I was just woken up by the mailman, ringing my doorbell several times.
I jumped out of bed and opened the door half naked and still sleep drunk - I was on call this week and although there weren't many calls I went to bed at 2AM, each day. If there's one thing I hate is going to bed and getting a call an hour later - so I go to bed late at night and hope I don't get a call until 8AM when a colleague takes over.
Because I had bought it at Amazon in the US, I knew I had to pay import taxes (10euro) and thus needed personal delivery. Hey, I wanted to have it asap
This is one of those books you just need to have !
I've already mentioned here that I love going to the UKOUG - and one of the main reasons is because I love to hear how other DBA's/developers do their work. How do they backup their databases, how do they tune their databases, what problems are they having.
The new Oaktable book is very much like that - how do some of the most respected database consultants handle their environments. It's not a low, lower, loooower, Steve Adams low level book. But at first glance it looks more technical than the first Oaktable book (Oracle Insights - Tales of the Oaktable
And that was also the aim - competing with the other new Oracle 11g books out there.
I'm ashamed to admit that I turned down an offer to write a chapter (even two chapters). I was offered a chapter on backup and recovery and one on NLS issues.
The first one is obvious as I have some experiences with recovery
- and I could have written some funny anecdotes and picked out some cases that went bad and why.
But the aim wasn't to write funny stories but technical content.
I have a confession to make - I hate writing technical content/documentation - but I love programming.
If you want to punish me - get me to write technical docs. One of the reasons I quit my previous job was because at one point, they had me writing more technical docs to be ISO9000/1/2 compliant than actually programming stuff. I don't know why I agreed on 2 chapters but with the words of a famous entrepreneur 'screw it, let's do it', I set myself a goal :
- try to write 10% of one chapter in one week
Mind you this was the beginning of the summer, the worst possible timing for me, as I had filled up most of the summer weekends with other things to do.
For the backup and recovery chapter, I already had some ideas on how to handle the chapter - I wanted to do a bottom up approach.
Most books do a top down approach - they explain the concept, the wider picture, go to the commands and then some examples, and maybe some internals.
I seem to always learn things bottom up - start with the internals and then work my way up to the commands. It's like a bottom up and top down parser
. If you understand the internals, the mechanics, you know what you're doing and thus, don't need to memorize all the commands ... you just need to understand to know what's possible!
Anyway the idea was to first explain block internals, how data is stored and how redo logging works, using a chessboard.
Let's say 2 guys are playing 10 chess games on 10 boards at the same time in the outdoors. They each move pieces, the movement of the pieces get logged by a third person on a piece of paper and once in a while a 4th guy writes down the location of every chess piece on each board to another piece of paper.
The 2 guys playing the chess games are database processes changing rowpieces (chess pieces) in the datablocks (chess board) - the guy writing down the movement of the pieces (redo vectors) is the logwriter process. They guy writing down the complete chessboards to paper is the dbwr process. If it starts to rain, they just scrap the boards (shutdown abort). When they start playing again, they get the paper containing the complete chessboard layouts and the paper with the chess piece movements and redo the movements (instance recovery). It is basic journaling !
With this story in mind I could have explained backup and recovery in a very simple way so everybody understands, and then move my way up.
Anyways - after a week of writing in the evenings I had one page ! One page and I was so bored !!! I'm definitely not a technical writer … a blog now and then…ok. A presentation once a year … fine. But 2 chapters in a book … I don't think so.
So I got back to Jonathan Gennick after a week - I didn't make my goal - I could not see, with the deadlines in place, how I could find time (I have 2 jobs and need to sleep now and then) to write those two chapters and I thought it would be best to let him know before I signed a contract. And you know what, I have not regret it since !
Btw - about the second chapter, NLS issues - I live in Belgium. We have 3 official languages : Dutch, French and German. And we use English to keep everybody happy. So we know allllll about NLS issues
Now - go buy this book - it's awesome !
On a different note …. I do have more time in the winter season and I was able to qualify for the Flemish Poker championship or 'Pokerkampioen Van Vlaanderen'. It's a freeze-out tournament covered by TV. It will be aired on March on 2BE and JimTV. There were 674 entries for the regional finals. I made it through the semi finals and busted out on place 28. I wrote about it here. It's all non-technical content !