Open Insights 40 – Self Taught


Issue 40 – Self Taught

  January 1, 2008

by Sean Hull

Happy New Year 2008!

It’s now the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We thought we’d celebrate by relaunching our popular blog Oracle + Open Source.  The design is new, there’s a lot more content, things are easier to find, and overall it is indexing great on Google, even better!

Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.

In This Issue:

1. Feature: Self Taught

2. Conferences/Speaking

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: Self Taught

Recently I was having lunch with a colleague of mine.  We were catching up as we hadn’t seen each other in some months.  She had recently started a new and challenging job, one she was very excited about.  The new challenges involved a lot of open-source technology, so we got to talking about that.

She made a very interesting observation to me, one that has stayed with me, and one that I continue to mull over.  She said that open-source is very autodidactic.  Ok, I admit, I didn’t know the word either, at first.  Maybe some of you can feel my pain!  Basically it means self-taught, and what she was getting at is that open-source is this teeming wilderness of software, without instruction manuals, the familiar structural framework of corporations, and business processes that one can latch onto, study, and follow.  Of course I thought, how else would you want it?  And therein lay my own misunderstandings.

I’ve been involved in open-source technologies for years.  Even while at University, most of the software projects that a computer science major comes in contact with are open-source, or sort of do-it-yourself research projects, or experiments on what’s possible, and how things work.  So for me jumping into the commercial world of Oracle came later, and it all fit together very well like a puzzle, as I understood where many of the Oracle programmers thinking was, or could often guess. 

Many of the people who come to Oracle professionally did not start out as engineers or computer science majors in their University days.  They’ve come to the technology from the top-down.  This can be a real godsend on the business side, because they understand business processes, can communicate to real business needs, and translate what is happening under the hood from a shared vantage point.  But for these folks open-source really is very much a freewheeling world, one which requires constantly to learn and relearn, reverse-engineer pieces and components, and think outside the box. 

I think both types of people are really crucial to business.  And I also think that for this reason, the continual embrace of open-source technologies by Oracle corporation, such as Linux, Apache, and PHP will both build Oracle’s business and stock price, and at the same time grow the demand for requisite skilled engineers.  This is good news for everyone, both in the commercial Oracle space, and in the open-source space.  

For business, it’s worth considering, given this dual nature, which type of folks you’re looking for when you’re hiring full-time employees, consultants, and outsourced resources.

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2. Conferences/Speaking Engagements

Last April was the Collaborate 2007 conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I ended up giving two talks, one on Monday, and one on Tuesday. I’ve uploaded video of both of them.

In other news, we’ve submitted a series of five abstracts to the IOUG Collaborate 2008 Conference and another five to the O’Reilly MySQL Conference in April 2008.  You can find them on our relaunched Oracle  + Open Source site by clicking "abstract", or by following this link.

3. New Articles

Eight Ways to Hack Oracle – Part I

Eight Ways to Hack Oracle – Part II

Oracle, MySQL and Postgres – Feature Comparison Part I

Oracle, MySQL and Postgres – Feature Comparison Part II

Open Source Technologies for Oracle DBAs Part I

Open Source Technologies for Oracle DBAs Part II

4. Audio Interviews

In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We’ve also moved our podcast to Odeo for Audio Podcast hosting. It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically. So please subscribe if you haven’t already!

5. Current Reading

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow – by Chip Conley

Chip Conley is the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality a company which manages a boutique collection of hotels in the Bay Area.  Surviving the dot-com and post-911 downturn was not easy for anyone, but for the hotel industry, especially in the Bay Area, it was a very very dramatic crash.  So to say their company thrived and expanded during this period, is really to underline the real-world success of Chip’s ideas.  He’s really ironed them out, and presented them here for the rest of us, to learn and grow our own business.  Are you in a job, a career or a calling?  This book will challenge you to ask the question.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature – Steven Pinker

I warn you in advance, Mr Pinker will challenge your assumptions, and all of our modern assumptions about human nature.  From racism, to gender, politics, to violence, he pulls out all the stops, and isn’t afraid to touch hot-button issues.  A bit dense at times, Pinker is a great modern thinker, and asks us to do the same.  I definitely don’t agree with all of what he says, he certainly challenges us to think deeply about our modern conceptions, and assumptions about our basic nature, what we have control over, and what is more linked to our own million year evolution.

6. Lightweight Humor

A little inane humor to brighten up your day…

Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can’t Index.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 

7. Miscellaneous

We all want to optimize our sites for Google.  I mean other than a select few, that’s where most of our traffic comes from, so the more our site plays well with Google, the more users, readers, customers, and clients will find their way to us.

Most of the SEO material I’ve read has been pretty sparse, and unclear.  But I’ve been following the topic over at my good Felix’s #comments blog, and I’m starting to get it.  So you can too!  Take a read: Google loves me, again!

If you haven’t been following the news on the topic, take a look over at this NY Times piece: Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again.  Personally I don’t think there is much hysteria this time around, sure there’s some, but not much.  The industry is more mature now, and computers in general have lost their initial wow factor, so people are general more sober, and able to step back and see what is actually useful, can make money, is making money, or might well make money.  That’s the root of investing smart.

8. Past Issues

Issue 38: Are You Fast Failing

Issue 37: A Real Open Book

Issue 36: Rarity of Excellence

Issue 34: Hindsight Is Always 20/20

Issue 33: Market For Experts

Issue 32: Different Heritages

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 a top-flight DBA? Visit us on the web at