Dual Boot: Near Disaster…

Today has been a little emotional…

I decided I wanted to dual boot a server with Fedora 15 and Oracle VM 3.0.1. The machine already had Fedora 15 on, so I moved some stuff around to free up a 1.5TB drive and decided to install OVM on that.

The installation went well, but I made the schoolboy error of overwriting the bootloader on the MBR. After the restart it was all completely toilet. 🙁 This incident left me checking my underwear because the Fedora installation contained a load of VMs, including RAC and Data Guard installations. None of them were that important, but they would be a pig to set up again.

To sort it I booted from the Fedora 15 DVD and did a repair, telling it to recreate the bootloader on the MBR. A few seconds later, normal service was resumed. Phew.

So then I retried the OVM installation on the clean drive, remembering not to place the bootloader on the MBR this time. The installation went fine again. I booted into Fedora 15, edited my “/etc/grub.conf” to include a chainloader entry. I rebooted and picked the chainloader line from my grub screen only to find I got “Error 21: Selected disk not found”.

After a bit of investiagtion it seems only my RAID1 system disk is visible to grub. The controller doesn’t seem to be able to present the individual disks, unless I kill the RAID1 config. Crappy controller.

So I now have two options:

  1. Buy another disk (or move this “spare” one) and put it into another machine with a sane controller and dual boot that.
  2. Buy another box that is dedicated to OVM.

I kind like option 2, since dual boot is a total pain. All my boxes have a purpose and having something missing while I play with OVM is not ideal. Trouble is it’s more money and it is a machine that is likely to be unused a lot of the time. Seems a bit of a waste.

If only VirtualBox exposed dmidecode to guests, then I could install OVM on a VirtualBox VM. I know it sounds stupid, but it would make functional testing a lot simpler, even if the performance were a little crappy. Never mind…



Censorship: A confusing subject…

I used to be totally against any form of censorship, but as I’ve got older and I have two young nephews I find myself becoming a bit of an old fuddy-duddy about it. I kinda want to protect their innocence as much as possible.

When I’m in the car with my nephews and the news starts I try to flick to a CD to avoid the talk about sex, drugs, rape and murder. Call me a coward, but I want to avoid the barrage of questions on those subjects and the whole can of worms they will open. I remember one such occasion when nephew number 1 asked me what they meant by, “found her body in a ditch”, after listening to the news on our national radio station (Radio1). Shudder…

I kinda like the idea of everyone taking responsibility for themselves on the censorship front. Having said that you can’t be with them 100% of the time etc.

So now on to the item that prompted this post…

My favorite advert at the moment is from Google. It’s one of those generic, “Use all Google products because they are hip and so by extension, using them makes you hip!”, type adds. Why do I like it? Purely because of the music. It’s a track called Traktor by Wretch 32, which I love. Why did it prompt this post? As with most hip-hop songs is contains some adult language and themes. So what did Google choose to censor? The words in bold were blanked in the add.

“My lifestyle’s terribly wild, but you’ll never catch me on the Jeremy Kyle show”

“Explosive, terrorist style. Don’t think I’m a blow I’ll get you therapy now woah”

“I ride this mothafucking beat like a tractor. I ride this mothafucking beat like a train”

“Zoom zoom down the rabbit hole. More women more alcohol here”

So “Jeremy Kyle” is censored, which I can understand because his show is truly worthy of the “Jeremy Vile” nickname. The word “terrorist” is censored, which seems a little odd to me. The song is not promoting terrorism, so it hardly seems worth messing with. What is surprising is that “mothafucking” (not my spelling) is not blanked. Well to be fair they do play some traffic noises over it, but it is still clearly audible in the chorus. Seems a little strange for an add that runs throughout the day, especially since this was blanked on the radio edit of the song. As for the last quote, I assume somebody at Google understood what that meant before they OKed it in a national advert right? 🙂

Censorship is a very tricky subject, because as this advert shows, we all have different opinions on what should (if anything) be censored.



Conan the Barbarian…

Being a former Arnie fan, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the remake of Conan the Barbarian. As it turns out I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that bad really.

Jason Momoa is a decent Conan. He’s not physically as massive as Arnie was in his day, but he sure looks like it would hurt if he punched you. He has a face built for sneering and scowling, which is pretty important in this role. Most of his dialog consists of grunting and throaty sentences that make Barry White sound like a Castrato.

The story is pretty average. It’s never going to win an oscar, but it is suitable for a film of this genre. Just enough to link together the action scenes, with only a mild sprinkling of cheese here and there. The battlefield caesarean was true comedy, but I think it was meant to be serious.

The action scenes themselves were a little hit and miss. Some worked really well, but some were a little blurry and shaky. Some of the scenes were cut badly, making it hard to follow the thread of the action. On occasion it got a little hard to see what was going on and I found myself losing interest.

Despite everything, it was a nice bit of moronic fun. I must buy the Arnie films on DVD… 🙂



Australia Trip Conclusion…

I’m back home from my Australia trip, so I thought I would post a brief summary post of the whole trip…

The trip out:
No major drama here. Only 1 delay, after we boarded the plane in Dubai. It turned a 14 hour flight into 15 hours on the plane, but it wasn’t a major drama. Emirates managed lose my special meal allocation, so they had to cobble together a vegetarian meal for me on both their flights. One of these contained prawns, so that got left. 🙂

In my brief time in Australia I managed to speak at 3 events. The main event for the trip was InSync11 of course, but the addition of the Sydney Oracle Meetup and ACTOUG events make it a lot easier to justify traveling such a long way. Three events in four days is a little crazy, but it certainly didn’t leave any time to get bored. 🙂 Thanks to everyone involved for making this go smoothly for me.

The trip home:
No delays during the trip home. Emirates even managed to get my food almost right. One vegetarian and one vegan. 🙂 Unfortunately, they managed to lose my seat allocation for one flight, so my 14 hour flight was not an aisle seat. This normally freaks me out, but fortunately I managed not to get out of my seat every 15 minutes or so.

I made a few single-serving friends on the way home:

  • One guy was doing the systems for theaters, which included music, lights, stage automation and back office systems. Sounded kinda cool.
  • I was sleeping on the floor near a check in desk in Dubai and a lady from my previous flight recognized me and woke me up just in time for boarding my last flight. For that she qualifies as my best single-serving friend of the trip!
  • The young guy next to me on my Dubai – Birmingham flight had won/earned a holiday in Dubai in a competition. It was all about memorizing and reciting The Koran. He won a regional heat and progressed to the UK final and won it. Pretty cool.
  • The guy next to him was on his way home after visiting his Filipino girlfriend. It turned out we liked most of the same films and were both big fans of The Dresden Files books. So sad how excited two grown men can get when discussing Harry Dresden. We swapped a few tips on authors we thought each other would like etc.

This was by far the most bizarre trip I have ever done where sleep is concerned. I never sleep really well on planes, which is a problem. Both trips started in the evening, so it made the total time from bed-to-bed ridiculously long. In Australia I seemed to follow a day-on/day-off sleeping pattern. I would alternate between about 6 hours sleep one night, then about 1.5-3 hours the next. By the time I was due to go home I was feeling like I was in a rather altered state.

I decided to go to Canberra airport early and slept on the floor for about 2 hours. As soon as I got to Dubai I did the same thing. I think both these sleep breaks are just about the only thing that kept me sane during the trip home.

Once home I went to bed and slept for 18 hours. I’ve just been to the gym and I think I’m going to right-off the rest of the day and try and sleep again.

So now I have 5 weeks to get myself ready for OOW11. The combination of the ACE Director meetings and OOW itself makes it a very long trip, so I need to be in top form to get through it without feeling like a zombie.

Thanks to everyone I met during the events. You all helped to make it a great trip.



Cowboys & Aliens…

I’ve got a late flight home, which always presents a bit of a problem as the hotel checkout means you are hanging around with no base for most of the day. As a result I decided to go to see Cowboys & Aliens.

Let me start by saying I got 1.5 hours of sleep last night so I am insanely tired…

The film seemed OK, but I did find myself nodding off at times. I woke with a start a few times. A couple of times it was audience screams/shouts and a couple of times it was audience laughs that brought me back to the land of the living. I did see the vast majority of the film and I thought it was OK, but I really need to see it again to make any reasonable judgement on it. The feedback from the crowd would suggest the bits I missed were quite good. 🙂

I’m now at the airport about 3 hours early for a domestic flight from Canberra to Sydney before my proper journey begins. I think I’m going to lie on the floor somewhere and try not to swallow my tongue… 🙂



ACTOUG – Canberra

Yesterday, Chris Muir and I drove down from Sydney to Canberra to present at an ACTOUG event organized by Marcelle Kratochvil.

The day started off with Chris introducing REST Web Services using Java. After that I did my Clonedb presentation and I didn’t stuff up my demo this time. 🙂 This was followed with a general Q&A and lots of pizza. I like these informal events. They are cool.

Off home tomorrow…



InSync11 – Day 2

InSync11 day 2 was very much “the day after the night before” for me. I didn’t sleep very well at all. I think I spent most of the night winding myself up about my dodgy demo earlier in the day.

My next presentation was in the last slot on day 2, so I got to see the following presentations before I was up:

Jeremy Ashley & Chris Muir: What’s next for Oracle’s Application User Experiences?

On our first night in Sydney, Chris Muir and I were out with Jeremy Ashley and Mark Drake from Oracle. In addition to the regular geek talk, Jeremy waxed lyrical about end-to-end user experience. It’s quite an interesting subject, with a lot more to it than first springs to mind.

Graham Wood: Ashes of DBTime

I’ve seen Graham speak on this subject a number of times, but it’s always worth checking it out again. I’ll probably end up watching it again in OpenWorld in a few weeks. 🙂

Marcelle Kratochvil: Why you should be storing unstructured data in the Oracle database.

I have some experience of storing images and documents in the database, so I can appreciate some of the issues Marcelle was highlighting in her presentation. She’s very passionate about the subject and constantly pushing the barrier of what Oracle is capable in the multimedia field.

Connor McDonald: Managing optimizer statistics – A better way.

Management of database statistics has got to be one of the most contentious issues. Everyone seems to have a slightly different opinion and I always come away both agreeing and disagreeing with many of the points.

Connor always has great content and is renowned as an excellent presenter. This talk was no different in that respect. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is the best presentation I’ve ever seen him do, which probably means it’s one of the best Oracle presentations I’ve ever seen. If you get the chance to see Connor present, you really should take the opportunity. Of course, if you are a presenter yourself, you may want to avoid it, as it will probably make you paranoid about how bad you are in comparison.

Me: Edition-Based Redefinition.

Rule of thumb: Don’t present a database talk in the same time slot as Tom Kyte because everyone will go to his session, not yours. To be fair, if I wasn’t presenting I would have been in his session too. 🙂

Even so, the talk went ok and my demo worked as planned, so I slept well that night! 🙂


Pretty much everyone I spoke to said they were very impressed with the standard of the conference this year. The standard of the presentations was high and the location was cool.



InSync11 – Day 1

Getting to Sydney:

No major drama there. I didn’t sleep much on the plane. A couple of 15 minute stints during the 22 hours on the plane. Slept well on the first night, so day 1 of the conference was relatively jetlag free.

InSync11 Sessions I attended on Day 1 included:

Me: Clonedb: The quick and easy cloning solution you never knew you had.

This was my first presentation at the conference. The majority of the talk went pretty well. The demo didn’t go quite to plan, which was my own fault for making some last minute changes. Even so, the clone worked and if you managed to ignore the bumbling idiot at the front, I think it proved the point. I’m presenting this again in Canberra in a couple of days, so I guess the wrinkles will be ironed out by then. 🙂

Tom Kyte: Efficient PL/SQL – why and how to use PL/SQL to its greatest effect.

I’ve done similar presentations to this myself, but Tom is a better presenter than me, so it’s cool to see him doing his stuff.

Richard Foote: 10 things you possibly don’t know about indexes.

Richard is fun guy, who doesn’t look at all like David Bowie! 🙂 The presentation mostly focused on refuting many of the myths surrounding indexes, with some really neat examples. It would have been cool if he had been given a double slot for this as it was a struggle to fit it into 45 minutes.

Angus MacDonald: An insight into what is coming next.

Angus works for Oracle, and main focus of this talk was Oracle-Sun related technology, including general hardware, as well as the Sparc and Solaris roadmaps. It was well presented and the subject matter was interesting, but a few comparisons grated on me a little. I felt like some information was a little like, “This is what Solaris on Sparc will be capable of in 2015, and Linux on x86-64 can’t do that now”. OK, but what will Linux on x86-64 be capable of by 2015? I think I was being a little over-sensitive, so perhaps it wasn’t a big deal. 🙂

Sydney Oracle Meetup:

In the evening a number of us (Connor McDonald, Craig Shallahamer, Chris Muir, Guy Harrison, Marcelle Kratochvil, Tom Kyte, Richard Foote and myself) were invited over to the Sydney Oracle Meetup to sit on a panel session. It was very informal and good fun. Probably the most enjoyable panel session I’ve been too. After the panel we all went out for some food, so the panel session extended into the night a little.  Thanks to the Pythian guys, Noons, Gary Myers and others for sorting this out… 🙂

I didn’t sleep well last night so Day 2 will be a struggle. I’m presenting in the last slot, so it’s going to be a long day. 🙂



Rise of the Planet of the Apes…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is AWESOME! Love it, love it, love it!

Don’t go expecting an all out action film, because it isn’t one. The trailers would have you believe it’s a constant stream of apes going … ape. 🙂 For the most part it’s relatively even paced, but in a good way. Thought provoking and visually fantastic. The movement of the apes is great to watch, especially when they do go nuts. Us humans have a habit of anthropomorphizing animals (don’t get me started on dog and cat owners) so seeing it done on screen like this kinda taps into something primal in me. 🙂

Easily the best of the Planet of the Apes films, even including the original, which was pretty cool when I saw it as a kid.