Friday, December 30, 2011

katezilla: potty trained!

While our life has been a blur at times, since having children, at other times, it feels like 100 years since Kate was born.

Most of you know it's been a long, difficult ride.

With all the frustration we've felt over the last few years, we finally have something real to point to. She's now potty trained!

Seven years ago we would never have imagined it would take so long (actually, we had more pressing worries then).

In October she started her new school, Sydney's School, Specializing in Autism and Related Disabilities. About a month ago they emailed us and asked if we wanted to do an intense one week potty training over the holidays.

Ummm...yeah?!

On Monday of last week, the first of four ABA therapists showed up at 8 AM. She and Kate sat in a cramped bathroom for three or four hours. Half asleep upstairs, I heard her first successful number one. w00t!

Before I made it downstairs for lunch, she was up to three successful number ones.

Of course her reward was getting to watch Dora the Explorer, who wouldn't go for that?

Two more therapists showed up that day, the last leaving around 8 PM. 12 hours. By then, Kate had moved out of the cramped bathroom, all the way out to the TV room. She was rocking it.

The next day, we were down to about 10 hours of therapist attendance. They were talking like that was all she would need, as she was already wearing shorts (they start her out naked from the waste down...we sent her brother over to his grandparents house). Let's just give it one more day, but we'll start later, 10 AM, and end sooner, 4 PM.

Kate had an accident or two, but overall, perfection!

We're only using diapers for bed time now...a huge step forward. So give it up for Kate the little monster.

Much thanks of course goes to the therapists from Sydney's School:
- Kristin
- Joy
- Jennifer
- Erin
- Katelyn

All of them were absolutely fantastic...now I need to figure out how to buy them all beers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Trace Data: Not Just For DBAs

On Wednesday, I attended Cary Millsap's Mastering Oracle Trace Data class here in Tampa.

Why?

Why would I go? I am working with OBIEE which is about 42 layers above the database...who cares about trace data? Well, performance is usually the number 1 item on everyone's list. Page loads to slow. Report takes to long to run. Whether it's trying to tune the application server (WLS) or figure out why Report A takes so long to run, we do a lot of performance analysis. In most cases, it ends up being the SQL that is run. What I mean by the SQL is that it's usually bringing back quite a few records. I've seen people try to pull back millions of records and then pivot all that data putting a nice load on the BI Server and hogging all the resources from everyone else.

On occasion though, there are other things that are going on (with the SQL) that we can't pinpoint.

Recently we had to back out a production implementation because one of the load processes seemed to just hang, threatening to slow down a larger process.

I asked the DBAs why.

Crickets.

Shouldn't that be an answer a DBA provides?

Disk? Network? CPU? Memory? Which one?

Crickets. (I didn't ask those exact questions, I think I said, "Reads? Writes? Network? Load?")

That is just one of the reasons I wanted to attend Mr. Millsap's class. That, and I've heard he's well regarded and does a pretty decent job presenting. OK, I admit it, I just want to show the DBA up. There, said it.

I really shouldn't have to though. It's supposed to be a partnership. They don't know much about OBIEE, so I help them there. I expect help in things like this.

Why? Part II

If you are a developer, understanding trace data will make you better. You'll no longer have to guess, you'll know.

Of course there's what I hinted at above, being able to go to your DBA(s) and prove something. No better feeling in the world.

How?

MR Trace is by far the easiest. It's integrated with SQL Developer. It's a great place to start.

MR Tools - For the more advanced professional. Mostly geared towards the DBA type, but incredibly useful to developers as well. It includes:

- mrskew - your trace file profiler and data miner
- mrls: your trace file lister
- mrcallrm: your trace file correction fluid
- mrtrim: your trace file tim calculator
- mrtrimfix: your trace file time value fixer

Method R Profiler:
The classic tool that started it all, the Method R Profiler is software that makes simple work of knowing exactly why your application consumes the response time it does. With minimal training, a Method R Profiler user can—in just minutes—identify the root cause of an Oracle-based application performance problem, propose sensible solutions to it, and predict the end-user response time impact of each proposed solution.

There are of course other products, check them out here.

Ask Mr. Millsap to come to your town. Try out MR Trace. You won't be sorry you did.

Monday, December 12, 2011

katezilla: 7

Five.

Six.

Another year, which always amazes us.

After suffering from analysis paralysis, we were put in touch with someone who helped get us unstuck. She told us how her school worked and the kind of treatment that Kate should be getting. When we told her Kate was getting an hour a month of speech, in a group, she almost cried. Her students got 25 hours a week, all year around, of ABA therapy. Kate was getting 1 or 2 a month. WTF?

With that, we moved her to a new school in October, Sydney's School, Specializing in Autism and Related Disabilities.

Despite the finances of the place (which so far, haven't been as terrible as I predicted...fingers crossed), we knew it was good for her within a week.

You see, we have stairs. Kate can't do stairs. We've been working with her for years to walk up the stairs. She can crawl up them, no problem, but she can't get down. I did manage to teach her to slide on her butt a bit, but she just wouldn't do it. Then Kelly, her caretaker started to work with her constantly on going up and down the stairs, upright. She still wouldn't do it, unprompted.

So Kris goes to pick up Kate near the end of that first week and asks her teacher how she's handled the stairs. "Fine, no problems."

Kris: "What?"

Teacher: "She goes up and down just fine. She needs a little assistance, but she mostly does it on her own."

Kris (thinking): "That little shit."

The last 2 months at Sydney's School have been amazing. We're finally seeing real progress. Can't wait to see what a year of this kind of therapy will do for her.

That's definitely been the highlight of our year. Now she's on to the 7th year, something we never thought we'd see. Kate's tough as ever, smart as ever and still happy as ever.