Friday, September 24, 2010

The joy of international travel ... not

This morning I arrived rather early at SFO. When checking in I noticed that the first leg of my trip was delayed by almost 2 hours. And, originally, had a 1.5 hour layover in Minneapolis. So that wouldn't work anymore...
So Delta rescheduled my whole trip: From San Francisco to Los Angeles to Paris to Amsterdam. With a couple of hours of layover at each stop. Initially I would arrive around 11 AM in Amsterdam, but that will be around 8 PM now! So a nice 9 hour delay.
Luckily SFO offers a free 45 wifi service. As I have three wifi enabled devices I am fine for over 2 hours. I must get as much sleep as possible at every leg, to feel just a little bit alive tomorrow. Or the day after that. The one and only positive thing is that I can head straight to bed when I finally get home.
I really realty hope no other delays will pop up... (to be continued)

The continuation
So SFO - LAX took about 1,5 hours, then 3 hours of waiting. Next a 9 hours flight to Paris, and of course I got a seat right in the middle of the plane (no aisle, no window). Managed to get some sleep though. And saw a really nice movie: Greenberg. With Ben Stiller in a much less funnier role than usual. And the first part of When You're Strange, a "Rockumentary" about The Doors. Saved the second part for the next morning. Managed to get some sleep. Then in Paris another 4 hours of airport lallygagging. Another 1 hour flight to Amsterdam, a 1,5 train ride and then - finally - home. And also my luggage made it...
So a very, very, long trip indeed. But OOW was worthwhile. Again.

UKOUG 2010 abstracts accepted

Today I got two e-mails from the organising committee of the upcoming UKOUG Technology Conference in Birmingham saying that both of the abstracts I submitted were selected. That's cool! A 100% score! I will do my presentation on Edition Based Redefinition and APEX and the one about creating a Google Visiualization Plugin for APEX. They will have to change the schedule a bit, because at this time both session have an overlap of half an hour. Or I'll need to split myself in half...
Looking forward to it!

OOW2010 Thursday

The last day of this year's conference. And the day after the event. It was noticeable that it already was a lot more quiet than the days before. And that sure had an effect on the turnout of my session. Being scheduled on the last day isn't an advance.
Just before my session about Edition Based Redefinition and APEX started I checked my demos and they ran perfect. And after my session they ran perfect as well. But during my session they didn't perform at all - and Marco was enjoying that on the front row... But luckily I had a backup: a number of screenprints. Apart from this minor inconvenience the presentation went pretty good! Afterwards I got some really nice compliments of Brynn, Patrick and Joel.
Then it was time to wind down. First in the OTN lounge, and then at the "It's a wrap!" party. That party was really nice: sun, beer and good music. A perfect way to end a good Oracle Open World
See you all again next year...or earlier when possible!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

OOW2010 Wednesday

Alas I missed the Benelux cocktail part last night, because the dinner took somewhat longer than expected. The dinner was extremely good though.
This day started with a session by John Scott Spendolini about "Recovering from APEX mistakes" - I didn't know they existed but nevertheless. Good session on how to undo changes you've made, debugging etc. The next one was by Marco Gralike on XML-DB (what else could it be?). Good, detailed info with some nice examples. Not all demos worked like he meant to, but that's the price you pay when you mess with them the night before! Especially the event firing mechanism when you drop a file in an XML folder are very cool! Marco, we definitely need those for our ODTUG presentation!
Then Raj did a presentation on collections, enthusiastic and dynamic us usual. But also his deno didn't turn out as expected. The best take away from this session was the idea to create views on top of your collections, so you can maintain the code more easy.
Larry's Wednesday's keynote was rather disappointing. No new announcements, just a recap of the things announced earlier this week. And that took rather long, so I missed the Fusion Apps demo as I headed for a session on EBR by Boeing. They already really use it in their mission critical business applications. By implementing EBR they managed to reduce the outage for an application upgrade from 9 hours to less then 1! Very impressive.
Next was the Blogger Meetup. Always a good opportunity to match faces with names. And the. Off to the Appreciation event! It was definitely more crowded than last year, with long lines for the food. And some good bands too! Don Henley may look somewhat older, but his voice still sounds like 30 years ago. And the Black Eyed Peas surprised me, with a very good show. This is the first time I saw the whole crowded joining the band: All yo part people in da house, say yoo-hoo.
I got a bus back around 12, because I need a relative good night sleep for my session tomorrow. I am curious how many people will show up, as I heard a lot of people saying they'll leave on Thursday....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OOW2010 Tuesday

The day started really early with a 8 o'clock session about ExtJS integrated in APEX. Marc Lancaster is one of the few people I know of who uses ExtJS in an APEX environment, but he still wrote a book about it (due very soon). But I have to admit that the user interface you can create with this framework is very nice. And when you wrap the whole ExtJS stuff in Plugins, it isn't very hard to use. Marc's book will come with a number of Plugins and templates.
The next session was on the Oracle Service Bus. The best thing was that the presenter perfectly demoed how easy (agile) it is to add and change services you need to exchange information from one system to the other.
Next was a session on Edition Based Redefinition. My session is on the same subject, so I was curious what Dan Morgan would tell and show on this matter. But - luckily! - no new stuff for me.
Then I had a very nice lunch with my Logica colleagues here present. Good to meet colleagues from the US, France and Sweden!
The lunch took a little long, so I missed my next scheduled session and went over to Tom Kyte keynote. The coolest thing was he even mentioned my session on one of his slides!
Tonight is the APEX meetup, which I alas have to miss, due to a dinner appointment with Logica colleagues (again) and some customers. After that I'll probably head over to the Benelux cocktail party....

OOW2010 Monday

The first real day of this Openworld started off with a PLSQLChallenge 'live'. Good fun as alway, but this time no prices to win. The second session was about integrating Adobe Flash into Application Express. My idea is: ok, you can do it, but why would you? Just because you can?
After that Lucas and Alex did a good job about "Xenogentics" as they cold it. It was all about Java best practices for PL/SQL developers. Some fine and good ideas, but some I never would use in a real environment, because they are too complicated to implement and maintain. But the whole idea too look further than your regular scope for some good practices is very useful.
Then I attended a session about replacing mod-plsql modules in an eBusiness Suite with APEX. Mainly because mod-plsql isn't supported in an eBS12 environment. The presenters mainly focussed on getting the security stuff - authentication and authorization - right. Good stuff if you're in that situation.
The last session of the day was about Exadata. Rich Niemiec covered all hard- and software features that are in that box / machine / appliance.
After all those sessions it was good to wind down a little at the ODTUG meetup and the OTN night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

OOW2010 Sunday

In the evening of this day Oracle had organised a cruise for all ACE's. At least for who that were on time....(sorry Jacco, had to mention it). It was good fun, a nice trip with beautiful views of San Francisco at night. We had to leave during Larry's keynote, that overrun an hour or so. Larry announced the Exalogic machine. Also called "your own private cloud". He mentioned that Facebook could run on two of those machines. But thinking of that: if Facebook needs two, who needs one? I guess the installed base will not be that big. But you can also buy "half a rack"! The other big thing was the announcement of the general availability of Fusion Apps in 2011Q1, 5 years after it was mentioned first. The third thing was the new unbreakable Linux kernel, to overcome the - according to Oracle - slow development of Linux by Redhat. I wonder what will be left for the Wednesday keynote...probably the new Java roadmap...
Before the keynotes, there were some user group sessions, which turned out to be very good. Especially the way Tim St Hilaire "forced" his organisation in defining real priorities using a Netflix like drag and drop interface was cool. Also Chris Muir's presentation on JMeter gave a lot of insight on when and how to do load and stress tests of web applications in general - and APEX or ADF ones in particular.
All in all it was a great day...and it was only a half one!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Travelling to OOW 2010

Yesterday was one of those days. Crossing the Atlantic and ending up with crossing 9 timezones. So that day had 33 hours...(so you can definitely have more than 24 hours in a day!).
I got up at 6 AM, traveled to Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) by train. At Schiphol it was crowded! People with large bags everywhere, no one standing in line. Giant congestion for the border security etc. And then there is the obligatory chat with a security officer when boarding (did you pack your bag yourself, brought anything etc..). The strange thing is the US carriers seem to be obliged doing that - but only for inbound flights??
But the good thing was: I managed to upgrade my first leg of the trip (to Minneapolis). Never traveled Business Class before, but, man! what a joy!. Imagine long, broad seats with lots of buttons on the armrest. If you use the right ones, you can get the chair in a 100% horizontal position - while massaging your back! And then there is the drinks and the food... I would love to travel this way every time, but hey, budget is limited - and frequent flyer miles are too.
In Minneapolis I had originally a 1,5 hour layover, but when we arrived it was shrunk to 1 hour. With one airplane full of Japanese visitors in front of my at the border security. Luckily it took only around half an hour to pass the security, so a good half an hour left to grab a coffee and walk to the connecting plane. No business class this time, but a crowded economy. So: Plug in iPod and close eyes...
Got a cab in SF to the house (Jacco rented it - with his girlfriend Margot), got some good food with the three of us, had a few beers and went to bed around 10 PM. 
And of course woke up at 2.30, 3, 3.30, 4.15, 5.45...and finally got out of bed and made myself a coffee. 
Looking forward to the rest of the day: Usergroup sessions, Keynote, ACE Dinner...here I come!


Friday, September 17, 2010

OOW 2010 about to start!

I just printed out my boarding pass for my 10.50 flight tomorrow morning. From Amsterdam, via Minneapolis to San Francisco takes around 11,5 hours time, with 1,5 hours overlay in Minneapolis. I hope that'll be enough to pass the US-border control!
It will be a busy week, with lots of sessions and networking events. I won't put my whole session schedule up here, that might set the expectation that I also will attend all these sessions... 
But in short: Sunday afternoon will mostly be filled by the ODTUG APEX sessions, and maybe pick a part of the Welcome keynote alongside.
Monday will be a combination of good old PL/SQL, APEX, Fusion, Fusion Apps, Exadata.  Tuesday has a similar picture: APEX, ESB, JavaFX and Tom Kyte's keynote. Wednesday is of course Larry's keynote (with or without Iron Man), and some database related sessions. Thursday I've planned to attend two more APEX sessions, before I have mine: at 12:30 in Hotel Nikko called "Using Edition-Based Redefinitions in an Oracle Application Express environment". And in my current schedule that also will be the last one. Funny, 'cause last year I had the opening session (Sunday 8.30 AM) and this year they put me way in the back of the schedule...
Also the networking part is packed: The ACE Dinner on Sunday; on Monday the ODTUG meetup, Benelux Happy Hour and the OTN Night clash more or less; Tuesday afternoon there is a One Logica lunch (where I can meet all colleagues present at the venue), and in the evening there is the traditional Blogger Meetup, followed by the APEX Meetup and the Benelux Cocktail Party (sounds like too much drinking...). Wednesday and Thursday no specialties: "just" the Appreciation event and the "It's a wrap!" thing.
Really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Setting the starting point for KScope2011: Get XFILES running...

As a preparation for a joint presentation with Marco Gralike for ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2011, I tried to (re)install the not-yet-so-famous XFILES Application. That application was the result of the collaboration of Mark Drake (Sr Product Manager XMLDB) and Carl Backstrom. They did a presentation about it during OOW2008. The idea behind the presentation/application was leveraging the power of XML-DB with an APEX UI. Due to Carl's tragic car accident, the application never reached a final stage. Marco already did a sequel about XFILES on his blog. You can also find a download link to the latest version of the application there.
But back to the installation....I used the OTN Developer Days VM as a start and patched it with the latest APEX patch (4.0.1). There is a sort of how-to included in the XFILES download, but that isn't flawless (yet). But after executing all the steps I fired up the application and got this:


So all my images where missing. Inspecting the code learned that the images had a path of /XFILES/APEX/lib/icons/, so not pointing to images included in the application itself (as Application or Workspace Images) but to a directory on the filesystem....that wasn't there.  If I entered http:/localhost/XFILES I did get the directory listing. And drilling down I could see the images. After some investigation it turned out that localhost was using the standard port 80, which was used by the (standard installed - or done by the XFILES installation ??) Embedded PL/SQL Gateway (EPG). And I was using the Apex Listener (with Apache/Tomcat) on port 8888. So the APEX Listener was looking for the XFILES directory on it's root (/home/oracle/apache-tomcat-6.0.20/webapps/ROOT). So in order to get the images in my application I could just extract them from the XDB Repository and copy them onto the filesystem. But that would have been too easy ;-). I though it would be more fun if I could create a mapping from the right location on the filesystem into the right location in the XDB Repository! But as I am not a *nix wizard - nor a XML-DB guru -, I couldn't quite figure out how to do that - even after some Googling around . So I send out a "help Tweet". But it is hard to explain a situation in just 140 characters...
Nevertheless I got a lot of replies (thanks Learco, Iloon, Jacco, Peter, etc). But Marco acted as my mainstay and Skyped me. And just like Marco is, he dived in deep and came up with a solution! And wrote a long post about it...
But in short there are only two additional steps necessary:
1. Create the XFILES directory on the webserver :
/home/oracle/apache-tomcat-6.0.20/webapps/ROOT/XFILES
2. As su, mount the XFILES Folder in the XDB Repository to that directory:
mount -t  davfs  http://localhost:80/XFILES /home/oracle/apache-tomcat-6.0.20/webapps/ROOT/XFILES

And the result is:


The funny thing about this solution is, that I - as a user - can replace one of the images with my own one and it will immediately show up in the application itself:


Now I first have to solve a performance problem, because the app is deadly slow... Maybe just because of this solution? Don't know yet, will have to find out!
After that the next step is to make it a full blown APEX 4.0-style application, before moving on...

Special appearance at Oracle Open World 2010??

At most Oracle Open Worlds I attended, Larry brings on a "very special guest" during his keynote. Last year it was the Governator, Arnold -I'll be back- Schwarzenegger.
This year I'll expect another cool appearance. My bet is on Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark a.k.a. Robert Downey jr. Or - that would even be cooler - Larry will make his appearance at his own Stark Expo in an Iron Man suit! There is already a lot written about the similarities between Iron Man/Tony Stark and Larry (see here, here or here). But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so a live appearance will be the logical next step...
And what will he announce? I expect it to be the long awaited Oracle Game Console.
Not sure about anything above, but someone has to be the first to start a rumor huh?