Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tanel Poder Miracle Seminar Birmingham

Miracle Seminar with Tanel Poder Click through for details


I just twisted the arm of my boss and my project manager (they dont really mind - as long as I leave my phone on) and I am attending the Miracle Seminar by Tanel Poder in Birmingham on 3 and 4 December.

Anyone else going ?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

OEM Oracle Enterprise manager graphs are great

The title says it all.

I am really coming round to Oracle Enterprise Manager, OEM, for use in monitoring and troubleshooting performance. I'm with Doug Burns here, who once did a presentation on how he learned to love pictures.

OEM is maturing
into a
and indispensible

I cannot express my appreciation for OEM enough.

OEM is the best improvement in performance monitoring in the last decade. The link goes to a jubilant pressrelease by Oracle. And I really hope the search engines will pick this up. I also need to be seen to praise oracle to keep my status in the sponsored community...

the blog-aggregator

*PdV peeks over the edge, then looks over shoulder - twice*

This will not get me credit with Vendors...

Oracle-OEM, Quest, and Symantec all have competing commercial products,
but today, I am plugging ... :

And to a lesser extent, Lab128 (which is effectively free as well).

(If those two are old news to you, I apologize, just close the tab and go click elsewhere)

I will admit that the commercially licensed products are much better.
They are richer in functionality (feature bloat!) then any open-source, free-to-give Tool could hope to be (or are they?). I should also mention that the commercial products often will offer all the goodies, gizmos, spotlights and the key-hangers that my kids like so much. I would never pass up on the free parties, eh, salesevents Seminars with food and refreshments. In that area, commercially licensed product are unbeatable.

But for Sheer Simplicity, for Acutal "Value" I have used TORA for nearly 10 (ten!) years now. My trusty 1.3.8 version dates back to 2001. I always used the free version worked fine on oracle 8, 9 and 10. It still works on 11, and I'm sure that when an 11.2 "problem" pops up at one of our customers, that even the old 1.3.8 version will show my the wait-stats.

Since Quest (bless them, they are the makers of Toad), claimed to have bought TORA in eh... 2003, I had not checked for TORA updates.

But now Timo Raitalaakso (Rafu on OTN, blog can be found Here) from Finland told me TORA is still around.
Version 2.0.0 is available.

Go and check it out at sourceforge, and go find a few references on google...

Then download it and Test It (it is totally for free - Wayhey!). If TORA is right for you, you will become addicted quite easily.

My main reason for having TORA is the server-tuning screen called "wait-events". It offers a free, and quick-to-use alternative to the OEM waitevent graphic.

I can run TORA without need for permissions on OEM (acutally, without the OEM period), and it gives me roughly the same screen. All I need is "PERFSTAT" or any user with sufficient privs (the "advisor" role is fine). If I can run spreport or awrrpt, I can generally also run TORA.

It just takes a tns-entry, and Oracle-Net connection, and then TORA is up and running. Mine runs from my company-windhoze. But there are Linux and Mac builds too.

I combine TORA with some servertool sar, vmstat (unix), lparstat (AIX) or taskmgr (windhoze) and with statspack (AWR for the licensed-lucky).
With those tools, I have solved just about every performance-problem I was given.
(admittedly, my problems tend to be simple - but I'm waiting for the first SOA/SOAP system to overload).

Inside TORA, I run the "server tuning" screen at 10 sec interval (I only use the 3rd tab with the graph and the pie-chart of the wait-events). I tend to disable the other screens, not just to save on sqlnet traffic, but also to keep my windows-lappy running happy.

Click to get larger pic of my favorite screen...

And Voila, that screen (which predates and resembles the OEM graph...) tells me what is happening right now, and in the last hour. In using it, I have a few dislikes and a wishlist too, but I'll keep that for another time.

Tip: I often configure 12 gridlines and 360 datapoints to have a 5 min grid on 1 hr of data.

I am still of the opinion that real DBA's use SQL*Plus, common sense, and not much more. But if you are into troubleshooting databases, you could do worse then look into these tools.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Catch the Wave

Got the invite, and I jumped in. I have actively tried to surf some googlewaves with a few friends, but I do get the feeling this is a case of Emperors Clothes sometime.

How many of you have actually stood on a surf-board or even windsurfed? Both are not easy - well not to clumsy impatient geeks like me. But once you "get it", the experience is Excellent!

How many realize that the perfect wave is something very ethereal. To be catched when it happens, and to never return. We all have our "perfect wave" moments, but I'm not sure if gee-wave is one of mine

The good thing of this new wave is to link up, again, with ppl I appreciate, and some I had nearly forgotten.
And the gadgets look mint to: cool voting widgets, maps, all sort of embedded content. And we havnt even seen the "wave" of applications that can be built with the API. If Facebook is anything to go by, wave has a huge Gee-Wizz potential.

But the down-side is that it seems to take much more time then plain email, skype-chat, yahoomessenger, msn, googlechat, whatever. And that live typing is relatively slow from most connections I have used so far. Any way I can turn that off?

Does anyone remember IRC or ICQ chat ?
Anyone used the the VMS and unix "phone" utility ?

And now we have facebook (mafia wars!), hyves, skyrocks (my 13yo has about 7 hompages there, for various purposes), LinkedIn, google-talk and twatter. And with Google Lattitude, several ppl (+ all of google) keep track of my whereabouts already.

Tomorrow we will be on gwave and lattitude (and a few more that only my kids know of).

A UKOUG Conference-promotional wave anyone ?

I'm only a Simple Oracle Dba, and I'll try not to be a Luddite.

Okokok, just got a txt msg asking if I could check a certain wave that mentions an email of about an hour ago...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ukoug promo

Hello There :

Advert for the UK Oracle Usergroup Conference in Birmingham

Have a laugh at this promo!
(with thanks to Alex for pointing it out on twitter)

See you in Birmingham.

But first, I have to play with my new wave account. And finish one migration and one installation, and reply to some questions.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Oracle Usergroup meetings - Tips

Oracle Usergroups are the next best thing to a working-holiday, just dont tell your bossLast week was Perfect: I could escape the project-managers for all but Monday and spent the rest of the week "working" remotely, while visiting two usergroup-events.

I had the pleasure to attend the DBA-Day from Oracle Usergroup Holland (OGH), and the Autumn Seminar from Oracle Usergroup finland (OUGF). Both events were Very Well organized and had excellent content.

Being lazy, I do hope some other enthusiastic bloggers will do a writeup of the interesting items from each event. Today, I have another priority on this blog.

I hope all of the the attendees had an interesting and productive time. And I would encourage them to tell their managers how useful these meetings are.

If anyone has to justify their Usergroup-Fees or cost, I always like to make the point that these groups are the only way to get information that is not totally-tainted by pre-sales. At a usergroup, you can hear how it really works, rather then how it is supposed to work. The unbiased (ok: less biased) information combined with the staff-motivational aspect, are probably the best business-case.

Evaluation forms

I know most usergroups are trying very hard to please their audience, their members and their sponsors with ever-present "Evaluation Forms", and I do fill in my share of forms.

I would like a quiet word with that one person at UKOUG events who always fills in 100% minimal scores on my presentations. I can only presume he is linked some some vendor that lost business because of my "simple" crusade.

I know for a fact that at least some of my comments to UKOUG have been read, and considered. Thanks Aimee, Rachel and all the other members of staff.
Those forms are useful, and I forward all the good comments to my boss.


As a regular visitor and presentor at Usergroups in various countries, I have compiled my own list of preferences and what I consider best-practices.

Mind, this is not criticism, but rather praise and encouragement. I full well realize that it is much easier to criticize then to construct. And I do applaud the volunteers and staff who organize it all.

So, at the risk of ridicule, here goes...

- Handcuff speakers to the table.
Do not allow speakers to run in, rush-ppt, and run away from the event. No matter how "celebrity" they are, they should allow time to discuss and mix with the (paying) audience. Find some incentive to keep the speaker after his talk. Allow approachability and discussion.

- Clean out the speakerlounge regularly.
Discourage speakers from hiding in speakerlounges. See above. Usergroups are for users. The mixing and hobnobbing with higher celebrities can be done elsewhere.
And for speakers: the information you pick up from listening to in-the-field users is often invaluable. Get out there.

- Provide a safe cloakroom.
Especially for those who travel with luggage-trolleys, it is very convenient to have a safe spot. It is one less worry, and ppl dont lug around the additional coats and other items (also a firehazard).

- Use simple timings.
Plan the start/stop of sessions on whole-hour, half-hour or quarter-hour, please.
Simple timing is easier to keep. When a speaker is sweating in front of an audience he doesnt want to permanently do time-math. And users wandering around or smoking outside will easier remember simple timings as well.

I sometimes had to fit a 45min ppt (+/-22 slides + some demos) into a slot between 14:25 to 15:10. Running it from 14:30 to 15:15 is just easier (me - I like simplicity). I know that staggered breaks are better for services, staff, crowd-control and exhibition-sponsors. I understand that, but it doenst mean I like the funny timings.

- A visible clock.
A nice big clock on the wall, visible to both speaker and public is a great help. See above.

- Breaks between sessions.
Breaks should be 15-20 minutes, please. In between all sessions. Breaks are meant for discussing the topics, for networking, for coffee/ciggies and for phone-calls/mails. A whole morning sessions with no break (because the speakers want to run away?) is tiring, and doesnt allow to digest and discuss the material presented.

- Simple Refreshments at Every Break.
Preferably Coffee (strong), Tea(ditto), water (still) and biccies (optional) at all breaks. IT ppl like we are run on coffee (and some also run on ciggies [link to Doug?]). And a cup facilitates mixing and networking.

- Provide some (walking) space during breaks.
The venue should provide sufficient space to walk around and mix (with cup of coffee in hand). Networking and listening to peers is such a very important aspect! Additionally, some of the attendees will want to return phone-calls and will appreciate some space to hide and speak.

- Provide Free wifi - Please.
Possibly negociate vouchers with venue if the wifi is payable. A lot of us want to stay in touch, or even verify what the speakers say on tinternet.

- Practical Food.
The Quality of the lunch needs to be Acceptable, but the food should mainly be practical, and easy to consume while networking. Sandwiches are perfect, hot soup is a big risk. The sit-down lunch in "Slough" is very Good (a much appreciated classic at UKOUG). But if such quality is not on offer, then make sure the food can easily be consumed standing/walking. Balancing a hot plate plus a glass in a crowded space can be awkward.

- Facilitate shared transport after the event.
Ask publicly, around lunchtime, if anyone wants to share taxi to trainstation or airport. The RMOUG has set the golden standard for this, AFAIK.
But it is plain funny to command 5 taxis separately and form a convoy to the trainstation. And sometimes a gentle soul even offers a ride from Solihul all the way to London (Thanks Dave!).

That concludes my pedantic advice
(I'm a consultant after all - I always want to impose some unsolicited opinion).

If it helps anyone, then fine. If you think all of the above is totally obvious or ridiculous, then I apologize for wasting your time (you should have stopped reading earlier - consultants are there to be ignored, remember).

See you at some Usergroup maybe!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Oracle 11gR2 buzz and my "Thank You" to Oracle

re-Hi all, and nice to see everyone busy downloading/tweaking the 11gR2.

Must say I havnt really kept up with all the buzz, but when I looked at the new features I tried to be a-typical: I'll not go and sing praise to all the new complexities yet. I'm sure they are fine and wont cause serious trouble. They will come my way in due course.

My 11gR2 buzz ?
I'm on the lookout for the simple stuff that may just be of benefit to a large number of DBA grunts like me. For the moment, I will have to let someone else study the new intricacies of the upgraded root.sh script (Hi Martin, Jason!)

I have to fuss-up that the most high-tech "fixes" I did in the last year was around conventional locking (TX Enqueue, just app-logic, talk to the vendor), Dynamic-SQL (politely lean on the vendor of the app) tweaking CBO (and not even subtle, just applied some Tapio[link]) and the (system-)statistics. Most of my work didnt come close to proper rocket science, any of you could have done it. The bulk of my assignments seem to involve pushing people, rather then data-blocks. And my email-cc skills have greatly improved in the last months. Sigh.

Reading the "wotsnew", I still found several gems of simple (I hope) and possibly very usefull features.

There is at least one client that will be interested in "Instance Caging". The site that can benefit from this as the Developers have 100 small, but sometimes nasty databases running on a single machine with 24 CPUs. And sometimes they have an "oops" moment and one instance affects the whole (development) system. Reading up on "instance caging", it is dependent on Resource-manager. That sort of locks me in, I now Have to use this Resource manager malarky... (Guess I'm a Lazy Luddite at heart)

The IGNORE_ROW_ON_DUPKEY_INDEX may well be an instant hit. I will not be able to resist abuse of that one! The benefits are Obvious.
But... (there are at least two buts)
This new hint will lead to a lot of lazy-programmer-style stuff. Potentially as dangerous as the "whenever others" that Tom Kyte is sometimes on about.
And, on a more Friday-philosophical level [link to MWidlake], I dont like the fact that a Hint has an impact anywere but on the optimizer.
I can not stop Oracle from developing (useful!) stuff like this, but it puts "Hints" in a whole different part of the game. Food for thought there.

So let me politely say "Thank You" to Oracle for the new, simple, and easy-to-use(?) features. There are a few more ones, I will explore them further when time permits.

First got to do some prio stuff, such as booking trips and updating the Agenda [link]. Hope to see some of you in Real Life on a conference, a SIG, or a Gig somewhere.

Monday, June 29, 2009

From Google to oracle

A recent article in the Register throws some light on the different approaches by Google and M$. The article and its links are worth a careful read, no matter what hat you wear.

Reading break....

any resemblance to real architects is purely coincidental...

(go on, read it...! that stuff is much more important then my ramblings)

Me, of course I only read and retain what I want to agree to ...
Not hampered by too much knowledge of my own, here is my colored and limited interpretation:

The Micro$oftee boasts in management-speak about the "tremendous set of applications" and the problem to come up with "one set of KPIs that works" (sic).

The Geekle is very much focussed on performance and smooth global deployment. He speaks of "forcing developers into a confined space", and of "GFS as a baseline service".

Two items struck me in particular.

Firstly, one of the key-items put forward by the Google engineer is to "limit" the developers. The Google platform offers a very limited set of "services" to the developer and the challenge is to keep the developers inside that box.
Hearding Toads comes to mind.

The Confinement, the Limitation shows the Master

The other keyword that ticked my fancy was "GFS". The Google File System.
There is nothing that isolates infrastructure more elegantly then a file system.
The "everything is a file" adage that came with Unix is unbeatable.
A database consists of files.
A VM is a set of files.

And a "Global File System" is a very useful, and a conceptually clean "layer" to deal with.

Those of us in the process of building "farms", "estates", "grids" and "clouds" would do well to study some of the Google approach. Oracle and its practitioners (that is us) may well be able to learn a trick of two from the Google Approach.

Limitation : reduce the number of different components. But scale horizontally by having many of them.

Simplicity and Confinement : do a few things, but do them simple and do them really really well (and Often, and Fast).

Layering : Isolate everything in a "File System"

In my opinion, the "limitation" and the relative simplicity of the google platform is one of its key success factors.

That Simplicity, and the hiring of all the brightest brains on the planet.
I have seen some very good minds leave to join Google, but I never heard of a manager going there...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oracle CBO version 12 - secret preview

Tanel Poder has the scope on this.

He got his hands (and eyes, and brain) on something that seems to have escaped from an Oracle Lab.

Have a look.

Nice one Tanel!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Simplicity is Crucial in Database Deployment

While visiting the homepage of our beloved vendor, I came across this link to "Gartner".

Gartner Research is among the most used and cited in the IT industry, so I was curious to see what was there. The title was promising:

Oracle RAC Moved to Mainstream Use

I had a good read and the one thing that struck me was the number of mentions (warnings) of "complexity" and "need for training". There is also the "confusion between ASM and CFS" to notice.

Of course, I only read what I want to read, and conclude what I want to conclude, but I will stay firmly on my view "Simplicity is King" (but complexity sells better).

Monday, June 15, 2009

compliments to metalink support

Metalink is a very positive experience.

My compliments to Oracle for their state-of-the-art 3rd generation pro-active Support system.

The good old metalink interface was Snappy and Fast and the new flash(?) interface is so clever it is just a doddle (albeit a bit obese, I do alway request for a mega-size hi-res screen, and a 3Ghz Dual-core machine, just in case).

You will notice that I cram in as much positive words as I possibly can, just to make it look like I really am a fantastic supporter of this excellent metalink support system. The search engine will love this. And may the gods of google and Redmond reward me with oodles of Good Karma, and lunches, and plane-tickets, for all this forward-facing and link-enhancing Feedback. if only I wasnt so lazy with links...

Anyway, the Rant...

Last week I had one of those refreshingly positive Metalink experiences.

An issue with "system statistics". The details are rather client/app specific, hence no further details (yet).

You know, the stats that replace Multi-block-read-count and ind_cost_adjust_perc. The stats that tell the Cost-Based-Optimizer about the underlying hardware.

System stats are the stats that get stored in SYS.AUX_STATS$ with items like CPUSPEED, MBRC, SREADTIM and MXTHR (another great feat of engineering-in-progress, the CBO). For those of you who think I'm talking about stats on the SYS schema, or just the auto-gather job: Get the Book By Christian Antognini. He has what I think is a good explanation, and the Best Strategy (best practice, if you want management speak) for gathering system-stats.

OK, so we have an Issue with this gather_system_stats. And nor metalink nor google came up with a satisfactory answer. Even a phone-call to an ACE director didnt give me a resolve (but at least we agreed on possible approaches, Thx Anjo!)

So what is a consultant to do ? I reluctantly opened an SR...

Keep Smiling, after all it is a state of the art, 4th generation, community-based, high-tech, user-driven, web 69-dot-oh support systemAfter two polite and cheerful acknowledgements (Hi I'm Joe and I will help you.... Hi I'm Tom and I will help you....) but no answer whatsoever, the third "Support Analyst" had actually searched metalink and typed (pasted) some reply. Thank you.

His first reply was to read 10 or so notes on Metalink, all related to "object stats", e.g. gather_schema and gather_table stats. My colleages had already read all of those, and I had read most. I sacrificed my time on a double-check but our answer wasnt in there.

So I had to update the SR and politely point out that my question was about SYSTEM statistcs. The ones stored in SYS.AUX_STATS$, and gathered by dbms_stats.gather_SYSTEM_stats. The stats that represent the underlying hardware configuration.

Next reply from the analyst (more metalink searching on his part) was that the gathering of stats on the SYS schema was explained in ML notes Eeeeeeh.1, Grrrrr.1 and Zzzz.1... with some obviously sensible and MC (Metalink-Correct) caveats and version-dependency remarks.

I then Icey-Politely stated I did not want to offend him, but that I would really appreciate it if he read the question and my replies again, carefully. Please-pretty-please.

Maybe the question was not that trivial, after all. I had spent a full evening in an Ice-cold shopping centre with wifi trying to find the answer myself on both metalink and google.

One Weekend further, a support analyst called my mobile number. Relief. This person at least knew approximately what system-statistics were. And he called mainly to confirm and assure that he actually understood the question (Yay - Progress!). He Did understand the Issue. And the question. And he is now looking for an answer inside Oracle.

The secret of using the CBO is to not let it eat up your time and effort. And in writing this, the CBO just cost me another 30min of my life. My mistake.

Am I Positive about Metalink ?
You Bet !

That fact alone that someone now read and understood the question, and the actual effort he displayed to now find an answer is Refreshing. It restores my faith in online-support.

And metalink-alone justifies the flat-screen TV I've requested on my desk.

Irony anyone ?
(I never was good at jokes)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Serious Work

Two remarks about Work.

Working in IT can suck you in big time.

I just spent one of those weeks of late-nights hammering on a problem for one specific client, working from the Rotterdam Office of my employer.
And in the same three day-week, every third manager and every third Secretary in the dutch subsidiary got fired. A bit like shooting ducks at the fair, I guess. Hence two remarks.

Firstly, the people-cleanup.

The culling is a tragedy for those involved, but Especially for the Secretaries.
Personally, I welcome a good management cleanup. We had a lot of duh-livery managers, and a reduction in overhead was long overdue.
But firing Secretaries in this climate is "not done". It may be that I have not worked enough billable hours, it may be the boss did not keep our "utilization" on par, but it is definitely not the fault of the Secretaries, and firing them isnt going to help.

Also you can fire 1 extra manager and keep 3 good, useful secretaries.

Secretaries are the fabric of the company, they Really know how things work, and they are immensely valuable in emergencies. Whether you are stuck on an airport or need a replacement for a broker laptop power-supply: Call the Secretary.
The indians may mean well, and have nice callcentre-scripts, but all they are allowed to say, sir, after 30 min, sir, of phone-confusion, sir, is "you must contact business secretary and order replacement, sir..."
The secretary knows that the power-supply-thingies break down, and has a few spareparts laying around!

Hence my deep Respect to all Secretaries, past present and future.

Secondly, the we-feeling.

Our new NL-top-dog is much impressed by the "we feeling" in our company.
Right, well, the secretarial staff will agree....

I know it sounds funny in (northern)english, due to the various meanings of "wee". But he wants to compliment the remaining staff on the "team spirit". It just sounds funny if you litteraly translate from dutch...

The thing that gave me a real boost in the last week was the Dedication of a small team that laboured on, regardless of the organisation falling apart. Regardless of tears at the coffee machine, regardless of losing a few good bosses, regardless of uncertainty about who would sign off our expenses, regardless of the vendor documentation providing the wrong scripts, regardless of the client trying to prevent them from work by calling every 5 min.

We had a customer that had got himself in a real twisted problem, mainly due to ignoring good advice for years. And now we had to bail him out of it.
Never ever had they listened to good advice. But of course we would take the blame, that is what the IT supplier is for.
An "I told you so" attitude never got you anywhere.
But Helping a customer in need Might get you somewhere.

So when things really broke down, some of our brilliant brains actually managed to puzzle him out of a bad spot. They figured out which tables and un-documented relations (and bolted-on triggers!) had caused the poblems. And they retrieved exactly the right records to resume normal operations.
That is the sort of team you can win a war with.

Remember Robocop? big bad ED209 couldnt even walk down the staircase...And for those in the know: Brains always are better then Iron.

Iron, Big, Brute-Force, Expensive Iron, may look good and make you friends at hardware-vendors.

But Brains will win the day.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Planboard DBA symposium - Excellent value!Today's image is a plan board. This is of course to promote the Planboard DBA symposium. A relatively small-scale, Dutch event by "planboard". The small scale of the event makes for excellent knowledge transfer (I expect many questions that I cannot answer...) and good networking.

Kuddos to Planboard for this initiative, and my gratitude to those who have convinced their budget-holders that these events are Valuable. Believe me, they are! And they are cheaper then training too.

It is something the UKOUG has noted as well. Small and targeted events, Special Interest Groups if you like, often are the most valuable meeting.
I'd be tempted to report on a discussion I had with two DBA's over lunch at the Scottisch DBMS SIG. They might just have solved a nagging listener-connection problem from a good discussion with Joel Goodman and a few others.

And that is the kind of value you get from SIGs and Symposia.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

That is Ace indeed. Oracle Ace even.

The Brits, normally fairly cool folks, have a way of saying "That is ACE!" when they are enthusiastic or excited about something.

check out my official Oracle Ace Profile at the Oracle Community
And I feel sufficiently proud of my new status to say that myself. (I'll do some screaming therapy form a hilltop in the Ardennes this weekend, and then I'll try to refrain from looking too smug next week...)

But at the same time, I realize I owe this to many friends, customers and co-workers.

I owe this to all the sparring partners I debated with over the years (Even Nigel!).

And I owe this to all the managers that benevolently signed off the expenses for trips and presentations (Thanks JP!).

I owe it to those who let me attend their events at a reduced rate (if I name them, they will get spammed?).

And I owe this to all the Project Managers and Architects that took responsability for my Mistakes and Blunders (FredP, MikeC, Geert, ChrisC, DavidH, IanS, PeterP, PeterG, ...). I have helped a few Nasty bugs to surface as well, notably in FBIs and IOTs... Not always to the joy of my customers. Customers expect the systems to work, rather then to score bugs that feature in powerpoints by Phil Davies.

And now I need to live up to the expectation.
I am doing 3 ppts in the coming week, one in York and two in Edinburgh. And my regular customer wants an in-house presentation on top of that.
Then there is Planboard Symposium on 26 May...

But First A good night sleep, and then Back to Work.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thank You, that was ACE

Thank You, Anjo.

(Rush job blog, as I have a few other things on, writing from the BK in Metrocentre, with funny blockage of blogger-items ...)

Anjo-YAPP-Kolk doesnt really need introducing, and I am not going to link to
him again, for fear of over-doing the link-stuff (dont want jealous webmasters, do we?) and my boss is also looking...

But Anjo basically, on a rainy evening over one of those idea-bouncing
nerdy dinners, dropped the concept, wrote the introduction, and magically made me enter the ACE-arena...

And now he twitted the news prematurely and I got a few "Gratz" mails.

All I still need to do now is to sign over my life to Larry, sit still, behave respectably (Havnt bought a suit in ages...), and then I might be allowed to put various logos on my blogs and presentations. Maybe someone will someday finally READ all this... This writing stuff isnt really my thing, I prefer to stand up in front of customers or a usergroup-audience. More Fun, less spelling-errors).

Anyway. Awaiting the last results from the jury...

And my next blog ( at SimpleOracleDba.blogspot.com) will be semi-serious, about a select count(:x) stmnt, whereby x is...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Oracle Usergroup Scotland and Northern Server Day

Or, as now two different UKOUG representatives have stated: we dont mind if you mention our events on your blog.

Well, since a lot of the internet is indeed just "Search Engine Content", and since it is mainly about link-harvesting, here is some plug-text for the Events where I myself present.
speaking of links... I refuse to point out the site that most bugs me when I do googlies on "oracle" content. you all know there is a lot of obnoxious trivial stuff around, and I am quite ashamed to go into the game of search-enginge-link-farming myself. The name "dom" comes to mind [link to Ora600.be]. Kurt did a good job of making fun of it.

I am also green with envy those who can go and see Tanel in Europe, and even Jeremiah Wilton comes to holland this summer. But I will make the effort to first promote the following (nearly free) events:

First, there is the Northern Server Day of UKOUG on 28 April 2009.
To be held in the beautiful city of York.

After you have done the touristy-check (York is Beautiful!), please also check out the content of the Meeting (just follow the UKOUG logo...). There are two streams (you may have to choose) and topics are about disasters Recovery, flashback, exadata, and (hometown of Pete Finnigan... you guessed it... ) Security.

The Northern Server day is an excellent opportunity to mix with fellow-practicioners and exchange some relevant real-world (non-sales) experience. And York is easy to reach by train from just about anywhere in the North (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Oracle Usergroup Scotland, a UKOUG community (I blew up the logo to make it same size as UKOUG, I mean, wouldnt want to look small in comparison would you?Secondly, The Scots, proud as ever, of course have their own OUG, and some blue color in the logo.

The Oracle User Group Scotland DBA SIG, will be held the next day, 29 April 2009, in "Embro". And again, you can meet peers with Real World Experience who use the same products and tools you do. Come and learn from eachother. Personally, I did have a problem convincing my management that I really should visit both, but I gave them a few strong-worded arguments, backed up with links to both events (hey, links and search-engines can be your friends indeed)

Hope to see you on one, or both, of the events!

PS: Tjees, do I sound like a commercial or what ?
Even dom himself couldnt do more link-shopping, could he ?
You two (you know who you are) now Happy with this ?

Anyone interested in starting a Toon-chapter of UKOUG. Logo: black and white stripes...?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oracle Cost Base Optimizer - getting sucked in

This Blog on the CBO, from the very Team at Oracle, gets a Hughe thumbs up from me!
The CBO is Truly Brilliant.
Oh Yes, it is.

Rant ?
me Rant ?
Never. I dont waste engergy that way.
Mind you, CBO is a worthy adversery when it comes to wasting energy. Especially after upgrades to 10g [link?].

Very Clever, the CBO.
The CBO will get it "mostly right in most of the cases" (famous quotation needed, but it is true). However those few cases where the CBO gets it wrong can really ruin your reputation.

I would always maintain that we paid Oracle to do the hard work for us, and I would not get sucked into doing arcane bespoke stuff with stats and hints and outlines and whatever to make a query do the bleeding obvious. Meanwhile, I spent hours tweaking all of the above, and reading near-scientific stuff trying to understand CBO just a bit better still. And now I finally got sucked in: I will join the ranks of those who have ranted presented on the CBO...

I must be careful here: Nobody ever got praised for pokeing fun at large vendors. The Real Application CBO is like those other Real Application Thingies: Oracle is Soooo Proud of it. No other database-vendor even comes close in ingenuity, in sheer intelligence, and in cunning engineering where query optimization is concerned.
So yes, I admit it, the CBO is Brilliant.
If it gets it right.

I did it again today:
A customer-meeting got sidetracked into "performance" and I spent 20 min explaining that when CBO made some seemingly inefficient decisions, it was not the CBO at fault. CBO tries as best it can. CBO will be using spfile-parameters, system-stats, object-stats, histograms, session-parameters, where-clauses, hints, outlines, and sql-plans and whatever other information it can glean from looking at the stars or tealeaves or whatever. So, if it is not the CBO at fault, it must be us, right ? We should have read the manual, the whitepapers, metalink, and followed the instructions available.

OK, real reason for this post: a plug for OUG Scotland.

I still need to write the abstract and the ppt, and wanted to aim it more towards efficient indexing, refer to Tapio and Richard Foote. Show CBO the obvious route (you can lead a clever horse to water) and it might just get it right... But my ppt will probably involve "how I fought the CBO".
Thomas already put up the title as a CBO related item...

These guys and many other good writers have basically said all there is to say already. And I am not qualified to tell you much on gathering stats or how to tweak parameters. Nor can I teach you about high-tech-hinting[link needed]. Others have done that before me, and did a much better job then I could hope to do.

I was hoping to offer some silver bullits, but even those tend not to work with the CBO. A Hammer is the next best simple-sophisticated tool I can think of...I know my limitations.

I am going to take as Simple an approach as I can.

Friday, March 06, 2009

In a crisis, you call the DBA

There is renewed demand for Real DBA skills.

And I now understand why.

In these stormy days, there is an increasing need for sober, simple and honest craftsmen (and women). Solid DBAs who know their job, who do not over-stretch or over-promise, and who can tell it like it is.

It really helps that Customers have no more patience for FUDdies and timewasters.
The vendors of over-complex, every-expanding, ever more costly contraptions are the first to go. Houses of cards cannot stand the storm. And the groupies that dont carry their weight get blown away with them: They add no value to Real Application Business.

In these Fearfull times, the demand for Uncertainty and Doubt is suddenly gone, and there is a need for Real Application Solutions.

Those who tried to boast their CV by implementing ever-more-misty FUD and "business" oriented layers of complexity are now finding a deaf ear. The Customer is too busy surviving, and their shiny layered contraption may have to go in the freezer, or down the drain. Simple Real Application Survival is more important.

I have always liked a good crisis.

A crises is when you call your DBA.

A crisis is the moment, the Opportunity, to solve some Real Application Problems.

And remember Professor Dijkstra:

"Simplex Veri Sigillum"
simplicity is the hallmark of truth.

Dijkstra then went on to state:
"Unfortunately, Complexity sells better"

Customers got wise.
Customers stopped buying!

And many sensible customers are actually using this so called "crunch" to reduce the complexity. The cold wind will blow away the chaff, and leave more room or serious, quality engineering.

Simple, solid and robust systems are de rigeur again. Real Application Simplicity.

Tip for salesmen: If you want to sell anything: try selling something simple.

PS: Thanks to a Miraculous friend for inspiring this blog! I hope his presentation went well, and I told him:
In case of doubt: Choose the more Simple solution.

Real Application Simplification is the word!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Herding TOAD

You have to see the Fun side of this credit-crunch thing!

We had some great humour sprouting up inside our company when management went into cost-cut-panic. Hence the squeezed lemons.

And now this: A tech who turned maybe-manager and who will rationalize our TOAD license into "compliance".

Controlling Developers TOAD is like hearding Cats.
Actually, it is much harder then that!

(I think this was Pete Sharman's favorite line)

Here is an appropriate classic line by a Nerd from this 90s movie:

"The kind of control you are trying to exert is just not possible"

I am simply saying that Licenses eh Toads eh Life Finds a Way.

Luckily, the current office dinosaurs are not half as scary as the ones in the movie. But let me just check that My Green Friend is still legal, in case I get a spot-check on my laptop next week.

Never forget how a lean and mean american client, always brutally efficient, avoided to pay for a very complex and very bespoke report from the E-Business Suite:

"So, Who wants this report again? ... "

(....timid answer...., followed by a Grunt from the Boss)

"So what if we just get rid of him?"

Database wise, that is called Optimization by Elimination.
Funny that this client is still doing quite well...

Optimization by Elimination...
That reminds me of Dave Ensor...

My next Presentation on the Northern Server Tech Day might just be about Indexes, simple and advanced, and on what you can do if CBO doesnt "get it". Tapio and Richard Foote to the rescue.

Elimination is key. I'm still working on it.
Elimination of useless effort.
Elimination of Complexity.

Of course, I do not have the Definite answer to CBO headaches. 42, and some paracetamol may still be your best bet.

Update: Lisa and the folks at UKOUG have chosen to re-run my rather boooring presenation on "Is my Back(up) (re)covered ?". On the one hand I find it my most boooring presentation, but in the last 12 months, it has been The most asked-for topic I present on. I guess "Recovery" is even more of a fixation then the infamous CBO. I'll do a plug on the "Northern Server Day" later, but suffice to say York is a very nice town and the NS day is alsways a relaxed gathering of Oracle Professionals. Funny enough, there is a Scottisch DBA-SIG event the day after./

Anyway, one more about Rationalizing TOAD:

Respect to those who manage to ride this herd into town succsefully !


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