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Comment Re:The sorts of things you get (Score 5, Informative) 372

Index only scans were added to postgresql (some caveats) in 9.2. The optimizer is cost/statistics based, though perhaps marginally less mature.

What I miss are strong partitioning support, implicit query parallelism, incremental backups, clustering (RAC), and materialized views. Most / all of these features matter primarily for reporting / analytic workloads.

PostgreSQL is a superb database, and dramatically easier to work with and manage than Oracle on a day to day basis. For transactional workloads at anything but the largest scale, it's excellent. On reporting and analytic workloads, it hits the wall much earlier but is still a good option for many needs.

Comment Personal Health Records (Score 4, Insightful) 196

Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault's personal health records (PHRs) are well known in health IT circles, but even among the health IT and healthcare informatics professionals I work with, uptake has been very shallow. There have been connected PHR-enabled sensors available for weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, and many other biometrics for some time, but again, very little interest in flowing this data into stand alone PHRs.

Stand alone PHRs aren't the only way to facilitate doctor-patient interaction. Many leading electronic medical records systems (EMRs) offer integrated personal health records - the disadvantage being that these records only show the data from one provider or health care system. Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) are rapidly springing up across the country to facilitate provider to provider data integration and provide a compelling model for direct patient participation in their care.

Personally, I've tracked these services for years but I've never bothered to create an account. Entering my information manually is tedious, and the standards and integration between EMRs and stand-along PHRs is emerging at best. If I had a fully populated PHR, it's not clear what value I'd really get out of it. My main provider already has most of my information and can source information directly from other practices when needed. Doctors are culturally suspicious of patient submitted data, as they have concerns about amateur self-diagnosis and drug-seeking patients.

The way Google is winding this down increases my trust in their other services. Google announced their plan to shutter Google Health a year and a half before the final shutdown date. They're offering multiple data export and migration options, including instructions and support to migrate to their largest competitor, HealthVault. I've had significantly worse experiences with migration / upgrade of many paid services / software - I'm looking at you Intuit.

Comment Re:XML (of databases)? (Score 1) 444

Oracle and DB2 both support the SQL/XML standard and provide quite a bit of functionality for native handling of XML. Both can store structured / compressed representations in a native XML type (with or without a predefined schema) and use XPath-based indexes for efficient query execution.

Wonderful stuff, and one of the few features I really miss back in the PostgreSQL world.

Comment Re:Bad deal for both companies (Score 1) 162

From where I stand, either IBM or Oracle were good matches.

Regarding Microsoft - as far as I know, the majority of Oracle's database revenue is coming in on Solaris/sparc and Linux/x86 platforms. Oracle was already squarely in the Java / Linux camp before the acquisition - their applications and middleware stacks are almost entirely Java (or moving there), and they have their own Linux distribution.

The Java acquisition is an imporant defensive move - there are too many free languages and tools out there to make a significant revenue directly from selling languages. With Oracle and IBM both distributing JVMs, Java has a high probability of holding on to its vibrant developer community. I suspect Oracle had concerns about relying on IBM (a very direct competitor) for Java (a foundation technology for Oracle products). The cost of running Java is nothing compared to the costs Oracle would experience if Java either faltered or was tilted against them. Oracle actually built their own JVM for use within the database years ago, though it's essentially dormant now.

The same likely goes for Sun's commercial middleware offerings - Oracle is likely interested in incorporating the best pieces of these into their own stack (see BEA, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, etc.).

MySQL may be different story - Oracle doesn't seem to have any strategic need for it and they already sell / give away smaller editions of the Oracle DB. I'm personally expecting Oracle's MySQL distribution to wither on the vine but some of the open source forks have a good shot at thriving.

Sparc is likely to continue dying off slowly, whether in Oracle's hands or as a spun off property. There are still plenty of companies happy to upgrade legacy boxes at this point and there's non-trivial revenue that can be derived from them, but the high end systems market will likely consolidate into Power and Itanium, as well as being absorbed into x86. Sparc doesn't have a champion any more and the larger price / architectural trends don't look good for it.

Solaris is an interesting piece of technology and it's less clear what's likely to happen to it. Oracle may see strategic benefits to distributing it themselves as a favored , or they may take some of the technologies (ZFS, scheduler, etc.) and port them to Linux.

OpenOffice and NetBeans are also less clear. There doesn't seem to be significant revenue or strategic potential for either unless Oracle wants to go up against MS Office. Oracle already has JDeveloper in the IDE space and it seems more likely they'd build on Eclipse if there's interest in a new platform.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - New Years Resolutions

NewToNix writes: It's gotta be a slow enough news day to get this accepted... all it needs to do is slip past the lameness filter...

So what are your new years resolutions?

Here's one of mine: Get Slashdot to add a 'Slow News Day' Section and Topic on the Slashdot Story Submissions page.

And here's one I saw over on Technocrat (from a BadVista post apparently).

New Year Resolutions:

1. Renew my FSF membership.

2. Get at least one new person to Join the FSF.

3. Help at least 2 people become 100% free from Microsoft software.

4. Explain what DRM and TC are to at least 4 people (and I mean really be effective at explaining how this affects them).

5. Give away at least 8 'Live' GNU/Linux Cd's — and take the time to sit with each person the first time they try it out (there is nothing like a personal bit of supplying 'helpful tips').

Now there are 5 really easy resolutions to keep. You can add more, and I'd encourage everyone to do even more to promote GNU/Linux and the FSF.

BUT, think what a change we all could make if each of us did just these 5 simple things in 2007.

I hope you will share my resolutions (and also keep them) in the coming year.

And to all, a very Happy New Year!

So OK, Slashdot, what are your big resolutions for 2007?

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