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January 2008

Systematic application troubleshooting in Unix

How many times have you seen a following case, where a user or developer complains that their Oracle session is stuck or running very slowly and the person who starts investigating the issue does following:

  1. Checks the database for locks
  2. Checks free disk space
  3. Checks alert log
  4. Goes back to the client saying “we did a healthcheck and everything looks ok” and closes the case or asks the user/developer to contact application support team or tune their SQL

The point here is that what the heck do the database locks, alert log or disk space have to do with first round session troubleshooting, when Oracle provides just about everything you need in one simple view?

Loading xml files with xml db

A tutorial on loading XML files into relational tables. March 2006

Unconventional Oracle Installs, part One

You have to watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHzV4LZnvHc

We'll follow it up with a few other initiatives in order to help the big companies bring down the time spent to install Oracle from, say, 50 hours to one or two.

Perrow and Normal Accidents

While reading the book 'Deep Survival' (most kindly given to me at the UKOUG conference in Birmingham by Sir Graham Wood of Oracle after the fire in my house) I happened on a description on page 107 of a book called 'Normal Accidents' by a fellow named Perrow (get it? per row - a perfect name for database nerds).

Perrow's theses is that in any tightly coupled system - in which unexpected interactions can happen - accidents WILL happen, and they're NORMAL.

Also, he states that technological steps taken to remedy this will just make matters worse.

Perrow and IT systems
=====================
I have freely translated Perrow's thoughts into the following:

IT systems are tightly coupled. A change - a patch, a new application, or an upgrade - to a layer in the stack can cause accidents to happen, because they generate unexpected interactions between the components of the system.

Two new angles on tuning/optimising Oracle

Now and then some new angles and thoughts emerge in a field where a lot of people think there's not much new to be said.

Two examples:

1. James Morle told me a while ago, that he thinks all performance problems relate to skew, to latency, or to both. It's brilliant, I think. I hope James will one day write about it. He's a damn fine writer when he gets down to it.

2. This one from Dan Fink. Impressive piece, I think. Enjoy it.

http://optimaldba.blogspot.com/2007/12/how-useful-is-wait-interface.html

When I emailed Dan and told him I admired his angle on this, he responded:

"I think it is a matter of keeping an open mind and knowing that you have friends and colleagues who are open to new ideas. Support is absolutely critical, even when you don't necessarily agree with what is being said. That keeps the flow of information open.