my recent reads..

2007 In Review

Picking up the idea to present "my blog-year in review", by taking just the first complete sentence each month's post (remembering not to make this the first post for Jan;-)

January Apache Axis2 is the core engine for Web services.
February I've been working a bit with Oracle's OCCI (the C++ API for Oracle Database), and stateless connection pools in particular.
March Recently wanted to track down the details of the process that had a specific port open.
April "Where's the alert log?" .. usually the first thing you want to know when looking at a new database.
May Say you have a connection to a remote Oracle Database server and want to get the ORACLE_HOME setting.
June A little while ago I got to dust off my C++ skills for a project that was to use Oracle Database (via OCCI) and also Websphere MQ
July This week its my pleasure to host Log Buffer #54, the Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs.
August I've just spent the past few days at Oracle OpenWorld Asia Pacific in Shanghai.
September I've blogged previously about playing with the reCAPTCHA service in Perl.
October I had the privilege of listening to Kevin Walsh's "30/30" presentation last week.
November Well, today is my first as a member of the Oracle Alumni
December Laurent Schneider just asked what LinkedIn is good for?.

Hmm, very geek. What's not listed is the post that generated the swiftest, strongest reaction: Ballmer Peak and the Programmers' Paradox, which probably goes to show that frat humour is the surest way to internet fame;-)

During the year I also started blogging quick reviews of all the books I read over at PrataLife. So as a variation on the meme, here's my Book-Year In Review:


July
The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar (audiobook)
August The Ambler Warning
September A Different Point of View (audiobook)
October The Warden (audiobook)
November Code Generation In Action
December Quarter Share (audiobook)

The number of audiobooks is a bit misleading, as I'm sure I actually read at least as many on paper (although Neal Stephenson is slowing me down a bit at the moment!). And ye gads, only one tech book! But this is to be expected: with fiction its easy to read and do a quick blog entry, whereas technical non-fiction is generally not suited to blogging an instantaneous reaction. They'll tend to stay on my desk/shelf for a probationary period;-)
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Backup your WebCenter Wiki. Yikes!

Previously I wrote about installing Oracle WebCenter Wiki, and also had my 2c worth.

One of the surprises is that it uses file storage by default. Database storage seems to be a work-in-progress (Toplink, hibernate and HSQLDB are all involved somehow), but not a documented option at this point.

Now if you are going to run WebCenter Wiki for real, that means as a dilligent system admin you want to be pretty sure you really understand how the file storage is working so you can have good backup and recovery procedures in place.

The documentation on Backing Up and Restoring Wiki Content sounds straight-forward. Just make a backup of the OC4J_HOME/applications/application_name/owc_wiki/pages folder.

But BEWARE!

Gotcha #1: Don't Forget Your Toothbrush!
A little poking around, and it is clear that this is NOT all you need to backup. I've noted content modifications in at least the following locations also:

OC4J_HOME/applications/application_name/owc_wiki/attachments [any uploaded attachments]
OC4J_HOME/applications/application_name/owc_wiki/templates [added/changed page templates]
The jzwiki backup/restore instructions also tell you to backup WEB-INF/classes/yawikiDB.script (WebCenter wiki is based on jzwiki)

So to be sure you haven't left anything behind, I'd suggest you probably want to be backing up the entire OC4J_HOME/applications/application_name/owc_wiki directory structure no matter what the doc says, and practice some restores!

Gotcha #2: Beware of EAR Re-deployments!
If you've worked with OracleAS/OC4J deployment before, and also noticed that the wiki content is stored in the application directory structure, I hope it rang an alarm!

Yes, if you touch or replace the owc_wiki.ear, then say goodbye to your wiki content and pray your backup is good and not too old! OC4J will redeploy the application and give you a nice fresh install, deleting all your wiki content and customisations;-)

I have always had a sneaking suspicion that there can be other circumstances in which OracleAS/OC4J may choose to redeploy an EAR. I can't really substantiate this, but I have had situations in production where EARs are redeployed for no immediately apparent reason.

This is of course very hairy for any non-trivial production deployment. The obvious first step would be to configure wiki content storage to some other location. This isn't documented however, and I'm not sure if its even possible with the product as it is.

So for now, it seems just backup or rsync deep and often, and enjoy the view as you walk the edge of the abyss;-)

WebCenter Wiki Future?
So far, there's no real news on what is planned for WebCenter Wiki in 11g. If you've read my posts, it will come as no surprise that my view is the 10g wiki is far from production-ready.

Which makes the question of what is in store for 11g so interesting. Maybe a significant revamp of the 10g (jzwiki) wiki? Maybe an internally developed replacement based on Content DB or UCM?

Or maybe something completely different? A collegue pointed me to Jive Clearspace today .. "discussions, blogs, files, instant messaging, and wiki documents under one unified umbrella" .. and since Oracle already have Jive Forums integrated in WebCenter it raises interesting possibilities!
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Talking Heads

For some reason, there's a common fixation on making computers take on a character and actually talk to us. Like another human. Or dog, seal or animated sponge....

Why? Can't think of any deeper reason than its just a bit of fun.

The state of the art is not quite Toy Story, but its certainly come a long way. I remember playing with (now defunct?) JavaHead a few years back: impressive demo, but it was hard work to get good results with your own images. You needed to be a techie/animator/audio engineer.

I've just been playing with PQ Talking Photo, and it's great to see not only a pretty good, synchronised animation but also a great, anyone-can-do-it UI. My little test is below, hopefully earning me a promo copy by blogging about it. Shameless!


blogmyspacedvd to ipod video convertertalkingphoto, dvd to psp convertertalkingphoto, dvd to zunetalking photo album


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Ringing in the New Year with a timely reminder from xkcd

I've refrained from reposting xkcd for a while, but this is just too good! So where did you leave your key-ring last night, huh?


Happy New Year!
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