Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A rant for today...

A rant for today. How sad. This just makes me want scream. Here is the question (so similar to so many that I receive but don’t print):

I am a new in the DBA field. Please let me know how to take dbms stats and how to analyze the same.

Here was my response:

Way too broad of a question to be able to answer in a paragraph. I suggest you get this book: Cost Based Oracle Fundamentals to understand how the CBO works, how statistics fit into it, and start from there.

So, what we have is someone just starting out – new to the field, doesn’t know what to do or why they might be doing it.

Here was their response:

Didn’t help me: I want faster replies rather than scanning through books

I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. The only reply I could come up with was this:

You have a lot to learn my friend, a lot to learn.

If you don't want to spend the time to get the knowledge, your employer doesn't
really need you - they can get a piece of automated software to do it.

For example, in 10g – We don't need someone like you. The "rule of thumb" for
gathering statistics is a job burned into the database. You are not needed. The gathering of stats with the level of knowledge you apparently want to achieve (eg: no real knowledge, just to be told what to do). Everything works with AUTO.

However, if you actually know how it works, understand it, take the time to
learn it, you might actually be able to add some value.

Seriously disappointed - that describes me right now.

I really don’t get it. When I started out – I remember spending much time in the bookstore, tons of time reading what I bought there. Many hours exploring and testing the information I was getting. I would buy technical manuals I couldn’t get at work. I spent so much money here over time.

I really don’t get it. “Make me smart right now”. We don’t need that, if we could distill the knowledge down to a paragraph, we would encode it in software and let it do it for us.

Oh wait, we do that…

Just a thought for the people that want “instant knowledge”, that provides no value add over what the software already automates – therefore, it won’t do you very well. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

My day is off to a bad start…

Added a couple of hours later....

I liked what Lisa had to say. And the day is much better now - 2nd day of a three day seminar. A room full of people that actually want to increase their understanding, makes me feel much better.


Anonymous Phylyp said....

Heh, my sympathies :).

This is one annoying trend that I'm sure everyone has come across. People assume that you're good at a particular thing, so you've got a silver bullet for their problem. They want to be fed, not taught how to fish.

A related gripe is: I work in BI. Among several BI developers, I find this big urge to familiarize themselves with the latest tools (BusinessObjects, Cognos, Informatica...). I keep telling them, get the fundamentals of BI and OLAP straight, you can always transfer and leverage those skills to any existing and new tools. But no, they want to learn version N+1 that was released by vendor X yesterday.

Tue Jan 31, 04:19:00 AM EST  

Blogger Sunil said....

I was more surprised
when a person comes to me for telling him how to be a master in DW without knowing any PL/Sql

Tue Jan 31, 04:36:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Oh, that is funny! for a few weeks now I'm thinking of a jobchange...
My story - I'm new in dba, working now for 1 year, have to learn everything for myself, read concept guide, your books, cost based oracle and so on, thought I made a good job, love my job and oracle. Now my superior critizes my failing to generalisations. I would always ask for more information...
Example: For a new software+database what kind of hardware should we buy?
My 'answer': what kind of software, how many users and so on...
I'm so angry! Disappointed - Context? My boss would love this man!

Tue Jan 31, 05:51:00 AM EST  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

Why we're surprised at this sort of thing beats me; and if we're not surprised, I don't think it's fair to be saddened by it. The IT world is built on quick-fix merchants, and the OCP itself encourages precisely this mentality. Whilst the bookshelves are filled with 'OCP Crammers', I don't really see how you expect anything else.

A lot of people aren't just ignorant (a condition that affects us all from time to time; it can't be helped). They're stupid too (which is inexcusable). Your correspondent suffers from both the former and the latter conditions, and you'd be doing him a favour to tell him so in words of one or two syllables.

Tue Jan 31, 06:57:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Patty C. said....

I too feel your pain. I just had to do a performance evaluation for one of my DBAs that went the same way. The only difference is, the DBA I have to deal with is NOT a newbie! So, I'm not entirely sure that this is a newbie issue although that is probably where it starts. I knew I had a big issue when I asked this person what training they would like to take, what did they want to learn this coming year and they couldn't think of anything!! I just don't get it. I suppose it is because I am the complete opposite. I don't want anyone to tell me how to do anything. I like to try to figure it out on my own first. I love a challenge. I guess not everyone feels that way do they?

Tue Jan 31, 08:44:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Slater said....

It is like everything in the modern (western) world. People just want a set FAST=TRUE parameter.

Tue Jan 31, 08:55:00 AM EST  

Anonymous juancarlosreyesp said....

Hi Tom, I like to investigate, and finally I think I'll end writing my book. But the problem is there is too much to learn, and there is not time to learn and investigate everything in the right way you should.
So I think giving a book to read to answer a question is very nice, but too there is the need of a quick hint, I think the problem was the person who asked you, didn't search asktom neither googled before asking you.

Tue Jan 31, 09:08:00 AM EST  

Blogger shrek said....

wonder if they were an OCP?

sorry, we've been interviewing and some of them just have no actual knowledge at all.

Tue Jan 31, 09:37:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Mark L said....

Unbelievable....some people have a nerve. Hats off to your answer Tom.

I remember starting out with Oracle back in Version 6 days, before we had the metal ink and the likes of 'Ask Tom' to point us in the right direction in times of trouble. I saw it as a challenge to read the manual and experiment with the examples provided, then apply them to my particular problem, and this way you LEARNED how to do things, you got a sense of achievement in resolving the issue yourself, also you find out, by experimentation, how NOT to do things which helps your knowledge development. Sure, look the metalink and the numerous Oracle forums, but don't expect solutions on a plate, life isn’t like that. I always see posting on message boards as the very last resort, after the manuals and other sources of information have been exhausted then its acceptable to put your hand in the air and ask for help from your peers, but too many people are lazy and want the 'insta-fix' or the solve_all_problems.sql answer. My favourite response to people like that it ‘R.T.F.M.’ (for those of you unaware of this acronym, the R stands for ‘Read’, T for ‘The’ and M for ‘Manual’…I’m sure many of you can second guess what the F stands for!!)

Tue Jan 31, 09:45:00 AM EST  

Blogger Fahd Mirza said....

Whenever I need inspiration, I come over to tkyte.blogspot.com.

Whenever I need technical guidance, I come over to asktom.oracle.com.

I came to appreciate Oracle docs due to Dear Mr. Thomas Kyte.


Tue Jan 31, 10:12:00 AM EST  

Blogger Kishore said....


I can understand your point of view. These days, people think they can take 3-4 weeks training and get things done. They do not understand the quality aspect and precise patterns for getting things done. At the end, these kind of folks cost the employers tons of maintenance and other headaches. I am a new bie, I took the initiative to download 10g XE and started playing around with it. A good place for newbies to get more into depths of a giant like Oracle is the online forums & it does not hurt to try answer questions from other new-bies. That will increase someone's confidence and decrese the learning curse. Practical experience is a different animal all-together.

Tue Jan 31, 10:16:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

since I respect Tom's time, when I need to ask question, I prepare the test case and many times when I am going through this exercise, I just solve the problem myself. May be I just get more "focused" on the problem before I post something for his comment.
A pleasant side effect... to creating the complete yet concise test case.


Tue Jan 31, 10:23:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Ah yes, Reiters. Still on K Street in Washington, D.C., I see. I used to browse there over 20 years ago just to marvel at their incredible selection of scientific and mathematical books.
Never bought anything, though, not being scientifically or mathematically literate.
Once I entered the IT field, though, I began devouring books and manuals just like so many of you. I cannot conceive not doing so.
Ready for the advert?
bookpool.com. for excellent discounts, quick shipping, and great Oracle selection.

Tue Jan 31, 10:56:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Andrew said....

It's the )$%*!_)# GUI that is at fault -- well not completely, but it does contribute an awful lot. The GUI is fine for the end user who is entering customer order information, looking up insurance coverage, adding a new employee, and so forth. It is murder on developers and systems (DBAs, etc) people.

When you use a GUI too much, especially when you start out with one, you do not learn how the thing works. OEM works. So what. I can tell you the sizes of tablespaces, their percent used, number of objects they contain, number of data files, size of largest contigous extent all with just a couple of keystorkes and in less time than it would take an OEM user to drill down to it in the GUI. When you work from the command line you are forced (no, make that tend) to learn more about the system and how it works. I have been on interviews where a common question is something like 'Do you know how to use Enterprise Manager'. To which I respond, 'yes I know how to use it, but I seldom ever do. I prefer the command line as I can do more with it and do it faster. I reserve OEM for things it does better or I cannot otherwise do, like testing out execution plan changes if I add an index without actually creating the index.' That response ALWAYS gets a most positive response.

Similarly, for developers. Yes GUI tools can generate sql for you, but if you do not know how to write sql, how do you know it is the best way to get the results? I miss programmers who actually understand the langusge in which they are working. The folks who could twiddle bits and edit whole arrays of records in a blink, while the rest of us (newbies at the time) could only stand there slack-jawed in wonder and hope (and strive) to be as good.

GUIs have their place, even for administrators and developers, but being dependent on them kills innovation, problem solving skills, and understanding. Ban the GUI -- OEM, TOAD, BMC, whatever -- for a month. Work only from the command line and build yourself a library of scripts to answer you most common questions. You will be amazed at what you will learn.

Note: All typographical errors, misspellings, and grammatical errors in the forgoing were intentionally placed there solely for the entertainment of those people who like to look for such things in written material.

Tue Jan 31, 11:01:00 AM EST  

Blogger Catherine said....

Ignorance, in itself, has got to be forgivable. Everybody starts ignorant.

Even the fact that ignorance won't cut it in Oracle, that easy answers don't exist - well, those are facts that everybody starts out being ignorant of. Somebody points you at a database and says "Make it go", and if you've never touched a database before, you don't know how much you don't know. You can use Word and Excel, why shouldn't you be able to use a database? Lots of people are pushed into databases without any warning of what they're getting into.

(Though, by the time somebody has found Ask Tom, you would assume they would have noticed just how much there is to the topic.)

Pushy, obnoxious, lazy ignorance, however - the kind that doesn't just childishly hope for, but demands easy answers - for that, I will summon screeching bat-winged demons to carry them away.

Tue Jan 31, 11:22:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

To be fair, it takes alot of time to ramp up and your employer often needs immediate results. telling them basically how dbms_stats works and how to run it, gets them started.

I also find that directed training helps. Going 'read this book' or read this document(ie read the concepts document). Is too broad. Most books have fluff in them that you really don't need to know and especially don't need to know right now.

Saying read this part in this book right here and then come back and ask questions is alot more productive.

One time I was told 'congratulatins you are now our windows administrator'. All I know about windows is how to click the buttons and curse bill gates. Problem was you had to be a US citizen to work on this, had to get registered and only one person could be named. I was looking for any trick I could get from people to get work done so I didn't live there. I had no idea what I was doing.

The best 'drill' I have found for learning about Oracle is

select view_name
from dba_views
where owner = 'SYS'

Show them where the data dictionary docs are. This way they can explore. Tell them to start with views about tables, constraints, etc... then when they find something look it up and google it. Do this for 10-15 minutes a day 5-6 days/week. In 6 months you will know more about Oracle than 90% of oracle professionals.

Tue Jan 31, 11:30:00 AM EST  

Blogger Robert Vollman said....

Wow. To exhaust Ask Tom's patience for helping others you REALLY have to be ignorant and/or lazy.

Point of order, though: I would have sent him first to the Oracle PDFs (despite how fine a book CBO is). Point him to the exact section if he doesn't want to 'scan' it. :)

Of course, I can understand this person's impatience. He probably has a boss breathing down his neck wanting him to learn Oracle in 2 days. Probably paying him bottom dollar, too, so they don't have to pay top dollar for someone who has actually studied Oracle.

Tue Jan 31, 12:25:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


I totally agree with your philosophy on taking the time to learn things and the need to absorb information and ask questions to do so.

However, and I may well be out of line here so feel free to slap me down, it can go too far as witnessed in your present seminar in Dublin, which I'm attending.

As ever you are the ultimate professional and are showing unbelievable patience in coping with the individual concerned. Now, I totally defend their right to ask questions because they have paid the €1690 like everyone else but the current question count of the individual concerned is approx 15 and is seriously impacting the other 60+ course attendees because due to the amount of time you have to spend dealing with him you may not be able to get through all the course material.

I don't mind him asking questions but a lot of the time he simply wants to treat you like a one to one tutor and that’s not on. So I don't really know how to solve the problem but I just wanted to get that off my chest. Also, I know from studying the reaction of may other people in the room when the individual starts to speak that they feel the same way.

Hate being petty here but then I've paid my money as well.

PS the course content and pace is fantastic and as ever you are continuing to spread incredible knowledge amongst the oracle community and for that we are very grateful.

Turk 182

Tue Jan 31, 01:02:00 PM EST  

Blogger kevin loney said....

Two potential interpretations:
1. Being new to Oracle this user expects it to have a sufficiently mature self-tuning engine that will do the thinking for him. He says he's new to the DBA field but perhaps knows other dbs that do the work for you. It may be a matter of expectations.
2. Or it's an ethical issue. Look up Gandhi's seven sins. I cite the ASME code of ethics in my design talk; we need one for Oracle developers/DBAs imo.

Tue Jan 31, 01:36:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Rob H said....

I've held back saying anything because no matter how much I learn about Oracle, the more off a "n00b" I feel. Its never ending. At the beginning of my career someone asked me in a job interview if I knew databases. I said "No". Believe it or not they gave me a job. They handed me a stack of texts (Foxpro, Access, Oracle, Sybase) and said, go to it. And I did.

Now if someone needs immediate answers like these (and they are being pushed), one HAS to convey the difficulty and steps required. If they fire you they fire you (I doubt it). You're there to do a job. Do it properly.

Since then I've found the only way to truely understand is to read as much as possible. Then re-read it (as I found with Toms own Chapter 6 of his new book). Alot of what we see as "fluff" isn't. Its just not immediately relevant to the idea. Upon a revist it IS very relavant.

Tue Jan 31, 01:42:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Rob H said....

Upon more thinking this brings up a more frightening thought. Imagine if we taught our children like this.

No, you don't need to know any math, we'll just give you a calculator. Isn't it the fundamentals that support our knowledge base? Don't we learn those fundamentals through information (lectures, texts, books, images,etc), guidance(teacher, professor, parents, etc) and testing (questions, trial and error, exams, tests, etc).

Exactly at what point of our lives do those same learning principles become void?

Just imagine if tom had told him to take the DB out of archive. We all know that wouldn't help (in fact it would be a dangerous step in another direction). But would this "educated", informed professional had just taken Tom's crazy advice or would he even know any better?

Its a society where we no longer want to understand the answer, all we want is just....


Tue Jan 31, 02:26:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Rob H said

You just reminded me of a short story by Isaac Asimov


short quote from it:

Loesser checked it. "Well, now, that's amazing. Multiplication didn't impress me too much because it involved integers after all, and I thought trick manipulation might do it. But decimals -"

Tue Jan 31, 02:40:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Rob H said....

As an amazing coincidental side note (that is people not "understanding" the db). I just had a development team request access to execute truncate on sys.jobs$.....

Then we looked ....
SQL> select broken, count(*) from dba_jobs group by broken;

- ----------
N 174007
Y 497767

:| <-- Shocked emoticon....

I don't even know what to say....

They obviously have no idea how to properly use dbms_job, and to request truncate (!) on sys.jobs$.... heaven help us if anyone else as a job....

Makes me wonder what else they may be doing.

Tue Jan 31, 03:08:00 PM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

in the forgoing were intentionally placed there solely for the entertainment of those people who like to look for such things in written material.
I will forgo my pleasure in the foregoing.

Tue Jan 31, 04:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Brooks Johnson said....

I work for a smallish software start up, so I'm the only database person. This means I do everything from designing the data model, writing and tuning the sql, testing the sql with junit based dbunit (highly recommended if you do cross db development, still recommended if you only use Oracle), installing the SAN in our perf lab, and providing customer support. It is the customer support that provides the most pain and humour.

My favorite customer support call was for the reporting database with heavy I/O requirements configured with 4 cpus, 8 gig of memory, and 1 disk. Ok, our hardware recommendations aren't perfect, but they are much better than this.

At times like this I try to remember that 95% of our customers have a reasonable grasp of their jobs. But that other 5%, how do they stay employed?

Tue Jan 31, 05:06:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Managers just hired a DBA to assist me. Company has grown to a point where 1 DBA isn't enough.

For some reason, I wasn't in on the interviews - can't figure that one out. Anyway, 3 managers decide on this fellow, great guy, nice family too.

He is completely and utterly lost, he has been a DBA for 4 years, OCP and others - competely and 100% GUI based admin. I have never
used OEM and didn't even have the infrastructure installed except what you have no control over.

Came from a windows world, to our 99.999% unix world... I swear this poor guy was going to cry his first couple of days.

I feel for him, it is more work with him than without him.

We don't use TOAD, and he was lost.
Thank goodness for Raptor and HTMLDB, he was able to start to learn all over again.

He has taken our single Windows version 10gr1 database as his baby.

He did point me to this neat tool oracle has - DBCA, database creation assistant ;)

Tue Jan 31, 05:17:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

http://www.killerclips.com/clip.php?id=67&qid=573 Replace the word 'college' with 'search google' and there you go.

This comment is meant to be funny :)

Tue Jan 31, 07:29:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The best path to be a DBA is self study. DBA has to know not only Oracle, but the operating system, networking, SQL, PL/SQL and at least one other programming language. Most people doing DBA work complain that "they have not received training on 10gr2". They have not taken time to pick up the Oracle docs and try to find out the new features of 10g. I cannot believe that managers even tend to think that by attending a 2 weeks course at Oracle, anyone without any background in Oracle will be able to manage databases and RAC.

As for GUI tools, anyone using the 10g grid control will be disappointed.

TOAD is a nice tool. Anyone critical of TOAD should give it a try. Learn how to use it effectively and it will enhance productivity (lot more work done in less time).

DBCA is almost a must for creating RAC databases. However, when things go wrong, one has to know how to troubleshoot. Metalink provides that information but the debug mode output is formidable and requires knowledge of how Oracle works.

GUI tools for query tuning should be abolished. As Tom has said in his book, if there was a million step process to query tuning, Oracle would incorporate it.

GUI tools are not bad; it is the way they are used is bad. Total dependence on GUI tools without knowing what is underneath the hood is extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately, the people who know how stuff works underneath is a vanishing breed. The overtly self confident, all knowing GUI dependent "bloatware" writers/users are taking over.

A lot of people think that a DBA is a well paying job. They do not consider the responsibility that comes with the title and the amount of study required to be a DBA. Many think that without an iota of experience, just passing OCP exam, anyone can be a DBA. Many organizations will not even consider the best resume without an �OCP� attached to it. Good luck to them

Bottom line: without self study and troubleshooting skills, no one can be DBA or anything for that matter.

Tue Jan 31, 07:33:00 PM EST  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Well, yes, this is off topic, but the subject line was "a rant for today"... so here's mine.

"Oracle Application Express"...

spare me please...

Tue Jan 31, 07:39:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Have you tried HTML DB (Oracle Application Express)? It does what it's supposed to do very well.
And quickly/expressly?

Tue Jan 31, 08:23:00 PM EST  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

Sorry... I didn't clarify the rant...

My rant was not the functionality et al of HTMLDB. Its when take a perfectly good product, with a perfectly good name... and then give it a new name just to cloud the issue.

I can already see the confusion coming... someone will say "HTMLDB 3.0" which will in fact be "Application Express 10g Release 2", etc etc etc...

I'm still getting burned with management saying things like "why can't we upgrade from 10.1 to 10g?" etc etc etc...

Don't even get me started on how the very nice "undrop EMP" in v10 beta became "flashback table EMP to before drop" by production !!!!


Wed Feb 01, 04:04:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I thought that AskTom has had many of such questions before, and had patiently responded. Not trying to be funny, but just wondering what is different about this particular one?

Wed Feb 01, 08:54:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

I think that the questioner's response to Tom's suggestion is what warrants the rant. Tom's response to wide ranging open ended questions is fairly predictable. When asked "Why does this query not return exactly the data I am searching for in my 4 petabyte database in less than a millisecond?", Tom invariably responds with a request for a test case. When asked similar questions to the one in this blog post, he refers the questioner to relevant documentation (usually with a link, so the only effort required is a click) or a book (again with a link) which expounds on the topic at hand.

In this case, Tom didn't just respond "RTFM", he clearly stated that there was no quick and dirty answer Way too broad of a question to be able to answer in a paragraph, and suggested a way for the questioner to get started in building the requisite understanding I suggest you get this book: Cost Based Oracle Fundamentals to understand how the CBO works, how statistics fit into it, and start from there. (emphasis mine).

The reply to Tom's advice suggested (to me) that even if a several paragraph tutorial on what procedures to execute and what to look for (which of course depends greatly on what performance issues, if any the new DBA seeks to address) was supplied, it would not have been nearly enough. Didn’t help me: I want faster replies rather than scanning through books (again, my emphasis).

"Scanning through books" is not going to help a new DBA tune anything. At best, it may suggest some quick fixes that come back to haunt you later.

I'm 100% with Tom on this one. If you're not interested in learning how to be a DBA, what value are you adding to the organization? Let the database tune itself. It probably can't do much worse than a DBA blindly gathering statistics and changing settings without understanding what they're doing.

File this as a sympathetic rant from a developer who remembers asking Oracle to "CCF" and has been conscripted to pretend to be a DBA (and I do mean pretend) from time to time, hopefully leaving the database in no worse shape than when I first logged in as SYSDBA.

Wed Feb 01, 09:47:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Gabe said....

Seems just a case of someone not knowing when to say "thank you".

As for screaming ... think the unreasonable person were your boss. What now?

Wed Feb 01, 11:11:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Ah Tom O'Kyte, sounds like you need a pint (or 2) of Guinness, go over to Mulligans (one of James Joyce favorites) on Poolbeg Street, Dublin

Stand with your back to O Connell Street. You will now be facing a major intersection, the intersection of Aston Quay, Burgh Quay, D'Olier Street and Westmorland Street.

Walk to the end of the bridge cross over to the other side of the road (on Burgh Quay). You are now outside the brand new "Q Bar". Walk down Burgh Quay until you come to a turning on the right (Hawkins St).

Turn down here, take next left onto Poolbeg Street. Walk up 200 yards, you're there!

Wed Feb 01, 04:49:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Jan said....

I still remembering how I was excited when I was reading your first book (the red one) - it was real eye-opener to world of Oracle for me. It's their fault when they try to stole these unique "AHA" moments from themselves.

Many thanks for last three days in Dublin!

Wed Feb 01, 05:03:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

or you could go to O'Donoghues, 15 Merrion Row, 2 minutes from St Stevens Green, famous haunt of the Irish traditional group, The Dubliners, enjoyable, impromptu music sessions are held here, normally very packed so get there early and the fact that there are over 1,000 pubs so I guess you'll find one you like, Slainte!

Wed Feb 01, 05:12:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Robert Boyle said....

Some people just don't want to work hard....come to think of it, some people just don't want to work!

Kids these days eh? When I look at junior colleagues I do sometimes wonder how they would react to having to work with
a) no google to solve their answers (a great tool I have to admit - almost as good as asktom ;) )
b) no internet/email access at all to distract them / ask friends in another part of the world how to do x y or z.
c) no source of information other than the supplied manuals on hard copy only so that there is no 'easy' way to search them other than the index.

I am mightly relieved that we no longer need to do that. Because the older i get, the more i forget. 1 new thing pushes 2 old things out of my head.

I hate to think about how i will be at the office tomorrow after the learning packed 3 days you gave us in dublin! If i can remember my sign on i will be happy!!

And take it easy on the Guinness Tom, you didn't seem to eat over the 3 days and i would worry the drink would go right to your head ;)

Wed Feb 01, 05:40:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Mr. Trivialized said....

Great comments by Robert Vollman back at Tue Jan 31, 12:25:35 PM EST

He said....
"...I can understand this person's impatience. He probably has a boss breathing down his neck wanting him to learn Oracle in 2 days. Probably paying him bottom dollar, too, so they don't have to pay top dollar for someone who has actually studied Oracle."

Well I'm a DBA now earning top dollar after having done plenty of study outside company hours along the way. However, some management just don't have an appreciation of your knowledge do they?

One boss I used to have once said to me "Do you know something? It would be really useful for the rest of the team if you could spend a couple of days writing down everything you know about Oracle".

Wed Feb 01, 05:41:00 PM EST  

Blogger Connor McDonald said....

re: the last post...

Ah yes, brings back memories of when I was asked by our development manager to come with a 45min presentation to bring the SQL Server developers up to speed with Oracle.

Wed Feb 01, 08:03:00 PM EST  

Blogger cstiu said....

I think its a matter of how life at present is concentrated on trying to become convenient, and in turn, its effecting the mindset of some people. Nowadays, things are very instantaneous - you need some information, you go to google and search the web; you need a coffee, there's always going to be a Starbucks somewhere around the corner; if you need Oracle information, why don't you just email some nice Oracle specialists who are generous in giving their advice to those who need it.

I dont mind convenience, but it does instill a certain type of mindset, especially to a number of younger generations who don't know any better. Patience will sometimes go out of the window this way, and sometimes you can't directly fault them for it. The best thing is to just prod them on to learn, that even at this day and age, patience IS still a virtue - and hopefully, they will take that advice.

As you've said, there are also people out there who understand hardwork and patience. Nothing makes one feel better than seeing a room full of people asking the questions and willing to learn. Some people are just a step away from that because they don't know any better, so they just needed to be shown the values. Frustrating, but I suppose in some ways all of us did seem like that when we were younger, in one aspect, or another.

You did a right thing by telling him what you told him, Tom. I'm sure you already know this, but you wouldn't be doing him a favor if you either you gave the answer, became judgemental and accusing, or just refused to answer without explaining why. Frustrating for you, but let's all hope that by replying the way you did, the person will learn something even more than how to take dbms_stats.

Wed Feb 01, 08:18:00 PM EST  

Blogger chintu said....

Hi tom,

Been a fan of Oracle and you since the last 6 months (you can say that i am a newbie). One of the problems I face is there is so much to understand about Oracle and its features, for a newbie like me who is not working on oracle how do i remember all these. Even though I spend atleast 3 hrs daily after office reading your book and practising at home, visiting asktom etc I am not sure how much have i understood or of whatever i have understood is it enough to enter in the live environment.


Fri Feb 03, 08:45:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I hate hearing "There's too much too learn"! Well guess what, remember all those years at school and college? Ever wondered why it took so long? 'Cos that's how long it takes to learn stuff properly. They drum it into you, and guess what they are drumming principles into you so you can read a book as easily as you read your bank application form or your driving test, calculate your tax return, add up your grocery list to make sure you can afford it! I tell you, with this sort of attitude, I can't be bothered to learn, it's no wonder these people end up in debt and in so much trouble!

Here's my favourite quotes!

Our Junior DBA after trying to explain the basic principles of the Oracle redo and rollback mechanism: "Oh man, this s**ts so complicated!". You wanted a career in Oracle why? Perhaps the salary looked good? Guess what? You gotta earn it!!

One of our developers, who has been developing on Oracle for about 3 years. "Well I added and index and I simply can't understand why it's slower now, the index must make it faster, it simply must!" and later on the same week "V$ dollar views? They are what? Well I've never had to deal with before." I took a very long lunch break at that moment, before someone got brutally attacked!

Sat Feb 04, 02:31:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

How about a little Mark Twain:

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Sun Feb 05, 02:26:00 AM EST  

Blogger Ray said....

There's simply no shortcut for knowledge. The faster one realizes the better for him. Some people does'nt realize when come across smart & quck answers in "Ask Tom", the wealth of knowlege that goes behind a smart answer and a POC (proof of concept)!!.

Mon Feb 06, 03:45:00 AM EST  

Blogger Ray said....

There's simply no shortcut for knowledge. The faster one realizes the better for him. Some people does'nt realize when come across smart & quck answers in "Ask Tom", the wealth of knowlege that goes behind a smart answer and a POC (proof of concept)!!.

Mon Feb 06, 03:45:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I work at a place where we are discouraged from reading and reseaching new technologies. We are expected to be 'masters' of new technologies after a brief intro class. It's very exasperating.

Mon Feb 06, 11:00:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This fellow doesn't need to know all the concepts of how the cost based optimizer works and all the theory behind the analysis. He was asking a simple question which deserved a simple answer and not 10 pages of people's criticism. If he would have been told 1.How to turn statistics on, and 2. How to output them in a format he can analyze, he most likely would have read the books that would fill in all the background he needs to make good decisions about what the statistics mean. Instead of providing answers to people who ask, we seem to think they need to prove their worthiness for us to answer their questions. I had to work hard to gain the knowledge I have, I can't give it to just anyone, they have to recognize that I am a master, and they are my subject. They must follow the proper rituals, recognize the imaginary structure that we set up, pay homage to the gods, bow to the bloggers, read all the posts and whitepapers, become a student of the upper crust, memorize the FAQs, and then, maybe, they are worthy to ask a question. If you want to have your little clubs, that's fine, but there are a lot of people out there who have to do the stuff because a manager requires it, and they have a family and responsibilities, and need some answers. If we have the knowledge, let's not be snobs.

Mon Feb 06, 11:53:00 AM EST  

Anonymous fteter said....


I feel your pain, having dealt with the PICNIC attitude of such "speed learners" myself on a regular basis.

PICNIC - Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.

Mon Feb 06, 12:15:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Anonymous - sometimes a little knowledge is an excessively dangerous thing.

A newbie DBA that wants to know how to "turn statistics on" - whatever the heck that means as you said. How exactly do you "turn on" statistics? I know how to gather statistics.

How do you analyze statistics. What would be a meaningful query.

What scares me is someone would say "I want immediate gratification". You know what - let us take this scenario:

System is running good. Newbie DBA gets back from me:

o to gather statistics, run this command: dbms_stats.gather_schema_stats(....)

o to see what you go, query these DBA_* views.

So he does that.

And guess what happens? Anyone want to guess? My guess is - the DBA has just destroyed their production system (because I would assume they would not do that on production, I mean, no one would would they). Their system which had been running fine forever is now "not so good" - why? They had never gathered stats before (he was just curious). Only he forget to ask "what do I do when all heck breaks loose".

My second guess - the system had been running fine. The real DBA has a job set up to gather stats. This guy does what I said - but unbeknowst to us - the real job by the real dba - it is very specific, gathers certain stats, something he refined over a while. We add statistics that he knows should not be added on this system. All heck breaks loose again - copy from above.

My third guess, well, maybe you see (or maybe not) where I am going. No good could come from answering the question.

And the attitude that "I want faster replies rather than scanning books" - that is what this was all about. No clubs, no secret handshakes. Irritation at the lack of willingness to even consider understanding

Mon Feb 06, 12:17:00 PM EST  

Anonymous JJ Smith BEM said....

I think the key word for DBA’s, both old and new is pragmatism.

We can all benefit from being informed about HOW-TO’s when we’re up against the usual unrealistic delivery timeline, but there is no substitute and never will be, for actually doing it!!. More importantly understanding what it is that’s happening when you do x.

Some people like to find the answer themselves others may require the odd pointer to get going - but if you are only capable of repeating other peoples solutions; I think the term is monkey see monkey do, then at your peak you will only ever have a percentage of someone else’s knowledge ( and that may even be inaccurate!! ). Continuing this trend within a company account through a number of DBA generation should position them nicely for complete failure at worst, legacy specialists at best. That would be legacy systems that don't change of course.

I’ve been in the business a while ( first computer program 1969, DBMS's 1986 ), but technology moves so there is always something that makes me a newbie - do I need help from SME’s ? sure - do I accept what they tell me ? only when it is proven!!.

That’s probably why Ask Tom is so revered because responses are proven rather than just given.

Tom, keep your chin up - RTM questions keep doing the rounds. Unfortunately for you, you’re a high profile target ;-)

Tue Feb 07, 08:59:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,

I think you could be misreading this guy. Language is vague. You assumed a lot of things in this case.
Don't get me wrong! If you are right about this guy, I totally agree with you.
But ... are you right?


Tue Feb 07, 09:01:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, I can't be bothered to read this long article. Please telepathize it straight into my brain.

Tue Feb 07, 11:23:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Long may this trend continue !
Whenever someone asks me a question that I can't answer I go away and research it. That way, I remember it. As a result I'm pretty good at my job and they're not. In my opinion there's always room for people who know their stuff. If everyone was inquisitive and resourceful there'd be too much competition. =)

Tue Feb 07, 11:47:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

One comment above was "there are on line forums".

Well, the on-line forums with which I am familiar are full of people who seem to simply exist to tell newbies or confused people to screw off and rtfm. The Oracle usenet community is what I'm talking about and the comp.databases.oracle.* folks are VERY UNFRIENDLY this way. I don't bother to ask questions there anymore out of intimidation, even when I can't google an answer.

As has been stated here a couple of times, everyone is at different levels of knowledge. The senior folks on comp.databases.oracle.* tend to turn their noses up at anyone with less then their own knowledge. There's no excuse for such exclusiveness. Sure, one has to sometimes point out, like Tom relates, that one's time would be better spent searching elsewhere for answers or reading up on a topic.

But on the other hand, there are lots of folks out there who have access to Oracle databases who are not trained dba's, not trained SQL writers. A good example might be managers looking after commercial applications such as an inventory system. Sometimes folks like this cannot get the information or analysis they need from caned reports and need to write some SQL. However questions from these people are often met with extrodinarily snooty responses and a refusal to help.

Oh yes, what was that about online Oracle communities? Yeah, right... that mkaes me roll my eyes back so far that the optic nerves pop out...

Tue Feb 07, 11:54:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Plus, I'd like to add, the self-aggrandisment of some of the posters here also shows a total intolerance for newbies and people asking questions where to go find information.

Such people may not like it, but information is out there not for a DBA or a seasoned developer to hoard so s/he can lord over those who want to learn but don't have the same level of knowledge. Such attitudes are dinosaurian and should have been left behind with the mainframe set ups of the 70s.

Tue Feb 07, 11:59:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I think you could be misreading this guy.

If you could elaborate on that, that would be good.

The way I read it:

"Tell me what to do, not why"

How did you read it?

Wed Feb 08, 12:19:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Robert Boyle said....

Such people may not like it, but information is out there not for a DBA or a seasoned developer to hoard so s/he can lord over those who want to learn but don't have the same level of knowledge.

Agreed, but the information is out there for everyone to search and find and get off their lazy arse!

Wed Feb 08, 08:22:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

you are a very best man!!!

Wed Feb 08, 09:12:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

when we are trying to keep up with the latest postings on our favorite oracle web sites, and all the great blogs from the Oracle leaders, and read the latest books from Tom and JL and others, and do our jobs, who has time to actually get dirty with the technology anymore. There is too much information. It would be better if we just took 9iR2 into a dark room with nothing but the documentation and a few key references and came out in 6 months having tried everything out that was the latest as of that point in time. Without that base to build on, learning with the changes it quite tough.

Wed Feb 08, 03:31:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


I agree with you. When I started out as a DBA years ago, I had test databases at home and read the manuals and would try stuff out. I learned more than just asking questions without thinking through a problem. Also the command line is the way to go. In fact, today I had an interview where I had to actually fix problems on an Oracle 10g database as part of the job interview. Guess what? There was no GUI available and I could not get grid control working because the agent and port were disabled. So I had to do it all command line. First problem was that the database was not able to start due to a problem with the control file. So I changed this and was able to start up the instance and database but only because I know how to do it the hard way via the command line in SQL*Plus. I also had to flashback a dropped table and tune a query via autotrace. A typical OCP would have failed the real world exam if they only knew the GUI. Also, every veteran Oracle DBA worth their salt can do it from the command line and scripts. Right now that I have 10 years experience, I am doing the 9i and 10g OCP so that my resume is more marketable to human resource managers even though my personal opinion is that the OCP is a waste of time. After all, the gurus don't have OCPs.

Ben Prusinski
Oracle DBA

Wed Feb 08, 09:27:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Agree to your comments entirely.

But, the newbie has also to be warned, that Oracle software is not what the documentation says it is. Everything mentioned in the documentation has to be tested. And whatever is tested, can change from one version to the next, one platform to another. Queries running fast before upgrade may run for hours after upgrade. The numerous problems with upgrades and patches and the endless number of patches to be applied. And last but not the least, the security issues with the database.

Thu Feb 09, 09:38:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This touches on an interesting point. I started in IT as a PDP/VAX developer and over about five years I knew everything, I can still talk about system services, RTL, event flags, ASTs, global sections, Interrupt levels, And I went into VAX system admin with a whole load of good solid experience of the sort you all mention. After a while VMS fell from grace and I moved to Unix and picked up Oracle DBA-ing as a sideline. I'm still good at my job, thanks to a lot of solid experience and very good instincts but I cant come up with the grassroots curiosity and prickly fingers any more to root out the issues from the bottom up.

Part of it is age maybe, but part of it is also our own making.

Current culture demands the quick fix, much value is placed on people who can 'think on their feet' (even thought they often come up with completely the wrong answer). The chance to sit down with a cup of coffee on your desk and puzzle it out in your own time, picking up solid experience on the way is not appreciated any more.

Thu Feb 09, 10:46:00 AM EST  

Anonymous J. Gracia said....

"All learning is self-teaching."
Unfortunately, this aphorism is lost on the 10 sec sound-bite,IM,MTV generation.

Thu Feb 09, 07:06:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Ignorance is OK, but laziness is not.

When I was in school learning the basics about computers, an instructor provided us the following guidance;

In order to keep up with the trailing edge of technology, we would have to dedicate a minimum of 2 hours a week to research and study. Anything less and we would quickly fall behind. If we actually wanted to stay on top of current trends it would require 5 hours a week (assuming you had a strong base of knowledge). If we didn't think we could maintain that level of commitment, we should do everyone a favor and learn a less technical profession.

That was a long time ago in the world of mainframes, cobol programming and vsam files. Things move much faster now. Especially with todays Oracle databases. Sadly, I know many OCP's that believe passing the tests are enough.

I used to try to mentor them. Provide the easy answers with the hope that they would catch on. I forgot that much of what I have picked up over the years (Including study habits) were formed from the school of hard knocks.
Now when others ask about those things that are too simple to not know, or those too complex to be simple, directing them to the documentation is the only way.
(Unless of course their ignorance is going to impact me directly.)

Fri Feb 10, 11:43:00 AM EST  

Blogger Tharg said....

In the CLI vs GUI battle, I submit my three hap'orth.

I'm a windoze dba, (like the one mentioned above) who uses the dbca and hasn't 'done' unix for years, and never touched linux.

I agree that a CLI is a great thing, no argument. However, if my employer, who is paying for my time heard me say "No, I'll do it the slow CLI way, because that will teach me more, instead of using a fast, productivity enhancing tool, which, by the way, you've paid good money for" what do you think the reaction might be?

Now that Raptor has escaped from its Jurassic existence, should all users of SQL plus immediately move over to it, or would we be panned as GUI users? Would it be fair to expect Raptor to be available as an interview test tool?

Sun Feb 12, 03:46:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....


Command line interface - CLI..

You do make the assumption that the CLI is "the slow way".

As with all things in life, not always true.

A CLI vs GUI results in
a) some things are faster
b) some things are not faster, nor slower
c) some things are not as quickly done

change CLI to GUI and GUI to CLI and the same is true.

I think it is nice to have the ability to use both. I am more CLI focused, but use the occasional GUI from time to time.

Would it be fair to expect Raptor to be available as an interview test tool?

I don't think do, no more than it would be fair to use any specific tool as more than a talking point.

Unless the job post said "familiarity with tools X, Y and Z is mandatory" of course.

But I cannot imagine Raptor (or toad for that matter) being one of them. They are tools of convenience.

Enterprise manager - perhaps.
System management tool X - perhaps.

should all users of SQL plus immediately move over to it

If and only if they like it. Until it gets pause and autotrace I won't be able to use it for my demos in any case! :)

Sun Feb 12, 03:59:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Do you think when people see '2 Day DBA' in Oracle's own documentation that some people might think they can take shortcuts from learning?

Mon Feb 13, 06:45:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

If only we could get some of them to spend the two days :(

Mon Feb 13, 07:14:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Steve A. said....

I feel your pain. I cannot count the number of times at work people come up and ask simple questions that they clearly didn't even try to solve themselves. Even if I don't know the answer I manage to find the solution with minutes of an online search. There is just a lack of initiative and enjoyment from some people and it drives me nuts.

Mon Feb 13, 03:36:00 PM EST  

Blogger DutchDavey said....

On the other hand..

The guy at the top of the page, Tom, may simply not have realized the depth of his own question.

A beginner DBA may not realize that what begins with a couple of simple questions about usage of dbms_stats is absolutely the tip of the iceberg.

Wed Feb 15, 05:49:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

The guy at the top of the page, Tom, may simply not have realized the depth of his own question.

Oh no, I agree with that 100%, he had no idea the depth of his question.

It was the response that irked me no end.

Wed Feb 15, 07:47:00 AM EST  

Anonymous bruceatk said....

The guy asking the question could also been put in the position where he needs to answer some questions by tomorrow and has no experience with Oracle at all. I work in a place that has thinned down to just a few people and get asked questions all the time that I am not qualified to answer. I've got 25 years experience in IT (little Oracle experience) and am now in a position where I'm responsible for our Oracle Application Servers. I'm hitting the books but it takes time. Time is something you can't buy.

Wed Feb 15, 08:12:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Wow... Lots of misunderstanding and harshness in this thread... The poor guy was only stating his reality... basically, no time for him to do it right. That's the real issue here, not some lack of desire. I've been in IT for 26 years most of that time managing DBAs. The trick is not to put that guy in a position in the first place where some uninformed manager bites off more than that guy can chew... and chew it now, now, now. Have those of us on top of our game forgotten what it's like starting 10 unknowns from scratch at once... If so, next time you brush your teeth, do it with your left hand, while debugging some mainframe assembler code(or something else you've never seen before)... and clean them now, now, now.

Wed Feb 15, 04:34:00 PM EST  

Anonymous David Alexander said....

Tom, could you summarise your rant for me, please?


I think that "Didn’t help me: I want faster replies rather than scanning through books" is hilarious. Some people are just naturally rude or ungrateful and I can't help but find it funny

Tue Feb 21, 12:47:00 PM EST  

Anonymous John Harper said....

I know this post is older, but I REALLY have to add my RANT to the rest.

I am so #$*@! tired of DBA's and Developers who wanna be insta-smart... who think that tools like "Toad and their Query Analyzer" will make all of thier SQL woes go away.

To write good code, you really have to know what is going on "under the covers." Each scenario has it's own specific variables and no "patent formula" will work for every case.

It's funny, the very same insta-smart people are also the one's who claim that they "heard Oracle function (this or that) doesn't work that well... so we won't use it."

Tue Feb 28, 02:23:00 AM EST  

Blogger Anesha said....

Hi Nice Blog .The experienced Data Entry team uses advanced, programmatic, content analysis and transformation tools to deliver accurate, fast and re-usable data conversion servicessolutions at lower costs.

Wed Nov 26, 07:29:00 AM EST  


<< Home