Monday, February 25, 2008

Writing effective book reviews

I was looking at 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.
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