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December 2011

Friday Philosophy – The Worst Thing About Contracting

A while back I was asked by a friend to blog about being a contractor. In the pub last week my friend reminded me of this and that I had not obliged him. I will – think of this as instalment one Jason…

I’ve been a contractor on and off for 18 years. For anyone not familiar with the concept, it is where you are self-employed and you simply hire yourself out to a company for a period of time or to do a specific job. You generally have less job security than an employee and less rights and benefits – No holiday pay, no paid sick leave, no annual pay increase {OK, so that one is rare for employees too these days}, no training and generally the first out the door when the money gets tight. In return you get more money when working and a lot, lot less to do with office politics, HR, annual reviews and the like.

It is not for everyone but I like being a contractor. It gives me a broader degree of experience.

I like it apart from one main thing.

to_char()

Here’s an odd little detail about the to_char() function that happened to show up in a little demonstration code I used to create some data for last Friday’s quiz night.

When generating test data I often rely on doing things with rownum, and one of the thngs I do quite frequently is turn it into a character string. Nowadays I usually use the lpad() function to do this conversion because that lets me specify the defined length of the resulting column. But last Friday, rather than starting from scratch with my standard template script, I created my test case by cloning a script that I’d written in 2003 and the script had used the to_char() function.

So here’s a simple script to create a little table of character data, creating each column in a different way:

Ready for UKOUG

Yes, I know the technical content has been non-existent recently but it's conference season and I've started my trip to UKOUG already, despite the fact Birmingham is only about an hour away on the train from my new home! So although a fun weekend in Edinburgh awaits, celebrating a couple of important birthdays before I head into the utter chaos of conference, a quick post seems a good idea. (Train journeys do that to you ...)

I'm very excited about UKOUG this year. It only occurred to me when I was looking back through some old mails to dig out some details that last year hadn't been one of my happiest UKOUG experiences. I don't remember thinking it was that bad and my blog post seems fairly stoic in retrospect, but ....

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“Mastering Oracle Trace Data” by Cary Millsap right after the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham

My good friend (and personal hero) Cary Millsap is doing a series of one day classes around the world — Mastering Oracle Trace Data. One of them is conveniently scheduled in Birmingham Thursday next week right after the UKOUG Conference. It’s not far from the Birmingham ICC where the UKOUG Technology and Business Suite Conference [...]

Confio Ignite

People have been asking me recently, “what is the best enterprise database monitoring software?”

Of course for Oracle there is OEM but what if OEM doesn’t find the problem? What if OEM breaks? ( I’ve blog before on how OEM can break and all the kings men don’t seem to be able to make him work again) What if one wants to access the performance data but the database is down? (Grid control only has an anemic modified and transformed extract from AWR). What if only DBAs have access to OEM and the developers want access to performance information and not only access but safe access in a user friendly and manager friendly interface? (I’m a strong believer in giving OEM access to developers but unfortunately the OEM interface is setup as a DBA interface with potentially risky access to database actions and is not a safe read only developer browsing interface). What if one wants to monitor multiple database platforms in the same interface?