Ripping Yarns – Music, Samba, Ubuntu and Various Discworld Characters

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a blog about Oracle stuff. It’s just that, well, Larry’s been busy this week upsetting large chunks of the Open Source Community – MySQL; OpenSolaris; even James Gosling has had T-shirts printed up urging Oracle to “Let Java Go”. Suffice to say that, given all of this furore, I’ve concluded that I could do with improving my Open Source Karma a bit.
Fortunately, I’ve been busy this week, loading all of my newly inherited music collection onto by Ubuntu Server to enable playback from any other machine on the network. What follows is an account of my adventures.
It was a simple plan – rip all of the CDs to an existing Samba Share on the server and then find software that can read the format and allow playback on both Windows and Linux. Continue reading

Setting the Windows Path Variable for Cygwin…when you’re not allowed to

Several years ago, whilst working in an organisation that thought that organising functions into silos was an outstanding idea, I needed to have a UTL_FILE_DIR added to the init.ora ( this was back on Oracle 8i, since you ask).
Not having sufficient access to be able to implement this change myself I had to request it from the DBA group….based in Madrid.
The request was to enable us to write to a directory on the same server as the Database. Not being involved in the physical configuration of the database, I left it to the DBAs to pick which directory to use.
This change, which would’ve taken me 2 minutes, disappeared into the system. The DBAs had to refer it to the Linux Admins( Poland), who had to then discuss the matter with the Storage Team (Switzerland).
End result : six weeks later I get an automated mail saying that the call has been resolved…and I end up with a unix environment variable called $UTL_FILE_DIR. Oh, how we laughed. Continue reading

Windows Bashing…with Cygwin

I was in Wales last week, land of my girlfriend ( yes, I have got one, try not to look so shocked).
Wales, land of story and legend….where the rain goes for it’s summer holidays.

Stepping gingerly between the puddles in picturesque ( albeit, soggy) Laugharne, we spent an instructive ( and mainly dry) hour or so at the boathouse once occupied by Dylan Thomas. In the course of this cultural interlude, I learned that the Great Man’s last words were “ I’ve had 18 straight whiskys. I think that might be the record.”

Hmmm, I wonder if he’d been trying to write a Windows batch script ?

Whatever the merits of Windows in terms of it’s ubiquity, one undeniable fact is that the facilities provided for batch scripting on the command line are stone-age compared to those in Unix.
This is something I’ve often reflected on, usually when confronted with a problem that requires a bit more than a simple for loop.

Help is at hand however, in the form of Cygwin – a toolset which enables you to more-or-less run a bash shell on Windows. Sounds good to me. Let’s have a look…. Continue reading

Getting the Quiz Machine to Pay Out – talking to your database from a shell script

I was in the pub the other day with my mate Simon. It’s surprising just how many of my posts have their genesis in such a setting. For the benefit of any prospective employers ( and my Mum), I put this down to the company and the mental stimulation of working out just exactly how you collect your winnings from the Quiz Machine.
For anyone who does not have first-hand experience of English Pub Quiz machines, the trick is either to a) get the barman to pay you from the till or b) have about your person a rather large hammer.

Fortunately, the hammer wasn’t required on this particular occasion, which is just as well as neither of us had brought one ( it’s not really that kind of pub). The reason for our lack of success eventually became apparent. After a conversational odyssey through the Bedfordshire countryside (the vicissitudes of Luton Town) via Table Mountain (England’s prospects for the World Cup), Simon – definitely the brains of the operation in Quiz Machine terms – confessed to wrestling with one of those perennial problems that are an occupational hazard of the Database Specialist’s art.

Yes, as well as being a bit of a whizz on the Science and Nature stuff, Simon is a long-time Teradata expert. Continue reading