TruTek TruTalk Newsletter for Oracle Professionals
Robert Freeman's Oracle Database 10g RMAN Backup and Recovery

November, 2008

Welcome to the November issue of TruTalk. We have some terrific classes coming up, taught by some of our favorite experts.
We also have classes on OBIEE and SQL Performance Tuning coming up in December - check out the training schedule below!

We've just wrapped up our submissions for Collaborate 09. I'm hoping to present about what I've learned while consulting on a RAC implementation about how failover and load balancing work with the E-Business Suite. And I'd like to present about how to do a Release 12 upgrade, since I've done so many as part of our R11i/R12 Technical Upgrade training class. Stay tuned!

Mike Swing
Oracle Application Express (APEX)
A Few Of My Favorite Books
Workflow Training Class
RDBMS 11g Classes with Robert Freeman
Article Writing Contest
TruTek Training Schedule
Did You Miss APEXposed! 2008?
Pro Oracle Application ExpressOracle Application Express (Oracle APEX), formerly called HTML DB, is a rapid web application development tool for the Oracle database. Using only a web browser and limited programming experience, you can develop and deploy professional applications that are both fast and secure.

This month some of the top APEX gurus got together for APEXposed
! 2008, held in Chicago on October 29th and 30th. Crowds of close to 300 participants came to hear some of the industry's best APEX and PL/SQL experts present on topics ranging from security to error handling to integrating Ajax components with Oracle Application Express.  This year, APEXposed joined forces with Steven Feuerstein's OPP (Oracle PL/SQL Professionals) conference, giving attendees the option to choose presentations from either track.

We don't mean to gloat (much), but we've got Scott Spendolini, President of Sumner Technologies, offering two APEX training classes the week of December 15-19 (just in time for some good skiing). Scott co-authored a new book with John Edward Scott, Pro Oracle Application Express. Click here if you'd like to see a preview of John and Scott''s book.

If you'd like to read more about APEX, check out some of these sites: - Winner of this year's Oracle APEX Developer of the Year - John Scott's blog - he's a co-author of Pro Oracle Application Express - Scott Spindolini's blog

Sign up for Scott's Introduction to APEX 3.1 class in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec 15-17
Sign up for Scott's Intermediate Oracle APEX 3.1 class in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec 18-19
A Few Of My Favorite Books - Guest Author Jonathan Lewis

Meet Jonathan Lewis, one of our favorite expert trainers. We put him on the spot and asked him to tell us his favorite books, and why...

When I was in Salt Lake City last month, Barbara Matthews asked me for my "Top 10" books about Oracle. I don't normally do lists - and I don't read many Oracle books - but Iggy Fernandez put the same question, slightly differently phrase, as part of a brief interview for the Northern California User Group magazine a few days later. So I thought I'd try to come up with a useful answer.  This is Iggy's phrasing:

Let's say that I'm a junior Oracle DBA and my manager offered to buy ten books on Oracle for me. Which books would you recommend?

Ten is a pretty big number, and I think you'd have to consider getting some books which are tailored to the parts of Oracle used by the business (such as RAC, streams, and so on) but I'll restrict myself to a fairly generic response - to the extent that some of the books aren't even specific to Oracle.

For my first choice I'd try to claim a Kindle or Sony e-Reader as the first "book". I haven't used one in anger, and the Kindle isn't even available in the UK, but the brief play I had with the e-reader left me keen to buy one.  (Unfortunately the demo model in the shop was sealed in a tamper-proof frame and had no real books on it because someone had accidentally deleted all (100) books from its memory - so maybe I should be a little cautious about recommending it.)

The second choice(s) ought to be some Oracle manuals. I know you can get them in html or pdf form online (I prefer the pdfs with Acrobat indexing); but for simply reading (rather than reference) there's nothing quite like a real book - and I don't mean a stack of paper from a laser printer. My books of choice would be the Concepts Guide, the Database Admin Guide (Fundamentals) and the Performance Tuning Guide. I might pick the 9i versions, rather than the 10g versions because some of the 10g manuals are getting to the stage where they lean too heavily on "how to use the OEM GUI".
But if you've got a Kindle or eReader, you can probably load the entire set of pdf files for the last four versions of Oracle, and carry them all around at once ! So I'm not going to count any of the Oracle manuals towards my list of 10.

In no particular order, then, here are the other nine:

2) Tapio Lahdenmaki and Mike Leach: Relational Database Index Design and the Optimizers. The authors are better known in the DB2 world than the Oracle world, but the concepts and understanding needed to design good indexes are the same even when there are variations  in vendor implementation. (For more details, check my review on
3) Dan Tow: SQL Tuning. This is the book that does for SQL Tuning what Tapio Lahdenmaki and Mike Leach do for understanding indexes. There is a way to think through the problems of data access - that method is going to help you find the best execution plan and work out what indexes your system needs.

4) Toon Koppelaars and Lex de Haan: Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals. This is a book that many might think too theoretical for a practising DBA - but if you don't have some idea of why the relational model is a "good thing" then you can't do your job properly.  This book may not be a direct help to you in your work, but it may help you to appreciate what you can achieve with the Oracle software. (For more details, check my review on

5) Tom Kyte: Expert Oracle Database Architecture. For a wealth of information about a wide range of the Oracle technology and how best to use it. This book tells you a lot about what Oracle can do, but also shows you, by the way it's written, how to extend your knowledge into new areas. If I were allowed a longer list, I would also include Tom's Expert One-on-one Oracle.

Cost-Based Oracle Fundamentals by Jonathan Lewis6) Jonathan Lewis: Cost Based Oracle - Fundamentals. I know that it's my own, but it is the best book you're going to find about how the optimizer works, and if you understand the core features of the optimizer you'll find it much easier to solve problems with slow SQL. (And if I were allowed a longer list, I probably would include Practical Oracle 8i).

7) Christian Antognini : Troubleshooting Oracle Performance. A recent release that contains a huge amount of information about how to identify and address performance problems.

8) Cary Millsap and Jeff Holt: Optimizing Oracle Performance. There are a couple of key points about Oracle performance that are rarely stated as clearly as they are in this book. One is the focus on addressing the users' complaints, the other is the impact of concurrency. It won't be casual reading for everyone - but the chapter on queueing theory is a must-read for all DBAs.

9) Recovery. If you're a DBA, then the most important job you'll ever do is to make sure that you can recover the database quickly after a disaster - and if you're lucky you'll never have to do it. There's probably a good book out there somewhere, but I've never had any need to go looking for it. But if there is one, then every DBA should have a copy and be made to practice. The difficulty with recovery is that the bits you need to cover well are site dependent, and no one book will tell you all you really need to know about the way you end up doing things for your site.

10) X: One of my pet theories is that people learn more by seeing things go wrong, rather than being told what things look like when they are going well. So all DBAs should be given at least one really bad book about Oracle and told to compare the clarity of writing, quality of explanation, and method of teaching with a good book so that they can learn to recognize suspect material. There are plenty of bad books on the market - fortunately I haven't seen enough of them to be able to give you a "bottom 10" list.

Toad Handbook by Dan Hotka    SQL Tuning    Applied Mathematics for Database Professionals     Expert Oracle Database Architecture     Troubleshooting Oracle Performance     Optimizing Oracle Performance

If you missed the chance to attend one of Jonathan's seminars in September and would like to be notified the next time Jonathan comes to town, let us know!

Workflow Training Class
The ABCs of Workflow
The feedback on our Oracle 11i Workflow Builder, Business Events and Administration class was very positive!

Great Class.  Well worth the time and money. Thanks! - Zions Bancorporation

Dan was very flexible! - Merit Medical

Dan is very detailed & organized and it shows wonderfully in his presentation.
- USANA Health Sciences

Our instructor Dan Stober brought his considerable experience with workflow to the class, which included both hands-on labs and lectures. To see more of Dan's work, take a look at his paper Fueling the Workflow Engine - Writing Custom PL/SQL to be Called from your Workflow Processes.

For those of you wondering if Oracle Workflow is still in the picture given Oracle's plans to migrate to BPEL, check out John Peters' and Karen Brownfield's Workflow SIG Meeting presentation from Oracle OpenWorld 2008. According to the presentation, workflow is still heavily used in E-Business Suite Release 12. Workflow will not be used in the Fusion Applications. BPEL  is the primary replacement for Workflow Technology, and can be used today with the E-Business Suite Release 11i and Release 12 environments.

One of the questions we had about BPEL was whether Oracle has started using BPEL code in Release 11i and Release 12, and if so, are there tables that Workflow Administrators should be managing like they do with the current Workflow tables. According to John Peters, "In base there is no BPEL.  But as customers add modules and integrations they could run into it.  The one I have run into so far is the Siebel Integration, which uses BPEL.  In R12, BPEL is used again primarily in the integration space.  I am working on an R12 upgrade right now and I have not directly run into any BPEL usage, but the hooks are there, I just don't know what processes will use it yet."

As we learn more about Workflow and BPEL, we'll write more to keep you updated!
Oracle Database 11g New Features - Robert Freeman
Robert Freeman's Oracle Database 10g RMAN Backup and Recovery
Oracle Database 11g New FeaturesYou've missed the chance to take Robert Freeman's Advanced Backup and Recovery Using Oracle 10g RMAN (for now, anyway). The good news is, Robert will be teaching again, this time on a topic that folks are finally ready to sink their teeth into - Oracle Database 11g New Features. If you've been debating whether you should migrate to RDBMS 11g, take Robert's class and find out all the new features that make it worth the upgrade effort.

Robert will teach this class in Salt Lake City from February 23-27, and in Denver from March 2-5, so check out the training schedule and sign up before the classes fill! Students will receive a complimentary copy of Robert's book Oracle Database 11g New Features. Classes that Robert teaches include: Backup & Recovery Using Oracle 10g RMAN, Oracle 10gR2 DBA New Features, Oracle 10gR2 Database Administration I, and Oracle Database 11g New Features.

OCP: Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional Study GuideRobert has a new book coming out! Check out OCP: Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional Study Guide You can pre-order it on Amazon for a reduced price.

And while we're at it, here's some insight from Robert about what it's like to write a book. Since Robert has written 13 books, he ought to know!

Writing books is a love hate affair for me. Sometimes I love the work, sometimes I hate the work. For 3-4 months it's deadline, schedule, write, deadline, write, deadline, etc... then, there are the edits.

Every chapter you write goes to a technical editor and then a copy editor. These folks take your hard work and turn it on its ear. In the end, it makes a much better product, but it also tends to make authors sick (at least it does me sometimes). Once these daemons of the dark have done their work, you have to go back through, review their changes and questions and fix any mistakes. There is more to the process, but maybe I'll comment on later processes as we get on down the line.

Book writing is an amazing process, and it's a wonder, but mistakes do still get though, sometimes big ones. Nothing makes me sicker than to pull a brand spanking new book out of the box, open it up and then find the first mistake. Ackkkkkk!!!!

Then, there are the reviews. Oh man, maybe that's a whole different discussion too. Suffice to say, your first sweet review makes for a great day. The first sour review makes you swear you will never write another word. They can be painful.

For those of you who think that those of us who write get rich off of the deal, please think again. I've written 13 books now (I think).... for the first 4 I didn't see any royalties. Yes, I did get some advances, but if you figure out how many hours you write and divide it by the advances... well, I just calculated it out and it comes to maybe 15 to 20 dollars an hour (and thats being very liberal with how much time I spend per chapter). I can tell you that if you have a popular book, you can make more than that, but you don't sell books in the millions like Steven King. Royalty checks are nice, but there is never any guarentee.

So, why do I write? One, I like it. Two, I have to admit that the emails I get on a regular basis about my RMAN book in particualr are very motivating. I've had people tell me that my book pulled their database from certain death. That is very motivating. I also find it keeps me up on the latest and greatest. I think it's too easy to be complacent in our DBA jobs. Doing what we do, the normal way we do it. Well, the technology and the job is a-changin'... I want to be there as it does and be a part of it.

Finally, lest you think writing is easy work, I can probably find a writing project for you if you are glutting for punishment and can write. :-) You will hate me after six months probably.
Confio Igniter Suite

Confio builds performance management software that improves the effectiveness of IT systems and the people who run them. The Confio Igniter Suite currently includes products that help Oracle DBAs, managers, and developers continuously monitor the performance of databases and the applications that depend on them, isolate specific problems, and identify solutions in production systems.

Confio Ignite

Your Claim to Fame
AmazonYou might argue that our newsletter staff weighs in more on the technical side than the functional side. Yes, we admit it, we're geeks. But that doesn't mean we don't want to include articles about the functional side of the E-Business Suite. Really, we do. So here's your chance to help us keep a balanced perspective in our newsletter. If you've got a good functional topic, please, let us know. Enter our writing contest!  If you'd like to enter, just write an article about Oracle or the Oracle E-Business Suite. Tell us about a technique that you've used that made your life easier at work. Or describe something you've learned from all those books on your bookshelf, and how it applied to your environment. If you're not sure if you've got a good topic, send us a note, and we'll help you figure it out. Go ahead, you know you want to!

Submissions should be sent to [email protected] by November 25th. We'll include the winning article in our next newsletter. And the winning author will win a very cool prize, a $100 Gift Certificate from Amazon
Upcoming TruTek Training Schedule
We're always open to adding new classes, so let us know your interests! We add new classes regularly, so be sure to check the latest version of the schedule on our website at:

Not finding the course or date that you're looking for? Let us know!





Technical Classes


Nov 3-6

Advanced Backup and Recovery using Oracle 10g RMAN with Robert Freeman


Nov 17-21

Oracle R11i/R12 Applications DBA Concepts and Administration


Dec 1-5

Introduction to Oracle Business Intelligence EE (OBIEE)


Dec 9-11

Oracle SQL Performance Tuning Tips and Techniques


Dec 15-17

Introduction to Oracle APEX 3.1 with Scott Spendolini


Dec 18-19

Intermediate Oracle APEX 3.1 with Scott Spendolini


Jan 15-16

Oracle Applications Desktop Integrator (ADI)


Jan 19-23

Oracle R11i/R12 Applications DBA Concepts and Administration


Jan 27-29

Introduction to SQL Using Oracle 10g


Feb 2-3

Oracle Discoverer for Administrators


Feb 3-6

Oracle E-Business Suite R11i /R12 Technical Upgrade


Feb 23-27

Oracle Database 11g New Features with Robert Freeman


Feb 24-27

Oracle R11i/R12 Applications DBA Concepts and Administration

Dallas, TX

Mar 2-5

Oracle Database 11g New Features with Robert Freeman

Denver, CO

Mar 2-6

Oracle R11i/R12 Applications DBA Concepts and Administration

Denver, CO

Mar 17-20

Oracle E-Business Suite R11i /R12 Technical Upgrade

Denver, CO


Functional Classes


Nov 10-13

Oracle R11i/R12 Financials Business Process Overview


Jan 12-14

Oracle Release 11i General Ledger for End Users


Jan 12-15

Oracle Release 11i Procure to Pay


Jan 12-13

Oracle Release 11i Purchasing


Jan 14-15

Oracle Release 11i Accounts Payable


Jan 15-16

Oracle Release 11i Fixed Assets


Jan 26-30

Oracle Release 11i Advanced Pricing


Feb 4-5

Oracle Discoverer for End Users


Feb 16-17

Oracle Release 11i Bills of Material (BOM)/Engineering (ECO)

Chicago, IL

Feb 23-24

Oracle Release 11i Advanced Supply Chain Planning (APS)

Chicago, IL

Enough Already!
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