Oct 03

Data Compare for Oracle

I’ve been doing a lot of Web development since I started a new job in June. This has been (pleasantly) challenging for a number of reasons. The environment is brand-new to me and, in comparison to other places I’ve worked, large and complex.

For instance, I’ve never developed in ColdFusion before and one of my Web applications needs to have the front end (a public-facing side on the public-facing server for users) on a ColdFusion8 server and the back-end of (used by members of my own department) lives behind the firewall, in our intranet, and runs ColdFusion9…so I’m learning two version of ColdFusion at the same time.

And I’ve worked with Sybase and MySQL databases, but Oracle is new to me. The Database Administrator I work with is a friendly, immensely helpful guy who I try to avoid bugging unless I’m really, really stuck. Developers far more experienced and skillful than me have all admonished me: “Be very, very nice to your DBA.”

So when I run into problems, I tend to head back to the manuals for the software I’m using (Oracle’s SQL Developer, PL/SQL Developer), but sometimes that doesn’t give me the sort of quick, painless solutions I crave.

Last week, I wanted to compare the data in a restored backup to the data in our production database and generate a script to copy the missing restored data to the production database. I asked my DBA and a far more experienced developer what tool I could use to accomplish this quickly and easily.

Neither had any suggestions- though both agreed that it would be wonderful if such a tool existed.

It turns out that such a tool DOES exist- and is awesome. A little Googling turned up Data Compare for Oracle from Red Gate Software- which is part of their Deployment Suite for Oracle.

I downloaded the free, fully functional trial and was so blown away by it that I emailed Red Gate to tell them so.

The interface is intuitive and well-designed- without spending a single second on any manual or help files, I made my comparisons and generated a deployment script within minutes of installing the application. Go check out the screen shots on Red Gate’s site to see how simple it is to use.

I was able to compare two databases on two different servers, limit the comparison to specific tables and criteria, drill down for details on the comparison, and generate a script to make the changes I needed. In minutes. Seriously.

Blown. Away.

To my delight, I was able to wrangle a license for my own use at work. This was an enormous relief, as the thought of losing it at the end of the 14-day trial brought tears to my eyes.

Download the trial and try it.

(Does anyone recall the last time I so nakedly endorsed a product? I don’t. That’s how much I like it.)

Oct 03

The NNT

Just realized that I have not yet mentioned here that I don’t work in a medical library any longer.

A few months ago, I took a job as the geek (technologist-generalist?) for the Department of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Upstate. I love the job. Love it. The people are great and the work is both challenging and interesting.

While I have really enjoyed shifting more to the mechanics of health information than the content, I’ve found certain librarianish habits and interests haven’t faded.

For instance, TheNNT.com fascinates me.

http://www.thennt.com/

“There is a way of understanding how much modern medicine has to offer individual patients. It is a simple statistical concept called the “Number-Needed-to-Treat”, or for short the ‘NNT’. The NNT offers a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy by estimating the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person. The concept is statistical, but intuitive, for we know that not everyone is helped by a medicine or intervention — some benefit, some are harmed, and some are unaffected. The NNT tells us how many of each.”

Here’s a great example: Anticoagulation for Venous Thromboembolism

Or check out Mediterranean Diet for Secondary Prevention After Heart Attack.

Is it just me, or is this site crazy awesome? I’ve encountered a handful of physicians who like the site a lot, but I’ve heared next to nothing from medical librarians. Any thoughts?