Monday 23 May 2011

A simple way to learn more about PL/SQL

Attention PL/SQL developers - Steven Feuerstein's PL/SQL Challenge website has just been 2.0'd

If you haven't given it a go, now is the time for a fresh crack. It's not just a daily quiz, but a place to learn and keep up to date with Oracle technology - not necessarily with new features, but techniques and capabilities you may not have been aware or, nor had the exposure to.

That and everyone has a chance to win something.

Kudos to Steven and his team of merry men.


Thursday 19 May 2011

Anonymous PL/SQL blocks

Some of you may be familiar with the ability to administer Apex applications via SQL Developer, for instance I could modify the alias of my application thusly:

It opens a popup which allows me to write my new alias.
As with the other facilities of SQL Developer, you can opt to view the relevant SQL for this change.

All Oracle is really doing here is calling the relevant API, but what I also noticed the first time I used it was the autonomous transaction pragma it applied to the anonymous block.
  wwv_flow_api.set_application_alias (p_flow_id=>101,p_alias=>'TIM_0101_b');
In the past I've quite happily applied this pragma for a procedure defined within a package, but this demonstrates we can also define independent transactions within these anonymous PL/SQL blocks, in addition to certain triggers.

Something I added to the memory bank when I first stumbled on it.

A final note - you can also kinda "name" your anonymous block to assist your documentation process, ie - there is no reason why you can't finish with:
END my_anonymous_block;


Monday 16 May 2011

An random insight into computing history

In the days of reaching the moon, we amazed ourselves with the mathematical capability we empowered our machines with.

Apollo's 32kg guidance computer was basically 2Mhz and it's memory measured in kilobytes, and gave Neil Armstrong a cryptic memory error just seconds from landing on the moon.

It used to be said that the apollo spacecraft technology is blitzed by "today's" vehicles. Well, today's vehicles are way ahead now, and we can find electronics that exceed Apollo computing power everywhere. This article compares the guidance computer to a 2009 smart phone. I tried to find the exact specifications for something less conspicuous like anti-lock brakes but alas.

Where am I going with this? Recently I was cleaning out the extended garage and found an old computer I was yet to dispose of. This was partially due to nostolgia, and another part of me thought I might be able to find some use for it - well, I did find a use - amusement.

As I pulled it apart, I thought I'd take a few photos and document the occasion. It was dated 1999 so I imagine this is what got me through university. I know 1999 isn't exactly looking through a wondrous time portal, but it was enough to keep me amused for a while - amusement which started with the 5 1/4 inch disk drive!
Looking in the guts I'm surprised at the lack of a modem, unless I moved that 56k beast to a different pc. Another look at the front shows it is a bit of a mutt, with cd drive upgraded to dvd & pasty old disk drive installed to pilfer data off old disks.

The computer belonged to the era where hard disk space was doubling and this affected what (and the amount of) software you could install. Today, space requirements for software such as your operating system is simply absorbed into the mass amount of storage available. I could tell you DOS6 fitted on a handful of 3.5" disks, I can't tell you how much Windows 7 now consumes. Yes, my first computer was an XT using DOS 3ish.

Here is a fuzzy look at the mutilated insides, the close-up shows the original 1GB HD, and the 8GB upgrade, with the Pentium II core and 64mb RAM.

The back of the PC shows the March 1999 build date, with pride by PLE Computers - our local mainstay.

I just noticed the whopping 2 USB ports, wasn't much need for them back then, because at this time for data transfer we all used ZIP drives.

A nice 100/250mb of data in the one iomega disk, great for holding (and potentially losing) all my university work. I was prudent with my backing up - apart from theft and stupidity, with excessive use we also had to avoid the click of death, which (why should I be surprised) you can listen to on Wikipedia.

And on a side thought, one of the podcasts I listen to talked about how much data capacity exists around the world (if that's the right phrase to use) - a result of some study. A secondary finding to that was much of the world's data is redundant. Isn't that a fascinating conclusion, but when you think about it, it becomes completely obvious. We are all consumers of data, downloading what companies around the world have to offer. We also share information - music, videos, photos - all of which could easily be replicated on multiple computers, backup disks, internet servers. I'd like to know how much purely unique data might exist out there? Perhaps a mass amount - I wonder how much the LHC would produce in a few minutes?

Random mentations of an Oracle developer...

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Off topic - excellent computing award

I have been cleaning out the garage and I found a box full of stuff my mum kept from school.

Turns out back when in primary (grade) school when I was twelve (the days when I used already dating logo and what I'm sure was this mathematical adventure), I was given a slight insight into what was to become of my career - an A5 sized certificate.

Have I reached excellence? Well, that's a subjective term (with a good blog entry I just can't find)... but for today, may the fourth be with you while enjoying this very timely parody worth watching.


Tuesday 3 May 2011

Oracle Training Australia (plug)

As it so happens, June is going to be a busy month training for us in Perth, Australia.

For 5 days from the 13th June, ACE Director Chris Muir will be conducting a JDeveloper Workshop in Perth. If you're an Oracle Forms developer who wants to migrate your skill set to the 21st century, this is your course.

Alternatively, you can immerse yourself in the world of Oracle Application Express. From 15th June for 3 days, I will take you on an Application Express workshop - no experience necessary.

To supplement that, we are also holding an Advanced Application Express & New Features workshop for Apex 4.0 on the 28-30th June 2011 in West Perth.

Feel free to contact that Sage team for more information.

If you're somewhere in Australia other than Perth, and you can't make it across in June - arrange a time where we can travel to you to train your team. SQL, JDeveloper, Apex, Forms, DB Tuning... name your poison. We have competitive rates, extensive training notes, and I'll almost guarantee you'll have a good time.

Otherwise, we hope to see you at the next Oracle event.