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PL/SQL Challenge: October SQL Quiz Questions by Me…

I’ve done quite a few certification exams, so I’ve seen a lot of OCP questions in my time. In the past I’ve been openly critical of some of the OCP questions, but always said that it must be a really tough job to create the exams. With that in mind, when Steven Feuerstein asked me if I would be interested in providing the October questions for the SQL quizzes on the PL/SQL Challenge, my first reaction was OMG!

After the initial panic/fear/denial had subsided I decided to bite the bullet and get a feel for how hard a job it really was. I would love to say it was really simple, but that would be a complete lie. :) The initial questions themselves were pretty easy to write, but the fine tuning to make sure they were properly focussed and reduce the chances of accidentally misleading people was quite a big job.  The team of question reviewers deserve medals for helping me knock the questions into shape. Big thanks to all those involved.

During October, you will be able to judge for yourself how well I got on by trying the SQL Quizzes. In addition to the normal feedback channels, feel free to contact me directly and let me know. Please be gentle. :)

Cheers

Tim…




Arrived at San Francisco (OOW & ACED)

There were no real dramas on the way from Birmingham to San Francisco, which makes a change for me. :)

I got to San Francisco at 16:00 local time and told myself I would go to bed at 21:00 at the latest. I trotted off to the gym, got cleaned up and went down to the bar to say hello to some people. Fatal mistake. I did my normal trick of talking incessantly until about 01:00. Luckily I was not drinking pints of “jetlag” like others I could mention. :)

So at about 01:00 I was in bed. I woke up at about 04:15. :( If nothing else it meant I got to catch up on all my emails and go to the gym again. I think there are going to be a few very tired people during the ACED meeting today. I apologise in advance if I fall asleep in your session.

As always, I’m a little daunted at the start of this week. Having 2 days of ACED meetings followed by the main 5 day conference is a lot more difficult than it sounds, especially when everyone knows enough to make you paranoid about your own abilities. Having said that, I know it’s going to be fun and I know I’ll be glad I came.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Already missing the people I know can’t make it this year. Excited about meeting up with everyone again.

PPS. Must remember to speak less and listen more.

PPPS. Must try remain calm this year, not act like a kid in a sweet shop. :)




Oracle 11gR2 RAC on Oracle Linux 6.1 using VirtualBox…

It’s all a bit last minute, but today I decided to do an Oracle 11gR2 (11.2.0.3) RAC installation on Oracle Linux 6.1 using VirtualBox. The 11.2.0.3 patch has fixed all of the installation issues related to RAC on OL6.1, so it was pretty smooth. The procedure can be seen here.

As noted in the article, the screen shots of the GI and DB installers are from an 11.2.0.1 article. I’ll update these screen shots when I get back from OpenWorld. Like I said, it was all a bit last minute. :) Normally I wouldn’t put an article like this live (and you can see it’s not on the homepage yet), but I get lots of questions about this subject, so I thought I would make it available to make my life easier.

Cheers

Tim..

PS. There is no suitable oracle-validated package available for this at the moment, so the prerequisites have to be done manually.




Oracle Database Appliance…

The Oracle Database Appliance has been released. It looks like a pretty neat bit of kit for the SMB market. It’s listed in a couple of locations, each page with links to different technical docs, so it’s worth looking at both:

Interesting point’s include:

  • It’s a 2 node 11.2.0.2 RAC on Oracle Linux 5.5 implementation.
  • Two 6-core Xeons per node.
  • 96G Memory per node.
  • 12 TB shared disk, but triple-mirrored, so  you have 4TB of storage.
  • Mirrored “Solid-state disks for redo logs to boost performance.” I can see that point generating some discussion. :)
  • No hardware upgrade/expansion options.
  • Pay-as-you-grow licensing available.

For the full lowdown, check the technical docs under the top-level links.

If you like the one-vendor-supplies-all approach, this is kinda neat and a lot less complex than a full blow Exadata system.

Cheers

Tim…




APAC OTN Tour: First stop Beijing, China…

With OOW fast approaching, the last thing I wanted to do was be left without a passport, but the week after I return from OOW I have the first leg of the APAC OTN tour in Beijing. A little over a week ago I sent off all my documents, including my passport, and I’ve had a nagging feeling in my guts ever since. This morning I received my passport and a single entry visa for China along with it a wave of relief.

Applying for visas is very stressful when you have other trips on the calendar. I know some of the other people on the tour have got a more visas to apply for and less time to do it, so I hope they can cope with the stress better than me. :)

So I’m £84 + £11 postage out of pocket, but travel approval permitting, I should be fine for Beijing. The Auckland and Perth legs are fine because I don’t need a visa for New Zealand and I’ve already been to Australia this year, so my ETA is still valid.

Now take a deep breath and relax…

Cheers

Tim…

PS. For anyone else travelling to OOW, make sure to apply for your ESTA, or check last years is still valid… ;)




Windows 8.. I just don’t get it…

First the caveats:

  • Remember I said Apple iPad… I just don’t get it… Then promptly went out an bought one. I now use it most days for surfing and checking my emails from bed. :)
  • Windows 8 is pre-beta, so hopefully a lot will change between now and then.

I totally understand the concept of the new front screen and the whole Metro thing. Trying to keep a consistent experience between a Windows phone and a Windows touchpad is sensible. Just like the iPhone and iPad. What I don’t like is the fact the tiles are massive and take up loads of space. It just seems a bit silly to me. Why make me sideways scroll when all the initial options could be seen on my 24-inch monitor anyway? From a desktop computing perspective, it is so much worse than the Apple Launchpad (which I also despise) or the GNOME3 Activities screen.

Since I’m running it on a desktop machine, my biggest concern is getting a regular desktop to work with. I can do this by clicking the “Desktop” tile. The resulting desktop is basically Windows 7, which is fine, *except* there is no regular start menu. Clicking the Start button takes you back to the crappy tiled front screen, or hovering in the bottom-left corner presents you with the new menu. What is on this new menu? Bugger all of any use! The search screen is like a really bad GNOME3 “Activities” screen. It requires so many clicks and mouse moves to get where you want to go. It’s wretched. If I were a regular user I think I would probably pin a whole bunch of apps to the taskbar and maybe define a few folders on desktop containing useful shortcuts. Surely the ability to run the old Windows 7 menu would be a welcome addition for the vast majority of users!

Every dialog now has a ribbon instead of a toolbar or menu. This may prove useful for the newbies as it displays functionality that may have been hidden in sub-menus, but for me it is a disaster. The top inch of very window is filled with a bunch of crap that I don’t care about most of the time.

Typically the early releases have lots of tracing code enabled, so I don’t expect the production release will be as slow as this developer release.

So what is the future of the desktop computer? The rumors are that the next iteration of Macs will be essentially running iOS. It looks like the next generation of PCs will be running Windows 8. Although both these OSes seem fine for phones and touchpads, neither of them seem appropriate for a desktop computer. Now I realize that I am by no means a typical PC users, so maybe the vast majority of the PC users of the world will be happy with these changes, but I for one think it is a massive step backwards. It is starting to look like the future of desktop computing is Linux. :) Luckily, I’m already there.

Let’s hope a little sanity returns between now and the production release of Windows 8. If nothing else, just give us a proper menu, or fix that God awful search screen.

Update: Check out these hacks to restore the Windows 7 style menu.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Let’s see if I end up contradicting everything I just said in a few months time. :)




VirtualBox Cloning: A minor warning…

The cloning feature in VirtualBox was a welcome addition, but there are a couple of fringe issues to be aware of:

  • If you use the cloning feature to clone a VM that has shared disks (like in a VM RAC setup), the shared disks are also cloned, so you end up with a new VM that is not accessing the original shared disks, but has a new set. I’ve put a note about this in my VirtualBox RAC articles and suggested you still use the old method of cloning the virtual hard disk manually. I guess for most people this is not a big deal.
  • The virtual disks of a clone get placed in the default location. Once again, not a big deal unless you try to spread your virtual disks onto different spindles to get better performance.

Like I said, these are very edge-case issues and not a reason for most people to avoid the cloning feature.

Cheers

Tim…




11gR2 RAC on Windows 2008 using VirtualBox…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve kinda ignored the fact that any operating system other than Linux (specifically Oracle Linux) exists. It’s quite easy to do when you are working with Oracle products and you get to choose your own environment. :)

As a vague nod to the fact that Windows does actually exist, I’ve finally got round to updating my Windows virtual RAC article.

Windows 2008 is an unusual operating system in some respects. The RAC installation is pretty simple really, but finding some of the config dialogs is a complete nightmare. Chains of menus, dialogs, buttons and hyperlinks to get you to the dialog you need. What’s worse, some of the menus are hidden unless you remember to “Alt” or “Alt+N”. Crazy! If I was using Windows on a regular basis I think I would just memorize all the dialog program names and start them directly from the Run menu. It’s got to be easier than traversing that nightmare. I remember when Windows was considered the easy option. It doesn’t feel like the case anymore. :)

In related news, yesterday I got an invite from Jeremy Schneider to help out at RAC Attack at OOW 2011. That should be fun. See you there! :)

Cheers

Tim…