25 June 2013

Starting Again: A Year in Review

It's June, it's ODTUG time of year and it's New Orleans... Well, that's true for many old friends and colleagues.  I'm still in London writing in the watery sunshine that should be summer.  

ODTUG feels a little like a milestone for me.  It was a conference I always loved and made many good friends over the years.  Two years ago at ODTUG in LA, I announced my departure from Oracle after 19 years and in my blog Updates, News and Beta Software later that year, I said that I'd  "decided to “hang up my boots” and try something new." This entailed taking a two month break and then starting a new job in the City.  It was an interesting switch; still working with the Oracle database, and introducing new graphical software to a new customer base, I joined the craziness that is the rat run into London daily and joined a team in the City. Working in London was great, one can never tire of the view of St.Pauls nor the buzz that you feel when in the City.  
The truth was that I wanted a break, a real break. Like so many, I'd started working from the moment I got my degree and hadn't stopped.  Actually I started working while finishing my degree, so I have 25 years under the belt and really felt I was needed somewhere else. This was a head/heart decision. In my head, the right thing to do was stay in a good job; the economic climate says that, everyone looking for work says that and the job market is just not the place to mess with at the moment. (Besides... as some have pointed out...women over a certain age aren't employable ...! As a Christian, the heart decision was different. The heart decision was to get more involved in my local community, to help others more, to take a step back and let the right thing happen. Besides, I think I have 20 years more work left in me!
So that's what I did:  Just before ODTUG last year, and with the blessing of my manager at Microgen, I took a deep breath and decided to take a year off, with the view to doing those things I'd wanted to do and get involved.  I had no plans,  except to let things evolve and to be back earning money by August 2013. 

If you know me, I'm a frantic list maker and planner, so the lists went off the scale. Needless to say, I have not accomplished all of the hundreds of tasks I'd set out to do, like learning to speak Italian or French or German or even Hindi (one would have been good), but there are a few things I've had fun doing. I should mention that at no point have I been bored, every day is packed (when is there time for work?), but I've never quite shaken the advice from the head and hoping the heart will triumph!   

Things started slowly by paring down the world I live in; plans for buying a new house went by the way, I sold my car and did lots of runs to charity shops and free cycle and even filled a skip!  (Very freeing stuff!) For soul food and revival I went to the Art Academy in London and did a Summer School drawing class, following that with a class working with green wood at the Good Life centre.  This was such fun that I enrolled on a 12 week carpentry course, even more fun and I still have all my fingers.

My other half and I switched to another church,  as part of a Church plant, when our then current church sent a vicar and a small group of the congregation to start a new church in a multi-cultural community.  Here they need "all hands on deck" to get the church and community up and running and we're loving it.  I now read with a group of 6 & 7 year olds, at a local school and am involved in other aspects of the church community.  Bentley, my beautiful mutt, is now approved at a Pets as Therapy Dog, although we have yet to do our first visit.
I have been framing my own photographs for sale on and off for a while and have taken that a step further and now have a shed that you can loosely describe as a workshop, where I'm framing pieces for others.  I love to work with the wood and enjoy making bespoke items to suit the artwork.

Well, short of giving you my life history here, the final step is finding a new job, and one that will fit in with some of the voluntary work I'm involved with.  So, ...I've decided to go it on my own.  Some of the small steps have been taken and I'm working on a website, with help, using Joomla! Is there no getting away from technology? Once that's up and running I'll pop back here and let you know.

If you're reading this while at ODTUG - have fun.  If you're not, stick it in your diary for next year - I can really recommend it, assuming you like technology.

Bye for now

18 May 2012

Microgen DBClarity Developer: Introductions

Got a minute or two to spare and still not quite sure where DBClarity Developer fits in? Watch the brief introduction video posted on our website: http://www.microgen.com/uk-en/products/microgen-dbclarity-developer.

11 May 2012

DBClarity Webinar - Reusing SQL Queries

In my last entry I said that I'd watched Tristan's webinar on reusing a SQL query to create insert and merge statements. I enjoyed the re-usability aspect, so quickly created a video to show the feature, not having the patience to wait for Tristan's webinar to be published! The full webinar is now available; we've edited out the noise in the Q&A section, so it's all good content.  There are few useful questions and answers on pricing and a snippet of news about the great feature coming in the next release.  You can find the video on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbLEmZf79Hc.
If you missed these webinars, we're re-running the series to coincide with a SQL Server Relay, a 5-day event running in various cities and ending in London on the 30th May and we'll be there! Visit the Microgen/DBClarity website to register.

04 May 2012

Learn to Reuse your SQL Queries: Working with Subqueries and Merge

This week we ran a new webinar for DBClarity Developer, focusing on creating SQL queries, first by creating a query and then reusing that query - using DBClarity Developer  - to make things nice and easy.  I go back and forth on this"nice and easy" because I started life writing SQL at the command line, so visual, graphical queries are still relatively new to me.  As I watched the webinar this week, I felt that same twinge of excitement when I show anyone something new.  Over the years I have loved teaching and presenting neat features in products.  I have not been at a conference or event in over a year, but I couldn't wait to show you this piece of code  - hence this little video.  It's all easy stuff, and I'm sure you'll like the "reuse" aspect of the demo.

I'm stealing a bit of Tristan's thunder. He did the webinar and the demo and in the video below, I'm doing an exact rework of his demo.  In the webinar he also talks of the benefits of the product and mentions an exciting new feature in the next release, so you'll have to watch the webinar to get all that news!

If your SQL is a little rusty, perhaps it takes a little while to build up a query or if you're wanting to learn new SQL syntax, then take a look at this demo.

More Information

13 April 2012

Do You Need to Learn to Write SQL Queries?

I'm an old timer... when I started in the industry years ago, I learned how to create Data Models and write SQL. Yes, yes, I admit, it wasn't the first thing, and it was after I dropped the punch cards on the floor at university...! Didn't we all? In fact I taught SQL for quite a few years before I moved on to teaching application development using the various tools offered by Oracle. By the time I left Oracle, nearly 20 years on, the developers were all learning Java, but we all still need SQL.

Generally, if we're putting data into a relational, SQL-based, database and then querying the results, we probably need to know some SQL.  I know that's a pretty broad statement, but if you're an application developer and you need to get at data by writing ad hoc queries, it's key to be able to write good SQL.

Most of the people I know in the tech industry are old timers too, by that I mean they've been writing SQL for so long they can't remember when they started and it's easy for them, but what about those new to the technology?  How do you get up to speed?  How do you learn SQL? Do you know the data model of the tables you are querying?  Do have access to tools that help you look at the data model? What about tools that help you learn to write SQL?

Yup, you know what's coming - if you're starting out, we have a tool that can help you learn SQL.  The graphical interface in DBClarity Developer allows you to create, what we call SQL Rules to interact with the database, by building a visual structure of the query.  You don't need to know SQL.  The great news is, that you can see the SQL created and reuse the SQL once its created and the feedback we've had is that new users are learning SQL.

Why not download the product today and see what you can do? There lots of shorts videos on the website to help yo get started and on Tuesday the 17th April, we're running a webinar showing you how to create  SQL Rules.  Register and learn!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback - I'm on twitter @MCGN_DBClarity or @SueHarps

28 March 2012

Ask the Experts and Learn More about DBClarity Developer

This Thursday, 29th March 2012, we're running a webinar on Microgen DBClarity Developer. If you're in the US, then join us at either 13:00 EST or 10:00 PST.  If you're is the UK and Europe, then join in at 18:00 BST. We do record our webinars, so if these times are a little inconvenient, then you can wait for the recording later, although a Q&A session after a recording won't happen(!) and of course, that's the benefit of joining a webinar, you can chat to the product manager and ask any questions you might have.

If you have not yet tried DBClarity Developer, then this webinar is a great place to start, by showing you how to get started and how to use the environment to graphically develop SQL queries and deploy them to the database.  This is the first in a series of webinars aimed at providing you with the knowledge and skills to start rapidly developing modular, reusable SQL queries and procedures.

Webinar Agenda
1.            Product overview
2.            Introduction to the DBClarity Developer Studio
3.            Connecting to the database and viewing tables
4.            Creating your first graphical SQL Rule
5.            Deploying your Rule to the database
6.            Summary and benefits

For more about this webinar and the next in the series, please visit the Events section on our website.

Hope to hear from you soon.

28 February 2012

What do we mean by Graphical, Visual SQL?

I have written a few entries about Microgen DBClarity Developer, the new graphical SQL tool we've just launched and would love to hear what you think. Have you taken a look yet? Have you read some of the material and said, "I already have a SQL tool" and gone on to read another blog? What does drag-and-drop SQL code conjure up in your head?

Just today I was looking at this code:

I used another SQL tool too - I used Oracle SQL Developer to run my scripts and to populate and verify the data in the tables - why change old habits when they work well?! The fun thing is that I can use DBClarity Developer to produce that SQL by creating this diagram, using easy drag-and-drop...

When last did you write a more complex piece of SQL and scratch your head just a little to start with? How often do you execute the same piece of code? The graphical aspect of DBClarity Developer means that you don't need to worry about the code, the product does that. You build up the graphical flow and we create the code.  The good thing is that you don't need to decide on the database at the outset; you can use this same graphical representation to produce the SQL for Oracle, SQL Server or Teradata.  These graphical SQL rules are part of your project, so you can reuse them.

Visit the site today.  DBClarity Developer is production, why not download and try it out?