Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Work/Life Balance

Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, had this to say via his new book, Find the Next Steve Jobs.

(It’s been said that many people in high tech cannot balance their personal and work lives. Here’s another way to look at it: Their jobs are so interesting that it’s difficult to figure out what is work and what is play. Creative projects produce this kind of excitement.)

I've struggled with the work/balance thing. I'm better now than I was a year ago, but it takes a lot of work. That quote definitely illustrates one aspect of how it could get so out of balance...I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Analysis Tools...

I've taken on an effort to port a custom data integration (PL/SQL, Java, etc) application.

In that regard, I'm doing a fair amount of analysis right now. So I need help finding two tools:
1. A tool that will allow me to map (visually or otherwise) a single data point from source to target(s). I typically use Excel. It's easy to use and available everywhere. Where it falls apart, slightly, is that a single data point may have one or more middle steps (i.e. not target) and one or more targets. I think I want something like this:

Keep in mind though, I have potentially hundreds of columns in a system with thousands upon thousands of...

A couple of people have suggested using an ETL tool like Informatica, Pentaho or ODI. Yes. But I don't see it yet. Besides, I don't want to map to actually do something...most of the conversion has already been done and I'm picking it up at a particular step (near the beginning). What's missing is that mapping document that I want to create for everything...but that's another story.

2. I want to to look at a view and know where those stupid unaliased columns are sourced from. A very, very basic example:
  big_table hs,
  address_table add,
  other_random_table ran
WHERE hs.address_id = add.address_id
  AND hs.random_id = ran.random_id
VAR_VALUE_01 and VAR_VALUE_02, why don't you have aliases? Why did your developer neglect you so? Why can't every single developer just remember that someone, someday, will have to look at their code? Please? Pretty please? Or did you know it would be me and thus you did it on purpose? If so, I'm not talking to you again.

Anyway, it doesn't take me very long to figure where those columns are sourced from. What if there are 10's of those in a view with 100's of columns? Yes, not enjoyable. What if there are many views just like this that you have to analyze? Yes!

Data Dictionary?!

Not yet. DBA_TAB_COLUMNS? Nope. Come on! It's got to be there somewhere...when you compile a view Oracle checks to make sure everything is a-ok right? Doesn't it store that information somewhere? It must!. I took to Twitter, naturally, and Steve Karam, aka @OracleAlchemist found this possible gem:

I'm also requesting a feature in SQL Developer...or, trying to anyway. Back channels of course.

I've done this kind of analysis in the past, but it is usually a one off, so there never seemed to be a need to make it repeatable. Now, there is a need. A giant need. If you've got any ideas for me, let me know...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Internet

Have you seen this State Farm ad?

I think it's hilarious.

Riding to batting practice with LC, he starts up with me...

LC: (in response to some statement I made) "Where'd you hear that?"
Me: "The Internet"
LC: "And you believed it?"
Me: "Yeah, they can't put anything on the internet that isn't true."
LC: "Where'd you hear that?"
Together: "The Internet"

We also do the "And then...?" skit from Dude, Where's My Car?. He used to be able to rattle off the saying from Tommy Boy, "You can get a good look at a t-bone by sticking your head up a bull's..." - I'm pretty sure this is better than that.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I've been scratching my eyes out lately trying to reverse engineer some lots of PL/SQL.

One thing I've seen a lot of is calls to dbms_output.put_line. Fortunately, I've seen some dbms_application_info.set_module and other system calls too. But back to that first one.

1. When I used dbms_output, I would typically only use it in development. Once done, I would remove all calls to it, test and promote to QA. It would never survive the trip to production.
2. Typically, when I used it in development, I would tire of typing out d b m s _ o u t p u t . p u t _ l i n e so I would either a, create a standalone procedure or create a private procedure inside the package, something like this (standalone version).
  dbms_output.put_line( p_text );
END p;
Easy. Then, in the code, I would simply use the procedure p all over the place...like this:
  l_start_time date;
  l_end_time date;
  l_start_time := sysdate;
  p( 'l_start_time: ' || l_start_time );

  --do some stuff here
  --maybe add some more calls to p

  l_end_time := sysdate;
  p( 'l_end_time: ' || l_start_time );

Since the procedure is 84 characters long, I only have to use the p function 4 times to get the benefit. Yay for me...I think. Wait, I like typing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Back in September, I was asked, and agreed, to become to Content Chair for "The Traditional" track at Kscope 13. Like I mentioned there, I had been involved for the past couple of years and it seemed like a natural fit. Plus, I get to play with some really fun people. If you are ready to take advantage of Early Bird Registration, go here. (save $300)

Over the past few weeks we've finalized (mostly) the Sunday Symposium schedule. We're currently working on finalizing Hands-on-Labs (HOL).

Beginning last year, we've had the Oracle product teams running the Sunday Symposia. This gives them an opportunity to showcase their wares and (hopefully) provide a bit of a road map for the future of said wares. This year, we have three symposia: APEX, ADF and Fusion Development and The Database and Developer's Toolbox.

ADF and Fusion Development

- Oracle Development Tools – Where are We and What’s Next - Bill Patakay, Oracle
- How to Get Started with Oracle ADF – What Resources are Out There? - Shay Shmeltzer and Lynn Munsinger, Oracle
- The Cloud and What it Means to Oracle ADF and Java Developers - Dana Singleterry, Oracle
- Going Mobile – What to Consider Before Starting a Mobile Project - Joe Huang, Oracle
- Understanding Fusion Middleware and ADF Integration - Frederic Desbiens, Lynn Munsinger, and Shay Shmeltzer, Oracle
- Open Q&A with the ADF Product Management

I love that they are opening up the floor to questions from their users. I wish more product teams would do that.

Application Express

- Oracle Database Tools - Mike Hichwa, Oracle
- Technology for the Database Cloud - Rick Greenwald, Oracle
- Developing Great User Interfaces with Application Express - Shakeeb Rahman, Oracle
- How Do We Build the APEX Builder? - Vlad Uvarov, Oracle
- How to Fully Utilize RESTful Web Services with Application Express - John Snyders, Oracle
- Update from APEX Development - Joel Kallman, Oracle

(If you see Joel Kallman out and about, make sure you you mispronounce APEX). This is a fantastic group of people (minus Joel of course). Not mentioned above is the affable David Peake who helps put all this together. The community surrounding APEX is second-to-none.

Finally, The Database and Developer's Toolkit. I'm partial to this one because I've been involved in the database track for the past couple of years. Like last year, this one is being put together by Kris Rice of Oracle. There are no session or abstract details for this one as it will be based mainly on the upcoming 12c release of the database. However, we do have the list of speakers lined up. If you could only come for one day of this conference, Sunday would be the day and this symposium would be the one you would attend.

This symposium will start off with Mike Hichwa (above) and then transition to the aforementioned (too many big words tonight) Mr. Rice. He'll be accompanied by Jeff Smith of SQL Developer fame, Maria Colgan from the Optimzer team and Tom Kyte.

How'd we do? I think pretty darn good.

Don't forget to sign up. Early Bird Registration ends on March 25, 2013. Save $300.