Monday, October 31, 2005


I'm updating this from the internet cafe section at the UKOUG.

So far, it's been a good day - ish.

It started out quite bad, due to a power cut in the centre of Birmingham.
Luckily, I'd decided on a lie in this morning (probably due to excessive alcohol last night) so I wasn't caught out like some others who were in the middle of taking a shower when they were plunged into darkness!

The start of the conference was delayed by almost an hour as they had to reset all of the registrations systems - lots of people hanging round with nothing to do.
But we started eventually, there was not much of a delay to the agenda, it was the keynote session that suffered as it had to be shortened.

I've attended presentations by Tom Kyte and Jonathan Lewis so far today. Jonathan gave an intro to the CBO and I actually understood all of it!
That is not meant to insinuate that I wouldn't normally understand Jonathan, it's just in comparison to how overwhelmed I was by some of the technical presentations last year. Maybe I've learned something since!

I was due to introduce Lex De Haan's presentation this afternoon, but unfortunately he has been unable to attend today. The presentation will instead by given by Tom Kyte, and introduced by Mogens.

Tonight is the night of the Blogger's Dinner, organised by Mark Rittman.I'll be going along, but hopefully not overdoing it as I am presenting in the morning - need to keep a clear head!

I've managed to meet a few new faces this year, and have been remembered by some people from last year so all in all it's been quite a social event.

I have to admit that the highlights so far have been Wolfgang Breitling telling me he liked my Blog, and Mogens admitting he'd missed me.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Wish me luck....

Well, it's Saturday night and I've just finished packing my stuff ready to head off to Birmingham in the morning.

I'll be off quite early as I'm combining the UKOUG with a trip to the annual Dive Show at the NEC. Got to keep the other half happy too!
He is travelling with me on Sunday and we will visit the Dive Show before we meet up with everyone on the Sunday night.

I think I'm all prepared for my presentation, I'm a bit nervous but incredibly excited too!

My slot is 11:10 on Tuesday in Hall 9.

I was worried that nobody would turn up to see me, as Jonanthan Lewis is presenting in Hall 1 at the same time, but I've just checked out Tom's blog, and he's said he will be there. I think he's feeling a bit guilty as it's his fault I'm doing this, but don't worry, I may just get my own back during the presentation!!

I have a pretty packed agenda for the time I will be there. Unfortunately, I found out last week that due to work commitments, I will only be able to attend on the Monday and Tuesday.

I'm really disappointed about this as I had a few things lined up for the Wednesday that I would liked to have seen.

However, I will be there for the Blogger's dinner on the Monday night and to present on the Tuesday.
I also have the honour of introducing Lex De Haan for his "Flash Me back, Scotty" presentation at 15:10 on Monday.

For those that know me, and attended last year, I'm hoping I can finally rid myself of the 'Velcro Baby' nickname that Rachel Carmichael awarded me last year.
That was mainly due to the fact that I was so scared and nervous, that I wouldn't allow myself to be more than a couple of inches from either Rachel or Dan Fink's side!
Unfortunately neither of them are able to attend this year, so I suppose I will just have to try and hold it together by myself!

Another tag I'm determined to get rid of, is the 'urban myth' that I am the girl that spilled a glass of water over Tom Kyte.
That is not what happened, and maybe this year, I'll get my chance to put the story straight - Thomas Kyte, beware!!

Seriously, thank you to everyone who has contributed to this blog and supported me.

I will do my best to update you whilst I am there, otherwise, expect a post on my return.

Hope to see some of you in Birmingham!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Newbie Websites

In my previous post, we looked at books that were good for Newbies.

Now, I want to look at resources available on the internet.

As Niall commented, sometimes you just can't beat a Google search.
However, I've found that sometimes this can also be problematic.

As an example,a Google search for ORA-01555 returned 47,300 hits!
That's potentially a lot of links to search through before you find something useful.

The Oracle section of my favourites list is huge.

The most commonly used ones are probably:

Oracle-L Archives
Oracle Documentation

There are other sites I browse, but if I'm looking for something specific, I can usually find it on one of these sites.

They're all pretty easy to use and contain useful material and I think that all Newbies should be familiar with these sites.

Like I said, there are others, this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Which other sites do you regularly search if you need information?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Newbie Resources

In my presentation I have a couple of slides showing what I believe to be good Newbie resources.

These include books, websites and lists that are a good place for Newbies to learn.

I cannot dispute that there are a lot of good resources out there, however some of them are way beyond Newbie level.

Two of the books I recommend are Oracle DBA 101 by Theriault, Carmichael & Viscusi and Expert One on One by Tom Kyte.

DBA 101 because it is the kind of book you can pick up and read cover to cover. It gives a good explanation of the basics, uses a lot of easy to understand analogies and is easy to digest.

Expert One on One because, although it is a slightly more 'hefty' read, it explains concepts in easy to understand detail and includes a lot of workable examples that you can go away with and try for yourself.

I always have a copy of both books to hand.
I use Tom Kyte's book as a reference manual and I would be lost without it.
If I come across a concept or issue that I can't quite grasp, I will turn to Tom's book for clarification.

I also have a couple of other books, that although I have learned from, are not the kind of reading I would recommend to Newbies for fear of overwhelming them.

Concentrating on books for the moment, do you have any 'must reads' that you found as a Newbie, or books that you, even as a seasoned Guru, could not work without and would recommend to Newbies as a way of learning?

What do I need to know Part II

How do you know what you need to know, if you don't know it yet?

It's quite a frightening question!

My first couple of months as a DBA were spent with me working alone.
A lot of the tasks I was performing were based around following written instructions left by the previous DBA.
I knew what I had to do, and which commands to run, I just didn't necessarily understand what I was doing or why.

I don't think anybody realised how dangerous a scenario this could be, until I managed to bring the production system crashing to a halt a couple of times!
It wasn't anything malicious, just pure lack of understanding.

I found that once I'd got my head round most of the basics, I had to learn everything else on a 'need to know' basis.
If I stumbled upon an issue or concept I didn't understand, then I had to research it and learn on the spot.

After about 3 months, the company brought a contractor in, mainly to work on an upgrade project that was clearly above my limits at the time. He also became a mentor to me and was able to provide a bit of structure to my learning.

That's when I was able to go on my first Oracle DBA course and get a proper understanding of the theory behind some of the tasks I had been doing.

Once I'd worked out that my starting point was to learn the basics of Oracle, I then asked myself "what next?".

It's probably easier, or at least it was for me, to work out what you don't need to know.

For example, we didn't use RMAN, so I didn't need to worry about that.
We didn't run 24x7, so we did a shut down and cold backups nightly, therefore I didn't need to look into hot backups.
Similarly, if your place doesn't use RAC or Dataguard, then don't worry about learning it.

That's not to say you'll never need to learn, you just don't need to yet.

Concentrate your learning on the systems you have in front of you, and you can build from there.

Stick to learning one new concept or skill at a time.
As you progress things will naturally fall together and may make more sense to you. I usually find that if I try and take in too much at one time, it all gets a bit jumbled up and I have to go and learn it all over again.

So how did anybody else approach learning?

How do you decide what and when to learn?