Friday, August 19, 2011

An evening with some Oracle Experts

This week has been InSync11 week in Sydney. Actually it was Tuesday and Wednesday (though Tom Kyte stuck around afterwards for a 'Day of Real World Performance'). The bad news is that my dollars didn't stretch to any of those events.

The good news is that it did stretch to the (free) Sydney Oracle Meetup event mentioned by a couple of our guest experts, Richard Foote and Tim Hall. We were able to tempt the experts away to a local RSL club with the promise of alcohol and Oracle users.

Each of the experts got to pick a question to answer from a carefully selected list.

Tim picked out one on the worth of certifications. He's got lots and doesn't think a lot of them. Or rather, as a debate with Marcelle drew out, believes they are limited in the practical benefit of them in the workplace. They do work in exposing areas of new functionality, so that you can think about them. Marcelle is of the opinion that learning to deal with users, developers and managers is more important than learning syntax.

Richard waxed forth on the importance of knowing about indexes. Apparently he doesn't actually spend his working days poring over block dumps and counting blevels. He actually does a lot of normal DBA work and became synonymous with indexes when his Rebuilding the Truth paper went viral, plus a bet about how long he could blog about indexes (and David Bowie).

Marcelle chose the question about dealing with people rejecting an expert's advice. Some of this was drawn from the debate over her paper on Foreign Keys. Given the rise of the NoSQL / distributed database concepts, and the 'eventual consistency' model, the paper raised some valid points. Equally the advice is irrelevant to many people who are not faced with those problems.

Tom talked about the fear of presenting. Apparently this is best resolved by doing it lots. [Tony Jambu won the autographed copy of Tom's book. It is impressive when you have an Oracle ACE in the audience.]

Chris Muir talked about his crush on Lucas Jellema when answering about his favorite expert. Apparently he is very enthusiastic and it can be contagious. [He didn't actually say "crush", but I find it fun to use since Kellyn talked of her DBA Crushes.]

Connor talked about user groups and how it is fun to be around people who think this database stuff is fun. He also complemented us on the turnout (around 60 - our biggest event so far). Not sure who got the autographed copy of his book (or rather the one he did a chapter for) but I'm envious.

Craig picked up a question on social media. The upshot seemed to be that having a social media presence doesn't make you an expert, but it can help your expertise get noticed. A lot of our 'experts' didn't feel quite comfortable under that label. They pointed out that there are a lot of 'quiet experts' out there with excellent experience and knowledge. They just happen to go around talking about it.

This also came across in Guy's response to how long it takes to become an expert. It isn't really about time. If you do something a lot, you will become good at it, but it reaches a point where it doesn't add any more. Furthermore, with the pace of change in IT, after a couple of years it actually becomes less relevant as it is out-dated.

There was also some final discussion on balancing Oracle with a 'non-oracle' life , such as family. Apparently it helps if you don't watch Masterchef. It doesn't look easy when lots of travel is required though.

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