Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guest Blogger: Rachel Carmichael

Something a little bit different today.

Way back when I was a brand new Newbie, I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Carmichael.

Rachel was an Oracle DBA in New York City, co-authored ‘Oracle DBA 101’ and ‘Oracle 9i DBA 101’, was an active participant of the Oracle–L list and regularly attended many of the big conferences and events, including the UKOUG annual conference here in the UK.

Two years ago she embarked on a radical career change and disappeared from the Oracle community. Since then we have remained friends, and I often get people enquiring as to what she’s up to these days.

I decided it would be fun for Rachel to provide an update, in her own words, so here it is….

"So…….. to quote Mark Twain, “the rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated” :-)

Two and a half years ago, I dropped out of the Oracle world. To be precise, I dropped out of IT completely. For a long time, I had been bored by what I was doing. Now I know that’s heresy, to the Oraclites out there it’s impossible to become bored with the minutiae of each new release. But, well, I used to insist I was never really a geek. This just went to prove that.

I’ve always loved animals and I had this idea for a company to do in-home care for geriatric and special needs pets. I decided that if I were a licensed veterinary technician it could only help sell the service, so I went back to school for a two-year degree. Now you have to remember, I’d been out of college for about 30 years at that point, most of my classmates were young enough to be my kids! It’s hard to get back into the routine of studying and taking tests and CARING about test results.

Two years of sciences, anatomy, microbiology, veterinary nursing (surgeries and care), veterinary laboratory procedures (do you KNOW how many parasites there are?), farm animal care (you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had your arm up to the armpit in a cow’s rectum)……

And I did it. Me, the non-science geek, the one who always got sick to her stomach when she saw the surgery shows on television. I’ve become fascinated by this stuff (yes, I’m definitely a medical geek now, I run to see maggots and talk about the size of the cancerous lump that was taken off and…..). I graduated, with high honors (my mother would have expected no less of me).

I went through laboratory animal training, I even worked as a part-time animal caretaker at a research facility – rats and mice and the occasional surgery on a pig. And I geeked over it all.

And now….. I work in the ICU of a specialty referral and emergency hospital in Manhattan, a cancer center in the city. I treat really sick animals. I lose my patients more often than I would like. I put in catheters, take blood… and my conversation much of each workday consists of “Oh goodie, you peed!” and “Oh stop it, just stop it, I’m not even sticking you with anything”.

And I love it. I have no regrets about my decision. I make less than 1/3 of what I made as an Oracle DBA. And I have thousands of times the happiness. There’s this incredible feeling of joy to see an animal I thought was going to die, who I’ve fallen in love with, sweated over, cried over… to see this pet go home healthy.

I’m still around, still have email and answer mail, still think of you all and miss you terribly. But I don’t miss (heresy!) Oracle for one second."

So there you have it.
If anybody wants to get in touch with Rachel, you can either leave a comment here (I know she'll be reading them!) or get in touch with me and I can pass details on.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to Basics: Database Administration – Agenda now live!

After the fun of the blog-tag posts (or at least some of us thought it was fun), it’s now time for something on-topic.

The Agenda for the UKOUG ‘Back to Basics’ Special Event is now Live and can be found here.

Since my original post the venue has been changed in order to accommodate more delegates.

The event will still take place on 28th February, but it will now be held at the Odeon Whiteleys in London.
However, due to popular demand, places are still limited and selling out fast, so register quickly if you want to attend.
You can register from this link.

The agenda for this special launch event will not disappoint, with a line up of some of the best internationally renowned Oracle experts, sharing their knowledge for a beginners audience.

Tom Kyte, Database Product Evangelist, Oracle, will present
"Best Practices: Just say no"
Pete Finnigan , PeteFinnigan.com Ltd, will present
"Oracle Security Basics"
Jonathan Lewis, JL Computer Consultancy, will present
"The Beginners’ Guide to Cost Based Optimisation"
Julian Dyke, JULIANDYKE.com, will present
"Back to Basics: High Availability and Real Application Clusters"

As you can see, there really will be some fantastic speakers on the day, speakers that are highly respected for their expert level knowledge and can often be seen giving talks at many of the big international events and Conferences.

The UKOUG has been able to bring them together for this event so that they can share their knowledge and actively encourage the ‘Newbies’ out there.

One thing I really want to stress here is that this is a Beginner’s event.

The material being presented has been specifically written with the target audience in mind and is very much aimed at those new to the realms of an Oracle DBA.
The target audience for this event is DBA’s who have been in the role a short time and are looking to enhance the basic skills and understanding that they currently have.

The UKOUG runs many events and Special Interest Groups throughout the year and full details are available on their website.
Please take time to think carefully as to whether the Back to Basics event is for you, or whether you could take advantage of the many other events on offer.

For those of you that have followed this blog, you will know that putting something back into the Oracle community and providing resources to beginners is something that I feel very strongly about.

As such, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Tom Kyte, Pete Finnigan, Jonathan Lewis, Julian Dyke and the UKOUG for the time and effort they have put into this event.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tag - I'm it!

Well, thanks to Doug Burns for 'Tagging' me and to Jake for starting the whole thing off, it would appear that it's my turn to reveal 8 things about myself.

It's probably not a bad way to kick off the blog for 2008 so here goes...

1) I'm a mad keen scuba-diver. Since getting my qualifications in 2003, I've been all over the place in search of that elusive sunken Treasure Galleon. My favourite dives of all time have to have been in the Red Sea and I'm now looking forward to heading East to try out Thailand and Indonesia.

2) I've suffered from severe eczema since childhood. It comes and goes, some flare ups are worse than others but I've often required hospital treatment for it. I'm currently undergoing treatment with a new sort of trial medication at the moment and, fingers crossed, it appears to be working incredibly well!

3) Like Doug, I guess I have always like the sound of my own voice, I always took part in my school Public Speaking competition from the age of 11 and won prizes on 2 occasions. I was also part of the school debating team.

4) I have a completely ridiculous shoe collection.
Even by most girl's standards I have far too many and none of them are practical in any sense at all. Some of them are so uncomfortable that I have only worn them once since buying them. Oh, and I have a bit of a thing about handbags too (but only if they match my shoes) :-)

5) I can hand on heart, honestly say that I once worked for a complete Mickey Mouse employer.
I spent most of 1996 working behind a bar in Disneyland Paris. Took a year out from doing my degree first time round and had probably one of the most fun years in my life.

6) I'm pretty good at learning languages. Maybe a bit rusty now but my French was fluent, I could also get by in German. I also made a point at university (where I studied languages before giving up, moving to Paris and then falling into IT) of learning to swear in Spanish, Italian and Greek.
I can also speak English and Geordie as and when required, but most people would so that I'm not very good at either :-)

7) I never had any intention of working within IT. I always wanted to be either a barrister, a forensic scientist, or to do something with languages. I ended up in IT after coming home from Paris, taking a job through an Agency as an Accounts clerk and then somehow winding up in the IT Dept when they upgraded the Oracle Financials System.

8) When I was 17, I had to get my Mum to show me 'which way up a chicken went'. Seriously. For the life of me I could not work out how the thing I had seen running round the yard at our friends house could be associated with the funny looking thing on the blue plastic tray in Tesco.
The day I worked up the courage to ask, my Mum took it upon herself to unwrap the chicken, fold out the legs and wings and make it walk along the kitchen bench - all the while making clucking noises to aid the authenticity.
Up until then I had always thought chickens had humped-backs as i didn't realise they were upside down when pre-packed. Seriously.
To this day my family have never let me forget that, and I cannot belive I have just shared it here.

But anyway, that's all from me, and now I'm tagging Peter Scott, Dan Fink, Pete Finnigan, Niall Litchfield, Beth Breidenbach, Neil Jarvis, and Tom Kyte.

Have fun guys!