Tuesday, June 28, 2011

KScope 11: Day Uno

A few weeks ago I decided to rebuild my laptop. I never bothered to test the wireless connection at home, naturally. That leaves me carrying around a 4 pound brick plus the backpack...joy. I suppose it is good for my weight loss efforts.

Anyway, I am typing on a tablet so no links for you.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I had to be well rested for my first Cary Millsap presentation. I missed the keynote and apparently Don McMillan, an IT focused comedian. I mention that because later in the day, some super tall dude puts a camera in my face and starts asking questions...turns out it was Mr. McMillan. When I find the video I'll link it up.

Following that I had to head back to the hotel to deal with a small work emergency.

Then...a blur.

Oh wait, back to the conference...and the day's sessions were over. I walked around for a bit trying to find this fabled bar of 300 beers on tap. I couldn't find it, but I did find Kevin McGinley. He offered a beer, I accepted. (I was heading back to the conference hall to write up Sunday's events, so I was trying to be good.)

Seven rolls around which meant it was time for the Database Guru Panel:
Tom Kyte
Cary Millsap
Steven Feurstein

This was an hour and a half of answering questions from the audience, Yuri from Australia (via twitter) and Facebook. Of course I didn't miss the opportunity to ask this panel some questions.

Finally it was time for dinner (more beer) are the Congregation Ale House, which had a fine selection of beers I had not tried before.

Yay for KScope and ODTUG!

Monday, June 27, 2011

KScope 11: Cary Millsap

Today was a big day for me, my first Cary Millsap (@carymillsap) presentation.

I slept in, preparing my mind and body for the event (and missing the keynote) (it had nothing to do with beer consumed either).

My Case for Agile Methods

Not only is it my first time seeing him speak (yesterday counts, sort of), but it's something I can actually understand and have a very strong opinion about. Not that Thinking Clearly About Performance is way over my head, but it doesn't affect me as much as methodology does.

I fight with methodology on a daily basis, mostly resulting in me hitting my head against the closest wall.

I find that when I don't tweet or I'm not inclined to check my mail or twitter, something is going on that has my attention. That was the case this morning (minus a small family emergency that was eventually averted).

The slide deck itself was minimal, but very well done.

With his reputation as a technical leader in the Oracle community, you know you're going to get great content.

The good stuff is in Cary's style or delivery.

He tells stories.

I love stories. I live for stories. If you've met me, I'm sure I've told you a few as well.

It's easier, I think, to relate to stories. You can see yourself in the other person's shoes. Or something like that.

As to the content...I don't think it was anything ground breaking and I believe Cary knew that. What was ground breaking is the audience.

Database developers and DBAs in the Oracle ecosystem, seem to think it a dirty word. That's of course a gross generalization, but save for my very first IT employer, it's been true (1 for 8, batting .167 .125 (thanks Cary)) for me.

I want to see more of this type of talk, the "how" and "why" as opposed to just the technical details of doing a particular task. I can read the docs, I can figure that out. Putting it all into context is the hard part.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

KScope 11: The Journey

Somehow I managed to fall asleep before midnight...which was good, because I had an early morning flight to California.

You might be shocked to learn but I didn't bother to pack for the trip or prep my computer ahead of time (VNC).at

I think I was in denial, I haven't flown since October, so the nerves kicked in again. Flying itself isn't too bad, its thinking about flying which bugs me. My mind concocts all kind of silly scenarios.

I typically just imagine all my other friends who do this way more than I do...which has a bit of a calming effect.

Yes, I find it amusing that someone so "logical" and stuff has these fears...whatever.

I'm currently sitting in Phoenix at Sky Harbor International debating whether or not I should have a beer so that i can earn my 5 State badge on Untappd,it is 1 PM eastern time, so technically not the morning for me. I'll probably pass this time, perhaps on the way back?

I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow...the Tools, Tools, Tools symposium which I got to help organize takes place. If you are at KScope, I certainly hope you will attend, it is going to be pretty fun.

Now, off to Long Beach.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Podcast

Last year at OOW I met one Mr. Christian Screen from The Art of Business Intelligence.

We've managed to keep in touch over that time and about a month ago he asked if I'd be interested in doing a podcast with him.

What? You want me to talk? Sure! I love to talk!

After some back and forth, we finally settled on a date and time...

Christian did a great job with the sound, I don't sound as scary as I normally do.

Here are some highlights:
- I managed to say "America's Wang" in reference to Florida within the first 5 minutes. I probably need a new joke, I seemed to have said that a lot last year at OOW.
- I talk about how John Piwowar (@jpiwowar) p0wned oraclenerd with 4 posts (out of 727).
- Data Scientists: This was a topic Christian brought up. I've read a little bit about the term, hopefully I'll pick up some more of it in the near future.
- I did not talk about Gwen Shapira's "Faxing" comment.
- OBIEE 10g vs 11g
- I'm sure I mentioned Jake (@jkuramot) in there too, possibly a kidney reference.
- I almost forgot, I got to mention Oracle's Person of the Year (OPY award?), again (not sure if that will get old to me).

Hopefully I didn't get myself into too much trouble.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Something I've been thinking about for quite some time, I think I'm ready to jot them down.

In 10g, anyone with a laptop, free space and time could spin it up. That's awesome for people that want to learn the tool. It's awesome to get things up and running quickly.

The problem though, as I see it, it allows people like me to become "server" admins.

Let's couch it in DBA terms.

I can perform many DBA activities; install the database (now on Linux!), create tablespaces, etc. The basics. What I can't do, or lack right now, is the ability to plan for the future size and growth. I'm sure if I sat down for a little while and thought about it, I could come up with a semi-decent plan, but...

You need production DBAs, no, you want production DBAs doing this work (or at least someone with a fair amount of experience in this arena). My reasoning? I lack that experience of "what could go wrong" because I've never been tasked with, "this is your database, keep it running 24x7x365."

I live in a dream world where I (think) know everything that could go wrong. I don't.

With 11g and the WebLogic Server integration, I see a split beginning.

Now, I know a little bit about a lot of different things (kind of like my DBA skills), but the deeper I get into WLS, the more I realize I don't know much.

A recent episode involving security and SSO configuration has taken a trip through Oracle Virtual Directory (OVD), Oracle Access Manager (OAM) and a bunch of other things I know little about. Am I expected to be an expert in all these things as well? Sure, I'm curious and want to learn as much as I can, but is that a reasonable thing to expect? To me, that sounds like an Identity Management person.

Performance. Where do I even start? Apache seems relatively easy to manage, it screams on my single user system. I've never seen high volumes of traffic consequently I haven't had to build out a server farm. WLS is beastly. There are so many moving pieces, it's tough to know where to start. Is it OPMN, the node managers or is it the BI Server?

I think this is where the split will occur.

You will see a greater delineation of duties in the future. The development side, RPD (mappings), BI Publisher and Analysis (formerly Answers) and the Administrative side, which will handle making sure the server is tuned to peak capacity, SSO works correctly and it's sized appropriately for a given environment.

This is especially true when more and more products get released on the Fusion Middleware (FMW) platform...admin duties will fall to a sysadmin type.

That's my though, not especially well written...in my brain, it sounds great, on the screen, not so much.

San Dimas High School football rules!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ODTUG Kscope 11: Super Ambassador Program

Just received an email from ODTUG Board member Monty Latiolais (@monty_odtug).

Looks like a great opportunity to help out with the event this year.

Super Ambassadors

Many of you that have been coming to Kscope for years are familiar with our ambassador program. This year, we’ve stepped it up a notch and launched the Super Ambassadors! Here’s how the program works:

Duties of a Kscope Super Ambassador
  • Commit to being present in the same presentation room for a half day (either morning or afternoon). You can pick the room where the sessions you were already planning on attending will be held.
  • Assist the speaker, if needed, remind the participants to fill out session evaluations, and complete the session information form for each session.
  • Report any problems/concerns to the conference staff.
  • Ask the presenter if the slides he/she is using are the same as what is loaded on the Web site. If not, copy them on to the Super Ambassador flash drive. If the presenter has not loaded the slides, copy them on to the flash drive and tell him/her that we will load the slides.
To sign up as a Super Ambassador, log in to the Attendee Portal. Super Ambassadors will receive a special T-shirt, denoting their VIP status, will be invited to volunteer parties and receptions, and will have VIP access at the Grand Event on the Queen Mary.

Half day of work for VIP status? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, appeals to my "only-child attention seeking" side.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going Green

One thing I believe everyone can agree on, it's going green, saving the planet.

Oracle Corporation believes that to be the case too.

Save the planet, dump your Teradata

See the press release here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Data Mining + Sailing = Awesome

Jean-Pierre Djicks posted an article yesterday on Big Data: Achieve the Impossible in Real-Time. I actually had a sneak peek at it a couple of weeks ago at the BI Forum...one of the reasons I voted his session as my favorite.

He started out with this slide, as he does in his blog post:

He then went on to talk about how the BMW ORACLE racing team used these metrics to increase performance.

Those gains were incremental and data driven, and they accumulated over years—until the USA could sail at three times the wind speed


Another great line from that article:

'The crew of the USA was the best group of sailors in the world, but they were used to working with sails,' says Burns, 'Then we put them under a wing. Our chief designer, Mike Drummond, told them an airline pilot doesn’t look out the window when he’s flying the plane; he looks at his instruments, and you guys have to do the same thing.'

In other words, use the Force Luke. Or not. Whatever.

Take a look at both articles when you get a chance, well worth your time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

OOW: And So It Begins

Registration has been open for a month or 2 now for OOW 2011. What wasn't open was the blogger registration...until...until recently. I didn't seen an announcement of it on Twitter, I just happened to be perusing the site. Go here for blogger registration. It was kind of hidden under "Additional Package Types."

Mine is complete. Now I wait.

As I explored, I learned that Sting and Tom Petty will be playing. Very cool. Now if I could only find the desire to 1, wait in long lines for the bus, 2, spend time on a bus (sans beer) and 3, fight the crowds at the event, I might attend.

Yay...the Tap and Brew is back. I don't drink coffee, so I don't care about the "Brew" part. Speaking of beer, anyone want to loan me a liver for the week?

I found this little gem too:

Combine the 2 items above and there is a strong possibility that I will come home with my arm in a sling.

Can't wait though. One week a year doesn't seem like enough time to hang out with John (@jpiwowar) or Jake (@jkuramot) or all the other very smart, very passionate, very fun people. I guess I'll make due though.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Developer Access to V$ Views in Production

I love The Twitter Machine.


Assuming you made it all the way through...how freaking awesome. Got a question? The Twitter Machine and a lot of really smart people have the answer.

BI Forum: Day 2 (Atlanta)

Part I, Day 1 is here.

Jean-Pierre Dijcks - Memory MADness: How to Apply Big Speed to Big Data Analysis
Shyam Varan Nath - Tips and Tricks from OBI Application Implementations
Panel Session 2 - Should all BI projects by Agile?
Jacques Vigeant - Overview of Oracle Scorecard & Sneak Peak at
Greg Vlahos - How-to Tips for Integrating Essbase in OBIEE

Jean-Pierre Dijcks
I met JP at the Exadata SIG, and I've been reading his blog ever since. Super smart, witty, and funny, all combined to make for an interesting presentation. First off, you'll note there is no link to his presentation, that's because the contents are top secret; we were all forced to sign multiple NDAs. OK, maybe I'm dreaming there.

His presentation got my vote for best speaker (yes, that's kind of mixing things up, sue me).

Shyam Varan Nath
Shyam is Mr. Everything. He's running (or was, not sure) the Exadata SIG and the BIWA SIG. Same as JP, I met him at the Exadata SIG last year in Las Vegas.

I haven't gotten into OBIA much just yet, kinda of sitting on the edges watching for now. From my understanding, OBIA is a set of pre-built reports on top of a pre-built datawarehouse that is loaded with pre-built ETL (Informatica). The value proposition is that it gets you up and running very quickly. Naturally, if you have a lot of customizations in your source systems (PeopleSoft, EBS, JD Edwards, etc), you'll have more work on your hands.

The latest release of OBIA, was mainly to integrate with OBIEE 11g; was supported but not certified.

Panel Session 2
This was essentially a continuation of Stewart Bryson's presentation the day before, Agile Data Warehousing with Exadata and OBIEE11g. Mr. Bryson was the "impartial" moderator.

A lively discussion with one panelist, no 2 (shaved head) panelists taking both sides, Waterfall and Agile. I think the final answer is "It Depends." Unfortunately I don't remember the actual winner.

Jacques Vigeant
Mr. Vigeant presented on Scorecard; this was my first exposure to the tool (Scorecard, not Jacques). I'm still a little hazy on what it does, my impression is that it essentially allows you to create Goals and then set alerts based on certain conditions. Pretty slick stuff, but I'm not even close to that yet.

Greg Vlahos
First off, poor Mr. Vlahos, he had the last slot of the conference...it was down to 75% capacity, if that.

Topic: Essbase

Quite a hot topic too, if demand is an indicator, and it is.

I'm still not sure of the difference between Essbase and Oracle OLAP cubes, but that's a different question.

Mr. Vlahos described the Essbase cube as "Aggregate tables on steroids" which sounds about right. If you're using Essbase, definitely a good read.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

BI Forum: Day 1 (Atlanta)

Here's the schedule:

Jeff McQuigg - Advanced OBIEE Metadata Topics
Kevin McGinley - Mobility & OBIEE: There are Options
Suyog Rao - BIEE Security: Deep dive into understanding and troubleshooting security aspects
Phillipe Lions - What's coming in OBIEE, and Hidden Gems of OBIEE 11g
Panel Discussion 1 - OBIEE 11g - Was it worth the wait?
Stewart Bryson - Agile Data Warehousing with Exadata and OBIEE 11g

Jeff McQuigg
I've heard and read lots of good things about Jeff (none of them true by the way) so I was very much looking forward to his presentation. Bonus points to Jeff for running Brew Palace (I couldn't find Natural Light though...dangit). I seem to surround myself with beer people, good beer people (also known as beer snobs), so I do drink decent beer away from home.

The highlights based on his presentation agenda:
- Combo Tables - Basically tables that mix attributes and measures. In short, create 2 logical tables using the same physical source. Put your attributes in the Dimension and your measures in the Facts. I know this method which makes me appreciate one of my mentors even more.
- Make Dims & Facts Reach - Surprising result to me, putting the bridge table along with the Fact table is more performant. I thought it was the other way around. Something learned. Bonus.
- Non-Conformed Dimensions - Solution #2 involved setting the levels, though not necessarily at the table (Content) level, but at the metric level...for every single metric. That was counterintuitive, of course, but what can you do. I thank the mentor again though.
- Canonical Time - First, thanks mentor. Second, Jeff calls this the old-school way or the Siebel way. It's the method I have used. Though if left to my own I would probably go the other way, creating a different (aliased) date dimension for each slice. I think what Jeff said is true, it's more intuitive this way.

I'm pretty sure at this point my brain was full. So you'll have to go through the presentation yourself on the last 2.
- Selecting a Logical Table Source
- Controlling Join Paths

Kevin McGinley
So the first 2 guys had shaved heads, a sign of good things to come.

Kevin presented on the mobile aspects of OBIEE. I follow Jake at the AppsLab, so I'm fairly up to speed with the concepts in general. I did get to show Kevin Untappd, which is a Foursquare like web app for the phone, but for beer, not locations (see how this is all tying in?). I understand the native vs. web app, in most circumstances I would choose the web app first and then consider a native app. Unfortunately, it's difficult to change skins in the presentation layer. I need to attend a nice session on doing that one of these days.

BTW, check out Kevin's appendix, lots of really good information there.

Suyog Rao
If there ever was a villain, it was Suyog.

Security was a hot topic. I won't pretend I know a lot about security in 10g or 11g so I won't really opine. All I do know is that there was quite a lot of audience participation (i.e. WhyTF did you do that? That won't work! etc.). I wish I could have stayed the whole time, but I got a migraine and ducked out for the remainder of the day.

If I did get anything from that session, it's that Suyog gives a shit. That's a good thing.

So I missed Phillipe's and Stewart's presentations and also the panel discussion. I had planned on taking the side of "It was worth the wait" just because I didn't believe it was, but no go for me.