Oracle Observations

December 7, 2013

Too early for the big reveal!

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 12:28 am


UKOUG Tech 13, a review (by a non attendee)

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 12:25 am

I hadn’t expected to attend this years conference having given up my membership earlier this year, however due to unforeseen circumstances I was free on Tuesday 3rd December and resolved to pop up and catch up with friends and acquaintances.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the journey by road, with convenient parking close to both the convention center and my chosen hotel (The Juries Inn).

In lew of finding anyone I already knew, I adopted the first group of delegates I found that were seeking out post educational activities.

It became quickly apparent that there didn’t seem to be anything but upmarket/trendy drinking establishments within easy reach of the conference center and there were few enough of those.

It is with some fondness that I heard tales of the Tap and Spile mentioned and expressions of disappointment at the lack of a similar facility conveniently located close to the convention center.

After sampling both the local hostilities, I imposed myself on another unsuspecting group and moved on to a rather fine Indian restaurant. (‎)

I find it both strange and comforting that having split the bill ten ways an appropriate sum of £42 was required to satisfy the proprietor and providence.

In conclusion, the venue seems to be well supported with practical amenities, but slightly lacking in social ones. Possibly some further research is required of the area slightly father out, however I suspect, should the conference return to this venue, it might prove worthwhile making another appearance, however brief.

October 25, 2013

Networking with Piet and Martin

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 11:26 pm

Spent a very pleasurable evening a couple of nights ago with a couple of Oracle aces.

(Martin Widlake – yet another oracle blog and Piet De Visser – Simple Oracle DBA @ The farm

Much of the time was spent discussing how our careers were evolving and the reasons for that.

I have come late in my life to the skill of networking.

I have tended to concentrate always on my harder technical skills, essentially putting most effort into developing my strengths rather than trying to ameliorate my weaknesses.

However, several years ago, having been in a secure job for several years supporting a legacy application, it became apparent that my job was not as secure as I believed.

It was at that point I started thinking strategically and laterally with regards my career.

My problems included: outdated technical skills, not being a spring chicken in the IT industry, lack of visibility at my current employer and a prejudice against the skill set that I had with my customer. (I might edit this post later to add more problems!)

The lack of visibility at my employer was the result of coming in under TUPE regulations and being based at a site that was convenient for me and my customer, but where there were almost no other employees with a skill set similar to mine. (It was primarily a marketing and training hub.)

I had recently read about exogenous growth theory beloved by Gordon Brown and I established a strategy!

I stopped spending money as far as I could.
I started studying for an OCP qualification.
I bought as expensive new suit.
I joined the UKOUG and tried to attend as many SIGs as possible.
I started networking, primarily by attending university alumni events but also at UKOUG events.
I started this blog.

Of the above, I suspect that it was the OCP certification that has had most value in the initial relaunch of my career. Although I believe that after I was made redundant,  the fact that I spent part of my own redundancy money to pay for the required training to achieve this qualification was as valuable as the qualification itself.

Networking to my knowledge, was the least value and yet I have continued to pursue this even after securing myself a new role.

Ultimately, while networking hasn’t to my knowledge advanced my career, it has proved extremely pleasurable. I have developed new friendships, gained personal insight and met people with completely different experiences to myself. (Say for example, an ex-lifemodel and someone who had seen Oswald Moseley at Birmingham town hall.)

So, this is a post encouraging you to network in spite of the fact that it has to my knowledge not achieved for me the goals that I set for myself when I started.

Ultimately I’ve achieved other goals and enjoyed them vastly along the way.

My time spent with Piet and Martin constitute a small but significant part of that pleasure!

December 10, 2012

ukoug conference report: Dave Ensor

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 9:53 pm

I only became aware of Mr Ensor when I read his chapter in the book: Oracle insights – tales of the Oak table.(


The chapter lists and explains the significance of the major new features in each release of Oracle.

I was at the time working on the support of two oracle based applications, which at the time presented me with baffling architectural eccentricities.

One was a document management system where the client application didn’t access the database directly, but rather made calls to an API implemented on the middle tier that had several daemon processes that would execute the required SQL on your behalf. I suspected that the application had been designed in that manner to better facilitate working with multiple database back ends.

The other held large chunks of PL/SQL in Long columns in the database. It then included an OCI*C daemon process that was passed messages via a DBMS_PIPE would then extract the appropriate PL/SQL code, perform parameter substitution, execute the PL/SQL and return the results via a table. This was again baffling to me, why not use stored procedures?

Both of these architectural mysteries were resolved by Dave Ensors chapter. While both applications ran on Oracle8i, it was apparent that their architecture was much older.

In Oracle 5, due to memory address limitations it was only possible to have 40 concurrent contentions to the database. Thus to support more users, the user SQL had to be multiplexed across a limited number of connections.

Similarly in Oracle 6 PL/SQL was introduced, but without a standard way of storing PL/SQL in the database. (Procedures and functions wouldn’t come till Oracle 7.)

Thus Mr Ensor explained to me the architecture of the applications I was supporting.

Dave Ensor attended last years Oak table Sunday at the UKOUG conference and participated in a panel discussion there. He also visited All bar One afterwords, but only briefly, and I missed my opportunity to thank him for the insight he had given me.

This year he didn’t attend either the conference or the Pre-conference OAK table Sunday event.

However he did visit All bar One and I had my opportunity to thank him for his contribution to TFTOT.

From his recollection, I was the first person to ever thank him for that specific piece of work, he had been asked to produce 20 pages, produced 120 and was then negotiated down to 70ish.

I suppose writing about older versions of Oracle isn’t necessarily sexy and on that basis this commensurate piece of work hasn’t received due recognition however if you support an application with a long history, you may do well by getting hold of a copy of this book and reading his chapter!

NB. the book also includes other excellent contributions and chapters!

November 18, 2012

11g forms error

Filed under: 11g,Oracle forms — bigdaveroberts @ 1:21 pm

After migrating to 11g we encountered the following error in 2 of our forms after migration to 11g:

Error 801 at line 0, line 0
internal error [phd_get_defn:DI_U_NAM_RHS]
Error 908 at line 0, column 0
The stored format of <schema name>.<Procedure name> is not supported by this release.

I believe that the issue related to compiling in form code that called database packages that had dependencies in other databases.

But that isn’t important, there was one hit on the OTN forum that correctly pointed me at the correct Metalink article and patch:

So the problem is described in article 1058803.1 and resolved by 7708340.

So ultimately the problem doesn’t seem to require a blog post.

There was however one anomaly  the patch is a database patch and the read-me implied that the patch needed to be applied to the Weblogic server also the patch was relatively speaking large.

I have to admit I was highly dubious about applying a database patch to the middle tier so I went ahead and applied the patch to my development PC, and to my great surprise, it worked.

It also appears that technically you don’t need to apply it to the middle tier, it simply needs to be applied to the PC on which the forms are compiled, although obviously it would be good practice to keep the development PCs and server environments in sync with the live environment.
So sometimes, however unlikely it sounds, Oracle instructions are sometimes accurate straight out of the tin!

November 17, 2012

Oracle forms 11g, OLE2, Windows 2008 R2 64bit issue. (Possibly.)

Filed under: 11g,OLE,Oracle forms,Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 10:12 pm

For clarity, its definitely a forms issue and It’s definitely an OLE2 issue.

But the rest is speculative.

The application was developed to produce reports as Excel spreadsheets using OLE2 to to populate the cells with data.

This was originally developed under Forms 6i and was successfully migrated to Forms 10g using the middle tier to generate the spreadsheets and then pass it back to the user using the same mechanism (WEB.SHOW_DOCUMENT) as used to pass oracle reports back.

Upon migration to Forms 11g this implementation still worked using 32bit windows server 2003 for the middle tier, but when we moved to 64bit Windows Server 2008 R2 the process failed.

We could see Excel being invoked, but it ran only briefly and then terminated without generating a spreadsheet or logging any form of error that we could find.

I tested using my development environment under windows 7 64 bit and the functionality worked fine.

So, it was back to Sysinternals process monitor ( to try and work out the difference in behavior.

My expectation was that it would be some obscure registry setting that would be the cause, in fact the behavior diverged after an attempt to read the following directory:


Strangely this directory was also missing on my windows 7 PC but it was present on windows server 2003.

I copied the desktop directory and its contents from the windows 2003 server to the windows 2008 server and the problem disappeared.

I then deleted the contents of the desktop directory and the Excel spreadsheet was still successfully generated.

So in conclusion, I guess, that when Oracle implemented it’s forms OLE2 interface, they based it on configuration information that is no longer present on 64 bit Windows Server 2008 R2.

However I am uncertain as to when that directory disappeared.

There is also the issue that on my development machine the problem didn’t manifest itself, indicating that the problem may be more complex than this initial investigation has exposed.

As a last observation, the closest I’ve come to an official document that hints at being related on Metalink is:


Although there is no explicit reference to OLE2 and the bug appears unresolved.

Not quite the conclusive conclusion that I like, but interesting enough for a blog post.


October 9, 2012

Possibly useful information for attendees of UKOUG TEBS 2012. (And Oracle Beer!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 4:14 pm

Venue Plans.

When I first attended UKOUG, I did struggle to find my way to some of the halls, especially with regard the fact that some routes have been closed off.

So if this is the first time you are attending you might want to look at the new floor plans on the ICC website located here:



If you are going to park on the street at any time during the conference, note that new zones are now in operation since last year.

The map of the new zones is here:

But in short, some of the roads closest to the ICC now require a ticket on all days (including Sundays) between the hours of 8am to 7:30pm.


While All Bar One and Pitcher and piano in Brindley place ( provide convenient locations for acquiring beer may I suggest that the more adventurous try:


Which actually serves:


Baas? Beer as a service?

UKOUG TEBS conference 2012 agenda (Wednesday).

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 4:10 pm

09:00 – 09:45 David Peake – Oracle Co-presenter(s): Anthony Rayner – Oracle

Application Express Roundtable

10:00 – 10:45 Simon Haslam, Oracle ACE Director – Veriton Limited

Application Server & Middleware Round Table

11:15 – 12:00 Tony Hasler – Anvil Computer Services

The MODEL clause explained

12:10 – 13:10 Joze Senegacnik, Oracle ACE Director – DbProf d.o.o.

PGA Memory Management Revisited

13:55 – 14:55 Maria Colgan – Oracle

Exadata and the Oracle Optimizer: The Untold Story

15:15 – 16:00 Tanel Poder, Oracle ACE Director – Enkitec

Troubleshooting the Most Complex Performance Issues I’ve seen

UKOUG TEBS conference 2012 agenda (Tuesday).

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 3:18 pm

 09:00 – 09:45 Andrew Clarke – Logica

Development Tools Roundtable

On the other hand this session sounds mischievous and potentially entertaining:

09:00 – 09:45 Jonathan Lewis, Oracle ACE Director – JL Computer Consultancy

Are You Sure You Need Exadata?

09:55 – 10:55 Maria Colgan – Oracle

Oracle Optimizer: Harnessing The Power Of Optimizer Hints

11:15 – 12:00 Graham Wood – Oracle

A Deep Dive Into the SQL Monitor Report

12:10 – 13:10 Kerry Osborne, Oracle ACE Director – Enkitec

Controlling Execution Plans (Without Touching the Code)

13:55 – 14:40 Tom Kyte – Oracle

5 SQL and PL/SQL Things in the Latest Generation of Database Technology

15:10 – 15:55 Peter Finnigan –

Oracle Security Round Table

16:20 – 17:05 Alex De Vergori – Betfair

Extreme Online Transaction Processing Using Oracle PL/SQL

17:15 – 18:00 Tom Kyte – Oracle

What’s New in Oracle Database Application Development

October 3, 2012

UKOUG TEBS conference 2012 agenda.

Filed under: Uncategorized — bigdaveroberts @ 3:58 pm

With the arrival of the online agenda, comes the difficult task of planning my conference.

This year is more difficult than most as I’m changing jobs between now and the conference, this means that I may have new imperatives thrust upon me in the next few weeks that might change my priorities.

There are also suggestions on the internet that sessions hinting at latest oracle technologies might be referring to Oracle version 12c! Obviously if that is true that might again change my priorities.

Last year the OAK table Sunday sessions mostly duplicated other sessions, allowing flexibility with 2 bites of the cherry at some of the best sessions.

Finally in the past, I have had the strong expectation that the most popular sessions will also be repeated at SIGs meetings so that I don’t need to attend them at the UKOUG conference. In fact I suspect that many people use SIGs as practice runs for the conference, a practice that seems to be unfortunately in decline.

So to my goals and methods.

I have been a developer and a DBA, in general I have a bias towards DBA technology sessions as I tend to believe that they are beneficial to both disciplines.

I do have a bias towards roundtables, obviously there are no roundtable slides to download and if you don’t attend then you will gain zero benefit from them. However in some areas Round tables often seem to replicate themselves from previous years. For example I wouldn’t feel the need to attend the security roundtable every year. stuff changes but not so often to make attending the session mandatory every year.

So, to Monday:

With the expectation that the session will have 12c content I plan to attend:10:30-11:!5 Tom Kyte – Oracle

KEYNOTE: Oracle’s Latest Generation of Database Technology

If I suspect that there will be little 12c content I might defect to:

10:30 – 11:15 Duncan Mills – Oracle

KEYNOTE: The Future of Development for Oracle Fusion—From Desktop to Mobile to Cloud

11:50 – 12:35 Steve Millidge – C2B2 Consulting

Real Life WebLogic Performance Tuning: Tales and Techniques from the Field

I have personally experienced the obscure methods required to tune Weblogic on Windows and hope that there will be good specific information of use in this session.

Alternatively, I would also love to attend:

11:50 – 12:35 Jonathan Lewis, Oracle ACE Director – JL Computer Consultancy

Creating Test Cases

I think that it is also worth noting that I have already attended this session during the Northern technology day and found it worthwhile:

11:50 – 12:35 Peter Homes – Interoute Application Management

Oracle 10g & 11g Automatic SGA/Memory Management Cautionary tales.

13:00 – 13:45 Tim Hall, Oracle ACE Director –

PL/SQL : Stop Making The Same Performance Mistakes

However in case of cancellation it would be:

12:45 – 13:45 Carl Dudley, Oracle ACE Director – University of Wolverhampton

SQL Tips, Techniques and Traps to Avoid

Based largely on the excellent information on the AMIS website:

14:40 – 15:25 Luc Bors – AMIS Services

Survival of the Fittest: How to Evolve Your Oracle Forms to the 21st Century

15:40 – 17:30 Jonathan Lewis, Oracle ACE Director – JL Computer Consultancy

B-Tree Indexes

Although I’ll wonder if I really should have been at:

15:50 – 16:35 Carlos Sierra – Oracle

How to Create in 5 Minutes a SQL Tuning Test Case Using SQLTXPLAIN


16:45 – 17:30 John King, Oracle ACE – King Training Resources

What’s Old is New Again: Oracle Forms 11gR2 New Features

17:40 – 18:40

Sport not being my thing, I’ll be looking to fill this time with a trip to:

The Post Office Vaults | Birmingham’s Premier Foreign Bottled Beer

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