Monday May 12, 2014

Speaking Tips

speaker Tips on Performing a birthday speech / presentation.

As a consultant I am frequently standing up and performing presentations to groups, meetings, customers or workshops both internally and externally.

However this weekend I had to do something different, I had to perform a 40th birthday speech
for my wife and so thought I would record some tips and advice for those in a similar position.

Please note that this is not 100% the complete guide but just some useful points I have found over the years of doing similar and I hope helpful. 

Speech construction

1.  The speech needs to be short.  Whenever speaking make sure the length of speech is appropriate.  For a party speech it should never exceed 2-3 minutes.

2.  The speech should always be broken into sections starting with an introduction  (thanks, purpose, set the scene).

3.  The speech should then move to main content  (if easier think of 2-3 short stories or points and build around this).

4.  Finally a catchy conclusion to sum up.  (use lines from a song or you might use a joke or big point to finish).

Speech Performance

1.  When performing the speech although it is useful to have initially write out the whole thing in full, you probably will never actually read it word for word / line for line.  The reason for this if reading it then you lose the effect of your voice and adopt a reading voice, you also will not be able to have eye contact and engage with your audience.

So after reading it through a few times just to practice, write out only the main point lines and have this as your cues to talk around.  You will find the summary lines keep you moving along and allow you to remember more of the initial detail than you think from what you practiced earlier.  Another point is if you get a little stuck or finish a point you can easily just pick up the next one and follow the cue.

2.  Remember that any cue cards you use need to suit the environment you are performing in.  For example if in a darker low light room then you need a larger font to be able to see!

3.  Remember you may have a microphone in one hand so need to be able to hold any materials like cue cards in the other.  Think about implementation! How can you turn pages with one hand?

4.  Always speak to the people at the rear of the room to be loud and heard.  This also helps with focus and eye contact issues.  Everyone will think you are looking at them and your voice will be the appropriate volume as you are focused to the people furthest away.

5.  Always try to speak clearly and take your time.  Nerves will always make us rush, so remember to breathe and slow yourself down to come across relaxed and control any mistakes.  If a mistake occurs just enjoy the moment and either pick up or move along.  We are all human and mistakes happen, it is how you deal with them that makes us all different.

6.  Always remember we all get nerves and these are actually a good thing not a bad thing.  We need the nerves to help us have adrenalin to actually perform, just remember to breathe and control the nerves so that they don't take over.

7.  With practice be aware of any bad habits such as rocking on the spot, waving hands or the classic "ummm's".  It can help to have someone else listen to you practice and look up the tricks on any obvious issues to stop these occurring.

If you ever do a formal presentation course as I have had to do previously you will find that they will make you present to one or more video cameras and then review with the instructor.  Nothing works better than by actually watching and listening to yourself as it means you see all those irritating habits and can then work on them. 

There are so many solutions to each issue or habit, for example people that rock or walk about or wave hands too much find it easier to hold onto something to prevent those issues.

8.  Finally and most importantly enjoy the attention and time, smile and relax, pretend it is a conversation with a friend and people will engage with you.

If you have to do something similar and are struggling, please let me know and I would be happy to assist you.  Although even now nerves occur for me in these situations due to the number of presentations and stand up roles I have had to perform it is like everything and practice brings confidence as well as ability.

Friday Mar 14, 2014

Oracle Database Consolidation

ConsolidationIn the industry today engineers are trying to implement consolidation that minimizes idle resources and to lower costs.  This paper discusses some important items to consider  when implementing a consolidated or Exadata engineered Oracle database platform.  Some of the items may seem obvious or common sense yet on frequent assignment at customer sites are not considered and have become major issues to solve.  This paper is not intended to provide all consolidation issues but give highlight to some and more importantly to provoke a deeper consideration and conversation when designing a consolidated or engineered platform.

Download The Full PDF here: Database_Consolidation.pdf

Friday Oct 18, 2013

Shrinking a Linux OEL 6 virtual Box image (vdi) hosted on Windows 7

Recently for a customer demonstration there was a requirement to build a virtual box image with Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c. This meant installing OEL Linux 6 as well as creating an 11gr2 database and Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c on a single virtual box. Storage was sized at 300Gb using dynamically allocated storage for the virtual box and about 10Gb was used for Linux and the initial build.

After copying over all the binaries and performing all the installations the virtual box became in the region of 80Gb used size on the host operating system, however internally it only really needed around 20Gb. This meant 60Gb had been used when copying over all the binaries and although now free was not returned to the host operating system due to the growth of the virtual box storage '.vdi' file.  Once the ‘vdi’ storage had grown it is not shrunk automatically afterwards.

Space is always tight on the laptop so it was desirable to shrink the virtual box back to a minimal size and here is the process that was followed.

Install 'zerofree' Linux package into the OEL6 virtual box

The RPM was downloaded and installed from a site similar to below;

A simple internet search for ’zerofree Linux rpm’ was easy to perform and find the required rpm.

Execute 'zerofree' package on the desired Linux file system

To execute this package the desired file system needs to be mounted read only. The following steps outline this process.

As root: # umount /u01

As root:# mount –o ro –t ext4 /u01

NOTE: The –o is options and the –t is the file system type found in the /etc/fstab.

Next run zerofree against the required storage, this is located by a simple ‘df –h’ command to see the device associated with the mount.

As root:# zerofree –v /dev/sda11


NOTE: This takes a while to run but the ‘-v’ option gives feedback on the process.

What does Zerofree do?

Zerofree’s purpose is to go through the file system and zero out any unused sectors on the volume so that the later stages can shrink the virtual box storage obtaining the free space back.

When zerofree has completed the virtual box can be shutdown as the last stage is performed on the physical host where the virtual box vdi files are located.

Compact the virtual box ‘.vdi’ files

The final stage is to get virtual box to shrink back the storage that has been correctly flagged as free space after executing zerofree.

On the physical host in this case a windows 7 laptop a DOS window was opened.

At the prompt the first step is to put the virtual box binaries onto the PATH.

C:\ >echo %PATH%


The above shows the current value of the PATH environment variable.

C:\ >set PATH=%PATH%;c:\program files\Oracle\Virtual Box;


The above adds onto the existing path the virtual box binary location.

C:\>cd c:\Users\xxxx\OEL6.1


The above changes directory to where the VDI files are located for the required virtual box machine.

C:\Users\xxxxx\OEL6.1>VBoxManage.exe modifyhd zzzzzz.vdi compact


NOTE: The zzzzzz.vdi is the name of the required vdi file to shrink.

Finally the above command is executed to perform the compact operation on the ‘.vdi’ file(s). This also takes a long time to complete but shrinks the VDI file back to a minimum size. In the case of the demonstration virtual box OEM12c this reduced the virtual box to 20Gb from 80Gb which was a great outcome to achieve.

Friday Aug 16, 2013

IT Operations Architecture

Dev OPS triangleRecently I have been involved with working as a Technology Operations Architect for a banking customer. This work involved assisting with Oracle product knowledge and reviewing the IT operational requirements being raised by the customer. After reviewing the customers requirements the next stage of the process was to perform a product fit-gap analysis (product does it out the box, 'fit', product needs work around, 'partial gap' or product has no capability today, 'full gap'. Finally each requirement was worked through to agree high level solutions and a way forward for IT operations to function as desired.

Having been involved in the 'Run the business' side of IT for many years and seen customers at various levels of technology maturity as well as underlying technology and standards change significantly, it is really interesting work to be involved in.

The challenge is not only trying to display to the customers what the products can do but also applying the experience of actual real use.  To help avoid the difficulties of implementing and more importantly ongoing management. Obviously it is always better to learn off other people’s mistakes and positive experiences rather than take the same journey alone. Working for a vendor it allows us to bring this to the table which is our defrentiator. The use of ITIL standards over recent years where implemented correctly has also helped operations architecture significantly improve and I personally am a keen follower / promoter of this.

The goal in the requirements gathering is to capture what is really required to provide IT operations the ability to run the infrastructure / applications avoiding outage, increased costs, etc. What is the pain that in future the customer wants to avoid? I always believe that due to the nature of the different technology operations have to manage with versions, platforms etc it is really about KISS, (keep it simple stupid).

In the old days scripts would be written for everything as this guaranteed the stability, control and ownership. However there is a cost involved with maintaining that approach and moving it forward as technology required to support changes. The inherent danger is that this too becomes an unsupportable mess, creating a job for life for those who wrote the scripts.

A lot is pushed towards products to solve these issues and make life better, however these applications need to be treated as applications in their own right and require careful management. There is no silver bullet or product that just out the box switch it on and there is the answer. Unfortunately the configuration requirements of these products is not included in the total cost of ownership and often left aside.  This leads to a poor product implementation and most probably an operations failure or rejection of the product.

To me the real answer is about those responsible for support standing up with governance, standards and policy as a first step. After all when it goes wrong it is those support people that are held accountable. It is about working out the right solution required to allow pro-active administration and the cheaper / best way of identifying an issue before the business does.   Even so far as having the means to fix or prevent the bad things happening in the first place.  Sounds very simple, firstly work out the 'what' followed by looking at the how later in solution development.

The hardest aspect for the customer is in defining operational requirements, 'the what'.  Below is a great link from the US government department of homeland security.  It's where a customer or group has given serious thought about when it comes to dealing with vendors and how to shortcut the process to give good requirement definitions.


Another trend worth researching which has quickly taken off is the development operations triangle and matrix. Above is a great pictorial representation of how the ideal solution is about IT operations getting in a sweet spot between what a solution is against the cost, effort and value associated to obtaining it. This is where as a solution it may be that a script is the way to go or a product or combination thereof.

Cost Benefit Matric

In summary it is more important to define what needs to be there as a priority in operations and then to work through how to provide expected solutions.  From an experienced veteran of support even though the 'How' may have changed over time due to technology the basic needs of the 'what' from an operations perspective have not.

Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Oracle LogMiner: Seven Steps to Mine Redo data

Log_minerWhilst on a client site it was requested to investigate a data issue where data had been deleted by an unknown source to the application team within an Oracle database table.  After attempting to use Oracle flashback techniques it could be seen this was insufficient due to the changes occurring a few days previous.  Therefore Oracle log miner was used to locate the required information, analyzing the Oracle redo logs and archive logs.  It was clear that the usage of this tool is widely unknown to a lot of administrators therefore this paper gives a simple seven step process on how to safely implement an Oracle log mining session to look at database redo data. Although this can be implemented through Oracle enterprise manager (OEM), the techniques shown here are using Oracle SQL and PL/SQL.

Please Note these scripts were written only for demonstration purposes. They are not optimized and they have almost no error checking, so be careful!

Download The Full PDF here: Oracle_Log_Mining_Data.pdf

About Me Image
Andy Baker, Senior Principal Consultant for Oracle Consulting Services (@Bakers_byte), shares his news, views and ideas about the Oracle Database with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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