Book, Linux, Illusion and Cinema…

OK. I’ve had a small blogging holiday so here’s a quick update:

Over the weekend I finished the first draft of the new book. It’s now off to tech-edit, then copy-edit and it’s done. I didn’t realize how much pressure I had put on myself with this book until I was done. I’ve been really busy and adding to my workload was not a great idea, but it’s done now and I’m pretty happy with it so far. Let’s see what the comments are like 🙂

I’ve been using Windows XP recently as I killed my main Linux box during an FC4 upgrade. Until this weekend I didn’t have the time to fix it, so I was left with only my Windows XP. It’s been ….. Real…

Anyway, I decided to give up on FC4, I’ve done a few installs and upgrades and there have been issues with all of them. Instead I’ve opted for CentOS 4.1, a clone of RHEL 4.0. I’ve used the latter at work and it’s been pretty cool. I was a little worried about using a clone as I thought there would be some issues with it, but it installed with no issues and even did an up2date without any problems. I’m a CentOS guy all the way now 🙂

The main reason for picking a RHEL clone was that I wanted a stable base for all my virtual machines. Every kernel update on FC4 filled me with dread because they kept breaking VMware. Sometimes it would recompile, sometimes it wouldn’t 🙁

The next plan is create a new virtual machine and install Oracle 10g Release 2 in it again. I haven’t done too much with this release, apart from install it on a number of Linux releases. I guess I might go CentOS for this VM too 🙂

I found this – The Amazing Dots…

I went to the cinema yesterday afternoon to see “The Cave”. Anyone who read my review of “The Descent” will know I discovered I was claustrophobic whilst watching that film, so going to watch another film about caving, but this time underwater caving, didn’t sound too clever…

Apart from one scene, there were no really claustrophobic moments, but there were loads of really cool underwater shots. From a visual point of view the film was great, but as a whole it was a bit lame. It laid its cards on the table too early, which meant there was almost no suspense. Never mind…



My OCS Hell…

I don’t know if you know this, but I hate Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS). It is the most useless pile of camel dung I’ve ever cast my eyes upon. It’s really is not worth the price of the CDs it’s delivered on.

Yesterday it crashed in the afternoon so I restarted it all (DB, infrastructure and 3 middle tier servers). By the time I got home it had gone again, so guess what I had to do… Restart the lot again. About an hour later it had gone again, but I wasn’t at home so a collegue had to do the honours. My last text message on the subject was a little after 22:00. This morning I get to work and (can you guess what’s coming next?) it has all crashed again. At least it’s consistently rubbish!

My only hope is that my company give up on it, rather than wait for Oracle to fix it, because I know Oracle will focus on adding more gimics to it, rather than getting it to work properly.

My advice to anyone contemplating using this product is DON’T!!!!

If you are forced to use it, like me, consider hiring people to cover a 24 hour reboot service!



Article accepted for IOUG SELECT magazine…

I got an email yesterday saying that an article of mine has been accepted for the IOUG SELECT magazine. The article is a small section from the book I’m currently writing, which should be finished by the end of this month. I’m not sure when the article is going to be published so watch this space…

I’m looking forward to finishing the book and getting my teeth stuck into Oracle 10g Release 2. I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve not had much time to check it out, and as a result I’ve not been adding many new articles to A situation that will be rectified soon 🙂



Unleashed and on the net again…

I went out this morning and bought a new wireless ADSL router, so I’m back on the internet from home. I guess this means I should do some work 🙂

I went to the cinema last night and watched the new Jet Li film Unleashed. Now I think Jet Li is possibly the most complete martial artist that ever lived, but let’s face it, most martial arts films are really poor. The new breed of artistic high-budget films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and House of the Flying Daggers are great, but they’re more spectacle than martial arts. Unleashed is different. It’s perfect!

The story:
It was written by Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson. It’s very different to anything else I’ve seen and works really well. Bart (Bob Hoskins) is a debt collection and general gangland type. He systematically brutalizes Danny (Jet Li) from a young age until he is capable of nothing more than responding to instructions like a dog, even wearing a collar. Bart uses Danny as the ultimate weapon against debtors who don’t pay, because when the collar is taken off his passive nature is replaced by complete rage. But is there more to Danny than violence?

The acting:
Morgan Freeman is always great, but Bob Hoskins has returned to form in a big way. It’s like a flashback to the days of “The Long Good Friday”. Jet Li is totally believable as his character Danny. The other characters do their jobs well also! It’s set in Scotland so there are some very “regular” British characters in the film. I like this, but I don’t know how it will translate for the rest of the world who seem to assume that everyone over here talks like Hugh Grant 🙂

The action sequences:
These were directed by Yuen Woo Ping, so I shouldn’t need to say anything, but I will.

The fight scenes are gritty, dirty, brutal and show Jet Li at his best. The combination of power, technique and uncontrollable rage is truly a sight to behold. I came away thinking, if Jet Li and God had a fight, God would lose! In my opinion, that’s what a martial arts film is all about.

I love this film! I will definitely go to see it at the cinema again and I will buy it on DVD as soon as I can.



A craptastic ending to a craptacular day…

So I got home and noticed something strange about my wireless ADSL router. I checked the manual and I couldn’t find any mention of the new extra features including:

  • Built in smoke machine.
  • Babbling brook/melting plastic sound effects.
  • Room fresher, with a distinctive scent of melting PCB circuits for that glad to be home smell.

A fitting end to yesterday!

I guess the lucky thing was that it didn’t burn down the house 🙂

Today I get to visit the tax man to discuss how I can single-handedly help reduce the national dept! Grrrreeeeeaaaaat! (in a Tony the Tiger style)



Dodgy SQL and Dodgy Products

Dodgy SQL
Developer: What’s wrong with this SQL statement?
Me: I’ve done an SQL trace on it and it churns through 1.6 Gig of data, 0.3 Gig from disk taking 439 seconds, the rest coming from memory, but incuring a 140 second delay due to assorted cluster waits.
Conclusion: It’s a quality statement, not! 🙂

Dodgy Products
My hatred for Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS) is growing by the day. It’s completely…

I’ve decided to take leaf out of David Aldridge’s book and create a list of my own:

Alternative meanings for the OCS acronym:

  • Overly Complicated Sh*t
  • Obtuse Craptastic System
  • It doesn’t work, it’s complete crap, just ditch it and write something decent that works and doesn’t need loads of harware to do a really simple job!

OK, the last one doesn’t quite work, but the sentiment is spot on! Please feel free to contribute your own ideas 🙂

By the way, did I mention that OCS is a steaming pile of…



PS. Oracle applications are a total mess as well.

PPS. The application servers are a nighmare. Hopefully Larry will get his head out of his ass and do something about them!

PPPS. Why are there so many bugs in the DB these days?

Stats and illusions…

This is funny and scary rolled into one:

Cumulative hours waited for internet to download this year 🙂
The births are a bit quicker than the deaths 🙁
Hectares of forest lost this year 🙁

Some of these are totally freaky illusions:



Do no evil?

Breaking copyright laws and selling company trademarks to competitors. Now that’s not evil is it?

But it’s Google, so it must be OK. Seems the law doesn’t think so 😉

I understand the logic of full text searches of books, but I’m not totally sure I agree with Google being in control of this. If it’s going to happen I think it should be controlled by an independent body, not the next Microsoft. There’s an old proverb about putting all your eggs into one basket.

The Adwords thing is not entirely their fault, but they should have seen it coming. I’m sure if Microsoft bought the adword Oracle and plastered any google search with SQL Server ads Oracle wouldn’t be too pleased.

I’m a Google fan, but power corrupts and Google are mighty powerful these days.



3 Films, no insights…

I watched three films over the weekend, two at the cinema and one on DVD. I hate it when people give away the stories in reviews so I’m not going to say anything much, just observations and gripes 🙂

The Island
If you take a bunch of ideas from films released over the course of my lifetime and pile them all together they form a new and fresh idea, right? Wrong! I sat through the film thinking, this is just like that bit in… Even so, I thought it was fairly neat.

My biggest gripes were:

  • The film makes heavy use of the, “if I shake the camera you’ll think something exciting is happening”, technique. This can get more than a little tedious.
  • Ewan McGregor struggles to do anything but his normal Scottish accent. He didn’t sound English in Star Wars and he doesn’t sound American in this film. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s an OK actor, but let him speak in his normal voice!
  • If Scarlet Johansen’s top lip grows any more it may start to affect her breathing. If this is a natural feature, fine, but if it’s surgically “enhanced” then it’s a mistake. It’s started to take on a life of it’s own.

Overall it was an OK film, but not on my list of things to watch again.

The Skeleton Key
If you’ve seen the trailer for this film you pretty much know what it’s about. There’s really not a great deal more to it that what you see in the trailer. It’s not really a scary film, but it’s not really a thriller either. The film is all about Hoodoo, which like the magic of Voodoo without the religion, apparently…

I’m not quite sure where I would place it, but I liked it. OK, I’m a little shallow and the fact I like Kate Hudson added to my enjoyment. I’m sure I’ll end up seeing it again some time. By the way, John Hurt is really cool in it.

Hide and Seek (on DVD)
OK, I’ll start off by saying I’m a rabid De Niro fan. Even when he’s rubbish I think he’s great 🙂 Also, I’m quickly becoming a fan of Dakota Fanning. She’s been cool in everything I’ve seen her in. Let’s hope she goes from being a great child actress to a great adult actress. Add Famke Jannsen into the mix and you’ve won me over before the film even starts.

The advertising would lead you to believe it’s a horror film, but I don’t think it is. There are a couple of suspense bits and a couple of “make you jump” bits, but I wouldn’t call it horror. I enjoyed the film, but there’s not much you can say without ruining it, so I’ll leave it there 🙂

Of course, the biggest single flaw in the film was that Famke Jannsen didn’t do any cool DR Jean Grey/Phoenix stuff. I can’t wait for X-Men III!

More meaningless and totally uninsightful film reviews to come…



Helping Open Source, or cashing in on it?

I noticed this post on The Register: Lloyd’s taking on open source IP risk.

On the one hand I think this is great news, because the fact insurance companies are willing to get involved implies to me that the risk of litigation must be low. Afterall, insurance companies are in the business of making money.

On the other hand I see it as a little sad that yet another industry is trying to cash in on the Open Source community without giving anything back.

By the way, I got bitten by an insect on Tuesday night and by yesterday my arm was swollen. After a quick trip to the quack (doctor) I found I had cellulitis (an infection under the skin). On top of that, my dodgy throat that I thought had cleared up has come back, but this time as an annoying cough. I’m hoping it’s a bacterial secondary infection, that way the antibiotics for my cellulitis will fix this also. In reality it’s probably viral so I’m gonna have to wait it out.

I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to “Disease Watch!” 🙂