The Definition of Success

After reading yet another article alluding to the death of Google+, I’m left pondering the subjective definition of success.

Success : the accomplishment of one’s goals.

Based on that definition, then Google totally failed. I’m sure their aim was to supplant Facebook as the “time-wasting app of choice”, which they’ve certainly not done.

Success : a person or thing that is successful

There are active communities on Google+, with a significantly smaller signal-to-noise ratio compared to the Facebook equivalent. I’m sure the members of those communities will consider Google+ a success.

Rating your own success is also subjective. After nearly three years in my currently role, some would describe my achievements as considerable. By my own estimates, it feels like I’ve achieved very little. It is nice to be praised for work you are proud of, but very hard to accept praise for work that falls beneath the standards or productivity level you expect from yourself.

I’m lucky enough to go round the world giving people advice about how they should be using Oracle products, but the downside of this is you sometimes look at what you are doing at work and ask yourself, “What the hell would people think if they saw this shit?”

I always try to work on the basis I want things to be as simple and clear as possible, so that if I left the company the person that followed me would sit back and think, “Wow. The boy done good!” Unfortunately, a liberal dose of reality and questionable management decisions means you are often left polishing a turd!

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m on a bit of a downer at the moment. I know I’m pretty good at what I do and I get a kick out of the level of productivity I’m capable of, when I’m not being held back. The counter to that is I hate feeling ordinary, which is exactly how I feel today as I plod along at a snails pace, polishing that turd for all it’s worth. It’s totally an ego thing and I need to get over myself, but there it is…


Tim… (A decidedly ordinary person doing decidedly ordinary things in Birmingham)

MacBook Prod 15″ Retina : Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter

I mentioned in my recent post about Riga Dev Day 2015 I had some trouble with my VGA adapter and had to borrow one from Andrejs. It seemed to be working fine before I left. I was going to buy a cheap replacement from Amazon, but after reading a few reviews I bought another £25 adapter from Apple. Both the new one and the old one seem to be working fine…

The Apple website says the “Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter” will work with either a Mini DisplayPort, like I had on my old 13” MBP, or a thunderbolt connector, like I have on the new MBP.

I did a bit of hunting on the net and it seems there are a lot of people out there having trouble with the retina MBPs when connecting to some projectors. Currently I have the native HDMI connector, which I’m using to connect to a second monitor. I also have 2 VGA adapters and a DVI adapter. I feel like that should cover all the bases, but I still feel like I should be taking my old laptop with me, just in case…

If anyone else out there has a recent 15″ MBP Retina with only thunderbolt connectors, I would be interested to hear your experiences with projectors on your travels. Should I be worried? :)



PS. Macs just work… Sometimes…

Keyboard Warriors : Unite and do something positive with your lives

I follow a few non-Oracle channels on Youtube and I sometimes check out the comments, which seem to be a constant stream of keyboard warriors posting their negative rubbish. Whatever people do, the commenters claim to be able to do it better, or claim they know someone who can. If it is sport or fitness related, it will be followed by accusations of using performance enhancing drugs, which although it may be true, does not negate the thousands of hours of training and dieting people put in to get where they are.

The technology press makes your average Youtube channel comments section seem like a playground spat. Lots of articles by people who are totally ignorant about the technology they are “reporting”. In many cases, spending 5 minutes reading Wikipedia would be enough to dispel most of the garbage that is written, but unfortunately, those with an axe to grind don’t even do that. They read a headline and run with it. The language is straight out of conspiracy theory. Phrases like, “some experts believe”, and, “an insider told us”, are used like they are going out of fashion.

Imagine a world where all the time spent writing derogatory comments and downright lies was spent on doing something productive. Maybe producing informative articles and videos to help people, or contributing to open source projects. The press and TV has long been fuelled by fear and hate. Social media is one giant hate crime. If people aren’t being directly mean, they are trying to convince you that their life is better than yours, or their children are prettier or more intelligent that yours. It is all so terribly sad and boring. I’m not claiming I am above all this. I have been guilty of the same thing on numerous occasions.

So next time you do *anything* ask yourself, “Will what I am about to do have a positive impact?” If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t do it.

Surprisingly, this post was not initiated as a result of something that was said or done to me. I have just witnessed several things this week that have made me really angry. What really irks me is I allowed those people to have that power over me. I allowed their actions to make me angry.

Enough of this hippy bullshit. I’m going to play with 12c…



Happy Christmas from

Happy Christmas to everyone out there, whether they observe the whole Christmas thing or not.

I often take a look at the website stats on occasions like this to see who is hanging about and this is what I can see at 08:00 UK time on Christmas day morning…

What’s top of the list as far as content is concerned? Well that will be Data Pump of course! :)

Have a good day everyone and I hope 2015 is even better for you than 2014 was!



PS. FYI this is just a real-time snapshot of the people who were active as I checked. :)

The importance of backups and disaster recovery plans

Having tweeted, “When was the last time you practised the recovery of each of your production databases?”, a few days before, I was presented with a very real DR situation for my website.

On Wednesday my website went down while I was at my office Christmas lunch. I restarted it from my phone and it was all up, but I got a message saying one of the RAID1 disks was dead. I do nightly file system and database backups, but I took another backup anyway because I couldn’t remember what had changed during the day. In the evening I contacted the people hosting my dedicated server and asked them to swap out the dead disk. Several hours and several phone calls later it became obvious the data had “magically” disappeared from the second disk in the pair. Of course, it was nothing to do with the hosting company… I think the way I would describe them is a useless bunch of ****s.

I ended up initiating a re-image of the server. Their website says this should take about an hour. After a bit over 2 hours I gave up waiting and went to bed…

I woke up the next morning and started the process of rebuilding the server. Fortunately, I have a DR plan containing all the stuff I need to do to rebuild the server. The plan had one minor flaw, it included some references to my own articles. :) Luckily, these were available via Google Cache. I’ve now copied any relevant information into my DR plan, so when this happens next time I will be even more prepared. :)

Having a full set of file system and database backups meant I was confident I would get it sorted. The biggest problem was upload speed. Home broadband is great for download, but pretty terrible for upload, so my initial plan to just push all the backups to the server then start recovering it had to be revised. Instead I cherry-picked the most recent file system backup and pushed that first. Once on the server, the backup unzipped in a few seconds and the main part of the website was back. I then started to push the most recent DB backups and loaded those. I’ve altered the DR plan so next time I can easily do this, prior to a blanket “rsync” of all the backups back to the server. That should speed up the recovery somewhat.

Lessons people need to learn:

  • Having regular backups is good. (No shit Sherlock!) If you are on this blog you are probably an Oracle person, so this should not come as a surprise. I just wonder how many people don’t bother with them for their blog etc. In my case I self-host, so it is all down to me.
  • You’ve got to have a DR plan. It’s amazing how many bits of software you install over time. It’s also surprising how many odd little commands and config entries you put in over time. Unless you are tracking these manually, or through some admin tool, you are going to have a nightmare getting back. I didn’t remember half of the things I did during the setup of this stuff, but luckily I wrote it all down.
  • You’ve got to practice your DR plan. You don’t know if it works unless you try it. I moved my stuff on to this server a few months ago, so I was pretty confident the plan was viable. I do occasionally build a copy of my website on a VM to make sure the backups are working OK. Obviously, this was a pretty good “test”. :)
  • Remember to back up your backup scripts. My backups were pretty good, but I did forget to include the backup scripts in the backup, so I had to reinvent those. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a silly mistake.
  • If you are looking for quick recovery of your blog/website, you probably don’t want to rely on backups sitting on your home servers/storage as the broadband upload speed (at least in the UK) is pretty terrible. Maybe investing in a cloud backup solution would be a better idea.

I think everything is sorted now. If not, I’ll pick it up as I go along and add the fix into the plan. :)

Sorry for any inconvenience. :)



Fun : Endorse my “new” skills…

For a bit of fun I’ve added the following “new” skills to my LinkedIn profile.

It would be really cool if we could get them to the top 4 in the list of my endorsed skills. Please make it a happy holiday by endorsing these. :)

Remember, this only works if you actively don’t endorse the other things!



PS. I’ve written before about how I think LinkedIn endorsements are a joke. It’s like believing all someone’s Facebook friends are really friends. IMHO if anyone uses LinkedIn endorsement as a measure of ability and employability they are a moron!


Update : I think some people have mistakenly assumed I was in some way trawling for real endorsements. I really wasn’t. Please endorse the joke ones and avoid or “unsub” the real ones. I want to get these joke ones to the top of the list. :)

A World View

I’ve mentioned this before, but I thought I would show something visual…

The majority of my readers come from the USA and India. Since they are in different time zones, it spreads the load throughout the day. When I wake up, India are dominant.


In the afternoon the USA come online, by which time Russia have given up, but there is still a hardcore of Indian’s going for it! :)


I haven’t posted an evening shot as it’s the same as the afternoon one. Don’t you folks in India ever sleep?

I’m sure this is exactly the same with all other technology-related websites, but it does make me pause for thought occasionally. Most aspects of our lives are so localised, like traffic on the journey to work or family issues. It’s interesting to stop and look occasionally at the sort of reach this internet thing has given us. It may be a little rash, but I predict this interwebs thing might just catch on!



Changing my focus?

I leave for Oracle OpenWorld 2014 tomorrow, which is normally a time when I’m super amped up, but I feel rather flat and in need of change at the moment. I just feel like I’m investing a massive amount of my time on things I don’t enjoy and are not really benefiting me or the community at large, so what’s the point?

What do I enjoy?

  • Playing with technology.
  • Writing articles and blog posts about it.
  • Meeting and talking to people about this stuff.

What don’t I enjoy?

  • I don’t really enjoy answering questions on forums any more. For every one good interaction I have, there seems to be about 10 where people refuse to think for themselves and treat me as their own personal slave.
  • I’m getting an increasing number of people asking me questions on Facebook and Google+ chat. Not only does this have a similar ratio of good:bad interactions, but there is nothing left behind that helps other people. There is no content produced that allows others to answer their own questions from a Google search. This feeds into the dependency cycle.
  • Cleaning up the massive amounts of spam I get.
  • Dealing with the endless stream of people wanting me to help advertise their product or website.

This is not a business for me. It’s fun. When it ceases to be fun, what’s the point?

At the moment, I feel like:

  • Locking the forum.
  • Locking the article comments.
  • Blocking the comments on my blog.
  • Deleting all emails that include technical questions, without even reading them.
  • Ignoring requests for help on all social media.

This would allow me to spend a lot more time playing with Oracle and writing articles, which I feel benefits myself and others to a greater extent than what I’m doing now.

If I look at my web stats, they seem to back up my opinion. The vast majority of hits on my website are for content. Only a very small proportion relate to “interaction”, yet it is this interaction which takes up the vast majority of my time.

I guess some people would see this as going against the whole ethos of the ACE Program, but I don’t think so myself. I think I’m more use to the community by putting out content, rather than doing what I’m doing now.

Maybe I’ll come back from OOW and have a change of heart. Maybe not. Time will tell.



Update: Some people have taken this post as a message that I’m going to stop writing articles. I think the post is pretty clear on that front. This is about giving me more time to write articles. :)

Update 2: The forums are locked while I’m at OOW. I’ll decide if they will stay locked once I get back to the UK.