Month: December 2011

My first set of Oracle Products

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I started working with Oracle back in 1993 and my first project involved working with Oracle 5, Forms 2.3 and for reports RPT.

The Oracle Database and tools were very simple back then, but there was lots of “features” to work around.

Check out this video, for a short demo of Oracle 5 and Forms 2

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What version of the Oracle Database do I need ?

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Oracle has recently made available a very useful webpage that that lists the functionality available for each version of the 11g Database. So before you decide which version of the database to purchase, check out this webpage.

http://www.oracle.com/us/products/database/product-editions-066501.html

i-BI : A new name for real BI

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I’ve been working in the BI and related fields since the mid 90s. Over the past number of years I’ve gotten a little bit confused about what Business Intelligence (BI) really means.  Maybe it’s just a bit of old age kicking in way too early.

It seems to me that the term Business Intelligence has been hijacked by a large number of companies and software vendors. It seems that every “reporting tool” has been re-labelled into a Business Intelligence tool, without providing any really intelligence features. You are still just a reporting tool with no real intelligence features. Yes you do have some nice graphics that can be used instead of just listing numbers. But that is not Business Intelligence.

Business Intelligence is going beyond what these tools are capable off. Most of the skills and abilities for BI comes from the people who are doing it, not the tools. In reality you will need to use a number of tools or to write some custom code to help you gain the extra bit of insight into your data. The “reporting tools” can then deliver the results.

Also Ralph Kimball said a long time ago that the skills of someone working in the DW/BI area was that they needed to be half-DBA and half-MBA.

A quote that I heard recently from the Predictive Analytics World Conference, was “You need to be able to ask the right question”. This is to ensure that you can frame your analytics projects correctly and be able to measure the results.

I think that this question was key back in the mid 90s when I started out in the BI field and I still think it applies to all areas of BI.  The thing that we have lost in BI is the real intelligence part of it.

So I’m proposing a new name for really BI. It is intelligent-Business Intelligence (i-BI).

Lets differentiate between BI and the real intelligent BI work.

What do I mean by intelligent BI (i-BI) ?  What I mean area skills in Data Warehousing, Time Series Analysis, Advanced Analytics, Data Mining, Predictive Analysis, solving or addressing real business problems, etc.

Or maybe I’m just wrong and have missed some developments in BI over the past 16+ years. Or maybe I’m becoming a bit too cynical.

What do you think ?

Article for Oracle Scene–Due 13th Jan

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As we approach Christmas, many of us will be looking forward to a few days holidays/vacation. During this period we may start thinking about some techniques or methods that we discovered over the past 12 months or about things we need to find out more on, over the coming months.

One thing to consider is to write an article on these techniques or methods, for Oracle Scene.  The next due date for submitting articles is 13th January.

http://www.ukoug.org/what-we-offer/oracle-scene/editorial-calendar/

For more details and ideas check out my webpage Oracle Scene

Make sure you check out the Article Guidelines and Submission Details

http://www.ukoug.org/what-we-offer/oracle-scene/article-submissions/

I hope to write an article based on the presentation I gave at the UKOUG Conference in Birmingham.

The most common question that I get asked is ‘how long should it be?’.  The length of an article can be anything from half a page, up to 4 or 5 pages long.

Updating your ODM (11g R2) model in production

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In my previous blog posts on creating an ODM model, I gave the details of how you can do this using the ODM PL/SQL API.

But at some point you will have a fairly stable environment. What this means is that you will know what type of algorithm and its corresponding settings work best for for your data.

At this point you should be able to re-create your ODM model in the production database. The frequency of doing this update is dependent on number of new cases that you have. So you need to update your ODM model could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

image

To update your model you will need to:

– Creating a settings table for your model
– Create a new ODM model
– Rename your new ODM model to the production name

The following examples are based on the example data, model names, etc that I’ve used in my previous post.

Creating a Settings Table

The first step is to create a setting table for your algorithm. This will contain all the parameter settings needed to create the new model. You will have worked out these setting from your previous attempts at creating your models and you will know what parameters and their values work best.

— Create the settings table
CREATE TABLE decision_tree_model_settings (
    setting_name VARCHAR2(30),
    setting_value VARCHAR2(30));

— Populate the settings table
— Specify DT. By default, Naive Bayes is used for classification.
— Specify ADP. By default, ADP is not used.
BEGIN
    INSERT INTO decision_tree_model_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.algo_name,       
           dbms_data_mining.algo_decision_tree);
   
    INSERT INTO decision_tree_model_settings (setting_name, setting_value)
    VALUES (dbms_data_mining.prep_auto,dbms_data_mining.prep_auto_on);
  
    COMMIT;
END;

Create a new ODM Model

We will need to use the DBMS_DATA_MINING.CREATE_MODEL procedure. In our example we will want to create a Decision Tree based on our sample data, which contains the previously generated cases and the new cases since the last model rebuild.

BEGIN
    DBMS_DATA_MINING.CREATE_MODEL(
        model_name          => ‘Decision_Tree_Method2′,
        mining_function     => dbms_data_mining.classification,
        data_table_name     => ‘mining_data_build_v’,
        case_id_column_name => ‘cust_id’,
        target_column_name  => ‘affinity_card’,
        settings_table_name => ‘decision_tree_model_settings’);
END;

Rename your ODM model to production name

The model we have create created above is not the name that is used in our production software. So we will need to rename it to our production name.

But we need to be careful about when we do this. If you drop a model or rename a model when it is being used then you can end up with indeterminate results.

What I suggest you do, is to pick a time of the day when your production software is not doing any data mining. You should drop the existing mode (or rename it) and the to rename the new model to the production model name.

DBMS_DATA_MINING.DROP_MODEL(‘CLAS_DECISION_TREE‘);

and then

DBMS_DATA_MINING.RENAME_MODEL(‘Decision_Tree_Method2’, ‘CLAS_DECISION_TREE’);

Oracle Analytics Update & Plan for 2012

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On Friday 16th December, Charlie Berger (Sr. Director, Product Management, Data Mining & Advanced Analytics) posted the following on the Oracle Data Mining forum on OTN.

“… soon you’ll be able to use the new Oracle R Enterprise (ORE) functionality. ORE is currently in beta and is targeted to go General Availability in the near future. ORE brings additional functionality to the ODM Option, which will then be renamed to the Oracle Advanced Analytics Option to reflect the significant adv. analytical functionality enhancements. ORE will allow R users to write R scripts and run them inside the database and eliminate and/or minimize data movement in/out of the DB. ORE will provide R to SQL transparency for SQL push-down to in-DB SQL and and expanding library of Oracle in-DB statistical functions. Packages that cannot be pushed down will be run in embedded R mode while the DB manages all data flows to the multiple R engines running inside the DB.


In January, we’ll open up a new OTN discussion forum specifically for Oracle R Enterprise focused technical discussions. Stay tuned.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the new Oracle R Enterprise, in 2012. In particular I’m keen to see what additional functionality will be added to the Oracle Data Mining option in the DB.

So watch out for the rebranding to Oracle Advanced Analytics

Charlie – Any chance of an advanced copy of ORE and related DB bits and bobs.

Recent Wood Carvings

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I’ve managed to get enough time over the past couple of days to finish some wood carvings that I started a couple of months ago.

IMG_0773An Angel for the Christmas Tree (beech)

IMG_0775A name plate for the house (beech)

IMG_0776A Sun face for the shed door (Ash)