Forum and Blog Downtime…

A few weeks ago my hosting company (Fasthosts) sent out a security alert asking everyone to change there FTP, email and database passwords due to some security issue. I did as instructed and set a new strong password for all features of my account.

This morning I had an email telling me they had reset any passwords that were not changed after the last security alert. When I logged on to my site the forum and blog were dead. It turns out they reset my database password, even though I had already changed it. ๐Ÿ™ It’s all sorted now.

A word of advice to any hosting companies reading, check your bloody facts before you mess with peoples sites or you’re really going to piss them off!



Update: It seems I’m not the only one who had passwords reset even though I followed the original security email:

Fasthost Hack Update

Beowulf and the Mouse…

I went to see Beowulf last night and I must say it is totally awesome. I heard some less than complementary reviews, but they obviously saw a different film to me. I thought the storey was good, the visuals were amazing and I thought the characters had some depth.

I’ve found myself getting a bit sick of visual effects lately, but when the whole film is CGI, the “less real” affects like dragons, seem all the more real. I guess it’s easier to suspend your disbelief when the whole thing is a posh cartoon, as opposed to live action.

I didn’t think the visuals were a giant leap forward from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which is probably an indication of how well they did the job 6 years ago, rather than a criticism of Beowulf.

When I got back from OpenWorld I noticed a mouse had taken up residence in my house. I wouldn’t mind only I’m a bit nervous about it chewing through my electrical cables, so I decided to buy a humane trap and see if I could get rid of it. When I got back home from watching Beowulf I noticed the trap was triggered and my little furry friend was inside. I drove off to a field and let it go into a hedgerow. I forgot how fast mice can move. I didn’t so much see it move and see the leaves swish in it’s wake. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was about -2 degrees last night so I feel a little guilty…



Equal Rites, Mort and Sourcery…

The plane journeys to OpenWorld and back gave me plenty of time to read…

Equal Rites – Nice enough story, but it didn’t find it all that funny compared to the previous two. Maybe I’m to invested in Rincewind and Twoflower. Maybe it just suffers in comparison to the first two, which are great.

Mort – Very funny. It’s a great idea and the Death is central to it, which is cool because he’s the best character on Discworld, in my opinion.

Sourcery – Rincewind is back on form. Conina is a great character. Coin is very mysterious. Good job.



The Oracle DBA… A dying breed?

I’ve updated the site notes for my OpenWorld unconference session. If you fancy having a look, it’s on the Oracle Wiki.

It’s quite hard to summarize the conversation, but I think I got the gist of it down. Remember, the notes are trying to convey the opinions of the people present. I’m not saying this was a representative sample of people, but the opinions and attititudes was certainly quite interesting to me.



Update: The Oracle Wiki page was removed.

Fedora 8 and Oracle 11g…

My Fedora 8 escapades were delayed by my OpenWorld experience, but better late than never.

The first article is a run through of a fairly basic Fedora 8 install, showing what it looks like. The second is the Oracle install guide in my normal format. There’s one little nasty in there, but for the most part it was pretty smooth sailing, especially since a guy called “Robert W. Benton” emailed me to tell me what the problem was before I had even finished downloading the OS. Thanks for that Robert. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll no doubt mention it again, but I’m really struggling to see what the Fedora distribution is aiming for. It seems to send out contradicting messages at times. For instance, it has features that make me think it is a desktop OS:

  • Looks very soft and cuddly like a desktop OS.
  • It pops up an annoying warning message if I log on as root.
  • Users get sub-directories like Documents, Downloads, Music, Videos created by default.

But for me the big contradictions are:

  • The distribution is really big. I would expect a desktop OS to come on one CD, with the extra features available for download.
  • The installation process seems rather clumsy compared to Ubuntu. It’s not a big difference, but that slight bit of extra complexity makes it feel like a server installation to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard, but I’ve been doing this since Red Hat 5.2, so I’m not exactly a Linux newbie. I feel it could be simplified further.

Looking from the other angle, it could be considered a server OS, after all it is a playground for Red Hat (a bit of flame-bait there ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but some of the previously mentioned points detract from that message. I remember all those people telling me that Windows wasn’t a real server OS because it forced you to have gizmos like Media Player etc. Fedora has this same feel to me now. Plus the DVD is missing a number of packages that I would expect an enterprise distribution to have. I know they are available for download, but as a server OS I would prefer to forgo the fluffy guff in favor of the enterprise stuff.

I can image some of the responses to this post. No doubt some Fedora fan[boys|girls] will post telling me that Fedora is a great desktop and/or server OS… blah, blah, blah… I’m not doubting that. I just think that we have to recognize that the server and the desktop are two totally different experiences and I don’t think Fedora sells itself well enough on either front.

Ubuntu is a classic example of how to do it right. I don’t believe it is significantly better than Fedora, but it had a clear message from day one. We all knew it was a desktop OS and it acted like that. They’ve subsequently gone the server route also, but they’ve kept it as a separate entity. This is no different to the way Microsoft tackled the same issue.

I really feel like Fedora must decide what its purpose is, or it’s just going to end up another one of those faceless distributions you try, think of as OK, then ditch in favor of something else that suits your purpose better…



OpenWorld Day 4, 5 & 6…

Day 4

I spent a lot of time in the OTN lounge just talking to people. I guess it’s what I do best.

Later in the day Mary Ann Davidson did an “Ask the Experts” session on security. It was good to see her taking notes and being genuinely concerned about the issues people were raising. This is good for Oracle on two levels. Not only is it going to make the products better, but it’s lets us users feel like we have a voice.

I went to an unconference session by Lutz Hartmann on migrating a database from the filesystem to ASM using RMAN. Lutz is a very friendly and enthusiastic guy with lots of teaching experience, so he looked really relaxed and confident. His demos were clear and simple and I think he got the point across really well.

The evening was the big appreciation party where I met up with Chris Muir and Grant Ronald. The party was a massive event, which was organised really well. Although not a real fan, I was looking forward to Lenny Kravitz. He did an adequate job, but I’m sure he’s capable of a lot more. When you’re facing a crown of non-fans, you’ve got to keep the tempo up and perform all your most popular songs. Doing a 10 minute sax solo is not really going to keep the crown interested. The last song had the crown going nuts, which is what it should have been like all the way through.

Day 5

The start of day 5 was spent back at the hospital filling out forms to request information to send to my insurance company. Not exactly the OpenWorld experience I was expecting. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I finally made it to the event I spent most of the day in the OTN lounge catching up with people. Wim Coekaerts turned up to do an “Ask the Experts” session, which was totally cool. Getting to speak directly with people like this is what OpenWorld is all about. I guess the main points he was stressing were:

  • Oracle have no intention of making Oracle Enterprise Linux a fork of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. They are commited to binary compatibility. When you think about this it makes sense as it must reduce the resources required to produce test and certify the database.
  • Oracle VM is nothing to do with Red Hat. It’s not an RHEL clone and it is not the same as running Xen on top of Linux, like the other Linux distros do. You install it on a bare box and you get the hypervisor and a small Linux kernel running. That’s it, not a full RHEL style installation.
  • Once installed you have console access to create, modify and drop VMs, you can also use SSH to connect to the administration VM. If you want a management UI you have to install the management interface on a separate server.
  • The VM has no noticible overhead on device access, like I/O, but there is obviously some overhead as far as CPU and memory because you have the hypervisor and management VM running, but this is very small. Typically, this should be less than a 10% overhead.
  • Oracle are using this product now. It works great for Linux guests. It will run anything that will run on an Intel box (Windows, Solaris x86, maybe even Mac), but I’m not sure what the support and performance is like on these. At the moment it’s very much directed at the Linux space.

From there I went on to my Unconference session called “The Oracle DBA… A dying breed?” The provocative title did it’s job and the turnout was quite good. This was more of a discussion about the role of the DBA, rather than a presentation. It’s kind of hard to judge the success of this type of session, but the fact people started to join in means it couldn’t have been too bad. Myself and a few others continued the discussion in the OTN lounge for a while afterwards. One of the Oracle guys added some session notes to the page. In the next couple of days I’m going to add some more stuff and try and summarise the opinions voiced. Once I’m done and you can see the form of the discussion, feel free to add to it. There is no reason why the subject has to end with the session.

I hope the Unconference is included over the next few years. As people know more about what to expect, or not as the case may be, and the number and variety of presenters increases, I think this could turn out to be the best feature at OpenWorld. It’s going to take some time for both the attendees and the presenters to get used to it, but it will be worth it.

The evening was more talking with bloggers and the like. Lots of opinions, lots of view points and lots of, “I’m so tired, I really must go to bed…”

Day 6

I had breakfast with a couple of the guys, then headed for the hotel. The plane felt really cramped, but fortunately the Frankfurt leg was 9 hours, as opposed to 11 on the way there. I even managed to sleep a little bit. It’s going to take a few days of bitchin’ to get my body clock back, but that’s the price you pay. ๐Ÿ™‚

Regardless of your opinions about OpenWorld, it is a spectacular event. Everything runs so smoothly and by the numbers. One of the guys, can’t remember who, made the point that they were feeding lunch to 44,000 people and you never had to wait for more than a couple of minutes. That in itself shows the amazing amount of organisation that goes into this event.

So that’s it. Another OpenWorld done. It was really hard, but good fun at the same time. Next year it starts in September, so there’s only 10 months until the next one. Aaaarrrggghhhh! ๐Ÿ™‚



OpenWorld Day 3…

Thanks to everyone who showed their concern over my hospital incident. As the day progressed I was walking a little funny, kind of like I needed the toilet in a big way, but for the most part things were good. Last night I slept pretty well, managing about 7 hours thanks to the muscle relaxants . All in all, I would like to claim the crown for “the most jet lagged at OpenWorld”, and nobody better try and muscle in on my glory, especially that Doug Burns guy. ๐Ÿ™‚

The events of the morning meant I didn’t really get to do much at OpenWorld. The only thing I managed to see was “Top Ten, No, 11 Newest, Coolest Features of Oracle Database 11g” at the No Slide Zone. Tom‘s presentation style really works for me. He’s so relaxed and comfortable on stage it kinda draws you in. I think I could listen to him speak for 1 hour on washing dishes and I’d still feel engaged.

In the evening I went to the bloggers get together at the Thirsty Bear. A big thankyou to Mark Rittman for organising the event and also to Vikki Lira from Oracle, whose credit card took a bit of a hammering. It was a really cool evening, spent mostly talking about OpenWorld and the current state of the blogging and the Oracle community. It’s really good to listen to other people’s take on what we do and what responsibilities, if any, we have. I downed a serious quantity of water, which was very good for the whole dehydration thing.

Better get moving or I’ll be late for the first presentation today.



Saint Francis Memorial Hospital…

I had to go to the ER of Saint Francis Memorial Hospital this morning. My legs have been feeling a little odd over the last couple of days. They’ve been cramping and feeling really heavy. I got up this morning, did some blogging and answered my emails and by the time I finished my legs were cramping quite badly. I went on the internet and found one of the many possible causes of severe cramping is Deep Vein Thrombosis, which unknown to me can occur several days after flying. Needless to say I went double-quick to the hospital…

Several hours and some blood tests later it turned out I was suffering from dehydration. I’ve got to take a combination of Ibuprofen and some muscle relaxants for the next couple of days to try and help everything relax, and of course drink lots of water. The bonus from all this is the muscle relaxants should help me sleep… ๐Ÿ™‚