Friday, August 03, 2007

A word of caution

It’s a fact of life that there are certain subjects on which people will disagree.

Whether it’s about politics, religion or which football team to support, there will always be someone who has a different opinion to yours.

This is also true with technology: do you use a Windows platform or Unix, a PC or a Mac, the list goes on and on.

It’s exactly the same in the Oracle world.
People will disagree and there can sometimes be conflicting opinions out there.
-Do you need RAC,
-Do you need DataGuard,
-What is the best approach for performance tuning?

These are all subjects where there are people on different sides, and they have all been the subject of presentations at various different venues and events.

A difference in opinion, and a healthy debate is normal.
It helps you make a more informed judgement if you are exposed to both sides of the debate.

What isn’t healthy however, is when an opinion is based on an incorrect fact.

It’s also a fact of life that there are occasions where people make mistakes, or are mis-informed, and their opinion can therefore be dangerous as it is based on incorrect facts.

As Newbies, you need to be aware of the different, and sometimes conflicting opinions out there, in order to make sure that the advice you are following is appropriate to you and your circumstances.

This post is not about telling you what is right and what is wrong, it’s about showing you how to make that distinction for yourself.

So here’s some advice:

Widen your reading material
Don’t just stick with one website, or one book or one author – take in a wide variety of sources to get a different perspective.

Do your research
If you’re unsure of something you have read, do some further research on the subject.

Test things out for yourself
If you come across different sources that give conflicting advice, test things out for yourself. It’s the only way you can be sure of what is correct.

Beware of search engines
Although there may be many occasions where search engines are your friend, there is no guarantee of the quality of the results shown. The advice may be out of date, or not relevant to your particular set up or circumstances.

‘Try before you buy’
If someone suggests that the answer to your problem is to run script ‘xyz’ or type command ‘abc’, don’t automatically run it through production.
Read through the script and make sure you understand what it is doing. Look up the command if you aren’t sure what it will do.
Your job will not be saved by saying ‘but Mr X told me to do it!’.
That may sound like simple common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people have been caught out by blind trust.

Check that it is relevant
When asking for help, or researching an issue, make sure you clarify the details. Advice on how to solve an issue in 10g may not work if you are running 9i. Different versions can have different fixes with a range of results.

While the above may all seem like common sense, you will do well to remember it.
Don’t assume that just because you’ve seen something it print, or been told it, that it’s correct.

It will be your job on the line if it all goes horribly wrong.


Blogger bill said...

ah, you mean you expect people to *think for themselves* and no look for a "silver bullet"?;-)
[BTW, real silver bullets a very inacruate. trust me.]

oh and good luck on that, says you local neighborhood cynical SOB.;-)

Friday, August 03, 2007 6:22:00 pm  
Blogger Peter K said...

Lisa, good post and advice.

Saturday, August 04, 2007 4:31:00 pm  
Blogger Mohammad Taj said...

Hi Lisa,

This is good advice for everyone who going to do something new.


Sunday, August 05, 2007 4:50:00 am  
Blogger Joel Garry said...

One downside of a wide variety of sources: it dilutes the value of the good sources.

Even "trust but verify" can be skewed with persuasive, but bad, demonstrations.

Popularity certainly doesn't imply either the right way or wrong way to approach problems, but some popular authors are just plain better than others.

The argument that it is ok to say anything to simplify things for newbies is just wrong. If you are going to simplify, then you have a moral obligation not to spew wrong information. Many people have demonstrated it is entirely possible to impart correct information to newbies, even for relatively complex Oracle matters.

That said, your sentence about appropriateness for specific circumstances really hits the nail on the head. Guessing may even be appropriate for problems with insufficient information. But the general advice for newbies is to learn and following proper methodologies for solving the various types of problems.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 12:31:00 am  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for the input Joel, I agree with the point about simplifying complex topics for Newbies, without giving out wrong information.
Some people are naturally better at it than others, I imagine it has something to do with the level of their own knowledge on the subject.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:02:00 pm  

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