SQL Server to Oracle for developers…

I get a number of questions from developers who are used to working with SQL Server, but have recently moved to Oracle. The top 2 issues are:

  • Lack of AutoNumber/Identity columns in Oracle (solution).
  • How to return recordsets from stored procedures (solution).

Recently I had a question about how you return the value assigned by a sequence during a DML statement, either directly or when using a trigger to populate the sequence value. The one option is the RETURNING INTO clause, but I checked my site and couldn’t find an example of it to direct them too, so I wrote one (here). πŸ™‚



OUGF Conference

In my last post I mentioned the technical difficulties I was facing before the OUGF conference in Helsinki. I managed to get my demos working again and got the laptop fully charged, so I was ready for the conference to start…

I was one of the first speakers up on the Round Table track, so I turned on my laptop and everything was working fine. About 3/4 of the way through my presentation my laptop powered off and I was forced to switch to an alternative one, running everything off my memory stick. I guess this time I was expecting a disaster, so when it came I think I coped quite well.

Next, I went for the first hour of Pete Finnigan’s security masterclass. Pete is a really cool guy and I really enjoyed the session. Unfortunately I had to miss the second hour because I was presenting. I think every DBA should at least see Pete present at a conference, or preferably go to one of his 2 day workshops. Security is an important topic and I guess we all think we know all about it, but occasionally you need a reminder that there is more there than meets the eye. πŸ™‚

So my next presentation was… interesting… I decided not to bother with my own laptop and use the one provided. Unfortunately there was a problem with that, so the start was delayed for a few minutes. When I started things looked OK, but then the projector kinda froze, so the slides were changing on my screen, but not on the big screen. That was fixed then I rushed to the end in what little time was left…

It’s like every technical problem I could have faced over the last 2 years of presenting was crammed into a single week, which happened to be the ORCAN and OUGF conferences. I hope people got something useful out of the talks. If nothing else, it should have provided some comic relief watching me destroy every bit of electronic equipment I touched. πŸ™‚

The conference was held at an amusement park, so when it was over I got to go on a couple of roller coasters. Then it was off to the dinner, where I got to sit next to Milena from BGOUG, which was cool. After that there were a few informal round tables, which degenerated into drinking (not me), eating nuts and rather random conversations about life the universe and everything. Good fun.

The OUGF event is like a whirlwind. It’s only a single day so it seems to shoot straight past. Even with all my technical issues, it was really enjoyable.

The next day I woke up feeling a little under the weather. I had a bit of a sore throat, but figured that was down to the presentations and general socializing. In the morning I met up with Julian Dontcheff who took me to speak to his DBA team at Nokia. It was an interesting meeting because all the guys sat down, plugged in their laptops and continued to work through the meeting. That was a little unusual at first. πŸ™‚ Anyway, we spent about 90 minutes just talking about RAC, performance, operating systems, networking etc. I like this sort of thing. No agenda, just a group of people sharing opinions on technology.

After that I was supposed to be doing some sightseeing, but after about an hour I felt a bit rough so I headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day in bed. Tuomas Pystynen from Miracle had invited me to a beer festival and I was meant to be meeting up with some of the people from the OUGF conference there, but unfortunately I stayed in bed and slept through it. Sorry people. πŸ™

Next morning it was the flight home. I really don’t like flying when I feel ill, especially when it involves a 5 hour connection. πŸ™‚

So now I’m home. I bought a new power adapter and the laptop is behaving itself.

This whole week emphasizes the difference between backup and recovery and disaster recovery. I had backups of my VMs, slides and even expected output from the demos, but I didn’t have a disaster recovery plan. I think I’m going to start carrying two laptops from now on. πŸ™‚

I have a few photos from the ORCAN and OUGF conferences, but not many.



More technical problems…

OK. I’m in Helsinki. My laptop is behaving eratically and my power supply is broken. I’ve borrowed one off the reception and I’m desperately trying to come up with some alternatives for tomorrow. There is always a chance it will all work fine, but just in case I want a couple of fallbacks, including several memory sticks. I’ve been pretty lucky with technology up until now, but I guess that’s all catching up with me on this trip.

It’s a little frustrating because you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I fear I’m not going to make a good one. πŸ™



ORCAN Day 1 & 2…

Day 1 started with a bit of a shock. My demo VM would start. It was completely wasted, so I sat through 2 Steve Feuerstein talks trying to fix it. Fortunately I had a backup of the VM, so eventually I gave up and switched to the backup. It was a little old, but good enough to do all the demos. Panic over… Later I went to presentations by Anjo Kolk (SAN Stories) and Arup Nanda (RAC case study). My talk was the last session of the day. The combination of the mornings antics and the vibration of the boats engines made me feel a little jittery. I wasn’t totally happy with my performance, but I got through it with no major hitches.

Day 2 had new delights in store. I was first speaker on. I started up my VM and all looked well. Started the presentation and bang… No Oracle. I had a quick play but decided to continue without the demos. Fortunately, good advice by Andrew Clark meant that I always bring examples of what the demos “should” do, so I was able to continue without the database. I guess I should have been a little more distracted in this session because of the problems, but the result was I actually relaxed and felt a bit more focussed. I guess it had got so bad it could only get better. πŸ™‚ I felt like this presentation, despite the technical problems, went a lot better.

Later in the day I got to see Sten Vesterli present “What’s hot and what’s not” in the development world. It was a neat summary of the technologies out there and seemed to go down well with the audience. He speaks really well and looks very natural in front of an audience.

So now I’m in the airport on the way to the OUGF conference in Finland and I really don’t know if I have functioning demos. Joy… πŸ™‚



Star Trek and Watchmen…

Forgot to mention, I went to see Star Trek the other day. It wasn’t too bad. The bad guy was pretty lame and there were some definite child-friendly moments, but on the whole an enjoyable action film.

It’s quite funny seeing the development of the characters, and it’s different enough to give your average Trekkie the vapors, which is always fun. After watching it I read a few reviews which made me laugh. I remember the original Star Trek series as being really cool when I was young, but if you watch is now it is really bad, but people still talk about it like it’s amazing. I had a ZX81 when I was a kid and it was brilliant, but I couldn’t be bothered to use one now. Move on! The latest film brings everything up to date. Full of action and no substance, just the way Hollywood like it.

Before the film they played the trailer for G.I Joe and Terminator 4. G.I. Joe looked like it could be fun, but Terminiator looked completely awesome.

Another film I forgot to mention was Watchmen, which I went to see ages ago. To summarize it in a single word, “Toilet”. Note the capital “T”. The trailer with the Smashing Pumpkins track was amazing. The film was not. I remember 2 good sequences in it and that was it. As for the blue guy, all I can say is Dude, put some underwear on! I really don’t need to full frontals of a guy who’s blue and glowing on a massive cinema screen. It put me right off my popcorn. πŸ™‚

Still haven’t got round to seeing Wolverine. Maybe when I get back from this trip.



ORCAN Day -1

I started out from home at 03:00 this morning, so I decided it wasn’t a good idea to go to bed, in case I slept through the alarm. I’m now in Stockholm feeling incredibly tired, which is hardly a surprise. πŸ™‚

I suppose I should have a look round as last time I was here is was raining and I didn’t take many photos. Maybe I’ll just go to bed though…



New Disaster Recovery Blog (Dbvisit)…

While I was in Chile at the CLOUG event I met Arjen and Bertie from Avisit Solutions Limited, who produce an alternative to Oracle Data Guard called Dbvisit. Unlike Data Guard, you can use Dbvisit with Standard Edition, so it can be a real money saver.

The company have started a new blog, so if you have an interest in disaster recovery (and if you don’t, you should) you might want to keep your eye on it.



Windows Vista gets a new theme called Windows 7…

Let’s see:

  • The install seems no better than Vista.
  • The usage doesn’t seem much different to Vista.
  • Doesn’t seem any faster than Vista.
  • It does look a little different to Vista though.

OK. Now I see. Vista is getting lots of bad press, so let’s put on a new theme and install IE8 by default and tell everyone it’s a new and exciting product.

Amazing. Can’t wait until I can pay cash for it… Not…



Update: Just got back from a mates house. He was running Vista with a Windows 7 theme and it was a struggle to tell the difference. πŸ™‚


The first 50 pages of Thud! were a real struggle for me. I love the Sam Vimes character so I was expecting this book to click instantly and it just didn’t. It starts off quite serious and there seems to be a distinct lack of humour. So I switched my mindset from expecting humour to just reading a detective story and then started to find it much more amusing. It does seem significanly more serious and it just feels different to many of the Discworld books I’ve read, but maybe it was just me. Even so, it was pretty cool.



Slovakia Day 2

I’m not nervous about flying, but I am nervous about being late for flights, so day 2 was a complex day for me. The plan was to teach from 9:00-17:00 then go straight to the airport and leave. Having the deadline for the airport in the back of my mind all day meant I was a little on edge. Even so, it all went pretty well.

Anyone who’s seen my conference talks knows I do quite a lot of demos. Well the 2 day workshops are crammed full of them. I more or less try to prove every sentence I say with a demo. Of course, this means things inevitably go wrong from time to time. I had one demo hang, and Enterprise Manager decided not to work, so I had to miss out another demo. Overall though, things went pretty smooth and by the numbers.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who came to the session and thanks to the people at Oracle that make it possible, especially Stefania Panaite.

So I’m home now and I have 4 days to prepare for the next two conferences (ORCAN and OUGF) that happen back-to-back. I’ve got two new talks to rehearse, one I’ve not even written yet, and one 60 minute talk I’ve got to somehow turn into a 30 minute version. Don’t even mention the paperwork I have to do. πŸ™‚