Published in the president's column of the Spring 2004 edition of RMOUG SQL>Update. As there is no electronic copies available online prior to 2009, I have pulled this from my email records.
How do you learn new things about Oracle?
Personally, one of the best ways I’ve found to stay current and learn new things has been the ORACLE-L email forum. This global torrent of questions, answers, ideas, opinions, and humor is moderated under the benevolent dictatorship of a gentleman named Jared Still, who is also co-author of a book named “Perl For Oracle DBAs” from O’Reilly and Associates (2002). Like a wise, ever-vigilant, and slightly weary father, Jared keeps the conversations from straying too far away from the technical purpose of the list, a formidable task given some of rambunctious contributors. The list is world-wide, so people will post their opinions and lessons from Latvia, the UK, Montana, Australia, India, and Dubai just as if they lived in Castle Rock, Aurora, or Arvada.
Unlike our own email lists within RMOUG, which have been relatively quiet lately, the ORACLE-L list generates about 100 emails per day, on average. The volume can be quite overwhelming, but there is the option of a daily “digest” mode which results in one compiled email per day, summarizing all of the conversations posted. The host of this list is none other than the familiar “Fatcity.com” services, based in San Diego. Up until last year, Fatcity also hosted RMOUG’s email list services for free for almost a decade!
I can’t begin to list the multitude of things I have learned simply by “lurking” on the list. “Lurking” is when you simply watch and listen, without posting any questions or answers of your own. The breadth of knowledge on the list is truly stunning. However, what is learned by “lurking” on the list pales next to what you learn when you actually participate and post questions and answers of your own. Very often, any terseness in an answer is quickly teased out by others into a comprehensive explanation. Any ambiguities are probed until the root causes are yielded. And any faulty reasoning, hubris, or falsity is quickly exposed to the light of day before all. Jared is generally able to keep it from getting personal and the atmosphere is generally collegial and professional, but there are moments.
I can’t recommend participation in this valuable resource highly enough. Not much in this life can be guaranteed, but I guarantee that you’ll learn something new every week if you lurk or participate.
The address of the list itself is “email@example.com”, but to post to it or get email from it, you must first subscribe to it. To learn more about the ORACLE-L list, go to “http://www.orafaq.com” and click on the left-hand navigation bar for “Mail Lists”. You will see a page which summarizes the most recent messages posted (i.e. “New Messages”), a searchable archive of all of the messages posted over the past year or more (i.e. “Archive”), and information about the list and how to subscribe to it (i.e. “About”). To subscribe, send an e-mail message to “ListGuru@fatcity.com” In the body of the message write “SUBSCRIBE ORACLE-L your_real_name” (for example: “SUBSCRIBE ORACLE-L MARY CONTRARY”). Nothing else! Make sure you suppress your signature lines if they are normally added automatically.
One important thing to remember: if you have any problems or complaints or questions about the operation of the list itself, please do not ever send a message saying “HELP!” directly to the list itself (i.e. to the address “firstname.lastname@example.org”). Instead, request the automated help by sending a message with the word “Help” in the body to the address “ListGuru@fatcity.com” or, if you need to talk to a person, send a message to “ListMaster@fatcity.com”. Sending a “Help!” message to the list itself will trigger one of the traditions on the list, whereby participants race to respond “Are you an idiot?” Not a pleasant or helpful response, by any means.
Besides the ORACLE-L and (of course) RMOUG’s own technical email list forum at “email@example.com”, there are other useful online forums:
- For Oracle DBAs, the website “http://www.dba-village.com”
- which includes a weekly “newsletter” email
- The ODTUG lists at “http://www.odtug.com/subscrib.htm”, including:
- ODTUG-L – for general ODTUG questions, discussions, and administrative notices
- ODTUG-RULES-L – for the discussion of business rules and associated topics of interest to the business rules community
- ODTUG-WAREHOUSE-L – for data warehousing and OLAP-related topics
- ODTUG-METHODS-L – for methodology and process topics
- ODTUG-DES2K-L – for Oracle Designer topics
- ODTUG-DEV2K-L – for Oracle Developer topics
- ODTUG-DISC2K-L – for Oracle Discoverer topics
- ODTUG-JAVA-L – for JDeveloper, JDBC, and Java-related topics
- ODTUG-SQLPLUS-L – for SQL*Plus, PL/SQL, and general SQLtopics
- ODTUG-WEBDEV-L – WSG, OAS, OWAS, WebDB, and other Web-related topics
- The IOUG special-interest groups (SIGs) at “http://www.ioug.org/networking/sigs.cfm”, including:
- PeopleSoft SIG
- Oracle Portal SIG
- Oracle9i RAC (Real Application Clusters) SIG
- SAP SIG
- The “Lazy DBA” website and list at “http://www.lazydba.com”
There are, of course, many others. If you have been participating in other technical forums that you have found valuable, please share your experiences with the rest of us online in the RMOUG technical forum at “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Or, please email me directly at “email@example.com” and I will forward your message to the forum. Or, contact our Newsletter Editor, Dan Fink, at “firstname.lastname@example.org” if you’d like to publish a short tip or article in the newsletter about your experiences.
Thanks for sharing!