Wednesday, 17 October 2012

@Pending vs @Waiting in GTD

When I orginally set up my email programs (Gmail for personal, Outlook for work) for David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) method, I created folders for @Action, @Someday, and @Waiting, as well as named folders for projects to contain support and reference material.

As time went on, however, I found a new type of email that didn't really fit in those categories: things that are mine to do (I'm not @Waiting for someone else) and there is a next action on it (so it doesn't go in the project folders) but I can't do that action yet (so it doesn't go in @Action).

In short, I'm waiting not for a person, but for the time to be right, such as a meeting coming up this week that I'll need the directions to, or a webinar announcement with its login information. I was worried that if I put it in @Waiting, it would get lost.  Since it's time based, it should probably go on my Calendar, but the email contains more information than I want to copy to the Calendar.

So I added a folder named @Pending. Here are the "hard edges" rules I use to decide what goes where:

  • If the email is just a notice, I add it to the calendar and delete the notice.
  • If the email has significant details, I add it to the calendar and file under @Pending until the event occurs. Then I delete it (usually) or file it under the proper reference folder.

Oct 2012 PSU and CPU Released

The October 2012 Patch Set Update (PSU) and Critical Patch Update (CPU) for Oracle products were released yesterday, 16-Oct-2012.  The Availability Document, which lists the patches to get for different products, is My Oracle Support note 1477727.1.

A couple of interesting things this quarter.  Critical Patch Updates are being renamed Security Patch Updates, or SPUs. The release schedule is the same, as is the content.  MOS note 1430923.1, "New Patch Nomenclature for Oracle Products", describes the change.

The PSU/CPU also includes patches for the SHA-1 hashing algorithm to address two vulnerabilities.  There are special notes about how to apply patches this quarter because of these.  Always read the README, and don't assume that you know how to do this quarter's patch just because you've done them before.

The PSUs for  (starting with and (starting with now use the new Composite Patch format, which makes overlay patches to previous updates less troublesome.  MOS note 1376691.1 describes the new format and its advantages.

The January 2013 PSU/CPU will be the final ones for Database,  Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle Fusion Middleware for Portal, Forms, Reports, and Discoverer (PFRD).

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Magic of Doing One Thing At A Time

Tony Schwartz has a new article on the Harvard Business Review blog network. In The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time, he talks about how multitasking is less effective, not more.
The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
Not only that, but the constant switching from task to task burns up your limited resources of energy and attention. To use a computer analogy: you can write a program that fetches (retrieves) one row at a time from a database, or you can write the same program to do a single bulk fetch of many rows. The single-row approach is much less effective, because of the overhead of switching back and forth between your program and the database engine.  The bulk fetch is more effective by far, because it eliminates most of the overhead.

In the same way, when we multitask we spend a lot of our energy on simply switching back and forth between the several things we've got going. When we dedicate ourselves to a single task at a time, we still spend the same amount of time doing the tasks. But we save time overall because we have spend less time managing the tasks.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Change Data Capture for Oracle in SQL Server 2012

I just ran across this article on Microsoft's SQL Server Integration Services blog.  SSIS was always impressive, even back when it was called Data Transformation Services (DTS), because it could move data between any OLEDB data provider, not just Microsoft SQL Server.

Now apparently the latest version of SSIS goes one step further, mining the logs of an Oracle instance to provide Change Data Capture (CDC) services.  For those who need to maintain both platforms and get them talking to each other, this is an interesting read.