Dear Colleague,

You asked me today, ‘How do you know all of this?’ I feel maybe my quick answer wasn’t exactly doing justice to your question and I’ve been thinking about this most of the evening. How many times have I asked the same question? I even asked this question a couple of weeks ago.

I still stand by my answer, ‘I’ve been only doing OAC since February and I’ve had to rebuild these OAC instances maybe 30 times.’ But that doesn’t really give the whole story. If I’m honest, it is probably more than 30. :)

Secret Weapons

Release the Secret WEAPON

When we were screen sharing today, I saw that your browser tabs look exactly like my browser tabs. In fact, we had open at least three of the exact same webpages during that screen share. I don’t think there is anything surprising in my toolbelt. But I do often stand on the shoulders of giants.

I am a hands on learner. I can read about, memorize, watch someone else and not really know about a thing. If I work out how to do the thing myself, it is because I’ve installed it a few times, broken it many times, and done it correctly at least 3 times. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to minimize or be self deprecating. I can’t tell you how many of my fellow Oracle technologists have stopped me as I go down this dialog path. (/wave Natalie, Opal, Stewart and Sarah). But hear me out.

I have a very typical path for finding a solution to any new problem I come across. I start with a search on support.oracle.com. Then I go through a search on google and read the blogs that show up. I always try to figure out a solution or find the answer on my own. However, I don’t spend more than an hour or two spinning my wheels. I have a secret weapon. My network. I have met, connected, and made friends with many amazing people. I can almost always find someone who has hit my error or issue before, and shortcut right to the solution. You want to have my secret weapon too? Join #obihackers on Telegram. Next, follow some smart people on Twitter. (Those folks above are a great start) Want to make the next level of committment? Join a user group (like ODTUG) or find and go to a local Oracle User Group meetup.

Condensed Background Story

I have been working in technology for since 2004. I started in a call center, doing DSL technical support. I was on the escalation team. It is exactly what you think it is. When you call your ISP and get angry, asking to speak to a supervisor to yell about your problem… yes, that was me. And I was really good at it. (Super humble of me, I know). I then worked for a help desk for a government state agency. From there I did a really interesting round of the whole IT playground. I was a network security auditor, a server admin for printers and blackberry phones, back to help desk, and then I was asked to join the developers to work on the data warehousing team. Note the lack of any coding or programming in my past experience. I started learning with Data Stage, mostly just operations, trying to keep the legacy system running after all of the warehousing team left to greener pastures. Then the agency decided to become early adopters on Oracle BI Applications 11g with ODI (AKA the beast). I spent a year and a half getting tons of help and attention from Oracle developers. I learned the product from the people who were building it.

THE BEAST

I started consulting in January 2015. I did a few months of staff aug, and then I was on the bench for 2 months. Someone mentioned needing to update the OBIA training from 7.9 to 11g. I volunteered. Nothing challenged me more than trying to install OBIA 11g. I tried, and tried, and tried. I fought that install for a month. That is no exaggeration. I did not understand the architecture, or how the pieces fit together. I may have learned how to operate OBIA 11g and ODI previously, but I had no idea how any of the underlying technologies fit together. Once I got the install finished, I had to build training examples. I needed data. So then I installed PeopleSoft demo data in the database. More issues. More fighting. More learning. Finally, I was able to finish the training course. I delivered it several times that year and the next. Every time I taught the course, I was challenged to answer questions I hadn’t thought of, or help with issues I had never encountered. I truly believe I learned the most, not by building the beast, or operating the beast, but by teaching the beast.

Tying it up with a bow

So how do I know all of this? I’ve learned a lot while consulting. I make myself install software I will be working with. I read others’ work and ask for their for help and insights. I think installing software, understanding the underlying components, and then teaching others (blogging, or short youtube videos, or even standing in front of a class), are some of the best ways to teach yourself. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And even more important, if the answer is not clear, ask for further clarification.

I hope this helps answer your question in a more honest, if long-winded way. Keep at it, keep digging in and asking questions.