Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Geek Alert - proceed with caution

I think I mentioned that I got a new laptop:  i7 fifth generation CPU, 12G of ram, 17" screen.  Windows 8.1 (I'm slowly circling closer to it, still don't particularly like most of the changes) with Dragon speech recognition software.  Kinda cool to just say "hey, Dragon, shut down the computer" as I walk away and it does!  Other commands, not so much.  Just realized I should have done this post by verbally dictating it to the new laptop, but I'm still on my old(er) desktop for pretty much everything but what I bought the laptop for.

What did I buy it to do?  Well...  In my job I need to get more conversant in databases.  To be specific, Oracle, Sybase, Netezza, and SQL databases.  I say conversant because I'm not creating databases, designing them, tuning them or anything else an actual DBA would be doing.  This actually totally frustrates the actual DBA folks who work with me.  However, I need to know how to peer into the belly of the database and diagnose the symptoms presented to me in the form of incident tickets.  Oracle does a fantastic job of making itself available for download free in the form of virtual machines (files that when opened in proper software look and act like actual separate computers) and I needed more horsepower to do that.  I want to try things before jumping on Big Customer's production servers and running commands that could cause another big market crash if I caused the server to incinerate itself.  Seems like a good idea anyway.

Oracle is covered, or will be when I get over my rising panic to actually open up one of the downloaded virtual machines and start playing.  The really nice thing about this setup is that it is just a file.  If I incinerate it, I just load another copy of it and off I go.  I need something similar, or maybe at least a good recommendation on books or videos on Sybase, and maybe an introduction to Netezza.  To be honest, I haven't done much research to see what is out there.  I've kinda been occupied with the Oracle side.  I was hired, or rather moved over to this side, based on my SQL knowledge, but we haven't taken that over yet.  It is just a matter of time, which I need to use to brush up on  the details of the interface.

These are the things that try to keep me off the street and out of trouble.  I did manage to wrestle the laptop to the ground and get a backup image of it before downloading the virtual machine software to it.  There is a nice, free utility online called Rufus.  I was able to get a thumbdrive  to format as a bootable device and then use my imaging software to image the original setup of the disk on the laptop.  That was step one.  In case I end up incinerating the entire OS.  The process wants tweaking in that I want a larger thumbdrive (128G...) so I can put the image on the thumbdrive instead of needing an external usb drive also hooked up to take the image.  Too many drives available and it is just a matter of time until I try to take an image of itself and incinerate the wrong thing.  This is the voice of experience.  There is a reason I'm so paranoid about backups.

I warned you.  This is the side of me I don't write about much.  I haven't done much in several years is another reason.  This is actually fun stuff for me.  I'm weird in other ways as well.


  1. Is it okay for me to just smile, nod and tell you to go for it? Cause I only have a very vague idea of what you are trying to learn. My last computer programing classes were in 1986. COBAL, RBGII and Basic.

  2. Right over my head. That is OK....I still like you!! :) I just got a new laptop for summer travels. 8.1......I'm a mess!

  3. Okay - put me in the non-geek category. But you sure sound happy with all the "stuff" you're working on and that is all that really matters. I'm just glad there are folks like you who love this computer stuff, otherwise the rest of us would be stuck using paper and pencil still.

  4. I stepped up to my first computer in 1983 and completely taught myself a whole lot. Then I began teaching others, and was known as the "go-to-person. By the time I retired in 1996 I was struggling to keep up with advancements, and I decided then to just do a memory wipe of the whole thing. Now I can only do the minimum essential things that I want to do on my computer. Not interested in learning more about it - just do what I need to do. When you are my age I can't imagine where the field will be, and maybe you'll keep up with it or maybe you won't. It sure is good for the brain though!

  5. How I envy the geek in you! I have so many problems with my computer and lack of knowledge is a very big part of that.

    Would love to buy me another one but having to learn WIndows 8 when I can't even master Windows 7 keeps me from doing so.

    You go girl!!