Something to aspire to...

Something to aspire to if you talk frequently.  I was shown this presentation yesterday and was just “wowed”.  The presentation style was unique.  Fast – yes.  But you really get the guy’s message.  The presentation goes by so fast, but at the end – you get his message totally.

While I doubt I could do exactly the same (not entirely my style), I’m certainly thinking of incorporating some of the ideas into my stuff.  I am very graphically challenged to say the least.  I still haven’t figured out why we need anything beyond a good Courier font…

But the simple visual impact this had was outstanding.  The graphics used would be graphics even I could do – it was mostly the presentation of the material and the delivery/speed – not so much really fancy animated slides (I pretty much do not do builds in general).

I encourage you to take a look at this – give some feedback, did you like it?  I think it would work for a keynote type of presentation, but not a three day seminar (I think you’d go numb after two or three hours at that pace).  I’m going to work on trying parts of it out I think.  Maybe by taking my presentation “Why: Why Why is probably the right answer” which is a short one, suitable for keynotes.  

It definitely held my interest and I have a relatively short attention span sometimes…

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dark Ages...

Evidence that the dark ages for software development may be ahead.  At first I thought I was reading an April fools page (but unfortunately, it was November 1st, not April 1st).  I kept waiting for the “only kidding” part.  It never came.

Funny thing, the example he used to criticize with – saying “As is obvious from this real-life example, data integrity has absolutely nothing to do with the database” – shows how crucial data integrity in the database actually is (would you be upset if Visa lost some data along the way? I would be).  

Note to the author: when you start a sentence with “as is obvious” that typically means that it is not obvious – else it would be obvious and the need to state it would not exist.

It scares me to think about the number of developers that believe it is all about the application.  Erase my applications – but leave me my data!  Applications come, applications go – the data however persists for a long long time.

I need to stop catching up on blogs – ruined my day…

Thanks for the feedback...

Thanks for all of the feedback on my Looking for suggestions blog entry. That was fantastic. I chose two topics to attack first. I’m going to do them for the upcoming Hotsos Symposium held in Texas next March. This is one of the few conferences where I look forward to attending sessions as well as giving the session – UKOUG and IOUG are two other examples but the level of technical depth here is something you won’t necessarily find anywhere else. This will be my fourth year there and every year I’ve used that conference as an introduction for new material. Last year it was “SQL Techniques” and “All about Binds”.

“All about Binds” is currently my favorite technical session to deliver. It sounds like a really mundane topic that I’ve beaten totally to death – but it isn’t! Getting into SQL injection and showing it – I am totally amazed that on average less than 10% of the audiences I’ve polled (sometimes as low as 0%!) are familiar with SQL injection. That is scary to me. Demonstrating what this magic thing called “bind variable peeking” is (the part of my session where I “prove” that when it is raining on Monday mornings, you must restart Oracle twice… Not really – I demonstrate how easy it is to fall into false causality without a little research and knowledge…). And closing with the foibles of cursor_sharing = force or similar (and why you really don’t want to use them unless you are forced to – and even then, for as little as possible).

This year, based on inputs from that blog entry (and because they interest me as well!) I’m going to prepare these two new sessions:

  • Performance Impact of the Log Errors Clause in 10gR2: This session will look at the new log errors clause available for use with BULK DML operations in the 10gR2 database. We will see what the clause does, investigate how it does what it does, explain limitations/restrictions inherent with using the clause and finally - compare the performance of slow by slow processing versus bulk DML with log errors - and maybe even compare bulk DML with and without log errors for performance

  • Instrumentation 101: This session will talk about the importance of heavily instrumenting your code and explore the possible methods of instrumenting your code in an Oracle environment - concentrating on developed code both in the database (stored procedures) as well as outside the database (java, C, VB and the like).

These sessions always start as “one hour topics” but over the year will grow into 1 to 2 hour sessions if history is anything to judge by. When I first gave All about Binds – it took 1 hour. Now, I can still do the short version in one hour but really much prefer two hours to do it justice. Same with the SQL Techniques and in fact, most of the sessions. It seems every time I give a session, it gets a couple of minutes longer as I figure out better ways to explain the concept or better demos (based on the questions I get – I refine the material so that question doesn’t have to be asked again – I hope).

I will be referring back to that blog for the other ideas over time so some of the other topics will get included eventually.

On a related note, I was catching up on some blogs and saw this one from Pete_S. It reminded me once again of this blog entry I had a while ago. Design matters, really, it does.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

All caught up...

All caught up. Three nice words. The queues on asktom are back down to “normal”, the XE forum has been read and responded to. I have one more trip before Thanksgiving holiday (and then I’m home for two weeks…)

Most importantly – the scroll bar is gone from my inbox! I have 14 emails in my inbox. 12 of them are to-do items – so maybe I’m not all caught up, but I’m not that far behind anymore. The travel of the last three weeks has made it hard to keep entirely up to date with everything. The reading of other blogs and various news websites was the first thing to get cut. (I’ve scanned my favorites since to get caught up on what everyone is doing).

Curious – how many emails do people normally keep in their inbox. I work really hard to keep that scroll bar on the inbox away – not by over-filing things (move them into subfolders just to get them out of the way) but rather by processing them and removing them. My method is simple:


  • Email arrives

  • Upon reading it I either

  1. immediately respond with a request for more info (which lets me delete the original)
  2. respond with answer (delete original)
  3. delete it, not relevant to me
  4. leave it there as it would take too much time right now (that’s the status of the current 12)
  5. if it pertains to a future trip, move it into a folder for that trip (that is my calendar in a way – those folders get aged out as the trip happens into “old trips”)
  6. save it in miscellaneous – might need it later.

That lets me get rid of probably over 90% of all email upon receiving it. Which is good because this year I’ve received an average of 75 emails (well, 74.7 if you like to be precise) per day. Very little of that is spam as Oracle has excellent spam filters, I cannot imagine what it would be like without the spam filters given I use my real email address everywhere.

So, all of my email ends up in one of four places:

  • Inbox as a to-do

  • Trash as a ‘has been done’

  • Future trip folder, until trip has happened – then past trip folder

  • Miscellaneous (receipts, information, things I might need again later)

How to know you probably travel too much:

I was in Heathrow connecting back home. A person doing a survey asks if I would mind taking it. I said OK (I was pretty bored at that point). It is asking about the airport – she asks how the experience was, my gut reaction was “well, it took me one hour of continuous movement to get from one gate to the other – that’s not good”. That isn’t what she meant – she meant “how was the shopping”... But anyway, couple of questions later she asks “so, how many other flights have you been on this year”. I answered immediately “72”. She said (sounding surprised as the speed of delivery of the number and the size of the number) “72, how do you know??? That’s a lot”. I had just been on the United site the night before making sure my flights had been recorded – so I knew it was precisely 72 that morning (2 months to go in the year)…

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looking for suggestions

I’ve got lots of material I use to talk – however, it is time for an update.  I’m looking for some suggestions for 1 to 2 hour talks.  I’ve got a lot of ideas but I’m always interested in what the people on the other side of the podium want to hear.  I know what I want to say (it’s all about binds… one of my current favorites), but I would like to hear what you would like to hear – what topics about Oracle do you think are “not covered as well as they could be”

Topics like “tuning SQL” or “performance” – too vague.  The topics would have to be much more focused than that.

Any feedback – or just discussion points – appreciated.      

Just realized, based on the first two comments I got – I should have listed the material I already have:

  • All about binds

  • Some SQL Techniques

  • Tools I use (like autotrace, tkprof, statspack and so on)

  • Efficient schema design (IOT’s, clusters, function based indexing, compression)

  • Analytics

  • To hint or not to hint

  • Read and Write consistency

  • Versioning of Data (workspace manager)

  • Top 5 things done wrong.

  • Building test cases

  • PLSQL or Java for stored procedures

  • So, it tuning dead?

  • Flashback

  • Oracle 10g R1/R2 new features

Monday, November 07, 2005

Jet lag..

Jet lag. I usually don’t get it – but this last trip, I did. Part way through the first week (on Thursday night) – I woke up at 00:04 – for those of us in the US that is 12:04am. I was awake until 04:30-ish (got to read a bit…). That after going to bed at 23:00 (11pm for those of us in the US again…). That was a bad day on Friday with just a couple of hours of sleep. That night I was asleep by 21:00 (9pm) and did not get out of bed the next day until 10:00. I have not slept that long since before college. Felt good in a decadent sort of way.

Now that I’m back though – tired at night isn’t the word for it. We went to a football game last night. (no, not soccer, regular football – American style, Eagles vs Redskins). I fell asleep at the game for a while. Can you imagine falling asleep in a stadium with thousands of people yelling and jumping around… Woke up when my daughter Megan saw me and pointed it out.

Tonight – I’m throwing the towel in early. There are questions in the queue – but you know what… I’ll have to look at them tomorrow. Right now, I’m just too tired.

Let’s see what going to Edmonton Canada and then San Francisco does to me tomorrow. Should be interesting to get into the west time zones…

The worst adjustment I ever had – Australia, on the way back home. That was ten years ago – but I still remember getting up in the middle of the night and saying “ok, sleep is over, what now….”

So, how do others deal with it? When going east (losing time) I try to make sure to sleep on the plane (I can sleep anywhere – even stadiums with lots of noise). Stay up the next day and just “get into the time zone”. When going west (gaining time) I usually don’t have any problem – just go to bed on time and get up earlier than usual. This time though – something didn’t work right.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Atlas Shrugged

I finally finished Atlas Shrugged on the way back from Ireland. At 1,069 pages with a really really small font – it was a long read.

It was interesting, a bit dated perhaps. The references to an affair as being something hugely damaging to a women (one of the big themes) isn’t so relevant today as it might have been when the book was written in the 1950’s. So, if you allow for that bit of poetic license it all fit together.

It was a good read – I’d recommend it for the purpose of reading it, but didn’t really believe the story line. Maybe it was just a tad too polarized for me, you were either on the Robin Hood side (the evil side in the book – total redistribution of wealth) or the business side – profit good, charity bad. As with everything in life, the answer probably lies not at either end point but somewhere in the middle. But maybe that is why it makes a good (if not long) read – it makes you think.

I did like the characters for the most part and could identify people in real life I’d associate each of them with. I feel confident that if you read this – you’ll associate most of the individual characters in the book with someone you know or some public personality you feel you know.

Who is John Galt indeed. I think I liked his character least of all. He is portrayed as the hero – but I thought he was a bit weak. He was the first to quit society and convince others to join him over the course of many years. I couldn’t help but think “what if they all stayed and tried to work for change instead of running away”.

It would be a good book to discuss but it is hard to sum up in short. In the end, the “good” guys win of course – but I didn’t like their approach. It did make the female character stand out as the one with the strongest character though – being the only one to really stick in there with the rest of society until the very end.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Storage

Remember when 32MB hard drives seemed literally huge?  10 years ago in 1995, Oracle 7.3 was production and Oracle was doing its first terabyte test to scale tests.  Back then, a terabyte was huge.  Back then, a terabyte was expensive, heavy and consumed a ton of power (needed to be in a data center, not something you could roll out on stage and demonstrate).  These days – a terabyte or more is virtually mainstream, many people have worked or work on systems of that size..

Remember when 1 or 2 MB pen drives were cool – now they come in GB sizes.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some disk drives and had them delivered to my house.  On my dining room table we had 2.5 terabytes of disk.  Small enough that the table could hold it all, light enough that anyone could carry them into the house.  Delivered straight from amazon.com by UPS.  Power consumption – nominal.  Price – well under $1 per GB.  Things have changed.

I saw this the other day.  A 3.5 inch 100TB drive in the works.  It’ll be a while, but just think about what could be done with that.

I still find that no matter how big the storage feels when you first get it, I’ve no problems filling it up with stuff.  That first 32MB drive seemed infinitely large – but it got full.  My 300GB drives at home are getting filled with stuff.  I travel with 140GB of storage and had to erase two database instances to make room for something else at UKOUG last week (getting tight on space).  100TB though, that might last a while – at least a week or two.

Anyway, just landed at Heathrow from Dublin on my way home.  It took one hour to get from the plane at terminal one to my gate in terminal three. Originally, they had me scheduled for a one hour twenty minute layover – based on my past experience – I knew that was quite possibly too short – so I opted for a three hour layover.  I’d rather be relaxed than rushed.

Besides the Red Carpet clubs have wireless T-Mobile hot spots, it’s just like being at work (but the coffee is better).

Looking forward to getting home, Ireland was fun – got to see some old friends – but it’ll be nice not to sleep in a hotel for a couple of nights.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

UKOUG day 3, thats all folks...

The UKOUG is over for another year.  It was a great conference – but I have to admit I’m tired now. (Stick a fork in me, I am done).  Two more days to go though – in Ireland.

I like the *OUG conferences, they are full of technical sessions – and lots of good people.  These events are all about sharing information – I learn something new at these things every time.  This year – I learned that pleats go on the back of a kilt – as did Mogens as he got this back stage adjustment by a real Scotsman.

Seriously – conferences like this are great.  You have a fairly good time, you get to hear from your peers, you get to present (hint hint everyone else – YOU get to present) and get presented to.  There is no chance you won’t learn something.

I think my favorite moment came this morning.  Lisa Dobson gave a newbie DBA talk yesterday (I got to introduce her) and someone came up to her afterwards for more info.  This morning as I was just sort of sitting around between sessions – she (Niki, the person that came up to talk to Lisa) came up to me and started asking questions.  She kept apologizing for asking such “newbie” questions and all I could say was “this, this is what is it all about – you have to learn somewhere, that is why we are all here”.  Period.  That sums it all up.

Spent about 1/2 with her, going through sql_trace, dbms_support, tkprof ,wait events – it was fun.  She left more excited about Oracle and wanting to try some things out. (She also left with a list of things to read…)

If you ask a question, you should never feel bad.  Don’t feel guilty.  Many of us actually enjoy talking about what we know and passing the knowledge around.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

UKOUG Day 2

This is the session I had the pleasure of introducing this morning:
Mogens
Mogens decided to go “Scottish” for his presentation and after an embarrassing faux pas (he had the kilt on backwards and had to change back stage), he was paraded in with bagpipes and all. Nothing like making an entrance.

I’m just getting ready to give a keynote at the UKOUG in a little over an hour. It was to have been about a ‘surprise’, the launching of Oracle 10g Express Edition (cool, I’m the quoted figure in a press release…).

I alluded to the fact that I was probably going to have “a pretty cool topic” to talk about – but the blog world beat me to the punch. The announcement leaked out a bit early (Friday) and the blogsphere picked up on it really fast, amazingly fast. I’m afraid now that I’ll have to find the one person at the conference that
  • Hasn’t been on the internet for the last four days

  • Hasn’t talked to anyone else at the conference for the last four days.

Maybe, maybe there will be one such person…

So, I’m going to make fun of the whole blogging phenomena as well – trying to hide the fact that what I’m talking about isn’t as “new” as I had hoped.

So, I’ll make fun of this blogging thing (many of the blogs I’ll pull on up stage will have the authors in the audience – that’ll surprise them), then talk about XE and finish up with Project Raptor…

I did my XE install in 5 minutes today (literally). Pretty cool stuff. See you in the otn forum soon if you get it yourself.

Last night was Halloween in Birmingham – I should have taken some pictures, it looked a bit strange. I think everyone under 30 (the locals) was dressed up in costume and walking about the street (many many pubs right by the convention center). It was a bizarre scene at 11pm right after the bloggers dinner.