Archive for the 'General Knowledge' Category

08
Jun
07

The art of communicating outside of the IT room

This title aims at describing a situation which occurs often between IT and any other non technical department.

IT people have a reputation of geeks, inapt to communicate with anything else that doesn’t have any flashing lights on it.

It’s not so true, like all legends its exagerate. Still, legends and urban stories come from true histories…

Note, before bashing starts, I’m generalizing. There is of course a lot of competent and very able IT people. This post is for the others.

I have to admit we have a difficult task. We often need to explain to people who has no IT background nor skills, how this is going to work…

My point today is very high level.

This is Mr Bob. He is an accountant, has no IT skills except Excel and the computer looks like black magic to him. Mr Bob do know however how all his numbers plugs into his accounting process.

This is A.J. A.J is a developer. He speaks a very technical language and understand algorithm and boolean logic.

Mr Bob has asked A.J to develop an application which would be able to control some costs at the very beginning of his data entry process.

The requirements has been done smoothly and AJ got it pretty easy. But here is when the problems starts, at test levels.

Mr Bob is facing a black box. He knows what checks has to be done because he asked for it, but when something happens (a minor bug), he is bound to doubts, and fear. This software is going to be on production, crushing numbers into his accounting. This is scary.

As a developer/ DBA / Sys, network Admin, we should strieve to clear out those doubts and fear from the “Users”. We have to understand that standing in front of a black box is really not fun. So, explaining a little bit… Or a little more if required can go a long way into making Mr Bob confident and make the project a success.

These doubts and fears might come out under the form of questions. Challenging the logic in the application or the developer sometimes. But in the end, the real problem is: Mr Bob is scared. So, skip the complexe words that Mr Bob doesn’t understand.

 If AJ has messed up something that is not making it work properly. He should say: “I’m sorry. I did XXX. It was doing YYY in the application. I’ve fixed it by doing ZZZ. Try again it will work”. Use print screen if it makes it easier to explain!

What AJ should not say (as is very often the case): “Oh, I see what it is. It’s fixed now. Can you try again?”

Not being aware of Mr Bob emotions, won’t prevent a project from being done, but being aware of it would make the project much more smooth and ease tensions between the partys.

Here are the qualitys which I think are required to turn a good IT person into an excellent IT person:

1) Empathy (We feel your pain).

2) Ability to explain in simple words.

3) Confidence. (Particularly for DBAs in critical situations. Someone scared to death might call because his database is not working, the whole company is freezed. Keep cool.

Showing confidence and saying very simple things like “I see what it is. Let’s check what’s going on”. Keep the tone very calm. you KNOW what’s going on. You KNOW what you are doing. This would cool the tension straight away and your interlocuter’s face might even change back from blue to normal again.)

The list, I suppose, can go a long way. But then, nobody is superman as well.

If you think there’s another non IT skill which should be in this list, then comment the post.

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02
Apr
07

Toad using instant client

I’ve seen plenty of search concerning Toad and instant client.

Instant client requires a bit of work to get it work. But if it works and toad doesn’t then look somewhere else 😉

Working with toad is not much a problem with instant client it concerns the CONNECT_DATA parameter in the tnsnames.ora file.

MYDB.WORLD =
(DESCRIPTION =
(ADDRESS_LIST =
(ADDRESS = (PROTOCOL = TCP)(HOST = MYSERVER)(PORT = 1521))
)
(CONNECT_DATA =
(SERVICE_NAME = MYDB.WORLD)
)
)

Try to add the parameter SID = MYDB instead.

Toad should work better like this. That’s a solution based on experience. If it’s not or if you have another solution, feel free to add your comment to this post. It will help others.

25
Jul
06

How to shutdown oracle if the server is too slow on windows

If for some reasons a server is very slow and the shutdown immediate command can be expected to take ages…

Go for the kill of the Oracle Service in control panel>configuration>services

Find OracleService[OracleSID] and stop it.

Shutting down Oracle by stopping the Oracle service makes a clean stop of the database as opposed to shutdown abort which must be avoided at all costs.

Shutting down with an abort can create fuzzy files which is all DBA’s nightmare.

24
Jul
06

Installing Oracle using what RAID system?

I realise it is vastly unknown what RAID system must be used to work with Oracle.

Actually the answer is: It depends.

But to answer it there’s just a simple question to ask:

Will my Oracle database write a lot on the disks or read a lot?

How to know?

1) The use of the database (Is it datawarehouse (READ) or some invoice keying (WRITE)?).

2) The frequency of backups.

3) Consider the amount of users.

If it is something involving a lot of keying then it’s best to use a RAID1 or RAID1+0. Some simple mirroring would greatly improve the performance of the server.

If it is a datawarehouse type application where the data are pushed on the server once everyday and then it’s only SELECT statements all day long then RAID5 might do. But the process to push your data in the datawarehouse might take little longer as a consequence.

If you are considering RAID5 anyway, think about this:

1) Use a minimum of 5 disks on your server

2) Enable your writing cache (make sure it’s battery backed cache)

In the case you already use RAID5 with some keying applications, and there’s only a few users, then don’t forget your backups, your tape device. All these are very ressource consuming. At those times where you do backups, the users might feel the server very slow.

To summarize:

Not Datawarehouse> Use RAID1 or RAID1+0 Datawarehouse> Use RAID5 with a very minimum of 5 disks.