Sunday, April 16, 2006

A critique's review of my April 6 presentation

The Symantec-sponsored UKOUG event on 6 April in Reading went rather well, I think. Good turnout, long waiting list.

If you go to and clieck on the 6th in the left-hand side of the picture you can see a rather good review and comments about my presentation and others'.

MCs, SOUG, ODTUG, DBF, UKOUG or PASS and more...

(Parts of this post might sound like a commercial for Miracle, so have a beer before and after reading).

I can really feel how well the World economy is going these day. A certain indicator is the number of Oracle-related events being offered, including the shape/profile of Oracle's offerings (Oracle World, Oracle Open World, or whatever they call it this week).

This year, there are many good technical (and not so technical) events available, and Oracle techies seem to be allowed to attend more than usual.

So to give you an idea, here's what I'll be doing (until further notice):

1. Attend Jonathan Lewis' Master Class here in Denmark 2-4 May (the last day being my birthday, so I'll treat Jonathan to one beer).

2. Present at the Scottish User Group (SOUG?) in Edinburgh 9 May (DBA Performance Day). Yes, of course I'll be wearing my kilt and all.

3. Attend a very unusual three days of training here in Denmark 14 to 16 June: Carel-Jan (Data Guard and Standby), Tuomas Pystynen (RMAN) and Kurt van Meerbeeck (DUDE - a tool to get data directly out of datafiles) - will do a total of three days where each day will be a) something picture perfect gone wrong b) how to solve it with RMAN and c) how to solve it when RMAN doesn't work. It's a new idea, brewed up by Henrik Rasmussen of Miracle, and I think it could become very interesting.

4. Attend ODTUG in Washington 17 to 21 June. ODTUG (Oracle Development Tools User Group) wants to have some database stuff added to their magazine and conference, so I've started up a regular OakTable column in the magazine and will present at the conference. Of course when I finally visit Washington, Tom Kyte is out of town, so I'll have to find the good places for dry martinis myself. Tom, you're fired.

5. Nijmegen March 28 to 21 July. Arrrggghhh.

6. Oracle Ekspert conference in Denmark on 30 August. OE is a Danish-language Oracle-related magazine run my Marc de Oliviera, and the annual conference is a) all the usual suspects meeting each other and b) pretty good.

7. Scottish User Group conference in Glasgow 12 September. Not sure about the topics yet, but, yes, I'll be in kilt, and there will be whiskies.

8. Miracle Database Forum 28 to 30 September. Yes, yes, yes, I know we did the last Database Forum (DBF) in 2004, but people kept asking, so this is the absolutely, very last (honestly!) DBF we'll do. We'll have three or four tracks, each with a track leader, who will make sure the quality of the presentations is good, that there's a natural flow in the track, and all that. Performance: Graham Wood. Availability: James Morle. Worst Practices: BIG surprise. Big.

9. JAOO conference in Århus, Jutland - right after our DBF, some Oakies and others will venture to Århus in Jutland to participate in this 1200-people J2EE event taking place 1 to 6 October. There will be a special database-track on 2 October.

10. Slovenian User Group meeting 8 to 10 October. I'll do a keynote and perhaps some more, and just imagine: Close to 1000 people show up each year at this event. Joze is the man.

11. 27 October: Miracle 6 year birthday party.... If you're around, this will be fun. If you're not around, it will still be fun.

12: Dilemma: 13 to 17 November: I will either have to participate in the annual UKOUG conference in Birmingham (which is very good) OR go to Seattle to do the PASS (Professinal Association of SQL Server) annual conference. Very hard choice.

So there. As you can tell, I clearly need a private jet plane.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Scott McNealy of Sun & The Economist

My favourite magazine is The Economist, which I've subscribed to since 1984. Doesn't come any better than that.

Here's an article about Sun in their latest issue, and I think it nails Sun's problems very well: Scott still doesn't QUITE acknowlege the coming of the small commodity servers...

Really cool and useless stuff

If Tom Kyte can write about random links, and random stuff he's bought, so can I!

So I bought the World's Warmest Sleeping Bag. I was in this REI shop in Denver looking at warm sleeping bags (I've had cold feet since my birth) and this retired doctor walks up to me and explains that if I want REALLY warm sleeping bags I should go to ...

Bingo! Look at this text, for instance:
"Antarctic Sleeping Bag

Product #: 6.3.1

A -60 degree bag. I believe the Antarctic model is the only -60 degree bag made in the world. The loft averages 10 inches, and the weight for a regular length, wide body model is 6.5 pounds. The long wide body weighs 7 pounds. Add $144.00 for the Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS)."

Of COURSE I added the FTRSS option, which will take it down to -80F (or -60C). The result was that Cary Millsap's wife Mindy had to order it and I had to carry it home from Dallas after the Hotsos Symposium.

Let me just say, that having the World's Warmest Sleeping Bag means you also have a very, very big and heavy sleeping bag. In fact, I think it's easier to pack the rest of your stuff, including your backpack, into the sleeping bag.

But man, is it warm and incredibly thick and cool. It's currently stored on my loft.

But go and enjoy their website - it's the only sleeping bag made in the US, and the guy writes the right stuff in the right sort of language that generates trust.

Then I needed a pair of boots, because I have talked myself into doing the World's biggest march, the Nijmegen ( , this July.

Four days with 40 km per day, including 10kg of lead somewhere on your body because I'll be walking on a Danish military team along with a small guy from Miracle called Martin Gamtofte (he's about 2 meter and 5cm tall and wider than most doors), who has done the Nijmegen NINE times, including once where he managed to actually do permanent, structural damage to his heels, yet continuing.

So I needed a pair of boots. Was in the UK last week, so went looking for English boots on the internet - figured they must have been doing some walking for some years over there, and in various climates.

Then I found it: The last British boot maker, with a fantastic website:

Well, fantastic in the sense that they have a LOT of text on the front page. A lot. They're bootmakers, not marketing people.

And then, halfway down in the text, you'll find this very very cool thing: They are discussing the good things about their competitors. Not a bad word about them, just facts about the good things they're known for, and who have been especially happy with them, etc.

These Alt-Berg guys are not marketing guys. They're bookmakers. So again: Instant trust.

I wrote them an email asking where I could buy their boots in London, but got no reply, of course - they're bootmakers, not webmasters.

But James Morle knew a place that might have them, because he went to college on the opposite side of the street: (or

So I went there (Mile End Road - very fitting name), and found a very small shop, and a very big warehouse behind it. Two guys working in the shop (servicing a couple of English troopers on their way to Iraq) and 20 guys or more working in the warehouse.

Yep, they had begun selling Alt-berg five months earlier. Might they suggest their Peacekeeper P1 boot, not water proof of course? People appeared to be rather happy with that one...

If the boot didn't quite fit, I could ship it to Silverman's and they would have the changes made at Alt-berg and shipped back to me. No problem.

The guy had only worked in the shop for 18 years. He knew SO much about even the Danish military camouflage patterns, webbing stuff and what have you. If you ever see their catalogue you will be impressed, too. Professional people, who value knowledge and advise over slick impressions, yet seem to make a good living out of it - and man, must they enjoy their work.

It would appear that a lot of stuff is a bit cheaper there than in many of the more fancy outdoor stores, too, according to my daughter who's a scout.

So I went walkabout in them new boots yesterday (or tabbing, as the Brits would say) for 17 km's and they were good and nice to wear. No blisters. My wife even thinks the boots look nice with a pair of jeans.

So there. Important information for the masses.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Is Windows a better choice than Linux?

Dear readers,

Sorry I haven't posted for a long time.

I recently posted a message or two on the huge and rather brilliant Oracle-L list, and either the weekend or some Tsunami have caused complete radio silence on the list after that. Or something is wrong with my mail-server.

So I'd like to use this blog to invite some comments on the (probably completely wrong) way I view the issue of Windows vs Linux.

First of all, let me say very strongly that I HATE monopolies, be they private or public. I really do. They end up being so immensely bad for the greater good of consumers/users/customers.

Doesn't matter if it's the Old Phone Monopoly or the Police or the socialised hospital systems in many countries or indeed the dominant position of some software outfit.

The WASTE is of unimaginable proportions, the impetus for change and innovation utterly lacking and the motivation of employees - strange, isn't it? - is practically non-existent.

Does that mean I don't like Microsoft?

Yes, I really hate Microsoft for their various silly attempts at making the customers choices fewer and trying to change standards into Microsoft standards - not because they have to, mind you, but because they can.

No, I don't hate Microsoft for most of what they do, since it seems to work and we can all use it, and strictly speaking we're not talking monopolistic activity in most areas.

As an ex-Oracle guy, I think I know some of the points of view of Larry Ellison. He would so very dearly like to become the monopolistic guy instead of the monopolistic guy (Bill Gates).

The "deep" insight he thinks he gained in Japanese business culture of "competitors are stealing rice out of the mouths of our children" is about as intelligent as the rest of that nonsense Ninja-and-small-gardens-with-waterfalls semi-religious idea he and others think will create great insight and inner peace. It could, mind you, if you had enough beer or vodka. Otherwise, I think not.

But Larry doesn't HAVE that dominant position. He's trying (buying ERP-systems all over the place), but he's not there yet. Nor is Microsoft in many important areas.

Given the chance, both Bill and Larry would dearly love to have a monopoly, so they could command high prices, yet deliver so-and-so service and products - maximising profit.

Enough about my personal attitudes on monopolies and monopolistic behaviour.

But does all that mean I will recommend Linux to my customers? Actually no.

When I consider what's best for a given customer, I often will say Windows because it's easier for them to hire qualified people. Doesn't matter if we're talking Unix, VMS or Linux. It's harder to come by SA's for them. Which is why users of these systems many times end up outsourcing to the three-letter monsters so they can be sure there's somebody there who can manage their old-school system (Unix, VMS) or new-school system (Linux). And then they're hosed.

You can say that Microsoft is a monopoly. Strictly speaking (as someone who studied Economics for three years), it might be in certain areas, but they're few. Dominant in several areas, oh yes.

But isn't Linux trying hard to become a monopoly? They use ideology constantly to try to kill the competition (Microsoft), and they make pirate (free) copies of many of the competitors products. How cool is that?!

Just because a lot of people are working for free doesn't mean they're Doing Good.

Lots of people are working for free in very weird political organisations, but I don't consider their causes good.

Free is not Good by design.

Isn't Linus about as dominant as Gates? Why on Earth did he not want a decent scheduler in Linux for so long? That's just something Windows HAD to have as per requests from large clients. He might not want to be viewed as dominant, but people will try to interpret his every word and move and treat him like a demi-god.

My point is that users don't have anything to say about future developments and features of Linux. They're powerless. They become the M of S&M.

Now, what would happen if the US Government or the EU decided that Linux had a too dominating position on the market? Who should they take to court? Can the Linux community be held accountable for their actions if they do something which is not in the interest of the customer/user?

What if Linux was hit by a wave of very serious security attacks (succesful, too) but nobody in the community wanted to fix the code? Who could force them to shut down development of new stuff for a couple of months while they focused on the security issues?

From another comment on the Oracle-L list (and this guy is not a beginner):

"Anyone with intimate knowledge of what Operating System supports a GOOD, boutique port of Oracle relies on knows all too well that not even Oracle Corp has managed to influence the Linux Kernel sufficiently! Some of the complete junk they are mainlining is astounding, and the motives for acceptance of same is generally a bit

I'll look forward to your comments on this.