Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I just got back from watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I won’t give any spoilers, so don’t worry if you’ve not seen it yet!

Overall I thought it was a really good film. I went to see it with some friends and their kids, so ages in our group ranged from 6 to 60+. Everyone came out saying it was good, and the kids wanted all the toys and were arguing over which one of the characters they would be… So they pretty much nailed it as far as setting up this trilogy! 🙂

A move back to physical sets was really welcome. Everything felt so much more real in this film compared to Episodes 1-3, which felt like 100% green screen.

I watched the film in 3D IMAX. There was once seen where a space ship was totally sticking out at me and it took all my will power not to reach out and try and touch it! It was pretty amazing. I still don’t like 3D, but this was a pretty good experience.

Having said all that, this was basically a remake of Episode 4. There is pretty much a 1:1 mapping between most of the characters in this film and those of Episode 4. I don’t think that is a bad thing and it probably needed to happen so that all generations could come away happy. I just hope the next films take a different route. It would be very easy to recycle the past again and they would be enjoyable, but I think it’s important the next two films have their own identity and secure the legacy.

Cheers

Tim…

Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 13c : First Steps

o-enterprisemgr-13c-clr-2769481Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 13c Release 1 (13.1.0.0.0) was released a few days ago. Does that have the acronym “oemcc13cr1”? 🙂

As usual, my first steps are to do some basic installations. The approach is pretty similar to the 12c installations, but it’s a little greedier now. 🙂

My first attempt was a bit of a disaster. I was trying to install it on a VM with 8G of memory, about all I can spare on my work PC) and it was running like a dog. It got nearly to the end of the configuration section and I ran out of disk space on the physical host. That would have been OK if the installer were running on the VM itself, as the VM would have paused and resumed once I had cleared some space. Unfortunately, I was doing from an X session, which got killed and took my installer with it. 🙁 Rather than trying to continue on my piece of shit work PC, I waited until I got home to do it on my server.

Once home, I kicked off two installation simultaneously. One on OL6 and one on OL7. Each VM had 10G of memory and their virtual disks were on different spindles to the OS disk. As a result, they ran through at a reasonable pace. Not mega fast, but OK.

Over the Christmas break I’ll have a go at some upgrades, then decide if we should be doing this in production at work. If you’ve followed the discussion on Twitter, you’ll know some of the basic requirements.

  • Oracle 12c (12.1.0.2) Enterprise Edition for the repository database. Patched to latest security patch.
  • You can use a Non-CDB or a PDB for the management repository. The template database is still non-CDB.
  • OPTIMIZER_ADAPTIVE_FEATURES=FALSE

That means we will need an upgrade of our repository database from 11.2.0.4 to 12.1.0.2. That’s no big drama, but another thing to do. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Thanks to Seth Miller for pointing out my mistake about the PDB support for the OMR.

VirtualBox 5.0.12

I was just going to update one of my seldom used servers to VirtualBox to 5.0.10, when I noticed Santa brought 5.0.12 as an early Christmas present yesterday! 🙂

VirtualBox 5.0.12 is a maintenance release with a bunch of fixes and additions. The downloads and changelog are in the usual places!

So far I’ve installed it on Windows 7 (work PC), OS X : El C[r]apitan (Laptop) and Oracle Linux 6 (a home server) and all the guest additions I’ve updated so far as happy. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

 

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #4

bcuOn Thursday last week, the day after UKOUG Tech15, I did my 4th talk at Birmingham City University (BCU).

In my previous visit I did a talk about community and employability to the staff. This time I did a quicker version of the same talk, but to the students. I’ll be going back a few times this year to do technical sessions.

I’ve mentioned before, this type of non-technical presentation is really useful in developing yourself as a presenter. It’s easy to hide behind the technical content. Non-technical presentations have to be more conversational and have more “personality”, for want of a better word. I think that feeds back into your general presentation style.

After the session I always have a chat with Stuart about how it went and what comes next. I get the feeling he’s sometimes worried I’m not getting enough out of it, but that’s far from the truth. I think these kind of sessions are helping me far more than I thought they would.

If you are thinking about getting into the presenting game, I’ve written some public speaking tips. As well as all that, consider throwing in a variety of types of session. If you have any local universities or colleges, get in contact and see if they need some guest speakers.

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech15 : Wednesday

ukoug-tech15-speakerToday was a full day at UKOUG Tech15. Yay!

Zahid Anwar rescued my laptop charger, and left it at the Version 1 stand for me to pick up. Thanks guys!

My first session was at 10:00, which was called Pluggable Databases: What They Will Break & Why You Should Use Them Anyway! I like giving this presentation and the crowd seemed to respond really well to it. Maybe I’ve converted a few people? Quote of the day must go to Jonathan Lewis who said,

“I enjoyed your presentation, but I don’t know why.”

I am being very selective with that quote, because it made me laugh. 🙂 Actually, Jonathan was very complementary, as were a number of the other speakers that were present. I know it’s not about trying to impress other speakers, but it is really nice when you get a good response from them as well as the audience. 🙂 The questions ran into the break, including three questions that I didn’t know the answer to. They are on my list of things to find out.

From there I just bounced around catching up with friends, both old and new, answering questions, speaking to people in the exhibition hall and filming a couple of segments for OTN.

At about 15:00 I got a major energy slump and was considering going home, but Noel Portugal persuaded me to go to his session on Internet of Things (IoT). As I was walking to it I bumped into Lars Ulveseth who made a comment about the weather, which confused me a little. When I quizzed him, he explained it was a reference to my session called It’s raining data! Oracle databases in the cloud, which he was just heading to. I told him I wasn’t presenting that, so he pointed me to the agenda and sure enough, I was down to present it at 15:30. Talk about shocked and surprised! After changing my underwear, it was off to do my last presentation of UKOUG Tech15! 🙂

Even though I got to the session on time and did the talk, I am still incredibly freaked out by it all. I keep thinking, what if I had gone home? What if I had not bumped into Lars? What if it had been earlier in the day and I had missed it? I am still mortified now thinking how easily I could have missed it. 🙁 On reflection, I remember being accepted for 3 sessions, but in my head they were all database sessions. When I looked through the database track, only two were present, so I though the other one must have got pulled. It turns out this session was marked as virtualization, not database, so I never saw it on the grid. If you look on my UKOUG Tech15 : See you there! post from the other day, you’ll notice I didn’t mention it. 🙁 Anyway, all’s well that ends well!

Thanks to the hardcore crowd that sat through the last session of the day, when the rest of the people had gone home or headed off to the German market to do Christmas shopping! 🙂 I got some questions during and after the session, and the people I spoke to afterwards seemed pleased with what I presented. It’s really a collection of my observations while trying out AWS, Azure and Oracle Cloud.

One of the guys in the crowd was also working at a UK University in a similar role to me, using a bunch of similar tech and higher education (HE) software, so we spent about an hour chatting once the session was over, then walked to the station together. It was a really nice example of the networking that is possible at these events. Hopefully we will be able to help each other out in future!

So that’s my last conference for the year, and apart from me being a dumb-ass and nearly missing a session, it was a really great day. Thanks to UKOUG for giving me the opportunity to speak three times this year. 🙂 Thanks to everyone that came to my sessions, asked me questions, and tolerated me talking the hind legs off a donkey! 🙂 Thanks also to the Oracle ACE Program for allow me to keep flying the flag, even in my home town. 🙂

Tomorrow morning I’m doing a talk to the students at Birmingham City University, then it’s back to my job and normal life for the rest of the year. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

WordPress 4.4

WordPress 4.4 has landed. As usual, early on you will need to manually initiate the auto-update. I’m guessing in a day or so it will just happen by itself.

I did the update on 5 installations and all went through with no dramas. There will no doubt be a slew of updates over the next few days, which is pretty common after a big release. The auto-update feature means you can take the lazy approach and just let it do its thing. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

 

The Cloud : They took our jobs!

The title is of course inspired by “They took our jobs!” from South Park.

I’ve been doing some cloud-related talks recently and a pretty regular question is, “How is this going to affect my job as a [DBA | Sysadmin]?”

My answers usually include some of the following points.

  • Back in the old days, we used to spend hours obsessing about redo and rollback/undo and sizing of the individual parts that make up the SGA and PGA. Keeping on top of some of this stuff was a full time job, even for a small number of databases. Over time Oracle have added loads of automated features that mean we don’t have to worry about this stuff for “most” of our databases. So that means less DBAs right? Not really. We are just expected to cope with a lot more stuff now. Rather than looking after 3 databases, we look after hundreds or thousands.
  • For Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), the cloud is just a basic hosting company. You are still responsible for all system administration and database administration. A move to IaaS doesn’t affect jobs at all. If anything, it probably adds to the demand.
  • For Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings, like Database as a Service (DBaaS), things may be different. Your level of interaction with the OS and database varies depending on the vendor, but in some cases, you will have zero access to the OS, so there is no system administration, and the level of control over the database is limited. Surely that affects jobs? Well, once again, this has just made life easier, so your company can do more stuff and you will probably be expected to do more.
  • As far as Software as a Service (SaaS) is concerned, as a customer there is no access to the infrastructure, so there is no DBA or sysadmin work. If you want to look after the guts of Fusion Apps what’s wrong with you get a job with Oracle. 🙂 Even if you don’t have access to the guts of the SaaS system, you are still going to spend a lot of time designing systems to interact with it!
  • The cloud means I no longer have to install operating systems and databases! Well, sometimes I really enjoy doing donkey work, but if you’ve not automated most of this stuff, you are really living in the dark ages. If you have automated it already, then the cloud isn’t really any different to what you are doing now.
  • What the cloud will not do is understand your custom applications and provide the skills needed to diagnose problems and advise on solutions. All the interactions with your developers and support folks will still be necessary. I can’t see a cloud service helping with this sort of stuff ever. The role of a development DBA and the crossover between functional and technical knowledge is actually far more valuable than being able to install a bit of software.

There is no doubt the cloud will affect what we as DBAs and system administrators do, but our jobs have been constantly evolving over the last couple of decades I’ve been involved in IT. As Francisco said recently, “These days, DBA stands for Database Architect”, which I think is kind-of true. A decade ago I just did Oracle databases. Now I do Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL databases. I look after WebLogic, Tomcat, IIS and Apache App/Web servers. I’m helping to set up load balancers. I get involved in infrastructure projects for applications and middleware. It’s not that I’m awesome at any of this stuff, but as a DBA and/or system administrator you get exposed to so much, which makes you an ideal resource to help with this architectural stuff.

If you think a DBA just installs Oracle, creates databases and checks backups, your job will be gone soon. If you are a system administrator that just installs operating systems and does patches, your job will be gone soon. These are trivial tasks that anyone can learn in a few weeks, so you should hardly be surprised they can be automated out of existence. If instead you concentrate on the skills where you add true value to your company, you will be in demand for a long time!

I know it’s a bit of a random post, but I hope you can see where I’m coming from! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech15 : Monday

ukoug-tech15-speakerAs mentioned the other day, my first day at UKOUG Tech15 was a rather brief affair. I just popped in during an extended lunch break to present, then it was straight back to work.

I met a couple of people (Sve and Debra) on the way in, but pretty much had to go straight to my session. There were a few people (Connor, Niall, Martin, BrendanNeil, Iain and Dave) lurking around who I tried to persuade, with varying degrees of success, not to stay. 🙂

The session was called Oracle Database Consolidation: It’s Not All About Oracle Database 12c! and was born out of my frustration about the one-size-fits-all attitude some people have about consolidation. Depending on who you speak to, consolidation is only about [Virtualization | Containers| Exadata | PDBs] (pick one), when in fact you always end up using a combination of approaches, including some old, tried and tested, methods. It was an overview session, which always makes me nervous for a couple of reasons. First, I find overview sessions really scary to present because you can’t hide behind geek talk. Second, I’m always worried people will come along expecting something more technical, even though you’ve said it is an overview session. I started off the session by reminding people it was an overview session and made it clear I would not be offended if they wanted to leave. 🙂

A couple of nights ago I had a dream Connor was in the front row and I totally blanked at the start of the session. That didn’t quite come to pass. Connor was about 3 rows back and although I was a little shaky at the start, I didn’t blank completely. 🙂

I think the session went OK. I did what I said I would do. I just hope the audience got what they expected…

After the session, I got to speak briefly to Zahid Anwar, and said a quick hello to Frits and Oyvind on the way out, but it was pretty much a dash out and back to work. So much so that I left my Apple laptop charger in Hall 5 after my session. If anyone found it, please let me know. 🙂

So that was my first brief visit to UKOUG Tech15. I’m not in on Tuesday as a bunch of other people from work are going, so I’m left behind to hold the fort. I will be in all day Wednesday (I hope), so I look forward to catching up with people properly. If you see me walking round the conference and you have a question or just want to say hello, don’t be shy. I love talking about Oracle stuff and I would rather spend the time talking with you than sitting in someone else’s session, that I’ve probably seen 6 times already this year. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech15 : See you there.

ukoug-tech15-speakerUKOUG Tech15 Super Sunday is underway. The Sunday event always coincides with my nephew’s Birthday celebration, so I never get to attend. You’ve got to get your priorities straight. 🙂

This year I’ll be presenting two sessions:

  • Monday 12:20 – 13:10 : Oracle Database Consolidation: It’s Not All About Oracle Database 12c! This is an overview session, suitable for beginners and management types.
  • Wednesday 10:00 – 10:50 : Pluggable Databases: What They Will Break & Why You Should Use Them Anyway! For all those folks thinking about moving to 12c soon, this might help you decide which way to go. 🙂 Monday is a fleeting visit for me. I’ll be doing my session, then I’ve got to go straight back to work. I’m not in on Tuesday, but I should be in all day Wednesday, I hope.

Having a conference in your home town sounds like a good thing, but I find it harder to deal with. When you are away from home it is easy to throw yourself into conference mode and turn off real life. When you live close to the conference, you have to switch in and out of conference mode constantly. Normal life is a distraction from the conference experience. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Don’t forget the COPY command in SQL*Plus (and SQLcl)

One of the developers asked me to copy a small table from Live to Dev. In situations like this, my first thought is to use the SQL*Plus COPY command. By the way, this command is also available in SQLcl.

It’s super-easy and has been around forever. Provided you can live with the data type restrictions, it’s a lot less hassle than expdp/impdp, even with the NETWORK_LINK option.

As always, it’s in the documentation, but the SQL*Plus help text tells you how to use it, so you don’t even have to RTFM is you don’t want to. 🙂

SQL> help copy

COPY
----

Copies data from a query to a table in the same or another
database. COPY supports CHAR, DATE, LONG, NUMBER and VARCHAR2.

COPY {FROM database | TO database | FROM database TO database}
{APPEND|CREATE|INSERT|REPLACE} destination_table
[(column, column, column, ...)] USING query

where database has the following syntax:
username[/password]@connect_identifier
SQL>

What I ended up doing was something like this.

conn scott@dev
copy from scott@live create scott.emp_20151201 using select * from scott.emp;

Because it’s been around for so long, you rarely see people talk about it, which made me wonder how many newer folks may not have noticed it, hence this blog post. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…