Monday, April 18, 2005

Ok, so I won't do that

While the comments here were generally positive, based on some private emails I've decided not to do that debunking here. I'll leave that on asktom.oracle.com, when I get a question about some material -- I'll just do what I've always done...

Instead, I'll just use this as a place to say stuff. Outside the oracle.com domain.

This month I've been working on Expert One on One Oracle, second edition. It is sort of eye opening. I'm taking the book from being Oracle 8i, 8.1.7 and before specific and updating to 9ir1, 9ir2 and 10gr1. So much has changed. The single chapter that was chapter 2 (Architecture) is now chapters 3, 4 and 5. In Oracle's quest to make things easier, it has become alot harder to describe! Look at files -- lots of new "file stuff" from ASM to spfiles to flashrecovery areas. Memory, unbelievable. Describing the SGA used to be easy, how PGA/UGA memory worked -- a piece of cake.

Now, are you auto PGA memory management and what about that pga_aggregrate_target which is more of a wish than a directive and add into that auto SGA management, manual SGA management and the hybrid automatic/manual mode you could put it in -- well, 12 pages blossomed out to 35 pages.

I even have some 500 user tests in there, to show how workarea_size_policy = AUTO|MANUAL scale up in their use of memory... Wonder how I got that on my single cpu laptop?.. Actually I ran that on my dell poweredge server in the basement. It was quite fun, never did a 500 user test in my basement before. Things have changed since version 1 of the book.

As for the book, I would like to offer an opinion on books -- technology books. I was involved in a discussion on this topic and someone made the claim that

As the book, as with most do today, had to be published by a certain date we did most of the work on beta and to provide complete coverage, some was from docs.

The marketing truth these days is, if you aren't first to market with a book you won't have sales.


I really took exception to that. I don't think that is the truth. I think that was their choice. If you are writing a book on technology, as a technology "name" (a name people just trust, because they know the name), writing a book based on beta software and making suggestions on how to use it (based on beta software) without having any real world experience is a bad choice.

I can promise you one thing, my books will be last to market. When Expert One on One Oracle first edition went public, a book that says on the cover "covers Oracle up to version 8.1.7", it was one short week before Oracle 9i went production.

When Effective Oracle by Design first edition went public, Oracle 10g Release 1 followed it by four months.

In both cases, I could have had the very first 9i and 10g book on the market. The publishers would have loved it (so they think). I refused to do it. Why? Because I had no real world, in the field, been using it and breaking it experience to work from. I had lots of nice theories about how it "should" work, "might" work, "could" work -- but not having actually used it in real life, I won't write about it.

So, maybe beware of the first to market books. Other than being a new features guide (which Oracle puts out by the way...), the material contained therein may be questionable, as it hasn't been put to use by anyone yet.

I look at a book and judge it not by the cover, but rather by the quality of the technical review team. I've been very "proud" of the teams working on my books. I've learned alot from them. They are what make or break a book. I've sat on both sides of the table on this one, I've written 2 books and contributed heavily to a third. I've tech edited perhaps 10 or 12 now. I've reviewed books that were a pleasure to read, with minor corrections to be made. I've read books where I've sent back "if this chapter remains in the book, I want my name off of the list, i refuse to be associated with it (and here is my evidence why I'm saying this....)". In the end, the books that get published are better and some of the books just never get published at all (which is a good thing).


Anyway, back to the book. I'll update this site from time to time with opinions. We'll save the debunking as something for Q&A on asktom.oracle.com....
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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said....

You are right on the money Tom, don't change a thing.

Mon Apr 18, 08:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,

what a pity, thought to have another compass in the Oracle community pointing to good examples and helping me to avoid waisting time with bad ones.

Well, AskTom on itself deserved a nomination for the Oracle Oscar.

Thank you for your encouraging work.

Mon Apr 18, 09:09:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Pratap said....

Good to have you outside the Oracle domain. We have heard a lot from you on Oracle. Will you write on other technical or work related topics like books, Linux, testing, other technologies.... list is endless.

Mon Apr 18, 09:31:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I agree with you completely about writing a well researched book. When I was new to Oracle, I bought some books which turned out to be nothing more than a rewrite of Oracle documentation. No explanation of anything, no expamples. Your books speak experience. Well worth the wait.

Mon Apr 18, 09:33:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Do we get to find a bit more about Tom the person (rather than the trchie guy) what do you do in your spare time (apart from answer asktom questions obviously)? What hobbies and intereats do you have.

Mon Apr 18, 12:37:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Do we get to find a bit more about Tom the person (rather than the trchie guy) what do you do in your spare time (apart from answer asktom questions obviously)? What hobbies and intereats do you have.

There is the "profile" there that I've filled out, but yes, you will get to see some of the non-oracle side here.

Mon Apr 18, 12:52:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel said....

Tom, I'm curious.

While there are many factors that may have influenced your purchase of a Toyota Prius, would you say the number one reason was the ability to drive in the HOV lane?

Thanks.

Mon Apr 18, 01:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

would you say the number one reason was the ability to drive in the HOV lane?

That was hardly even a consideration. I live 25 miles west of Reston VA (where I work). There are approximately 3-4 miles of HOV lanes between me and work. And I'd have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get from the HOV to the exit. So I end up never using the fact that I could drive in HOV.

I've used HOV twice in a year so far, both times I had to drive downtown to DC. If I worked in DC, it would have been probably the #1 reason.

I chose it for

o mileage (I'm getting 45 MPG reguarly over the course of the last year)

o low emissions

o I really dig the fact it turns off at low speed/red lights. It was a little freaky at first, but if I'm sitting there, I'm not polluting

o cost, I wanted a new car instead of a used car. My last car, a BMW 5 series was a couple years old and had 75k miles on it when I got it. I compared the cost of a new 5 series with a prius and well, it was easy to decide. The prius actually has more interior room than the BMW did.

Mon Apr 18, 01:19:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,
How did you first think of writing a book like One-on-One? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did it come out of a survey of the Oracle books already published?

How do you approach writing? Do you take time off from work, or is a parallel activity?

Have you ever suffered from Writer's block?

Mon Apr 18, 01:38:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Hi Tom,
How did you first think of writing a book like One-on-One? ...


What I think I'll do is take the things like this and add them to "blogideas.txt" on my desktop and do them up over time...

So things like the prius question above and so on would be done that way.

(so don't take it personally if I don't followup your questions like this immediately -- I'll just jot them down and do them as I can..)

Mon Apr 18, 01:48:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


I can promise you one thing, my books will be last to market. When Expert One on One Oracle first edition went public, a book that says on the cover "covers Oracle up to version 8.1.7", it was one short week before Oracle 9i went production.


And I did not buy your book and I have been kicking myself ever since. I purchased some O Press book with a pretty black and blue cover of 9i before 9i was releasedt. It was useless, almost :)

Your book is much better. I would love to re-work some of my projects using tidbits found in EBD.

Mon Apr 18, 04:01:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Mark Rittman said....

Hi Tom,

Look forward to reading your musings...

One thing you might want to consider is getting your site feed syndicated through http://www.orablogs.com, the blog aggregator run by another Oracle employee, Brian Duff.

Although blogger.com allows you to publish an Atom XML feed for your blog, you can use a site such as Feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/home) to provide an RSS version compatable with Orablogs. I've also separately dropped Brian a line to see if he's looking to directly support Atom in the future.

Mon Apr 18, 04:09:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

What about Mathematics - do you think your College years have shaped your mind, and so influenced your way of thinking about and approaching Oracle (or life in general) - or not ?

Ie do you think you would have been a radically different Tom without your education ?

Mon Apr 18, 04:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Gus said....

Here you go, Tom ... something else you'll want to monitor, update, correct, cherish, and spend 'way too much time on ...

Good luck!

Mon Apr 18, 05:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Jimk said....

Keep up the gook work on the books. You are correct, one doesn't ahve ot be first out in publishing. Look at the product life cycle of a typical production application.

1. If it is a Vendor application you can be sure the vendor application isn't going to support the latest and greatest Oracle version for years. (eg Siebel, SAP, et al.) So having a book based on beta functionality is a detriment not a help.

2. If it is not a Vendor application then it takes quite awhile to move from development, test to production environments. Most of us don't want to move a just released major release from a Vendor into production right after the vendor released. I don't care how good their QA is. I want time for those "gotchas" to be found in test environments not in my production environment.

3. I love the new stuff and love playing around with it, but sometimes it is like standing in front of a firehose! I'll wait for one of your books or other authors that give outstanding value. I can read the documentation myself; a regurgitation of the documentation is not something I would knowingly buy. I want "deep knowledge" or implications. Something akin to Richard Feynman and how he thought of physics - not just a bunch of definitions to memorize, but a set of principals to understand.

Also I think you should have done what I did and buy a motorcyle to save gas. It is a blast riding it to work. Granted I don't ride to work when the weather is bad, but there are a heck of a lot of nice days in this part of the world. (Northwestern US) Yeah, it was my mid life crisis vehical, but cheaper than a sports car.

Tue Apr 19, 07:22:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Just to highlight that at :
http://www.apress.com/book/bookDisplay.html?bID=10008
It says your "...fully revised edition covers the 9i and 10g versions, including the 10g Release 2"
You may want to clarify this point

Mon May 09, 08:09:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

thanks for the heads up on the book -- I sent them an email, that is a mistake. 10gr2 -- nope, not at all.

Mon May 09, 08:15:00 PM EDT  

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