Keep on Learning
I've already given you many reasons why I'm a huge fan of Rebecca Bond's, but did I tell you about her brillance at coming up with cool analogies or her incredible sense of humour?
Read Rebecca's latest article IBM DB2 9.7, DBADM and my Rubik's Cube published in the Feb 19, 2010 edition of Database Journal explains the changes to DBADM autthority in DB2 9.7 and twist by twist, helps you understand the changes and how to benefit from them. Wonderful article, Rebecca!
If this article is leaving you wanting more Rebecca, you're in luck! Her website has just gone live, so you can easily find out more about Rebecca and what she's up to... but best of all, you can read her blog entries.
I've had a few people ask me about assessment exams lately, so I thought this would make a good blog entry.
My most viewed blog entry to date is
With this checklist, you can track your progress on following the steps required to earn a certification. One of those steps is called Assess. Studying can take a lot of time and energy, and certification exams are usually $200!...so how can you make the most of your time and money?
1) Take an assessment exam for $10 (USD) to find out if you are prepared and if not, where to focus your studying.
2) Use one of the published Certification Study Guides.
DB2 9 Fundamentals Certification Study Guide by Roger Sanders
DB2 9 Database Administration Certification Study Guide for Exam 731 by Roger Sanders
DB2 9 Database Administration Certification Study Guide for Exam 732 by Susan Lawson and Daniel Luksetich
DB2 9 Database Administration Upgrade Certification Study Guide for Exam 736 by Roger Sanders
DB2 9 Advanced Database Administration Certification Study Guide for Exam 734 by Roger Sanders and Dwaine Snow.
All five of these certification prep guides were written by members of the exam development team. That is, they created the questions for the certification exam that you are about to take! Also, each chapter of the book corresponds directly to a section on the exam. So, if you take the assessment exam and find out that you are week on a single topic, you simply need to read the chapter that corresponds to the topic where you need improvement. Lastly, the authors created a set of sample questions for the book that provides you with the correct answer to the question as well as an explanation as to why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect ones are not.
For reference and guidance beyond the exam, I suggest the following: DB2 9 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows: DBA Guide, Reference, and Exam Prep (6th Edition)
by George Baklarz and Paul Zikopoulos
All six of these books... and many more, can be read and searched electronically. Safari Online and Books 24x7 are two popular electronic book engines where these books are available. Why would you want to read a book electronically? You might not want to read an entire book electronically, but if you are browsing books to find out which one you should buy in print, searching and reading parts of the book electronically makes sense and may help you make the best choice on your purchase.
Also, if you are mostly prepared for the exam, but just want to do a bit of review before taking the exam, you might consider doing the review electronically. At the very least, I'd suggest reading the summary for each chapter, answering the sample questions that are found in the book, and reading the description for the answers. This can be done quite easily electronically.
Safari Books Online is a great electronic book engine and right now, you can receive a free 15-day trial. With Safari Books Online, you can search for a particular keyword, read the entire book cover to cover, or simply ensure that this is the book you need before you buy the printed version. Hurry! This offer has been held over until the end of 2009.
Books 24x7 is another great electronic book engine. IBMers world-wide can access books via this engine, free of charge. You can reach the site through many internal home pages. Many other companies and schools also have subscriptions to Books 24x7. Check with your company to see if you have a free subscription.
Be prepared for your exam... and good luck!
I'm sorry that I missed the fact that there IS a fee for the Crammer courses. Please see the CORRECT information below. I'm sorry for any confusion I may have caused. Thanks to Bryan for pointing out my mistake in this matter.
IDUG Pre-Conference Educational Seminars
The 2010 Pre-Conference Educational Seminars are:
IDUG's annual North American conference is taking place in Tampa Florida this year. May 10 - 14, 2010. Have you been able to get funding to attend the conference yet? If not, maybe this information will help you.
The educational opportunities available at the conference will help make you smarter! And if you're smarter about your job, you'll be more effective, make fewer mistakes and be a real asset to your employer! Right?
Take a look at the conference schedule that is now available online. With this tool, it is now easier for you to build your conference curriculum by allowing you to search by program or project to find sessions specific to your area of expertise.
Here is a sample of the sessions you’ll find this May in Tampa:
D06 (DB2 for LUW): "DB2 Security – Ammo From the Trenches", Rebecca Bond, Author of "Understanding DB2 9 Security"
B10 (DB2 for z/OS): "Package Versioning for High Availability", John Maenpaa, Health Care Service Corporation
C08 (DB2 for LUW): "Successfully Managing the DB2 LUW Workload Manager", Scott Hayes, Gold Consultant, DBI Software
C09 (DB2 for LUW): "DB2 pureScale: Why It's So Much Better than Oracle RAC", Paul Zikopoulos, IBM Corporation
S03 (Cross-platform): "The Vision of Integrated Data Management - Past, Present and Future of Tooling", Curt Cotner, IBM Fellow, IBM Corporation
New this year at IDUG, you will also find a full-offering of hands-on labs. Available all four days of the conference, the labs include individual work-stations that allow you to explore new DB2 features and try out products without the hassle of obtaining and setting up software. This year’s hands-on labs include:
DB2 Lab 1: DB2 for LUW - All About DB2 9.7
DB2 Lab 2: DB2 for z/OS - Getting Started with DB2 for z/OS pureXML
DB2 Lab 3: DB2 for LUW - DB2 9.7 Performance Metrics and Monitoring
DB2 Lab 4: DB2 for z/OS - Develop High-Performance Java Applications on z/OS Using IBM pureQuery
DB2 Lab 5: DB2 for LUW - Workload Management
DB2 Certification Exams:
Do you have your current certifications yet? The exams are available free of charge to attendees of the conference (3 exams per attendee). This is a HUGE savings of $200 PER EXAM!
Make sure you are ready to pass the exam by taking a crammer course on May 10 for last-minute preparation for the exam. These full day seminars require an additional fee.
Z04: DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows - DBA Certification (541) Preparation Course
Date: May 10, 2010 09:00 AM – 04:30 PM
This training is designed to introduce the student to the concepts a test candidate must know in order to take and pass the DB2 9.7 DBA for Linux, UNIX and Windows certification exam (Exam 541). The material for this course is aligned with the 541 exam objectives.
Z01: DB2 9 for z/OS DBA Certification Crammer Course
Register now to qualify for discounts on your conference fees:
Early Bird Discount: Register on or before March 26, 2010 and save $150 on your full-conference registration.
IDUG Mentor Program: Need to get thrifty with your training dollars this year? Through this incomparable loyalty reward program, IDUG members who have attended five or more IDUG conferences in the past ten years have the opportunity to bring a first-time attendee from the same company for an unprecedented 80% discount!
Visit IDUG.org/na to learn more about IDUG 2010 North America.
Do you need more help justifying your attendance at this confernece? See IDUG.org/na for further tips.
Thanks to everyone who joined me on Friday while I presented on the DB2Night Show: The Wild Wonderful World of DB2 Information Resources. If you missed the show, you can catch it in reruns.
I have now posted my slides.... and have added back the one that I discovered was missing during the show.
You can find the slides on developerWorks as a public file.
I've also posted them on ChannelDB2.com.
You may need to join these sites if you are not yet a member. If you do join, remember to make me your friend! I can never have TOO many friends!
Join me (as Scott's special guest) on Feb 12 at 11 am EST on
Books, websites, podcasts, training options, tutorials, certification, white papers, social networking and more!
My webinar will be recorded if you can't make it to my session. Also remember that Paul Zikopoulos is Scott's guest next Friday, Feb 19.
I was planning to blog about IBM's Academic Initiatives today, but while doing research I keep being reminded about how important it is to have excellent writing skills.
In the Certification Magazine in the article "Buzzwords your Resume Doesn't Need" I read the following:
Written skills are becoming more and more important for IT professionals to possess, especially as tech workers communicate with others throughout the organization on projects and proposals. But as the old saying goes, show, don’t tell, the hiring manager about your abilities. Demonstrate with your resume and cover letter that you know how to get your ideas across on paper — or on the computer screen — through clear and concise writing and by carefully checking for any typos or grammatical errors before submitting your application materials.
Yesterday I attended a web seminar called "Unwritten Rules: What You Don't Know Can Hurt Your Career" and found that communication is very important in career advancement. Communication in this presentation was largely focused on discussing your expectations with management regarding your career advancement options and expectations, but communication to gain visibility was also a key point. Tell people what you have accomplished and get noticed by writing well.
Then of course Jeff Jonas making the following plea on facebook: "Note to universe: emails over 200 words are very hard to find time to read. Do summarize!"
My favourite was the Macleans article "Do your prof a favour; Write Better!"
A few weeks ago I was invited to be a guest lecturer to a Masters of Computer Science class at York University about how the can improve their writing skills. This is my second time delivering this presentation that was created by Roger Sanders who is also writing a book about the same topic. The presention is entitled "The Art of Technical Writing" and the book will be published this year by MC Press. I don't see a link on the web for this book yet, but will be sure to tell you about it when it is released.
I won't tell you everything that I passed onto the students, but here are a few general guidelines:
1) Go as deep into your TOC or outline as you can... before you begin writing. This will ensure that you have a plan and can help prevent writer's block.
2) Keep your audience in mind when creating the outline and as you write. I guess I should have said "define your audience" first as this is a key step. Don't fall into the trap that what you are writing will appeal to EVERYONE! It won't... and shouldn't.
3) Don't try to impress with a large vocabulary or difficult sentences. Even sophisticated readers like to read concise, well-written sentences rather than complicated words and sentences where they may have to read them twice to get the proper meaning.
4) Vary the size of your sentences. Some long, some short. If you do all the same, it may be boring to read.
5) Avoid the passive voice... stay active. This can be hard to do.
6) Review your own work. Read what you wrote... out loud to yourself, out loud to others, have the computer read it to you... whatever it takes. If you hear the words spoken you can easily spot the parts that are difficult and need revision.
7) I like Roger's recommendation to reveiw your manuscript several times, each time with a specific purpose. For example, read through looking for where you used the passive voice and fix those. Then review again for grammar. Then to make sure lists and headings are parallel. Then to ensure that diagrams and tables are properly labelled. And on and on. It is easier to be consistent if you look for specific problems each time through your manuscript.
8) Be sure that you need to include a diagram or table before including it. I tend to skip diagrams and tables unless it makes it much easier to understand the concepts that are being discussed. I've heard other people admit to skipping them as well. Don't include diagrams and tables as filler.
9) Have someone else (or several other people) review the manuscript for you. When you get feedback... do not take it personally. Your reviewer is NOT critisizing you as a person... but is giving you feedback to improve what you wrote. You don't have to make all the changes that are recommended to you, but do take the feedback seriously. If you don't get feedback at all.. don't assume what you wrote is perfect. It never is! All authors have been shocked to find simple errors in their books even after they were reviewed endlessly by experts.
10) Learn from your mistakes and actively look for ways to improve your writing skill. Writing is a skill and can be learned by paying attention and learning from your mistakes and from others. I strongly encourage you to read Roger's book when it publishes as it will help you in ways that you can't yet imagine.
While I'm on the topic of writing, I should point out that my job is Publishing Program Manager for IBM Information Management. I'm happy to say that I am continuously meeting people who have a desire to write a book. I can help you with that goal if it is one of yours. The first thing you'd want to look at if you are interested in writing a book is this site that gives help on writing a proposal for your book: Proposal Guidelines.
Writing is an important skill for you to have, regardless of your career, so I hope I've helped on some small way to encourage you to continually improve this skill.
If you're reading this blog entry, then you're probably knee deep into the social networking that is available. Personally I'm very much into social networking and can't remember what I did before these tools were available.
In this entry I give details on the sites that I am aware of ... and use on a regular basis. I know my list is not complete... so if there is something that you think I should be aware of, please let me know!!
There are so many blogs these days with more being added all the time.... so how can you find the best blogs to read? I suggest that you use aggregator sites where you summaries of many blog entries so you can choose which appeal to you the most. For the IM world the best place to go is PlanetDB2.com. My blog is there as well as blogs from Kate Dawson, Leon Katsnelson, Chris Eaton, Craig Mullins, Grant Hutchison, and many many more! Of course once you begin reading some of these blogs, you can become a fan and can get the entries sent to you directly through RSS feeds.
For a broader range of topics, I suggest looking at the developerWorks blogs. My blog is hosted by developerWorks, so you can find it there as well, but you will find many interesting entries on a wide range of topics.
The difficult thing about Facebook is whether to use it for personal or business reasons. There seems to be quite a few lines being crossed which may cause discomfort for some people. For most of us who write blogs and have Facebook accounts, we automatically pull our entries into our Facebook profile. There are many product fan pages that you can join as well including many from IBM. Some groups you can join are:
I've always had a LinkedIN account for business reasons but only recently have I started to use the groups that are available. I've been very impressed with the amount of interaction taking place in these groups. My only regret is that I don't have enough time to read all the articles that I'm interested in! One of the pros about LinkedIN is that you could separate personal from business by keeping Facebook for personal uses and LinkedIN for business purposes. There are at least two levels available when joining LinkedIN. I have the basic membership and find it incredibly useful. Here are some groups that I like:
This is such a rich site, it is hard to figure out where to start! You can make connections with other devWorks users and create a profile for your personal accomplishments. There are many groups and communities that you can join. I mentioned the wide variety of blogs that are available. The richness of devWorks lies in the content that you can access. Tutorials, Skills Kits, ekits, articles, videos, checklists, downloads, and much more. developerWorks covers a huge variety of topics that covers every software brand and technology that IBM cares about. To find something specific, use the amazing search engine in developerWorks to find what you need. Join developerWorks and then check out these groups:
I call this site a hybrid of many of the sites listed above. It calls in the blog entries from PlanetDB2.com; you can have a network of friends like Facebook; there are groups that you can join to discuss topics with other interested parties like LinkedIN; you'll find a collection of presentations, videos, and links like developerWorks. One thing that is unique about this site is the amount of representation from academic environments. You can find groups for specific countries as well as specific universities. Here are a few of the groups that I follow:
This is the one piece of social networking that I do not use. I understand how powerful it can be, but just don't think that I have the time to get involved with tweeting at this time. Here are a few that I've heard of:
Books on Social Networking
Like all popular topics, you can find a book to read that can teach you how to go deeper in any or all of these topics. Here are a couple of recent titles from IBM Press that you may find interesting:
Reminder: Join me on the DB2Night Show... Friday, Feb 12 at 11:00 EST. The DB2Night Show Episode #12
One thing about IBM is that there is NO shortage of options for you to choose to increase your skills and learn about IBM products and technologies! You can find options that are free and easily accessible to custom designed courses to suit the specific learning needs of your employees.
Why are there so many options? Learning is one of the most important things you will do in your lifetime and is something that you do from the day you are born until you die. We don't all learn the same way though, so having a choice of options is very important so that you can find the learning method that is best for you.
Here are articles and white papers that I've read that emphasize the importance of continued learning:
Whitepaper DBA Certification: Is It Worth It? by Howard Fosdick compares the costs to the benefits of earning a DBA certification. This white paper is a few years old, but the message is still valid.
Here is a list of the learning options that are available for the Information Management products and technologies.
e-books - Many choices are available ... many are free, but you can also read books on electronic reading devices such as Kindle. See my blog entry "The Year of the e-Book".
IBM Redbooks - The PDF versions can be downloaded for free and books are available for a very wide range of topics. See the IBM Redbooks web page and my blog entry with a few IBM Redbook recommendations.
developerWorks - Tutorials, Demos, Skills Kits, Best Practices, e-kits - These are free and very popular.
Gaming - 3 games are available to help you learn SQL in a fun way.
White papers - A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that often addresses problems and how to solve them. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions. For a list of whitepapers, google search "db2 whitepapers".
Virtual Conferences - Last year there were several virtual conferences that were run by IBM that allowed you to "attend" a conference via your computer. You can also find recorded conference sessions from the Information on Demand Conference, 2009.
Retail books -IBM Press, MC Press, McGraw-Hill, Apress, O'Reilly, Packt are the publishers who have invested in publishing about IBM products and technologies. For a listing of books by topic, see our bookstore website . For a list of books that were recently published, see my blog entry "Busy Publishing". I've created a group on Developerworks to keep track of all these books.
Conferences - IDUG holds amazing user-based conferences in various regions each year; IBM holds many conferences including the popular Information on Demand Conferences.
Instructor-Led Training (ITL) classes are traditional classroom courses where students are in the same room as the instructor who guides the students through classroom material and hands-on lab exercises. Students are able to interact with fellow students and the instructor and are provided with printed course material.
Instructor-Led Online (ILO) classes are equivalent to ILT classes in terms of classroom material, labs, instructor and fellow students, only you won't need to leave your home or office as you will connect to the classroom via your computer. See my blog entry about ILO classes.
Self-Paced Virtual Classes (SPVC) are for students who don't need the instructor or don't want to be tied to a class schedule. These classes are typically lower priced than ILO or ILT classes meaning that you save on travel and tuition costs. Content, labs and instructors are the same as ILO and ILT classes, but it is recorded so the class can be taken at your pace, where and when you want it. See my blog entry about SPVC.
Web-Based Training (WBT) are standalone courses on the web that provide 6-8 hours of instruction. These are typically voice over power-point format.
Custom Classes are available for companies that want training to take place on their premises with course material that is taken from multiple existing courses and changed to suit specific needs.
Just a reminder that I will cover this information and more in my upcoming webcast - Feb 12 at 11 am EST on
One thing I neglected to mention in my blog posting yesterday about the value of Certification is the Take it Again program that is active again this year.
Earning IBM Professional Certification is a smart career move. But many of us are nervous when taking the certification exam. Our “
By the way, I've been invited to be guest on Episode #12 of The DB2Night Show coming up this 12 February 2010 at 10am CST. Our theme for this show is "The Wild Wonderful World of DB2 Information Resources". Claim your free seat in our virtual studio audience by registering at http://www.DB2NightShow.com. I hope you can join Scott Hayes and I!
The conclusion of an intensive IDC study and in Linda Musthaler's article "Is certification valuable, or not? We have the definitive answer" is YES certifications are important! Companies need high-functioning teams that are able to transform and grow the business like never before. These teams consist of highly skilled professionals who have current and relevant knowledge. Certifications are designed to encourage people to keep learning and then to validate their skills.
The results of the IDC study in the November 2009 report by Cushing Anderson called "Impact of Training on Network Administration: Certification Leads to Operational Productivity" shows "a direct relationship between higher levels of certification and improved performance -- when team skills improve, organizational performance increases proportionally."
Although the report doesn't specifically mention database or DB2 certifications, I would say that the same holds true. I've personally seen the performance of a team improving as a result of the entire team earning DB2 certifications. The DB2 program grew 29% in the past year and is expected to grow this year as well. Are you on board?
To help you navigate through this certification program, I've created the following entries:
1) Certification 101 that links to articles about the benefits, where to start, how to prepare, and what to do once you've passed.
2) Certification Checklist where you learn to use a checklist within developerWorks that leads you through the entire certification process.
Don't be left behind! Jump onto the Certification bandwagon so you can begin seeing the improvements in your skills and the skills of your teams.
PS. Don't forget that earning a certification benefits you personally as well. It can differentiate you from others, but will also give you the confidence that you do have the skills that you need to do your job!!
Everyone is talking about e-books and even more e-reading devices have been announced and are waiting for your books to be loaded! Where does IBM stand in all of this?
Personally I think that IBM has been at the leading edge of having e-books available about our products and technologies. Even if you don't read them, surely you've heard of IBM Redbooks. For more than 40 years, IBM has been creating "how to" books to help you build your skills on our products and technolgies. There are half a million IBM Redbooks downloaded every year! IBM Redbooks are available to you for FREE in PDF format. Read these books on your computer, laptop or any device that will accept PDF documents.
Beyond the IBM Redbooks, you can find product documentation for DB2 products in PDF format as well as integrated within the product through online help. Again, as these are PDF files, read them on any device that allows PDFs.
IBM Press has published a wide variety of books that can be purchased in the traditional book format, Kindle format, PDF format, or through online book engines such as Safari Books Online and Books 24x7. If you are an employee with IBM, you automatically have access to all the books available on Books 24x7. If you are a student at a University, you may also have access to Books 24x7. Check with your administrator.
A series of books "For the community by the community" are available from developerWorks. These books are available for you to download for free, in PDF format. Titles in this series are being added all the time... and good news for who want translated editions. The books are being translated by members of the community as well, so you may find a translation that is suitable for you.
If you are looking for books specifically for DB2 pureXML, check out the list of free ebooks that are available for you to download in PDF format.
If you're not sure yet if you want to read books online or via a device, give it a try to see what you think. You can download chapters from various Web 2.0 and Social Media books to see if you like it or not.
Many of the publishers who I work with are presenting e-book strategies to me for future publications. The idea is that the books will be available immediatly in an online format of some kind, but the books are only printed when they are requested / purchased by a reader. This means that the book can be more easily updated when necessary and the publisher will not have a warehouse full of printed books. This makes sense, doesn't it?
Do readers want online books exclusively? I don't think so, yet. Perhaps there will always be a need for a printed book... and if you could see my desk, you'd know immediately that I am a big fan of printed books! I got a Kindle for Christmas, so I've started to see the benefits of reading on such a device. And really, Kindle is just the beginning. Everywhere you look there are different devices being made available: Sony, Nook, iPad, apps on iPhones and Blackberries, etc. I can't keep up with all the new devices, but I found this website that lists many that I've never even heard of! So, take a look if you are interested.
All of this combined tells me IBM is very into this ebook trend AND that 2010 is the Year of the e-Book... at least in terms of supply... so we'll have to wait to see if you the readers buy into the ebook technologies.
If you want to add to this discussion, take a look at this group that I've created on ChannelDB2.com: Electronic Books.
You're invited to a free session about Driving Business Innovation with Smart Analytics at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto the morning of February 10th.
The topic is Driving Business Innovation with Smart Analytics and it is being offered by ComputerWorld Canada’s Technology Insights.
Join Network World Canada editor Greg Meckbach and his guests Glen Sheffield, IBM Information Management Technical Specialist and Jason Gartner, IBM Business Analytics Development Executive.
WHAT WILL BE COVERED:
• The software, hardware, storage and infrastructure requirements for data warehousing and business analytics initiatives
• How to reduce the cost and time of deployment;
• How the business can leverage these analytical tools to turn information into insight and make sound business decisions
Glen Sheffield, IBM Information Management Technical Specialist
Jason Gartner, IBM Business Analytics Development Executive
“Work smarter, not harder” How many times have we heard this phrase? Working smarter means analysts and key decision makers have the right information and insight. It means analysts can quickly access the right data points to evaluate key performance indicators. And yet, working smarter may be more important today than it has ever been. Learn how by attending ComputerWorld Canada’s Technology Insights session in Toronto on February 10th. Seating is limited so don’t delay in reserving your place.
Working smarter means your front line business leaders know where to find the new revenue opportunities and which product or service offerings are most likely to address the market requirement. It means corporate risk and compliance units can recognize regulatory, reputational, and operational risks before they become realities.
Within your organization you have billions of bytes of information stored on your computers. We will examine how to give your organization the insight it needs to work smarter in this challenging environment by putting the right answers in the hands of your decision makers today while putting your business in the best position to quickly adapt and grow to answer the questions of tomorrow.
8:30 AM - 9:00 AM Registration & continental networking breakfast
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM Welcome address & content introduction.
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM Building the Foundation
Bringing a multi-terabyte data warehouse into production can be an insurmountable task. Find out how to overcome the challenges of bringing an enterprise database into production by employing the right software, hardware, storage and infrastructure. Learn how to reduce the time and cost of deployment.
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM Networking & coffee break
10:15 AM - 11:15 AM Turning Data into Decisions
Businesses need a range of analytics capabilities to address the variety of decisions that need to be made every day—and the confidence that those capabilities can be easily expanded as new demands arise. IT managers need to ensure they can quickly get the solution up and running and that it remains as relevant and powerful in the future as it is today. Learn how you can help the business quickly and efficiently turn your information into insight for smart business decisions.
11:15 AM - 11:45 AM Panel of experts - Q&A
11:45 AM - 12:00 PM Wrap-up
12:00 PM Program concludes
If you are in Toronto... come out and join these fabulous speakers and get inspired!