Support goes on, and on, and on…

Just to set the scene:

04-APR-05 – I opened a TAR because the RACGIMON process was taking 20-40% of the CPU on the cluster root node of our Tru64 production RAC (10.1).

05-SEP-05 – A backport of a fix in was produced. Note. is still not released for Tru64. The patch failed to install on either the development or test systems, so I didn’t go near the production one.

24-OCT-05 – It was decided that the installation documentation was incorrect and the patch was reissued.

12-NOV-05 – The reissued patch is missing some directories. As a result the installation is impossible. (Update: Not Oracle’s fault. See Setting the record straight…)


So far it’s been 7 months, during which time we’ve been loosing between one tenth an one fifth of our total processing power on our production system, and still no resolution. Great to know that Oracle are on top of their game… NOT!



Website Design…

The subject of website design has come up in conversation a few times recently. Whilst searching on the net I came across this site: (link now broken)

The nice thing about this site is it bases its statements on research and rates the strength of the research that backs the statements. There’s very little you haven’t already heard, but it seems people are still making the same mistakes after all these years.

The things that stuck out for me were:

  • Planning – Have an idea of what you are aiming for before you start. If you take a random approach to design and development you will get a random result. Make group decisions on the look and feel. Relying on one persons opinion will reduce the chances of have a site with mass appeal.
  • Colours – Basic colour schemes rule. Black text on a white background may seem boring, but it’s easy to read, which is why just about every publication you will see uses it.
  • Navigation – It should be simple and consistent. People need to understand where they are and where they came from!
  • Layout – Use page layouts that are appealing to the eye. Jumbled pages don’t scan well and are generally very annoying.

For anyone still convinced, take a look at all the really big IT company websites and you’ll see most of very plain and simple:

Personally I find the whole design thing very difficult. I’m not very artistic and I don’t have a great eye for colours, but that may be my saving grace ๐Ÿ™‚



Search Engine Ordering Extension…

Whilst playing with the search plugins I came across this Firefox extention:

By default the plugins are ordered alphabetically, which can be annoying. This extension allows you for order them any way you want. It also allows you to delete them easily, which is quite handy as different versions of Firefox store the plugins in different locations.



Firefox Plugin Frenzy…

I decided to create a Firefox search plugin for my website, but I got carried away and replicated all the searches available from my website toolbar. If you are interested you can get them from:

They’re pretty simple to create, so if you want to make some of your own, follow the Mozilla-Search Plugin Documentation.

Eddie Awad has some search plugins available on his blog. His install page is here:

Happy searching…



My growing list of favourite blogs…

On the right-hand side of this page you will see a list of favourite blogs. Well, to say that list is out of date is an understatement. The “real” list is getting a little too long to fit on the toolbar so I’m just going to add a link to a page on my website that lists all of them:

Thank heavens for bloglines!



UK OUG – The freeloaders view…

I’m currently on holiday and I promised myself I would stay away from the UK OUG, except for the bloggers dinner. Well, I’m rubbish at keeping promises so I agreed to meet up with a friend and do a quick tour of the exhibition stands, and I’m glad I did. It was fun, in a geeky way…

The first person I bumped into was Tom Kyte. I didn’t get to speak with him at the bloggers dinner, so it was cool to hook up and have a quick chat. I got to speak to Peter Scott and Mark Rittman again, which was cool.

Whilst walking around the exhibition I noticed the Net 2000 Ltd stand. A few years ago I received an email asking me to add DataBee to the tools page of my website. At the time it was the only product they had and it was free. It also came at a time when I was trying to get referentially intact subsets of data. Bingo! Since then they’ve created DDL Wizard for extracting DDL from export files and Data Masker for sanitizing production data for use in test and development environments. I spoke to Dale Edgar at the stand and he gave me a demo of the DDL Wizard. It’s pretty cool and the real bonus is that it’s free ๐Ÿ™‚ The thing I like about this company is that they have specific tools for specific jobs. They’re not throwing out the one-size-fits-all type of stuff that everyone else is doing. Nice ideas, well executed products. I hope they continue to do well and keep coming up with good ideas. I’ve also just noticed that they are based in Bromsgrove, just down the road from me.

There were numerous consultancy companies around, but my friend pointed out that JoraPh Consulting Ltd were based in Shropshire. It turns out they’re based quite close to my home town. For no reason other than that, I had a quick chat with Jane McCulloch, a director of the company. They do performance tuning, remote DBA work and training, amonst other things. A couple of the staff presented at UK OUG, which is a good sign. The UK economy is still very much centered around the south, so midlands-based companies tend to stand out when I notice them. Us midlanders have to show a bit of solidarity. Keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

The Quest stand was very slick, and they were giving away some cool freebies, but I didn’t get hold of any ๐Ÿ™ I was interested to see the new Spotlight on RAC stuff. I nearly bought Spotlight recently, but backed out when I found that alot of the graphs and alerts had not been revised to recognize the renamed wait states in 10g. Not very useful to have a performance monitoring tool that says everything is OK when it’s actually falling apart. This has been rectified in the latest version and the RAC stuff looks really nice. I think I may have to re-demo it.

The funniest thing I saw was a guy walking out with a bean-bag. The registration area was full of black bean-bags for people to sit on and I guess some people decided they were fair game. One lady was carrying three. As I walked out I heard one of the security guards say they weren’t supposed to be taken off site, but it was too much hassle to stop everyone. I guess next year I’ll hire a truck and furnish my house ๐Ÿ™‚

I got a free OK OUG bag containing a folder and a notepad. Free notepads are what I live for. If anyone wants a plug, just send me a notepad… Just kidding ๐Ÿ™‚



Almost Famous…

Guess what happens when you hang around with a bunch of Oracle geeks?

You become part of Tom Kyte’s keynote speach at UKOUG. I’m the one on the left with the chopsticks. Hopefully this will lead to my first movie roles as, “guy with chopsticks on the left of the action”. You can but hope ๐Ÿ™‚ This picture is from Mark Rittman‘s blog.

I went out last night to see two of my friends (Jodie and Mel) who sing backing vocals in a Meat Loaf tribute band called “Maet Loaf” (pronounced “mate” with a black country accent). I’m not a Meat Loaf fan so I thought I wouldn’t know any of the stuff, but I ended singing along to every track. It’s pretty scary how much stuff gets into your head without you knowing it. I guess that’s how advertising works! They were brilliant. The lead singer is awsome. When he sings he sounds just like the records. It wouldn’t surprise me if this guy sounds more like Meat Loaf than Meat Loaf himself, if you know what I mean. The girls did a great job, as did the rest of the band. The whole night went down really well.