Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I voted yesterday and here's why

I waited until the very last moment to vote (I left yesterday for Brussels, so I will not be in Chicago on election day).

I had been thinking that I wouldn't bother voting this time around. I am quite disgusted generally with the surreal state of affairs (many people seemingly ready to vote for the greedy, corrupt Republicans who spent the eight years with "W" destroying our nation and driving millions of citizens to poverty, misery and/or death). But I am also very disappointed with Barack Obama. I realize he could not perform miracles, but the compromises he made that led to the awful health care "reform", the $708 billion "defense" budget he proposed, the ridiculous waffling on "don't ask, don't tell", the continued aggressive attack on progressive activists, "illegal" immigrants and marijuana growers, and the steadfast support for "titans of finance" leave me feeling like he sure doesn't represent my interests very well.

And then in Illinois, our current governor is a nice guy, but not very effective. The Democrat running to take Obama's seat in the Senate owned a bank (with his family) that failed and cost taxpayers millions. "My" congresswoman is progressive on everything but Israel, and on that topic she is just awful and treated me like dirt when I confronted her about her "love of Israel."

Sigh...what's a nice, bleeding heart progressive like me to do?

Well, I finally accepted that while I didn't have lots of reasons to vote FOR anyone, I had plenty of reasons to vote against others.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate is a horror on "social" issues like abortion and is completely mealy-mouthed about what he would do to solve our budget problems. The Republican running for Senate is the sort of fellow who lied about his military record in Vietnam and elsewhere. I can't bring myself to vote for a guy who tries to explain away saying he served under fire, got this award or that - when he did no such thing. Disgusting. How you can trust anyone who does that and then won't even own up to it?

So I voted Democratic for the key "big ticket" offices, and went Green on the rest (I could not in the end bring myself to vote for Jan Schakowsky. If she is defeated by a right-wing, Orthodox Jew who baited her for being "soft" on the Palestinians, well, then I say it serves her right).

I have a feeling that the closer we get to election day, the closer the races will become. It's one thing to express disgust with Obama and the Democrats. It's quite another thing to capitulate to the corporations and other super-rich who are trying to buy this election through anonymous attack ads, and let right-wing extremists, nut jobs and just plain ruthless ideologues to dig themselves in deeper.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Check out the beta test for 1.7 of PL/SQL Challenge

PL/SQL Challenge: daily PL/SQL quiz with weekly, monthly and quarterly prizes. If you are a PL/SQL developer and you are not yet playing the quiz, well, you are missing out on a lot of fun and education!

We plan to upgrade the PL/SQL Challenge website to version 1.7 on October 23. This version has many new and wonderful features, including:

* Home page changes: we now show you a random selection of past quizzes that you can visit for a quick PL/SQL refresher, plus a display of players who deserve congratulations for winning an award, high ranking, frequent play, etc.

* Past Quizzes: you can now search through all past quizzes by topic, difficulty or date, and then drill down to see a new, more detailed description of the quiz and your results.

* Interactive Rankings: built on top of the APEX4 Interactive Reports feature, you can now see rankings by player, country, organization and company (for a given period: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, lifetime). You can build your own custom reports. We believe that many of the requests we have received from players for better rankings information will be satisfied by this feature (for example: if you want to keep track of and rank players in the same company, simply choose one of the Rankings by Player reports and then filter by company!).

* Take the Quiz page: each quiz now includes a "No choices are correct" option at the bottom of the page. You must check at least one of the choices before you can submit your answer.

Before we upgrade on the 23rd, we'd like to get feedback from you on the features, the data points in the rankings reports, etc. So we have set up http://beta.plsqlchallenge.com for beta testing from October 18 to October 22. Please visit and go exploring. Tell us what you think needs change or improvement.

For the beta test, you can log in with your regular email and password. The quizzes are from a previous week; they are not the same as those on the production site. All past quiz activity should be the same as on the production site.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Early bird for OPP conferences ending this week

Just got this reminder from ODTUG regarding the two-day PL/SQL conferences for which I am the technical co-chair...

It's Monday, and most of you are just getting into work, so we will keep this one short and sweet.

Early Bird Registration ends on Friday, October 15 for OPP/APEXposed in both Dallas and Brussels!

In Europe? This is ODTUG's first time holding an SP conference in Brussels, October 27-28. See the agenda, check out the presenters, and sign up today.

In the US? We are headed to Dallas, November 10-11, to show you the best tips, tricks, and techniques for both PL/SQL and Application Express.

Sign up by October 15 and costs are only $550 for members and $600 for non-members.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marketing absurdities: the Saab survives...

Learned something new today. I thought that Saab was a dead brand, that GM hadn't found anyone to buy it. Not true, and I am happy for all those who are attracted to cars that a long time ago featured the same engines as those found in jet airplanes. Or something like that.

I searched for "Saab future" and found the above link because the Sunday Chicago Tribune featured a full page ad for Saab, which included some truly fantastic marketing-speak.

Check this out:

"The status quo finds no refuge in the coils of Saab DNA...Everything is exactly where it should be, but the results are boldly unexpected...When different is your dancepartner, that's how the music plays. Then again, you already knew that."

Now, I must admit, that I know lots of stuff, but I did not know that "when different is your dancepartner, that's how the music plays."

In fact, I still don't know "that", because I have no idea what "that" is supposed to mean.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

7 October: The day my dad would have been 81

This past Thursday, 7 October, is my father's birthday. Which made it a very melancholy day for my family, since Dad died in January of this year.

I miss hearing his deep, rumbling voice, almost always with the hint of a smile in it. I miss being able to tell him how everyone is doing. I miss, especially, being able to tell him about Eli is now a programmer and thriving as he learns PL/SQL, APEX and more. 

My dad taught himself RPG, and long before that taught himself how to use HP programmable calculators. He would definitely have appreciated Eli's foray into the technology arena.

But I think what I miss most of all is my father's integrity and honesty. 

I gaze upon the world that lurches along in his absence and am truly dismayed at the fundamental dishonesty and complete lack of shame exhibited by those who are supposed to be the leaders of our grand society. 

Instead, they blackmail us to rescue them from their own greed and mistakes, leaving behind broken homes and families and, indeed, a broken nation.

Ah, but why dwell on the negative? Instead, I will follow Sheldon Feuerstein's example and concentrate my efforts and attention on my family, on those closest and dearest to me, and make sure they are well.