Monthly Archives: August 2016

You’re Better Than You Think You Are

We’ve all met people who are not as good as they think they are. But more people are better than they think themselves.

The Oracle ACE Program

ACEDI’m an Oracle ACE Director. That title is the highest level in Oracle’s ACE program for independent experts on their technology, and there is a little over a hundred of us world-wide.

As with all programs of this type, some people are not part of the program and believe they should be. These people are very vocal in their criticism, claiming the program is rigged against them in some way. Sometimes, their criticism carries over into personal criticism of the people who are part of the program.

I don’t care what these people say. However, I’ve noticed that some members of the program worry a lot about what others might think of them.

Impostor Syndrome

Sometimes, even very accomplished people exhibit exaggerated sensitivity to criticism of their skills or achievements. Psychologically, this is known as impostor syndrome or “the fear of being found out.” Sufferers worry that they are not as good as others think they are, even in the face of massive evidence that they are world-class experts.

Improving Self-Esteem

If you suspect you suffer from just a tiny bit of this, I recommend you start writing a success journal. This can be an app or a physical book, and you write down your successes every day. You might have solved a difficult problem, received thank-you comments on your blog, had articles published or been accepted to speak at a conference.
Every week, read through your success journal and enjoy your successes.

If you’re good, you’re good.

If You Don’t Test, You Don’t Know

I’ve just started my Private Pilot’s License project, and the first order of business was to get a Class 2 medical. Being a triathlete and considering myself fairly healthy, I expected that to be a formality. To my surprise, the examiner detected that my blood pressure was too high, and I’ll have to work on getting it down before I can fly solo.

Similarly, I’m sure that Delta Airlines considered their data center fairly healthy. Unfortunately, they did not test. So when the power supply disappeared, they discovered that 300 out of 7,000 devices were not properly connected to backup power. And 2,000 planes were grounded.

If you don’t test, you don’t know.

Ostrich Syndrome – IT Putting the Business at Risk

IT suffers from Ostrich Syndrome: The belief that if you put your head in the sand and refuse to face facts, nothing bad will happen. Real ostriches don’t do this, of course – that would soon make them extinct. But IT does.

Finding the right amount to spend on all elements of IT (security, testing, fault tolerance etc) requires proper risk analysis. This is taught in Project Management 101, but recent events show that not everybody in IT understands this.

For example, the Democratic National Committee apparently thought that nobody would bother to attack their systems. After all, it just contained boring political emails, right? Wrong.

Boeing_767-332ER,_Delta_Air_Lines,_Amsterdam_-_Schiphol_(AMS_-_EHAM)_23.01.10Similarly, Delta had apparently forgotten to attach about 300 computers to their uninterruptible power supplies, making their system very interruptible indeed. The had to cancel more than 2,000 flights.

Last month, it was Southwest Airlines who cancelled 2,000 flights, supposedly because a router went down. Talk about single point of failure…

Network segmentation, security patching, high availability, and disaster recovery all costs money. But being hacked or down also costs money. Did DNC, Delta and Southwest make the right call? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s time you looked at your risk analysis. Because you do have one, don’t you?

A Happiness Project

How would you like to become a little happier? At this time of year, many people return from summer vacation to their day jobs. For most, this leads to a drop in happiness. That’s why it’s a great time to execute a little happiness project.

seven-1426637_640Your task is very simple: Each day this week, at least once a day, register your general happiness level on a scale from 0 (deeply depressed) to 10 (couldn’t be happier). If you are into apps, you can surely find an app to help you, but a piece of paper or a sticky note will do fine.

 

On Sunday, set aside 15 minutes to look at your stats for the week. Then think of three things that would each increase your happiness score by one point on one of the days. For example, you might decide that you could have had coffee with a friend on Thursday. Or you could have gone to a movie instead of watching TV on Saturday. Or maybe you could have refrained from correcting somebody on the internet, even though they were obviously wrong.

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png used under CC BY-NC 2.5

Next week, your task is continue to track your happiness and put these three ideas into action. On Sunday in two weeks, when you reflect on next week, calculate your total weekly happiness and see if it has increased.

While sum_week_happiness < 70 repeat.

The Future of PL/SQL

A question that comes up very often when I advise individuals and organizations about how to use Oracle technology is “What is the future of PL/SQL?”.

The answer is that PL/SQL is not growing, but not going away either. Because it is used in the Oracle database, and the Oracle database is a fixture of enterprise systems world-wide, it will outlive you. High-performance batch processing has to happen close to the data, so PL/SQL will continue to rule in this area. But everything else we are doing in PL/SQL can be implemented in other layers, other tools, and other programming languages.

That’s why it has a yellow horizontal arrow on oratoolwatch.com and has had for a while.

The Market for PL/SQL Programmers

The value of a skill depends on the relationship between the number of people with the skill and the number of jobs requiring that skill. For PL/SQL, the amount of work is constant, but the number of people with PL/SQL skills is declining.

The Future of PLSQL

Right now, PL/SQL is not a highly paid skill, as the following yearly salary data (U.S.) from indeed.com shows.

PLSQL salary

However, PL/SQL programmers are leaving the profession – they become managers, change to a different technology, or retire – and new people are not joining (yet). When was the last time you saw a young PL/SQL programmer?

By 2020, the salary of PL/SQL programmers will have gone up as the scarcity sets in. By 2024, PL/SQL programming will have become a highly-paid specialty (like COBOL is today), and the salary increase will tempt new developers into the field.

What Does That Mean for Managers?

If you are an IT manager, you are likely to have enough PL/SQL programmers today. But it will become increasingly difficult to replace them. In poker terms, you have the choice of either calling or going all-in with PL/SQL.

If you call (stay in the game without raising), you should consider PL/SQL a specialized technology allowed in two places:

  • In existing applications already based on PL/SQL
  • In new applications for batch processing of database data

If you go all-in, you should use PL/SQL wherever feasible in order to maintain and expand the PL/SQL  competency of your team. PL/SQL can do integration, call web services, write files, and you can build user interfaces with PL/SQL and tools like Application Express (APEX).

What Does That Mean for Developers?

If you are an individual developer, this means:

  • If you don’t know PL/SQL, don’t bother learning it (yet)
  • If you do know PL/SQL, you don’t have to learn something else. But look for an organization that’s all-in on PLSQL.

 

Edit 2016-08-05: Please also read Steven Feuerstein’s response to this post.