Monday, November 23, 2009

Oracle Data Pump for data refreshes part 4

Part one, part two and part three.

This is a follow-up to the third part of this series with some real-world examples to make corrections and to justify some points.

I ran into a known 10g bug when attempting a DATA_ONLY export using parallel processing (ORA-00001: unique constraint () violated. The bug was fixed with 11g (Oracle forums). The source database was small so I did ran parallel=1 to get it to work. For larger databases that might not be feasible. The next test would be to modify the first export to get data and metadata and then do the DATA_ONLY on the first import step.

Other than the error above, the export and import for the first refresh went smoothly. The second import was more of a complete account copy do I could not use exactly what I specified in part three.

I did one export and one import. The export went quickly and without error. The import ground to a halt at the TABLE_STATISTICS step due to a bug in the Oracle Data Pump when schema and/or tablespace remapping is used. I had to terminate the import. Forums suggest using a EXCLUDE=STATISTICS in the parameter file to avoid these two incredibly slow steps and then rebuilding the statistics after the import (done through Enterprise Manager or whatever). The export of 57 GB of data took roughly 12 minutes. The import of that data took roughly 20 minutes for just the data. Source objects seemed to take a while and, as mentioned, the statistics took forever.

The data pump is a remarkable improvement over the previous import and export utilities. What took hours before can now be accomplished in less than an hour.

More to come.

Microblogging

I made this comment on the soccer boards I occasionally frequent but it was a decent rant.

I dislike micro-blogs like Twitter and social web sites used like micro-blogs. Sentence fragments are replacing meaningful dialog. I get so tired of the cryptic crap like "so many things wrong with today." What? Did your cat die? Are you on the rag? Did you get a skunky beer? Is your boss licking your coffee cup while you sleep at your desk?

What?

It seems like every tweet or status update from a friend below the age of 27 is like this.

The problem with these sentence shortened cries for attention is that unless you are tight within the sphere of friends and know what is going on you are left to draw your own conclusions about what is really going on in their lives. This is especially true for public figures that post these dramatic little giblets about their lives leading to four or fifty different interpretations to what they actually meant. Twitter updates sometimes worse than the Bible for interpretation.

Why the drama?

I realize that I am not using the latest and greatest iDroid portable media server/game console/camera/asset manager/phone and probably do not understand what is really going on. I understand that text messaging is the cool thing to be doing right now and that these short cryptic messages are really some English sub-language I will never understand or whatever. But, if you have friends or people that you want to be up-to-date with every little detail of your life then are you really doing a disservice to friends left guessing about the seriousness of the situation? Yoda is a better conversationalist.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Columbus Crew 2009, summary

The Columbus Crew exited the major league soccer playoffs Thursday to Real Salt Lake. After winning the Supporter Shield for best record at the end of the regular season the reigning MLS champions lost and away match 0-1, a home match 3-2 and 4-2 on aggregate goals for the playoff series. Now that the sting has edged I feel able to comment on it.

My first thought is that I hate the first round of the MLS playoff system. The team with the best record plays away first and then comes back home for one game. Two games where the best team gets a home field advantage by playing the last game of the two games at home. To me that gives the advantage to the lesser record team because the better record team will be more likely to play defensively for a tie to take the series back home for the win or play defensively to not give up too many goals to take back home and score more goals. If the lesser team gets more goals in the first game then they hold a distinct advantage in game two because the better record team must score one more goal than they did leaving the lesser team to play a clogged defense and counter attack game. This is a moot point since the Crew lost both games. So what happened?

There are lots of opinions on what happened but I think it all boils down to one word: inconsistency.

First there was the inconsistent lineup due to injuries to key players like Schelotto, Hesmer and Marshall. Brunner, Iro, Zayner and O'Rourke stepped up with admirable performances in place of Chad Marshall. Problems with injuries and players not being at full performance complicated mid to late season matches that also included Open Cup and Champions League games. There were also games where players were called up to national teams causing complications in starting lineups.

Second, inconsistent performances. There are a lot of names in this list: Rogers, Hejduk, Gaven, Hesmer, Moreno, and even Schelotto in some ways. Defender Chad Marshall outperformed Moreno, Garey and Lenhart in point production. Moreno spent more time acting than scoring. He looked dangerous one time, the first game he came back from injury. Rogers had one goal in 1,700 minutes playing for the Crew.

Third, inconsistent coaching. Robert Warzycha took over the championship team from 2008 from Sigi Schmid. Some games made him look like a genius but in reality we got lucky. Revolving line-ups were forced by injuries, suspensions, and the introduction of Champions League play. They were also made by Warzycha. The 2008 Crew marched into the playoffs with the starting eleven players they were going to field the entire playoffs. Schelotto did not play the first game of the playoffs leading to questions about the team and the coaching staff.

So where does the Crew go from here?

Warzycha and the coaching staff need to explain their position but should also keep their jobs going forward to next season. There are people calling for Warzycha to be let go but who do we replace him with? Schelotto? If not Schelotto then who do we replace him with and who would we be able to afford?

Goalkeeping and defense has some interesting aspects to it. Hesmer is likely not going anywhere and stays in goal. Gruenebaum will likely be kept as a more than capable backup unless his trade value dictates otherwise. Marshall and O'Rourke were the central defense last season and they took us to a championship. Eric Brunner stepped up this season in central defense while Chad Marshall was injured and should be kept as a key part of the future. Unfortunately that leaves O'Rourke, a strong player out of luck and looking for a position. Gino Padula was just as strong this season as last so O'Rourke cannot occupy his position. On the right side, Crew heart and soul Frankie Hejduk began to show his age especially in the playoffs. Jed Zayner played adequately on the right side when Hejduk was out with injury or the national team and should probably, and unfortunately for Hejduk get the start in 2010 on the right side. This still leaves a strong player, O'Rourke, looking for a position. It also leaves international Andy Iro (England) on the bench and given Iro's 2009 performance was both good and slightly less than adequate he will be retained unless there is an opportunity to obtain better players by trading him.

The 2009 midfield was inconsistent due to injuries, national team call-ups, and coaching. The only consistent player was Brian Carroll who should be retained. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was the offense this season which is only good if other players are also contributing, which they were not. O'Rourke was used as a defensive midfielder this season but Adam Moffat returned in 2009 with both good and sub-adequate performances (again, inconsistency). On the outside Ekpo led the team with assists and had some key goals, Rogers had one fewer goals and assists than Ekpo with fewer minutes and games played. Eddie Gaven has six goals but no assists. This is an adequate contribution but leads to questions regarding who to start and keep for 2010. Crew fan favorite Duncan Oughton remained with the team in 2090 with limited action and as can be kept with the team as long as it is feasible to do so. The remaining midfield did not spend much time on the field and will likely end up as inconsequential players that can be waived, traded or kept.

The forward spots will likely endure the most scrutiny this season and for good reason. The bash brothers, Lenhart and Garey, showed a couple games of promise and dominance followed by barely adequate performances. This is my personal opinion but neither forward has provided a franchise worthy performance. Alejandro Moreno produced a couple game winning goals this season and spent time injured but he has earned a reputation as a flopper and most if not all referees in the league are not buying his acting. Since he is not scoring a large number of goals to offset this he becomes a liability and his position in 2010 will likely be as a bench player or not with the Crew at all. Emilio Renteria came aboard mid-season and had equal portions of bad and good in his performances. Both Moreno and Renteria are from Argentina and I would probably favor the younger Renteria going forward.

If I were asked to name the priorities for the 2010 season they would be: retain Schelotto for one more season as a player, acquire Schelotto's replacement so he can work alongside Guillermo and develop to lead the team. I do not think Gaven, Rogers, Ekpo, Moffat or any of the developmental players are those players so the Crew need to identify someone to fill that role from another MLS team or from another league. Next would be to retain Marshall, Hesmer, Carroll and Padula as they are all key players in the Crew roster. The next thing the Crew needs is a forward capable of playing with Schelotto (and his successor) and scoring a bucket load of goals. Ekpo, Brunner, O'Rourke and Zayner are young and show promise and value for the Crew future. Rogers and Gaven are both young but are both question marks (in my opinion) as both have the potential to create great value but have slumped during the 2010 season. Hejduk and Moreno should have their roles relegated. Last, Warzycha should be retained as coach unless an obvious and adequate replacement is both available and feasible for the organization.

Windows Home Server, part one

I recently decided to take the plunge and invest in newer technology for our home server. I wanted a small, efficient system to replace the iDEQ mini computer running Windows Server 2003. I was favoring an Ubuntu Linux system running on a VIA green computing platform. Unfortunately, the VIA motherboard was too unstable to run Windows or Linux on. I gave up after swapping power supplies and memory; everything else is integrated into the motherboard. During that time the Intel Atom based hardware and Windows Home Server (WHS) appeared. Since Windows in some flavor will always be running somewhere in the house and WHS was getting favorable reviews I took the plunge and purchased an all-in-one unit with the WHS license.

The Hardware

I purchased an Acer easyStore H340 for $360 (before tax and shipping). It features the Intel Atom 230 processor, a Western Digital WD10EAVS 1 TB hard drive, 2 GB DDR2 memory and has 5 USB 2.0 ports, 1 eSATA port and a gigabit Ethernet port. The front door opens to reveal four SATA drive bays (the non-system drives are hot swappable). Windows Home Server (WHS) with Power Pack 1 comes installed and ready to finish on the TB disk drive. The McAfee Total Protection was installed but not active, sitting there waiting for me to activate the trial and then pay later.

The unit is smaller than any of the mini-computers I currently own. It is also quiet and unassuming and would quite at home in any basement likely near the router. There are indicator lights on the left side for power, drive and network activity and a multicolored status indicator light. Each drive has a multicolored status indicator light.

I added a WD10EADS 1 TB hard drive to the system. The drive trays are plastic and cheap feeling so I was careful with the tray I put the hard drive into and when I slid it back into place. It was recognized by the server and I added it to the storage pool without issue. There are close to 2 TB of storage in the pool.

After doing some reading I decided to purchase a 750GB hard drive but not add it to the storage pool. This drive will be used for bit torrent downloads, distributed updates and other high activity data. The 750GB was likely overkill but only $12 more than a 300 GB drive. When you do not add the drive to the pool the corresponding indicator light stays purple instead of a happy blue like the other drives in the pool.

I also purchased a Seagate 1TB hard drive and external enclosure to serve as a backup drive. I was able to hook up the external drive, dedicate it to backups and then make a quick backup of what was on our server.

The Software - Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server (WHS) came pre-installed on the Acer machine and almost ready to go upon start up. Connecting to the WHS begins with the connector software that comes on an accompanying disc. Shares are created for pictures, video, software, recorded TV programs, and for a public folder. WHS seems to prefer Windows authentication and having your user names and passwords synchronized across multiple computers. This was an issue for me because I had an older computer with one user name and most newer computers had my full name as the user name. I renamed the one account and broke a security license key for a piece of software I really do not use anymore. Still, one minor aggravation to play well with WHS.

Management is performed (or should be performed) through the Home Server Console. The console cannot be resized which is an annoyance for those of us that have netbook computers and limited vertical resolutions. Many options are compacted into an one panel and the administrator can expand the console and WHS through plug-in modules. Remote desktop can be used to maintain the server but with caution; anything specific to WHS should be managed by WHS and if you do things outside of WHS you can potentially screw up WHS.

I had problems removing McAfee software. I was not happy with Acer at this point. Why install trial software that nags you without providing a means for un-installing it? I rushed in and used remote desktop to connect and then remove the software with errors. I had to reboot the server to get the components to disappear from the console. I have not checked the registry or disks to see if the product was removed completely.

I have not used the workstation backup feature of WHS. The workstations I have have too much junk on them and I do not like the idea of my netbook being awakened in the middle of the night to have a backup performed. I prefer to have control over tasks like backups and updates on the netbook devices.

Another feature I have not used yet is the ability to put things on the Internet through WHS. Exposing a WHS to the world is scary without doing some reading first. I am happy right now with having the WHS closed to the rest of the planet. Since I am on that topic, how do you think ISPs are going to react to the idea of a technology adequate family putting a server on the Internet. Imagine what happens when someone on this planet figures out to hack the default implementation of WHS. Millions of potential zombie computers and personal data stores open to damage.

The primary goal of WHS is to centralize the protection, access, organization and storage of home data and services. This assumes at least one or more home workstations and portables are in use in the home (it would not make sense to pay for a license and have a server without one). These computers would be routinely backed-up to WHS. Media is to be stored centrally on the WHS server so multiple computers and other devices can get to it. So if everything is centralized for security and convenience then why are two important aspects of Windows not part of WHS.

Why no integration with Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)?

MSE is free for XP, Vista and 7 users and regularly goes to the Internet for software and virus list updates. WHS coordinates the backup of devices on a regular schedule, why not centralize the security definitions and MSE software updates instead of having each home device connecting to the Internet to do so? Make a plug-in for MSE within WHS, which would download security definitions and updates to protect itself and provide them as a primary source for computers on the home network (the Internet being the secondary source if the WHS was unavailable or the computer were away from home).

Why no integration with Windows Server Update Services?

WSUS is also a free download but is geared more towards corporate environments. I have WSUS running on the current home server and it was nice to have a local copy of the 12 to 16 updates Microsoft just released on Tuesday. With WSUS the patches were downloaded once and then distributed locally to my two desktops in minutes. The same updates took roughly 40 minutes on my netbook, which is new and not currently pulling from the WSUS server. There are instructions on how to install WSUS on WHS available on the Internet but there is no support and no guarantees future updates to WHS would not cause a failure of WSUS and/or WHS for software not installed through plug-in. As with the security services, provide a plug-in for WHS to download and be the primary source for software updates for all local devices that can get to the WHS (leaving the Internet as the secondary source).

Summary

There will be follow-ups to this post as I start getting deeper into WHS and as more and more plug-ins and options become available.