Oracle Scratchpad

June 15, 2016


Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:50 am BST Jun 15,2016

Someone approached me at a recent conference to ask if I was available for hire and, in the course of the conversation, pointed out that he hadn’t really been certain whether or not it was possible to hire me for consultancy work. This made me realise that I don’t advertise very much, I usually forget to remind people that I can be hired, and I hardly ever remember to hand out (or even have available) business cards at the end of the presentations I give.

I am, however, available to do trouble-shooting, education, reviews, or design almost any time, anywhere, and at short notice. Solving performance problems quickly, though is my speciality, and there are times when I find it agonising to watch the slow progression of question and (failure to) answer on OTN taking days, or even weeks, to get to a solution that was “obvious” from the original question and needed only a couple of hours to check and implement.

I can be hired for a couple of hours, a couple of days, or a couple of weeks – the one thing I don’t do is sign up to being on-site daily for months on end, it wouldn’t be a cost-effective use of your money (or, probably, an interesting use of my time), but if you wanted to reserve every second Monday of the month for six months, or twenty days of my time over the next year, you wouldn’t be the first client to come to that type of arrangement.

If you’re really unlucky you might have to wait two weeks before I can get on your case (Open World, the UKOUG annual conference, and the family holiday can make timetabling a little awkward), but if you have a P/O, a description of the problem and requirements, and the authority to get me onto your system I can often start work within 48 hours (and finish within 72) – and if I think I can’t get the job done in the time you want to pay for I’ll tell you up front.

If I have to be on-site – and some of the projects I have helped with were very strict about security and access – I can travel almost anywhere in the world provided there are no visa or taxation problems to deal with (I’ve let my O-1 visa lapse, by the way, so anything in the USA will have to be handled from the UK); but if you only want a couple of hours of my time that will have to be over the Internet.

I charge £250.00 per hour or £1,700 per day, plus VAT (sales tax) where relevant. Travel and accommodation will be billed back at cost, and in extreme cases I may charge for some time spent on long-haul flights.

If the problem is interesting you’ll probably get some free time on top of the contracted time, but that means I’ll probably want to write about the issue (using a suitably camouflaged model of the problem, of course).

The best method of contacting me is by email:



September 13, 2014


Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:29 pm BST Sep 13,2014

Update: I’ve been trying to embed the recording of the presentation in this note, but haven’t quite got there yet; however here’s a URL for the recording.


I’ve often found in my travels that I’ve come up with a (potential) solution to a problem and wanted to test it “right now” – only to run onto the horns of a dilemma. A typical client offers me one of two options:

  • Option 1: test it on the production system – which is generally frowned on, and sometimes I can’t even get access to the production system anyway.
  • Option 2: test it on something that looks nothing like the production system – and hope that that’s in some way a valid test.

The first option – when it’s offered – is quite stressful, especially if the original performance problem had involved updates; the second option – which is the commoner offer – is also quite stressful because it’s quite hard to prove that the fix is doing what it’s supposed and that it will do it at the expected speed when it gets promoted to production. What I’d really like to do is clone the production system and run tests and demonstrations on the clone. In fact, that’s exactly what does happen in some rare cases – but then it usually takes several hours (or couple of days) rather than the few minutes I’d prefer to wait.

This is why I like Delphix and why I’m prepared to say so whenever I see a need for it on a client site. It’s also why I’ve agreed to do a little on-line webinar about the product on Thursday 18th Sept at 10:00 am Pacific Time (6:00 pm UK time). The event is free, but you need to register to attend.


Disclosure:  The company paid me to visit their premises in Menlo Park CA last year so that I could experiment with their product and talk to their technical staff, without requesting any right to edit or limit any review I might subsequently publish about their product. The company has also paid me for my time for Thursday’s webinar but, again, has made no attempt to exercise editorial control over the content.



March 1, 2013

Source Control

Filed under: Advertisements,Oracle — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:37 pm BST Mar 1,2013

You may recall that I spent some time with the developers at the redgate offices in Cambridge (UK) a little while ago, looking at their Source Control for Oracle package. The product is about to go live, with a launch date of 12th March.

Because of the help I’ve given them they’ve offered my readers the chance of winning one of two 5-user licences for the product – provided I devise a strategy for picking the recipients.

December 20, 2012


Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:19 pm BST Dec 20,2012

The evaluations for UKOUG Annual Conference 2012 are in – though perhaps not all of them have been loaded into the “Speaker Lounge” yet. I’m fairly pleased with my scores.  On a range of 1 – 6:

Presentation skills: 5.8, 5.79, and 5.72

Of course I have to say that great presentation skills don’t necessarily mean that the presentation was good. I’ve seen a couple of presentations in the past where the presenter was brilliant at communicating his topic – unfortunately at least half of what he  said was wrong. Conversely I’ve sat through a few presentations where the material was brilliant, but the presenter just needed lots more practice.

Fortunately I think the following scores show that it wasn’t all show and no substance:

Content Evaluation: 5.56, 5.36, 5.28

My favourite comment: on my B-trees masterclass that lasted 1 hour 50 minutes: “It should have lasted 2 hr 30”. I gave the audience a break at half time – it’s very gratifying when you do that and most of the audience come back when there are competing presentations that they could go to.

February 17, 2012

RMOUG Debrief

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:24 pm BST Feb 17,2012

I’m back home after a very pleasant few days in Denver. As always the RMOUG conference was great fun, the location delightful, and the people were friendly, and the organizers did a great job of looking after the presenters and making things happen. It’s a terrific event – just big enough to have a real buzz, but small enough (I’d guess about 700 – 800 people) that you don’t feel lost in the crowd.


July 26, 2011

O-1 Again

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:49 am BST Jul 26,2011

I don’t often waste time searching the internet for evidence of my brilliance – but sometimes you’ve just got to do it ;) My O-1 visa (aliens of exceptional ability) was up for renewal, and the immigration authority decided to ask me for more evidence of the significance of my work.

In part, I think, this was because they had decided that Cary Millsap and Tom Kyte were colleagues of mine and therefore couldn’t be used as referees for Cost-Based Oracle. This put me into a weird “Catch-22” situation – everyone I know that’s in a position to act as a referee is someone I know quite well, which means they’re just as much a “colleague” as Tom or Cary. So anyone I could ask to write a reference presumably wouldn’t be acceptable because I’d asked them!

In the end I asked the presidents of a number of international Oracle User Groups and editors of various magazines to make a statement for me – and they were all very helpful, for which I am grateful.

I also found a couple of dozen books and a handful of academic papers that reference my work – and that must have helped too. I also checked some salary surveys for the USA – it looks as if my fee income puts me somewhere between a top-rate gynaecologist and a top-rate surgeon (there’s got to be an analogy lurking there somewhere;).

Anyway, my passport arrived back from the US Embassy early this morning – so I’m ready for my next trip to the USA (California and Minnesota – 16th Aug)

June 17, 2011

Author, author!

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 3:57 pm BST Jun 17,2011

It’s official – I’m writing a new book for Apress.

The working title is: “A look at the internal mechanics of the important bits of Oracle for people who aren’t planning to become rocket scientists but who do want to do a little more than just push buttons in OEM”. (I’m still working on making the title a little more catchy.)

Target publication time – some time in November.

January 1, 2011

O-1 Visa

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:13 am BST Jan 1,2011

Congratulations to Mark Rittman of Ritmann Mead who emailed me last night to tell me that his application for an O1 visa (“aliens of exceptional ability”) to work in the USA had been granted.

There aren’t many of us around in the Oracle field (in a quick google search the I found just one other holder from the UK in a facebook entry for a Hyperion specialist) and Mark is certainly an appropriate addition to the select band.

May 26, 2010

Visual Tuning

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:47 pm BST May 26,2010

I’ll be doing a joint event with Kyke Hailey of Embarcadero in a few days time. It’s going to be a little unusual – a simultaneous webcast from opposite sides of the Atlantic – mixing my presentation about using a graphic method of tuning or designing efficient SQL with Kyle taking on the role of an active audience asking questions.

For more details and to register for this online event see this link

Update: the link now allows you to register to download the presentation and whitepaper, and to view a recording of the presentation. (See comment 7 below)

October 31, 2009

Top Ten

Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:41 pm BST Oct 31,2009

Sorry, this isn’t a posting about efficient ways of getting the first 10 rows from a result set – it’s a little note about Oracle Open World. I don’t brag very often, but sometimes it’s hard to resist.

I’ve just received an email about Openworld with the following content:

August 3, 2009


Filed under: Advertisements — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:08 pm BST Aug 3,2009

I’ve been too busy to respond to comments on the blog for the last few days – apologies to all who have contributed, I might had some time to catch up on Thursday when I get home – but it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to point people in the direction of a little article that gave me a warm feeling of a job well done.

Warning – if you don’t want to read a description of how truly amazing I am, don’t follow this link.

July 21, 2009


Filed under: Advertisements,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:58 pm BST Jul 21,2009

After I had described the way that I can do on-site, real-time, training in trouble-shooting for a group of DBAs I got a few email messages from American companies asking if I could do something of that sort for them.

The two commonest questions were: did I set a minimum number of days for a contract before I would fly to America, and was I allowed to work when I got there.

In the UK or Western Europe, of course, it’s easy for me to travel somewhere for just one or two days – I’ve done day trips to France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and several other countries before now when the client has been based close to an airport (or Eurostar train station).


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