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Oracle related rants (and lots of off-topic stuff)...
Updated: 14 hours 12 min ago

Why do people show Azure so much love?

Thu, 2015-06-25 00:56

cloudThe title of this post is taken from tweet I saw a few weeks ago and it keeps coming back to haunt me, so I thought I would comment on it.

Let me start by saying I don’t have any context as to why the tweeter thought people were showing Azure so much love. From my perspective, I kind-of like Azure and I think it is what my employer will end up using, but I’m not a crazed fan-boy about it. :)

Also, I fully understand a move to the cloud is not the right thing for everyone, so this post is focused on those people who do want/need to move to the cloud. Just because it is not right for you, it doesn’t mean it’s not right for everyone. So when I’m talking about running services on the cloud, it is not a recommendation. I’m not telling you you’ve got to. I’m speaking about cloud services to try to explain why someone might say something like the title of this post. I’m hoping this paragraph will stem the hate-comments that invariably come when you mention the cloud. :)

Interface

The Azure interface it pretty neat. It’s clean and reasonably intuitive. I’m a casual user, so I can’t say how I would feel about it if I were managing hundreds or thousands of resources, but from my brief time with it, I like it.

I don’t dislike the AWS interface, but it does feel a bit more cluttered and ugly than the Azure interface. I guess that could be enough to put off some people maybe.

Services

Coming from the Oracle world, we tend to think of UNIX/Linux as being the centre of the universe, but if I think back to the companies I’ve worked for over the years, the majority of their kit has been Windows-based, with the exception of the bits I work on. :) Since most corporate desktops are still Windows-based, Outlook, Office and Active Directory tend to rule the roost. If you are thinking of moving those services on to the cloud, Azure seems the “obvious choice”. Am I saying they are the best products and Azure is the best place to run them? No. What I’m saying is it will be seen as the “obvious choice” for many people wanting to move to the cloud.

The same goes with SQL Server. I happen to like the AWS RDS for SQL Server implementation, but I’m guessing a lot of SQL Server folks will get a warmer and fuzzier feeling about running SQL Server on Azure. Lots of decisions in IT are based on gut instinct or personal bias of the buyers, not necessarily fact. I can see how someone will “feel happier” there.

Once the Oracle Cloud becomes generally available, we may see a similar issue there. People may feel happier about running Oracle products on the Oracle Cloud than on AWS or Azure. Time will tell.

What’s under the hood?

This is where cloud really turns stuff on its head. If I want to run a Linux VM, I can do that on AWS, Azure, Oracle Cloud, VMware vCloud Air etc. From my perspective, if the VM stays up and gives me the performance I paid for, do I really care about what’s under the hood? You can be snobbish about hypervisors, but do I care if Oracle are using less hardware to service the same number of VMs as Azure? No. Where infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is concerned, it is all about the price:performance ratio. As I’ve heard many times, it’s a race for the bottom.

Call me naive, but I really don’t care what is happening under the hood of a cloud service, provided I get what I pay for. I think this is an important factor in how someone like Microsoft can go from zero to hero of the cloud world. If they provide the right services at the right price, people will come.

Conclusion

Q: Why do people show Azure so much love?

A: Because it does what it is meant to do. It provides the services certain companies want at a price they are willing to pay. What’s not to love?

Q: So it’s the best cloud provider right?

A: That depends on your judging criteria. No one cloud provider is “the best”. For some people Azure will be the best option. For others it might be the worst.

Cheers

Tim…

Why do people show Azure so much love? was first posted on June 25, 2015 at 7:56 am.
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New Monitor… Again…

Thu, 2015-06-18 12:40

220px-Commodore_PET2001I’ve just bought myself a Dell U3415W 34-Inch IPS LCD Monitor for use with the laptop. It’s quite an extravagant purchase, but it’s pretty amazing. Having 3440×1440 resolution on a single screen feels much more useful than sitting a couple of smaller monitors next to each other. It feels almost like having 3-4 screens in one.

I bought it to replace the Asus PB298Q 29 inch Widescreen AH-IPS Multimedia Monitor I got about 7 months ago. The resolution of 2560×1080 is pretty darn decent, but I don’t like having a depth of 1080. When you are using a wider screen, the limited height feels really restrictive for some reason.

Currently I have both screens plugged into the laptop, but I can’t see it staying that way. I’ve really had no reason to look at the MacBook or ASUS screen yet. I’ll see how I feel over the next few days. If I’m happy to let it go I’ll probably take the ASUS screen to work and use it there. It’s better than either of my work monitors. :)

Ditching the second screen will also free up some room on my desk, which is looking a little crazy at the moment… :(

Cheers

Tim…

New Monitor… Again… was first posted on June 18, 2015 at 7:40 pm.
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Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 5 (12.1.0.5) : My first two installations

Wed, 2015-06-17 09:55

em-12cI’ve done a couple of play installations of EM12c 12.1.0.5, just to get a feel for it. You can see the result of that here.

From an installation perspective, everything was pretty similar to the previous releases. I tried the installation on both OL5 and OL6, in both cases using 12c as the database repository. No dramas there.

A couple of things of note.

  1. The 12c repository template database is a Non-CDB architecture.
  2. The Weblogic installation uses Java6.

Interesting…

The next step is to try some upgrades from EM 12.1.0.4 (on DB 11.2.0.4) to EM 12.1.0.5, which is what I’ll need for my upgrades at work. The testing is quite time consuming and boring, but it’s got to be done before I can unleash this on the company. :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Remember to download from edelivery.oracle.com (in a couple of days) for your production installations. Apparently there is a difference to the license agreement.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 5 (12.1.0.5) : My first two installations was first posted on June 17, 2015 at 4:55 pm.
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Feedback from the Oracle documentation team

Tue, 2015-06-16 03:36

feedbackI got some feedback from the Oracle documentation team, based on my recent post.

GUIDs

One of the concerns I raised was about how the GUIDs would be used in different releases of the documentation. Although I don’t like the look of the GUIDs, I can understand why they might be more convenient that trying to think of a neat, descriptive, human readable slug. My concern was the GUID might be unique for every incarnation of the same page. That is, a new GUID for the same page for each patchset, DB version and/or minor text correction. That would make it really hard to flick between versions, as you couldn’t predict what the page was called in each variant.

It seems my worries were unfounded. The intention is the GUID of a specific page will stay the same, regardless of patchset, DB version or document correction. That’s great news!

Broken Links

The team are trying to put some stuff in place to correct the broken links. I think I might know who is developing this solution. :)

The quick fix will be to direct previously broken links to the table of contents page of the appropriate manual. Later, they will attempt to provide topic-to-topic links. No promises here, but it sounds promising.

Conclusion

I’m going to continue to fix the broken links on my site as I want to maintain the direct topic links in the short term, but this sounds like really good news going forward.

It also sounds like the documentation team are feeling our pain and putting stuff in place to prevent this happening in future, which is fantastic news! :)

Note to self: It’s much better to engage with the right people and discuss the issue, rather than just bitch about stuff.

Cheers

Tim…

Feedback from the Oracle documentation team was first posted on June 16, 2015 at 10:36 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 5 (12.1.0.5) – Just Born

Tue, 2015-06-16 00:49

em-12cOracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 5 (12.1.0.5) was announced a few days ago. I woke up today and checked the interwebs and it’s actually available for download.

I must admit I’m a little nervous about the upgrade. I had a few bad times with upgrades in the early days of Grid Control and Cloud Control and that has left me with a little bit of voodoo lurking in the back of my mind. The last couple of upgrades have been really easy, so I’m sure it will be fine, but that voodoo…

I’ll download it now and do a clean install. Then do a couple of practice upgrades. If all that goes well, I’ll schedule a date to sacrifice a chicken, raise a zombie from the dead to do my bidding, then do the real upgrade.

Cheers

Tim…

Update. Looking at the certification matrix, the repository is now certified on 12.1.0.2, as well as 11.2.0.4 and 11.2.0.3.

Update 2. Pete mentioned in the comments that 12.1.0.2 has been certified for the Cloud Control repository since march, with some restrictions. So it’s not new to this release. See the comments for details.

Update 3. Remember to download from edelivery.oracle.com (in a couple of days) for your production installations. Apparently there is a difference to the license agreement.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c Release 5 (12.1.0.5) – Just Born was first posted on June 16, 2015 at 7:49 am.
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Site maintenance and how to manage changing URLs

Thu, 2015-06-11 03:37

DiagnosticsAfter my recent rants about Oracle changing URLs and breaking stuff, I’ve actually done some changes myself. :)

From time to time change is forced on internet content producers. This might be because of platform changes, or changes in the way search engines behave. The important thing is how you handle that change.

Followers of the blog will know I recently made my website responsive. That happened in part because Google recently announced they would downgrade the rankings of sites that weren’t “mobile friendly” and “responsive”. The search ranking were only meant to affect mobile searches. What they didn’t say, but many people including myself believe, is that these rankings actually affect normal desktop-based searches as well. When this Google announcement was made, I noticed a drop in my hit rate. Once I changed the site to be responsive, the hit rate went up again somewhat. When I recently corrected about 100 of the remaining non-responsive articles, the hit rate went up again. It could be conincidence, but it certainly seems there was a bleed-over of this ranking change into the desktop side of things, which represents over 95% of my traffic. Those changes affected content, but not the URLs to the content.

Since I’m revisiting almost every article to fix broken links to Oracle docs, I thought I would take the opportunity to do some additional site maintenance, specifically in the following two areas.

  • HTTPS : About 9 months ago I got a certificate for the website to allow it to be accessed using HTTPS. This was also influenced by a Google decision that they would improve the ranking of content that was available over HTTPS, as well as HTTP. It was part of their “HTTPS Everywhere” campaign. Even though the site could handle HTTPS, I did not make it the default. As of a couple of days ago, you may have noticed all pages on oracle-base.com are how delivered over HTTPS. Unfortunately, this represents a URL change as far as the internet is concerned, so it means lots of broken links, unless you handle it properly. More about that later.
  • Removal of “.php” extension : You will notice many blogs and websites don’t display a file extension of pages, or display a generic “.htm” or “.html” extension. It’s pretty easy to do this using query rewrites in Apache or a “.htaccess” file. For a while, the site could be accessed with or without the “.php” extension. Now it is removed by default. The nice thing about this is you can change the underlying technology at any time, without having to support an inconsistent file extension. Once again, this represents a URL change.

So how do you manage this change without pissing off “the internet”?

The answer is rewrites and redirects done in real web pages, Apache config or “.htaccess” files. Essentially, you are supporting the old URL and redirecting the browser to the new URL, using a 301 redirect, so all search engines know the content has moved location and can be re-indexed in that new location. Over time, all the links from Google will go directly to the new URL.

So that means you can remove the redirects after a while right? NO! People will have links from their website to the old URLs forever. People will have bookmarks in their browsers forever. If you are going to change a URL, the old URL must be maintained forever.

Over the years I’ve made lots of structural changes to the site.

  • When my website started it was written in Active Server Pages, using a “.asp” extension.
  • After a while I switched to PHP, using a “.php” extension.
  • I used to name pages using initcap. A couple of years ago I switched to lower case and “-” separated names.
  • About 9 months ago I removed the “www.” because it seemed pointless in this day and age.
  • I’ve just swicthed to HTTPS.
  • I’ve just removed the “.php” extension.

If we look at a really old article, probably about 15 years old, we will see the history of these changes in the following URLs.

So all those structural changes over the last 15 years should have resulted in zero broken links, zero pissed off content producers who link to my content and zero uninformed search engines.

Now I’m not perfect, so if anyone finds something that is broken, I will fix it, assuming it’s not your bad typing or copy/pasting. :)

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Any structural changes, regardless of how well you do your 301 redirects, can result in lower search rankings, so it should not be done on a whim if you really care about hitting that top spot on Google. This is my hobby, so I will do whatever I want. :)

Site maintenance and how to manage changing URLs was first posted on June 11, 2015 at 10:37 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Oracle Documentation URLs : What I would like to see!

Wed, 2015-06-03 04:42

Broken-LinkAfter my recent rant about broken URLs, I thought it would be sensible to say something a little more constructive, so this is what I would do if I were asked to structure the documentation. Other opinions are valid. :)

Base URL: I’m assuming the base URL for the database documentation will never change again from it’s current value.

Version: Next comes a version. Personally I would have a separate version for every patchset, so you can easily flick between them to see the variations in the documentation, but I would also have a concept of the “latest” for each major release and the “overall latest” version of the page, so you can always link to the most up to date version of the document if you want. That means, whatever happens with new releases, you will always have the link pointing to the latest page for that feature, unless of course the feature has been removed. All previous version of the docs will remain and the URLs will still be valid. Believe it or not, sometimes people really do need to read the old documentation!

Book: Some indicator of the book the page belongs to. Oracle are already doing this with things like “DBSEG” for Database Security Guide. This must never change!

Page: A slug representing the page. It would be nice if these were human readable, like “audit_admin”, but if they want to use those crappy GUIDs, that’s fine, provided that they are cast in stone as the ID for that page, regardless of version forever. The GUID must not be unique for each version of the page, or it makes it impossible to easily switch between the same page for different database versions.

Internal anchors: Some of the internal anchors in pages have some odd behaviour now. You click a link, which takes you to the correct part of the page, but the URL bar still shows the top-level page URL. As a result, if you grab the URL for a link in your blog, you are not really pointing to the correct place on the page. So you have to find the original link you clicked and copy that, so you are really getting to the link you want. Very annoying! Internal anchors should be consistent, visible and live forever. If you want to change the anchor, you can add a new one in addition to the old one. Nothing wrong with that! Once again, the ugly GUIDs are acceptable here, but only if the GUID for an anchor never changes, so to read the same section of text in another DB version, you only have to change the version part of the URL.

As an example of all this, let’s think about the “Administering the Audit Trail” page from the 12c documentation and show how this could be handled going forward.

  • “/12.1.0.1/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm”
  • “/12.1.0.2/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm”
  • “/12.1-latest/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm” : Points to 12.1.0.2 unless a newer patchset is released for the 12.1 release.
  • “/12.2.0.1/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm”
  • “/12.2-latest/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm” : Points to 12.2.0.1 until a newer patchset is released for the 12.2 release.
  • “/latest/DBSEG/audit_admin.htm” : Points to the very latest version of the page. The latest patchset for the latest release (12.2.0.1, 13.1.0.1 etc.).

This would allow all versions of the docs to coexist. You could switch between them easily, as in most cases, the only thing to you ever need to change is the version number. A perfect example of this can be seen in the MySQL documentation, which is organised beautifully. It’s so simple the pages include version links so you can switch between version with a single click.

I appreciate there are situations where things would not run to plan, like when features are removed, or expanded to the point where pages are split into several new pages etc. These could still be catered for if a sensible approach were taken, like the original page becoming a “link page” to all the expanded content.

I would not expect Oracle to retro-fit all the old documentation, as that would be a massive task and break even more links, but something more sensible and future-proof needs to happen compared to what we have seen in recent years, which to be brutally frank has been a clusterfuck on a monumental scale!

I know Oracle are taking steps to address this issue. I just hope their solution is not more smoke and mirrors and actually starts to resemble a basic filing system!

Cheers

Tim…

Any DBAs out there thinking of Optimal Flexible Architecture (OFA)? :)

Update: Apart from being ugly, I have no real problem with the GUID. My only worry is Oracle will assign a new GUID for a page for each version (typo correction, release, DB version etc.) of the same page, thus making the whole switching between DB versions by altering one part of the URL impossible. If they do this constant change of the GUIDs, it will also result on one of two things.

  1. If the old version of the page is not kept forever, you will have yet more broken links.
  2. If pages are kept forever, that’s better, but if a new GUID is created for every small revision of the same page (within a database release/version), you will continue to point to the old uncorrected page, which will lower the quality of your links.

So the GUIDs themselves are the problem. It’s how they “could” be used that “could” be the problem. Think about the possible scenarios during the lifespan of a single section of the documentation and I think you will see how disastrous this could be.

 

Oracle Documentation URLs : What I would like to see! was first posted on June 3, 2015 at 11:42 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Databases Running in the Cloud

Mon, 2015-06-01 07:39

cloudI’ve been playing around with running databases in the cloud recently. It’s quite simplistic stuff, just to get a feel for it and investigate the possibilities of using it for some projects at work. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Overview: Oracle: MySQL: SQL Server:

It’s hard to differentiate between the cloud providers if you are just using them to provide a VM and self managing a system on it. It’s just another box provider.

In contrast the DBaaS offerings are much more interesting. I really like what Amazon are doing with RDS for Oracle/MySQL/SQL Server. I think these would work very well for *our* MySQL and SQL Server installations, which tend to be quite simple. I’m not sure I can live with some of the restrictions for RDS for Oracle, but that’s probably because I’m a snobby DBA type, who thinks he knows best. :) The DBaaS for SQL Server on Azure is also really nice. You get less control than the RDS version, but maybe that’s a good thing.

You might have noticed I’ve not written much about Oracle Cloud yet. I should be getting a trial of the platform this month, so I will be able to fill in those gaps then.

Cheers

Tim…

Databases Running in the Cloud was first posted on June 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm.
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Writing Tips

Fri, 2015-05-29 00:34

writingIn this series of posts I’ve been discussing my opinion on various aspects of writing, including blogging, writing articles and whitepapers, or just writing documentation in your company. If anything more comes to mind I’ll write it and link it from this post.

Here are the posts that made up this series.

I’ll put a link to this post from the main website and from the blog toolbar.

Hope you enjoyed the series.

Cheers

Tim…

Writing Tips was first posted on May 29, 2015 at 7:34 am.
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Oracle : Do you even internet? (broken links again)

Thu, 2015-05-28 09:25

Broken-LinkI mentioned in a recent post that Oracle are often guilty of changing URLs, which breaks all the documentation links in your site. Someone replied with this link. I knew I had a lot of clean-up to do, but I expected most of it to be old URLs, like stuff pointing to 8i, 9i etc.

I’ve just been looking and vast swathes of links have been changed in the 12.1 docs. In some cases, articles I wrote a couple of weeks ago are screwed. The reference manual is guilty of this big time!

  • Before: http://docs.oracle.com/database/121/REFRN/refrn10140.htm
  • After: http://docs.oracle.com/database/121/REFRN/GUID-70035A22-E031-4975-A51C-871AE1F2F260.htm#REFRN23823

Check this one out too.

  • Before: http://docs.oracle.com/database/121/SUTIL/release_changes.htm#BABEJJAA
  • After: http://docs.oracle.com/database/121/SUTIL/GUID-F4EE2A42-3986-4597-9088-A506173ABABF.htm#GUID-0FC02CF3-D149-4EA9-AE3E-CB869921CF40__BABEJJAA

I’m not even going to make them links, because they will probably change again next week. :(

URLs DO NOT CHANGE!

This is really basic internet stuff. If you must change them, you have to put proper redirects in place so people can still get to your content FOREVER!

I’ve written about Oracle doing this before (here and here).

I’m always trying to encourage people to get involved in the community, but how can they possibly write good content if it is riddled with broken links to the docs? Going back to repair old content is soul destroying, so don’t make them do it!

Oracle. Please, please, please learn how to internet!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Check out the MySQL documentation. It is arranged so neatly and you can flick between versions so simply. I know the documentation is much smaller, but something like this must be possible with some planning!

Update: I’ve written something a little more constructive on this subject here.

Oracle : Do you even internet? (broken links again) was first posted on May 28, 2015 at 4:25 pm.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.

Writing Tips : Copyright Theft

Wed, 2015-05-27 23:51

writingIf you’ve followed my blog you will know people try to steal my articles all the time. It happens to all bloggers, unless they are unpopular or rubbish. You don’t really have to look for it, because your readers will spot it and tell you. :)

Some things to remember about this stuff…

All material published on the internet has an implicit copyright, even if there is no explicit copyright notice on the site. This means, unless the copyright owner gives you explicit permission, republishing their content is an act of theft. When you are writing, make sure you are doing the work, not stealing other people’s work.

Google actively downgrades the search rankings of duplicate content. They know who published the content first. By stealing the content you haven’t really done yourself any favours and you’ve broken the law. Way to go!

If you find someone is stealing your content, you have options. All blogging platforms and hosting providers are duty bound to follow up on copyright theft claims. If they ignore it, they can be deemed culpable. You should:

  • Contact the owner of the blog and politely ask them to remove the content.
  • If they don’t do it in a timely manner, issue a DMCA (or geographical equivalent) takedown notice to their hosting company. Hosting companies get really twitchy about them, and tend to react really quickly.

There are movements like Copyleft and Creative Commons, where people actively encourage redistribution, but even then you have to follow the rules. It’s not a golden ticket to do anything you want with the content. The content producer still reserves some rights. Remember, unless explicitly stated differently, the default stance is the material on the internet is copyright, not copyleft!

Cheers

Tim…

 

Writing Tips : Copyright Theft was first posted on May 28, 2015 at 6:51 am.
©2012 "The ORACLE-BASE Blog". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement.