2007/03/28

beyond belief...

What happened to Kathy is just plain unacceptable.

I've been very vocal for many years now on the subject of anonymous posting. To me, anyone using anonimity in the name of "freedom of speech" is just trying to fool themselves.

Democratic freedoms come with responsibilities. One's right to voice an opinion should not EVER preempt one's responsibility to the rest of the social structure that maintains that right in the first place.

I've said it again and again: anyone wanting to live outside of the structures of society is more than welcome to go live in the bush, for all I care. But while that someone is living in the same society I live in, then behave according to the rules of that society! And one of those rules is that neither I - nor Kathy nor anyone else - have to be subjected to this sort of thing!

Anonimity fosters this type of idiotic behaviour. And encourages it. For no great advantage as a trade-in: given the appropriate settings, an IP address is as good as any street address.

Of course: there is such a thing as anonymous re-mailers and such. I've long been against them in their current guise, they serve no purpose whatsoever in this day and age.

Yeah sure, someone in China or North Korea might be disadvantaged by not being able to mail a free speech message. And if you believe that argument, I've got a bridge to sell you as well. Cheap, too!...

No, this sort of thing is just not on. I hope the police find this idiot and give him/her a good serving: that's what they deserve.

2007/03/26

grid lock

Been testing the grid control in EM.
Part of our current monitoring tool eval.

Hmmm, call me a ludite: but I prefer the Spotlight GUI look to the drab old web-based UI of grid control.

By a country mile!

If there is one thing that all this web-mania of the last 5 years has done is create some very boring, incredibly convoluted and hard to navigate user interfaces!

Sorry folks: GC is so hard to navigate and find things in, it begs disbelief!

The amount of visual gadgetry and candy in a proper GUI is so far above the limited tools of html/xml that the resulting user interfaces are several notches above the best web-based tools.

Yes, I know about all the niceties of java gadgets, flash and all that. Sorry folks: simply no contest.



Having said that: GC has some great ideas and functionality behind it. Never mind that much of it is still a bit flaky in 10.2.0.2: that dreaded ORA-20000 "Content of tablespace" error is with us and not leaving anytime soon...

And as usual, good old Metalick claims it's fixed in 11. Great support, where one has to upgrade to unreleased versions of software to fix an obvious and egregious bug in the current release!

Wake up, mr Oracle!...

Still: I particularly like the ease of creating custom schedules in GC for email or sms-based alarming. Piece of cake. Darn useful to boot!

Soon we start evaluating Spotlight in full. I'm looking forward to it. We're a mixed shop, with SQL Server - on that subject: what is it with folks nowadays calling it "SQL"?
That is NOT its name!

Still: GC won't be in the same class for use with Microslop's database.

But we may well end up with both products, who knows! Each has its own strengths.



Anyways:


Not much in the photo front. A cyber-friend, Scott Wilson from Hawai, has been kind enough to share some web-capacity for me to drop a few real life size photo scans. If you want to see the kind of photo quality I'm getting nowadays from this scanner, in full 4Kppi glory, go here and have a ball!

Make sure you select first the jpgs. Don't try to open the tiff files in your browser: just download them and use a proper image viewer - explorer's viewer will be slow! - to browse the images.

Yes, the photos I show here in this blog are forcibly reduced in size to make them practical to display. The full size images I deal with normally for printing are of the kind you see in Scott's site.

Night and day from good old web images, eh?

catchyalata, folks!

2007/03/18

the san is in

This weekend the new SAN hardware was installed.

Apart from a minor hickup in communications - someone assumed changing disk storage infra-structure didn't imply downtime of databases... - the whole exercise was almost easy. It did help the folks who did the installation knew what they were doing. I worked for this company for a few years. They have some very competent people there, when it comes to SAN hardware and facilities management.

As far as the databases were concerned, we did a backup to ensure we could recover just in case. Then took them down and let the SAN folks work their magic. At the end of 12 hours, we had all our file systems and their contents moved to very fast premium disk LUNs, with enough capacity to last us another year - at least - and room to grow twice again.

It's this type of smooth transition that folks like with SANs: they make it easy to do reorgs like this. I can't imagine how many secret incantantions we'd have needed, had we used native disks and controllers instead.

Plus all the hassles of "disk load spread" and such other ancient methods of tuning physical IO. Yes we're running RAID-10, not RAID-5: relax folks, I didn't give in completely to the dark side!

:)

Don't get me wrong: if you want top performance in OLTP-type databases, you still should get familiar and intimate with all that disk/controller magic. There is no substitute for specialisation, when it comes to ultimate performance.

But for a DSS and DW database which hardly - if ever - see time critical processes other than simple ETL?
Quite frankly: give me a SAN any day. I value my free time too much to waste it trying to extricate the last 20% of performance. 80% will do me fine and cost a LOT less! And I think my senior management shares that with me.

Oh, nearly forgot: it's been said before ad-nauseum, but spending some time studying new versions of Oracle is always worth one's time. I forgot how many scripts I've seen that shutdown the Oracle TNS listener to switch log files. This has not been necessary since release 8: all you have to do is use the "set log_file <filename>" lsnrctl command and you get a smooth, orderly transition to a new logfile.

Then do whatever you need to do to the old one. Don't know what its name was? Do a "show log_file" before, in your script.

Done. Easy, no downtime, no problems, no locks, no failures.

Much better than shutting down the listener, renaming the current logfile and restarting. What happens if your rename fails for any reason? You end up with no listener, don't you? Because your script never reaches the re-start, doesn't it?


Anyways, nuff work stuff!


Oh no, someone killed Mickey:


:-)

Supernova!



I do love these calm late afternoons:


Makes it all worthwhile.

catchyalata, folks!

2007/03/09

surprises and more surprises, rman!

It's been a week of very pleasant surprises in the new job.

First of all, I met again a very old friend: Thiyagarajan Radakrishnan. We first met many years ago when I left Oracle and started out on my own. This company was my first client. Thiyag was at the time just coming out of an IBM-only world and had the misfortune(!) of meeting me as his adviser in the Oracle and relational db world. It was a very pleasant surprise to see him again and have a quiet chat about the old times. We both have aged very gracefully. Or so I'd like to think... ;-)


Then again today, who do I find in the corridor? Ralph Meyen, a very old friend from the Prime Computer days. Ralph was the sales rep for the federal Department of Aviation tender, many moons ago. At Ralph's request, I and three other database-heads got locked away in a Canberra room for six months, non-stop writing a data dictionary extension to the then Prime Codasyl database. With this a developer could use a crt terminal to design databases and create basic screens and basic reports in a totally Codasyl/Cobol framework. All on the fly. Unheard of, back in the early 80s! One of the funniest and most challenging projects of my entire IT life. Prime Computer picked the code we wrote and made a product out of it. Alas, too late: by the time they polished it relational had taken over and no one wanted Codasyl anymore! Ah well, we tried!...

I have good memories of that time. You can't work in a high stress environment like that for so long without forging some very good friendships. One of the guys in that room, José Menano, went on to become my partner in business many years later. Len Augustine went on to become marketing manager for Oracle Australia and later joined SAP, where he still is. Noel Vanspaal - from Canberra via Madras - is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable guys I ever had the pleasure of working with. He's still a landmark in Canberra's hallowed halls of Adabas/Natural. Yes, Adabas is still used! And if I know Noel, very effectively!

Ralph is still in IT, oddly enough working for the company I left nearly three years ago. And still based in Canberra, although now commuting to Sydney. It was a rare privilege to be able to catch up with him again, exchange emails and contacts and chat for a while. Will definitely get in touch with him soon as well as the Canberra contingent: they were very good people, doing a lot of good work back then.


Ah, but enough reminiscing.


Been busy learning the subtleties of RMAN: we use it exclusively here. In its current 10gr2 incarnation, it is a most usable product. Reasonably well documented, works quite smoothly and without too many inconsistencies and makes life simple in a multi-db, multi-server environment with multiple and sometimes conflicting availability requirements.

Still learning to take best advantage of it. I never had much chance of diving into RMAN due to the many past troubles and instabilities of this product and the fact that I always ended up in multi-version database environments: makes it awfully difficult to use a product that changes completely from version to version!

But now that we have one version only - 10gr2 - and a common server environment - AIX - things are much different and RMAN makes absolute and total best sense. If you have not used this thing before, I strongly recommend you spend some time playing with it: it's darn good in this release. And it - FINALLY! - produces compressed output directly. That alone makes a world of difference: I don't know what possessed Oracle to release a backup product without inbuilt compression in the first place!



Anyways, here is a view of one of the local shopping centres:

Warringah Mall. One of the largest centres in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. It's very well setup and has this sort of internal patio areas with an attraction gizmo in each. This fountain is one of them. Very well done. Unusual, too.

And here is one of the reasons I love the area where I live in now:

Particularly at this time of the year - early Autumn - the whole lake fires up for fishing. Last year we pulled a monster Jewfish out of it!

Mind you, these fellas get aggro at all the fishing folks:

They don't like the competition! This one was getting quite upset by the folks in the background.

I guess no one explained globalisation to them?

:-)


catchyalata, folks!

2007/03/05

collective madness...

Here we go with another bout of collective IT madness:

"Vista is here, looks 'kewl', so it must be installed no matter what."

Never mind it costs an arm and a leg, requires in most cases expensive hardware upgrades and breaks just about every stable application other than M$'s little stable. Therefore requiring costly upgrades of those as well.


Can anyone spell T-C-O? One wonders where all the Microsoft-inspired "TCO-breaths" hide when it knocks at their door?

But in true old-fashioned deranged IT fashion, lots of folks are "diving in". Makes me wonder if they haven't learned anything from so many years of being taken for a ride, BIG time!

Let me be openly obnoxious here: NO we do NOT need to install the latest, whitest and brightest of ANYTHING to prove we know what we are doing. Anyone who claims so is bordering on sheer madness!

The process of installing software is a VERY SMALL part of the whole of IT and it should NEVER have been given the importance it was granted: if we had to go through the same convolutions in the rest of our consumer lifes we'd have collectively revolted ages ago! Software installs are a very, very small part of what IT is all about.

And NO, installing Vista in inadequate hardware and having to spend a small fortune in time and dollars upgrading hardware and software just to get back to where you were before is NOT a sign of smarts, competence or ability in ANYTHING to do with software!

Quite the opposite, in fact...

And NO, this is not a "behind the times" or a "dinossaur" rant, such a claim would be beyond stupid: I had EXACTLY the same attitude to Win95 when it came out all those years ago. It was NEVER installed in any of my systems back then or later on and age had nothing to do with it!

On the other hand, no one has ever been able to accuse me of wasting resources and moolah chasing windmills. Believe me, some have tried...




On another note:

Having lots of fun at the new job. Rediscovering the joys of leading a team and a middle management IT position. Been a while since I last did this sort of thing, nearly 7 years now. Good fun.

What I find even funnier is the number of supplier folks who suddenly "know me from a long time ago": as recently as 3 weeks ago they all pretended I had never existed in Australian IT...


Man, this job is going to be such fun! ¦D

But I miss the garden near the entrance to the old job:

Stunning!...


Another rant: for the last 5 days I've been trying to contact yahoo customer support to get them to reset a password.

I have yet to have a conversation with anyone resembling a human being.

About 10 replies, telling me to try what I had just done and promising a contact from a support person if it didn't work.

Then an apparent real person does indeed email me, asking for more info. Obviously reading my prior explanations of the problem is beyond their mental ability...

Then when I reply with the "more info", I get a bounce because no mail is allowed to the address requesting it!

That is a perfect definition of the utter crap desguised as support that yahoo has now implemented.

I'm done with them: I can only take a certain amount of clear moronic stupidity before I class it as an attack on my brains.



Anyways, back to real life.

Last night we had a major electrical storm around here. Two hours of continuous high power lightening bolts, cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground.

The first kind are incredibly nice to watch, albeit very noisy. Magnificent spectacle, I never tire of it.

The second kind does damage...

One side of our fence blown down by falling bits from a nearby house struck by a bolt. Most of my computer gear ended on the floor, dragged there by half mad dogs running amok inside the house.

Fun and games... I decided to only worry about it this morning rather than stay awake all night!

Turns out only the flatbed scanner was damaged. Good thing we decided on a floating wooden floor: it seems to flex as a cushion when hard things fall on it. Could have been a lot more expensive otherwise.


Almost as expensive as installing Vista...





Got a bucketload of film being developed and even more to scan this week. Will soon have more photos posted in deviantArt.




Be good and stay away from trouble, folks.
catchyalata