There's a reason we still have user groups...

It's back in the days before Google, when this IT shop is running an Oracle database on a Digital Equipment Corp. VAX minicomputer under VMS -- and running into a problem, says a pilot fish on the scene.

"One day, we got a max-extent error on one of our tablespaces -- we were using more extents than we were supposed to," fish says. "Since we had plenty of disk space, we just increased the number of allowed extents.

"A bit of time passed, and we got that same error. OK, the table grew. So we decided to set max-extents to the highest allowable value. According to the documentation, that was 999.

"A bit more time passed -- and we got the same error again. Our tables couldn't have grown that long that quickly. Oracle support was no help, so we just recreated the tablespace with an initial size larger than the current file and with larger extents.

"But why did we get that last error, when we were at less than 150 extents -- well below the limit we assigned? Again, Oracle support was no help, telling us we must not have set max-extents properly.

"It wasn't until I attended a session at the DECUS user group's national conference that I learned there was a 'hidden' limit on max-extents under VMS -- the actual maximum was 121.

"You'd think the manual would mention the lower limit. You'd think Oracle support would know about the lower limit. Instead, we had to get the information from another user."

There's no limit on the number of stories you can send to Sharky. So email your true tales of IT life to me at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.

Computerworld's IT Salary Survey 2017 results
Shop Tech Products at Amazon