Oracle Support : Please give feedback on your Service Requests

I mentioned in yesterday’s post I was having a call today with the Senior Director of Global Support Services from Oracle. I’ve just come off that call…

I’m not going to go into lots of detail, because ultimately none of it matters unless I see things improve. I was honest in the call. My previous rants were over 2.5 years ago, and it’s hasn’t improved, so why would I assume it will this time?

One big factor that I think is worth mentioning is about feedback on SRs. I was told Oracle Support are driven by customer satisfaction reports, based on the feedback surveys they ask you to fill in when you close a SR. We discussed my current employer, and we have completed almost no feedback surveys, so support can’t tell if we as a company are happy with support or not. Most of our SRs relate to Oracle Cloud Apps, not the core tech stack, so I’ve messaged some folks involved in that side of things asking them to encourage people to fill in the feedback surveys.

I’m lucky in that I have direct access to many people in Oracle, so I don’t have to raise many technical SRs, but from now on I will make it a point to fill in the feedback on every SR. I suspect my rating for the SR that sparked these posts will be something like this.

Stars: The minimum I can give.
Comments: There was no suitable problem type for my SR, so I got forced into an automation that sent loads of irrelevant requests for information. The automation is “too chatty”, sending many messages when a single one would suffice. I’m giving this a low rating mostly because the process was very painful!

I would advise you to give feedback on every call. Be positive when it is positive, but be critical when it sucks.

Update: I got the survey and filled it in as I said I would above. Interestingly, the survey messages are picked up as spam by our company spam filter, and are converted to plain text, so the links don’t work. You have to manually paste them into a browser. I suspect this is one of the reasons why Oracle are getting very little feedback from our company…

Cheers

Tim…

PS. The guy on the call was nice. This is not about individuals. It’s about the service!

Happy Holidays and See You Next Year!

Just a quick post to say I’m ending the year here. I don’t plan on doing anymore videos this year, and I’m going to do my best to stay clear of social media until next year. I’ve found 2020 a very difficult ride, and probably not for the reasons you are thinking. I normally do an end of year review, but I might not this year. Better to look forward than back.

Here’s the latest batch of “.com” clips from the videos this year. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season, and I hope 2021 is the polar opposite of 2020.

Cheers

Tim…

Video : Multitenant : Running Scripts Against Multiple Pluggable Databases Using catcon.pl

In today’s video we give a quick demonstration of using catcon.pl to run scripts against multiple pluggable databases (PDBs) in a container database (CDB).

The video is based on one section of this article.

You can find loads of information about living with CDBs and PDBs in the following articles and the YouTube playlist linked below.

The star of today’s video is my long suffering wife Debra Lilley. Clearly suffering because of her social isolation, which of course means not seeing me. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Social Distancing : My Experience

The UK has started to relax *some* of the lock-down conditions, so I thought I would write down some of my thoughts related to social distancing…

The Good

First and foremost, social isolation and social distancing is predominantly a good thing for me. I live alone, and as I’ve said many times before I like it that way. There is a “work Tim”, a “conference Tim”, a “with friends/family Tim” and a “home Tim”, and it’s the “home Tim” I’m most comfortable with. I’m not talking about some schizophrenic thing. Just different aspects of my personality that I use to cope with different situations. The only authentic me is when I am home alone.

I keep saying to people I’m living my best life at the moment.

The Bad

Having said all that, it’s not been plain sailing. One thing I’m really struggling with is work-life balance. Before this I mostly worked from the office, and my computer at home was for doing my own thing, like the website and blog etc. Since I’ve been working from home the working day has stretched, which has been made worse by some weekend work. When I do eventually switch off, the thought of doing my own thing is really difficult. I feel like I want to walk away from the computer, so that’s what I’ve been doing a lot. I think the solution to this is to define some different phases of the day and try to stick to them. Things have improved since I’ve been actively trying to do this.

Exercise is another issue. The gym is closed, and I find it really hard to be motivated to do anything other than go to the gym. I’ve done very little exercise, which is really not good as I’m a fatty, and being a fatty is not good at the best of times, but it’s even more problematic at the moment. This week I’ve been going on some bike rides at lunch time. Nothing big. Just getting out of the house and moving a bit. Once again, it’s about trying to define phases of the day.

I started the social isolation/distancing thing about a week before most people in the UK. I go to the shop every few days, and go to pick up a prescription once a month. Apart from that I stay home. I think it’s going to remain this way for quite a long time for me, regardless of what the government suggest.

I feel sorry for people who live alone and don’t like it. I feel sorry for families with kids who are going stir crazy. I can’t relate, but I can sympathise.

The Ugly

What this whole thing has taught me is there are some selfish fuckers out there who should go fuck themselves. People who blatantly ignore the rules, without thinking what impact they are having on others. I kind-of expect this behaviour from young people, as they think they are indestructible and are too dumb to think about the bigger picture, so I give them a free pass. What really pisses me off are adults who don’t seem to give a shit.

You don’t know anything about the people around you. You don’t know what their risk factors are. You don’t know if they are worried about relatives they live with that are vulnerable. It is not your position to judge, and you have no right to put them and their families in danger.

Now I admit some people take it too far, like walking in the road when there is nobody on the path, but for the most part people are being sensible and considerate. For those that are not, see my first sentence in this section!

The Good… Again

Despite that there have also been some really positive things.

  • On the whole people seem friendlier and more considerate at the moment.
  • It’s quieter. Lawn mowers are working overtime, but most of the time things are quiet.
  • Life seems a little calmer.
  • I’m not using petrol.

The Future

Some random thoughts from me.

  • I can’t see myself working full time in an office again. I’m not saying I will never go in, but I don’t see myself doing a 5 day week again. My company used to have some issues with working from home, but now we’ve been forced to do it for a few months, I can see a lot of people never going back to the old ways. I’m not sure how they could justify not allowing working from home on a mass scale now.
  • I think it will be quite some time before I consider travelling again, if ever. I had already scaled back my conference stuff, but maybe it’s over for me now. I may change my mind. Time will tell.
  • I want to consume less. Both from a food perspective, and everything else. I’m not a very materialistic person, but I can still cut back. I want my life to be as minimalist as possible.
  • I understand there will be economic hardships as a result of this pandemic, but I hope it has taught people something about themselves. Life doesn’t need to be some dog-eat-dog race. You don’t need as much as you think you do.

OK. The random bullshit is over for now.

Cheers

Tim…

Video : Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS) : RESTful Web Services Handling Media Files

In today’s video we take a look at RESTful web services handling media files built using Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS).

This is based on this article.

There is more information about related stuff here.

The star of today’s video is Katrina Shallahamer, who is one of my favourite people to meet at an event. She’s such a positive person to be around, and makes me wish I was a nicer person. It’s clear she’s the real brains of the OraPub operation, but don’t tell Craig I said so! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

OGB Appreciation Day 2019 (#ThanksOGB)

It seems like every year this has a different name, but the motivation is the same… This year it is #ThanksOGB…

History

Back in the day we had a community site called Oracle Technology Network (OTN), which is why the first incarnation of this event was called #ThanksOTN. Later OTN got re-branded as Oracle Developer Community (don’t call it ODC 🙂 ), so the last couple of years we got #ThanksODC. That confused a few people, as they thought this was about the Oracle Developer Champions, Oracle Database Cloud, Oracle Developer Cloud or some other such stuff. It wasn’t. Some people didn’t identify as developers, so thought it was not for them. None of that is true. It’s pretty simple. I can’t image there is anyone working with Oracle technology that hasn’t used forums, read articles or downloaded Oracle software from OTN/ODC over the years. You must have directly, or indirectly, benefited from the work done by the people at Oracle who support our community. This is just an opportunity to say thanks to those brave folks who endure our endless moaning. 🙂

What is OGB?

It’s “Oracle Groundbreakers Appreciation Day”. Who are they? To quote Jennifer Nicholson.

“I want to point out that Groundbreakers includes ACEs, Java Champions, Ambassadors and all those who have the Groundbreakers spirit. :-)”

I would like to include Oracle staff, especially those that work directly to support the community. Even though it is “Oracle Groundbreakers Appreciation Day”, this is not specifically about the Oracle Groundbreaker Ambasssadors Program, so you aren’t blowing smoke up their asses. This is a thank you to everyone that makes the community great, especially those people that work at keep us all moving! If you’ve benefited from the Oracle community at large, please join in…

Does that mean I’m thanking myself?

You are thanking all the people who have have contributed and helped you in your journey!

When is it?

Every year I pick a date and have to change it because of a national holiday on some country. 🙂 At the moment the date of the event is in a little over a weeks time on Thursday 10th October 2019.

Check back closer to the time to make sure the date hasn’t changed. If we have to move it, it will only be by a day either side.

How can I get involved?

Here is the way it works.

  • Write a blog post. The title should be in the format “OGB Appreciation Day : <insert-the-title-here>“.
  • The content can be pretty much anything. See the section below.
  • Tweet out the blog post using the hashtag #ThanksOGB.
  • Publishing the posts on the same day allows us to generate a buzz. In previous years loads of people were on twitter retweeting, making it even bigger. The community is spread around the world, so the posts will be released over a 24 hour period.
  • Oracle employees are welcome to join in.

Like previous years, it would be really nice if we could get a bunch of first-timers involved, but it’s also an opportunity to see existing folks blog for the first time in ages! 🙂

The following day I write a summary post that includes links to all the posts that were pushed out through the day. You can see examples of the last two here.

What Should I Write About?

Whatever you want to write about. Here are some suggestions that might help you.

  • My favourite feature of {the Oracle-related tech you work on}.
  • What is the next thing on your list to learn.
  • Horror stories. My biggest screw up, and how I fixed it.
  • How the cloud has affected my job.
  • What I get out of the Oracle Community.
  • What feature I would love to see added to {the Oracle-related tech you work on}.
  • The project I worked on that I’m the most proud of. (Related to Oracle tech of course)

It’s not limited to these. You can literally write about anything Oracle-related. The posts can be short, which makes it easy for new people to get involved. If you do want to write about something technical, that’s fine. You can also write a simple overview post and link to more detailed posts on a subject if you like. In the previous years the posts I enjoyed the most were those that showed the human side of things, but that’s just me. Do whatever you like. 🙂

So you have a little over a week to get something ready!

Cheers

Tim…

Driving vs. Being Driven : The reason you fail to get good at anything!

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve gone somewhere. I only know the route when I’ve driven there myself. Everything makes sense when you see someone else do it. You don’t realise how distracted you are, and how much you’ve missed until you have to do it for yourself.

When we have consultants on site to help us with something new, I assume I’m going to drive and they are going to give directions. I make notes as necessary, but the main thing is *I’ve done it*, not them. If I’m told I have to “observe and make notes”, I say I’m not willing to support it, as experience tells me there will be important stuff that gets missed as the consultant rushes through it. Once again, it’s the difference between driving and being driven.

I’ve written a lot about Learning New Things, and I think it always starts with learning to learn for yourself. If you are always relying on other people to lead the way, they are driving and you are being driven. They are getting better and you are just drifting.

I suppose the obvious retort to this is,

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Otto von Bismark

There is some truth in that, but the import thing in the second sentence is the wise person *learns* from the mistakes of others. There is still something active going on here. You are learning, not just being passive and waiting to be told what to do.

Standing on the shoulders of giants requires you to climb up on to the shoulders in the first place!

Cheers

Tim…

Dbvisit 9.0.02 : Automatic Failover

I recently wrote about the release of Dbvisit 9, where I included a simple installation article and Vagrant build to get it up and running.

Yesterday I got an email about version 9.0.02, or 9.0.2 depending on how you want to write it. The interesting thing about this release is the introduction of an observer, which enables automatic failover. If you want to try it, there is a free trial available here.

Not surprisingly, the installation is very similar to the previous version, so I’ve updated my original article, and added the observer installation, setup and a quick automatic failover test.

I had to redo the screen shots as the “Configuratons” screen has changed a little to include the observer. I really don’t like taking screen shots!

My existing Vagrant build (here) worked fine. All I had to do was swap the version of the software in the directory, and Bob’s your uncle! Of course, that didn’t install and start the observer, so I did a couple of tweaks and now it does. If you fancy having a play with Dbvisit Standby, this Vagrant build is a really easy way to do it.

Happy days!

Cheers

Tim…

It’s not my job to do your job for you!

I’m currently drowning in a sea of requests for a number of things, including people wanting me to help them with specific issues, which feels a bit like they want me to do their job for them. I feel a little bit uncharitable saying that, but that’s how it feels.

Let me start by saying I understand what it’s like to be asked to do stuff in your job that you don’t know anything about, and also don’t care about. Sometimes, if you can Google a solution and move on it’s a happy day. Having said that, I’m also aware that I can’t expect every article and blog post I come across to contain exactly what I’m looking for. You have to do a certain amount of digging, mixing & matching and it involves a certain amount of trial and error to get to a solution.

Here’s an example I’ve had recently. I’m not saying this was a case of “do my job for me”. The person in question was very polite and not at all demanding, so I feel safe to use this example, and I’m hopefully not going to offend them.

The interaction started with a question about XMLTABLE. It became clear over time this was actually several points wrapped into one.

  • Basic usage of XMLTABLE, explained here.
  • Usage of XMLTABLE with a variable, rather than from querying a table, explained here.
  • Populating a variable (presumably an XMLTYPE) with XML from a URL, explained here.
  • Dealing with network ACLs, which was mentioned in the previous link, but explained more fully here.
  • Making HTTPS calls from the database, explained here.

All these pieces were already explained on the website, but there wasn’t one page that put them all together. As a result of that question I added a bunch of extra links between articles to make the situation a little more obvious.

People contact you and from their perspective it’s a one-to-one interaction, but from your perspective it’s a one-to-many, as they are not the only person requesting your time. You end up feeling guilty you can’t help more, and I’m sure some of them think you are being a dick because you are not helping them. This situation just doesn’t scale.

It’s almost impossible for anyone to be an expert these days. You have to mix & match information to get to a solution. If you want a job in IT, you have to develop this ability to find information from several sources and combine it to get to a final solution. If you are expecting someone else to do that for you, you are never going to get anywhere.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. In my response to a comment below, I am reminded of some words from Tom Kyte who said, “The more you do, the more people want you to do!” 🙂

Visibility vs Results

If you speak to my colleagues you will know one of my regular topics of conversation at meetings is the “judgement of worth” within the company. I get quite annoyed when I see people who I believe are adding value, but always seem to get ignored, while others who talk a great talk, but ultimately can’t walk the walk, seem to catch all the breaks. It seems visibility is more important than getting results these days.

One of my colleagues sent me a link to this article and it really sums up what I keep saying.

I’ve spent the last 18 years telling the internet what I think, so I couldn’t deny a tendency for self-promotion, but I like to think I can actually deliver, not just talk about it! Of course, you will never really know unless you work with me, and that’s the point. It certainly seems people believe what they are told, regardless of whether there is any factual basis to it.

So what should you do? Well in my opinion, maybe this is a start.

  1. Actually learn your subject in the first place. I hope your aim isn’t to be one of these creeps. I hope your aim is to continuously improve and deserve any good breaks you get.
  2. Learn to speak about your subject in a clear, concise and professional manner. Don’t sit there silently, then blame the world for being unfair. The world is unfair! Deal with it! Make a positive change! If you need some pointers, I’ve written some public speaking tips here.
  3. Learn to write in a clear, concise and professional manner. If you write unintelligible emails, people are going to assume you are dumb. I happen to think blogging is a good way to improve your writing skills. I’ve written some pointers about blogging here. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you get there, but you must be able to make yourself understood.
  4. Don’t let other people take the credit for what you do. I’m not suggesting you write an email to the CEO every time you deploy an application, but by the same token, don’t let someone else stand up and take the credit you deserve, especially if it’s because you are too scared to actually stand up and speak for yourself, and instead rely on others to present your work.
  5. For the bosses out there, try to start judging people by actual results, rather than by what they say they can/have done.

I realise I sound kind-of narky in this post, but I think it’s really important. It really gets on my nerves when I see people taking the credit for other people’s work, and I’m equally annoyed when I see other people letting it happen.

I’m not suggesting you bully the perpetrators, or make a big show of the situation. Just don’t give them the opportunity to steal your moment in the sun!

Good luck folks!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. The wife said something in a Facebook comment that reminded me of something I wanted to say. I regularly get accused of name dropping, because I say things like, “I was chatting with X, and they said…”. This isn’t me trying to brag about all the “famous” people I know. It’s because I don’t want to come over as having these ideas for myself. I’m going to name-check people, even if you think it makes me look like I’m bragging, because they deserve the credit for their work and their ideas. If they tell me the origin of their idea, I’ll say, “I spoke to X, who said they heard Y say…”. Sorry if this annoys you personally, or you want to make a negative judgement about why I do it, but I think it matters…