Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Struck a chord

Struck a chord

My last entry seems to have struck a chord with some people – many people.  There were too many comments to respond to each one (last couple of days have been busy with travel).  I did enjoy reading them however – they all seemed to come down to the following points:

  • You do not peak in four years, that is not even sensible.

  • You should do what you like, what makes you happy.  If being a 50 year old visual basic programmer makes you happy, by all means – be that.  If the thought of being a 50 year old visual basic programmer makes you cringe – run away.

  • Find out what motivates you and make that part of your career path.  You might enjoy programming but your major motivation is “X” and “X” doesn’t go along with programming.  X might be money, might be travel, might be ‘being recognized as a manager’ – X might be anything.  Fine, program at nights or weekends as your ‘hobby’ and do whatever motivates you.  I have a feeling that the person that wrote this will be very unhappy down the road.

  • Years of experience is no indication of quality, or depth of knowledge.  You might have more than 20 years of full time experience in some field – yet be somewhat not competent in it.  Quality and depth of knowledge is the only indicators of quality and depth of knowledge.

  • Never stop learning.  This morning I learned about a new grant that I had overlooked – “GRANT ON COMMIT REFRESH”.  You might need this if you create on commit refresh materialized views that cross schemas.  I find out something I didn’t know pretty much every single day.

Any way, thanks for the incredible feedback – I thought that was a pretty good discussion, the way it should work.


Blogger Tony said....

I find the prospect of learning something new each day the best part of my work hours. Whether this is a new feature or a more efficient way to accomplish an old task. I love making things better and the pursuit of new knowledge makes this all the more possible.

Wed Oct 05, 09:39:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Agree fully, Tom.

Learning is something that motivates me daily. It can even boil down to reading (or rereading) a chapter of an Oracle manual every day.

There is one thing, though, Tom, that I sometimes wonder if you forget: your job is to learn. Your job is teach. At least, that is the impression I get. If only I were to have a career in which I could research and teach as my day-to-day activities -- to fulfill my almost insatiable need to learn. I've taught courses at New York University, but aside from that, most if not all of my research happens at work or on weekends, in spare time, often.

Nonetheless, I try to make even the most mundane tasks interesting by improving them, performing them, in a new way each time. So there are definitely opportunities to learn even when doing something that seems routine and static.

Wed Oct 05, 10:16:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

One of my motivating factors for working at my job outside of work is that it makes doing my job easier. I find that if I do a little bit of reading, a little coding, and playing around on a regular basis outside of work(but never stop doing it), I improve my skills. The key is never stop.

This makes actually doing my job easier. Other people may run around to try to solve a problem where I will have easier time. Alot less stressful, less overtime, and generally less effort to accomplish the same thing.

The key to learning and not getting burned out is don't kill yourself. Do a little bit several times a week for a while and you will learn alot. You don't even need to spend alot of time each day. Just do it all the time.

Alot of technical people seem to be averse to reading. Technical people tend to learn more by doing instead of reading. However, reading will increase your base of knowledge. If you just read 5-10 pages a day(just skim it) for 6-12 months you will have learned alot.

The key is a little bit at a time for a long time.

Wed Oct 05, 10:24:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I find the prospect of learning something new each day mind-numbingly tiring. The days I coast along without so much as encountering a morsel of food for thought are the days I live for. However, if, entirely by happenstance, I assure you, I should imbibe some amorphous nugget of useful information, I would maximise the acquisition by profitting seven different ways from it. Falling ass-backwards into money, that's the way I roll, and I am not ashamed of it.

There, that felt good.

Wed Oct 05, 11:06:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous abacaxi said....

Great summary Tom!

Wed Oct 05, 01:53:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

We are looking for a Sr. Oracle 10G / 9i CERTIFIED DBA with Oracle 10g & 9i, PL/SQL, SQL, SQL*Plus, Oracle Designer, RMAN, Oracle Change Management, Unix HP, Korn Shell, C Shell & Configuration Management experience - Experience with Design CASE or CVS or ClearCase. Oracle 10g or 9i Certifications (MUST)....

That was in my inbox yesterday (including the mutant ellipsis). I'm apparently not qualified. Are you?

If you look at the Joel On Software link where the unhappy rant is from... the responses seem to overwhelmingly agree.

I've long been frustrated because I know what I like to do, I know what I'm good at (from feedback), I know a lot of companies need it... and yet the opportunities to shine are rare. Guess I'll go eat worms. After I make a bank deposit.

Wed Oct 05, 04:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Joel Garry said...

yes, but - who is filling those slots then?

I'm mean - that is a pretty darn specific list, the odds of getting a "hit" are pretty small?

Wed Oct 05, 04:39:00 PM EDT  

Blogger John Baughman said....


I wonder how many of these individuals with such a negative attitude about their careers are facing unemployment for one reason or another (#1: attitude?)

I currently am facing that situation and am currently looking at getting another job right away. I love what I do and even though I may move from job to job, I still love what I do and I try to do the best I can at that job.

When I was sitting at a friend's Radio Shack store and working on a TRS-80 doing BASIC (very basic) stuff, I fell in love with making a computer do things. I then went into the army as an MP. I had dreams of being a cop when I got out. I found out that I hated it. (I do espect the men of the badge though and understand where some of the negative press comes from) I went into social work for about 8 years. I hated it. (I love the people I worked with though...) I went into programming... (full circle) I love it.

The point I guess I'm trying to make is this: If you don't like it don't do it. Nobody is twisting your arm to stay in a career or job you don't like. Just do us all a favor: stop pushing your negative clap-trap on everyone trying to drag others down your spiralling pit of despair with you.


Now I may be wrong on all of the above, maybe someone is trying to push others out of the IT industry so he/she can get a job they DO love... ;)

As far as being useless after 10 years, why am I getting a lot of interviews and I turn jobs down? Hmm? (The silence is deafening...)
I am constantly learning something new everyday. I WANT to learn something new everyday. Even if it isn't related to programming, I STILL LEARN SOMETHING EVERYDAY!

If you think you can't learn anything after 4 years, you must have suffered some type of brain damage that limits your capacity to retain data. Reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon...


Wally: In this weeks Wally Report, I'll discuss my serious threat to productivity. By Tuesday my brain was so full that I had to forget things to make room for new things.

Pointy-haired Boss: Wally, I have some information for you.

Wally: Great. I'll just forget the fifth grade.


Sorry for the long rant, I think I'll copy and paste this into the JoS post...

Wed Oct 05, 06:36:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Jeffrey Kemp said....

John Baughman said...
Wally: "...I had to forget things to make room for new things..."

Reminded me of the Far Side cartoon with the kid who asks his teacher "sir, may I be excused, my brain is full".

Imagine if our brains were like computers and we had a limited capacity for new information. Perhaps we'd need to upgrade our memory from time to time, or archive old memories to disk.

I wonder what a good partitioning strategy would be though - wouldn't want to forget everything that happened in primary school whenever someone explains the ins and outs of a new Java API to me.

Thu Oct 06, 12:33:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Flado said....

Thomas Kyte said....

"I'm mean -"

You might want to watch the ajectives you use to describe yourself, ;-) for my impression was you're neither average nor hateful (not to mention some of the other meanings of the meaner sort):

Definitions of mean on the Web:

* average: approximating the statistical norm or average or expected value; "the average income in New England is below that of the nation"; "of average height for his age"; "the mean annual rainfall"
* mean or intend to express or convey; "You never understand what I mean!"; "what do his words intend?"
* hateful: characterized by malice; "a hateful thing to do"; "in a mean mood"
* base: having or showing an ignoble lack of honor or morality; "that liberal obedience without which your army would be a base rabble"- Edmund Burke; "taking a mean advantage"; "chok'd with ambition of the meaner sort"- Shakespeare; "something essentially vulgar and meanspirited in politics"
* entail: have as a logical consequence; "The water shortage means that we have to stop taking long showers"
* excellent; "famous for a mean backhand"
* denote or connote; "`maison' means `house' in French"; "An example sentence would show what this word means"
* intend: have in mind as a purpose; "I mean no harm"; "I only meant to help you"; "She didn't think to harm me"; "We thought to return early that night"
* beggarly: marked by poverty befitting a beggar; "a beggarly existence in the slums"; "a mean hut"
* (used of persons or behavior) characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity; "a mean person"; "he left a miserly tip"
* have a specified degree of importance; "My ex-husband means nothing to me"; "Happiness means everything"
* think of: intend to refer to; "I'm thinking of good food when I talk about France"; "Yes, I meant you when I complained about people who gossip!"
* beggarly: (used of sums of money) so small in amount as to deserve contempt
* destine or designate for a certain purpose; "These flowers were meant for you"
* an average of n numbers computed by adding some function of the numbers and dividing by some function of n
* bastardly: of no value or worth; "I was caught in the bastardly traffic"

Thu Oct 06, 04:46:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Flado said...

good catch ;) you are correct, I meant to say "I mean", not that I'm mean ;)

Thu Oct 06, 08:55:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I was going to say "No, you're a heckuva nice guy!" but blog was down. Strange time to plan maintenance.

I don't think the list was out of the ordinary, I've been in places with much more specificity. I would fit it, if I had bothered to upgrade OCP. Well, I haven't touched that CASE in a looong time... the list isn't that long or uncommon, and has some dependencies that could be considered redundant.

People fill the slots. Sometimes they are just people who managed to pass a bunch of certs and don't know anything. Mostly they are people who've managed to keep learning and do a competant job, Fabian notwithstanding.

Thu Oct 06, 09:55:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

One thing Oracle people overlook is that its not enough to just know Oracle. Now if you are a production DBA its ok to specialize in just the Oracle databaes and the operating system, etc...

However, if you are do development, you need to learn application development outside of Oracle. Oracle Database Developers should learn object oriented programming(since many if not most new development projects use this). They should become proficient in either .Net or Java.

I have worked with too many Oracle people who just want to know Oracle and see the application as a black box(just the reverse of the criticism they give to software engineers). Most of them have no interest in even turning on the application and seeing what it does. This leads to them being alienated from the team and kept outside the loop.

When its time to do something in the database they know so little about the application, how to code in the language that is being used, or generally what is going on that they typically get in the way.

You can't just know the database. Its not enough.

Thu Oct 06, 10:08:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

One thing Oracle people overlook is that its not enough to just know Oracle.

I'm an Oracle "people" and I know Java, I know C, I know C++ among many varied and sundry languages.

I'm a developer first and foremost. I also know there is not just one language (something most "developers" forget) and that you need to know a bit about everything - not just "your OO cool language"

When it is time to do something in the database - I would hope the database developer would recognize there is a right and wrong language to be used :)

I didn't see these two blogs as relating to "just know the database", I rather saw them as "do something that makes you happy and you definitely DO NOT peak in 4 years, hardly getting started in 4 years..."

Thu Oct 06, 12:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I also know there is not just one language (something most "developers" forget)

An interesting point. When I was at my first 4 year peak :-) you actually could write apps in a single 3GL. Nowadays people must use at least two lnaguages - and I think a lot of confusion arises from the 3GL PL munged with the 4GL SQL. Developers have to switch paradigms within code without mnemonics to distinguish them.

Here's a post where I was basically completely wrong forecasting the future, but I said "Those procedural extensions where the db vendors differ the most are exactly the same things that get replaced by front ends." Replace "front ends" by "middleware" though, I could have predicted an entire current industry debate.

Thu Oct 06, 01:32:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mark said....

Like the comment "You can't just know the database. Its not enough."

Knowing lots about the database is certainly an advantage ... but what use is it if you can't communicate to non-technical decision makers why solution X is preferable to solution Y?

Soft skills like coordinating a project, communication, optimizing the strengths of others in your immediate business community -- all of these are just as important as "knowing the database".

Thu Oct 06, 03:46:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I see job requirements like this: We are looking for a Sr. Oracle 10G / 9i CERTIFIED DBA with Oracle 10g & 9i, PL/SQL, SQL, SQL*Plus, Oracle Designer, RMAN, Oracle Change Management, Unix HP, Korn Sh... similarly to development, a problem solving excercise: How to get past a faceless HR recruitment process and into the position. The issue is generally that the recruiter doesn't know enough to know what they want. I don't interpret job specifications any more literally than initial user requirements. You have to infer what the real position actually is, then convince the employer that you offer more value than the other candidates. The means you use to do that are all part of the problem solving excercise, IMHO be creative.

Fri Oct 07, 12:01:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"You might have more than 20 years of full time experience in some field – yet be somewhat not competent in it. Quality and depth of knowledge is the only indicators of quality and depth of knowledge."

Tom please add experience with a big N consulting firm or a degree from a top school to that list.
i.e. Big company experience or a big school degree does not necessarily make a candidate a better person than 100 other candidates in the list.

Sun Oct 09, 05:01:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Tom please add experience

I've said that before - and it goes without saying here...

Depth of knowledge

that is what counts.

Sun Oct 09, 08:23:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"Tom please add experience ..

I've said that before - and it goes without saying here...

Depth of knowledge

that is what counts."

FOR i IN 1..1000000000000 LOOP
dbms_output.put_line(' THANK YOU TOM ');

Sun Oct 09, 05:48:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

bummer :(

ops$tkyte@ORA9IR2> declare
3 begin
4 FOR i IN 1..1000000000000 LOOP
5 dbms_output.put_line(' THANK YOU TOM ');
7 end;
8 /
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-01426: numeric overflow
ORA-06512: at line 4

:) you cannot loop that high...

(only kidding, thanks)

Sun Oct 09, 05:54:00 PM EDT  


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