Monday, 29 December 2008

Training Tip: Nearly Free Laser Pointer

When I got started in training, the pencil-type laser pointer was over $100. Needless to say, I found other ways to point at the screen  (hand shadows being the primary one).

Recently, I finally broke down and got a laser pointer, which I keep in my trainer kit. The cost?  Only $3, in a clearance bin at Walgreens. It was sold as a cat toy: a way to put a spot of light on the wall for cats to chase around. (It also puts up an image of a mouse, a butterfly, a star, and my favorite, a smiley face.)

The use of laser diodes in mass-market equipment such as CD and DVD players has lowered their production cost so far that now they can be sold as toys, not $100 professional tools.  I don't care what it says on the package, it's a dandy training aid.

On the other hand, training is often compared to herding cats, so maybe the package description is appropriate.

NOTE: Do not put this in your carry-on luggage. It's considered a weapon and forbidden by the TSA, so pack it with your trainer kit in your checked luggage.

UPDATE 2/4/2011:  Laser pointers no longer appear on the TSA's list of prohibited items, and haven't for some time.  Thanks to reader LaserPointers for asking me to research and update this post.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Oracle Database 11gR1 on VMWare

I've just finished creating the test environment I'm going to use to prepare for the 11g OCP upgrade test. Instead of installing directly on a lab machine as I've done before, I decided to do this one inside a VMWare virtual machine. Here are some notes on what I did, while they're fresh in my mind.

Don't you just love the Internet?  I found an excellent step-by-step install guide by John Smiley, and it really shortened the learning curve. It also contains links to the download sites for Oracle Enterprise Linux 5, which is functionally similar to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, and Oracle Database 11gR1.

VMWare layer: 

I created a VM with 1024Mb memory, a single 20GB hard disk, one network adapter bridged. I don't plan to do RAC scenarios with this image, it's just for the basics, so I kept it simple. I can add more virtual hard drives to it later to practice ASM.

Linux layer:

I used Oracle Enterprise Linux 5, downloaded from Oracle.  I followed the install instructions from Oracle-Base, which included details on disk partitioning. OEL5 includes 5 CD images as .iso files, but the install only required the first 3.

On my first attempt, I did as the Oracle notes suggested and did a default install of packages. But this led to problems later with missing libraries needed by various RPMs. So, I started over, selected "Customize Now" instead of "Customize Later," and followed instructions I had used successfully with 10gR2 in terms of which packages to include and not:

    • GNOME Desktop Environment
    • Editors
    • Graphical Internet
    • Text-based Internet
    • Development Libraries
    • Development Tools
    • Legacy Software Development
    • Server Configuration Tools
    • Administration Tools
    • Base
    • Legacy Software Support
    • System Tools
    • X Window System

This worked much better.

I then followed the Oracle instructions exactly for preparing the OS for Oracle, in terms of adding several additional RPMs, setting kernel parameters, creating security groups and creating the oracle user.

Oracle installation:

My first try failed due to unzipping all the files on my Windows machine and burning an ISO image. I got permissions errors when trying to start the Oracle Universal Installer. So, I reburned the image with just the ZIP file as downloaded by Oracle, and unzipped it within the Linux environment. The rest of the install was textbook.

Throughout, I used the VMware Workstation 6.5 snapshot feature, taking snapshots of the base Linux machine, Linux machine plus additional packages, Linux machine plus customizations for Oracle, and finally after the successful install.  I connected with sqlplus and was rewarded with the opening banner giving the version as

Let the studying begin!  Oh wait, it already has.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

New Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) Requirements

New candidates for Oracle's entry level DBA certification must now pass an exam on SQL, in addition to the existing requirement for passing the Database Administration I test. The Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) credential is the first rung in Oracle's 3-step DBA certification ladder. The change went into effect December 1st, 2008.

According to the Oracle University website, any of four exams will meet the requirement:

  • 1Z0-001: Introduction to SQL and PL/SQL

  • 1Z0-007: Introduction to 9i SQL

  • 1Z1-051: Oracle Database 11g SQL Fundamentals I

  • 1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert

Existing OCAs and OCPs do not have to fulfill the additional requirement. Their upgrade paths remain the same.