Saturday, December 18, 2010 – the blog for the rest of us

Welcome to - the Oracle blog of Steve Ries. What can you expect to find here? Well, this blog is designed to be different. I've read a lot of people who blog about Oracle and, while they're fine, they tend to fall into two categories. One, Oracle "business types" telling you about SOA, blah, blah, E-business, blah, blah, cloud computing, blah. The second are those that continually write articles on obscure, esoteric technical solutions that you may have need of once in your lifetime if someone held a gun to your head and said... "Okay punk. Write a concrete metaclass in Ruby that will take all the data in your database, convert it to the Japanese 16-bit Shifted Japanese Industrial Standard characterset, put it back in sideways and cause all your reverse key indexes to spontaneously combust. And for God's sake use the declarative style!!" That stuff is all well and good, but I'm an Oracle DBA and have been one for a long time. If I were going to read an Oracle blog on a regular basis (which is my hope for this blog), I'd want it to be a little more relevant to my daily life. And a little bit more entertaining.

If you're wondering about me, I've been a DBA for about 13 years. I hold five Oracle certifications and have been an Oracle instructor, training students in the Oracle certification tracks for about 6 years. I currently consult for a large governmental body best known for its guns and large tanks. I've specialized in designing high performance Oracle RAC systems all the way back to when it was called Oracle Parallel Server. But beyond that, I'm a geek. A pure Star Trek watching, video game playing, Linux compiling, unapologetic geek. I'm crazy enough to think that what I do for a living is so cool that if they asked me nicely, I just might do it for free. That being said, there are certainly parts of the job that I don't like. While I've learned to love good manager-types (they're rare and worth their weight in gold), the bad ones make my skin crawl. And sometimes I think that if someone uses another cool buzzword like "ROI" one more time, I'll go into an epileptic fit. So I like to complain about and make some good natured fun of "the suits" as they're often called. Heck - we all like doing that behind their backs. That's why Dilbert is so popular.

However cold and hard my computerized heart may be, I have a soft spot for Oracle newbies - people who are just trying hard to "get it done" while the suits are standing over their shoulders telling them to "make it faster!". So expect some helpful hints and stories along the way.  Of course, I take no responsibility if any of my "helpful hints" turn out to break your database.  Always test stuff somewhere safe first.

If you're wondering about the name "", it comes from the Usenet newsgroup alt.* hierarchy that goes all the way back to the "Great Renaming" of 1987 (I'm not making that up - look it up). I'm old enough to have actually used the Internet before the World Wide Web came around, back in the days of Gopher and WAIS, and Usenet was one of my favorite browsing spots. The groups in the alt.* hierarchy ranged from the extremely weird to the naughty, naughty, but tended to fall under the idea that they were "alternative to the mainstream". Taking the aforementioned goals into consideration, I thought it an appropriate name for this blog.

So maybe you get the idea by now. Sometimes informative, often opinionated, but always interesting. If you're an everyday, lunch pail, trying-to-get-it-done DBA, I think you'll like it here. If you're a “suit”, it would probably be better if you just left now...