Interview with SearchSecurity.com

Earlier this week I was solicited for an interview with Bill Brenner, Senior News Writer for SearcSecurity.com on the topic of Oracle patches and their new Critical Patch Update bulletins.

Bill interviewed several DBAs and got some interesting opinions on Oracle’s patching procedures.

Jon Emmons, an Oracle database consultant and keeper of a blog called Life After Coffee, which focuses on Oracle security and other topics, said he also found the bulletin changes helpful.

“Perhaps the most valuable new feature in the CPU bulletin is the executive summaries,” Emmons said in an email interview. “These bulleted lists give a great high-level summary. At one point or another we’ve all had to explain to our boss why we need to apply these patches and now Oracle has given us the words to do it with.”

The full article, which came out yesterday, highlights mixed opinions on Oracle’s patching procedure and “improved” CPU bulletin.

oracle, patch, database, dba, database administration, rdbms, security, database security

The Rule of the Lazy Class

Approach.Botonomy.com has an interesting article on Why the Puritan Work Ethic has No Place in IT.

The article echoes many of my personal sentiments that your administrators and developers need to be encouraged to work smarter, not harder, even to the point of having “free time.”

… You want an environment where sysadmins kick back and read IT magazines occasionally, because their run-of-the-mill administrative tasks (adding users, managing disk space, etc.) are all scripted and/or automated. They can then focus their energies on the unexpected and unavoidable issues that crop up from time-to-time.

Beyond handling the unexpected, through having this “free time” administrators will have the ability to identify areas in need of improvement. If your administrators are running around fixing stuff all the time your team has a problem! Not only will morale, and therefore retention suffer but your administrators will have no time for evaluating new opportunities.

The best teams celebrate those who sit back and let their computers do their work for them. You want to have a project team that considers repetitive development activities to be tasteless. Sometimes necessary, but generally frowned upon.

Check out the full article and think a bit about what your team could be doing if they weren’t fighting fires all the time.

Of course this is exactly why I am writing a book on Oracle Shell Scripting due out next year.

project management, it management, information technology, database administration, system administration

Oracle Security Alerts Available via RSS

Last week I needed the latest security patch for a new install of Oracle Application Server. After spending an inordinate amount of time on Oracle’s site I finally found it. Then I thought “I wonder if there’s an RSS feed for this?”

So I copied the URL out of IE and into a modern browser (Firefox in this case) and sure enough, I got the familiar feed icon in the location bar. I then proceeded to add the link to my RSS aggregator and can now find the updates without hassle!

So, if you’re looking for the latest security alerts from Oracle, here’s the link If you are using a news aggregator or portal which allows RSS you should consider adding the URL to your aggregator so you’ll always have the links to the latest patches handy.

oracle, rdbms, security, database

SQL to find the last Saturday of the year

Satya commented on my post about finding the first or second Monday in a month asking how to find the last Saturday of a year using SQL. This is a good question as I think it is typical of the battles people fight with dates in Oracle.

So here we go… For this example we’ll use sysdate but you can use a date column or a to_date instead.

SQL> select sysdate from dual;

SYSDATE
---------
13-SEP-06

Now we’ll jump forward a year and start working backwards:

SQL> select sysdate+numtoyminterval(1, 'YEAR') from dual;

SYSDATE+N
---------
13-SEP-07

Now that we’re safely into next year we’ll reel it back to January 1st of next year using the trunc function to truncate the date down to the year.

SQL> select trunc(sysdate+numtoyminterval(1, 'YEAR'), 'YEAR') from dual;

TRUNC(SYS
---------
01-JAN-07

To work with the last week of the year we’ll go back 8 days. We need to go back 8 instead of 7 because we’re going to use the next_day function later which only looks after the date it is passed.

SQL> select trunc(sysdate+numtoyminterval(1, 'YEAR'), 'YEAR') - 8 from dual;

TRUNC(SYS
---------
24-DEC-06

Now we use the next_day function to look for the next Saturday after the date we’ve got.

SQL> select next_day(trunc(sysdate+numtoyminterval(1, 'YEAR'), 'YEAR') - 8, 'SATURDAY') from dual;

NEXT_DAY(
---------
30-DEC-06

So we figured out the last Saturday of this year by taking today’s date, adding one year, going back to January 1 of that year, stepping back 8 days from then and looking for the next Saturday.

Hope this helps Satya! Thanks for the great question.

oracle, dates, database, sql, dba, dbms, database development, database programming

Oracle Chooses XServe RAID

Apple's Xserve RAIDIt looks like Oracle has decideded to adopt Apple’s XServe RAID as a low-cost storage solution

Based on our own experience with Apple technology, Xserve RAID is a great match for applications running Oracle.

With the appetite of one to two petabytes annually Oracle is of course looking to control costs and the SATA-based Xserve RAID combines value, capacity, performance and availability. The current top configuration offers 7000GB on dual RAID controllers with redundant power and cooling for a mere $12999. Sure that’s the price of a small car, but it works out to only $1.86/GB for some serous industry-level storage.

Thanks to Zach for sending this on to me.

apple, oracle, xserve, raid, xserve raid, storage, disk, hard drive