Saturday, July 10, 2010

RMOUG SQL>Update Spring 2010 Highlights

The attractive full-color Spring 2010 edition of the RMOUG SQL>Update newsletter arrived this week and I read several things in it that I felt were worth mentioning in this blog post.  The three technical articles featured in this edition are the second part of Mark Molnar’s “Oracle & Excel – Why Fight It?”, Mark Rittman’s “Integrating Oracle GoldenGate and Oracle Data Integrator for Change Data Capture”, and Dan Hotka’s “Index Quality.”  Besides these three technical articles this edition also features RMOUG
member Bern Bray and RMOUG Board Member Carolyn Fryc.  In the remainder of this post, I highlight some of the things I found most generally interesting in these articles and member highlights.

As is usual with these RMOUG newsletters, the cover of this edition features a photograph of a beautiful Rocky Mountain area scene.  In this case it is a Bern Bray photograph of Rock Cut Bloom in Rocky Mountain National Park.  My family and I try to get to Estes Park, Grand Lake, and Rocky Mountain National Park often and the scene in this photograph is very familiar.  Unfortunately, this beautiful cover does have a typo: it indicates that the GoldenGate/Data Integrator article is by Mark Ritter instead of Mark Rittman.  With all the Marks in this issue, this typo is more understandable.

From a technical standpoint, the articles focusing on RMOUG members are intentionally and not surprisingly typically far less interesting than the technical articles.  Their focus, after all, is more on the “soft skills” than on technical insight.  That being stated, I particularly enjoyed reading a couple of Bern Bray’s comments in his self-written “Member Focus.”  In that, Bray writes, “Like many younger engineers, my early days found me doing technical stuff on my own at night.  It paid off, as I was able to advance my career and choose what I liked to work on.  Several years ago, I started to feel that my life was out of balance.”

Later, in concluding, Bray states his “little nugget of wisdom”: “Work hard during working hours, but at quitting time, put the keyboard down and walk away… You will be a fresher and better worker when you come back in the morning.  Besides, everyone knows that you get your best ideas in the shower.”  I liked these statements because they reflect that there are career advantages to technical work done on one’s own time, but that it is also useful to take a break.  This is my excuse for the less frequent and more intermittent blog posts this summer!

In the second (of two) part of his “Oracle & Excel – Why Fight It?” series, Mark Molnar demonstrates with extensive code samples and screen snapshots how to create flat files of usefully formatted data via Excel and an Oracle database.  In his words, his examples show “how to take data out of the database, via Excel, and produce flat files in the format desired.”  At first reading this, I wondered why one would do such a thing when it is easy to read from a database in a language like Java or Groovy using JDBC and write out flat files.  However, I found the article informative because of its extensive coverage of using Visual Basic with Excel and use of 7-Zip from the command line.  Even if I’d probably solve the problem of the example in this article with a Java-based approach, I enjoyed learning some details of using Visual Basic with Excel and Molnar’s coverage of some low-level details involved in that.  He specifically references the URL as a source of useful details regarding use of Visual Basic with external processes.

Dan Hotka provides a code listing in his article “Index Quality” that contains the source code for a script he calls Index_Info.sql.  According to the “description” included in the script’s comments, this script is an “SQL*Plus script to display Index Statistics in relation to the clustering factor.”  Hotka writes that this script is available on his website and discusses background details of the script and why it’s useful in this article.

I’m significantly more developer-oriented than DBA-oriented, so Rittman’s article on integrating GoldenGate and Data Integrator was largely outside of my core areas of interest.  However, it also meant that I learned plenty from reading the article, even though it was more difficult because I lacked the requisite knowledge in the two products he was demonstrating integrating.  At the end of this article, Rittman states, “For a more
detailed, step-by-step version of this article that also describes the process to set up Oracle GoldenGate on the Microsoft Windows platform, an article is available on my website at:

Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) is mentioned more than once in this edition of the newsletter.  In “RMOUG Board Focus,” Carolyn Fryc writes about her first Oracle OpenWorld (2005) and talks about the focus of that OOW being Fusion (likely a major theme every year since then as well).  Dan Hotka’s training advertisement also mentions that he will be at Oracle OpenWorld September 19-23.  I’ve never attended Oracle OpenWorld, but will likely attend at least portions of it this year when I attend JavaOne 2010 and Oracle Develop 2010 which are being held simultaneously in the same city.

In this blog post, I’ve attempted to outline some facets of the Spring 2010 edition of the RMOUG SQL>Update newsletter that I thought had some general interest.  According to RMOUG President Peggy King’s “From the President” column, RMOUG Training Days 2011 is scheduled for 15-17 February 2011 at the Colorado Convention Center.

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