Tom Kyte, one of the (many) good guys in the Oracle blogging community posted quite a rant a couple weeks ago. In short, Tom was disappointed with the attitude of a user who asked a broad, newbie question and was then upset when Tom’s answer was more involved than “Take two of these and call me in the morning.”

Tom’s experience reminds me that there is a right way and a wrong way to use the information on this site (and others.)

The wrong way to use information on this site:

“There’s the code I need!” copy, paste “That’s done!”

Using any commands you don’t understand in a production system should scare you. If it doesn’t, just consider what good excuse you’re going to give your boss when a system fails due to some code you just got off the internet.

The right way to use information on this site:

“That looks like what I want to do, let me read more on that and try it in a test system.” or “What was the syntax for what I’m doing?”

The information here isn’t provided to solve your problems, it is provided for educational purposes. Education and reference. While that may sound like it’s intended to lower my liability when you blow up your production database, it is; but it is also my true intention.

I am the type of person who wants to know how everything works. That doesn’t mean I won’t grab some code, throw it in a test database, see what happens, and learn from that example, but it does mean that I won’t put my job on the line with someone elses information.

Seek knowledge, not information. It takes longer to acquire, but it is far more applicable and will get you much further.

technology, oracle, information technology

Oracle 9iR2 Data WarehousingAbout a year an a half ago I was right in the middle of researching data warehouse technologies and starting to get quite discouraged on the lack of good technical books on the topic. Then I came across the book “Oracle9iR2 Data Warehousing” by Hobbs, Hillson and Lawande. Here’s the review I put on Amazon on this deep technical book.

In this book, the authors take you swiftly and thoroughly through the entire process of creating a data warehouse. Several other books (I purchased 4 others before this) over-generalize the topic, teaching the vocabulary and business reasons for data warehousing. This book teaches how to implement a warehouse in Oracle 9i Revision 2, while teaching the major concepts through practical application.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the technical details of this book if one were not familiar with the Oracle environment. Those who are familiar with Oracle will find it is much like the courses offered by Oracle. The book consistently, clearly presents the concepts (dimensions, fact tables, summaries, ETL) then delves into such depth it leaves the reader with a complete understanding of not only how to implement each concept, but when, and why to implement them.

The major concepts covered include dimensional modeling, data partitioning, query optimization, materialized views, dimensions, the extract-transform-load process, warehousing tools, ongoing warehouse maintenance, and many more. Furthermore, SQL for the examples used in the book are available from one of the authors websites, affording the reader a hands-on environment in which to observe these concepts.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to work with warehousing who already has a firm Oracle background (strong knowledge of schemas, data dictionary, storage conventions, terminology.) This is simply the best book I have found on data warehousing.

I see that there is now a new version of this book out. “Oracle Database 10g Data Warehousing” by the same authors, plus Pete Smith, will go on my short list for tech books to buy.

oracle, data warehouse, database, dba, database administration, data warehousing

In a previous article Oracle conditions and how they handle NULL I give some examples on how NULL is evaluated in Oracle. After talking with Scott, a student who is doing some database work with me this semester I believe I may have a better way of explaining the initially cryptic evaluation of NULL.

NULL in Oracle is essentially considered a non-answer. For example let’s consider this yes/no question:

Are you currently living in the USA?

There are two obvious answers to this question, Yes and No, but we need to be prepared for one more circumstance, a non-answer.

So if you ask me this question and I don’t answer it can you say “Jon is currently living in the USA”? No. Can you say “Jon is not currently living in the USA”? No! We can’t compare against something we don’t know so any comparisons against NULL are treated as false.

To handle these circumstances in Oracle we must use IS NULL and IS NOT NULL to detect these non-answer values. For some examples of this code and more detail on this check out my original article on the topic.

database, database administration, database programming, dba, oracle

It looks like Oracle is re-aligning themselves with Sun Solaris as their preferred 64-bit platform. In the March issue of Oracle Magazine they have a short announcement on the topic:

Oracle has chosen the Solaris 10, Sun Microsystems’ multiplatform, open source operating system, as its preferred development and deployment platform for most 64-bit architectures. Solaris 10 will be used throughout Oracle’s development organization, and Oracle will release and ship 64-bit versions of all Oracle products on Solaris prior to, or simultaneously with, release on other operating systems.

Check out the whole article here or sign up to get your free copy of Oracle Magazine.

Thanks to Jon G. for sending this on to me.

oracle, database, database administration, dba, systems administration, sysadmin, solaris, sun, sun microsystems, UNIX, open source, 64-bit

EditPlus in actionWhile there are many text editors out there offering a broad set of features my favorite right now is EditPlus.

EditPlus is a Windows shareware application designed for text, HTML, Java, PHP, etc. It’s very thin requiring little (nearly no) load time and has many great features such as:

  • Syntax hilighting for many languages
  • EditPlus on Windows right-click
  • FTP and SFTP integration
  • Templates
  • Line Numbering
  • Column Selection
  • Optional Spell Checker

The list of features is long and every revision brings more. Check out the Features page for more.

I’ve been using the Oracle 9iR2 syntax file from the user files section of EditPlus.com and it seems to pick up all the SQL and PL/SQL syntax I use, although many other syntax files exist and you could always make your own.

As mentioned above, EditPlus is shareware. A single user license is only $30, and with discounts for buying in bulk there is no reason not to pay, but for now, download it, try it, and see why you can’t live without it.

Thanks to Zach for showing this to me a couple years ago.

text, text editing, editing, editor, edit, sql, plsql, pl/sql, sftp, ftp, notepad, wordpad, oracle, unix, php, perl, programming, database programming, dba, database administration, systems administration, c, c++, java, javascript, css, html

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