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I’m David Kurtz and this is how I work October 30, 2012

Posted by Duncan in How I work.
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I’m very grateful to David Kurtz for agreeing to be the first genuine interviewee in this series.

If there are any people in the PeopleSoft world who haven’t come across David or his work, this is a brief introduction. David started out as an installer/infrastructure expert for PeopleSoft, but is now an independent contractor based in the UK. He has worked for most of the UK’s biggest PeopleSoft implementations, specialising in tuning PeopleSoft on Oracle databases. He is a published author (PeopleSoft for the Oracle DBA), has a blog for PeopleSoft DBAs and is a regular speaker on the conference circuit, having recently spoken at both UKOUG and OpenWorld).

Name: David Kurtz

Occupation: Independent Oracle/PeopleSoft Performance Consultant
Location: Maida Vale, London
Current computer: Toshiba Tecra (Win7, 8GB RAM, SSD)
Current mobile devices: HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy Tab, both running Android

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google search has been a primary research tool for many years.  There is just so much stuff out there, the challenge is filtering the useful from the useless and the obviously untrustworthy.  After that, I need a sandpit database where I can create test cases and prototype code.  Without customer VPN, life would be very difficult.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?
Apple iPod, though it is only version 1.  iTunes is the best system I have found to organise classical music.  After that, the Samsung tablet with GPS was bought primarily as a navigational device for the bike, but I have since found another 42 critical uses for it.

What’s your workspace like?
This is office 2.0.  Earlier this year I finally cleared out the 20-year old computer desk and installed this desk and shelving system.  I also treated myself to a new KVM switch and monitor.

What do you listen to while you work?
Quite often I don’t.  When I do, it is often classic music on my PC or www.radioswissclassic.ch.  Of course, when there is cricket: BBC Test Match Special.

What PeopleSoft-related productivity apps do you use?
I need to be able to put performance analysis techniques into operation on customer sites, so I need keep things simple and use things that I know will always be in place everywhere.  Trying to installing software in the middle of a performance crisis can just be a distraction.  I use SQL*Plus to run SQL, and Notepad and vi to edit files.  I use Excel as a way of extracting and graphing performance metrics.

Do you have a 2-line tip that some others might not know?
You can embed a SQL query into an Excel spreadsheet, which can then can connect to the database via ODBC, run the query and extract the data directly into the sheet or even a pivot table.  This is a great way to collect and visualise performance metrics using software that everyone will have.

What SQL/Code do you find yourself writing most often?
Queries on the ASH repository, and the conversion between PeopleSoft record name and Oracle table name.

What would be the one item you’d add to PeopleSoft if you could?
Support for Oracle sequences.  It would mitigate all sorts of locking issues associated with PeopleSoft’s ‘homemade’ table based sequences, especially those affecting scalability of the integration broker.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
I know lots of people who know more about the inside of an Oracle database than me, and lots more people who know more about all sorts of aspects of PeopleSoft.  The difference is that I work across both of those disciplines. I am lucky that I get to see more examples of things going wrong, so I have become very adept at analysing performance issues that affect PeopleSoft and/or Oracle.  I like to think that I am quite good at applying ideas from other places to PeopleSoft problems.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Nullius in Verba (Take nobody’s word for it).  You can’t just trust anything simply because somebody, even with the best intentions, says or blogs that it is true.  You have to test for yourself in your circumstances. Consequently the answer to every question begins ‘it depends …’.

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