APEX 5.0 Rollout

apexLast month there was a frenzy of activity when APEX 5.0 was released. I had been having a dabble with the Early Adopter for a while, but I felt the need to do a local install.

The only slight issue I had was with static files and that was down to me not RTFMing properly. :) Patrick Wolf wrote about this issue recently here.

Having not had any problems while I was playing with APEX 5.0, I started the task of upgrading all the installations at work. We don’t do any major development, just basic CRUD screens and interactive reports, so it wasn’t too high profile a task. Anyway, the upgrades went smoothly and everything is running on APEX 5.0 now. Happy days! :)

Of course, if you are doing some complicated stuff that is pivotal to your business, you probably need to be a bit more meticulous about your planning and testing than I was, but it’s pretty good news that of the 20+ installations, none had any upgrade problems. :)

I’ve played around with ORDS 3.0 before the GA release.

We currently use the Oracle HTTP Server to front our stuff for historic reasons. I guess the next move will be to implement ORDS, but I’m not sure when that will happen…

Cheers

Tim…

 

Oracle Midlands : Event #9

oracle-midlandsThe traffic on the way to Oracle Midlands Event #9 was a complete nightmare! There are a bunch of roadworks around the city that are making the traffic movement really problematic at the moment. Added to that, the always slow M6 was causing tailbacks along the Aston Express Way into the city. The traffic islands were all blocked, with people blocking exits and jumping red lights in a desperate attempt to get on them. Fortunately I started in plenty of time so I arrived with a few minutes to spare. Phew!

First up was Joel Goodman speaking about “Oracle Distributed Transactions”. This was actually quite a scary talk because it showed me both how much I don’t know and how much I’ve forgotten over the years. I’m getting old! There were a few raised eyebrows when he discussed the automatic and manual recovery of in-doubt transactions. I think a few people will be reviewing their recovery procedures. :) Joel is always good value as a presenter and as a walking Oracle encyclopedia!

The break, which included samosas and a prize draw, gave me the opportunity to chat to a few people, including @Kelloggs_ville. We had spoken at the start of the event, but in true Tim Hall style, I hadn’t made the connection between the real person and the Twitter picture. :) Don Stieler knows my skills in this respect. :)

Next up was Richard Harrison, a regular Oracle Midlands attendee and a previous “Lightning Talk” speaker. His session was on “Data Pump Tips & Tricks”. This talk really highlights to me the value of watching sessions on stuff you already know. Everyone has a different experience of the Oracle product set. Everyone has had to try and solve different problems using it. As a result, everyone is capable of putting a unique spin on the subject. I came away with a bunch of stuff I hadn’t considered before, which I will probably go back and retro-fit into some of my articles. Judging by the number of people scribbling away, I think other people were of a similar mind. :) Richard’s session was predominantly demo-based, a man after my own heart. :) I think this was Richard’s first full-length presentation and I’m hoping this will be the first of many!

I’m really getting a kick out of seeing how Oracle Midlands develops. Mike has done a truly amazing job of lining up great speakers and I feel like the group of attendees are bonding more with each event. I came away from the event feeling really hyper and enthusiastic about Oracle. It’s good to be reminded how much more there is to learn and to feel connected to other Oracle geeks. :)

Mike’s already got the speakers for the next couple of events lined up. The next one is by some new kid on the block called Jonathan Lewis. :) The one after is by Christian Antognini. Amazing!
redstacktechBig thanks to Mike for keeping this train rolling. Thanks to everyone who keeps turning up and showing their support. This stuff can only happen if you keep coming! Thanks to the speakers for taking the time out to come and educate us. Big thanks also to Red Stack Technology (my new favourite company :) ) for sponsoring the event, so it can remain free! I’ll be seeing some of you folks at the UKOUG Systems Event later today! :)

See you soon!

Cheers

Tim…

Roll up! Roll up! This week’s events!

Here’s a quick reminder of a couple of events happening this week.

On Tuesday evening it’s Oracle Midlands Event #9 in Birmingham. First up is Joel Goodman, who is practically a walking Oracle Encyclopaedia, speaking about “Oracle Distributed Transactions”. Next up is Richard Harrison, a regular Oracle Midlands attendee and returning speaker, this time presenting about “Data Pump Tips & Tricks”. It’s going to be a good evening, so please come out and show your support! It’s sponsored by Red Stack Technology, so it’s free!

On Wednesday it is the UKOUG Systems Event. I’m in the first slot, so it’s going to be an extremely early train ride for me. There is packed agenda, so I’m sure there is something for everyone involved in the systems side of things!

Hopefully I’ll get to see some of you folks at these events!

Cheers

Tim…

VirtualBox 4.3.28

virtualboxI know you’ve all been thinking, “It’s about time there was a new release of VirtualBox so I can reinstall the guest additions on all my VMs!” If so, it’s your lucky day!

VirtualBox 4.3.28 was released yesterday. The changelog and downloads are in the usual places.

Version 5.0 is on Beta 3, so it probably won’t be long before you can get your upgrading fix again… :)

Cheers

Tim…

Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #3

bcuOn Friday I took a day off work to pop over to do my 3rd talk at Birmingham City University (BCU). This one was rather unfamiliar territory for me, because it was directed at the staff and was focussed on student employability…

During a previous discussion with Stuart Hutchison from BCU, he suggested I take the “Community” session I presented at the UKOUG Next Gen event, add in some information about graduate recruitment and Bob’s your uncle. Sounds fine, but what do I know about graduate employment? It’s 20+ years since I left university…

Luckily, the online community came to the rescue. I sent a bunch of emails out to friends, small companies and huge corporate types. Over the years I’ve built up a network of contacts all over the world who were happy to help me out directly, or put me in touch with people in their organisation that could. I’ve already sent out thank you emails, but I’d just like to take the opportunity to say a big thank you once again to everyone that helped me out!

As the session started, people introduced themselves and it became apparent that everyone in the room (except me) was in some way linked to student employment and career development. Needless to say, I suddenly felt completely out of my depth, incredibly nervous and needed a change of underwear! :) I introduced myself and made it very clear I was definitely not an expert in this subject, then proceeded to present the information I had gathered. It was meant to be about 60 minutes, but there was a lot of audience participation, so it ended up being more like 90 minutes. Despite my initial nerves, it went really well and was really good fun.

After the session I chatted with Professor Nick Morton, the Associate Dean (Student Experience) at BCU, and he was keen to get me involved in some of the other stuff they are doing, which also sounds like fun. After that I spent quite a long time chatting with Stuart. I will of course keep doing the technical stuff with his students.

I guess some of you may be wondering about my motivation for doing this stuff, especially the non-technical presentations. This isn’t a career move. I’m not being paid to do this. It’s good to try something different and stretch yourself. I’m not suggesting that technical presentations are easy, because they are not, but doing things like this take you out of your comfort zone and teach you a lot about the craft of presenting. I definitely feel this is making me a better presenter, which is a great confidence builder.

Cheers

Tim…

Partitioning Enhancements in Oracle Database 12c Release 1

I was planning to cover this subject in a single article, but it got a bit bulky, so I split it down into 6 little articles.

I’ve also created a links page to bring them all together.

I guess you could call it a list of nice-to-haves, rather than something revolutionary, but I’m sure someone will come back to me saying one of them has changed their life! :)

Cheers

Tim…

The Oracle ACE Program : My 9 Year Anniversary

ace-director

It was 9 years ago today I became an Oracle ACE. Yes, it was April 1st. :)

A couple of years ago I wrote an anniversary post called Should you aim to become an Oracle ACE? I think that post still reflects my feelings about the program. :)

So that’s 9 years done and I’m starting my 10th year. It’s crazy how quick times flies!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. After 9 years, I still can’t fill in an expense claim properly…

Windows 10 : It’s like totally amazing and junk…

I decided I wanted to play with the newly released Spartan browser on Windows 10. Spartan comes with Windows 10 (build 10049), which does not have an ISO download available at the moment. So instead, I downloaded the x64 ISO image of Windows 10 (build 10041) and installed it on VirtualBox.

To get build 10049 you have to switch the Windows Update settings from “Slow” to “Fast”, which gives you access to the latests builds as soon as they are available.

Windows10UpdateFast

That done, Windows Update will then download build 10049, which is pretty much a full OS download again. Once rebooted, the OS auto-installs for ages, with a few reboots, but when it is done you are left with the latest Windows 10 build.

It boots to the desktop and feels quite similar to Windows 8.1. If you are interested in the latest start menu, here it is.

Windows10StartMenu

If I’m honest, I’ve never seen the Windows 8.1 start menu live. The Windows 8 menu was so bad I installed Classic Shell on the Windows 8 machines for my family. I’ve never removed it since the 8.1 upgrade. As a result, I don’t really know if this Windows 10 start menu is new or like the 8.1 menu. I would probably stick with this menu myself, knowing that Classic Shell is always available if it pisses me off. :)

Most importantly, THIS IS SPARTA(N)!

Windows10Spartan

Not surprisingly, it’s a just a browser and any site that sticks reasonably close to the standards will work fine.

So that was the fun bit. Now I’ve got to look at what this is going to break. I’m guessing Oracle Forms isn’t going to like it. :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Alex – By “and junk” I was not implying it is junk. Este Uimitor!

Update: Installed Oracle Database 12c on Windows 10 without any problems. Happy days!

Windows10Oracle12c

To patch or not to patch?

Mary Ann Davidson wrote a great piece on her security blog today, which basically talked about focusing on the important vulnerabilities, not necessarily the ones that get the most press. Added to that, the risk associated with a vulnerability may well be different for you compared to everyone else, depending on how your system is used. I agree with what she is saying, but I’m going to take a slightly different angle on the subject.

Over the years I’ve come across lots of different attitudes to database patching from management and DBAs. As more DBAs are now involved in looking after middle tier products like WebLogic, some of those attitudes to patching have moved into that world too. It seems to break down into three camps.

  1. We don’t need no stinkin’ patches. If this is the way you roll you are a dumb-ass!
  2. We only patch stuff that represents a vulnerability for us. This sounds kind-of sensible, but life can get very difficult trying to decide what constitutes a threat, especially when you have to consider all layers of the technology stack.
  3. We always apply all patches. This is logically simple, but you are going to apply a lot more patches, a lot more frequently, which is going to require a lot more testing.

Patching is not just about security.

  • Support of some products is tied into the patch version. We see this with Oracle products all the time. There are some important deadlines coming up soon! :)
  • The rest of the world is moving on around you. You might be happy with your unpatched product, but things might break because of external factors. If someone turns off SSLv3 on their application server, you aren’t doing HTTPS callouts from your database to it unless you patch up to 11.2.0.3 or later. Your applications will probably get browser compatibility issues on newer browsers and mobile devices unless you keep on top of patching your development frameworks.
  • Patches like the database PSUs come with extra functionality, including backports of features from newer releases (redaction – 11.2.0.4). They can also bring with them features that make future upgrades easier (transport database – 11.2.0.3 onward).

Choosing not to patch is not really an option these days. Your company has to understand this and allocate the correct amount of resource to getting it done. That might mean more staff resources allocated to patching and subsequent testing (rather than doing “productive” work), outsource the work where you can or moving to cloud services where regular patching is part of the deal.

Cheers

Tim…