Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Abraham Lincoln on Prohibition...

I saw this quote on another website somewhere. I thought it was very well put and addresses so much of the "Nanny-state" types of activities you see going on these days (for example, the proposed 18% tax on "Sugary" drinks in New York). To me, this quote applies to a great many things.

"Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), U.S. President.
Speech, 18 Dec. 1840, to Illinois House of Representatives

Monday, November 17, 2008

My latest project comes to a happy conclusion...

You may have noticed that I've been somewhat absent of late. Part of this (but not all) was due to the fact that I had significantly increased the heat on a project that had been languishing for way too long (and writing a book and working and....). Today that project has come to it's happy conclusion and I am glad that it's complete.

That project is the acquisition of my instrument rating. I got my private pilot certificate many many years ago. As you will find on other posts in my blog, I gave it up for a while and then took it back up about 4 years ago with the purchase of my first airplane, N7598U. After I bought my airplane I decided that the next step was to get my instrument rating. So about 3 years or more ago I started on this long journey.

Over 3 Years, 5 instructors and one stressful check-ride later (some stress self-induced and other stress of external sources) I can now happily report I am an instrument rated private pilot!!! I took my check-ride today with Lynn French out of Salt Lake City Number 2 airport (U42 for the aviation minded). Lynn passed me and I think probably immediately issued a NOTAM to warn the flying world, "Watch out! Freeman has his rating".

So, the morning didn't start too well. While waiting for Lynn to arrive (he was flying in this morning from Colorado) my instructor Randy and I were checking out the log books for the airplane I was going to use. As I was reviewing the logs, I discovered to my horror that the attitude indicator was out on the airplane I was going to take. Holly Smortals! The "sister plane" to the one I was going to use was supposed to be in by 10am. So, it would be coming in while we were doing the Oral and we could take the sister plane out for the exam. Ah.... Joy. Flying in a plane I have not ever flown in for my checkride. It's a sister plane, sure.... yeah.... right....

Lynn owns a bed and breakfast in Colorado with his wife, and I am given to understand that he has his own private strip and a number of different airplanes. So, at the outset, I am jealous of Lynn! :-) Lynn is your quintessential check pilot. Hours out the ears, asking great questions, providing great insight and making me sweat the pre-requisite amount during the process (check the PTS, there are sweat requirements). I enjoyed the Oral with Lynn though it was not quite what I expected.

First, I was nervous so I'm trying to answer questions, and the words are coming out of my mouth a mile a minute. I'm also trying to give "textbook" answers, and Lynn is looking for more practical thinking. Me? Practical? Common! That caused some communication mis-understandings on my part at first. Once I settled down, I think I started to get it. In the end the Oral was a great learning experience and I'm the better pilot because of it. I think I'd have done much better if it was just a regular conversation and not an Oral/Check-Ride. Everyone said "Just have fun.... don't stress"... yeah, right. They do not know me. I don't stress in emergencies (like window iced over in unforcast and unexpected icing, and loosing my alternator all at the same time while flying from Chicago to Salt Lake City)... I handle those things OK I think. It's TESTS that I don't handle well. Tests of any type.

So, after the Oral, Lynn and I load up in the "Sister" plane. The airplane actually starts (yeah, there is a good sign) and I set the radios and so on. As I'm setting up the GPS the bells began to ring for the theme of the flight, "WE CAN'T MAKE THE GPS WORK!! BLAST IT!!". Up until the very end (where we figured out how to do the GPS approach for U42) we were sunk with respect to getting the approaches to work in the plane. Now in retrospect, I think I know how to have done it but that does you no good when you are on the flightline with the engine running and an examiner on the clock.

Lynn and I flew to Provo where we shot our approaches. We did a hold at FFU, did a DME ARC (part of the ILS and VOR/DME approach) and did our thing. My approaches were, frankly, pretty lame. They were within limits but I've done much better in the past. Lynn was very patient with me (I think he recognized I was nervous) and I'm thankful for that.

Finally we did some unusual attitudes and headed back to U42 where he finally managed to get the GPS to work and we shot that approach.

All in all, I was exhausted when we landed. When Lynn told me I passed I just wanted to jump up and down and shout to the heavens. Over 3 years of hard work, countless money and occasional frustration came to a fruitful end with my new rating, Insturment Airplane.

Wow.... now I need a nap!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The dangers or RMAN Autocataloging...

In later versions of RMAN (at least 11g) when you perform certain types of database recoveries and duplications RMAN will catalog the backups for you. This is handy if you have a newly recovered control file, since it will get all of the archived redo logs and backup sets cataloged for you.

I do a lot of RMAN testing where I create databases, drop them, re-create them, recover them, etc... I've noticed that this can have some odd impacts sometimes if you have old backups or archived redo logs from a previous version of that database. Say, for example you create an ORCL database, do a lot of stuff with it, delete it and create a new ORCL database. Sometimes RMAN will get weirded out when it tries to catalog the old backups or old archived redo logs.

I have not taken the time to try to figure out all the dynamics on what is going on here but I would recommend that anytime you remove a database and intend to re-create it, that you move the backups and old archived redo logs out of the FRA or the archivelog destination directories somewhere else if you need to keep them. This will make your RMAN life much easier.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Flying ....

So, we are in Seattle right now, getting ready for a nice two week vacation. We had a nice, bumpy flight to Seattle, skimming the tops of clouds and the like. During the flight a few thoughts came to mind...

First, why on the pre-flight safety video don't they actually show things how they will be? Realism is good. For example, when the oxygen masks come down, why don't they show the aircraft in some unusual attitude and the passengers panicking, fighting each other over the lone oxygen mask that actually fell from the ceiling? "Yes, there are three other masks, they just didn't manage to fall", the announcer should say, "rather than fight your seatmate for the one that did fall, simply reach up and pull the other mask down." This segment should end in the two passengers falling out of their seats fighting for the lone mask. While we are at it, we need to see an appropriate level of panic in passengers faces... I mean, if the masks come flying down, and the aircraft it pitched 45 degrees nose down trying to get below 10,000 feet, wouldn't you feel some panic?

Then there is always the scene of the mother or father calmly putting the mask on their very calm, very still, child. Um, yeah, there is reality. Again, 45 degree, nose down pitch, the floor falling out from under them, I doubt those kids are going to be calm, still or quiet.

But thats just me....

Rather, perhaps, the child should be screaming, looking all around in panic and shouting "WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE!!" now that would be reality. Oh, and perhaps to add a touch of realisim we should some cheerios orbiting in the simulated zero G as the airplane plummets to an uncertain fate.

What is it with people who think that the sign that means "put on your seatbelt" actually means "it's ok to get up and go to the bathroom now"? I am constantly amazed.... 2 minutes after take off, Yule Gibbins gets up and shuffles to the bathrom. Now, not only is Yule not supposed to get up (and doing so actually breaks a federal law) BUT Yule is not exactly a young man... a young man might be able to grab onto something should we hit turblance, and survive (I'll not address the possible state of the bathroom after a severe turbulence hit... let's just say that pooping at zero G isn't a good thing). Yule, instead, will be flung around to and fro, his poor hairpiece will be all that will be left of the poor man.

On our flight to Seattle, fully 20 to 30% of the people on the flight got up to use the bathroom when the fasten seatbelt sign was on. Now, honestly, turblance was not too bad (light) but apparently the captian expected it might become bad enough that he had the flight attendents discontinue food service and had them sit and buckle up. THAT should be a clue.

And I also notice that it's always the people who are not all that physicaly able to withstand a 2000 foot drop in altitude and the attending loss of gravitational pull that will ensue. Like I said, Yule Gibbins.

I can see the CNN story now.... An airliner lands and the emergency support personel are called to scrape twenty elderly folks off of the ceiling of the airplane.

I fully understand needing to go, and needing to go *badly*, but did it ever occur to these folks to go *before* you get on the airplane. One might think to ones self, "Self.... I'm going to be captive in an airplane for two hours, maybe I should go now, when it's actually safe to go."

Some people don't understand the risk of flight even in severe clear. It's real, we call it CAT or Clear Air Turblance. In rare cases, with CAT, you could encounter a sudden drop of altitude of several hundred or even (in very rare cases) thousand feet very quickly. Trust me, you don't want to be out of your seatbelt if that happens. I've been though CAT in my little airplanes at low altitude, it's no fun.

So, anyway, we are in Seattle now.... I love Seattle....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More govenmental stupidity....

More clear evidence that we have way to much time on our hands...

Here is a boy who's pencil sharpener apparently broke, who had the razor blade part of that tool in his hand is suspended. Suspended for 2 days, doesn't this kid sound dangerous. This is the intelligence of "No tolerance" which in my mind equates to "No Thinking". No tolerance just abdicates administrators of any requirement to think or act. It's lazy.

Then there is this Gem. First of all, I think helmet laws are a farce. It's just another way the state manages to control us. I think helmets are a good idea, don't misunderstand me, but we live in a free country, right? In my mind, in a free country, the jackbooted thugs don't have the right to tell you that you must wear a helmet. Of course, it's the law. Which means some mamby pamby, let's protect you from everything, body of law makers decided it was best for us all...

When will we realize how important the concept of individual freedom and liberty really is. We have forgotten that. Politicians, under the guise of protecting us and making society better, slowly curtail our freedoms and load us up with to-do's. Next thing you know, we will be required to wear helmets just to go out for a walk, lest we fall down and hit our head.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Book stuff..

My latest book has shown up on Amazon. It's the OCP prep guide for Oracle Database 11g. I'm pretty excited about it, and I think it's going to be a bang up book!

My old friend and co-author from back in the Coriolis days, Charles Pack (who is also author of an Oracle Press book), is co-authoring this book with me. Charles is a great writer and fantastic Oracle guy. I'm looking forward to his work on this project.

Writing books is a love hate affair for me. Sometimes I love the work, sometimes I hate the work. For 3-4 months it's deadline, schedule, write, deadline, write, deadline, etc... then, there are the edits.

Every chapter you write goes to a technical editor and then a copy editor. These folks take your hard work and turn it on its ear. In the end, it makes a much better product, but it also tends to make authors sick (at least it does me sometimes). Once these daemons of the dark have done their work, you have to go back through, review their changes and questions and fix any mistakes. There is more to the process, but maybe I'll comment on later processes as we get on down the line.

Book writing is an amazing process, and it's a wonder but mistakes do still get though, sometimes big ones. Nothing makes me sicker than to pull a brand spanking new book out of the box, open it up and then find the first mistake. Ackkkkkk!!!!

Then, there are the reviews. Oh man, maybe that's a whole different post too. Suffice to say, your first sweet review makes for a great day. The first sour review makes you swear you will never write another word. They can be painful.

For those of you who think that those of us who write get rich off of the deal, please think again. I've written 13 books now (I think).... for the first 4 I didn't see any royalties. Yes, I did get some advances, but if you figure out how many hours you write and divide it by the advances... well I just calculated it out and it comes to maybe 15 to 20 dollars an hour (and thats being very liberal with how much time I spend per chapter). I can tell you that if you have a popular book, you can make more than that, but you don't sell books in the millions like Steven King. Royalty checks are nice, but there is never any guarentee.

So, why do I write? One, I like it. Two, I have to admit that the emails I get on a regular basis about my RMAN book in particualr are very motivating. I've had people tell me that my book pulled their database from certain death. That is very motivating. I also find it keeps me up on the latest and greatest. I think it's too easy to be complaciant in our DBA jobs. Doing what we do, the normal way we do it. Well, the technology and the job is a-changin'... I want to be there as it does and be a part of it.

Finally, lest you think writing is easy work, I can probably find a writing project for you if you are glutting for punishment and can write. :-) You will hate me after six months probably.

Hail Oracle!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Do they actually check facts...

So, for some reason I'm reading the (in my opinion) leftest leaning Newsweek magazine. The old adage know your enemy comes to mind. I'm left with the question, do they hire fact checkers anymore and do they bother to even try to get facts right. This isn't even about a political comment, no, it's about an airplane!

If you read page 16 in the "Special Republican Convention Issue" of Newsweek you will find that Andrew Romano has been flying around on a Boeing A321. That pretty hard since Boeing does not make the A321, Airbus does. Hey Andrew, did you check you facts there buddy. The emergency briefing card in the seat pocket in front of you would have told you it's not a Boeing airplane there buddy. It's a Boeing competitor, Airbus, that builds the A321.

Now, if they will screw something that mundane up, how badly can they screw up other things I wonder.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This should make your blood boil...

I for one get a bit tired of the press at times. Still, this is a free country right? Yeah, right. Read this link. Here we have an ABC reporter on a *public* sidewalk, being arrested. Make sure you check out the video, it will make your blood boil. What the heck is wrong with the Denver police? Someone needs to loose their job over this.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I was reading Dan Norris's blog Here and got a twang of sadness realizing I've not been to the UKOUG in at least 3 years now. I think the UKOUG is perhaps my favorite user conference (excepting, perhaps, when Collaborate is at Disney). The folks at the UKOUG know how to put on a conference and everyone is quite nice. The UKOUG draws the cream of the crop, with the likes of Tom Kyte, Jonathan Lewis and many others. Why they ever selected little old me I'll never know!

The only down side to the UKOUG is that it's typically in or around December and it can be COLD there. I remember one year I was there and I'd never felt such cold. Wow!!

The Hyatt there is a very nice hotel. None of this small Europe hotel room here. This is a hotel with space!! The food is fantastic and there is enough to do to keep you busy in the evenings. During December they usually will have a little winter type of carnival there too.

Plus I love the UK. It's just a wonderful place. London is just a great place to be, and if I could live there I just might do so (though I love America!!). My wife loves Paris, so being close to Paris would be heaven to her too!!

Ahhhh.... UKOUG, missing you today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is this freedom? The fairness doctrine...

Is this freedom?


The "Fairness" doctrine is nothing but an attempt to silence us. Note in the article above how the slippery slope is already being warned about. Perhaps those of you who don't like Rush Limbaugh or the other right wing talk show hosts think that the fairness doctrine is a great weapon, but I'm telling you that this weapon is the destruction of one of our principle freedoms, the ability to say what we think, when we wish and in a manner that we wish.

Personally, I have seen little that I think places this country and our principles of freedom more at risk than the "Fairness" doctrine. It is in our best interests to contact our congressmen and make sure they understand that the fareness doctrine is nothing of the sort.

I must confess... it makes me oddly happy

So, looking at Drudge Report today, I find that Nancy Pelosi's book, out for two weeks now, has only sold 5,333 copies. Ya know, technical books don't sell a lot of copies, but it's nice to know that *I* have more than one title that's sold more copies than Nancy has. I'd even suggest that my books are more worth while reading. Just my thinking.

Monday, July 14, 2008

People, really, you need to understand ecconomics...

So, a bank failed this weekend, IndyMac. I found some of the press interesting. Here we have someone that learned a hard lesson from the failure, you are responsible for your money, nobody else:

"We have money we are afraid we are going to lose, I wish we were a little more savvy."

Right on! That is the attitude!

This is what happens when we turn to the government to protect us from everything. We become complacent, and we forget that in the end we are ones responsible for our success or failure.

You might say, hey, how were they supposed to know the bank would fail? Thats a good question. Some economics might have given you a clue. Generally the return on an investment is indicative of it's risk. One school teacher indicated he used IndyMac bank because of the "High interest rates it offered on deposits". One might wonder WHY the bank pays higher interest rates than other banks. This might well be a clear indication that you are taking more risk. It's not full-proof, but it's a good start.

In the end, I'd never put more than 100k in any bank (250k for retirement accounts). It's just bad business.

No doubt we will hear calls for more regulation and controls instead of calls for people educating themselves and understanding some simple economic facts. I'm all for regulation in the form of disclosure, by the way. We need to see all the facts, and then we need to be allowed the opportunity to make our own choices. This is true with banking, mortgages and anything else in this country. I don't need the government to protect me, just to make sure I have the information I need to make informed choices.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

My own measure of the economy....

So, everyone has been hearing how bad things are. The economy, housing, etc... I have my own economic dipstick and it's looking pretty sorry I must say. I am involved in a website called prosper.com.

Here I have a small amount of money parked that I've loaded to various people. Prosper is a unique community. Here you bid on loans, and various bids are combined together to make up a single loan. For example, someone might want to borrow $1000.00. On Prosper I will chip in $50 bucks, and 19 other people will chip in $50 bucks (or maybe some will chip in $100 or $200, whatever is needed). Once the loan is funded it's made.

So, usually with Prosper I always have one person who is like 15 days behind. I've had four people majority default on me in the past, that is the risk you take. Now, though, it's worse than it's ever been. Right now out of 17 loans I have:

11: Current
2: Late (<15d)
1: 1 month late
1: 3 months late
2: 4+ months late

Thats as bad as I've ever seen it. While this isn't a disaster, it certainly demonstrates that some people are finding it rough out there.

We need to turn this economy around. We need to be drilling for oil now. We need to cut taxes more now. We need to deal with the housing crisis now. We need quick resolution on foreclosure issues, quick resolution on adjustable mortgages that are about to have rates adjusted again, making payment impossible for the folks who will be impacted.

There are those that would say that they signed the mortgages, they should have read and understood the cost, the likelihood of a rate increase and how much that increase would be. They believe that we should just let the homeowner melt, and allow a hard, corrective action to occur.

There are those that would propose more regulation, more restriction and control over the mortgage industry.

I suggest both sides are wrong. I suggest that allowing a boat load of mortgages move into foreclosure is not good for this economy long term. It's not good for anyone except a few predatory investors waiting for the destruction to be complete. Foreclosure is not in the best interests of the mortgage companies, already reeling with red ink. To me, it seems that the best solution might well be a re-negotiation between the mortgage holder and the owner, making it possible for the owner to keep his or her house, and keeping the mortgage holders income stream going. A win-win for both in my mind.

Finally, the long term solution to this comes in the form of education and regulation in the sense of disclosure. I don't want to limit what kinds of mortgages are available, I don't want to add more regulation in a already heavily regulated world but we need to make sure that we understand the impacts of the papers we are signing. This is where education and disclosure come hand in hand. Can we require 8 hours of education before any first homeowner purchase? Can we require homeowner 101 be made available in the schools? We need a plan. Who will step up to the problem and make one without dragging us down with further regulation.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chicago and Mayor Richard M. Daley...

So, it's been a while since I've blogged. It's been a busy time working on a number of different projects.

This week has taken me to one of my old homes, the Chicago area. I spent a week here teaching a class. The class was a great experience. I had a room full of technically savvy folks, which makes the teaching process so easy. These guys were sharp and very nice. I met my first DJ - A-Swift (who's real name is Aaron) from California there... Nice guy. Here is his web site:


While here, the Supreme Court announced it's decision on the District of Columbia vs. Heller case, otherwise known as the handgun case. This leads me to Richard Daley, the Mayor of Chicago.

I remember when I first moved to Chicago, I heard Daley open his mouth on the news and thought to myself, "How does someone who clearly lacks even a basic understanding of life manage to not only get put into office, but stay there." As I continued to live here, I found myself disagreeing with Daley on just about every topic you can imagine. What really bugged me is that his logic for his positions was so lacking and so invisible. In fact, there rarely was any logic but more a sound byte, or an insult or some statement that just seems to be filled with air. One of the things that I most enjoyed about moving away from Chicago was NOT having to listen to his drivel and his less-than-well-thought-out opinions.

You see, I don't mind someone who can challenge my point of view with some good logic... a good argument will go a long way to helping me to adjust my point of view. I'm not set in my ways, but you better have a good set of reasons for your point of view, and emotion does not count. Be smart, be succinct, and make sure that in the end you are defending the rights of human beings everywhere if you are going to change my mind. My mind can be changed, it has been many times before.

Daley, in response to the Supreme Court decision said:

"...the Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller is "very frightening" for America..." and also he said, "Why don't we do away with the court system?" Daley said. "The old West - you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle on the street."

Remember that this was about someones ability to have a handgun in their own home. The criminal is not concerned with the court system or anything else. The court system is small recompense for a dead homeowner in a home invasion, or a homeowner who has the nerve to come home in the middle of a robbery. The court system is of little comfort to the families of victims of these kinds of incidents.

Daley is clearly an "American" that has yet to sit and read the constitution and it's associated Bill of Rights. He had this brilliant statement to make:

"The Supreme Court and Congress has no obligation to keep our country safe. That falls on the backs of mayors and local officials,”

If Daley were smart he might make the argument that the second amendment does not apply to personal ownership of guns. Instead he makes a totally indefensible statement that somehow the federal government has no obligation to "keep our country safe". In light of the pre-amble of the constitution, this must be among the most stupid comments that I've ever seen from any human being, period. Our federal government has every obligation to keep our country safe. Mr. Daley, for your edification, let me repeat the preamble of the constitution of this great nation:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Men like Daley, and their stupid (in my opinion), socialist/communist, get me the left wing votes, un-american ramblings are protected by this same constitution and it's related amendments. I for one am thankful that I don't have to live in an area where I hear all that much from him anymore. Stupidity in politics is one thing, but flaming stupidity is another.

And yet, he keeps getting re-elected. What is in the water in that town?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beware the hidden parameters... magic comes at a cost!

I was reading a series of posts on Oracle-L which had to do with a database that would not come up due to undo tablespace corruption.


There are some undocumented ways to respond to undo corruption. An example of one way is mentioned in the following blog (you can find this solution many places, but this is just one example I found):


(note there are other solutions for other specific conditions, but the same basic principles exist - I also have not taken painstaking measures to review the technical content of this blog entry, so use it at your own risk!!).

Now, the point of this post is this. The magic UNDO solution suggested here, using hidden parameters is all well and good, you might well get your database open again. I've been in places where this method was used just fine, and the database opened.

Unfortunately, afterwards folks didn't want to consider the potential negative ramifications to the database having used this method. What is the problem you ask? Well think about what UNDO is all about. Undo is the before image of a block that has been changed. It's used during recovery to rollback any uncommitted changes. The implication here then is that your data may well be inconsistent after you open the database using the method outlined above.

Want more? Think about the system tablespace and the Oracle metadata. IT used UNDO also, and so the SYSTEM tablespace data may well be inconsistent. Thus, you essentially have a corrupted SYSTEM tablespace. Not a good situation.

So, if you are going to use this big hammer, consider these implications. What I'd do is if you manage to get your database open, use exp or expdp to do a backup, recreate the thing and then load the data into the database. Your data may still be corrupt, but at least the system tablespace will be pure.

You can go fix your own data yourself.

Finally, this can all be magically solved if you introduce a sound and TESTED BACKUP STRATEGY before you have the failure. If you have a sound backup strategy I can almost assure you that you will never run into this kind of situation.

Oh yeah, I wrote a book on just that topic, backing up your database with RMAN....


Thursday, April 17, 2008

I have HAD IT!!! And I'm not going to take it anymore.

Ok... time to vent. I like to read. Magazines are among my favorite form of reading (I like science magazines, airplane magazines, train magazines, financial and the like). I like them because the information is generally current, up to date and always interesting.

But I'm SICK AND TIRED of this.... I'm reading in my favorite magazine. I turn the page, and this STUPID CARD comes flying out and lands on the floor. With each stupid magazine maybe 2-4 of these buzz bombs falls out. This is IRRITATING to me. Not only is it irritating when they just fall to the floor and mess it up, but I like to sit in my bath and read from time to time too... so then the cards get wet. Plus it's just killing more trees.

So, I have a plan. I think we should all take these cards, shred them up and then send a bulk set of them to each publisher once a month with a letter that says, STOP PUTTING LOOSE SUBSCRIPTION CARDS IN MY MAGAZINE!!

Does anyone hate this as much as I do?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Collaborate and Clifford...

I've been working on my Collaborate University Session which is coming up in 2 weeks!! If you have any interest in 11g, it will be a good introduction to many of the new features in the product. I will be doing lecture and a lot of live demo's. I'm working on the live demo's for AWR right now.

If you have read one of my books you may have read about Clifford. Clifford is not a big red dog in this case, but an old (12+ years), cranky fur ball who I just love to death and somehow manage to get along with.

You see... my history with cats, and that of our family, is checkered. Not that I'm mean to them in any way, but I've never been a big cat fan to be honest. The truth though is that cat's never faired well in this family. There was Snowball who just died... then there was Fred who we lost somewhere between Oklahoma City and Seattle.

Then there was the day I got a call from my ex-wife.... she was crying, and I asked what happened. She said that she had gotten in the car and started the engine. All of a sudden, from under the hood of the car was this poof of fur and a ker-tump. It was cold, the cat wanted to be warm, and you can imagine the rest. Unhappy kids that day I can tell you.

Then there is Fonzie, who is our other cat. Fonzie has had her own close calls, including crawling up in the engine of the car of one of my kids friends. Fonzie got singed, burned and humbled but survived.

Then, there is Clifford. The old man of cats. Clifford sits on my feet, keeping them warm. He growls at Fonzie, making sure that Fonzie is clear on who is the senior animal in the house. Clifford stalks invisible prey (as does Fonzie). Cliffords nemesis is Denali, who is this harmless black lab/Shepard mix. Denali wants to make friends... Clifford doesn't trust Denali any farther than he can meow at her. Clifford will steathly stalk around Denali... watching carefully for some subliminal sign of impending attack. Of course, the only attacking Denali is likely to do is a lick Cliffords face off attack, but Clifford does not seem to understand this.

Hey, he keeps my feet warm! Here are some pictures of Clifford. This is one with him curled up under my desk, snoozing away. Lazy cat!!

Here he is under my wife's desk.... silly cat...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

N7598U goes in for it's annual checkup!

So, my Cessna 150 (I own two airplanes, the other is a Mooney M20) is going through it's annual ...

Jared and I went to the airport last Saturday and with our A&P Roberto we opened up all the inspection panels, tore out the interior and so on. That took about two hours or so!

Today Roberto did the inspection of the fuselage which turned out great. I thought I'd share a few pictures with you...

Here is N7598U from her port side. Note the ladder holding up the back end. This was because my son Jared was in the back pulling out all the inspection plates and interior... He's heavy enough that when he's at the back of the airplane it would tip!!

This is from the interior of the airplane looking back towards the tail section. Perhaps not exciting... :-)

Here is where I am usually sitting.... seats and carpet removed for inspection ...

DIRTY CARPET!! Needs replaced badly so I'm going to see if I can't find some...

Roberto my trusty A&P mechanic doing the annual!!

Ok, so this isn't related to Oracle Database 11g but there you are, proof that my life is about more than Oracle!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Collaborate commith and Battlestar Galactica - I'm depressed!

Has it really been almost a month since I've done an update on this blog!?!?!? Wow. Well I've been busy getting over my foot killing me, then the flu and now my knee is killing me. I swear, I'm falling apart!!

I'm also busy preparing for Collaborate '08. I'm doing a University session on Oracle Database 11g New Features. If you have not signed up yet, now is the time!! In the session I will be talking about upgrading to 11g, and highlighting and demonstrating a number of the new features out there. The University sessions are not that expensive and this session will be a great way to get some exposure to 11g!

However, I must confess that I'm a bit depressed about it all too. One of my passions of late is Battlestar Galactica and it's music. I love the music that Bear McCreary does for the series (as poor Lisa can attest too). Bear does a concert every year, playing the music from the series live.. I wanted to goto this thing last year but could not. I just noticed that he has setup this years concert on April 13th... which is the day I'll be in Denver doing my University session. WHAAAAAHHHHH!!! Maybe I can go next year.

Bears music is a great combination of in your face raw music and lighter, sit down and relax music. If you get an opportunity to listen to the soundtrack of season 3 of Battlestar you will not be disappointed. Here is an example that is on YouTube right now... It's called Prelude to War and it's one of my favorites.

Finally, we are doing the annual on 7598U right now. I'm going to goto the airport and take some pictures of the bird now that she's all opened up. I'll post those shortly.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Writing effective book reviews

I was looking at Amazon.com today.... I admit, I like to see how my books are doing. I saw that April Well's book "Everyday Oracle DBA" was on the top 100 (which is a bit rare for that book) and I opened the books page to just take a gander. Let me be clear at the outset that I do not know April, I have no monitary interest in this book in any form whatever. In fact, I have not read her book, so I have no idea if it has any merit.

The book has one Amazon review with a single star. This is the sum of the review:

April J. Wells had done a good job for his earlier 11i DBA book but this book is not good for any level of DBA.

I have more than a few problems with this review.

1. This is a worthless review. What does it say? Nothing at all. Tell me why this book is no good. Give me some examples and some detail. Why waste your time and mine with a pointless review that has nothing to say but some very huge sweeping unsupported statement.

2. Don't embarrass yourself writing a review by saying stupid things. Now, we all say stupid things, I'm probably at the front of the line in that department. If you have something of substance to say, then I can forgive a spelling error, a grammar error or even a mistake. However, within the context of this totally worthless review are two huge errors that just make me cringe. First, APRIL is a Female. Note that the reviewer calls her a male (...his 11i DBA book...). Second, someone tell the reviewer that the product is called 11g NOT 11i.

I don't mind an objective and fair review, even one that is tough. I personally think it should be a requirement that every reviewer of any work be required to at least write a 10 page white paper on some related subject and have it scrutinized by a vast audience. Then, you are qualified to be a critic, in my mind.

I could go on. I've seen a number of examples of this kind but I don't have time right now to ferret them out.

Hidden nugget, if you made it through here.... Did you know that 11g RMAN now offers substitution variables? Now, for example, you can do something like this:

backup as compressed backupset database tag '&1' plus archivelog delete input;

And start rman like this:

rman target=/ @backup.cmd using 'GOLD_COPY'

and it will create a backup with tag = gold_copy

Thats your nibble of 11g for today!! :-)

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oracle Database 11g XML New Features

I thought I'd share with you some 11g news... that is a goodly number of the new XML related features in 11g simply don't work very well. Performance is the big problem. We had a major project that we were working on that needed to use some of the new 11g XML features and it just sucked wind. I am sad to report that it was *SO* bad that we ended up going with a different database vendor.

This was a huge loss Oracle, particularly after I stuck my neck out and said we needed to use Oracle. At the moment I can't go into details about the problems, but I just wanted to warn you early adopters to test carefully.

TSA in Denver - How often does this happen that we don't see it.

So I'm returning from the RMOUG today. It's been a bad trip to be honest because I sprained my ankle and it hurts sooo bad. I have pain pills for it but they loop me out so bad that I had to cancel my presentation today. I apologize to ANYONE who was wanting to talk about 11g.

Anyway I was at the airport and there was a flight to Atlanta at the gate next to mine. They had loaded the entire airplane up. Then I watched as they pulled two passengers off. One was a young lady (perhaps 15) and the other was her mother (a single mother taking her only daughter on a cruise).

Come to find out, after talking to the mother, that both were supposed to get secondary screening from TSA. The bozo's at the TSA screening area didn't notice that BOTH of them needed to get screened, and missed one of them. (Did I mention that in this same trip I overheard a couple talking about TSA missing a ceramic knife that the sister of one of them was carying through the screening area?).

Delta caught the error (after boarding the two) and pulled them off the airplane. The poor 15 year old was crying her heart out as she was de-boarded which is why I noticed the whole thing in the first place. Apparently the brain trust at Delta has a policy that they do not hold planes for TSA and our brilliant brains at TSA took their jolly time getting to the gate. If TSA had made an effort to get to the gate on time, they might have made it. I will give kudo's to the CSR at the gate though, he kept his cool and was very kind. He was just following policy.

What just floored me is that after the TSA folks got there, they didn't DO anything except talk to the Delta agent..... all this while the two were just sitting there and the plane backed out of the gate.

Now, Delta has them rebooked on a red-eye, so they will not be missing the cruise unless something else happens, but they will be exhausted from the experience. To me this was stupidity on the part of TSA and Delta. These two were clearly no threat, they were not even searched after pulling them off the airplane and the airplane only would have needed to wait about 5 minutes more for them.

Someone needs to bust some TSA behind in Denver over this, and Delta needs to reconsider it's policies and procedures with respect to situations like this.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A personal note - A great man has died...

If you have read this blog you have probably figured out that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I also work at the headquarters of my church in Salt Lake City.

The leader of our church for many years has been Gordon B. Hinckley. He is our Prophet, leader and was a man of great character.

President Hinckley died today, at the age 97. It is both a happy event and a sad event.

It is sad that we should loose such a great man. His influence in the church has been immense. Perhaps you have seen an LDS temple while driving somewhere, it's quite likely that it was built during his lifetime and even during his tenure as president. They are magnificent buildings to be sure but even more magnificent is what happens in these buildings.

It is a happy event because we believe that life goes on after death. In our faith, families can be forever through the blessings available in the temple. None of this until death do us part. As such, President Hinckley returns to his wife Marjorie who has been waiting for him to return to her on the other side of the veil.

More information on the life of President Hinckley is available at:


God bless you President Hinckley, we will miss you.

Respectful comments about President Hinckley and the church are most welcome. Negative comments on this topic will not be posted. Thanks!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cloverfield and a special surprise!!

So, I took my boys to go see Cloverfield this weekend. The movie was ok, but it was way to short and the hand cam business is way overdone.

But the BEST part of Cloverfield was this (no spoiler):

One great Star Trek teaser for the new movie! What do you think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Something for Oracle DBA's to worry about?

So, I do odd things like check the database book best seller lists on different book selling web sites. One thing I've noticed which bothers me a little bit is this....

On Amazon the first Oracle book that shows up on the Database best seller list is number 35. Before that book are 4 books on SQL Server, another 4 books on MS Access (please, get a real database) and 2 on MYSql and an assortment of how to do SQL books.

On Bookpool, the first Oracle book is number 11, with 8, count 'em 8 SQL Server books ahead if it. 4 more SQL Server books sit between the first Oracle book and the next.

What is also interesting is that many of these SQL Server books are certification books.

So, this makes me wonder, is there some momentum behind SQL Server that we Oracle DBA's need to be watching for? Do we need to protect ourselves and our skill sets by becoming SQL Server DBA's? Certainly, to add SQL Server to our set of skills is not a bad thing in and of itself, but is it becoming imperative to long term employability?

What is the implication of the fact that many of the SQL Server books being sold are certification books? Does this mean that there is an increasing demand for SQL Server DBA's?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

And the results are in... Blog Poll Results

The results are in from our poll and here they are (note, numbers are rounded, so totals will not always be 100%).

1. Which of the following (if any) Oracle DBA conferences do you feel you get the most benefit out of?

Surprising winner was: User conferences? Who has the money? with 18% of the vote! I don't think this is an indication that DBA's don't think there is value there, because User conferences? Who cares? actually did quite badly with 7% of the vote.

Of the conferences listed, the popular ones are (in order):

IOUG - Collaborate with 17% of the vote
HOTSOS and Local User Conferences tied with 13% of the vote each.
Oracle Open World got 11% of the votes.

I should point out that HOTSOS was a late entrant to the poll, so this 13% is a very strong showing!!

2. If a new Oracle book were written now, which topic would you find of the most interest?
The top vote getter was Another Oracle DBA topic of interest not listed here with 28% of the vote. The topics listed in the subsequent question were wide and varied (and a couple I won't repeat here).

Second mention goes to a new book titled: How to move into another non-DBA career and not go broke with 20% of the vote. For some time this was the #1 answer, but it lost steam after a while. Perhaps a sad commentary on being a DBA these days?

Other book ideas:

Deep Dark OEM 18%
Deep dard Oracle networking 17%
Deep dark APEX 9.3%
Book, who needs anymore stinkin' books? trailed with 8% of the vote.

The next question: How many Oracle books did you buy in 2007 for yourself? ended up thusly:

1-2 45%
3-5 42%
5-10 8%
10-15 4%
I just buy way to many books! 2%

SADLY, most of you have not installed Oracle Database 11g yet. Only 41% of you said you have. The rest of you had not. Happily, not one person voted for SQL Server instead!!

You favorite authors in the list? The TOP five were:

1. Lewis
2. Kyte
3. Hart
4. Loney
5. Freeman (thanks!! :-) )

Not everyone voted for every author. The top five Author vote getters were:

1. Kyte
2. Lewis
3. Freeman
4. Burleson
5. Feuerstein

I hoped you liked this poll..... I'll be doing another one soon as it was a blast for me!! :-)

HAPPY 2008!!!!

Oracle Data Pump Hidden Feature

So, I was playing with an 11g new feature one day, trying to figure out how to make it work. The documentation was unclear until I remembered a little salient point that I'd forgotten. Let me share with you what I discovered and at the same time talk about Oracle Data Pump and point out a feature or two you might have forgotten or not realized had existed.

So, did you know that Oracle Data Pump can use one of two methods when exporting and importing objects? One is direct path mode and the other is by using external tables. (There is actually a third, using a direct network link, but let's forget that one for a moment).

Data Pump will try to use the direct path method if possible. There are a number of cases where it will have to use external tables. Which leads me to a hidden feature in Data Pump, the access_method=external_table switch. There are some cases (bugs) where Oracle Data Pump won't be able to load your data unless you have used the external_table method to import the data (I'd bet there are some export bugs too, but I'm not aware of them). The access_method=external_table switch can be used to force Data Pump to use the external table method of loading or unloading data.

THIS leads to an 11g NEW FEATURE which I will discuss in my next 11g related blog posting very very soon. Poll results are coming up in the next couple of days, stay tuned!
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