RMOUG: You should be here

I arrived in Denver yesterday afternoon for the RMOUG Training Days event. As I’ve written before, this is the first conference I’ve attended (and paid for!) as an attendee in at least 6 years, maybe the only one ever. The coolest part was that the small amount I paid for an attendee registration ($285) has already been totally worth it, and the sessions haven’t even started yet. Many people would pay that amount just for an opportunity to visit with some of the people I got to talk with last evening.

After all, I know of no other conference where you can have meaningful, interesting conversations with all of these fine individuals in a single evening: Mogens Nørgaard, Debra Lilley, Graham Wood, Kevin Closson, Daniel Liu, Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha, Jeff Needham, Christo Kutrovsky, Mike Ault, John King, Joze Senegacnik, Tim Gorman, Duncan Mills, Lynn Munsinger, and Peggy King. And those are just the people I got to talk to (there were many other well-respected technicians and sharers of knowledge around that I didn’t have time to speak with. I haven’t even gotten to see Cary Millsap, Robert Freeman, Craig Shallahamer, Riyaj Shamsudeen, Tanel Poder, Jeremiah Wilton, Tom Kyte, Iggy Fernandez, or Daniel Fink yet.

This is my first time to RMOUG and you may be thinking that this is some sort of fluke to have all these great researchers and presenters at one event, especially a relatively small event where there are ample opportunities to network with them directly. I’ve reviewed the RMOUG agenda for the last 3 years and this agenda is representative of the quality that they’ve managed to schedule for the event every year. Plus, unlike other conferences, the RMOUG attendee tuition is priced to help them break even, not make a large bankroll. My biggest regret is that I couldn’t manage to get here before this year!

I can haz conferences

I love attending technical conferences for Oracle. I guess that’s obvious since many of you have probably seen or met me at a conference. The best parts for me are meeting so many of those that I’ve connected with on mailing lists, forums, or other online communities. Of course, conferences are a place to share what you know and I find that especially rewarding too. To that end, here are some of the sessions I’ll be sharing in the 2009 conference agendas.
Continue reading “I can haz conferences”

I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)

I’ve got a (always-growing) list of product, features or configurations that I’d like to experiment with, but sometimes they aren’t practical to test on my local virtual machines. So, I planned to roll a new virtual machine on the development ESX server that we had at my office. All was going along fine with the Linux installation (OEL5U2) screens until I got to the end where it starts actually installing. For whatever reason, our little server was sick (likely a storage problem) and it hung for hours.

Rather than debug the storage issue, I wanted to get on with my testing. I consulted my usual list of experts, and my friend Matt suggested that I spin up a machine in the Amazon EC2 cloud. I checked out the costs and it seemed fairly reasonable. VERY reasonable, actually. Since it was based on time (cost per hour the machine is running), I waited for a day or two until I could dedicate enough time to it and complete the testing in one sitting. Continue reading “I bought my own server for $1.02 (USD!)”

Certifications, response to Bex Huff’s post

I was cleaning up my feedreader today and reading a lot when I found this interesting blog on Bex Huff‘s site. I started to post a comment there, but soon realized I had more to say than was reasonable for a comment. Plus, I haven’t written here in quite a while, so here goes with my response(s).

I must offer a few counterpoints to Bex’s blog. First, while I agree that many certifications are simply brain dumps, the Oracle Certified Master (OCM) certification is a practicum-based exam that requires candidates to endure 2 days of scenarios that they must perform. They are scored based on the correctness and completeness of their solutions. IIRC, there are a few multiple choice questions (at least there were back in 2002 when I did it in the beta phase). Candidates are only allowed to use the server documentation–no online access is allowed. That’s why I still believe the OCM certification to be the most valuable of the certifications I’ve attained.

I also want to point out that not all certified individuals become certified for the same reasons. In fact, I blogged on that topic a while back. I do believe that while certifications don’t often prove knowledge, they do at least show some initiative. That is, those that get certified at least tried to do something to prove themselves. In summary of my post, most of the certifications I’ve attained were on my to-do list just because I enjoy the challenge and I like knowing what it means to have that certification. So, when someone comes to me and says they’ve achieved Oracle 10g OCP certification, I know whether it was a major accomplishment or if my grandmother could also have attained it (the truth is somewhere in between for the 10g DBA OCP case).

For the HR departments, I’m sure that certifications (or lack thereof) are sometimes used to weed out candidates, especially if the stack of resumes is large. In many cases, I think certifications are largely for this purpose. I don’t necessarily agree that this is a great practice, but I don’t know that there’s an easy-to-implement alternative.

I also think Bex overlooks the continuing education value of certification. For those of us that don’t read the online brain dumps or even use the “prep” tests/exams/books, preparing for a new certification exam is a lot of work in learning and reviewing things that a DBA either doesn’t know yet or has forgotten. So, even if I don’t pass an exam, I already benefited from the preparation that I had to do in order to allow myself to sit for the exam.

On Bex’s #8 point, I do have specific data (not opinion) that makes it untrue. I recently attended a social networking gathering where I met an executive from the “most recognized” certification company in the US (their own claim). Anyway, he informed me that the last 6 months have been among the best they’ve ever had. He said that when people start getting laid off, they look for a tune-up and some way to make themselves more marketable. Their certification enrollments are approaching record levels due to the economic “downturn” and he said their biggest problem was finding qualified people to work for them in updating and administering the exams to the influx of new candidates. I was a little surprised at first, but I suppose it makes sense.

Let me put my own disclaimer here that while I have achieved a number of certifications, almost all of them have been from Oracle, so I don’t know too much about other certification programs.

I’ll also add that I continue to disagree with Oracle Certification’s practice of requiring instructor-led training classes for some of their ceritifcations. I’ve had many discussions with the certification team on that point and still don’t understand the value of the training to becoming certified. It seems like a way to get more training classes sold to me and I think it devalues the certifications that require it (including–and especially–the OCM certification).

Lastly, I do love the fact that Oracle’s Certification team has put up their own blog and take comments on the various posts there. I’d love to see a post in the future on the rationale for requiring instructor-led training for a certification path, especially OCM, but also for OCP.

New User Group: North India Oracle Users Group (nioug.org)

I was contacted a few months ago by some motivated individuals who were members of the Oracle RAC SIG. They wanted to start a new local Oracle user group in their region of Northern India and were looking for advice. I offered a few pointers and recently, they launched the new group – North India Oracle Users Group at nioug.org.

If you are in Northern India or have colleagues or friends that are located there, you should check out this group. If you would like to get involved by coordinating a meeting, being a speaker, or helping in any way, I’d encourage you to contact one of the individuals listed on the Board of Directors to see how you can help as a volunteer. They’re allowing registration for free (at least for now) too.

They’ve also established a blog to publish upcoming news on events and happenings with the group. It has an RSS feed, so you may want to subscribe to easily track the new posts there.

Good luck to all the volunteers and the new group!

Hotsos Symposium 2009, I’ll be there!

Blink and 3 weeks goes by and I forgot to blog any new updates!

I’ve got a few new entries that will be coming along after my last 2 weeks being up to my eyeballs in Oracle Application Server 10.1.3, but that will wait. The exciting news is:

I’m going to present at Hotsos Symposium 2009! I’m especially excited because I’ve wanted to attend this event ever since they held the first one, but just haven’t been able to get there. This time, I decided to try my luck at submitting a session proposal and I got lucky. I’m on the very distinguished speaker list and will be presenting “Avoiding Common RAC Issues” sometime during the March 8-12, 2009 event.

For those that have attended this event before, I know it’s somewhat unique, so if you have tips for a first-time attendee (and presenter), please drop them in comments or drop me a line via email or whatever. I hope that you can attend–I’m honored to be among the absolutely stellar speaker lineup and am really more excited about attending other sessions than I am about presenting my own! See you in Irving, TX!

MOOW, Day 1

Miracle Oracle Open World is claims to be the best conference in the world. It claims that the “best” rating is not because of the number of attendees, but I disagree–the (relatively small) number of attendees is one of the things that makes this event great! There are less than 200 attendees here, but a high percentage of those are some of the most highly respected Oracle experts in the world (at least in my book).

Last night, I attended the opening session which included a technical presentation from Toon Koppelaars called “The Helsinki Declaration.” The session discusses the trend of the last 6-8 years where we’ve seen less use of database features and fatter middle tier applications. His plea was that we reverse the trend and return to using the database features (that customers pay a lot of money for) and shrink the middle tier bloat. This, Toon contends, will make more maintainable, more optimized applications overall. Forget about “database independent applications” since that necessitates using the database for little more than a spreadsheet. Toon encourages the use of Oracle Application Express (APEX) which promotes putting almost all application components in the database. I’m not sure I see that APEX is the best tool for every job, but I do see a lot of opportunities for APEX in the coming years and think it certainly could replace Oracle Forms once APEX matures. Continue reading “MOOW, Day 1”

My interview from Open World posted

While I was at Oracle Open World 2008 in September, I met Ignacio Ruiz and agreed to an interview with him. Ignacio is the person behind www.databases-la.com which publishes database-related content aimed at the Latin American community and he also blogs at oracledisect.blogspot.com. As a result, most if not all of his content is available in Spanish. He also makes most of it available in English.

I thought Ignacio asked some good questions and (fortunately or unfortunately) didn’t edit the interview at all. The one unfortunate part of the interview is that you don’t get to see Ignacio at all–only me. Without further ado, here’s the interview (if you can’t view below, you can see it on YouTube directly).

I am not Dan Norris

I’m not sure why it has taken this long, but I recently started getting about one email per week that was intended for a well-named member of the UK’s Parliament: Dan Norris. After communicating with Mr. Norris’ office, I found that we both found one another via Google Alerts that we’ve apparently both set up to notify us when Google finds our name somewhere on the intertubes.

The person that responded to my email was a staff member from Mr. Norris’ office who acknowledged that while they hadn’t received any emails intended for me, they were aware of my website and domain name registrations.

So, for clarification, Dan Norris is (also) the name of a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons in the UK. I am not him. In fact, I haven’t even been to the UK (yet) and have no interest in becoming a politician. Mr. Norris’ office offered that when I do finally make it to the UK, Mr. Norris would be willing to meet with me, so that’s exciting and something I’ll look forward to.

If you should wish to contact Dan Norris MP in the UK, he’s got a lot of contact options posted on his contact page. I find it very interesting that he offers a number to send him text messages–another (of the many) refreshing change from politicians in the US.

I’m still not exactly sure what surgeries are, but I can only presume that they’re something like office hours and there are no doctors involved.

Best of luck to Mr. Norris and his staff. While I haven’t made a habit of reading the emails that come to me, I read enough to determine that it isn’t intended for me and based on that sampling, I’m glad that I don’t have his job!

My Open World 2008 slides posted

I’ve been enjoying reading everyone’s OOW08 summaries and thoughts lately, which reminded me that I hadn’t posted the slides that I promised to put up. Unlike some presentations, my slides aren’t usually of too much use without the narrative that I spew in the session. That’s mostly because I try to make slides that have just enough information on them to remind me what to say–not to say it for me.

At any rate, I posted the slides for my three sessions. I’m not cool enough yet to use SlideShare–I’ll try that out in the future. Overall, I was pleased with how each of them went and was especially happy that I had more than 80 people at my Thursday at noon session.

If you attended one of my sessions or review the slides for one of them, please let me know your feedback either in comments below or send me a mail.