Now in its 28th year, the NoCOUG Journal is the oldest Oracle user group publication in the world. No other small user group in the world has a printed journal. Most large user groups do not have printed journals either. But little NoCOUG does. I am the editor of the NoCOUG Journal and—I must confess—I get sad when I see a discarded copy of the NoCOUG Journal at a NoCOUG conference. But the person who discarded it probably didn’t realize how much it costs to produce the Journal—$15 per copy—and how much volunteer effort goes into each issue. A very special mention goes to Brian Hitchcock, who has written dozens of book reviews for the Journal over a 12-year period.
And the production qualities of the Journal are simply awesome. The Journal is professionally copyedited and proofread by veteran copyeditor Karen Mead of Creative Solutions. Karen polishes phrasing and calls out misused words (such as the noun “reminiscence” instead of the verb “reminisce”). She dots every i, crosses every t, checks every quote, and verifies every URL. Then, the Journal is expertly designed by graphics duo Kenneth Lockerbie and Richard Repas of San Francisco-based Giraffex. And, finally, Jo Dziubek at Andover Printing Services deftly brings the Journal to life on an HP Indigo digital printer. The professional pictures on the front cover are supplied by Photos.com.
The content of the Journal is beyond awesome. But I’ll let you judge that for yourself. Click on the icons below to download the last four issues of the Journal.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cupcake Wars at NoCOUG Spring Conference on May 15 at UCSC Extension Silicon Valley
SILICON VALLEY (APRIL 1, 2014) – In a bold experiment aimed at increasing attendance at its awesome educational conferences, the Northern California Oracle Users Group (NoCOUG) is considering changing the format of its spring conference to that of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
Distinguished Oracle Product Manager Bryn Llewellyn will lead the PL/SQL team, OraPub founder Craig Shallahamer will lead the DBA team, Hadoop maven Gwen Shapira will lead the Big Data team, and Database Specialists Director of Managed Services Terry Sutton will lead the RAC team. NoCOUG president Hanan Hit will stride from one room to another shouting “TEN MINUTES, BAKERS! YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES LEFT!
“NoCOUG has been serving the Oracle community for 28 years but our conferences are best known for their awesome educational content. We want our conferences to also be a place where people can come together on a social level” said NoCOUG president Hanan Hit when asked for comment.
Registration for the spring conference is now open. Click here to view the complete agenda and register.
Also in today’s news:
- Want to make easy money? “Airbrb,” based on the apartment-renting app Airbnb, lets you rent out your office desk while you hang out at the water cooler or take a bio break.
- Convert any website into emoticon characters: Google now lets you emojify the web.
See also : No! to SQL and No! to NoSQL
The inventor of the relational model, Dr. Edgar “Ted” Codd believed that the suppression of physical database design details was the chief advantage of the relational model. He made the case in the very first sentence of the very first paper on the relational model saying “Future users of large data banks must be protected from having to know how the data is organized in the machine (the internal representation).” (“A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks,” reprinted with permission in the 100th issue of the NoCOUG Journal.)
How likely is it that application developers will develop highly performant and scalable applications if they are shielded from the internal representation of data? The de-emphasis of physical database design was the biggest mistake of the relational camp and provided the opening for NoSQL and Big Data technologies to proliferate.
A case in point is that the language SQL which is universally used by application developers was not created with them in mind. As explained by the creators of SQL (originally called SEQUEL) in their 1974 paper, there is “a large class of users who, while they are not computer specialists, would be willing to learn to interact with a computer in a reasonably high-level, non-procedural query language. Examples of such users are accountants, engineers, architects, and urban planners [emphasis added]. It is for this class of users that SEQUEL is intended. For this reason, SEQUEL emphasizes simple data structures and operations [emphasis added].” (http://faculty.cs.tamu.edu/yurttas/PL/DBL/docs/sequel-1974.pdf)
If you were the manager of a bookstore, how would you stock the shelves? Would you stand at the door and fling books onto any shelf that had some free space, perhaps recording their locations in a notebook for future reference. Of course not! And would you scatter related books all over the bookstore? Of course not! Then why do we store rows of data in random fashion? The default Oracle table storage structure is the unorganized heap and it is chosen 99.9% of the time.
The de-emphasis of physical database design was an epic failure in the long run. Esther Dyson referred to the “join penalty” when she complained that “Using tables to store objects is like driving your car home and then disassembling it to put it in the garage. It can be assembled again in the morning, but one eventually asks whether this is the most efficient way to park a car.” 
It doesn’t have to be that way. Oracle Database has always provided a way to cluster rows of data from one or more tables using single-table or multi-table clusters in hashed or indexed flavors and thus to completely avoid the join penalty that Esther Dyson complained about. However, they must be the longest and best kept secret of Oracle Database—as suggested by their near-zero adoption rate—and have not been emulated by any other DBMS vendor. You can read more about them at http://iggyfernandez.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/no-to-sql-and-no-to-nosql/.
It doesn’t have to be that way. But it is.
1. Esther Dyson was the editor of a newsletter called Release 1.0. I’ve been unable to find the statement in the Release 1.0 archives at http://www.sbw.org/release1.0/ so I don’t really know the true source or author of the statement. However, the statement is popularly attributed to Esther Dyson and claimed to have been published in the Release 1.0 newsletter. I found a claim that the statement is found in the September 1988 issue but that didn’t pan out.
See also : No! to SQL and No! to NoSQL