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Databases Education Books

Ask Slashdot: Learning DB the Right Way; Books, Tutorials, or What? 106 106

An anonymous reader writes "I have deep experience programming in many languages, and I've some exposure to SQL through PostgreSQL. My math goes so far as trig and algebra, with a little statistics. So far, I've learned enough to be dangerous: mostly via other people's code, experimenting, the PostgreSQL docs, etc. I've been successful using the DB in various ways, but I know I am missing a great deal (and probably doing it wrong, at that.) When DB articles come up on Slashdot, I don't recognize a good deal of the terminology. What is the best way for a technical person to learn SQL/DB work using PostgreSQL? Books? Tutorials? I should mention I don't have local access to a university or people with DB knowledge; have to do this on my own, so books or the Internet are pretty much my options."
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Ask Slashdot: Learning DB the Right Way; Books, Tutorials, or What?

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  • by dbc (135354) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @01:35PM (#44270441)

    Yup. Date is the One True Source.

    That said, when I found myself in a similar situation to the OP, here is what I did and found: 1) Read Date. 2) Make some toy databases. 3) Go back to 1 for a few iterations. At the point where I needed to deploy a database at work, I was able to do two things: a) convice my boss to hire a database expert, and b) have a strawman design for a database to go along with a spec when the expert came on board.

    I learned that database experts learn to be very good at diplomacy :) I learned a huge amount from her as she showed me how to work up a better design and show me why it was better. Of course, that is why I hired her.

    After reading Date and making toy databases I had the fundamental concepts, but lacked the practical experience to make good choices in how to normalize the database. How you normalize impacts performance, maintainability, and ease of maintaining data integrity. So bottom line is I found that self-teaching database design got me to something useable, but like many other things in software, the fastest way to learn is to make friends with a smart cube neighbor.

  • by ICLKennyG (899257) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @02:57PM (#44270875)
    I don't see where he said same schema or same hardware.

    No business cares about which database performs how well per unit of clock cycle. They care about how well does it perform per dollar. The fact that you are paying about 3-10x the hardware price in licensing costs means that you can come in and throw a lot more hardware at a problem and solve it for less money simply because the database technology is 'free'. This is the dominant reason people go with FOSS. Not because it's better but because it's good-enough and they can spend a few extra integrating it and having consultants for support and not be strapped over a barrel when Balmer or Ellison decide they need to buy another sports team or yacht respectively.

    Example:
    A single dual socket, octo-core (16 total) core box to run SQL Server will cost you about $10k from dell depending on config. It will cost you another $1000 for Windows Server (at least) and then another $110,000 (6,874/core x 16 cores)for enterprise edition (plus support!). You can buy 12x the hardware for MySQL than you can for SQL Server. There are reasons you would go with Windows, but don't scoff at people making money by replacing MSSQL with MySQL, they do exist and it's a very real business model. It gets even more fun when you start talking about virtualization and other licensing gotchas that exist with the big proprietary DB vendors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13, 2013 @03:39PM (#44271151)

    normalized databases come naturally

    Not sure about that. I keep on thinking database design is easy (having worked with them for over ten years). Its just a case of working out if entities have a one to many or many to many relationship usually.

    Then I get asked to "take a look" at some PhD students design, and realise how unnatural it is to some people.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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