Thursday, October 26, 2006

Think Different

I've been a Mac fan since the mid-80s. I was the proud owner of a Mac IIsi and then a PowerMac 7100. Both machines got me through high school & college, where there were Macs-a-plenty. However, once I joined Oracle, I was forced back into the world of Windows.

Given that Oracle gave us Windows laptops, that's what I used for the better part of my 10 years there. The closest I came to getting a Mac was a hand-me-down old beater PowerBook G4 667Mhz that I inherited for a while. It worked, but it was definitely not in a rush to do anything. When the screen saver kicked in, the fan immediately spun into high gear.

Now that I no longer work for Oracle, I no longer get "free" laptops. I did initially buy a Dell when I left Oracle instead of the Powerbook that I really wanted, as I needed to run Oracle eBusiness Suite & TOAD.

Well, here I am almost a year later, the proud new owner of a MacBook Pro. And I couldn't be happier. Well, I could, if I got a free upgrade to the new Core 2 Duo MacBooks, which of course, came out just a few months after I bought mine...

In any case, it is so refreshing to use Mac OS X. From the second I booted up the machine to now, I've been impressed time and time again by its pure elegance. The best way that I can describe OS X is that it is "simply a completed thought." A group of engineers at Apple actually sat down and thought through what people will actually do with their machines - not what they may possibly want to do - and THEN designed their software with that in mind.

Take this example: We bought a video camera after our daughter was born. Naturally, we took a bunch of video of her with the thought being that I could make a DVD & send it off to our families in California, Connecticut & Florida (yes, they could barely live further apart and still be in the US).

So I plugged the camera into my PC, and was immediately prompted with the Auto-Detect Wizard which claimed to recognize my camera, but then at some point, asked for the drivers, which I thought I had on the CD, but after it rebooted, it complained they were out of date, so I had to go to the camera's web site, download new USB drivers, install them, reboot, try to get the camera to be recognized by Windows, sent an e-mail to the camera's manufacturer explaining my plight, uninstalled all of their software, re-installed it, tried again and was able to get grainy 2-bit quality video, which clearly was not what I expected, more e-mails to and from support, another de-install and re-install, and then for the heck of it, I installed the software on my other PC, rebooted, updated, rebooted, and alas - after 2 days, 2 machines and a flurry of e-mails back and forth from support - the video camera worked with my PC!

After getting the Mac, I plugged the camera in, stated iMovie, and it just worked.

Apple designed their OS to make some assumptions for us. For example, if Mac OS X notices a video camera plugged in, it makes the bold assumption that I want to use that camera to transfer video to my Mac. Thus, it quietly does what it needs to do - downloads, installs, updates, whatever - all quietly in the background. I don't get a chance to tell it otherwise, and frankly I don't care, as the assumption that Apple makes is that 99% of people who plug a camera into a Mac want to transfer video. The other 1% who want to do something else probably wrote their own driver anyways.

This level of quiet yet clever integration is evident throughout the OS. Add a contact to your Address Book, and you can instantly refer to them in Mail or iCal. Associate a contact with an AIM username, and the full name of that user is displayed in iChat. All of my pictures which are organized in iPhoto are easily available in Keynote & Pages. Same with my music in iTunes. Simply elegant integration which doesn't get in your way.

Like anything, the Mac is not 100% perfect. There's a few things that are quirky that take some getting used to. Applications will crash - although less frequently than in Windows. Technology is not, and probably never will be, perfect. However, it can be more pleasant to interact with, and that's what Apple has achieved with OS X.

I'm going to expand the focus of this blog a bit and try to also include some Mac OS X entries. Some will be related to Apex & Oracle, while some will focus on OS X only.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A New Oracle Blog

I noticed that Donal Daly, who work for the Server Technologies division at Oracle, has started a blog here:

Donal is based out of the Dublin, Ireland Oracle office, and while I was at Oracle, I had the pleasure of working on some projects with him & his team. From what I hear, they are working on a pretty slick Microsoft Access Migration Toolkit, which will be part of Apex 3.0. Donal's team is also responsible for the Migration Workbench, which you can download for free from OTN.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Application Express in Oracle 11g

That's right - the title reads Oracle 11g. It's not a typo. In his keynote at Open World today, Oracle's VP of Server Technologies Chuck Rozwat said "the latest version of Application Express lets end-users build applications like a report generator, in as little as 30 seconds time." (see for the complete article)

This is excellent news, as this is one of the first official direct mentions of Oracle Application Express being something that Oracle is committed to for the long haul. It should also quell the fears that Apex will go down the same path that WebDB did and become abruptly extinct.

Missing OOW

Unfortunately for me, OOW just wasn't in the cards. Starting a new business and having a new baby has left me with little to no free time this year, and I just can't break away for a week. It is nice to see all of the blog posts from OOW, and it seems like Oracle really has taken over a few blocks of downtown San Francisco this year.

It's also been a while since I have updated my blog. This is largely the reason:

"Little" Isabella is almost 5 months old and has grown to 28" already! Most people think she is 1 year old, based on her height alone. She's already in 12 month clothes, and some of those seem a little tight at times. We don't know where she's getting the "tall gene" from, as noone in our families is excessively tall.

In any case, I'll be watching the developments from OOW, so for those who are blogging from there, thanks and keep up the good work!