Friday, January 16, 2009

Ok, I feel old...

My kids couldn't/can't do it to me (make me feel old).

Physical exertion doesn't do it to me.

Nothing really did that - until I read this.  Not the blog entry - but the comments that said things like:

That being said, that thing is NEAT. I have no idea what it is though. Something to do with old punch card computers?

Nice piece of computer history, though I have no clue what it is. =P

I had an IBM flowcharting template once (more than once), and not as a hand me down.  I had the little paper pouch it went into as well.  Ouch.

Friday, January 09, 2009

If this Oracle gig doesn't work out...

Maybe I can become a photographer :)  One of my pictures from a recent trip to Sydney Australia was chosen for inclusion in a travel guide

I don't think that picture is one of my "best", but it was of historic building they wanted to include in the guide.  I wish they would have picked a better shot - I like this one myself:


And this one would have been pretty cool - if I had centered it just a little more to the left:

Queen Victoria Shopping Mall - very fancy (3)

but it was nice to be chosen...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Happy New Year...

Happy New Year to everyone...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dr. Dobb's Journal...

Wow, a bit of my past is going away...  Funny enough - I referred to that magazine just today in a talk. 

Without Dr. Dobb's Journal - there might not be an site.

Why not? What is the link?  Dr. Dobb's is just a programmers journal after all (it and the C Users Journal were two subscriptions that changed my life, I learned a lot from them both).  Well, the link is that without Dr. Dobb's I might not have learned Oracle - or learned it much later than I did - or learned it differently, less completely.

I wrote about Dr. Dobb's in the foreword to a book once and I'll reproduce it here:

In 1987 I was just graduating from college and starting my career as a software developer. I started as a PL/I programmer on IBM mainframes using two databases – SQL/DS on VM/CMS and DB2 on MVS. I became familiar with SQL, but was limited as to what I could do on these production environments.

One day while reading a magazine, Dr. Dobbs Journal, I noticed an advertisement for a relational database that ran on DOS – simple PC’s. It was a product named “Oracle”. I clipped out the coupon – filled it in and ordered this relational database for $99. About 2 weeks later – a dozen or so 5-1/4” floppy disks showed up in my mailbox and I had Oracle version 5.1.5c and all of the development tools I needed to start playing, learning and exploring with. I was hooked.

That was then, this is now – and now, you have the ability to do in 10 minutes, for free what took me weeks and $99 ($166 in 2006 dollars!) in 1987 accomplish. With the introduction of Oracle Database Express Edition – you can download, develop, deploy and distribute your applications for free.


  • Dr. Dobb's Journal
  • C Users Journal
  • Borland's Turbo Pascal and Turbo C
  • Oracle version 5.1.5c

Things that changed everything for me...

Slowly disappearing - well, except for Oracle of course - and C.  I haven't read Dr. Dobb's in a while, I still write a bit of C here and there, I definitely use Oracle everyday.

This should be fun to watch...

On reddit - you can post a 'question' to the community.  Someone just posted "What is the worse design decision that you have made ?"  My favorite comment on that thread so far is this one:


It started with an thought not unlike the following:

"Nah, flat-file should be fine."

It ended in tears. And a double digit load average.

Been there, seen that happen.  My worst design decision I personally made was when I "invented" (see below for why I say "invented") the "funky data model" - better known as an EAV (entity-attribute-value).  You know, the extensible model where all you need is four tables:

  • objects
  • attributes
  • object_attributes (objects is 1:M with object_attributes)
  • links (links objects to objects, an association table)

Man, I could store *anything* in there.  And it was very secure - because trying to retrieve anything was really hard.  Not only really hard, but really slow.

But the prototype/demo was awesome.  It never worked in real life though.

I used the term "invent" above.  Of course I didn't "invent" the EAV - it has existed as a concept for a long long time.  But, I see it get re-invented in relational database applications over and over and over again.  And every developer thinks for a short period of time "hey, this is so cool - I wonder why no one else has thought of this - they must not have thought of it or everyone would be doing it - I'll be famous".

And then they learn why not everyone is doing it :)

Friday, January 02, 2009

All about joins...

I've pointed to an excellent youtube database posting by Stephane Faroult in the past - about worst practices in the entry "The word pathetic never sounded so good..."

He has published another short video (six minutes) where he stuck me between Descartes and Kipling during the story telling.  As he wrote me, I could have been in worse company!

As before, I enjoy his style of delivery. And to see my dance floor analogy animated was sort of amusing for me.


Happy New Year all!