Monday, March 12, 2007


I am bored, I am sitting at my desk staring at a very slowly moving tail -f on an rman log copying a production database to test, 52 gig of data, the fun never ends here. It is almost 8pm and I have been here since 7am this morning, let the ramblings begin.

I am an avid follower of Jonathan Lewis and his articles on the oracle optimizer. I have his book "Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals", and I have actually managed to read the entire thing from cover to cover. I can guarantee to you that most of it went straight in, and straight out leaving little behind. I hope at least that enough of it remains behind to have a positive effect at a later date.

I had an actual case to use Tom Kyte and Jonathan Lewis blog entries on ordering a query, showing a developer he can't rely on the order in a table, because there is no order in a normal heap table. Didn't take much, simply forwarded him the links and let him try to find a way to prove them wrong. I haven't heard back from him.

We have 2 ISV's, lets call the Bob and Doug that have really been causing me grief lately, these are small shops that unfortunately have developed two systems that have become integral to our production. It is amazing, these two companies are located within a few kilometers of each other, they have no idea of each other's existence, but they cause me the same troubles. The troubles are always the same, no apparent in house testing of patches or upgrades, they appear to be under the impression that is what our IT staff is for - testing the ISV's code. Bob is database happy, they keep asking for more and more databases on our side. In our environment (they VPN in) they have a production, a test, a dev, and a QA instance for each province we operate in - total of 12 instances each around 50 gig in size. Now, that doesn't seem like much, but we do absolutely no development internally - none at all. These instances are here basically because they don't have the server space available to have what they think they need so they burden us with the responsibility of keeping the databases backed up and in good working order. The copy I mentioned at the opening is being done on their behalf. We pay them support, yet we maintain their support environment.

Doug on the other hand is amazingly skilled at stalling problem fixes long enough so that the users simply forget and develop work around. When Doug does release patches or upgrades, something always, consistently goes wrong, never during our testing of course. They give us a list of what they changed, we test that, and do a general test of everything else, this particular example is year end stuff. In October they release an update that worked pretty well, they only had to release the update to us for testing 4 times which is a new minimal record, with the maximum being 21 times. We test, users signed off and away we went. January comes along, users do their month end and everything works great. February rolls in and we are doing an internal audit between Doug's system and our financial system, and the auditors notice a rather minor $60K variance. Tracking it back, turns out that in the update in October the developers at Doug's company slightly modified a view that is only used at month/year end, "for performance purposes" and never told us about it. Their solution to the performance problems was removing a rather important table from the query which tracked and accounted for user manual changes in the data.

The user that sent the data should have read the reports and caught it early, so Doug made sure the fault landed solely on the users shoulder. So, the users had to make two correcting entries in the GL. Luckily the discrepancy was small and we didn't have to change our year end results. We are still waiting on Doug to give us a document on any changes necessary to their application for DST.

We are hiring an oracle applications support person and 2 IBM Lotus Notes (shudder) developers. I haven't quite figured out where the management plans to seat them, our cube farm is pretty packed together with us each only getting about a 9 foot square of space. Maybe they think we don't need that easy access to the fire escape, they can cram one in there. What they plan to do with the other two, I do not know. Possibly stack us up, lay some flooring across the tops of the cubes and put the cubes two high. We do have a very tall ceiling.

As for my "shudder" about IBM Notes, I have no bad feelings toward the developers that use Notes, I just hate IBM Lotus Notes, it is simply one of the worst programs ever created. We have the newest version of it (7x) and it still sucks. The only time the IBM team that develops Lotus Notes stops building something that sucks is when they start to build vacuum cleaners.

Oh boy, we need to work on the I/O on this test system, I swear there are gerbils in that server running back and forth with some floppies in their mouths transferring the data between disks. 52% done.

I managed to get management sign off on upgrading an oracle 7 database to oracle 10gR2. Apparently the company that supports the application uses 10gR2 internally, even though the majority of their customers are still on oracle 7. The application is 100% web based using some web language I can't remember so the upgrade is apparently really easy and they are going to supply us with the necessary scripts. That will only leave us one oracle 7 database in production.

uggg... I have to type slower, the RMAN log hasn't moved in minutes.

I have been keeping up with what was happening at Hotsos this year by reading Doug Burn's blog. His house mate of the month is amusing and his technical knowledge and writing style are well above average. I came across Don Burleson's personal blog, I follow the forum he hosts. Well, lets just say that starts a whole new chapter on that fellow for me. I know he needs to plug his and his fellow Rampant press author's books, but come on :).

I see my RSS reader is showing me that David Aldridge has posted again, finally after a very long time.

The Conversion of '07 continues later this week, this is the final test before we have to do it in production. I will write a note or two on how it goes.

Well, enough rambling for now.

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