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Don Burleson Blog 








Getting "qualified" Oracle advice on the web

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

The Oracle community is concerned about an influx of "Oracle scientists", foreigners who claim that Oracle software is somehow a science.  I know that it sounds ludicrous, but it's true, there are people who don't understand that Oracle is a software package, written by software engineers.  Further, the Oracle community is concerned because many of these people who self-proclaim themselves as Oracle "scientists" have no background nor training in science, and many of them refuse to disclose their experience with Oracle.  Remember, a real Oracle expert is proud of their experience and credentials while posers go to great lengths to hide their lack of Oracle expertise.

Back when I was a student, the web was the exclusive bastion of students, professors, and scientists.  It was customary to sign your messages with your qualifications, so everyone knew if they were talking to a Professor Emeritus or some pesky research assistant.  In scientific discourse, the opinion of someone with a Masters Degree from M.I.T. generally had more qualifications than a message from someone with a B.S. from an unknown Indian university.

Insist on knowing the qualifications of any advisor

The opening-up of the web has made searching for information dangerous, and today you must find-out the qualifications of anyone who publishes technical advice.  In-person, when I'm talking to Dr. Jones I know that he has a doctoral degree, and anyone who proclaims that they are an Attorney or professional Engineer, must, by law, have the appropriate college degrees and state licenses.  But on the web, we don't know anything, especially with anonymous "experts".

What about someone who says they are a scientist?  Does that tell us anything?  Some folks caution Oracle professionals against relying on people who tell you they're experts or people that published authors. I wholeheartedly agree, you need to "trust your source" and verify their academic, scientific and research credentials!  

For Oracle, you need to check that anyone who grants themselves the title of "scientist" possesses the basic qualifications, usually an advanced college degree in a scientific discipline.  Regardless of labels, some Oracle professionals disagree about the pragmatic value of applying scientific principles to a software package:

"The scientific minutiae, however "true" they might be, would merely confuse; the bold, sweeping statement, however simplistic, will nevertheless explain, despite the bold, sweeping statement not being technically accurate.

I simplify like that every time I'm in the training room, and most times I post to c.d.o.s: but it is clearly incompatible with the pure science of Oracle espoused by the Oak Table.

There is also a danger that one gets so addicted to that sort of science that one forgets that it is, of itself, of practical relevance to a miniscule number of people"

I've noted a disturbing tendency of some Oracle "experts" to hide their background and qualifications.  Also, many of the people claiming to be Oracle scientists don't seem to understand some fundamental scientific concepts

Who goes there?

Whenever I engage an alleged scientist or expert in a discussion, the first thing I do is Google their academic and research background.  This gives me important insights into their mind-set, areas of computer science research, and their overall qualifications.  In my experience, all real scientists publish their academic qualifications, scientific research and whitepapers, and university teaching experience.  BTW, here is the Google syntax that I've automated (using the Google API) to quickly see a resume or C.V.:

   oracle "scientist_name_here" (CV|C.V.|vitae|resume|resume')

Knowing the qualifications of those who proclaim to be credible Oracle experts is very important.  In this world of fakers and posers, all Oracle professionals need to have strong BS radar and a quick Google search can tell you how much weight to give to the assertions of any Oracle scientist. Personally, I check for these qualifications:

  • Experience at Oracle corporation - Was this person intimately involved with the internal machinations of Oracle at Redwood?  Nobody knows Oracle like the folks who built and maintain it (especially if they have source code!).

  • Computer Science Background - What is their academic CS background?  Were they good enough to get into a respected university science program?  Were they able to compete effectively for entrance into a competitive graduate school? Does the Oracle expert have a Masters or Doctorate degree?

  • Computer Science Research I quickly check the ACM and IEEE archives to locate all research in any scientific journals, and use Google to find all presentations and whitepapers at computer science conventions.

Ceteris paribus, I'm much more inclined to listen to Oracle professionals who publish their credentials.  Here is just a small sample of the stellar qualifications of some Oracle professionals:

I'm hopeful that all self-professed Oracle scientists and experts will start publishing their academic and scientific qualifications (degrees, scientific research, achievements & awards, &c)  so that the Oracle community can give them the respect and credence that they deserve.

Reader Comments:

Michael Cunningham - Napa California

Nicely put, Don.

Well . . . I saw myself in your article - especially with regards to the thing about being an engineer. I learned something. As much as I give credit to those with college degrees I'm not willing to take from those without. I work with a degree holding "senior" dba. My feeling is when he got his degree he was put into the mindset of "I'm finished", "I got it", "now I'm done".

I have to work with this guy every day who does absolutely no proactive reading or research and is still stuck on 8.1.7 technology. When he has a question about or 10g he, "the senior dba", comes and asks me. I am in charge of maintaining our disaster recovery site because I "Read the F**king Manual". He was still using a technique used with version 7.3. I know there are many who don't take this "back seat" to learning after obtaining a degree (just like you, Mike Ault, Col John, and others you have mentioned). One the reasons I spend so much time on the forums learning and trying to participate is to compensate for the lack of mentorship I receive at work.

I would expect good leadership would see that as a sign of a self starter. Someone who can see where there is a need, learn it, and implement it. A college degree does not guarantee that, although it does give someone the edge over someone like me. It sounds more like a union workplace. The one with the seniority gets the promotion - qualified or not - over the less senior person who might really know his stuff.

I've been in this debate before about degrees and all I really have come up with is that I really do wish I would have completed my degree. And even without a degree I'd still hire people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Dave Thomas (the founder of Wendy's who got his GED at the age of 59).

I agree with you about credentials and the paper degree. I'm not, however, willing to discount the efforts of someone without the paper.

Kent Crotty - Oracle consultant

I would have to agree with Don.   To lend any legitimacy to arguments made by any scientist, that individual must have the backing of research and qualifications.    The very definition of the word demands this:

This new Internet world also demands it.   The Internet provides us the ability to quickly communicate over vast distances with scientists we possibly will never meet face-to-face.   In order to trust or believe in the arguments set forth by a proclaimed scientist, that scientist must also be able to present credentials.   Credence for scientist can only be found through published qualifications, research or achievements.    The scientist must present these on the Internet for all to see.  

I, myself, do not proclaim to be a scientist but I do feel that I am educated and experienced.  I present my credentials through my resume`.  Shouldn't scientists do the same?   Presently I am working towards becoming a scientist an Oracle scientist.   When I want to be called a scientist, I will publish my credentials in order to legitimize myself and the place that I will publish is on the Internet for all to see. 

Harrison Conway - New York

When I started reading this I though it was another of your funny jokes.  The idea of someone who thinks their usage of a software package warrants them being called a scientist is ridiculous.  Maybe I'm a Quicken Engineer and I didn't even know it.

Did you see the lawsuit against Microsoft for creating the title of Microsoft Certified System Engineers?  A Microsoft Engineer is as stupid as an Oracle Scientist.

No, I did not know about that lawsuit.  Thanks.

The OIQ had charged Microsoft Canada for knowingly causing a person who is not a member of the Ordre des ingnieurs du Qubec, by authorization or encouragement, to use the title of engineer, thereby committing an offense under section 188.1 of the Professional Code, R.S.Q., c. C-26.

Complicating the software-licensing controversy is the fight between the national licensing boards and industry over the proliferation of "certified engineers." Microsoft and Novell, in particular, have been promoting training programs that "graduate" Microsoft-certified or Novell-certified "engineers."

The State of Delaware, according to IEEE-USA, is eyeing a lawsuit to stop the use of the word "engineer" in those titles. Indeed, Novell and the state of Nevada licensing board have gone to court over Novell's use of the word "engineer" to describe trainees who may or may not have an engineering degree.

Edward Stoever - California

I wanted to post a response, but I am still thinking of what to say! My father is a retired superior court judge. He has a certain public image, which is incredible. Then, those of us who love him the most know his private, human side, which is a little different.

To me, you are a lot like my father in that way. Since the time I first heard of you, I have seen your public image: suits, ties, lots of books with excellent information, supporting others who are moving up in their careers.

You have done an amazing job with your career and your public image. I am still very much in awe.

I took a look at your redneck page the other day.  It's nice to know you have a humorous personal and private side. It makes getting to know you more interesting and fun. Just don't let the cat out of the bag.

Bipul Kumar - London

How is the response of your "Predictive modeling challenge"? From the Statistics perspective, it will be very interesting. I think Tom went a bit too far in criticizing the idea on his forum.




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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

Verify experience! Anyone considering using the services of an Oracle support expert should independently investigate their credentials and experience, and not rely on advertisements and self-proclaimed expertise. All legitimate Oracle experts publish their Oracle qualifications.

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