Goodbye Spaceboy

"Sometimes I feel
The need to move on
So I pack a bag
And move on"

Can't believe Bowie has taken that final train.

David Bowie's music has been part of my life pretty much since I started listening to pop music seriously. Lodger was the first Bowie album I listened to all the way through. It's probably his most under-appreciated album. It's funny to think that back then in 1979 Bowie was dismissed as (more...)

Death and taxes – and Oracle 11gR2?

Oracle Premier Support for 11gR2 Database expired this time last. However, Oracle announced they would waive the fees for Extended Support for 2015. This was supposed to provide 11gR2 customers an additional twelve months to migrate to 12c. So, twelve months on, how many of those laggards are still on 11gR2. My entirely unscientific guess is, most of them. Why else would Oracle announce the extension of the Extended Support fees waiver until May 2017?


UKOUG Annual Conference (Tech 2014 Edition)

The conference

This year the UKOUG's tour of Britain's post-industrial heritage brought the conference to Liverpool. The Arena & Convention Centre is based in Liverpool docklands, formerly the source of the city's wealth and now a touristic playground of museums, souvenir shops and bars. Still at least the Pumphouse functions as a decent pub, which is one more decent pub than London Docklands can boast. The weather was not so much cool in the 'Pool (more...)

T-Shirt slogans

One of the Cloudera chaps at the Oracle Big Data meetup had a T-shirt with this cool slogan:
Data is the new bacon
Even as a vegetatian I can appreciate the humour. It also has a corollary:
Metadata is the new Kevin Bacon
Because it's metadata is the thing which (more...)

Oracle Big Data Meetup – 09-OCT-2013

The Oracle guys running the Big Data 4 the Enterprise Meetup are always apologetic about marketing. The novelty is quite amusing. They do this because most Big Data Meetups are full of brash young people from small start-ups who use cool open source software. They choose cool open source software (more...)

PL/SQL Coding Standards, revisited

Formatting is the least important aspect of Coding Standards. Unfortunately, most sets of standards expend an inordinate number of pages on the topic. Because:

  1. The standards are old, or the person who wrote them is.
  2. Code formatting is an easy thing to codify and formalise.

Perhaps the source of most (more...)

The personal is technical

On Friday evening I attended an IT Job Fair at the Amerigo Vespucci in Canary Wharf. Let me say straight away that hanging out with a random bunch of techies and recruiters would not be my first choice for a Friday evening. But, hey! I'm looking for my next role, (more...)

UKOUG Analytics Event: a semi-structured analysis

Yesterday's UKOUG Analytics event was a mixture of presentations about OBIEE with sessions on the frontiers of data analysis. I'm not going to cover everything, just dipping into a few things which struck me during the day

During the day somebody described dashboards as "Fisher Price activity centres for managers". (more...)

Let me SLEEP!

DBMS_LOCK is a slightly obscure built-in package. It provides components which so we build our own locking schemes. Its obscurity stems from the default access on the package, which is restricted to its owner SYS and the other power user accounts. Because implementing your own locking strategy is a good (more...)

Oracle 10g – a time traveller’s tale

Time travel sucks, especially going back in time. Nobody takes a bath, there are no anaesthetics and you can't get a decent wi-fi signal anywhere. As for killing your own grandfather, forget about it.

The same is true for going back in database versions. In 2009 I had gone straight (more...)

Where’s SCOTT?

The database on the Developer Days Database App VBox appliance doesn't have the SCOTT schema. This is fair enough, as the sample schemas aren't include by default any more (for security reasons, obviously). I know the official sample schemas used in the documentation - HR, OE, and so on - (more...)

Geek quotient

I only scored 9/10 on the 'How big a David Bowie fan are you?' quiz. And I scored 20/20 on the 'can you tell Arial from Helvetica?' quiz. But I only scored 32.1032% on the Geek Test. So I still have some way to go.

Error Wrangling

Last week the OTN SQL and PL/SQL Forum hosted of those threads which generate heat and insight without coming to a firm conclusion: this one was titled WHEN OTHERS is a bug. Eventually Rahul, the OP, complained that he was as confused as ever. The problem is, his question asked for a proof of Tom Kyte's opinion that, well, that WHEN OTHERS is a bug. We can't proof an opinion, even an opinion from a well-respected source like Tom. All we can do is weigh in with our own opinions on the topic.

One of the most interesting things in (more...)

GOTOs, considered

Extreme programming is old hat now, safe even. The world is ready for something new, something tougher, something that'll... break through. You know? . And here is what the world's been waiting for: Transgressive Programming.

The Transgressive Manifesto is quite short:

It's okay to use GOTO.
The single underlying principle is that we value willful controversy over mindless conformity.

I do have a serious point here. Even programmers who haven't read the original article (because they can't spell Dijkstra and so can't find it through Google) know that GOTOs are "considered harmful". But as Marshall and Webber point out, (more...)

A new career in a new town

Well, I say "new career" but really it's the same thing: Oracle development. I'm working on some complex data matching routines for a data warehouse. But it is new, because I'm a contractor.

Going freelance has been a big step, as I was with Logica for over seventeen years. Actually, the company I joined was CMG, which through a chain of mergers, acquisitions and re-brandings became CMG Admiral, LogicaCMG, Logica and is now part of CGI. Contracting is something I have been considering for a while years but the actual decision almost took me by surprise. It's two weeks now, (more...)

Oracle and ANSI joins

Yesterday I was asked for my feelings about ANSI SQL join syntax. I think my main feeling is one of bafflement: why is this still an issue? After all, Oracle introduced support for the ANSI standard in SELECT statements in Oracle 9i, which means it has been available for over half my Oracle career. I admit it took me a while to get the hang of the syntax but now it is my default approach to writing queries. I like the separation of joins and filters, but I know not everybody does. For the doubters I have three words:
FULL  (more...)

Application integration: reorganise, recycle, repurpose

The last UKOUG Development SIG focused on Forms. Its theme was Forms in the 21st Century: modernise, integrate, migrate? I think we covered modernisation and migration very well. But even in a packed day we couldn't cover everything, and I fear integration was not done full justice.

It wasn't planned this way, but it so happens the upcoming UKOUG Development SIG is all about Application Integraton and SOA. Integration is a topic which is in everybody's baliwick. The business people want to get the best value from their existing IT investments. The architects need to understand the interfaces bewteen the (more...)

Closing out the year

Like many Britons I have been enjoying the Winterval. This is the tradition of using three days of annual leave to join up the Christmas and New Year bank holidays to engineer an extended break from work. Winterval means many offices are deserted between Christmas Eve and the beginning of January.

The effect is exacerbated in many organisations which run their leave year from January to December, with a "use it or lose it" policy. So many people finished working a week or even a fortnight before Christmas. Which is nice for the people involved, but it does cause problems (more...)

Wildly Over-ambitious Book Title of the Week

One of my co-workers has on his desk "Teach yourself SQL in 10 minutes". Yes, it is a SAMS book.

According to Ben Forta, the author, it is one of the best selling SQL books of all time. Not surprisng: who could resist a title like that?

I like his emphasis on getting stuff done. Even so, I think ten minutes is just about long enough to decide whether to pronounce it "sequel" or "ess queue ell".

Meanwhile at the Ship and Shovell

"Ah," the barmaid said, "my favourite round." The order is a pint of Fursty Ferret, a pint of Badger Ale, a pint of Amstel and a pint of cider. But why would a barmaid have a favourite round?

Well, the Amsel and cider use automatic pumps. The barmaid places a glass under each tap and sets them running. Ferret and Badger, being proper ales, are served from hand pumps. Again, she places a glass under the two taps and, grasping a handle in each hand, draws both pints simultaneously. With the result that all four pints are ready together, (more...)