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In reviewing the "Acknowledgments" section of other O'Reilly Oracle books, I was really not surprised to almost invariably find Debby Russell at the top of the list. In addition to being a great editor who has a careful (if not downright hawk-like) eye for both style and substance, she's also a warm and funny human being. During the final editing phase of this book, my wife and I were in the midst of a 2000+ mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Debby was wonderfully patient and understanding during our hike, and kept her sense of humor even during my frantic calls from places like the Nolichucky Campground. Many thanks also to Michael Blanding for greatly improving both the style and organization of the book, Lorrie LeJeune for creating a special order boll weevil, Gigi Estabrook for providing editorial support during the production process, Madeleine Newell for her careful edits and comments, and Jim Cupan for providing much needed NT support. Finally, thanks to all the many other people at O'Reilly who transformed this book from a rough draft into the book you're holding now.

I'm deeply indebted to everyone who has provided invaluable technical feedback. Thanks to those who read this book in its earliest stages: Chris Albee for commenting on the very roughest drafts, Sandy Bickford for being my technical mentor, Steven Feuerstein for his sage PL/SQL advice and for introducing me to Debby at ECO'98, and Steve Muench and Victor Oppenheimer for their feedback on XML. I'm also especially grateful to everyone who reviewed the book and provided excellent suggestions for improvement: Rick Greenwald for his help navigating the sometimes treacherous Oracle waters, Dave Kreines for the feedback on the foundations of Oracle technology, Steven Leung for his advice on WebDB, and Bill Pribyl for his careful analysis of almost everything in the book. (Bill even caught typos in the code comments -- now that's dedication!) Thanks to everyone at Oracle who answered questions and provided many excellent materials: Martin Graf for his help with Oracle Lite, Tom Grant for i FS, Steven Leung for WebDB, Joe Mauro for interMedia, Mahdu Reddy for AQ, and Thomas Kurian and Ashok Swaminathan for explaining how it all fits together. Thanks also to Steve Hilker at RevealNet for letting me use PL/Formatter to format the book's code examples. Despite the hard work of all these people, any errors, omissions, and oversights in the book are solely my own.

Many others have provided help without even knowing it: thanks to the people at Someday Café in Davis Square for the strong coffee, the folks at Burdick's Chocolates in Cambridge for the delicious chocolate mice, and the chefs at Blue Fin for the fresh sushi. Also, my deep appreciation to everyone who has been so amazingly nice to us while we've been on our hike, especially Dennis and Mary Hutchins at the Laurel Creek Lodge in Hampton, Tennessee. Thanks to the people in my life who have provided encouragement and support: my parents Joyce Odewahn and Charles Odewahn, my brother Steve and sisters Anne and Cathy, my in-laws Ben and Maxine McManus (who gladly chauffeured us throughout the most obscure corners of Appalachia), and especially my sister-in-law Stacy McManus, who in addition to just being great is also mailing us our food while we're on the trail!

Finally, last but not least, I thank Amy McManus, my wife, friend, confidant, and traveling companion on the trail of life. Without her emotional, spiritual, and financial support none of this would have been possible. In the words of singer and poet Jerry Jeff Walker, "without you there'd be no light in the window, nobody to laugh with late at night . . . there'd be no reason to write . . . ."

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