jump to navigation

Advertising appearing? August 10, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging.
Tags:
8 comments

I’m curious – is anyone visiting my blog seeing some form of advertising popping up?

I ask as there is a section on “links clicked” in the stats page and rather than the usual traffic of people clicking on the oaktable logo or people in my blogroll, the most common link is for ecopressed-dot-com. I’ve never heard of them. When I go in to my blog I don’t seen anything but then it knows it is “me” so maybe it would not.

I’m not too bothered about it, after all WordPress are hosting my blog for pretty much nothing {I pay them some outrageous sum of a few US dollars a year so I can alter my CSS file and thus make the layout wider}. I’m just curious.

I wonder if this is a result of increased traffic to my site? I’m still fairly small-fry compared to lots of other sites but as I’ve been putting out more stuff of late I think I’m going up the web rankings. Oddly enough, those pictures of bullets I put on last Friday’s philosophy have been very popular. I can’t help but feel that most people looking for information on bullets are going to find a blog about IT somewhat disappointing:-)

Friday Philosophy – Picture Theft!!! July 28, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Friday Philosophy, Perceptions.
Tags: , , ,
7 comments

Last week’s Friday Philosophy was a bit of a moan about how hard I find it to make nice graphics, how long it takes and no one seems to care that much about the results.

Well, after those two days effort on the pictures and the afore mentioned moan, irony of irony, someone has stolen one of my graphics!. So someone likes my effortsūüėČ. It is the one that represents how you scan down the levels of an index and then link across to the table via the rowid.

Before I go any further I better make it clear that I am not really upset about it at all:-). In fact, since the scoundrel included a link back to my web page and they are considerably better known than I, my little blog has had a big up-swing in traffic as a result, which is nice. Mind you, as the person who borrowed my diagram is SQL Server expert Steve Jones, of SQLSeverCentral/Redgate fame, most of my new audience are probably pretty focused on the SQL Server RDBMS and not Oracle, so unlikely to make many return visits unless they are work across the RDBMS boundaries.

What also gives me a little smile is that I have stumbled over the fact that I myself, back in November 2009, was looking for such a diagram {of the way Oracle steps down the index to the leaf blocks, gets the rowid and then straight to the table row} to ‘borrow’ for a post of my own on BLevel and heights of indexes. I even confessed at the time to looking for and failing to find one to use…

Humour aside, it set me to thinking though. Borrowing content is a perennial and thorny issue.

Occasionally someone will start putting content out on their blog or web site and it turns out that much of that content is directly obtained from other peoples’ blogs and websites – copy&pasted straight in or with little changes. That is generally seen by the original author as unacceptable and once they find out they object. In such cases it sometimes seems the culprit is unaware of this being a transgression and, once it is explained that they have effectively stolen many hours or days of someone’s efforts, they remove the material. Others seem aware this is theft but do not care until caught. Occasionally the culprit sees no error in their ways at all, even when challenged, as the material had been put “out there” so they now consider it free to all. I certainly do not agree. Perhaps the worst thing you see though is people including parts of published books, or even putting the whole book out there for download. Such people should of course have their hands stapled to their backsides in punishment, that is simple theft. Writing blogs takes a long time and effort, writing technical books takes forever and monumental effort. I know from friends that the financial return for such efforts is pitiful enough as it is.

On the other side of the coin, many of us put our stuff out there on the web to be read and used and are very happy for it to spread, to be borrowed from and disseminated. Like nearly all DBAs and developers, over the years I have written lots of little SQL scripts to pull information out of the data dictionary or do little database management tasks. I happily give away copies of these to anyone who wants them (and you can get them off my web site if you like, but just pretend it is not my website, as it is truly awful). All I ever ask is that whoever takes them leaves my name in them.

I think that is core to the issue. I suspect many of us bloggers are happy for small parts of our output to be borrowed so long as credit is given. I certainly am {but please note, this is my personal opinion – other bloggers may object very strongly and any repercussions on you in respect of taking material from other blogs and web sites is your concern}. However, Volume is also part of it. The larger the chunk you borrow, the more acknowledgement I would need to be happy about it. Borrowing a single diagram or a paragraph out of a page of text is OK, given I am cited for it. Taking most of a post would probably not, unless you asked first, were really nice about it and about me. Nicking a set of course notes I wrote is certainly unacceptable, no matter how much you put “originally written by that wonderful Martin Widlake” on it.

So, I think you need to cite the source as “payment” for using it. Perhaps the best way to do it is by simply linking to the material rather than putting it on your blog/website, but that does not work if you need the content within yours to make sense. In which case, I think Steve Jones’ approach of putting the content in his and including a link is reasonable. It might have been nice if there was a comment saying where the image came from but I can live without it. Despite my joking about it giving me more hits to my blog, it does not matter that his is a popular web site and gives me more hits. Even if a site gets no traffic, if someone has borrowed a small part of my output but cited me as the source, I’m cool with that.

The problem though is judging what is a “small” part to borrow and what is acceptable to the original author. We all perceive such things differently. So the safest thing is to ask the original author. If I want to use an idea that came from someone else in one of my blogs or a solution they came up with, I always ask and I ask if they want to be cited. This includes discussions in email or in the pub. I ask. If when preparing my blogs I learn a lot from someone else’s blog, I stick in a link and a comment, even though I will have written my own text. I hope that so far I have not upset anyone when I borrow a little.

Photos are a different issue though. I am not going to even attempt to cover that one!

Snowdon viewed from Yr Aran

There is life in the old dog yet… March 14, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging.
Tags:
11 comments

My Blog has been unforgivably quiet of late. All I can say in my defence is “work”. I’ve blogged about this before, and mentioned it in presentations, but most of us are too tied up in the day job to test things properly, let alone blog or in other ways present on how things work. We fix the problem in front of us and move on to the next “critical, absolute priority 1A plus, must-be-fixed-today” issue. So like most of you, that has been my life for…ohh, months.
{I makes me even more thankful to those who continually find the time to test properly and blog about what they have found, on top of their “earning” work}

However, my working life is looking like it will return to a more reasonable balance soon.

So, this blog post is a statement of intent that I WILL be blogging again in the next week or so. OK, so this post is not of any use to anyone reading, but it means I now feel morally obliged to follow up on the statement (and that is actually the intent of this blog post).

I’m going to blog on two technical areas.

One is gathering Stats, which I am utterly sick of and tired of doing in my working life. So I figure if I tell anyone who will listen all I know about gathering system, fixed object, dictionary and object stats and give some hints as to what I have come to think of as methods and techniques for doing so, I might not have to think about it any more. I can tell people to read my blog and not hire me to do it for them. Maybe a career limiting move but I was never that bright:-)

The second topic will be Index Organised Tables (IOTs). They are great. Ohhh, they have drawbacks and concerns, after all no tuning trick is For Free and I know one person (who I shall refer to only as Dave) who’s career was almost destroyed due to an Oracle 9 to 10 “feature” on IOTs involving corruption. But IOTs are {in my opinion} a vastly under-used feature of Oracle and could be useful to many Oracle sites. If anyone wants help with them, I’ll let you hire me for that and I will come and help gladly. So long as no bl00dy stats are involved:-)

So, having drawn my own line in the sand to do some Technical Blogs (I actually have enough waffle-based Friday Philosophy topics to last 2 years but have promised myself to balance them with decent technical posts) I better go and write them.

Advert – a new Blog to watch August 24, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging.
Tags:
add a comment

A friend of mine who’s work and attitude towards Oracle performance and architecture I respect has just started blogging, so I thought I would give him a mention. Dave Webster, welcome to the world of blogging.

I know from some discussions with Dave about blogging that he has a lot of things he wants to cover (and he knows an awful lot; he has been working on especially OLTP-type performance for many years). So, no pressure Dave, but I expect lots of good stuff from you:-)

A new Blog to watch May 22, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging.
Tags:
add a comment

I thought I would mention a new Blog that has started that promises to have some good stuff on it, Which is Nigel Noble’s Oracle Blog. I should say, more good stuff on it as Nigel has already put up a few excellent posts, one on PL/SQL array performance, another on connection pooling.

I’m lucky to be working in the same company as Nigel at present. He’s the sort of person I like to go and talk to when I can’t work out my own Oracle issues, as he appreciates how the Oracle database and the hardware all fit together. Well, better than I do at any rate. And he’s helpful, so I am pleased to be able to pay him back a little by this ad.

I’ve added him to my blog roll also.

I’m still here, honest May 18, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Perceptions, Private Life.
Tags: ,
3 comments

In the last 24 hours I’ve had four emails asking if I am OK – Apparently I am not blogging or bothering people via email! Well, I am OK (and thanks guys for the concern), I was just knackered.

Rule 1 of blogging “no one cares about you as an individual” (and, I am glad to say, that is a myth. Even in the zero-physical-contact medium of electronic communication, some have been concerned about my silence. Humanity may yet have a future)

Truth is, I damaged myself trying to get healthier {so it is back to the eating pies and drinking beer for me!*} and that caused lack of sleep and more unhealth and I ended up very, very, very tired and I was reduced to putting all my energy into doing the day job.

This has nothing to do with a Blog on technology and database, of course.

Ahh, but Yes, it does, it actually has a hell of a lot to do with it. I have been tired, hard-pressed and under-performing. So I concentrated on doing my primary job and nothing else. So I have not blogged and I have not emailed people and I have not generally helped as much as I would like.

The thing is, if you think of your comrades and fellow staff (and, for some of you, the people who work for you) most people around you could well be the same. The primary directive of business, at present, is to get everything for your current task out of the staff right now. That is the prime directive, push the staff hard to get x, y and z done. Or, for those of you working under an Agile Methodology, the handful of tasks in front of you for this sprint {or whatever the hell terminology is for your take on the “Get It Done NOW” methodology}.

I have had no bandwidth to do more than my day job of late. And I stopped helping. I think some current working practices and philosophies have the same, chronic effect.

Is this a good thing? I will let you decide.

For myself, I’ve had a week walking in Snowdonia (and I was not fit enough to get the best out of the time, but mentally it was a God-send). I thought nothing about technology; I thought very little at all. I walked up hills, I drank beer and wine and I ate lots of pies. And I now feel good.

I know I am doing better work now than I was 2 weeks ago.

So, I hope to start doing proper technical blogs again in the next week or so. But right now, having had a week of total down-time, I am ready and need to do my day job again. And they pay me, so I better go off and do it! Expect a proper technical blog next week.

{* I joke about damaging myself getting fitter, but I feel condemned to point out that being generally fitter and healthier is a good thing, even if you hurt yourself getting there. It is better to be old and fit than old and decrepit. Or old and dead.:-) I’m full of happy thoughts like that…}

Welcome to the Wider Layout April 2, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging.
Tags:
7 comments

Noticed anything new about my blog? It seems to have been eating pies and grown wider, somewhat like it’s author.

I’d really appreciate any feedback on if this new width is acceptable or is too large for how you browse the internet. I know it will be too wide for netbook users (of which I am one) without scaling the screen to 75%, but I seriously needed more space.

I very much liked the look of my blog when I set it up and I’ve been very happy with the service WordPress supplies for free for my blog. Their technical support have even answered a couple of questions I have thrown their way over the last 10 months or so {I get better free support off WordPress than I have had from software I’ve paid for}. But the narrow window for the text of my blog has been annoying me since the second or third week after I started. As for code and Explain Plan layout, boy that has been a pain. The use of “sourcode” was an early and much appreciated find and this formatting tool has been improved several times, even in the last 12 months. In fact, that earlier post I just linked to does not fully make sense now as one failed attempt to use the “sourcode” layout now works.

But the width limitation of the style sheet I chose forces me to spend a long time trying to edit code and especially Explain Plan outputs such that it lays out in a readable format. It makes doing technical blogs even more time-consuming.

It all came to a head a month ago when I started using screen shots in my blog. They are rendered down to an illegible 460 pixels wide. This was a real blow as, along with the other threads I want to blog about, I want to do some stuff on AWR in OEM and that can only be done with screenshots.

As you can see, this width issue is no longer such a problem for me. WordPress let you alter the CSS of your style sheet for a fee. But WordPress being the nice chaps they are, you can try it out for free first, to ensure you can do what you want to do. So I got a friend who understands all this web/CSS/html stuff to help me and within a couple of hours we had it sorted. The final step was to give 15 dollars a year to WordPress {I see it as buying them a couple of pints} and I can now bring to you the Wider Widlake Ramblings.

If you are curious as to how this change in width aids layout, see this post I have edited to show before and after layouts.

Screenshots are still going to be an issue, I can’t go beyond 800 pixels for the text window as with the side-bar, window margins, scroll bar etc, the blog would become wider than 1200 pixels (and I decided that 1200 pixels was as far as I could go without it becoming a major problem for some people to read my blog). But code layout is now fine and I can manage screenshots if I am careful.

It pains me to say this, but bigger is sometimes better.

New Year, same old rambling thoughts January 5, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Perceptions.
Tags: ,
3 comments

It’s not Friday but, heck, it’s a New Year, there are many of us who might appreciate a non-techie, pointless ramble at the start of the first full working week of a new decade…A Friday Philospohy for the New Year. {If anyone wants to point out the New Decade starts on 1st Jan 2011, go take a running jump – popular opinion is against you, even if logic is for you}.

I found the UKOUG techie conference this year particularly interesting as it was the first major meeting I have been to since I started blogging, and I came across two main opinions about my attempts:

Those who like my blog as it is “chatty” and rambles a bit.
Those who dislike it – because it is “chatty” and rambles a bit…
{oh, and the third opinion, the most common, of utter ignorance of my blog – there goes the ego}.

Well, you can’t please everyone. I was a little saddened, however, as I spoke to a couple of people I really admire in the Oracle Knowledge world and they landed on the “chatty and rambling – bad” side of things. Damn. But they are so good at what they do, I forgive them. The swines.

But then I remembered what I said to a fellow blogger the other month. We bloggers/twitterers all put forward what we blog about in our own style. We might not blog something that is new, we might blog something that is “well known”, but we put it in our own style. Some like it, some do not. It matters not, so long as it adds to the sum of decent knowledge out there.
Some will hate our style and not read, some will read and enjoy. So long as the information gets out there to more people, that is fine.

So, do I think everything I blog is decent knowledge? Oh, I wish. I like to think it is mostly there {and I wish it was all correct} but I am realistic. I test most of what I blog, or I have lived for real most of what I blog, but I will make mistakes. And sometimes I will hit the edge of something good and I put it up there in the hope others will contribute {like the recent one one translating min-max column values into human readable stuff}. And often people do contribute and that is really, really good.

But I do and will continue to make mistakes, be daft, or just put things poorly. I have learned a fair bit in the last 8 months about written communication, the art of communicating to a global audience and also about how not to spread a topic over several weeks as you hope you can “just finish of those half-written blogs in an hour or two” and find it takes weeks. If anyone wants to give me any constructive criticism, please do, but maybe use my email (mwidlake@btinternet.com) rather than flame my postings.

And my last rambling thought for the start of 2010? I am probably going to post less in the next 6 months. I am always sad when the blog by someone I enjoy goes very quiet, but then we all have real jobs to do, so I try to be patient. In my own case, I have noticed I now read a lot less of other people’s blogs as writing my own takes so long. And I am missing too much. There are blogs I really admire or I have discovered in the last 6 months (sometimes both) that I simply fail to really read and they know stuff. So I need to read them. I am going to try and maintain a steady 2-3 blog entries a week, but for the next 6 months I am going to concentrate on learning. Something blogging has taught me is I am really quite ignorant:-)

Good wishes for 2010 to all and everyone who stumbles across my ramblings.

When do We Learn #2 October 20, 2009

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Perceptions.
Tags:
4 comments

I exchanged a couple of mails with a friend a few weeks back about how the same topic can arise in a couple of blogs at the same time. Well, I had just blogged myself on when we learn and, blow me over with a feather, that Jonathan Lewis goes and post in a similar vein. He must be nicking ideas off my blog:-) {and yes, I am being tongue-in-cheek here}. We both post thought about needing spare capacity in your life to be able to spend the time to really understand how something works. Yes you learn a lot in the heat of a crisis, but you rarely reallu understand the details, ie become an expert, without having time to digest and qualify that knowledge.

I did write a long comment on his posting, including some links back to my own meandering thoughts on the topic, then realised that I would come across as a bit “me too” so I trimmed it and took out the links. But that is part of why I do my own blog, I found I was spamming other people’s pages with my diatribes and so decide to spam my own. {And I know I am meandering, I’m a bit sleep-deprived, stream of consciousness at the moment}. So here I can refer back to my own stuff and say “me too”, but you are already here reading this, so you only have yourself to blame :-)… Anyway, I wanted to refer back to a very early blog of mine about how much knowledge is enough. I try and make the point that you do not need to know everything, you can become a small-field or local expert just by being willing to learn a bit more.

Jonathan raises the point that he does not have a full time commitment to one client and so he has the luxury to investigate the details and oddities of what he looks into. He suggest this is a large part of why he is an expert, which I feel is true, and I am very happy to see one of the Oracle Names acknowledging that relative freedom from other pressures is key to having the luxury to chase down the details. Those of us in a full time role doing eg DBA, development or design work, have more than enough on our workday plates to keep us too busy. We cannot be top experts, we have a boss to satisfy and a role to fulfill. {Jonathan does not mention that chosing a career where you have luxury of time is also a pretty brave choice – you stand a good chance of earning a lot, lot less whilst working very hard to establish enough of a reputation to be able to earn enough to feed yourself and the cat}.

But this is not a black and white situatuation. There is room for many of us to become experts in our domain or in our locality. Our breadth of knowledge may never be as wide as others, we may not know more than anyone else in a given area {and let’s face, logically there can only be one person who knows the most about a given topic, and that one person is probably in denial about their superiority, which seems to be a defining quality of an expert – it is not so much humility I think as an acknowledgement of there being more to know and a desire to know it}. However, most of us can become the person in our organisation who knows most about X, or who can tie A, B and C together in a more holistic way than others (and that can be a real trick you know). There are always the top experts that you can call on for the worst problems, but you could become the person people come to first.

My advice would be to not try and learn everything about all aspects of Oracle, because you can’t, but rather learn a lot about one or two areas {and consider areas that are more unusual, not just “tuning SQL” or “the CBO”} and expand just your general knowledge of the wider field. And never forget that there is more to learn. So long as you are taking in more knowledge and understanding, you are improving. The best way to do it? Don’t just read other people’s stuff, try teaching someone else. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid I realise I am when I try and show someone else how something works. But that’s OK, so long as they learn it’s fine. If I learn as well, it’s great, and I nearly always do.

I’m getting on a bit, I think I am finally getting the hang of the idea that the more you know the more you realise you don’t know, I wish I knew that when I knew nothing.

Friday Philosophy -Do I think Oracle is Rubbish? October 8, 2009

Posted by mwidlake in Blogging, Perceptions.
Tags:
1 comment so far

This should be a “Friday Philosophy” posting really, but heck it’s my blog, I can do what I want {quiet smile}. Besides, by the time I finish this, it might well BE Friday. Oh, heck, I’ll just change the title now to a Friday Philosophy one…

I’ve been reviewing some of my blog this week {it is coming up to 6 months since I started so I was looking back at how it has gone}. Something struck me, which is I can be pretty negative about Oracle software and even Oracle Corp at times.

I mostly seem to pick up on oddities, things that do not work as first seems, even outright bugs. I do not often¬†post about “this is how this cool Oracle feature works” or “I used this part of Oracle to solve this problem”. Partly the reason is that there are a lot of blogs and web pages about “how this feature works”, so the need is generally already met. Partly it is that I, like most people, are more interested in exceptions, gotchas and things going wrong. If it works, heck you just need to read the manual don’t you?

So, do I like Oracle?

Yes. Over all I really like working with Oracle. This is because:

  • I can store and work with pretty much whatever data I have ever needed to with Oracle. It is rare for me to be utterly stumped how to achieve something, though it could take time and maybe be a tad slow or a little inelegant, but it can be done.
  • Despite my recent complaints, you can chuck a hell of a lot of data at Oracle. Back in 2002 I was asked¬†if I could¬†put 7 or 8 Terabytes of data into an Oracle database. I¬†did not even pause before saying “Yes!” – though¬†I knew it would be a big job to do so in a way that was maintainable. I’d now feel the same about a couple of hundred TB.
  • The core technology works really well.¬†We all complain about bits and pieces¬†admitedly,¬†but if I have a complex SQL statement¬†with 15 tables and 25 where clauses,¬†I don’t worry about¬†the database giving me the wrong answer, I worry¬†about the developer having written it wrongly {or Oracle running it slowly, but that¬†keeps me in work, hehe.}. I can back up Oracle in many ways and, once I have proven my recovery, I know I can rely on the backup continuing to work, at least from an Oracle perspective.¬†I’ve never¬†yet lost any production data. Do I worry about transactional consistency? Never. Maybe I should, I’ve seen a couple of blogs showing how it can happen, but in my real-work life, I never even think about it.
  • Oracle does continue to improve the core products and they will listen to the community. It might not seem like it at times, I know, but they¬†do. It can just take a long time for things to come through. As an example, I worked with the Oracle InterMedia¬†developers back with the Oracle 10 beta program in 2003. They {well, to be specific, a very clever lady¬†Melli Annamalai}¬†were adding stuff back then that we and others needed that did not get to see the light of day in 10GR1, but was there as¬† a load of PL/SQL to do it¬†in 10GR2. Melli said she was adding it into the code base as ‘C’ as well but it would take a while. It did, I think it was part¬†of the 11G release.

Will this stop me complaining and whining on about bits of Oracle I don’t like or that do not work as they should? Absolutely not. As Piet de Visser said on a comment to one of my recent blogs, it is beholden on us Users to keep Oracle Corp honest. But I thought I ought to mention, at least once, that I do actually like Oracle.

I Like Oracle, OK?

Grudgingly:-)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 229 other followers