Monday, November 5, 2007

I Want to Be Better Than Tom Kyte

OK, that got your attention. Somehow I knew it would.

I believe Mr. Kyte to be one of the foremost experts at Oracle development. His solutions are usually simple and concise. His philosophy is simple and concise; logic belongs with the data (in the database), don't reinvent the wheel if we've already created it (using supplied packages) and keep it simple. Of course Mr. Kyte may have objections to some of that, but that's the general idea I have gleaned over that past 5 years.

I am very competitive

1. One of the reasons I got into IT in the first place was that I didn't like this whole group of people knowing more than I did.

2. I grew up playing baseball, I liked being better than most of the other kids. I still believe that if I hadn't drank away my opportunity in college, I'd still be playing.

3. I'm an only child, I'm used to the attention and crave it. How do I get it now? By being better than everyone else.

My goal is to be the best developer in the world

Will I ever achieve that? Could it even be measured? Is there some sort of Oracle developer competition out there?

Perhaps I should start the best Oracle developer at WellCare, then Tampa, Florida, the U.S, North America, Northern Hemisphere and finally the World!

I am probably not the best Oracle developer at WellCare, so I have a ways to go. That's what drives me though. Trying to be the best. I'm surrounded by a lot of smart people which is a good thing. No...a great thing. I've been the lone wolf developer for too long. Now I have the opportunity to learn directly (as opposed to just reading) from others. There is give and take. Sometimes my solution is the best and sometimes it is not.

I don't believe my competitive nature interferes with my interpersonal relationships (I hope not anyway). It is more of an internal thing to me. Once upon a time I was skinny and in shape and I did triathlons. I wanted to be a pro (laughable). Each time though I tried to outdo my previous performance. Did I want to win? Sure I did, but it was more important for me to improve.

I believe that I am strong enough to take criticism from others. I can admit when I'm wrong (see countdown timer above).

I do want to be the best. I'll probably never have the opportunity (nor the time) to do what Mr. Kyte has done. I'm not going to strive to be mediocre though. Whether I realize that goal or not is mainly irrelevant, but that is my be better than Mr. Kyte.


Anonymous said...

Well, I find your ambition a bit sad.

In a world of 6 billion people, you're asking a lot to be considered better than anyone else. Actually, I think you're asking the impossible... and the Oracle development sphere is not exactly short of candidates, either.

But quite apart from mere numbers, I think you're aiming at the wrong target. What's required in the Oracle blogging world, I think, is not a competitive nature or a desire to be best: Tom certainly has neither.

What you need, I think, is an inquisitive mind first. A rational approach to problem solving second. A disregard of established thought unless it can be demonstrated third.

Number three especially will mean that if there *is* "some sort of Oracle developer competition out there" you wouldn't win it. So what do you want to be: a competition winner or a striver for truth? The two are largely mutually exclusive, for competitions are organised by marketing departments and truth is rarely welcomed in such circles.

You don't require competitiveness to be the best but complete honesty -especially with yourself. A willingness to go where the evidence takes you and a willingness to unearth the evidence when it's not apparent. A willingness to disbelieve the evidence is also an advantage.

So in the end I have to disagree with you. Tom's "solutions" are never "simple and concise". Simple and concise results in advice such as "build all indexes in 32K block size tablespace -they go faster that way". Tom is always much subtler, more complex and less didactic: hypothesize, measure, test, confirm. Tom doesn't offer solutions more than he offers a way of working out which possible answers might apply to you and your unique situation.

oraclenerd said...


I'm sorry you find my ambition sad. What can I say?

I think you mixed up 2 different things in your reply though. I want to be the best developer, not the best blogger. I said nothing about blogging. There are far better writers out there than I and I don't purport to know more than those that do blog about Oracle, especially Mr. Kyte.

To your list of points that follow though:
1. I agree. I believe that I do have an inquisitive mind. I am essentially self taught; by reading Mr. Kyte's blog, yours, Dratz, Lewis Cunningham's, APC's, etc., etc.
2. I agree. I was "suckered" into doing database testing (SQLUnit) for a brief period of time. That helped me to develop my ability to find problems. Start looking for the most simple solution and then dive in when you find a strange pattern.
3. I also agree. I don't believe that Tom Kyte is some sort of Oracle god. I am not a worshipper at the alter of Tom. He is the one I most align with in thought though and even more important, he is probably the most prolific Oracle specific writer out there (asktom, his books and his personal blog). In fact, I've maybe read one or two chapters of one of his books. I don't own any of them. Most of what he says in those books can be found online, in his responses to answers on asktom.

Yes competitions are mostly a marketing gimmick. I (naively?) believe that good can come from them. Competition is healthy. It would fun to see how one stacks up against others. That's why I enjoyed triathlons so much, to see how I compared to other people. Was it the end all be all for me? No, certainly not. It was just fun. An Oracle developer competition would be fun, plain and simple. Imagine what you could learn from yourself and others?

I will have to disagree though, Tom's solutions are simple and concise, you just have to know how to look at it. As you stated, "hyposthesize, measure, test, confirm." I've taken that to heart. Trust but verify. Blah blah blah.

It is improbably that I will ever be the best Oracle developer in the world, but not impossible. There are many, many smart people. My point was that I want to be the best that I can be (isn't that US Army campaign?).


Carl Backstrom said...

Bah don't let people knock you down competition brings the best out of people.

And trying to be better than the best only makes you better, plus it gives you a yardstick to measure yourself by, though you have subjective marker.

Maybe you should pick a more objective marker like I will post three times a week three times with technical problems and solutions and one time with some randomness to keep things interesting.

One thing though, you really need to up the font size on your blog it is very hard to read.

Other than that have at it, lets see what you can do ;)

oraclenerd said...

Thanks Carl.

Just to reiterate, I'm not talking about blogging specifically but development. It would be extremely difficult though...given that Mr. Kyte has been in such a unique situation for that past 7 or 8 years whereby he gets to answer all those questions. I'm posed a few at work now and again...I guess it would be cool to have an site (in APEX no less)...maybe something else to shoot for.

I'll work on the font. In IE 7 it shows up just right. Were you on Firefox? I haven't checked it with that yet.

Anonymous said...

Better than Tom Kyte? Who is he?

Your uncle ?

Why not.Young generations are always smarter.


Unknown said...

Hey Chet - This is a year after the last comment, but what the heck.

Yeah, I agree with what Carl (God bless his family) said - go for it.

I also agree with what Howard Rogers said: in a world of 6B peep's, to be the best is asking a lot.

I would add to that idea, however, some contrasting other ideas: When we speak of numbers, we're are, by definition, getting into the realm of statistical analysis. All well and good, but the reality is that while stats are interesting and at times helpful, they aren't very helpful in the daily grind of existential life. In short, while we are all contributors to statistical realities, none of us are held prisoner by any statistic (except the death and tax ones!!) and, in fact, can voluntarily defy the stats so that we, effectively, change the existing ones and even create new ones.

Who can challenge the adage: "There's lies, there's damn lies. And then ... statistics."

That's just a fancy way of saying again: GO FOR IT!! LOL...

Who ever said we can't ask for A LOT anyway, bro? Seriously!! On this note, there's an opportunity to digress (which I never turn down): A homeless dude hit me up at Barnes and Noble the other night for a donation. I said, "What are you looking for?". I think I might have said, "Can I buy you a meal?" first. Maybe. Anyway, he said, "How about a meal and a hotel room?". I'm like, "Wow, this is one ambitious homeless dude. Gotta respect that." (No, I didn't do either. Long story. BTW, It was cold, so the hotel room thing was not so shocking.)

This brings me to a small point of advice, which I'll use to tie this all up (yep, there is a God...haha). Ask for the room...or the moon...or both. You (we, even) have no idea how relevant this point is (and I will not digress here, contrary to my nature).

But you have to always be parallel processing, you know? (Artists say "Life imitate art.". I say, "Computers imitate man." Yeah, we were doing parallel processing WAY before some genius-geek figured out how to mimic what we can do with a whirring machine.) While you're asking for the moon, the sun and the stars, gotta keep in mind how realistic all that is *at this point*.

If it's way out there (whoa, that's some kind of multi-word pun-phrase-pun thing there), maybe that statistically-really-unrealistic ambition (which is all good, by the way) can be a little secret you keep between you, yourself and Numero Uno (that's you one more time, doing the Tango like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman...or maybe it's just you chowing down at Taco Bell in the middle of the night...hmmm). And instead, pick something that's 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16th the way between where you are now and the moon and make that your goal for the sake of the conversation and the moment at hand, you know?

A little hold back, a little secrecy and a little mystery will serve you well.

Guard well what you got. And consider, what do you have that is more valuable than your goals and ambitions? Parallel process that with the value that is to be gained from being open, transparent and bold with your personal identity and ethos, as you are.

EscVector said...

You know what Tom would say? On a scale of 1-10 where do you think Tom rates his database knowledge? I'm betting it is lower than you'd think. We all know different things. The things I know are different from the things you know. It's not apples to apples. What does being the best mean? To me it means knowing what not to do, communicating options, over and over and over ad infinitum. Best in this case might mean most persistent.

oraclenerd said...


I completely agree...knowing what not to do is very important. Communicating ad infinitum (which feels sometimes like banging your head against a wall).

My triathlon analogy still holds true. Hunter Kemper, who was from Florida, was a pro that I looked up to. Now, could I ever really compete with him? No, not really. But I could use him as a measure. Last year, I was 1 hour behind Hunter, today, I'm only 30 minutes behind. Anyway...

I do agree that getting smart people who are willing to listen and communicate their own ideas usually comes with the best results. I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything, but I will listen to those who know and hopefully learn from them. It's the whole surrounding yourself with smart people thing.