Log Buffer #33: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Posted in: Technical Track

Welcome to the 33rd edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs. We’ll look at some of the standout blog items from the week gone by.

To start, you might be surprised by what is in your DBMS. An item on the Oracle Contractors Blog asks whether artificial intelligence is in Oracle, in the form of the cost-based optimizer. “(The) artificial intelligence aspect, is that it attempts to adapt to both its hardware environment and to the data it acts on to find the fastest path to the data as opposed to blindly following simple rules. … (Ideas) that initially appear far out, like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality, are entering our world in simpler, downplayed ways…”

What else is in there? Oh yeah, the Web. Or maybe the Web is a database. On Read/Write Web, Alex Iskold argues that the World Wide Web is like a relational database, with an interface exposed to arbitrary queries thanks to tools like Yahoo Pipes.

On zillablog, Robert Treat responds to that with, “A good read for sure, but it struck me that maybe if you want to have ‘the web as database’ maybe you should just put ‘the web in your database’.” He has some Pipes-like scripts for PostgreSQL and plPHP.

Object orientation belongs in the database, argues Kenneth Downs: “(For) database applications, the basic goal is better met by putting more code into the database and relying less on object-oriented client-side code. In particular I want to look at the techniques of OO, what each one accomplishes, and how the same goal is accomplished in the database server.”

Some MySQL stuff now. MySQL AB’s Robin Schumacher links to the third in his series on MySQL’s new Falcon Transaction Storage Engine. He says, “If you wondered about table support in Falcon, or how the new engines indexes differ from traditional B-Tree and Clustered indexes, or how to backup and migrate to Falcon, check out the article as it should have the answers you need.”

Speaking of storage engines, on the MySQL Performance Blog, Peter Zaitsev reports on changes to error control in MySQL 5.0. “Previously if you start MySQL and Innodb storage engine fails to initialize … MySQL Server simply would not start. In recent MySQL 5.0 series however it will continue loading and simply have Innodb storage engine disabled. … By default MySQL substitutes storage engines… I do not think this change is good one…”

And speaking of segues, on Blogck out, Peter Laursen announces MONYog, “…the first available tool (aside from the one bundled with commercial MySQL licenses) for MySQL monitoring that has everything in one and uses a graphical interface.”

Another announcment: Kaj Arnö launches MySQL AB’s Quality Contribution Program, their new approach to recognizing, crediting, and rewarding volunteer contributors of bug reports, test cases, and code patches. It also aims to make easier the process of submitting those things.

Microsoft released SQL Server Service Pack 2 on Tuesday. On the SQL Skills blog, Kimberly L. Tripp has an upbeat post on the improvements that come with SP2, as well as the value of thoroughly acquainting oneself and one’s team with the Pack. She has some useful links too.

At All about SQL Server, Tim Mitchell has an early evaluation of SQL Server Certification exams. In his opinion, they are an improvement over the MCDBA certification exams. “…I have been hoping for a tougher set of certifications – and at first glance it appears that I won’t be disappointed. The talk among those who have taken the various SQL Server cert exams is that the exams are passable but are tough as nails.”

Gary Myers has a review of the Oracle Hacker’s Handbook on Igor’s Oracle Lab. “For a person in charge of security for an Oracle database, it won’t be a reassuring read. … My main issue with the book is that it doesn’t really describe counter measures. … If you want a book that tells you how to make Oracle safe, this isn’t it. … Of course, there will be people who buy it to try to crack open an Oracle database.”

DavidM writes about a couple of database design measures he uses to provide concise summaries of his analyses. One is “the Hermetic Ratio“: “Named in honor of the legendary Hermes Trismegistus the Thrice Great, the ratio was designed to capture the ‘wholeness’ of the database.” The other is “The Potentially Useless Column (PUC) Index“: “…the number of NULL defined columns versus the total number of columns”.

Have you ever thought about breaking away and living the footloose, carefree life of the freelance DBA? If you have (or even if you haven’t), here are a couple blog items for you. We go back to Peter Zaitsev for the first. He looks back on a year of independant consulting and lays out the lessons learned. It’s very worth reading, if you are considering this sort of thing — he’s had the experience, so you don’t have to. He closes with, “As a summary we have 70+ hours of work per week but we’re enjoying what we do and see bright future ahead(.)” Maybe not so carefree after all.

On Life After Coffee, Jon Emmons has a mathematical analysis of the cost/savings of working from home. Nothing DBA-specific here, but nonetheless, remote work is a fact more DBAs encounter in their working life.

Finally, a ranty post from Sean McCown on Database Underground, titled DBAs Don’t Poop. It’s actually about professionalism amongst DBAs, and he argues that it does not entail leaving parts of your humanity elsewhere: “We still date, and get tired, and frustrated, and mad, and sick to death, and elated, and yes, we DO go to the bathroom. And none of those things makes us unprofessional.”

That’s all for now. Log Buffer is looking for more contributors and more submissions. Take a look at the Log Buffer homepage to see how that works. Contributing to LB is a fun and valuable way to make yourself known in the DB blogosphere.

In the coming weeks, we can look forward to editions on Guy Bowerman’s Informix Application Development, Frits Hoogland Weblog, Farhan Mashraqi, Doug Burns’s Oracle Blog, and Lisa Dobson’s Oracle Newbies.

‘Til next time!

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About the Author

Dave Edwards is the Communications Specialist for the Pythian Group.

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