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Dream Jobs That You're Glad You Didn't Pursue (AKA: How "Enterprise" Applications Work)

The day finally came to launch the product but there was no fanfare. No big payoff. No feeling of fulfillment. It was merely a quiet launch with one beta customer. You didn’t know what to do with yourself so you sat there all day refreshing a view on the database to spy on what they were doing. Answer: not much. The things they did do, they did wrong. They found bugs. They found ways to circumvent all of your carefully constructed system rules and validations. Not because they were master hackers or brilliant technicians…but because they were just stupid. They clicked on things they shouldn’t click on. They typed things in that they shouldn’t type in. They didn’t read simple instructions. They didn’t listen in training. They were personally insulting you by being terrible at using your software.

In a field labeled “Enter the number of specimens:” they typed “five specimens.”

In a field labeled “Social Security Number:” they typed “he doesn’t have one because he is an illegal.”

Instead of using the button labeled “Create New Patient Record:” they kept changing the information in a single patient record over and over and saving it.

Then the calls came in from the sales team demanding to know why the system was broken and why you had taken so long to develop something that clearly didn’t work.

There was nothing you could do but respond to the bug reports and issue system patches that added no value other than handholding people through the software. You wondered aloud how these people had managed to survive this long without drinking bleach by accident.

via Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Dream Jobs That You’re Glad You Didn’t Pursue..

Déjà vu all over. Must read.

Making Oracle Forms Use JRE instead of Jinitiator

By default, Oracle Forms Application Server serves Oracle Forms applications using the built-in Jinitiator JVM. While JVM works swell with cutting edge browsers1 it pretty much crashes most of the other browsers2 and doesn’t work at all in Chrome. There are workarounds but the workarounds do not play well while working with multiple tabs.

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  1. IE6 []
  2. Firefox, IE7+ []

Swap Table Names Between Inserts And Selects on the Same Line using Regular Expressions

Background: For the past few days weeks, I have been working on a way to export selective data from one schema to import into another. Now the problem is that “selective” data refers to the data as stored across various tables in the custom application that I’ve been working on, with elaborate relational links between the tables ( if you’re curious, the table count on the related data was about 65) – so it was not just couple of tables that I had to export.
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Download Toad for Oracle for Free

Toad (acronym for Tool for Oracle Application Developers) is arguably one of the most popular and best known tools used by most people dabbling in Oracle databases ( or for that matter, most relational databases anyway). Toad’s reputation is so good, I’ve known few people swear by it and don’t even bother looking at other software, no matter how good.

Toad’s got more features than your average SQL/ PL/SQL developer would use,and hence got a bit of a steep learning curve. Not to mention an even steeper price tag ( the base edition starts at $957, and goes all the way upto $4709 if you include the Code Tester and DB Admin module). Given these prices, Toad is pretty heavily pirated.

However, most people are unaware that Toad also comes in a freeware edition, and until recently was severely crippled. Few days ago, there was an update to Toad freeware – and the updates are pretty good. The freeware edition is now based on 10.5 codebase, rather than previous 8.5 codebase. Now before you start jumping up and down, the restrictions on the freeware edition are still in place, but noticeably lesser than the previous update. Some of the restrictions include you being limited to only one concurrent database connection (which btw – would severely hamper me, I generally maintain 2-3 connections). Another major irritation is that the freeware edition will expire every 90 days, and you will need to uninstall, re-download and reinstall it. Ugh.

Here’s comparison chart between the commercial edition and freeware.

If you’re OK with the restrictions imposed by freeware edition or a Toad fan, then you can go ahead with getting it. If you ask me, Oracle’s SQL Developer is a perfectly acceptable alternative tool.

(In case you’re wondering my preferred tool, its Allround Automations’ PL/SQL Developer. Yes, yes, I know, the UI is butt ugly – I didn’t want to touch it at all just because of the UI – but believe me, once you get over the UI, you’ll love it – its fantastically fast, consumes very little memory and got boat load of features for the price its available at. I’ll probably do a review of the tool soon.)

Do let me know if you have a preferred /alternative tool that I could look at.

Download Links:

1. Toad Freeware edition

2. Oracle SQL Developer

3. Allround Automations PL/SQL Developer

Brush up your PL/SQL knowledge with PL/SQL Challenge

If you’re looking to brush up on your PL/SQL knowledge, PL/SQL challenge is pretty nice. It’s a daily challenge quiz, where you are presented with  multiple choice or true/false questions. It’s an initiative by Steven Feuerstein , who’s pretty well known. I just joined in, first few questions were not too tough 🙂 Join in, there’s some great prizes to be won .

If you know of any more such websites, do drop in a comment and let me know.

(PS: If you’re wondering what’s with the weird URL structure, well its built on Oracle Apex. Long, clumsy URLs are a pain, and Apex does nothing to banish them).

Take a screenshot of your desktop and upload to ImageShack imgur easily

I wanted a simple tool to upload to Imageshack with minimum fuss and absolutely no config settings, couldn’t find any such so I built one myself.  Just extract all the files to a folder, run the executable, and if you want to upload something to  Imageshack, hit PrintScreen and double click the icon on the system tray, it’ll automatically upload to ImageShack imgur, and once upload is done, will give you a notification and copy the ImageShack imgur URL to the clipboard.

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Fixing Internet Explorer Crash on Launching Oracle Forms Application with jInitiator

I’ve been facing this really annoying problem for quite some time now. My job revolves around developing apps using Oracle Forms Builder. Oracle Forms applications, uses Java applets to run inside any browser, on most platforms. Here’s the kink – Oracle Forms applications by default uses Oracle’s jInitiator which is a JVM made by Oracle and allows a web enabled Oracle Forms client application to be run inside a web browser.

As much as I hate using Internet Explorer – I have to depend on it as the my app depends on other components which are designed on run on Internet Explorer only 😐 

Till now I’ve been using Mozilla Firefox, but now the situation demands that I needed to use Internet Explorer. And when I launched Internet Explorer – Ka boom! Internet Explorer crashes. Did few things, such as disabling all addons, getting rid of Sun’s JVM et al, but made no difference.

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Finally, I came across a solution(or rather a workaround) – replace the jvm.dll in jinitiator directory with that present in Sun’s JRE 1.6. If you don’t want to install the whole bundle – just click here(jvm.dll, 2.2 MB), I’ve uploaded just the jvm.dll file, rename the original jvm.dll (present in jinitiator/bin/hotspot directory) to, say jvm.dll.old, and replace it with the one given in the above link. Restart the browser, IE shouldn’t crash anymore.

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