Saturday, July 28, 2007

Update on my beautiful Insight

As I expected, State Farm has declared the car a total loss. The estimate for repairing the car came to over to $8000. The pleasant State Farm fellow told me that the cash value of the car is $7750. I get an extra $900 for low mileage (51000 in 7 years!), plus $600 for good condition. is very sad to see the results of all my efforts to keep the car in fine shape and drive it minimally results only in an extra $1500.

Add in sales tax and per diem reimbursement for rental car (which I didn't use, but still I get the per diem), and State Farm stands ready to hand over about $10600 for my wreck of a car.

Which I suppose is not bad considering I paid twice that seven years ago.

But for now, I do not intend to purchase another car. I can do without. Instead, I will check out Zipcar or I-Go, car-sharing services. And ride my bicycle whenever and wherever possible.

Goodbye Insight, it was nice to drive you....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Nasty Karma - goodbye Insight....

Sigh....Eli and I went to NY this weekend to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday, plus Sally's 4th birthday, plus Laurie's birthday...and we had a great time, made even more enjoyable by my more or less accidentally renting a red mustang convertible:

So that was fun, and the water balloons were fun, and Evan did some great cooking, and so on....then on Sunday Eli and powered our way back to LaGuardia and managed to hop standby onto an earlier flite. We arrived at O'Hare an hour earlier than expected, hopped into my Insight and off we went.

And two miles from home, stopped at a red light, an absolute jerk of a driver SLAMMED into the back of the Insight, at maybe 20 or 30 MPH. And now my beloved automobile, with only 58000 miles on it after 7 years, averaging 50 MPG, no longer sold by Honda, looks like this:

We were covered with glass chunks. My back and neck got whipped around; hopefully I won't be stiff as a board tomorrow. Eli, too. But we are OK right now, anyway. I am very bummed out, though. I didn't have collision on the car any longer, so I have filed a claim with Sandra "My brakes didn't work" Luke's insurance company and sure they will pay, but probably not to fix it, just declare it totaled and write me a check. Goodbye Insight.

Very sad day for me....and to get hit by an idiot who actually puts the following on her windshield:

That is, upside down: If you can read this....ROLL ME OVER.

In other words, she advertises the fact that she is a reckless driver. What a loser.

No, I am the loser. Ah well, I just have to tell myself over and over: it's just a car, just a thing.

But it was such a nice thing. The best car I ever owned.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How Oracle describes PL/SQL for 11g

It is summertime, right? I hate it when I am so busy that I barely notice summer in Chicago. Aw, that's an overstatement. I've been out. I've ridden my bicycle a couple of times. I've seen people visiting the beach. I even played some basketball with teenage nephews who absolutely ran circles around and over me. [I will, however, state for the record that in one game, I scored 7 of the 15 points. Dang, I was hot.]

And I also did some work on Oracle 11g during the beta program (which officially ended on July 11, with the launch of Oracle latest and greatest version).

So I eagerly downloaded the Oracle Database 11g Application Development PDF to check out its high level commentary regarding PL/SQL and other dev languages available for use against and within the Oracle database.

Under the heading of PL/SQL, this document offered several interesting statements:

"PL/SQL is an imperative 3GL..." An imperative 3GL? I'd never seen or heard of that before. Now, as some of you may know, this ignorance of mine should not be a big surprise. I have little formal training in computer programming (three 101 classes in 1979, to be precise), so lots of the fancy verbiage goes whistling past my head. This one sure did. Imperative? What the heck is that? Thank the heavens for Wikipedia, which tells us that an imperative language is "a programming paradigm that describes computation as statements that change a program state. In much the same way as the imperative mood in natural languages expresses commands to take action, imperative programs are a sequence of commands for the computer to perform." Oh, OK, right. PL/SQL is a procedural language.

"It...supports exactly the same datatypes as SQL." Now this really surprised me. I think I know what Oracle intended to say....that PL/SQL supports all the datatypes of the SQL language, and that is the case. But let's be clear: PL/SQL's set of datatypes is a superset of the SQL datatype domain. For example, PL/SQL supports Booleans, which Oracle's SQL language does not.

"While it is available in other environments, this document focuses on PL/SQL that is stored and compiled in the Oracle database." This sentence my eye because of the word "environments." I know that PL/SQL can be run on the "frontend" inside the Oracle Developer Suite: Forms and Reports (which, interestingly, Oracle refers to as Traditional Oracle Tools). But where else do you use PL/SQL? Perhaps they are talking about Application Express, but that is still PL/SQL code that is stored in the database, I believe. So what are all those other environments?

And, finally, the most delightful aspect of this high level description:

"A best practice used by many Oracle customers is to have client code access Oracle Database only by calling PL/SQL subprograms." Yes! This is one my mantras, these days. Namely, "SQL is bad" aka "All SQL statements are hard-coding and hard-coding is bad" aka "Hide all your SQL behind a procedural (imperative!) API." It's very nice to see this argument for using PL/SQL highlighted in Oracle's description. By the way, for more details on what I am talking about here, check out Practical Best Programming.

I will, in a near future blog on ToadWorld, talk more about the actual new features of PL/SQL for Oracle Database 11g. Now, however, it is time to head to the airport for a weekend in NY to celebrate my mom's 75th birthday.