Scott's Column
Not to DBA, Lightning Strikes

September 1, 2005
By Scott Lewis

Last month I introduced the idea I might be pursuing a DBA career path. I decided against it. I have some reason, and I will get into them below. School is starting this month so hopefully I will be getting back to gaming. Also, lightning strikes.

This Month's Games

I have been playing Jedi Knight as much as I can. My kids love watching me play. My youngest son says I "rock." I mainly just want to play it till the end so I can be done with it and move on once the school year is in full swing and I can start playing more adult oriented games.

I actually finished the game as a Jedi. However, I saved the game under two names when I reach the point where you decide whether or not to cross over to the dark side. I am close to the finally playing on the dark side.

Basically you go through the last mission... then one where you face the big boss at the end... but you have to fight all the good guys as well as the bad guys. In this final mission you join in a fight with a bunch of Jedi fighting against a bunch of bad guys. While playing the good side they help you... when they are not in your way. While playing the dark side they all seem to know it and the Jedi fight you as well. It is harder to play on the dark side. Plus the game itself is against you. For instance, when you normally die you have enough time while they show you dying to hit the quick load key to get back to a previous quick save spot. While playing the dark side it throws the load previous checkpoint screen up instantly, so that you first have to load the checkpoint then load your quick save point. A little annoying.

To DBA or not to DBA?

Last month I mentioned that my boss was considering having me trained to be an actual DBA. I have been working in an "acting" DBA role for 3-1/2 years. For the last two years it has been pretty easy as we have not had many issues to deal with. But we are getting ready to migrate off an HP mainframe computer onto an Oracle RAC (Real Application Cluster) system. This is also know as Oracle's Grid computing.

I thought as a DBA I could get enough more money that my wife could stop working. Unfortunately that is not the case. It turns out that my salary is already in the pay scale range for a DBA at my company. I would probably get a bit of a raise, but not enough to justify all the extra hours I would have to put in.

Upgrades, patches & database changes that would all have to be performed during "quiet time" with the database would require a fair amount of night and weekend work. Heck, I am just too lazy for that. 

In reality, the main reason I turned down the chance was because I would no longer be allowed to program. I would have to leave my current position as Programmer/Analyst and move over to the operations side of the IT department. I would miss doing development work far to much to put up with the maintenance that a DBA would have to perform. Plus, after the migration we really would not need a full time DBA, and the job would end up getting other operation duties.

It's just not worth it.

Lightning Strikes

Our house was hit with lightning... or at least the yard was hit. My son went outside to see the rain and he saw the lightning land "right in front of the house." We lost power for a little while. I was at work, so I didn't get to enjoy any of it. However, when the power came on the Internet was a little flaky. When I got home my server was not showing up on my router hub. I recently replaced the router hub and thought this was odd. I ended up bring a laptop into the closet where my server, router and cable modem reside. I plugged the laptop into each port on the back of the router and only ports 1 & 2 worked. However, even plugging in my server into one of those ports did no good.

Why this happened is a bit of a mystery, since all three components are plugged into a UPS. Since the router was less than 30 days old I just took it back to the store and exchanged it. I also bought a new network card for my server.

Installing the network card in the server was the tricky part. The server does not have a floppy or CD-ROM drive. I had to haul it out of the closet and put it in place of my desktop. I also had to take my desktop apart to "borrow" its CD-ROM drive. What a pain. 

All is working fine, but it was a strange thing that only the equipment plugged into the safest device I own was effected.

Lightning Damage Continues

The lightning damage was not limited to the items plugged into the UPS in my closet. As it turned out about three days later the power went out again. This was not due to lightning, but it showed a problem. Almost immediately my UPS gave up the ghost. It beeped for about 3 or 4 minutes, then everything plugged into it went dead.

When the power game back on I started everything up. Within about an hour the UPS started beeping... while the power was on. Apparently the battery in the UPS is dead. At least that's my current conclusion. I am currently running on the edge without a UPS. I am still using a surge protector until I can get another UPS.

The last item to go on the fritz was the dishwasher. I know, hardly a high tech device. But high tech enough, because I am sure the circuit board in the dishwasher took a jolt. When you turn the dishwasher on it makes a thunk sound exactly like it was turning on and letting the water in. It last for less than a second. Then the lights on the front panel blink instead of going on steady. If I leave it alone the dishwasher will get get around to working. I got up at 4:00 in the morning and went to get a glass of water and heard the dishwasher running. By the time I returned from the bathroom it was on the dry cycle.

It takes about 8-12 hours to run al the way through running for a few minutes at a time as far as I can tell. To make sure I don't get in a bind I run it immediate after dinner every other evening. I can't rely on running it during the day and waiting for it to finish. I start it after dinner and it has been ready by morning. A real repair with have to wait.

Non Lightning Issues

One other issue that came about during the power outages is the battery backup to our alarm. The control panel would beep constantly telling us the battery was low. I had to disconnect the battery to shut the system up. I know, not good. I will be getting a replacement battery as soon as I can find a place that sells one that will match. It is not standard.


That's it for this month. More bad that good. I manager to get real close to finished on a big, fun project at work. I'll try to tell you about it next month if I can think of a way while being vague about where I work. I have also been having fun doing the "acting" DBA stuff on Oracle 10g. I will tell you about that next month. Also there is a car show at the SBC Center here in San Antonio Labor Day weekend. I hope to go see it.

Until next time.