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When “Using the Google” is not Enough

I’ve been a SQL*Plus and SQL Developer user for about 10 years now, and there are still many features, commands, etc. I’m not familiar with. In fact, most days I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the tools can do. Lately I’d been feeling that SQLcl was something I should know more about.

I’d watched a couple of online tutorials, read a few blog posts, and saw Galo Balda present on SQLcl at RMOUG last February, so I was becoming more acquainted, but still a little uncertain about what it could do for me.

I reached out to my favorite Senior Principal Product Manager at Oracle, Jeff Smith, to see if he’d be willing to follow up one on of his many offers to do a web-ex with my team and do some virtual training.  He graciously agreed he would, and last week, gave a one hour virtual demo and talk on SQLcl and SQL Dev for myself and a few of my colleagues.

After Jeff’s talk,  I downloaded SQLcl, got to the command prompt, but the screen looked nothing like what I’d seen others do, and I couldn’t figure out how to access the configuration settings. It was time for an intervention.

I reached out to Jeff once more. After a quick 5 minute chat, he steered me in the right direction on how to format SQLcl the way I wanted to – once again saving me hours of “googling” down the wrong path to get a simple answer.

This wasn’t the first time Jeff had answered an SOS call from me– far from it! In fact, our professional relationship began with my reaching out to him on Social Media over three years ago, to help resolve some issue I was having – I don’t remember what the topic was – but I do remember I sent him a message on Twitter, and he came back with the answer for me in about 5 minutes.  One Q&A via Twitter lead to a few more over time, eventually email contact and then attending some of his excellent talks at Kscope15.

Through the years, he’s been a steadfast, reliable technical resource for me who has always been there to answer the tough questions, provide teaching moments, be a mentor, and who I’m now lucky enough to consider a friend.

Google is a life-saver in our daily lives, but sometimes real human interaction is needed to get you over a hurdle. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your product managers for the tools you use. You may even make a new friend.

 

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Tip for Newbies! (Or oldies that just can’t see)

Don’t you hate it when you’re running a REALLY simple script, and you get an Oracle error – and you just can’t see the issue? Like today – I am just running a simple little CREATE TABLE and I keep bombing – and I KNOW it’s something stupid like a missing comma or misplaced parenthesis, but I just couldn’t see where it was.

Error report –
ORA-00907: missing right parenthesis

So I tossed in this:

echo_on_051817

And when I ran the CREATE script again, setting ECHO on told me where to look:

where it is

And wouldn’t you know it – MISSING COMMA! Not a missing parenthesis – as the error would have you think – but it still points you in the right direction.  Right around line 13 ..but I sure couldn’t see it before even though I looked up and down my lines of code and even have color-coding set on my text editor!

missing_comma_051817

Moral of the story:  ECHO ON can be your BFF on those days when you just can’t see clearly.

ADDENDUM!

Thanks to @thatjeffsmith for pointing out that there is a squiggle line in sql developer that indicates you have a problem nearby:

sqlDevTo the Rescue

I’d probably seen that squiggle a million times and never noticed it before. EVER.

This is what’s great about working in I.T. – you can learn something new everyday, from really smart people.

SAS, R and Saturday Night Learning

RandSASBook

I’m not sure I’ll ever be an actual “Data Scientist” … but I’m making my way towards understanding what I need to know by spending my Saturday night delving into some of the basics and intricacies of R vs. SAS.

For example:

What to call your data collection?

Dataset (SAS)

Dataframe (R)

How to view five lines of data from file called “CS1” ?

(SAS)
PROC PRINT DATA=LIB1.CS1(OBS=10);
RUN;

(R)
head(cs1, n=10)

How many rows and columns in CS1? (Observations and variables)

(R)
dim(cs1)

(SAS)
DATA LIB1.CS1;
SET WORK.IMPORT;
RUN;

Small, basic, baby steps towards pulling it all together. One day I’ll look back on this post and laugh its simplicity.

 

 

SAS, R and MS ACCESS

Last night I attended my first session of my Data Cleansing course. 

The syllabus looked daunting. However, once there, the instructor polled the class of about 30 students to see who had any SQL background. Two hands went up – mine and one other student. When he asked if anyone was a programmer – mine was the sole hand raised. 

He then mentioned our first few weeks will be spent learning SQL basics by using MS ACCESS. I almost LOL’d. We have 4 weeks to complete the first homework assignment – which we will do in groups. Following ACCESS will be R Studio, then SAS. 

Such a sense of relief and satisfaction washed  over me. I’m pretty sure I’ll ace this one!

Happy New Year!

2017

Reflecting on the just-passed and brand-new years, a few things come to mind. I achieved quite a bit in 2016 and had many new experiences including, but not limited to:

  • Co-presented at my first Oracle conference in June (Kscope16) with @oraclenerd, and visited Chicago for the first time.
  • Was a track lead for the Student Track, for the first time at the PABUG conference.
  • Co-presented my first online webinar, about SQL Developer with @thatjeffsmith.
  • Was part of a panel discussion for young, middle-school aged girls interested in technology and spent the weekend with them as we built steam rockets.
  • Started leading the Leadership Program for the Oracle User’s Group, ODTUG
  • Was accepted into my second Master’s Degree program and began diving into the world of business analytics.
  • Monitored priority registration for the first time, at my job.
  • Worked on my management skills as I became responsible for two new direct reports at my job.

I’m not one for making New Year’s Resolutions, however, I have a few goals I’d like to achieve in 2017:

  • Update this blog more frequently!
  • Be able to walk 4 miles without back issues or asthma attacks.
  • Become at least familiar with the following: Python, SAS, JMP, APEX, R.
  • Produce at least three webinars for PABUG.
  • Maybe a webinar for ODTUG with Justin (@icodealot) co-presenting.
  • Presenting at least once, at a conference this year.
  • Boost up the ODTUG Philly Database Meetup.

What I’m most looking forward to, at this point, in 2017:

  • Temple U, where I work, is considering moving to APEX – and that really excites me. I am looking forward to diving into this technology that I’ve been wanting to learn more about for the past 3 years.
  • PABUG has created a new track, and asked that I lead it this year, for Online Learning. This came about due to the great response our first webinar received. I’m really looking forward to making this program great and offering real value to the PABUG community.
  • I’m super-charged to get the group project going for the ODTUG 2016-2017 Leadership Program, that will come to fruition soon and will be completed by Kscope17. I’m also stoked that Kscope17 is in San Antonio this year-one of my favorite towns, and I’ll get to visit with some close friends that live nearby that I don’t get to see IRL all that often.
  • I’ll be attending RMOUG for the first time, and volunteered to be a session ambassador. This will be great and though going to Denver in February is a bit intimidating, I’m hoping the weather will cooperate and we won’t get snowed in! I admire Kellyn (@DBAKevlar) and Tim (@timothyjgorman) – the work they do and the knowledge they share, so much that I am super-excited to be a part of this conference this year. I’ll also get to spend time, learn from, maybe even have a beer or two with more good people that I don’t get to see IRL too often.

Wow…All that and it is only January 1st!

May the new year bring us all peace, prosperity, growth, love and happiness.

 

That Time the Parens “Almost” Got Me

As a developer, there are days when you pat yourself on the back for the cool, innovative code you wrote, and smile at how clever you are.

Then there are times when you wonder how you can walk and chew gum at the same time. I had one of those “Duh!” moments yesterday.

I am working on a project for our admissions office. They used to get boxes and boxes of paper Advanced Placement(AP) test scores from high school students who are considering applying to Temple. AP tests are exams that high school students can take, usually in a subject they excel in, such as math, history or biology, and if they score high enough on the exam, they can obtain college credit for a course they normally would have had to take.It can shave 3 or more credits off of their academic program of study once in college.

The admissions staff were known to have manually entered over 2,000 scores during any one admissions cycle. As of this past summer, those test scores are now arriving electronically and loading into Banner – our student information system. However, there is a third party system we are using to evaluate those test scores and how the AP credit can be applied towards Temple programs. That system is where the admissions staff used to key in the test scores, and that is my part of what is now a two-step automated process- I have to take the scores out of Banner, and massage the data and get it into the third party solution, where the actual evaluation of AP credit to Temple credit occurs.

My team and I have made good progress so far and I was testing my part yesterday. The university has dozens of types of tests that come in for students such as entrance exams (SATs, ACTs, MCATS, LSATS, etc) and placement tests. The AP scores are designated in such a manner that the first two characters of the test code are “AP”. So for example, “AP20” is a biology test, “AP25”  Chemistry, etc.

In my querying of the database, I was grabbing all AP tests that had been added to students’ records , with a score of at least three, and that had no “DR” code in another column. However, in my result set I was getting tests that did not start with AP. Where were those EETK, MP1, MP2, MP3, EESS scores coming from ?

parens_trouble1_092316

After scratching my head a bit and a few expletives mumbled under my breath, the “Ah ha” moment arrived. Lines 7 and 8. The lack of properly placed parens (parenthesis) with the ANDs and OR was doing me in. Once I got them right, my result set looked much better.

parens_trouble2_fixed_092316

Moral of the story – you can never be too careful, even when you “think” you have this SQL thing nailed down. Take the time to check yourself!

 

And So it Begins

Tomorrow night – Stat 5001, “Quantitative Methods for Business” –  class #1. All weekend, per my program director’s instructions,  I’ve been installing software on my machine:

  • Office 2016 – check
  • JMP – check
  • SAS – check
  • Pearson Electronic content – check

Thing is – installing software doesn’t mean knowing how to use it.

Ever since acceptance into this program was a certainty, I’ve been wavering between”Holy crap, what have I done?” to “Breathe…just breathe”.

Baby steps.

 

 

Are you recognized as a leader in your field? If not, are you ready to be?

Are you recognized as a leader in your field? If not, are you ready to be? That is the tag line for the announcement that applications are being accepted for the third installation of the ODTUG Leadership Program. Are you considering applying? If not, you should be!…You won’t find a more encouraging group than the ODTUG leaders. They are some amazing people who are there to help you grow and shine, and offer support and guidance along the way. I am extremely grateful to have been through the program and hope we see more and more people come through.

I wrote those words over a year ago as part of the pitch, when ODTUG announced the opening of the application period for the 2015-2016 Leadership Program, and they ring true just as much now as they did then.

I discovered ODTUG three years ago, in April of 2013, when I stumbled upon some content during a Google search, to help answer a technical question I was researching. On July 16, 2013 I became a full, paying member in order to gain access to past webinars and conference presentations, and doing so has become one of the best decisions I have made. Not only have my technical skills benefited from the knowledge I’ve gained from their content, my life has become enhanced by the amazing group of people associated with this user group. Not only have I made great professional contacts through ODTUG, even better – I’ve  made some wonderful friends, who I am so grateful for and who enhance my life on a daily basis.

kscope16 event

Kscope16 Special Event, Roaring 20’s Party in Chicago. With husband Joe, and very special friends, Chet, Sarah and Andy

jeff2

Photo courtesy of ODTUG. “That” guy on the left – I’m a big fan. He’s helped me over many hurdles. http://www.thatjeffsmith.com

In the three years since joining, I have contributed to the organization by serving as a content review committee member for Kscopes 15 and 16, being an active member of the Database Community, and in the 2014-2015 year, I applied and was accepted into the Leadership Program. The Leadership Program consisted of virtually attending monthly webinars, that were always engaging, enlightening, and inspiring, and whose lessons have definitely contributed to the person I am today.

LP2015

2015-2016 Leadership Program Grads, and a few of us 2014 grads.

This year, I can add Kscope16 presenter to my list of contributions, as well as having the honor of being the leader for the 2016-2017 incoming Leadership program class!

presenters

Me and my most awesome co-presenter, Chet Justice

 

Applications are now being accepted and the deadline to apply is 8/14/16. Apply here: ODTUG 2016-2017 Leadership Program Application

 

 

 

Heading to Kscope16

Tomorrow morning I’ll be on the way to one of the best tech conferences I have ever attended – ODTUG’s Kscope. 


What makes this conference stand out above the rest? Content, fun, great people!

I virtually knew many folks in the Oracle Developer and EPM communities before attending my first Kscope conference last summer, from our communications on social media. So it was great to meet so many IRL after having texted, emailed, Tweeted and Facebook-liked each other’s posts for many many months. 

This year, thanks to the encouragement of Chet Justice,   (@oraclenerd ) who has become one of my closest friends and mentors,  I’ll be presenting for the first time at Kscope, and for only the second time, ever. Chet graciously offered  to be by my side as my co-presenter and “PL/SQL Outtakes” can be seen Tuesday at 3:30. 

I’m looking forward to seeing friends, learning from some of the best Oracle folks on the planet, and enjoying Chicago!

BA – Here I Come!

I have been a software developer for the past 20 years. I have so many friends in the BI/BA side of the house that my curiosity got the best of me- and as of 8/29 I’ll be pursuing an MS in Business Analytics. There is a dual program option – where with the addition of five more classes, I could get the MBA as well as MS degree. 

Time will tell if I am cutout for this. I have already been networking with my fellow Fox School of Business classmates, faculty and staff. Here is a glimpse of last night’s soirée at Indepenece Beer Garden:


I recently met with my Program Director who gave me a list of websites addressing statistics-basics  to help me “get up to speed” over the summer. (So much for magazines on the beach or poolside). 

And I’ll be attending the ODTUG pre-Kscope16 Meetup with the Philly EPM community folks next week.

A friend asked me why I’m seeking  out this second master’s degree. I said it’s because I want to learn about business  analytics . She said “You can read about business analytics on the web if you want to learn about it. You don’t have to get a Master’s degree in it!”.  True enough – but with my free tuition benefit as an employee of Temple University – why NOT go for the gold? Plus I’m no way disciplined enough to take the time to learn something on my own. I get too easily distracted.  

Here I go!

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