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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why did the worm cross the road?

Because everyone else was doing it.

Last week I mentioned that I saw a coyote on my way to work. Today I saw the great worm migration of 2008. There were thousands of these guys making their way from one side of the road to the other. It seemed like most of them did not make it from the yellow tint across the road. I stopped to get a closer look and was really surprised at how unique they look.

I am always interested to take pictures of animals or places or things that are different from what I usually see.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bad Ideas in Database Partitioning (Episode #1)

Warning, the following is a technical post that may make your eyes glaze over...

OK, if you are still here, this is a short one about something I recently saw in an Oracle database.

First of all, a bit about partitioning. In some databases, you can partition a table in a variety of ways depending on why you want to partition your data. For example, you may want to partition it based on date ranges if you will be deleting older data or if you will generally be accessing data from the same time periods. This way, the database "knows" that it can safely ignore the other partitions outside of the date range you are looking for. This can result in the remaining data being searched much faster than if the whole table needed to be examined.

Another way you can partition a table in Oracle is called hash partitioning. In this type of partitioning, the field in question is "hashed" or calculated into a new value that may not uniquely identify that value. For example, a hash for state abbreviations could calculate the numeric value for each letter (a=1, b=2, etc) and add them together. MN would be 27 (13 +14) as would AZ (1+26). If the hash calculation was to use the last digit, the values for AZ and MN would be stored in the same partition (7) whereas the data for CO (3+15=18) would be in partition #8. If there were 10 partitions (0-9), this would be a good strategy.

Hopefully, that makes a little sense. The key is that the partitioning criteria should look at the data and why it is being partitioned and devise a plan accordingly.

The case I am calling Episode #1 (order of blog entry, not of the importance or frequency) deals with this little fact: if you have no values for a given partition, it will be empty and thus not beneficial to the database. If you had 51 partitions and planned to use one for the invoices for each state, but only did business with customers in a few states, the rest of the partitions would remain empty. This would be ok if you were on the verge of a huge advertising campaign and your company was expecting to grow across the country. But if you were a local service business with customers in only 1 state, this would be a waste.

In summary, when planning a partitioning strategy, make sure you will be using most (if not all) of the partitions you will be creating. If you have inherited your systems, take a look around to see if you have a bunch of empty partitions and if so, you can start discussions to better understand the data and how it is used so you can recommend a new partitioning strategy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On my way to work

today, I saw this guy crossing the road. He wasn't moving too fast. He crossed a few cars infront of me and I had time to pull over, grab my camera and get a few shots of him. I thought that for being a city-dweller, I have a pretty cool commute. I will see a coyote from time-to-time, but usually they are pretty scrawny. This guy looks pretty well fed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Childhood development study

From a Newsweek Article, apparently not everyone can learn from their mistakes:

In about 30 percent, the coils of their DNA carry a glitch, ... [that] is linked to an inability to avoid self-destructive behavior[...] Children with the genetic variant are unable to learn from mistakes.

I wonder how many people have this and people keep saying "when will they learn" about their destructive choices?

Windows Vista & Security (or lack thereof)

Just read this. Kind of scary since upgrading to a newer version should make you safer. Even worse, the browser (IE) seems to be the entry point for many of these attacks. Maybe people and companies should start insisting on an alternate browser instead of simply allowing it in some cases.

Friday, August 8, 2008

misc ...

Running ... I have now run 3 times in the last 5 days. No distance records and with the heat we are dealing with, nothing too fast, but getting consistent is my top priority right now. I won't have a problem finishing the 5k in MN later this month(*see update) , but I probably will NOT be setting a new PR unless I kick into a bit higher gear and get 4+ runs in every week between now and then. *UPDATE: Challenge Arthritis 5k - 4th Annual on 8/30/2008

Photography ... I am spending lots of time playing with my camera. Took some lightning pictures the other night. They looked pretty good in-camera, but when I cropped them the way I wanted they were a bit grainy so next time I will zoom in a bit more to capture what I want. I also am playing with Gimp (free image manipulation software) and made a minor change to one of my favorite photos and had it printed at 8x10. I really like how it turned out, so I will probably be printing it bigger and framing it.

Game ... I am trying to decide on the next license plate. It seems that too many are either something personal that the owner would know or too obscure for people to figure out. I may do a multi-plate week with some that are a bit easier and give the "win" to the first person to get all of them. Stay tuned, I am hoping to get that up this weekend. (of course I am also hoping to get a "long run" of 5-6 miles in and mow the back yard too so don't hold your breath.)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Running in heat

A recent Runners World article said to slow your pace by 30 sec per mile per 5* over 60. Since my normal EZ pace at IM in April was about 9:00, then I calculate:

60 - 9:00
70 - 10:00
80 - 11:00
90 - 12:00
100 - 13:00

That would mean that my 3.3 miler today at 11mpm was about 2 minutes per mile above EZ pace since it was 100*. Is that anything anyone has confirmed as a reasonable chart? Thoughts?

I am still easing back into running and did 9 min run 1 walk intervals and then the last 2 min was a cool down walk. If I can maintain at least pace/interval that for my training runs for the next month or so till it cools off, I will call that success.

Friday, August 1, 2008


After a week in the hospital, my wife was finally sent home today. She is still weak since she only started eating food in the last day or so, but WOO-HOO, she is home!

Well, she still is fighting a bit of a headache, so I'll change that to WOO-HOO!

Thanks to everyone that has been praying and sending get well soon vibes.

You may now resume your evening activities.