Friday, November 26, 2010

The End of My Traveling Era

I returned a few days ago from Nuremberg, where I presented my Coding Therapy for Software Developers keynote to several hundred Oracle technologist at DOAG's annual conference. I thought it went quite well; the audience laughed at all my jokes, save one.

The highlight of this trip, however,was the fact that it was my last trip of the year and marks the end of an era in my life, the "traveling era." For too many years, I have been traveling far too much. It's been great for my frequent flyer account and for getting free upgrades. American Airlines has also benefited.

No more.

From this moment forward, I will only travel for professional reasons if it is absolutely required. I will still present at a small number of key Oracle conferences, but other than that, my plan is to stay home. There are two main reasons for this. First, I am simply tired of being on the road - and away from my family. It takes a toll in several different ways, and I find that toll to be unacceptable these days. Second, my son, Eli, is learning how to be an APEX developer and I need to be here to support him, train him, mentor him.

There are certainly aspects of travel that I will miss. It has truly been an honor to meet with developers from around the world, hear about how you are using PL/SQL, learn from you, and be reminded of how much my writings and presentations have helped others. I have enjoyed greatly seeing so many parts of the world and the fantastic art that resides in the countless museums and galleries I have visited. And then there are the dear friends I have made in the Netherlands, Brussels, the UK, Singapore, Australia, Portugal, Germany and other places.

So am I going to just "disappear"? Not at all! While I will not be visiting in physical form, I plan to become much more visible online.

One big advantage of staying home is that I can concentrate more thoroughly on transferring my knowledge of PL/SQL into online, accessible, search-able and very entertaining formats. The PL/SQL Challenge is just the first manifestation of this Internet-delivered expertise. You will be seeing much more in 2011.

And if for some reason you have not yet started playing the daily quiz at the PL/SQL Challenge, please do so! You will learn a lot about PL/SQL, you might win some fine prizes, and - most important of all - you will help me make a success of this key project in my life.

I hope that you all have very happy and relaxing holidays.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Award for Least Obvious Idea

I am in Nuremberg for the German Oracle User Group conference (DOAG). Will be presenting my keynote, Coding Therapy, in a few hours.

Read the International Herald Tribune over breakfast and came across "An upgrade or a trip in space? It's a tough call."

First paragraph reads: "In the rarified realm of airline frequent-flier perks, elite status can bring cushy upgrades, airport lounge access, priority boarding and any number of concierge and customer service benefits. But on Wednesday, the Dutch airline KLM set a new goal for road warriors to aim for: free space flight."

Wow. I must admit, this was not on the top of my mind. But as Andrew Nelson, XCOR's chief operating officer says later in the article: "It is only logical that, in the future, airlines are going to want to take advantage of services like these to enhance their frequent-flier programs."

Really? Is that "logical"? Enhance your frequent-flier program by offering trips in space that, today, cost roughly $95,000 for four minutes of weightlessness. Richard Branson's venture, Virgin Galactic (is this guy's ego the size of a mountain, or what?), has already reserved nearly 370 seats for its own commercial space flights - requiring a 10% deposit of $20,000 to reserve that seat.

It's the New Logic.

The logic of "I have so much money, I don't know what else to do with it."

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Palo Suite Uses My Parse Package

Whenever I present on PL/SQL, I make sure to let everyone know they can download all of my training materials and all the supporting code from PL/SQL Obsession. I urge developers to use my code, rather than "reinvent the wheel" and point them to my file, which contains demonstrates of PL/SQL features, performance analysis scripts and some reusable code.

I received an email from Pepijn Slappendel, who told me: "I have created a PL/SQL utility which can be used to query data from Palo-cubes. Palo is an open-source cube-based BI Solution. The utility uses your generic parse package, which makes things very easy!"

Ah, music to my ears! I so dearly love to hear that my code is being used. Thahks, Pepijn, for both using the parse package (located in the parse.pkg file) and letting me know about it.

For more information on Pepijn's project: "The Palo Suite is a SaaS enabled Open-Source BI Suite for Performance Management including Planning, Analysis, Reporting and ETL. The suite includes an in-memory OLAP Server, an Ajax-based online spreadsheet with DynaRanges and a web-based ETL-Tool."

Finally, if anyone else "out there" has used my code, please do let me know. I will be happy to feature it on my blog.

Cheers, Steven

Saturday, November 06, 2010

How I Managed to Feel Guilty While Recycling

I was raised a good, Jewish boy, so generally I have no trouble manufacturing a feeling of guilt and "should have" and so on.

But I was stunned this morning to realize that I actually felt guilty while recycling my acumulated mounds of plastic, metal and so on.

To achieve such an extreme, it in the great City of Chicago, led by that great mayor, Richard M. Daley.

Because in Chicago, we have a totally ridiculous recycling program, put in place by that great mayor, Richard M. Daley, in which everything (glass, metal, paper, plastic) is thrown together into a big pile, collected from all over the city into an even bigger (much bigger) pile. Then we hire people to separate out the various types of recyclables.

It doesn't take a genius to imagine the results: broken glass, mixed in with soggy, falling-apart paper, low percentage yield of recyclables from the mess....

I believe Daley has finally, officially given up on the so-called blue bag program. Who knows when this bankrupt city, located in an incredibly bankrupt state, situated in an entirely bankrupt nation, will ever get around to putting a sensible policy in place.

In the meantime, I will either feel guilty for participating in this sham of a recycling program, or seek alternatives that make more sense.