Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Standing By

In several posts at various Oracle related forums I have been taken to task for standing by Don Burleson. In the past I was also taken to task for standing by others such as Rich Niemiec. I have been repeatedly asked why I don't attack, belittle or otherwise "take on" many other experts.

Well, first, I believe people are entitled to their opinions.

Second, both of the above I consider to be friends. Where I come from you stand by your friends in public. Now in private I may tell them they are incorrect and suggest they alter their viewpoints, postings or papers, but not in a public forum where it could humiliate or embarrass them.

Others seem to enjoy laying about with wild abandon when someone is mistaken, falling all over each other like the spider creatures eating their wounded in the remake of "Lost In Space". They seem to enjoy laying scorn and abuse on others. This behavior is counter productive and leads to outright fear on the part of many neophytes about writing papers, posting answers or helping anyone anywhere online.

Of course the very folks that attack with guns blazing seem most upset when you fight back, rather like a school yard bully. They expect you to roll over and show your soft spots like a cur giving into a stronger dog. Sorry, can't do that, never did it, won't do it.

I will admit mistakes, and correct them when possible. I have done this in the past and will do it in the future. However I am a strong believer in positive feedback being more beneficial than negative feedback. I rarely listen to feedback that begins something like "You worthless git, your book/paper/presentation/tip is all bloody trash". However, I always open to "Mike, the tip is interesting, but here is a problem with what you have said", I may argue a bit, but I will listen and try to improve my knowledge and abilities. Be that as it may, you attack me in a public forum, I have no compunction about taking you to task over it, also in a public forum.

Anyway, enough rant.


Thomas Kyte said...


I read lots of forums. I haven't seen you being attacked in public for standing by Mr. Burleson. Do you have a specific reference in mind?

Who are these people and can you point to examples online of these abuses?

Including some where they get bent out of shape for being told they are wrong?

I've read and re-read my email trail to you about a tip last september... when I tried to correct a really bad idea of yours offline, out of the public eye. I didn't see any guns blazing until you told me you had no choice but to publish it because Oracle messed up, misleads people and you were only trying to help the poor souls using the software.

I had to spend hours of my time, days, many back and forth emails proving to you that doing what the tip said to do was dangerous, like purposely placing a cancer in the Oracle SYS data dictionary. Unfortunately, I'm still left only half satisfied because you posted this tip in so many places, that it is hard to remove. I can still find it today -- it is no longer in metalink (I did not think it was strong enough for support to simply follow up and say "bad idea, don't do that if you want support" or dba-oracle.com but it is still out there and in a book too as I understand)

My point was the fact that you are a recognized name in the industry means you are held to a higher standard. Publishing a tip that says "update your SYS data dictionary" isn't something someone who people just trust outright should do.

Given the days I wasted with Mr. Burleson in the same fashion in the past only to be challenged to technical pistols at dawn to a cast of thousands (taking what were individual back and forth emails in private and all of a sudden emailing half the world with rhetoric), yes, I'm taking the "when I'm asked a question on my site, I'm just going to answer it and egos be darned" approach. It seems to work much faster and gets the word out.

If ( you publish inaccurate/dangerous information ) AND ( you give no way to comment on it )
commenting on it elsewhere
is the only road left
open, isn't it.
end if;

And the nice thing is, if you think I'm wrong and you have a good argument the other way, you can post it (no IP address blocking, no banning of individuals whose views I don't agree with, I promise.)

Mike said...


It was not your area I was referring to. Others, such as the Dizwell, dbasupport site and various lists were the target for this.

I appreciated your tact and patience with the mentioned incident. I have endeavored to correct the issues where they occur, but as you have said, they take on a life of their own.

Unfortunately neither you or I (well maybe you) have real control over what happens to the various dictionary tables from one release to another. What seems to be a good idea in one release can turn into disaster for later releases.

Thomas Kyte said...


Suggesting one updates the data dictionary in any release is not a good thing, period. It is totally release independent. For people in our position to suggest doing such a thing in public, in my opinion, is not correct behavior. I will even call it unprofessional. At a site, in a pinch, under controlled documented environment, in a dust free lab -- maybe. But to suggest it in writing in forums (with and without warnings), never. From release 2.0 to release infinity and beyond.

I could only assume you were talking about me since so many of your other blogs recently have called me out by name.

To say I never criticise Oracle is to say you don't read my work (and you sort of seemed to be tying me and Howard together for some reason? Not that I mind now, but it is curious that you would do so, but here say "oh no, it was just howard over there".)

Well, why have Howard and Tom never attacked Oracle for the many stupid things Oracle has done in the design and implementation of the Oracle product?

Here is but one example, why would I say in the same manner I use for any criticism (using air quotes and *asterisks* for sarcasm):

I'm of the school that plsql cursors *should be cached* (i don't think i like this "fix").

if I didn't criticise Oracle? You say things like:

My major problem is that while it is supported by Oracle Corp. and supposedly moderated, I see things there that violate Oracles rules of conduct and should not be allowed on a moderated site.

When your company has been informed officially that is not the case (you might ask Don, he should have all of the details).

You say things about me like I rarely (upgraded to never on your own forum) provide timings or anything relevant (I believe you called it "daft"). That again indicates you haven't really read my work.

In a blog where you talk about name calling, bashing, etc etc etc, you reference me repeatedly.

So, I could only assume this was another case of that.

On DBASupport, I do not see anyone "bashing" you for supporting Don. It seems to be pointing to your own material.

I still firmly believe that when "public figures" such as the likes of you, and I, or Jonathan, or anyone that is "known" as the source of "truth" and a trusted figure says stuff -- it should be backed up with the "who what why where and when". The myths of yesterday and tomorrows forthcoming myths are built on apparent correlations that were false positives. If you want to say things like "Indexes like large block sizes, this is true", it must be backed up with use cases, when to use them, when not to use them, where they might be good, where they might not be good.

You accuse me of not saying "your mileage may vary"

But he rarely states "This proof should only be taken for proof in a similar environment to mine, your mileage may differ"

which again seems to me to go most with the fact you haven't really read my work more than anything else. Why do you think I give these examples? Why do you think I go to the trouble of providing them? Why do you think I have a totally open forum where anyone can and in fact do come and say "yeahbut"? Why do you think I say repeatedly "test this, try it out, don't do this before testing it". Why do you think I teach people how to use the tools like tkprof, my own runstats, statspack, autotrace. Simply so they can do it on their own. And I aggresively urge people to do so. Boy, if I could get them to try it themselves first instead of asking me, I'd be the happiest camper on the planet.

You know, as many readers on the BC forums asked for, I'd love to see a real case whereby because someone showed how the software worked to someone else, something really bad happened. I read Don's sole example on that long thread, you remember the one where the DBA who applied a fix to make IO go faster because it was proven to them that IO would go faster that way (and hey, the IO did go faster in the nice little story) but since they had a CPU problem it didn't fix the root cause and the DBA got fired. Nice story, but entirely "not relevant". In fact, it goes more against the Silver Bullet theory than anything else (seems to make a case for a certain approach that someone was trying to say is a bad evil approach).

Mike said...


The original tip was for folks who had marked the wrong column and absolutely needed to get the column back for data purposes. It was not intended as a "now go on and run that way". But only for emergency recovery fo the the data. But that actually is a moot point since I don't give that advice anymore.

In your column you provide links to material that is both insulting and demeaning to both Don and I and several other folks in the DBA community. To argue you didn't say it is moot since by your posting "hey look at this" essentially says you agree with it and condone it.

Howard J. Rogers said...

Your original tip to "reverse" a drop column command was wrong, dangerous and foolhardy, made as it was in a public forum without (as I recall) any of those sorts of qualifications you now seek to add. The correct tip would have been "Tough luck. DDL is DDL, and you're stuck with it, unless you care to perform a point in time recovery".

It's amazing that you would ever think to even begin to defend your conduct on that matter!

And on another note. You are not banned from the Dizwell Forum. You may (indeed have) posted there at any time to redress this scandalous 'scorn and abuse' you claim has been aimed at you. Unlike your friend's forum, there's no censorship there; we have no moderators. Which is why you cannot honestly say, to either me or Tom, 'you host it, therefore you condone it'. The most you can say of an uncensored forum is, 'you host it because someone wrote it'.

Personally, I have criticised you for making things up, and for being not terribly competent in some of the things you've posted, and for being very careless in the way you've written it. None of those points is an insult. Neither do they constitute abuse. It's a criticism of your technical advice and competence I'm making, which you can refute or not as the mood takes you.

That you see this in childish terms "School yard bully", "fight back") is indicative. I see it simply in terms that you call yourself an Oracle professional, and an expert; you publish book after book telling newbies what to do and how to do it... and that advice, expertise and professionalism had better therefore not lead newbies into rendering their database unsupportable, or causing masive amounts of unproductive I/O and locking or whatever else damage your advice might inflict. As you yourself say, these things "have taken on a life of their own"... which is why you have a *responsibility* to stop that sort of thing from happening in the first place. And I realise you wish I would just shut up on the matter, but the clustering factor falls precisely into that same category of 'Things I shouldn't have said, but which I did... and which will mislead users of Google for years to come'.

When I've challenged you on some of your advice, you have (I happily admit) sought to qualify (and perhaps clarify) it. "Oh, I don't say all indexes should be rebuilt, just when it's indicated". But that qualification is never present in the original advice, and that's the problem! If you carefully qualified things in the first place, few would object to what you write.

But back to reality... the other issue I have is that your qualifications when they are finally made are never as fullsome and precise as the original, unqualified and misleading advice was in the first place. When I ask you when an index rebuild is indicated, you simply huff and puff and tell me to go ask Tom!

Thomas Kyte said...

In your column you provide links to material that is both insulting and demeaning to both Don and I and several other folks in the DBA community. To argue you didn't say it is moot since by your posting "hey look at this" essentially says you agree with it and condone it.


One example please. Not pointers to peoples opinions which (unlike *other* supposedly public forums that do not ban or filter, well, unless they feel like it), I do not edit content.

Please, give an example of a time I've provided links to material that is insulting and/or demeaning. You can keep saying it is true over and over, but until someone POINTS me somewhere, I just don't "get it".

David Aldridge said...

"I will admit mistakes, and correct them when possible."

A good place to start would be with "use large block sizes for temporary tablespaces". This poor advice has had so many holes poked in it that you could use it as a teabag.

Mike said...

Ok, where did I say that? The primary problem with ii is that it mandates that the entire database be in a large block size.

I recall Don saying that, where did I say it?


Thomas Kyte said...


you said it in your "RULES" paper
right here

2 – TEMP likes large blocksizes

This is very true. All temp segment access is sequential and 32k blocksizes greatly reduce logical I/O and disk sort times. I'm working an a benchmark right now that shows a one-third speed improvement of disk sorts in a 32k vs. an 8k blocksize.

While the database will have to be created with the blocksize this large to use temporary tablespaces this size, most databases that require large sorts will be data warehouse or DSS and thus will also benefit from large blocksizes.

we were talking about it (with you) on DBASupport.

here is a good link
to pick up the thread discussing that very section of your rules paper.

If you could relate what LIO has to do with temp (since all IO to and from temp is directio and bypasses LIO), or why reading 8 16k blocks (128k) in a direct IO would be much worse (30% according to you) than reading 4 32k blocks (128k) at a time, that would be great.

I just wish dba-support.com let us comment on papers. It would centralize all of this for you.

No links for me to look at (reference the above request from me for one?)

David Aldridge said...

>> Ok, where did I say that? ... I recall Don saying that, where did I say it? <<

Extraordinary that you ask thius, Mike. It implies that you don't believe in the advice, but as TK points out you did say it.

Time to lay the cards on the table, I think. Is this something that you do believe in, or are you just being supportive of a friend's opinion?

Don Burleson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

OK, now that I see the full quote, you will notice I did state that you would need to create the entire db that way.

Now, why are you saying that it is a bad idea? If the db uses a lot of temporary tablespace, assuming it is properly designed and tuned, then it is most likely a DSS/DWH application which will benefit from the larger block size anyway.

As to Howards comments, as usual he digs up things I have corrected when ever possible, misquotes me and quotes out of context. On his site I simply pointed out that he, among others has provided positive advice on rebuilding indexes, he tends to make it sound like he has never advised it and never would. He has made it clear that he doesn't believe anything I say, therefore I ponted him to others he may find more credible, for example, himself.

My experience since 1990 with Oracle and since 1980 with computers, languages and other databases stands by itself. It is interesting that the only place Howard seems to publish his "advice" is his own web page. A quick search of metalink shows he has zero posts. A look at his posts elsewhere usually show him as a spiteful fellow constantly sniping and griping about others advice without ever really offering much of his own.

Perhaps we will hear more from the Kyte Brothers, Tom and Howard and their little brother Richard on future blogs. However, since they can't get over the past, for now this topic is closed.