Oracle Optimal Flexible Architecture

Originally written in 1990, the Optimal Flexible Architecture (OFA) whitepaper still stands as the best-practices for oracle databases. In my time as an Oracle database administrator I have often seen DBAs using these standards, having learned them from senior DBAs, who did not realize the OFA standard exists.

Cary V. Millsap of Oracle Corp. offers this description in this distribution of the whitepaper:

The OFA Standard is a set of configuration guidelines that will give you faster, more reliable Oracle databases that require less work to maintain. The OFA Standard is written by the founder of the Oracle team responsible for installing, tuning, and upgrading several hundreds of sites worldwide since 1990—this paper is based on the best practices of those hundreds of sites. Today the “Optimal Flexible Architecture’’ described in the OFA Standard is built into the Oracle configuration tools and documentation on all open systems ports.

The benifits of the OFA standard go beyond performance and stability. When I started at Plymouth State University 18 months ago I quickly recognized the signs of an OFA environment (mostly partitions named /u01 and /u02.) Having identified that, I immediately knew where to find nearly all data and configuration files.

The guidelines that OFA provides can be easily adapted to other modern multi-user applications including web servers, application servers and other breeds of database. I offer the OFA whitepaper here as I have found it increasingly difficult to find on the web.

The OFA Standard-Oracle for Open Systems

oracle, sql, dba, database administration, database development, database security, database, oracle security

Google Tricks – Did you know you could…

Google is a great (arguably the best) resource for keyword searching on the internet, but many folks don’t realize what else Google is capable of.

Here is a short list of things I use Google for, beyond just searching.

Track packages – Enter a package tracking number for any carrier (I’ve tried UPS, FedEX and USPS) and Google will give you a link to track the package. It’s usually easier and quicker than using the carrier’s page.

Movie show times – Type “movie:” and your zip code or city/state and get a listing of local movie theatres, movies and show times.

Phone number to name and address – Type in a listed phone number and get a name and address of the owner of the number. This is great for finding the address of businesses.

Get a map for a city – Type in a US zip code or city, state and get a link to the map for that zip code.

Define a word – Type “define: ” in the search box followed by a word you want defined and get a definition of that word.

Do math – Google is capable of most mathematic functions. Just type the math you want to do right in the search box and hit search. The result will be at the top of the list. You could write a chapter on just this feature, but most of the functions are defined on this help page.

Convert to and from roman numerals – Enter a search like “28 in roman numerals” or “MCMLXVI in decimal” and get a quick conversion. You will need to put the roman numeral in all capial letters.

Measurement unit converter – Convert measurements of anything from cooking ingredients to rotational force just by typing a search like “2 cups in tablespoons”

Currency converter – Similar to the measurement converter, just type something like “32 US Dollars in British Pounds” and get a quick currency conversion.

So you can see that Google wants to be much more to us than just a search engine. Learn more on this Google help page or try some of the tricks through the search box below. Enjoy!



Google

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Oracle Web Resources

Below are some of my favorite Oracle related web resources. Most have information on databases and Oracle Application Server. There are, of course, countless sites out there on the topic. These are just a few of the ones I prefer.

tahiti.oracle.com – This quick URL gives you direct access to the current Oracle documentation (with a free OTN account.) It’s a good quick back-door way into the oracle docs.

asktom.oracle.com – I don’t know the whole story on this guy, but he seems to work for (or closely with) Oracle answering user submitted questions. There are thousands of questions and answers on all things Oracle.

otn.oracle.com – Oracle’s Technology Network is the official source for tech news from Oracle. It is to the techies what www.oracle.com is to the business folks.

orafaq.com – More Oracle question and answer listings. Also a very useful and comprehensive glossary.

rittman.net – Mark Rittman’s Oracle Weblog is a fantastic resource with a focus on data warehousing and business intelligence. One of the best sites by an individual.

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Baseball (The Card Game)

A variety of Seven Card Stud, Baseball is lots of fun and tends to build good-sized pots. With more than six players it should be played with a double deck.

3 to 10 players. Use a double deck for more than 6 players.

How to Play:

Special rules: 3s and 9s are wild. Whenever a player is dealt a 4 they have the option of purchasing an additional card for a preset amount (should be higher than the ante, recommend 25 cents in nickel ante or $1 in quarter ante.) The additional card is always placed face up if the four was face up or face down if the four was face down.

Betting is the typical poker method, however should start with the highest hand that can be made from face up cards. Players can fold at any time.

Each player antes. The dealer deals two cards face down to each player. Players may look at their face down cards.

The dealer deals one card face up to each player. Any time a four is dealt face up the dealer should offer an additional card to that player before completing the round. If a player chooses to purchase an additional card they put the determined amount into the pot and are dealt an additional card face up.

Once the initial face up cards are dealt, each player should look at their face down cards. If they have any face down fours they can purchase an additional face down card now. There is now a betting round.

The game continues with three more face up cards and one more face down card to each player (plus any additional cards players choose to purchase.) There is a betting round between each dealing round.

There is a final betting round then each player must make their best 5 card poker hand out of their 7 (or more) cards. All players reveal their hands and the highest poker hand wins.

Hints: Hands can be very high due to the large number of wilds. Don’t be overconfident.

Variations: Some dealers will choose to deal complete rounds then offer players the option to purchase additional cards if they received a four.

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10 Steps to a Better Product Choice

In fall of 2004, Zach Tirrell and I developed these steps to lend consistency to the evaluation of products to met the technological needs of our constituents.

In building this, our main concerns were that all potential users and stakeholders were identified and involved before product choices were discussed, that open source and homegrown applications be considered alongside commercial solutions, and that all peripheral costs (support, upgrades, hardware, training) be considered as part of the price of implementation.

Sadly this did not gain widespread adoption in our department. Despite that, some of us have followed these steps and found the process useful.

In the future I may elaborate on these steps; however I consider most of them self-explanatory. Please feel free to post comments if you have any questions about these steps.

10 Steps to a better product choice

The following steps are designed to be used in conjunction with normal project management procedures to ensure due process is given when considering technical solutions.

  1. Determine initial user base and stakeholders
  2. Determine requirements and dependencies (desired features, architecture, budget, etc.)
  3. Re-evaluate user base and stakeholders
  4. Repeat step 2 for new user base and stakeholders if necessary
  5. Identify 3 or more potential solutions. Consideration should be given to what products are used in other similar institutions. Commercial, open source, and homegrown solutions should all be considered
  6. Compare the delivered features of each potential solution against the defined requirements and dependencies and list any additional benefits
  7. Estimate the implementation costs and timeline for each potential solution. Estimate ongoing costs including licensing, server upgrades, IT support, helpdesk, product upgrades, patches, etc.
  8. Compile report including return on investment, costs, requirement/dependency fulfillment, and features
  9. Choose the solution which best fits the requirements and dependencies
  10. Implement the new product

project management, technology, software, software evaluation, product development, management