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:


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!


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


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


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” ?


head(cs1, n=10)

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



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




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!


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 ?


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.


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


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.


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!


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