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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

All of those tourists covered with oil...

The oil leak in the Gulf is becoming, if it is not already, the largest disaster of its type in all history. It is hoped that the oil companies will learn, as will the regulators of the industry, from this disaster. But what should they be doing right now?
I am not an expert in oil drilling, capping wells or cleanup, so to tell you the truth I have no clue what should be done, but common sense seems to dictate a few things:
1. If pumping drilling mud into the hole prevents the oil form coming out or reduces it significantly and the mud used is the least toxic, water and bentonite clay based mud, they should be required to keep pumping the mud in until the leak is stopped.
2. The relief wells should be required to be in place before the well can be brought into production.
3. The blow-out preventers and other safety gear should be required to be tested on at least a quarterly basis with a full well shutdown required as a part of the test.
4. Each platform should be required to have in place a floating dam that would contain the projected flow of the well should a blowout occur for a specified minimum amount of time both above and below the water.
5. A main and backup flow preventer (i.e. shutoff device) should be in place before the well is allowed to be in production.
6. All of these requirements should be required to be retrofitted on all existing platforms.
7. The required skimmer and vacuum ships should be on standby within hours of the platforms.
8. The oil companies should be required to provide funding for an independent group of clean-up engineers who will take over a well when an accident occurs who will give priority to stopping the well, not profit.
Will all the above be expensive? Yes! However, it will be less expensive than another disaster of the size we are currently seeing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Selling (Or: How to Self Toot)

My wife tells me I couldn't sell myself if I was an umbrella in a thunderstorm. I guess I don't like to toot my own horn much, which makes it difficult to sell things like consulting time and books. I see some of these folks out there figuratively tooting their heads off and I just do not see myself very comfortable doing that. I guess I expect too much out of my work and word of mouth.

I assume at least in the Oracle space that folks have heard my name, seen my books or heard me speak at a conference or on a webcast. Usually this is true, in the Oracle space I have a bit of a shadow, not as much as Tom Kyte or Jonathan Lewis or several others I can think of, but at least many folks in the Oracle Database realm know who I am. But what about in other areas?

I am a fiction writer (of course some would argue that they knew this from my Oracle writings, but let's not go there!) and have three books out there right now, you can see links on the link list on this blog. I also do photography, there is a link off of my website showing some of my work. And, last but not least, I have begun to dabble in handmade jewelry, I also have a link form my website as well as one over on the links list. So I am not just an Oracle person, I have other interests! Unfortunately most people don't realize my other interests exist because of my lack of ability at self tooting....

I guess I need to start tooting a bit more, so if you are reading this you have been officially tooted about my other activities (so if my wife asks please tell her!) Anyway, enjoy the numerous articles, recipes, short stories and such that I have published along with the photographs I have taken while you are gazing i rapture at the jewelry I create (was that a bit over the top?) Anyway, now you know, I am not just a one trick pony...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Leap of Faith

Well this week I did something that I have always wanted to do. It is probably one of those things which require the greatest leap of faith of anything a person can do. It involves trusting, totally at least 2-3 other people who you probably have never met before. One has a very technical and arguably the most critical of the jobs, one literally has your life in their hands and the third (if needed) has both the second persons and your life in their hands.

Let me explain. The first person I am referring to above is an airplane pilot responsible for getting you and the second person off the ground and to an altitude of 14,000 feet. The second is the jump master or instructor who is responsible for making sure you have the harness on correctly and that you are properly attached to their harness. In addition they may (and usually do) pack their own chute, so they can become the third person, the person who packs the most vital part of the equipment, the parachute, so it opens properly.

Yep, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,000 feet, then fell for 9,000 feet (over a mile and a half) and then glided down to a not so soft, but definitely safe landing, in short, I had my first tandem skydive. A tandem skydive is when you are attached to an instructor and they do the chute release and guide the chute once it is open. For more money and more training you can do a solo jump which of course means you are responsible for the opening of the chute and the guiding.

Remember that feeling you get in a dream when you fall? That is exactly the sensation you get when you jump out of the door of the plane. Only instead of lasting only a second it lasts several as you reach terminal velocity of between 120-130 MPH and fall to your release height, generally around 5,000 feet. The chute was a slow opening model so rather than jerking you harshly it was more like a quick stopping elevator as it caught the air and allowed us to fly. By the time you are done, your adrenal glands are running on empty.

We swooped and turned and pirouetted in the air as we came down to a “butt” landing. Yep, we landed sitting down with only a small bounce or two. No bruises (at least that I can see) and nothing broken. It was a great experience.

The sky had numerous small white fluffy clouds at about 8,000-9,000 feet so we literally were above the clouds at 14,000 feet when we lept from the plane and drifted down past them. Unfortunately we didn’t go through one but just realizing I was free of any constraints and above the clouds was quite a heady experience.

I don’t know if I will ever do it again, but it was definitely worth doing. Of course now my daughter is saying she would love to do it, so I may have to take her. Of course, that will have to wait a couple of months as she is about 3 months along with my third grand child.