28 October, 2008

ApExPOSED 2008 - T-1 day and counting or "Don't mock the afflicted... They suffer so!"

I'm sitting in the lobby of the Chicago O'Hare Wyndham hotel, waiting for the receptionist to signal that my room has been cleaned and is ready for occupancy. In the mean time I thought I would have a little rant about bus drivers.

I have noticed that, an inordinate amount of the time, shuttle bus drivers share a particularly obscure and annoying disease. This disease lies frighteningly dormant right up to the point they turn the key and begin to accelerate. Then some kind of bus driver specific epilepsy seems to grasp hold of them sending their right leg into convulsions. These seemingly uncontrollable convulsions causing their use of the accelerator to become spasmodic and pulsing, sending the bus into mild thrusting shudders similar to that of a boat bouncing mild waves.

In some drivers the epilepsy is so severe that the bus lurches forward every three seconds, bringing your lunch up to your throat and making you wish you'd packed the Dramamine you usually only bring when heading on a cruise. God help those that are easily affected by motion sickness, which thankfully I am not!

My shuttle driver from O'Hare to the hotel had one of the most pronounced cases I have ever experienced. From my seat in the rear of the bus, I could actually see not only his foot, but his whole leg twitching and bouncing on the accelerator. I was not the only one that seemed to notice. Shortly after the bus left the relative safety of it's parking space, the slight framed woman sitting a few seats ahead of me grabbed the back of the seat directly in front of her and remained white-knuckled until we arrived at the hotel. As I departed the bus her husband was gingerly trying to reassure her as he dug her fingernails out of the back of the seat.

I don't know what this disease is called, but its spreading and it must be stopped. I'll be talking to my doctor friends once I get home to see if there is a foundation to which I can direct these poor souls to for help.

Carl Bacskstrom

I did not know Carl personally as I only met him once or twice, but I have dealt with him via e-mail and online for quite some time.

His loss is tragic and he will be sorely missed by the Oracle and APEX Community.

All of our thoughts are with his family.

28 July, 2008

Invited to present at the 2008 ODTUG APEX Exposed training event.

Well, it's official... I'll be presenting "Performance Tuning APEX Applications" at the APEX EXPOSED event.

I'm in the process of updating the presentation based on feedback from audiences and friends who have seen the presentation, so if you have any favorite APEX performance tuning tips, please let me know. I'll give full credit in the presentation to those that submitted the tips.

I'll also be working with Scott Spendolini to present a "best practices" guide to APEX Development. Hopefully Scott's experience as an APEX Consultant and mine as a developer of Commercial Software using APEX will bring together an interesting mix of "Do's and Don'ts" for APEX Development.

Anyway, even though I'm up first thing, and share the last spot with Scott, I'm looking forward to the conference.

Hope to see you there.

11 July, 2008

The Great American (White Trash) Adventure - Day 1

As I may have already told some of you, we're taking a "different" kind of vacation this summer. Often we do an exotic adventure to far off lands. For instance, last year we went to VietNam for 16 days and toured almost the entire length of the country. In prior years, I've been places like Hong Kong, Antigua, France and Portugal. But not this year. This year we decided to have something of a stay-cation.

So right not I'm writing to you from the dining table of a 26 ft. RV! That's Recreational Vehicle for the uninitiated. Yes, we're having a full blown White Trash Holiday!

It all started at 4:15 this morning when the alarm rang, far too soon for my liking. We had done the right thing and packed the day before so that all we had to do was stumble through the shower, throw some clothes on and find our way to the front door where our friends Greg and Terry were waiting to ferry us to the airport.Greg & Terry @ LV Airport

We got to the airport and through security in record time, with no long lines at security. I think this had something to do with the hour of the day, but a lot to do with the fact that American Airlines has started charging you for everything they can think of.

"That'll be $15 for each bag, there will be no meal service but stale cookies and rancid tea will be available for purchase on the plane. You might want to have some cash with you as the flight attendants get a bit touchy if they have to run credit cards... Oh and you'll want to keep in mind that if you use the toilet there will be a surcharge for toilet paper. Enjoy your flight and thank you for chosing American Airlines."

Our flight was on time, leaving and 7:10 and arriving early in Las Vegas, Nevada. A near merical if you know anything about AA. We picked up our bags and made a hasty get away to the Excalibur hotel where we were to meet our shuttle to pick up or RV.

I honestly thought, because of gas prices right now, we might be the only ones on the shuttle, but to my surprise the shuttle was almost full and when we arrived at the rental office, there were literally about a dozen groups waiting to sign in and drive there RV's into the Nevada sunset. It was on the shuttle that I notices something different about everyone else. Somehow we were the odd men out. What was it that was different? Their clothes? No... Their socioeconomic class? No... Their Accents? EUREKA!

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE else that was in the line to rent RV's was NOT AMERICAN! German, yes... Spanish, yes... Even Swedish, but no other Americans. We were the only Americans on the Great American (white trash) Adventure!

I guess the value of the Almighty (or is that all-slight-y) dollar means that not only can families from Europe afford to travel here but the price of Gas here in America is actually still significantly less that what Europeans have been paying for a long time.

So, here I sit, at the dinging table of the RV while Greg drives, Terry navigates and David sleeps. We're on our way to Moab, UT, due to arrive there approximately 10:30 Mountain Time. From there we plan to hit several very impressive state parks while winding our way back to Las Vegas by July 18th.

We'll be getting up early, hiking and taking lots of pictures. So stay tuned for a park by park blog fest!

Doug & David

PS... WIsh us luck! I've already had to troubleshoot the electrical system in the RV to get the Air Conditioner running again! A must in 100°+ weather!

02 July, 2008

A very interesting Open question on Oracle Mix

José Carlos Monteiro posed a question on Oracle Mix that I would really love to see some answers to.

His question was...

Please, can you describe here in Oracle Mix your current working environment for APEX solutions, from Development stage to Production stage?

I'm looking for answers about:

  • Version Control

  • Configuration Management

  • Continuous Integration & Build

  • Unit Testing

  • Functional Testing

  • Integration Testing

  • Acceptance Testing

  • Deployment (Migrations/Releases)

Are there any "official" Best Practices as to what an APEX Solutions ISV should setup or each one is "flying solo" through "uncharted territories"?

I would especially like to hear from the APEX development team themselves. They have a history of turning out such stable product, that an insight into their working methods would be a welcome lesson.

If you have something to say about this, please go and respond to the question on Oracle Mix.

25 June, 2008

My Performance Tuning Presentation up for vote on Oracle Mix. (SHAMELESS PLUG)

As has been mentioned by Carl, Dimitri and many others, there is a vote going on at Oracle Mix to help decide what presentations and sessions YOU would like to see at Oracle Open World.

I've posted a presentation I've written on Performance Tuning ApEx Applications, so if you would like to see that at Open World then, please vote for me!

10 June, 2008

Finally upgrading to 3.1.1

In the wonderful world of commercial software development, adoption of technology tends to happen in a bit of a "leap-frog" fashion. For instance, our 200806101104.jpg current release of HAWCS is coded using 2.2.1 of ApEx, but we're getting ready to add some new features to our upcoming 2.1 release that very specifically take advantage of ApEx 3.1 features.

In some ways, this can be helpful. For example, we let the world at large test 3.1 and get to jump straight to the benefits of the 3.1.1 patch. However it can be very frustrating too. I've been reading blogs and forum posts for ages that talk about the great things in 3.1 and have not been able to really try them out on our software.

Another example of playing "leap-frog" is the graphing in our product. In the early days of ApEx, back when dinosaurs like SVG graphs ruled the earth, we took a huge step and decided to use MAANI XML-SWF charts instead. They were way more pleasing to the eye and were cross browser compatible. We spent loads of time building a graphing framework and sewing that into our ApEx application.

Now with 3.1+ of ApEx, Oracle have included the Flash based AnyChart graphing solution directly in their product. Now we have to make the decision as to whether we abandon our home grown framework and the XML-SWF charts in favor of the built in AnyChart solution. Something that makes this a little bit more interesting is that Oracle ships both V3 and V4 of the AnyChart software with ApEx 3.1+

The built in graphs use V3 while the Interactive reports use V4. If you look at them side by side, there is definitely a difference in their style and attractiveness, V4 being far superior in quality and functionality.

So what is a Product Manager to do? I now have 4 choices in front of me.

1. Continue to use our home grown XML-SWF chart solution

2. Switch to the built in V3 graphs and wait for Oracle to upgrade THOSE to V4

3. Try to use Interactive Reports for everything I want to graph and just have the default view be the graph

4. Build a new (or alter our current) graphing framework to use the V4 charts

My XP training tells me to do the least amount of work necessary to get the job done, so that would mean staying with option 1, but I know that at some point I will want to move to the built in graphs, if for no other reason, so that we can stop maintaining our complex graphing framework and spend more time on the CORE code that people are actually paying us for.

Anyway, I'm upgrading our development environment to 3.1.1 as I type this, so I guess I'll have to do a little research to see how hard it will be to migrate the SQL statements that drive our graphs into the built in graphing solution.

I'll let you know how it goes.

09 June, 2008

Add my name to the blog role.

Well, I've finally succumbed to peer pressure. I've been getting hounded by many and varied people to join the infamous blogosphere and splat my thoughts and opinions out on the web for everyone to see.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of blogs, and read and/or monitor many blogs every day (see my Blog List to the right). However, I've never thought that I had enough to say to actually add to the wealth of information out there without diluting the quality.

In the last few months though, things have happened that drove me to research things that would have made interesting blog posts, and that I haven't necessarily seen in other places.

Therefore you can add my name to the list of people adding data to the virtual encyclopedia that is the internet.

My subject areas will likely focus on:

I look forward to sharing my journey with you.