Saturday, June 16, 2007

Who would've thought that fighter jets have ideologies?

I read today an obituary for Brigadier General Robin Olds (1922 - 2007). He flew 107 combat missions in 1944 and downed 12 enemy aircraft. But he is apparently best known for leading the biggest air battle in Vietnam, and I quote from the Los Angeles Times obit:

"Commanded an Air Force wing that shot down seven communist MIGs over North Vietnam."

Who would've thought it? A communist MIG. Not even "Communist MIG". No, that MIG apparently believed that wealth should be re-distributed equitably throughout society (or perhaps just among other MIGs?).

Perhaps the silliness of this statement would be clearer if the obit applied the same rule to both "sides", as in:

"Commanded a capitalist Air Force wing that shot down seven communist MIGs over North Vietnam."

Ridiculous, eh?

What's my point? That the propaganda of that war ("Stop the spread of communism!") was so insidious, is so deeply ingrained in our society that even decades later, the writers of the obit could not bring themselves to describe those planes as the Viet Cong MIGs they were.

Back in the 1960s, President Johnson lied to the US people about a fictitious battle in Tonkin Bay to justify the war in Vietnam. That lie, and the millions of others, large and small, that followed all the way up through 1975 (not the least of which involved Henry Kissinger's war crime of secretly diverting B2 bombers to devastate Laos and Cambodia with which we were not at war), fueled the "line" that the US of A was on the front lines of the battle to stop the spread of Communism.

In fact, the military my parents supported through their tax dollars conducted a brutal war against an entire people, killing some 2,000,000 Vietnamese - many of them women and children.

Yet this still cannot be generally and easily acknowledged in our media. How sad, how tragic, how disturbing.

Especially given the same process is now being used to conduct the war in Iraq. And now they are my tax dollars being used to fund the way. This really sucks. What a crappy democracy we have here. Soon, I will have the exciting choice of Clinton vs Guliani or Clinton vs McCain or Obama vs Romney or.... well, it is really very nice of those in control to at least give us two people between which to choose.

'Cause if I could only choose from one person, well, then clearly we would not have a democracy.

Of course, when I am using a black-box voting machine built by Diebold or Sycamore (both companies controlled by heavy contributors to George Bush and the Republicans), who knows? I might only really be choosing from among one person!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Photos from Paris

I spent one afternoon in Paris. Took the Metro from the Grand Arch (La Defense) to Hotel du Ville, walked to the Pompidou, had a great time there, enjoying much interesting art and snorting in disbelief at other, more absurd pieces (like three big canvasses of white, nothing but white). Then walked over to the Louvre, checked out Mona Lisa (a bit disappointing - too much security), ignored the crucifixions and portraits of dead people, and found some amazing "Islamic Art" from centuries past. Enjoy!

(See if you can figure out which art is from the Louvre and which from Pompidou.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Upcoming trainings by yours truly in Europe

A reader asked me to post details about my end of summer trip to Europe to do a triplet of two day trainings for Oracle. Here's the info and links:

Czech Republic (30th and 31st of August)

Croatia (homepage)(3rd and 4th of September 2007)

Slovakia (6th and 7th of September)

I hope to see some of you there. Please do come up and say hello if you learned about the class through this blog (come up and say hello anyway!).

Thanks, SF

PS - I am now in Brussels (it is 12:30 AM on Tues June 11). I spend Sun and Mon in Paris. On Sunday, visited both the Lourve and the Pompidou Center. Incredible places. Will be posting photos soon on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Summery Activity

I can sort of remember a time when I spent lots of time outside in the summer, really noticed the season (and it is a fine one in Chicago...I don't mind it when Chicago occasionally gets very hot). Lately, though, I seem to be so busy on books or products or trainings - and traveling - that the last couple of years, I will suddenly notice the color of the leaves turning and say to myself: "Wait a minute! How did it get to be Fall?"

And the upcoming summer is looking like another one of those, since I am preparing for or working on all of the following:

* My presentations and test-a-thon materials for ODTUG Kaleidoscope on June 18 - 21 in Daytona Beach, Florida. This most-excellent developer's conference has lots of PL/SQL content, plus we (ODTUG, Quest Software and O'Reilly Media) are organizing the second-ever PL/SQL Test-a-Thon! I hope you are coming. You can find more information about, and register for, Kaleidoscope here.

* The second Oracle PL/SQL Programming 2007 conference will be held in mid-September in New Jersey. Two days of intensive training, discussions and test-a-thons for PL/SQL developers. Which means I need to start organizing those materials as well! Almost 300 developers came for OPP2007-I in February. If you missed that one, join us for OPP2007-II!

* The new Quest Code Tester Trial Challenge: we just set up a new and hopefully fun way to learn about Code Tester and possibly win a signed set of my books. Simply download the trial version of Code Tester, install it and explore. Then answer the ten questions in the Challenge and submit your answer. If they are all correct, your name will be added to the pile from which a winner of my books will be chosen (courtesy of O'Reilly Media!).

* I head back to Europe at the end of August to visit Prague, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Bratislava, doing two-day Oracle trainings and Quest seminars. I very much look forward to returning to Prague and seeing Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia for the first time. But before then I need to write a bunch of new training materials. Sigh....

* Finishing up the second edition of Oracle PL/SQL Best Practices. I originally planned to do a fairly minor rewrite, add some new best practices and update old references, but otherwise leave it unchanged. Ha! That plan has certainly changed. I have, instead, decided that this book needed to stop taking itself so seriously, and have a bit more fun with best practices. I think you will be both entertained and enlightened as you read the exploits of a four person development team (Sunita, Delaware, Lizbeth and Jasper), part of the (fictitious) My Flimsy Excuse dotcom venture. More on this book soon....

* Quest Code Test development: we are QAing release 1.6 (automated XML testing, many bug fixes, much faster performance with a remote database, and much more) and then moving right into development of release 1.7 (major improvements in usability and much smarter test case generation, to name just two key enhancements). I would love to do nothing but help develop Code Tester. It isn't possible, but I cherish every moment I get to work on the backend code! By the way, you can download the 1.6 beta here.

Well, that's what my summer is looking like. I hope you are finding more time for leisure in yours.

Hey, but I am not complaining! I work from my home, take lots of breaks, go outside - life is good, very good, just busy.....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quseful #3: Don't put COMMIT; in your application code!

Why would I say that? Because a COMMIT; in your code is an example of hard-coding, and as we all know, hard-coding is bad. "Hard-coding?" you ask, "What is Steven talking about?"

Well, to find out, please visit my ToadWorld blog. I have decided to publish my Quseful's over there, rather than on my personal blog!

Regards, Steven