C, a slight return…

My company are in the process of moving one of our legacy applications written against UniVerse from Tru64 to RHEL5. I set up a RHEL5 server yesterday, then got roped into trying to figure out why a bit of our C code wasn’t working. I used to do quite a bit of C in a previous life, but on reflexion I shouldn’t have made this public knowledge. 🙂

After a little bit of messing I sorted the problems in our code, only to notice that UniVerse wouldn’t recompile. A bit of rooting through some of the UniVerse source code and the odd Google search made me a little suspicious. It seems gcc version 4.x. is a lot stricter about certain programming practices and the pre-4 versions. I switched to gcc34 provided by a compatibility package and the “less than ideal” UniVerse code compiled without complaint.

I could look on this experience in a negative light and bemoan the loss of a previous skill set, but instead I choose to take away a positive view and think, “Not bad for a grunt DBA!” 🙂



Sweeny Todd…

I really wanted to enjoy Sweeny Todd. I like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, so I thought it had potential. I’m not a fan of musicals, but I saw an interview with Tim Burton where he said they didn’t go for the full on musical thing because they used regular actors, rather than the traditional sort of musical actors. This gave me a little hope.

I went to the cinema with two other people. Jodie, a drama teacher, was disappointed because she expected it to be more like the stage musical. Apparanetly there is some stuff missing and vocally it wasn’t what she expected. Steve claimed it was the worst film he had ever seen. I thought it was just OK. I know this sounds stupid, but I didn’t expect there to be so much singing. I thought it would be acting, broken up by a few songs. Instead it’s almost continuous song, broken up by brief spells of talking. I now realise the error of my ways, and I will avoid musicals like the plague, whether on film or stage. It’s just not my bag.

Visually, it’s classic Tim Burton. Very dark and grimey, with enought spurting blood to make it an 18. Helena Bonham Carter is like a gothed up version of her character in Fight Club. Johnny Depp is a strange mix of Edward Scissor Hands and Captain Jack Sparrow. Sacha Baron Cohen, of Borat and Ali G fame, was surprisingly good.

I fear that musical types won’t get this film, and non-musical types (like me), just won’t like this film. I’m not sure what audience it is aimed at. If nothing else, it’s taught me a lesson. 🙂



Travel Insurance…

I just sent off the last of the invoices from the Hospital in San Francisco to my travel insurance company. It looks like the total cost of my treatment was around £1000. I paid about £50 for the insurance and had to pay a £60 claim excess. So that’s about £890 I saved on the deal so far, and I’ve got at least three more overseas trips before the policy runs out.

Just goes to show, it pays to get travel insurance! 🙂



Twitter, funny coincidences and updates…

Inspired by Dan Norris, I ventured on to Twitter yesterday and had a really good laugh. I’m not sure how regular a visitor I will be, but it is a neat way to keep in touch, and vent occasionally. It takes a bit of getting used to… 🙂

Jake posted this on twitter, “slammed finger in door ftw!”, and soon after this blog post appeared, Half-Baked Idea: “Tweet” your Pain! Spooky… 🙂

Regarding Twitter clients, Dan suggested Snitter and Eddie suggested Twhirl. Both had problems from behind a firewall, but worked fine from home. I logged on this morning and saw this, The Best Twitter Client for Windows Desktop, shared by Andy C on Google Reader.

Finally, I was in the mood for a cleanup, so I decided to revamp my Blog Aggregator. It’s been chugging along merrily for nearly two years, but it was looking a little sad and neglected, so I spruced it up a bit. It was never meant to include all Oracle blogs, like OraNA.info, just things I follow.



No Country for Old Men and Alien vs Predator – Requiem…

I saw a couple of films at the weekend:

No Country for Old Men – I didn’t really know much about this film before I went, so I didn’t have any expectations. I’d seen a few Coen brothers films and thought they were OK, but I’m not a major fan or anything.

It’s an odd film because you could list a load of reasons why it’s crap and I would have to agree, but you could also list a load of reasons why it’s brilliant and I would agree also. My overall feeling was that it was a cool film, but most of the cool factor comes from the way it fails to follow the normal Hollywood rules. Things don’t happen as you would expect, and characters don’t evolve in a predictable manner. It’s not like they are trying to break the rules. More like the rules had never existed. Cool!

Alien vs Predator – Requiem – I loved the first 4 Alien films (even the 3rd). I was also one of the few people that found something positive to say about the first AVP film. I know it wasn’t a proper Alien-style film, but is was a fun action flick.

Anyway, AVPR follows on from the first AVP film, so now we have Aliens, Predators and the Alien-Predator hybrid born at the end of AVP. Throw in a few dumb-ass humans and a military woman, as a homage to Ripley, and Bob’s your uncle. It’s not going to win any “Best Film” prizes, but it’s a good laugh.




Hot-Pluggable” was one of the big buzzwords at OpenWorld 2007. The message Oracle were trying to convey was that an organization doesn’t have to use the total Oracle stack. Of course, they would prefer them to, but if an organization already has an investment in non-Oracle technology, that doesn’t exclude them from snapping pieces of Oracle technology into the mix.

I listened to this message with more than a little skepticism, not really believing that Oracle would actually make their applications available to run on alternative databases and application servers, but it does seem like this plan may pay off in two ways.

  1. Oracle will be able to sell products to sites that already have a heavy investment in non-Oracle technologies. That’s the obvious message that is being touted, which I already mentioned it in the opening paragraph.
  2. The future acquisition of companies would be far easier for Oracle, as their newly acquired products could just slot into fusion middleware from day-one.

I’ve never heard Oracle suggest option 2 as a reason for the Hot-Pluggable buzz, but the talk of acquiring BEA make me think it may be as important to Oracle as option 1. WebLogic would just snap right in there, no messin’. Bob’s your uncle. 🙂

Enough of the conspiracy theories.



Sentrigo Hedgehog…

During OpenWorld this year I bumped into a guy called Slavik Markovich from Sentrigo. We chatted about a couple of things and he gave me his card. That’s when I realized Sentrigo were the company who’d been advertising quite heavily through Google Ads on many Oracle sites, including my own.

I’m not really into reviewing products unless they really jump out at me, but Slavik seemed like a nice guy so I thought I’d take a look at what Sentrigo were doing. After returning to the UK I downloaded their Hedgehog product, but never got round to using it. The website says,

“Hedgehog: Real-time database monitoring, auditing and breach prevention”

Since then I’ve had a number of phone calls from their marketing department asking how I got on with the product, to which I’ve been replying, “I haven’t installed it yet.” 🙂

Well, today I finally got round to installing the Enterprise Product on an Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL) 5 virtual machine running an 11g database. You have to install a server package, plus a sensor for each host you want to monitor. As this was only a test I installed the server and sensor packages on the same VM as my database. The installations went smoothly. All you have to do is execute a “.bin” file for each package.

Once the installation was complete I hit my first minor issue. How do you get into the product?

The installation didn’t give me any clue about the command or URL I should use to access the product. I did a search on the OS using “find / -name sentrigo” and found a directory called “/usr/local/sentrigo-server”, so I figured that was a place to start. A quick look in the “conf/server.xml” file told me port 8080 was used for non-SSL connections, so I pointed my browser at “http://oel5-11g.localdomain:8080” and I had a log in screen. Later I noticed the help text that comes with the product contained the default URL information, but as this is only available once you’ve logged in, including it in the installation output would have been a nice touch.

That’s when I hit my second minor issue. What do you log in as?

I tried admin/admin and got in. 🙂 The help text (available after you’ve logged in 😉 ) suggests you use the username/password entered during the installation. I assume the Windows installation includes this, but the Linux one certainly doesn’t. Once again, a message in the installation output telling you the default login credentials would have been nice. Either that, or put a link the help from the login screen.

So, what does it do?

The product contains a whole bunch of predefined rules for situations that Sentrigo believe represent a risk to your database. It also allows you to define your own rules using a rules wizard. For example, you may create a simple rule that says if the terminal accessing the database doesn’t equal “X”, this constitutes a breach. The rules can be as simple or complicated as you wish. The server then monitors your databases via the sensors and logs alerts when any of the rules have been broken. You can view the alerts through the server application, or have them emailed to you.

What do I think of it?

That’s a little difficult because I couldn’t get it to monitor my database (see update at bottom of post). The server was running fine. The sensor was running fine. The database connection information was fine. Even so, the database remained in the “Unmonitored” state. I tried the Standard Product also, but got the same result. Even so, I will make a few comments from my very limited use of the product:

  • It’s a neat idea.
  • It looks really nice.
  • The response to action buttons was not always clear. You hit the save button on some screens and nothing seems to happen. There is no alteration to the screen or message to say your changes have been saved. A few times I found myself clicking the Save button several times not knowing if the changes had taken effect. It may sound a little basic, but a “Your changes have been saved” message is sometimes quite useful, if a little ugly.
  • I have no idea why my database wasn’t monitored. At the time of writing the Supported Configurations and FAQ pages on the website were not available and I could see nothing in the help file. It might be as simple as 11g is not supported or a problem with my VM, but I have no evidence for either of these (see update at bottom of post).
  • It would be nice if the installation listed the URLs to access the product and the default login credentials somewhere near the bottom of the output. Maybe the default URLs and login details are available on the website normally, but they weren’t today.

It would be good to see a review of this product by an expert in the security field, like Pete Finnigan. It would also be nice to see some comparison between this product and the notification rules of Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control, but I don’t think I’m really the guy to do this.

I guess it would also be nice to see a working version of the product, but I don’t know if I’m going to spend any more time on this in the near future. I’m already in the weeds and this isn’t really top of my list. I might just look out for the Sentrigo stand at OpenWorld next year. 🙂



Update: I had a message from Slavik telling me that 11g on Linux is not supported, so my problems weren’t a reflection of problems in the product. Currently only 11g on Windows 32-bit is supported, but the next version will sort this. As I said before, I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to revisit this product, but it does look neat.

The Kite Runner…

I went to see The Kite Runner last night at the cinema. It’s hard to watch because the subject matter is so strong, but I did think it was a great film. A quick look at plot of the book on Wikipedia makes it pretty obvious to me they’ve softened the story quite a bit for the cinema, but it was certainly heavy enough for me.

If you’re looking for a mindless action blockbuster, this is not it. If you want some challenging viewing, give it a go. I think it’s worth it.



PS. I don’t have any idea of the politcal or cultural accuracy of the film. I’m judging it from the story alone.

Tag Clouds and Navigation…

This post has nothing to do with the blog-tag game!

Whilst meandering around a multitude of blogs I’ve been checking out peoples blog clouds and they make quite interesting reading. They’re quite handy for giving you an idea of what people are writing about and the relative quantities of posts in those areas. I do allocate posts to groups, but I’ve never really bothered with tagging individual posts. Well that’s changing. I’ve added a tag cloud to my blog and tagged a handful of posts. I’m not sure if I can be bothered to tag all old posts, but I’m going to try and keep on top of any new ones. It will be interesting to see how my tag cloud develops.

During my tag cloud escapde I got a message on the Oracle Wiki from a lady called Claudia commenting on the naming and ordering of articles in the OCP new features sections of my website. Many of the OCP new features are so small they don’t really warrant their own article, so I try to group them under the section title from the exam syllabus checklist. This saves me having loads of 10 line articles, but it can make life difficult if you are looking for information on say “10g VPD enhancements”, but you don’t know they are in the “Database Security Enhancements” group. I must admit I’ve struggled with this myself and have been forced to use the site search (left hand side of my pages) on numerous occasions.

Using a tag cloud wouldn’t really be appropriate here, but it did inspire me to create a feature list at the bottom of the 11g New Features section. They’re just links to the relevant subsections of the articles, but hopefully it will make the navigation a little easier. I’ll do a similar thing with the 10g and 9i new features sections when I get time.

Funny how things coincide like that sometimes…