Monday, January 30, 2006

State of the IT Job Market

Seems like things are heating up in the IT job market here in the Northeast. In the last 30 days, I know of several people that have left stable, secure positions for more lucrative jobs. On the other hand, a Fortune 500 company in the area announced several IT development layoffs of which I personally knew two people who got "downsized".

The Computing Technology Industry Association recently conducted a survey that pointed out 60% of IT workers are looking for new jobs. Of those 60%, a staggering 81% of those job seekers consider their job searches "active".

Wow, nearly 50% of IT workers are actively searching for another job. I used to think thinks like perks and training were the key to keeping employees happy. I have found out that those things are nice, but they don't keep a person loyal to the company. Whether you are an Oracle DBA, MySQL Developer or Network Admin, I believe a person needs to be kept technologically relavent, feel challanged, and most of all, be appreciated. Maybe that's just how I feel, but it seems to be working.

Are you looking for a new position?

Free polls from

Friday, January 27, 2006

Surviving the bad boss

Everybody has experienced the bad boss once or twice in their life.

My bad boss was on one of my early programming jobs right out of college. She was the classic incompetent manager with a side of egocentric thrown in. I'd get done writing a program or report and verified it worked the way it was supposed to. I would then put the program into production and let the users verify the report worked exactly as expected.

Unbeknown to me, my boss would "fix" my code in the middle of the night and put it into production without even testing it. Of course, I got a call in the morning saying my code dumped core or broke the morning build. I couldn't understand it. That's when I started learning about diff, checksum, and about Sun auditing. I told another manager what I found and sure enough, this wasn't the first time.

I dealt with it mostly with CYA until I could get out.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Send out a search party

We're sending out a search party for my Oracle Support Engineer. I've pinged a SR (aka TAR) for nine days straight without response. Good grief.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How well do you know your US History

Interesting little test. I missed 4 (those darn amendments).

Friday, January 20, 2006

I wanna be like HJR

OK, so it's not as cool as HJR's, but decent enough, eh? Maybe I need some sunglasses.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I had to snicker at an article in Computerworld entitled Private Office or Cubicle: The Debate Goes On. Maybe the word "debate" is a little strong, yet it's still a controversial subject at many companies.

Except for a brief stint as a Project Manager, I've always shared my space with somebody. Mostly cube farms, but occasionally an office with another party. When I work at home, I seem to get more done. Is that because at home I concentrate on tasks that I can do remotely or because I don't have interruptions? I don't know. I do know I like poking my head over the partition and asking the person next to me a question.

Sure, there are times I'd like my own office; getting into a discussion of how Oracle or MySQL works, annual performance reviews, and interviewing. But for those few times I need an office, there are plenty of conference rooms available.

The debate goes on: Cube or Office?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Definitive Guide to MySQL 5, Third Edition

I went on a buying spree of technical books a couple months ago. One of the MySQL books I picked up was The Definitive Guide to MySQL 5, Third Edition.

Let me start off by saying I'm a Database Administrator. I'm concerned with one thing; the database. I want to know how it works, how to back it up, how to restore it, how the locking works, how to secure it, and how are transactions handled. I don't care how you connect to the database or what tools you use. I'm beginning to understand MySQL, but know I have plenty more to learn.

The book started to get my interest around Chapter 11 - Access Administration and Security. Security on MySQL is a little different than I'm used to, so I got a lot out of this chapter. I also received a lot of information out of Chapter 14 - Administration and Server Configuration. In fact, this chapter has a pretty extensive discussion on logging and administering the different table types that made the book worth purchasing.

The other sections of the book were excerpts on PHP, connecting MS Office to MySQL, using Java and C++ with MySQL, introductory SQL, introductory database design, and a whole bunch of other things I wasn't looking for on a book about MySQL.

Don't get me wrong, the book was well written. I read the whole book (even the stuff I don't care about) and found it very easy reading. Michael Koffler explains the concepts very clearly and supplements with many examples. If you are a developer who doesn't know anything about what databases mean and you've been thrown into a MySQL environment and need to be a jack-of-all-trades, you will probably get a lot out of this book. Maybe I'm just not the target audience.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Glory Road

When I saw the trailers for "Glory Road" a few months ago, I immediately put it on my list of movies to see. Glory Road is the inspirational story of how Coach Don Haskins took the first predominantly African American Division I basketball team to the National Championship game.

In 1966 the basketball powerhouses were Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas (sound familiar?). The virtually unheard of Texas Western (now University of Texas El Paso) had never been to the final four, let alone the title game. The story chronicles the hardships encountered by both the players and coaches on the road to history.

I won't ruin the ending for you, but it's definitely "two thumbs up" for Glory Road.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Goodbye Netgear

You may remember I was having issues with my WAP last fall and I asked for recommendations on a new one. I thought all my problems were solved when Santa brought me a new Netgear router.

Unfortunately, I haven't had very good luck with my Netgear WGT624V3.

The initial setup was a snap, but the troubles started when I tweaked some settings. The first problem was with WEP. I could setup WEP, but neither laptop nor my PDA could connect to it. I certainly wasn't going to run unsecured in a high-density area. This WAP also supports WPA, so I enabled it and got the two laptops talking to it. I'm out of luck with my PDA, but that's something I could live with.

After a couple of days, the laptops started disconnecting periodically. The first fix on the Netgear forums suggested some settings to tweak.

I also found a fix on the Netgear forums suggesting my problem was thermal and I should do this:

Um, I don't think so. I did some more research and found out that people occasionally have problems with the 108Mbps settings, so I turned that off. Wireless connections were somewhat stable after that.

I've noticed over the last week that my desktop computer occasionally says "Network cable unplugged" for about 15 seconds and then it goes away. OK, maybe the cable is bad. I swapped all the ethernet cables out with brand new ones from Staples. After that was done, I still got the message.

Three strikes and you're out. Fortunately I had my old Linksys router around so I hooked it back up and got desktop service back. The Netgear router is going back to the store tonight. If they don't take it, it's going to ebay. If I can't sell it there, it's going to the skeet range.

Maybe because I'm in IT I expect things to always work they way they're supposed to. (Lord knows, I work with Oracle, so that's always the case). What would the normal home consumer do?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Waiting on dbms_job

I've been using dbms_job more and more lately. This weekend I had an interesting problem.

Friday's job queue was running just fine. On Friday evening, I put about 200 jobs into the queue to run immediately and expected them to run for a couple hours. I had job_queue_processes set to 4, so I knew that only four jobs would be running at the same time.

About 75 jobs into the run, no jobs were running. Nothing was in dba_jobs_running. I could see that jobs were still in the queue. I wasn't really sure what was going on, but I couldn't bounce the instance.

I finally decided to set the job_queue_processes to 0 with ALTER SYSTEM and waited until I didn't see the query job coordinator process (cjqN) anymore. I then reset the job_queue_processes to 2. I didn't want to set job_queue_processes to 4 as other stuff was going on by this time. CJQn then restarted and continued processing the jobs in the job queue.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why I hate Windoz, reason #349 retracted

My number of reasons to hate Windoz stays at #348.

I got suggestions from Nuno Souto and Nial Litchfield that maybe I could install Windoz 2000 directly by just popping in the NT CD when the installer asked for it. So I thought I'd give it a try.

I searched around the internet for articles suggesting how I might do this and came upon an article explaining how to use the makeboot.exe program on the W2K CD. Of course, I could only scrounge up four floppies and two had bad sectors so makeboot.exe couldn't use them.

So it's off to Wal-mart to get some floppies. They had one blister pack with 3 floppies for $3.49. I needed four anyway, so I drove a little further and stopped at Staples. Aha, 25 floppies for $3.89. In all honesty, though, they only had about 10 packs of 25 floppies on the shelf. About 6 feet of CD-Rs, CD-RW, DVDs and 2.5" disks, but only 10 boxes of floppies. Are we seeing the ever populate floppy going away?

Anyway, back at home I run the makeboot.exe and create my four boot floppies and start the install. Nowhere did the install process even ASK me for the NT disk. All in all, it worked out pretty good.

Don't get the wrong idea here. I still hate Windoz, but I only have 348 reasons now. (until I install the 2 year old modem tomorrow, anyway).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Why I hate Windoz, reason #349

I recently installed Red Hat FC4 on my spare PC at home. By the time I installed everything I wanted on it, the performance just wasn't what I expected. Then again, I'm not really sure I expected much out of a 733Mhz Optiplex with a 16M video card and a 20G disk. I thought it was OK with RH9, but with todays computers I knew it could be better. Upgrading it was out of the question, because I don't really want to put that much effort into it. So I decided to switch it back to Windoz and pass it on to a family member.

Problem is, I bought the PC with Windows NT 4.0 on it and then upgraded to W2K a little while later. I searched the internet and found a couple places where I thought I could just install W2K from CD-ROM. Rather quickly I found out that since I was using an upgrade CD, I had to install an upgradable OS first. I searched for my NT disks and re-installed it. Of course with NT I had to create a 2G partition to install on and then an 18G partition for everything else. Then I popped in the W2K CD and ran the upgrade and wiped out the NT partition. Then I want to format the 18G partition and Windoz rolls on for about 60 minutes and then exits with "Unable to format partition".

OK. What's that mean?

So I try to format it again as an NTFS filesystem. "Unable to format partition" again.


So I try to format as FAT32 and voila, it's formatted. I'm not really interested in having a FAT32 filesystem, so I try to format it again with NTFS and it formats fine. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good training value

If anyone is going to be in the Tri-state area in January, there is a day with Tom Kyte sponsered by the New York Oracle Users Group on January 18th. The talks look like a perfect way to get immersed in 10g. I don't think you could pass it up for the price ($200 non-NYOUG members/$150 members). Alas, I have another engagement that day, but am definitely sending at least one person.