Open Insights 29 – Mainroads or Sidestreets

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 29 – Mainroads or Sidestreets
March 2, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Mainroads or Sidestreets

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Mainroads or Sidestreets

Choosing Mainroads or Sidestreets?

Recently I was doing a bit of traveling for vacation. I had heard great things about Costa Rica, with it’s untouched wilderness, and jungle in the middle of tropical Central America. After doing the requisite research, arranging travel & accomodations, I hopped on a plane bound for San Jose. From there a bus took me on the precipitous journey through the jungles, out of the mountains and down to the Caribean coast to a little town known as Puerto Viejo de Limon.
The town is quite small consisting of four or five mainroads which are paved, and then many sidestreets off of those, dirt roads with little shops, soda restaurants, cafes and adventure tour guides. While walking down some of the sidestreets I happened into one of the adventure shops, and struck up a conversation with one of the guides. He started telling me a story about the time he was traipsing through the jungle and tripped, twisting his ankle, and finding himself face to face with a rather large and menacing snake. Then without skipping a beat, he went on to explain that although the tours go through the jungle, they are all quite safe & so on.
I thought about this whole story a moment. My minds gears began to spin. A guide with such real-world experience affords extra confidence that if something does happen, he will know how to handle the situation. There are parallels here with consulting, and experience. I’ve talked in the past about certifications, being quite a bit overrated. A strong foundation is crucial, yes. But truely nothing can substitute for experience gained in the trenches. In searching for consulting resources – in any field really, not just technology related – you want someone who has taken the systems apart and put the proverbial motorcycle back together piece by piece. You want someone who has traveled the sidestreets, and backstreets, knows what to look out for, but also who will steer for the mainstreets to avoid seeking out trouble.
In computing you want someone who enjoys taking the systems apart component by component, hardware and software, and then putting them back together. One who has deliberately broken, hacked, or disassembled, then troubleshooted and put humpty dumpty back together. This is not experience normally gained in the classroom but rather by getting ones hands dirty, figuring out how all those pieces actually work and fit together – not just how they are supposed to operate in principal or on paper.
Keep this in mind the next time you interview a candidate. Ask their opinion & preferences and ask for a war story or two. Don’t overemphasize degrees and certifications or let them blind you to a candidate’s lack of street smarts. Sooner or later your systems will step out of line, and having that real-world experience will come in very handy.
Also checkout: Oracle DBA Interview Questions and our past newsletter, Issue 09 – IT Certifications.

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements
March 15th, New York Oracle User Group
in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.
April 15th, Collaborate 2007 – Las Vegas Nevada
in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

This month we have the opportunity to talk with William Hurley aka Whurley, the Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

In our interview, we discuss open-source, and it’s impact on commercial software and solutions, and wrestle head on with some of the concerns people have on both sides of the fence.

William Hurley is the CTO at Qlusters, where he launched the openQRM project. He has been awarded IBM’s Master Inventor title, multiple awards for innovation at Apple Computer. Prior to joining Qlusters he was CTO and founder at Symbiot. He holds 11 patents for research and development at IBM, Tivoli Systems, and Apple Computer. He was recently elected Chairman of the Open Management Consortium.

5. Current Reading

Set Your Voice Free: How To Get The Singing Or Speaking Voice You Want by Roger Love

Want to improve your voice for a better and stronger presence in public speaking + lecturing? Or perhaps you just want to build up a better and more consistent voice for telephoning clients, and building rapport. Whatever the reason, this book provides exercises and techniques for beginners and advanced alike.
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

Robert Greene’s books all take an insightful if slightly dark view of human nature to illuminate behavior. His Strategies of War, as his Laws of Power before, put you on a stronger footing in a world that is not always friendly. Ignore his wisdom at your own peril!
The Oracle Hacker’s Handbook: Hacking and Defending Oracle by David Litchfield

The world of hacking, and computer security has finally and abruptly caught up with databases, and Litchfield’s latest book brings into stark contrast the vulnerabilities, back doors, and general risk that your database and consequently your data, may be in. Sobering reading.


6. Lightweight Humor

Visit Gaping Void’s funny entry:

Fake Walmart Blog.

7. Miscellaneous

Improve Body Language:
Presentation Zen – Lessig Method
Dick Hardt’s famous Identity 2.0 presentation

8. Past Issues

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.