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Scott Spendolini

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Mostly Oracle APEX. Mostly.Scotthttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01187435106015051061noreply@blogger.comBlogger213125
Updated: 21 hours 32 min ago

Destroying The Moon

Mon, 2015-04-20 08:18
Just under three years ago, I joined Enkitec when they acquired Sumneva.  The next three years brought a whirlwind of change and excitement - new products, additional training, and expanding the APEX practice from an almost nonexistent state to one of the best in the world.

Like all good things, that run has come to an end.  Last Friday was my final day at Accenture, and I am once again back in the arena of being self-employed.  Without any doubt, I am leaving behind some of the best minds in the Oracle community.  However, I am not leaving behind the new friendships that I have forged over the past three years.  Those will come with me and hopefully remain with me for many, many years to come.

Making the jump for the second time is not nearly as scary as it was the first time, but it's still an emotional move.  Specifically what's next for me?  That's a good questions, as the answer is not 100% clear yet.  There's a lot of possibilities, and hopefully things will be a lot more defined at the end of the week.

#letswreckthistogether

Little League, Big Data

Tue, 2015-03-03 13:36
Last week, I participated in my first Little League draft for my son's baseball team.  This was new territory, as up until now, play has been non-competitive.  This year we will actually have to keep score, and there will be winners and losers.

In preparation for the draft, we had tryouts a few weeks ago where we evaluated the kids on a number of different criteria.  Never have I seen so many scared 7 and 8 year olds march through the cages as dozens of coaches with clipboards watched and recorded their every move.  I camped out and watched them pitch, as from what many veteran coaches told me, the key to keeping the game moving along is the pitcher.

In preparation for the draft, we were sent a couple of key spreadsheets.  The first one had an average rating of all of the kids tryouts assessments, done by the board members.  The second one contained coaches evaluations for some of the players from past seasons. Lots and lots of nothing more than raw data.

Time to fire up APEX.  I created a workspace on my laptop, as I was not sure if we would have WiFi at the draft.  From there, I imported both spreadsheets into tables, and got to work on creating a common key.  Luckily, the combination of first and last name produced no duplicates, so it was pretty easy to link the two tables.  Next, I created a simple IR based on the EVALS table - which was the master.  This report showed all of the tryout scores, and also ranked each player based on the total score.

Upon editing a row in EVALS, I had a second report that showed a summary of the coach's evaluation from prior seasons.  I could also make edits to the EVALS table, such as identify players that I was interested in, players that were already drafted, and any other comments that I wanted to track.

After about 20 minutes of reviewing the data, I noticed something.  I was using data collected while the player was under a lot of stress.  The data set was also small, as each player only got 5 pitches, 5 catches, 5 throws, etc.  The better indicator as to a player's talents was in the coach's evaluations, as that represents an entire season of interaction with the player, not just a 3-4 minute period.

Based on this, I was quickly able to change my IR on the first page to also include a summary of the coach's evaluations alongside the tryout evaluations.  I sorted my report based on that, and got a very different order.  This was the order that I was going to go with for my picks.

Once the draft started, it was very easy to mark each player as drafted, so that any drafted player would no longer show up in the report.  It was also trivial to toggle the "must draft" column on and off, ensuring that if there were any younger players that I wanted, I could get them in the early rounds before we had to only draft older players.

Each time it was my pick, I already knew which player that I was going to draft.  Meanwhile, the other coaches shuffled stacks of marked up papers and attempted to navigate multiple spreadsheets when it was theirs.  Even the coordinator commented on how I was always ready and kept things moving along.

Unless you're some sort of youth athletics coach that does a draft, this application will likely do you little good.  But the concept can go a long way.  In almost any role in any organization, you likely have data for something scattered across a few different sources or spreadsheets.  This data, when isolated, only paints a blurry part of the whole picture.  But when combined and analyzed, the data can start to tell a better story, as was the case in my draft.

The technical skills required to build this application were also quite minimal.  The bulk of what I used was built-in functionality of the Interactive Report in APEX.  Merging the data and linking the two tables was really the only true technical portion of this, and that's even something that can be done by a novice.

So the next time you have a stack of data that may be somehow related, resist the temptation to use old methods when trying to analyze it.  Get it into the database, merge it as best you can, and let APEX do the rest.

Screaming at Each Other

Thu, 2015-02-19 20:20
Every time I attend a conference, the Twitter traffic about said conference is obviously higher.  It starts a couple weeks or even months before, builds steadily as the conference approaches, and then hits a crescendo during the conference.  For the past few conferences, I’ve started my sessions by asking who in the audience uses Twitter.  Time and time again, I only get about 10-20% of the participants say that they do.  That means that up to 90% of the participants don’t.  That’s a lot of people.  My informal surveys also indicate a clear generation gap.  Of those that do use Twitter, they tend to be around 40 years old or younger.  There are of course exceptions to this rule, but by and large this is the evidence that I have seen.

I actually took about 10 minutes before my session today to attempt to find out why most people don’t care about Twitter.  The answer was very clear and consistent: there’s too much crap on there.  And they are correct.  I’d guess that almost 100% of all Tweets are useless or at least irrelevant to an Oracle professional.
I then took a few minutes to explain the basics of how it worked - hash tags, followers, re-tweets and the like.  Lots of questions and even more misconceptions.  “So does someone own a hash tag?” and “Can I block someone that I don’t care for” were some of the questions that I addressed.  
After a few more questions, I started to explain how it could benefit them as Oracle professionals.  I showed them that most of the Oracle APEX team had accounts.  I also highlighted some of the Oracle ACEs.  I even showed them the RMOUG hash tag and all of the tweets associated with it.  Light bulbs were starting to turn on.
But enough talking.  It was time for a demo.  To prove that people are actually listening, I simply tweeted this:Please reply if you follow #orclapex - want to see how many people will in the next 30 mins. Thanks!
— Scott Spendolini (@sspendol) February 19, 2015 Over the next 30 minutes, I had 10 people reply. At the end of the session, I went through the replies, and said what I knew about those who did reply.  Oracle Product Manager, Oracle Evangelist, Oracle ACE, APEX expert, etc.  The crowd was stunned.  This proved that Twitter as a medium to communicate with Oracle experts was in fact, real.  
More questions.  “Can I Tweet to my power company if I have an issue with them?” and “Do people use profanity on Twitter?” were some of the others.  People were clearly engaged and interested.  Mission accomplished.
The bigger issue here is that I strongly feel that the vast majority of the Oracle community is NOT on Twitter.  And that is a problem, because so much energy is spent tweeting about user groups and conferences.  It's like we’re just screaming at each other, and not at those who need to listen.  
We can fix this.  I encourage everyone who presents at a conference to take 5 minutes at the beginning or end of their session to talk about the benefits of Twitter.  Demonstrate that if you follow Oracle experts, the content that will be displayed is not about Katy Perry, but rather about new features, blog posts or other useful tidbits that can help people with their jobs. Take the time to show them how to sign up, how to search for content, and who to follow.  I think that if we all put forth a bit of effort, we can recruit many of those to join the ranks of Twitter for all the right reasons, and greatly increase the size of the Oracle community that’s connected via this medium.