Thursday, April 26, 2007

How not to ask 20 questions...

Yesterday I pointed to a thread on otn that was purportedly started by a really obnoxious question.  While today I think it might have been a troll (since the query was in fact cut and pasted from an older thread), it is not out of the realm of possibility.  It very easily could be "real".  I see them all of the time.

These sorts of demands come in various shades of "over bearingness" - from the "almost ok, but a tad pushy" to "way over the top".  The example yesterday was in the "way over the top" category - and they happen quite often.  The example I bring to you today is in the middle somewhere.  Polite almost - but very "entitled" feeling.  I got home quite late last night from traveling and checked my email - the email at the bottom was delivered at 1:30am and was sent by someone whose questions I had answered on asktom earlier that day.  I answered their multipart question (something I ask them not to do on the form they submit questions with - do not ask more than one question) using a "search" link on asktom (eg: I answered by providing a link that just searched asktom using their question terms as the input...).  I also pointed out how "insufficiently framed" the other questions were and sort of guessed at their intent.  I guess I over achieved because now, it was time to play 20 questions.....  I answered their email with "hahahaha, a few questions - funny.  Amazing". 

I wonder how many of them have answers that could be found via search...  They have pretty much all been asked and answered (a couple of times..)

Just for grins, I was almost tempted to answer with amusing (to me anyway) responses, like this one for #13:

13 - That is a feature planned for version 42 of Oracle.  It will be part of the prescient option under design now.  Using this new feature, you won't actually have to load any data into the database - it'll just know the answers to your questions.

I was too tired though :)

Hi Thomas,

Here I've few more questions. Please send me the answers. Its quite
urgent.

1.How do I return a result set in batches, e.g. get rows 1 - 10, then
11-20, then next 10 and so on ?

2.How do I report the top 10 product members of the sales team in each
state/county ?

3.How do I embed single-quote marks in an SQL statement

4. Oracle seems to be very slow reporting large execution plans through
explain plan. Is there any way to speed this up ?

5.What is the most efficient way to update one table with values from
another table ? (Update/Delete with subquery) (170K file)

6.How do I find my SID (session id) from SQL*Plus

7.In a 'start with / connect by' query, how do I get child rows under
each parent to come out in sorted order ?

8.What bitwise operations does Oracle support ?

9.How can I convert numbers from Hex to Decimal (or any other bases) ?

10.What's the quickest way of deleting all (or a large fraction of) the
data in a table ?

11.I am using to_char(num_col,'9999') to get a 4-character output, but
is keeps coming out one column too wide. What's wrong ?

12.How do you write a query that ignores the effects of upper and lower
case ?

13.Can I find out how many rows will be affected by an SQL statement
without actually running it ?

14.How can I select a random collection of rows from a table ?

15.How do I export a database table to a flat file ?

16.What is the best way to identify and eliminate duplicate rows in a
table ?

17.How can I find out how many rows were affected by an SQL statement
after I have executed it ?

18.Is it possible to write a trigger referencing more than one table - I
want a trigger to audit a master/detail pair.

19.Is it possible to easily convert existing SQL scripts into a format
that cannot be read or altered? This is to improve security on an
existing site.

20.Is there a way to read the names of a set of files with a given
extension from a directory as if from a SQL cursor
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23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Given how valuable you are to the community at large replying 'Please RTFM' would be a valid response. Espcially for those that a search anywhere answer. We need you to work on the big questions of the day like 'Should I use Oracle or SQL Server?'. LOL. Have a great day.

Thu Apr 26, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

These questions seem to have all been taken from here:

http://www.jlcomp.demon.co.uk/faq/ind_faq.html

Thu Apr 26, 11:38:00 AM EDT  

Blogger DomBrooks said....

Was it that you didn't know the answers? ;-)

Thu Apr 26, 11:48:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Yaniv said....

long time lurker, first time commenter..

looks to me almost like a list of interview questions.. I think I'll try it out tomorrow..

Thu Apr 26, 12:43:00 PM EDT  

Blogger bill said....

homework?;-)

Thu Apr 26, 12:53:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I bet it's a college student trying to get you to do their take home final...

Thu Apr 26, 12:53:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I find the idea of mounting google as an external file intriguing.

word: hhupdp

Thu Apr 26, 01:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Doug Burns said....

I also pointed out how "insufficiently framed" the other questions were and sort of guessed at their intent.

Wow. Can I just point out that I 'wrote' (not much writing in there) my most recent blog posting *before* I read this.

Maybe Andy Campbell does possess a real crystal ball! (Apologies if this makes no sense to anyone except me ;-))

Thu Apr 26, 01:48:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Doug Burns said....

Now you're just screwing with my mind! While I was commenting on your last blog, you published a new blog about my blog, about ...

I need to lie down! ;-)

Thu Apr 26, 01:50:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Stephen Darlington said....

Back when my Oracle on Linux Installation HOWTO was current I had a number of people emailing me their root passwords! They usually went quiet when I replied with my consulting rates...

Thu Apr 26, 03:23:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous galactic_hitchhiker said....

Totally look like interview questions. I bet since the questions were already available, a body shopper is trying to get his "candidates" up to speed on Oracle.

Thu Apr 26, 03:31:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Robert Lockard said....

Tom,

You just keep me rolling in the isles. All of these can be answerd with a little bit of reading. Well, as Anonymous said: "we need you to work on the big questions." Like why do I need to change the default password for sys?

Later,
-Rob

Thu Apr 26, 03:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Eirik Lygre said....

13 - That is a feature planned for version 42 of Oracle. It will be part of the prescient option under design now. Using this new feature, you won't actually have to load any data into the database - it'll just know the answers to your questions.

Some 12-13 years ago I actually read a design document written by Oracle Consulting that referred to "the Oracle Telepathy Option".

The customer had a few somewhat optimistic requirements related to report distribution, and I guess the consultants got tired of it all :-)

Thu Apr 26, 03:58:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Whats the number 41 thing talking about?

Thu Apr 26, 07:11:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Unless the question is clear and sparks an interest, it is hard to read even a single question. Wrong grammar, incorrect spelling, improper sentence construction all make the question hard to understand and harder to answer correctly. I don't know how you do it.

Thu Apr 26, 07:45:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Looks like a homework assignment for his university course. Pity they're wasting all that money on there education.

Fri Apr 27, 03:47:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Apologies for the spelling in the previous comment. I was out drinking last night. It should have read:

Looks like a homework assignment for his university course. Pity he is wasting all that money on his education.

Fri Apr 27, 03:50:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Niall Litchfield said....

Doug writes

Now you're just screwing with my mind! While I was commenting on your last blog, you published a new blog about my blog, about ...

who needs

Connected to:
Oracle Database 42 Hitchiker Edition Release 42.1.0.1.0 - Production
With the Premonition and Intention Mining options

when you've already got Tom, who is prescient.

Fri Apr 27, 12:03:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Arun Mathur said....

Looks like someone got a hold of questions for an upcoming technical interview!

Fri Apr 27, 04:16:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,

Sorry, but this is VERY VERY URGENT AND I NEED IT NOW. Can you tell me how to design my database and develop my application?

Thanks !

Tue May 01, 11:50:00 PM EDT  

Blogger EscVector said....

Tom, I also have an urgent question. I'm wondering if SQL Server runs on Oracle now? I have a need to implement this right away. In not now, when will this work?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_many_questions

Thu May 03, 09:00:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Stew said....

42

From "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the original answer to the ultimate question "What is the meaning of life?"

That answer was deemed insufficient, so they built a REALLY big computer to answer the question and...

But you should read the book yourself; definitely worth it! Required reading for Monty Python fans.

Wed May 09, 02:06:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Stew said....

Separately, I meant to add that I think these sort of emails are trolls as you first suspected. Or lazy students or contract programmers!

Either way, the best they deserve is simply "RTFM", or to be ignored entirely.

Wed May 09, 02:08:00 PM EDT  

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