Thursday, December 27, 2007

Film is dead, long live film

Have you ever witnessed a piece of technology so grand that you knew it would change the world eventually? When digital cameras hit the mass market, I knew your traditional 35mm camera was dead. Sure, the quality of film photography was better in the beginning, and I still think film takes better pictures. But for everyday snapshots, you just can't beat that little digital camera.

During Christmas, my Mother-in-Law mentioned that she couldn't find 35mm film at the grocery store anymore. I thought nah, people buy film for the Holidays, they're just out. So on our shopping adventures yesterday, I stopped in the photography section of my local Wal-Mart to pick her up some film. They had a couple rolls of Advantix film and a four pack of 800 speed 35mm and that was it. Lots of throw-away cameras, but no film. Three do-it-yourself kiosks for downloading your pictures, but no film.

Huh, maybe the mega-grocery store would have some. Nope, same deal. Lots of disposable cameras, a couple rolls of Advantix, and a few four-packs of 800 speed 35mm. Not even an empty peg where the normal speed film would go.

Now we were on a mission to find either 200 or 400 speed film. Our next stop took us to our local mega-drug store and sure enough they had film. Not a wide selection, mind you, but they had enough to choose.

So what's the significance? Certainly film's not going away. But in the very near future, I'm expecting that the only place you'll be able to pickup film is at a camera shop. I think everything film related becomes a botique item and may actually revive many camera shops that have been wondering about how to survive in a digital world. In the mean time, I wonder if there is a market for Cannon AE-1's on ebay....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Picking a WYSIWYG Editor for Drupal

I've been doing a lot of research lately into setting up Drupal as a Content Management System. One of Drupal's shortcomings (by design) is the current production version doesn't have a WYSIWYG editor. The lack of a visual editor is not a big deal since there are several editors you can just plug-in (more or less) as a module.

The first editor I tried was TinyMCE by Moxicode. I originally got this editor setup in short time with help from Howard Rogers. It was easy to install and did most of what I wanted. However, as I got a little more sophisticated, I started using grids and images more and more. Most of the time my entries came out OK, but every now and then my theme was all messed up because of a misplaced HTML tag. Not a major hassle for me, but if I was going to open my website up to non-technical users, I couldn't risk them unintentionally screwing it up.

So I searched a little more and came up with FCKEditor. It's a little more difficult to install than TinyMCE as you have to go in and modify a PHP file, but the instructions are clear and simple. It also comes with everything you need out of the box and there is little extra configuration that you have to do. However, with that ease of use comes a lack of granularity. So it's a trade-off. Best of all, the grids and images work great with my chosen theme.

For now, I'm sticking with FCKEditor.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Upgrading to R12

Upgrading Oracle Applications is never an easy process. I like to test my upgrades both for completeness as well as performance so I can give my users a semi-accurate picture of how long things will take.

I'm doing a direct upgrade from 11.5.9.CU2 to R12 (probably CU3). I got to the point where the db objects are upgraded and received the following message:
There are now 126521 jobs remaining (current phase=A3):
6 running, 951 ready to run and 125564 waiting
OK, then. When I upgraded from 11.5.3 to 11.5.9, the object upgrade portion took about 26 hours, but I was on a slower box (Sun 2x900 with 8G RAM) and Oracle Now I'm on a Sun 4x1200 with 16G of RAM and Oracle This is only my first attempt at upgrading and I'll look at the AWR stats after to see where my bottlenecks were during the upgrade.

Any guesses on how long this upgrade run will take?

Monday, December 10, 2007

A properly constructed voicemail, Part I

"Hi, this is Fred, the DB is down. Call me.", is not an appropriate message.

First of all, Fred who? Fred in accounting or Fred in customer service. It makes a difference to me.

Which DB is down? OK, so you don't know the exact database, tell me the application you are using.

Oh, and Fred, leave me a number where I can get back to you. It's 2:00 in the morning and I'm nowhere near a computer to lookup your number.

A properly constructed message would have been:
"Hi, this is Fred in accounting. I'm having a problem logging into Oracle Financials and am getting a 404 error message. Please call me at extension 1234."