An encounter with the law…

Last night I finished Karate and went out to meet some friends at a bar. I parked my car in the bar’s car park and spent the rest of the evening there. When it came time to leave we decided to go back to one guy’s house just round the corner, literally 200 meters away. I didn’t want to leave my car in the car park at closing time so I drove it out of the car park, turned left on to the main road and instantly turned right at some traffic lights and that’s when I noticed a police car behind me with it’s lights flashing. I pulled up, right outside my mates house, got out of the car and walked towards the police car (we’re allowed to do that in the UK 🙂 , at which point a Woman Police Constable (WPC) got out of the car and this is the conversation I had:

Me: Hi dude! (not the best opening line on reflection…)
WPC: Dude?
Me: Is it OK to park on these double yellow lines while we do this?
WPC: That’s OK for now. What’s your name?
Me: Tim Hall.
WPC: What?
Me: Tim Hall.

She wrote down my name and the registration of the car.

WPC: Are you the registered owner of this car?
Me: Yes.
WPC: Do you know why I’ve pulled you over?
Me: I don’t have a clue, but I’m guessing you’re going to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to turn right at that junction.
WPC: That’s right!
Me: If that’s the case why isn’t there a sign?
WPC: There is, do you want to see it?
Me: Yes. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I can’t believe I missed it if it was there.

We walk back to the junction, passing my friends who burst out laughing when they see I’ve been pulled over by the police.

WPC: See that sign?
Me: OK. Your right. Fair enough.

We walk back to the car. My friends are standing on the other side of the road watching the events, all still laughing and obviously drunk.

WPC: Have you had a drink tonight?
Me: No.
WPC: Not one?
Me: No. I don’t drink. Do you want to test me?
WPC: No, that’s OK.
Mat (a friend): Do you want to come inside for a cup of tea love?
WPC: Do you live round here?
Me: Yes, I live at …
WPC: I guess you normally turn left at that junction then.
Me: Yes.
WPC: Well, you did an illegal right turn and you drove through a read light!
Me: Wait a minute, there was no way I went through a red light.
WPC: OK, it just turned amber, but amber means stop unless it’s dangerous to do so.
Me: Fair play, but give me a break on that one.

A male officer gets out of the car.

Me: Hi dude! (Not a great line the second time round either!)
MPC: Smiles, but says nothing.
WPC: OK, be careful in future and have a good night.
Me: Aren’t you going to give me a ticket for the right turn?
WPC: No.
Me: Nice one. Cheers. Have a good one.

Both police officers get back in the car and drive off, I wave as they go by and pull my car into my friends drive. When I get in the house nobody can believe I didn’t get a ticket, or at least a caution!

Am I the luckiest guy alive or what?

I taught a couple of Yoga classes today and recounted the story at the end of the lessons because my reaction to the situation interested me. I’ve been driving cars for about 19 years and in that time I’ve never had a parking ticket, speeding fine or any sort of legal issue along those lines. When the police car pulled me over I wasn’t sure how I should feel about the situation. I knew I didn’t want a ticket, but I also knew there was nothing I could do to stop it, so I just thought, “relax and go with the flow!”, which I did. The whole encounter was very pleasant. Although I knew I didn’t have any control over the situation, the lack of control didn’t phase me. Maybe the calm nature of the encounter helped me avoid the ticket, maybe they just had “bigger fish to fry” on a Friday night at closing time.

One of the ladies at Yoga has recently had stomach cancer and today was here first session back since an extensive operation to remove it. At the end of the lesson she came to me and said, “Your right. Sometimes you just have to admit to yourself that you can’t control everything that happens in your life. Once you understand that, things are much easier to cope with.”

A valuable lesson. I hope I remember it next time something happens to me.



RAC Success Story…

Yesterday I did an new installation of 10g RAC on a 2 node Tru64 cluster. It was totally clean, unlike the 9i to 10g upgrades I’ve done before.

Once the software was installed I had to create a copy of our current production system on it from an RMAN backup done using HP Data Protector. The whole restore and recovery went through without a hitch.

Days like that restore your faith in Oracle, and your backups 🙂



10g CRS restart after power failure, feature or bug?

In 10g RAC the Cluster Ready Services (CRS) software is installed in it’s own $ORACLE_HOME, for the sake or argument let’s call this $CRS_HOME. In this directory there are a number of subdirectories including:

  • $CRS_HOME/crs/init
  • $CRS_HOME/css/init
  • $CRS_HOME/evm/init

When the CRS daemons are running these directories contain an assortment of files with names like:


When CRS is shutdown cleanly these files are managed such that CRS will start up again without manual intervention, but when there is a power failure on one or more nodes the files aren’t cleaned up. The affect of this is that the CRS daemons won’t start properly until you manually clean up the mess.

RAC is a high availability solution, but it is crippled by a power failure. Is that a bug or a feature?

Note. I’m talking about the way CRS ( works on Tru64. I’d be interested to know if it’s the same for CRS on other platforms. Also, I believe some changes have happened to the startup and shutdown of CRS in, but that’s not released for Tru64 yet, and a recent message on a HP forum suggests that Oracle will skip this patch and wait for for Tru64.

Fun, fun, fun…



Rebrand and all the bugs disappear…

So OCS 10g has been released and it’s “a member of the Oracle Fusion Middleware family of products”.

Let’s hope that during the upgrade to DB10g and AS10g they actually thought about the stability of the product, not just packing in more functionality that most people won’t use.

The next hurdle for me is getting the people here to buy in to an upgrade. My feeling is that the current verison is so bad, what have we got to lose! I don’t think they’ll see it that way 🙂



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?