Kathy Sierra has done it again!
The first entry on “Square One” talks about how focusing in on the basics is what makes superior performers – just that, superior performers. If you get the concepts and apply them consistently (and correctly) time after time after time – you are on your way. What are the fundamentals for database developers? I think I wrote many of them in this book. The database architecture, what the various bits of Oracle are (files, memory, processes) and how they interact. Sort of like understanding your operating system and how it functions for example. Locking and latching (extremely, hugely important – extremely, hugely ignored by far too many). Concurrency controls (perhaps the most important thing – but perhaps the most misunderstood – even by those with years and years of experience). Redo and undo – what they are, how they work together, how to minimize their generation under certain conditions, why “just turn it off” is not a smart statement to make. Tables, Datatypes, Partitioning, and so on. I refer to that book as “my concepts guide” (does NOT mean you should not read the real one! Just that if I had written the concepts guide, it might have looked like that book). Hopefully, this year I’ll get to finish my concepts guide with part two (that is the goal anyway).
I cannot tell you how many times I get questions like “where can I find the internals guide to Oracle, what the redo log file format is, the X$ table documentation, an inclusive list of all undocumented commands, etc….”. My answer is always “so, you’ve memorized the concepts guide – that is good, I haven’t completely done that myself”. They always say “well, no”. Sometimes I’ll ask them a list of questions about how Oracle works – things I consider “elemental”. Silence… That is when I tell them, forget the “mystic, magic, cool in theory internal stuff – learn and master the basics and you’ll blow way past someone who has learned a handful of really cool internal tricks”.
Master the basics – I still am. You don’t see me resorting to tons of internal tricks to demonstrate how Oracle works – you don’t need to. There are times for internals, but that is mostly in the realm of support (mostly).
The second article really resonated with me – “How to be an Expert”. I really liked the chart with the X-Axis labeled “Years or decades”. Years or decades – think about that. Too many people are looking for instant “expert status” and they try to obtain that by “cool internal stuff”. Thinking “If I know the internals and others don’t I’ll be better because I know something they don’t”. Problem with that theory is – someone like me will blow right past you with the fundamental basics. That is why these two articles by Kathy go together so well – master the basics and keep mastering them, and then incrementally improve (I’m never happy with my last cool SQL solution – always looking for a new, better way to do something) forever.
Like I frequently say “I learn something new about Oracle every day”. I’m looking forward to the Hotsos Symposium this week – I should learn a couple of new things. Some advanced, some basic. But if you look at my list on that blog entry – nothing “internal” really (Jonathan Lewis and his V$/X$ talk might be the closest I come to internals).
Yesterday, I didn’t really work with Oracle stuff. I went caving with my son. This is a shot of us at the end of the day (after 6 hours in the cave).
I did learn something new however – I learned I never want to do a 300 foot (American Football field length) belly crawl ever again – yet alone twice in one day. The passage was narrow both in height (my belly on the ground, my helmet and sometimes my back would hit the ceiling) and width (I could at points touch both walls with my hands. I found it to be an uncomfortable experience (uncomfortable doesn’t really describe it fully). When I popped out the other end after what seemed like an eternity – that was when I found out the only way back out of the cave was to belly crawl back the way we just came, well, I was not pleased. I don’t know which crawl was harder – the one on the way in when I didn’t really know when it was going to end – or the one on the way out when I did.
I have more bruises today than I’ve had in a long long time.