I have been troubleshooting since I was a kid! :)

People often ask how come I know so much about Oracle (and some Unix) internals and how do I have such a passion for such things.
Also, another thing which you can notice is that for some reason a large amount of hardcore computer hackers, low level troubleshooters and various internals experts happen to come from Russia.

And I can answer why this is so :)

A little bit of history: I was born in Estonia and lived over 20 of my first years there. From 1940 to 1991 Estonia was occupied by Soviet Union (excluding few years during World War II when we were occupied by German forces).

So, as I was born in the end of seventies, most of my childhood we were still part of Soviet Union. And that applies to all russians and other nationalities in that empire too.

  • …This meant that all we could buy was Soviet Union products.
  • …And all these products usually had quality issues.
  • …Which meant that whenever I got some toy as present for christmas or my birthday – I first had to FIX it and only then I could play with it! :)
  • …That usually applied to toy cars, constructors and whatever non-trivial pieces of toys. Some things needed minor tweaking, some required complete disassembly and reassembly (sometimes you needed to improvise and come up with the missing pieces yourself :)
  • …Later on it also applied to bikes etc. The bike could be working in principle but you still needed to tune it to get it running smoothly (and to make sure that it wouldn’t break when you went downhill the max speed you could get).

So, there’s always something good in everything bad – I had to learn troubleshooting since I was a little kid! ;)

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22 Responses to I have been troubleshooting since I was a kid! :)

  1. Coskan says:

    >>Which meant that whenever I got some toy as present for christmas or my birthday – I first had to FIX it and only then I could play with it! :)

    Thank you for this definitive answer now I learned why:))

  2. drnk says:

    Good post, thanks )))

    Another example is radio recivers that people had to gather themselves for normal quality (in Russia, in 30s-40s). Anyway, the first computer did not come from Russia ((

  3. Amit says:

    Too good Tanel ;-)


  4. Oh man. You made me laugh… This is so true – “whenever I got some toy as present for christmas or my birthday – I first had to FIX it and only then I could play with it!”

    I’m sure it was intentional to boost our logical thinking and troubleshooting skills. :)

  5. Sass says:

    Thanks for a great performance in Oslo. I’ve got lot of inspiration!

  6. Tanel,

    This reminds me of Genrich Altshuller, the inventor of TRIZ (Теория решения изобретательских задач, or the theory of solving inventor’s problems).

    On a personal note, having been raised in Peru, I can understand you perfectly!



  7. Olivier says:

    Hello Tanel, does it mean you have yourself discovered all these secrets about Oracle Kernel layers ? :-) I mean you must have a good source of information :-) And if you did yourself, please tell us more about this magic command which enables you to compress the time :-) ’cause lot of time is needed isn’t it ? :-) By the way any plan to come to France ? thanks ;-)

  8. Tanel Poder says:

    Hi Olivier,

    Well the metalink is one important source of information, especially the bug descripions (and make sure you check the 2nd half of metalink note 175982.1 to see what I mean when I say that some of the kernel layers are documented by oracle :)

  9. Tanel Poder says:

    Regarding France, is there an active French Oracle user group there?

  10. Leonid says:

    It is amazing how true these observations are. My colleagues at work are almost always bewildered every time I take apart very quickly Sun servers, EMC disk arrays, or whatever comes my way. It indeed started with toys, bicycles, radios, TV sets and a kid living in the former USSR. It just developed into this incessant desire to know what’s inside whether it is hardware or software.

  11. Olivier says:

    Hi Tanel,
    In France we have AUFO which is meant for all Oracle French customers to share their experience. There are many events but AUFO is really not what i would call an OUG (compared to other OUG all around the world). I remember i had to talk to Oracle France University to make them consider having Tom Kytes, Jonathan Lewis, Craig Shalammer coming to France (they even didn’t know about them !). So i guess the best would be for me to contact them and suggest them to hire you for 3 days in Paris …. :)

  12. Olivier says:

    Hey Tanel, thanks a lot for doc.id 175982.1 :) I guess i should spend more time on Metalink :)

  13. Mohamed says:

    In december 3-4 2009 I have attended a 2 days Tom Kyte Seminar at Oracle University in Paris. At the end of the seminar Oracle france gave us a paper in which we were invited to wrote names we would like to see speaking in France. I have mentioned Jonathan Lewis, Cary Millsap, Richar Foote and Tanel Poder. So if they have not contacted you then they are not doing well their work. Be sure that If you come to France,we will be a lot to attend your seminar


  14. Olivier says:

    I confirm what Mohamed said. I have attended Tom, Jonathan and Craig Seminar last years at Oracle University France, and there were a lot of people. if there’s something we can do that would help to have you come to France, please let us know.

  15. PorusHH says:


    Since you were part of the USSR, you may know the Indian song by Raj Kapoor “Mera Joota hai Japani” that was quite popular over there in the 1950s. Maybe more so in Russia.



  16. Tanel Poder says:

    Well I wasn’t even born then so I wouldn’t know :)

  17. Senthil says:

    if you have any experience with oracle application ( r11i,r12) pls share with us :) also pls share with us how to calculate the hardware requirement for oracle db / application installtion . thanks :)

  18. Tanel,

    How did you first get involved with Oracle databases at such a young age? Most folks who begin to work with Oracle are older folks who already have been working for years in the IT field. Not many start at such young age. You and Steve Karam are the rare exceptions! As for me, I started working with Oracle back in the 1990s when I was doing Unix and C development.


  19. Tanel Poder says:

    By accident! I was a Unix geek thanks to my high-school’s IT program already (and I was a general computer geek even before that for reasons unknown to me, just liked to hack stuff I guess :)

    And when I was first year in the university then I accidentially met an ex-classmate from high school who worked for an Oracle partner company and asked if I wanted to take a part time DBA job. I went to the interview, spoke with my boss for for 20 minutes and then was given an Oracle installation CD and a Windows NT workstation and started installing it.

    I still remember dealing with classic problems like listener being down, names.default_domain mismatch in sqlnet.ora and all the other basic stuff. This was when google inc didn’t exist yet and altavista.com search often returned just spam as a result to queries so google-troubleshooting did not work, had to figure out everything myself. and I wasn’t soo systematic yet then so some things caused quite a bit of frustration. But again, as I never want to waste my time, I quickly recognized the faster and more reliable approaches for troubleshooting/fixing something and dropped the “old” less reliable ideas.

    Constant self-feedback, following what you do and how your actions work out and make conclusions for next time is the way to go.

  20. Annette says:

    Hi all,
    Tanel is presenting in Brussel on 5 and 6 November 2009 :-)
    I know it’s not in Paris but it is a good alternative maybe :-)
    This is the link to view more information http://www.miraclebenelux.nl/tanel or http://www.miraclebenelux.nl/register.
    Greetz, Annette

  21. Gary S says:

    I notice you posted this on May Day! I thought that was funny for some reason.

    I have found that the self-reliance that you discussed can be a problem, too (when people re-implement features in their code that are already present in the database). I guess it depends on how you apply it. Thanks for a great site.

  22. Mark H says:


    LOVE THIS. Whatever the reason, whatever the domain, that inquisitive nature drives more innovation, more breakthroughs, than anything else. When a person simply won’t quit, it’s amazing how the solutions come. :-)

    Really enjoyed this post, as I always do yours. Keep ’em coming!

    All the best,

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