This is an offshoot of the original Liam & Janet blog. That blog has become overrun by Liam's inability to keep his mouth shut when something annoys him. The serious rants there seemed incongruous with the humor columns. The plan for the humor columns continues to be to post a new one every Friday, plus occasional extras when the mood strikes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

IOUG-A Live! 2005 - Day Two, afternoon

What is the most important advice we experienced conference attendees could give to the new folks? Clearly, that’d be “Don’t miss the free beer!”, but only slightly behind that would be “Pace Yourself”. Among marathon runners, there is a phenomenon known as “hitting the wall” which involves (I’m guessing) running headlong into a brick wall rather than having to keep running all the way to the finish line. Or maybe not, my own personal body has never run for more than twenty feet without needing an extensive break and a half liter of water. On the rare occasions when I’ve really pushed myself, I have had other things on my mind (say when there was a free iPod at stake, or possibly danger to one of my children).

Around mid-afternoon on the second day of the marathon that is the modern user conference, the highly tuned, well oiled mechanics of my body hit a low point. If this were my own personal time, and my own personal money paying for the trip, I’d say “The heck with it” and go back to the hotel room for a nice nap before the afternoon. As it is being paid for by my boss’ budget, and I am being paid to attend, I would never admit to… I mean, I would never do any such thing. Even when the tryptophan in my lunch starts making my eyes droop. Even when the first post-lunch topics available hold no interest or important information. Even when, with my sleep apnea, there’s a very real risk that my snoring could set off the convention center’s early Earthquake warning system.

And so, head hanging like a beaten dog, I dragged myself from the vendor floor and up the long, tiring escalator steps to the second floor to attend: “iSQL*Plus in Oracle 10g: Ready for Prime Time”. You have to love Oracle’s marketing department, seeing the way the world is working, take an existing tool, throw a new access method on the front (in this case, internet availability), then throw an “i” on the front or back of the name and call it a new feature. So by this logic, when I write these essays, they are essays, but when I post them to my blog, now they’re iEssays. iSQL*Plus is web database access. Does it really take an hour to tell us that?

And then came the second truly wonderful session I’ve attended this year: “Oracle 10g SQL Tuning Secrets” presented by Donald Burleson. Mr. Burleson is an engaging speaker, with lots of great information, and apparently a life long addiction to uppers. Really, this man presents his material with the same zeal as a used car salesman in a late night TV commercial, but with far less reliance on lies, exaggerations and outright BS. Want to know how strong his personality is? Part way through his session, he lost the mic momentarily and I, sitting in the back of one of the largest rooms at the conference, didn’t notice based on the volume, only based on the more natural tone to his voice. This man clearly loves tuning SQL. He also clearly disagrees with the presenter from this morning, who advised bringing every table design into 5th normal form.

My only beef with Mr. Burleson is when he advanced an assertion which is at the heart of the DBA/Developer war: that developers believe “If I write a query which returns the right answer, my job is done, it’s the DBA’s job to tune it”. I am a developer, and to me this is like a chef saying “If my soufflé rises, it’s someone else’s job to make sure it tastes good”. Mr. Burleson, on behalf of GOOD developers everywhere, thanks, but we’ll handle tuning our own SQL. Just make sure you and your fellow DBAs give us sufficient privileges to access the tuning tools we need.

Following the tuning talk was another break (technically, there are vendor presentations during this time, but as I am neither interested in any of the vendors nor energetic enough to stay awake through a marketing talk, I choose to re-define the term “break” to be inclusive). I wandered the floor of the Vendor Hall for the 15 minutes between the end of the session and vendor floor closing time, at which point I had several options:

· Write this afternoon’s update, knowing that I’d then have to include the final session of the day in the morning’s update.
· Find some beer, thus ensuring I’ll fall asleep during the final session of the day.
· Find a quiet place and lie down for a nap.

As good as option 3 sounds, I have two co-workers here with me, and the odds that my boss would take kindly to my being seen napping during the conference are about equal to the odds that while I’ve been gone he’s granted me a 50% pay raise. Thus, here I am typing away in a corner, looking for all the world like I’m accomplishing something of great pith and moment, instead of blathering away words which will be read by (most likely) 10 people, 7 of whom are directly related to me (and 2 of whom will have a lot of questions, like “Daddy, what’s a DBA?” and “Daddy, why do you like beer so much?” and even “Daddy, how can you say 5th normal form ISN’T the ultimate for data storage? Don’t you realize that anything less leaves you open to potential data integrity problems?”).

The last session of the day starts in about 20 minutes, after which is the dinner and then the Big Party at Pleasure Island. I just have time to post this and grab a Dixie cup of water from the kind volunteers at the side of the escalator before kicking into high gear for the last leg of the day’s run.

Copyright © May 3, 2005 by Liam Johnson.


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