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A New Addition

Introducing Owen Price Spendolini!  Owen made his debut on Tuesday, November 20th at 10:37AM - just in time for Thanksgiving.  Mom was induced around 8:30AM, and Owen wasted no time in getting out!  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 1/2", and already looks like a mini-linebacker!
Isabella has adjusted quite well to him, giving him a hug and kiss before trying to poke out his eye.  Here's a picture of the happy big sister with Owen:

I've already realized that changing the diaper of a boy is much more complex than that of a girl! :)

Overweight Ajax

I came across an interesting article this morning on Ajaxian:  Ajax, Browsers, Running Out of Time.  The crux of the article is that the author's PC consistently gets bogged down if he leaves Ajax-heavy applications - such as Google Mail, Zimbra & Yahoo Mail - up for most of the day.   I can understand his pain, as i have noticed similar behavior with the new Yahoo Mail.  Sure, it's much "cooler" and easier to use than the "classic" version, but it comes with a cost.
This is why I am still very cautious and conservative when using Ajax components in APEX applications.  It's still too easy to create code that just doesn't play nice with browsers.  It's also 100% impossible to discern what else a browser is running when your Ajax component is fired up, which makes it all the more difficult to ensure that your code doesn't step on someone else's.
For better or worse, perception is reality.  If large-scale Ajax applications that the masses…

Announcing APEX Public Training

In the midst of all of the OOW blogs, I hope this one makes it through!  I didn't make it to OOW as we're expecting our second child any day, hour or minute now, and being clear across the country would not have been the best idea that I've come up with...
In any case, I'm pleased to announce that Sumner Technologies, LLC has scheduled its first public training session.  It will be held from January 28th through January 30th, 2008 in Ashburn, Virginia.  The course will be Introduction to APEX 3.0, which is designed to provide an extensive overview of APEX using mostly hands-on exercises.
More details can be found here: http://sumnertechnologies.com/pls/htmldb/f?p=10000:300

Second Best Leopard Feature

As I was about to call it a night, I noticed that Leopard had automatically created an icon for "oracle's remote desktop" in the Finder.  Double-clicking on it yielded nothing, so I almost just gave up and went to bed.  I figured that I'd check the console of my Windows box just in case it was asking for something.  
Turns out that the icon is a link to start a VNC session with the Linux VM running on that Windows box.  Tweaking the VNC server settings just a spot to allow access without a prompt was all I needed to do.  Next time I double-clicked on it, a new window containing the desktop of my Oracle Enterprise Linux VM appeared:
Sure, you can go and configure all of this manually, but it's nice to see this type of "techie" tool seamlessly bundled into a product that is also aimed at complete tech novices.

Best Leopard Feature

I received my copy of Leopard today, and promptly installed it.  Aside from having to dig up some serial numbers, it went off without much hassle.
While most of the media is focusing on features such as Time Machine, Spaces and the new UI, I found one lesser-known one that is sure to put a smile on any Mac user's face.
Not only did Leopard seek out and find potential Windows shares, it has a very, shall I say, "appropriate icon" to represent them:

Alpha Version of checkpwd cracks APEX passwords

At least it's supposed to. As Pete Finnegan points out, the Alpha release of Red Database Security's checkpwd has a new feature which attempts to crack APEX passwords.

I downloaded and installed it, and got the same ORA-12154 error that Pete did. Bypassing the TNSNAMES.ora file seemed to do the trick, and checkpwd was able to run against a local APEX 3.0 instance of Oracle XE.

However, based on these results:

I get the feeling that the APEX portion is not quite working... I will cut them some slack, as this is after all an Alpha release.

As far as I know, this is the first tool of its kind for APEX passwords. It's definitely a good thing, as the only way weak passwords can be fixed is if they can be identified. I look forward to seeing more stable and complete releases of this useful tool.

- Scott -

Oracle CPU for October 2007

Oracle's Critical Patch Update for October was just released, and it looks like APEX has no known vulnerabilities! Oracle HTTP server also made the list of unaffected products.

Of course this doesn't mean that any APEX application developed will be 100% secure, but it is nice to know that at least the overall framework of APEX is quite secure, making an excellent platform to develop on... :)

- Scott -

Eat your own dog food

When I was at Oracle, there was a big push to use Oracle software for everything and anything we did. It was commonly referred to as "eating your own dog food", which is just gross. As nasty as that may sound, the concept did make a lot of sense: if Oracle built software products that were supposed to be so good, then why were they not being used internally? And even better - if the products didn't live up to their promises, then we had no one to blame but ourselves, and we could actually fix the issues.

I've decided to adopt that concept of eating my own, er, well, showcasing the product which we specialize in. Starting today, I'm happy to announce that sumnertech.com is now running on APEX!

Why did it take so long? Two years ago, when I started Sumner Technologies, I didn't have a lot of time or resources to set up my own instance of APEX to host my web site on. Thus, I took the path of least resistance: static HTML. Also, time was (and still is) sca…

APEX 3.0 Podcast on OTN

Recently, I spoke with Jeff Erickson, senior editor of Oracle Magazine, about the benefits of APEX 3.0. The interview highlights some of the key benefits of APEX for all sizes of businesses, with a focus on SMBs.

I'm sure to get some flack about my comment on who spoke English first; us of those from the UK. :)

You can listen to the Podcast - which is about 10 minutes - here.

Cool JavaScript Ideas

I came across this link this morning, which looks like it holds a wealth of hints for using and optimizing JavaScript.

Some of the things it mentions, such as compressing JavaScript, may make it a bit more difficult to debug your code. Other things, such as putting your JavaScript libraries at the end of the page, are no-brainers and can easily be implemented in APEX with little risk of breaking anything.

Finally, the article mentions using GZIP to compress all HTTP traffic, which will in turn make your site load faster. apex.oracle.com has been using this trick for as long as I can remember. It only takes a few minutes to configure and will increase the performance of almost any site - static or dynamic.

iPhone 1.1.1 Update - Best New Feature

Apple updated the iPhone to 1.1.1 today. While most of the buzz is around the new iTunes Store, there is a small new feature that makes all the sense in the world: double-tapping the space bar will insert a "." followed by a space. So simple, yet so brilliant.

This is a classic example of taking a use case - a user wants to compose a message - watching users actually do that - and then improving upon it. Previous to this release, they would have to type a sentence, and then tap the ".?123" key to then have to type a period, then switch back. Three taps plus one more for the trailing space just for a period.

With the 1.1.1 update, all a user needs to do is hit space two times, an a period followed by a trailing space instantly appear.

How does this relate to APEX? Simple - once you design an application, you're not done. There are several improvements still to be made, none of which you will be able to identify. Watch your users use your application. You b…

VOUG

Next week, I will be presenting at the Virginia Oracle Users Group conference in Charlottesville, VA. It's a much smaller conference than the ODTUGs & IOUGs of the world, but that makes it better in some sense, as you get a better chance to meet and talk to people.

I'm going to present an Intro to APEX (The ABCs of APEX) presentation, in favor or something more advanced, as there are no other APEX presentations on the agenda.

If you plan on attending, look for me on Thurday afternoon and possibly at the reception.

Clicking in a Row

First of off, consider my recent absence a summer vacation of sorts, without the vacation part. It's been hectic since my last post, which was about, wow - ODTUG. We had over 100 people in our training sessions there, and most of the feedback was great! We hope to do it again next year, if not sooner.
The reason for my absence was largely due to the fact that we recently moved, and pretty much everything that you can think of and then some, went horribly awry.
In any case, I was recently asked how to make an entire row in a report "clickable", so that when anywhere in a row is clicked, the user will be taken to a form to edit that record.

In order to achieve this, you need to create a new Named Column Report Template. This means that you will have to define each column that you want to have manually in the template itself. Hardly a scalable solution, but it's not too difficult to implement and expand on.

I am only going to use one Row Template to keep things simple.…

See you at ODTUG!

Well, we're all off to ODTUG this weekend in Daytona.
We're put together what I think is a solid Advanced Track of APEX training, as well as our standard, proven Beginner material.  From what the folks at ODTUG are telling me, we're going to be playing host to a sold out crowd!
I look forward to putting some names with faces at the APEX Meetup, as well as the various other events scheduled for next week.
Safe travels everyone!

Unity

No, this is not some post about how we should all just get along...

I've been a Parallels user since day 1 of owning a Mac, more or less. I've tried the nw VMWare Fusion Beta, and although it seemed to work OK, I had no real reason to switch. Until perhaps now.

Unity is VMWare's answer to Coherence - the technology which Parallels employs to display a PC window as if it were a Mac window. However, Unity takes it up a notch or two. It also works with odd-shaped windows, such as Windows Media Player. You can use Expose and have all of your PC windows behave just like Mac ones. There is direct access to the Start bar from the Mac OS X menu. And my favorite - you can permanently dock a PC application in the Mac toolbar!

I'll be interested to see how this all plays out, as I suspect some sort of announcement will be coming at WWDC next week.

Smarter than I thought...

In keeping with their promise, Apple has finally announced the availability date of the iPhone - June 29th. Yes, there are a full 28 other days which are both also in June and earlier than June 29th, but at least it's not June 30th...

I watched the new ads this morning to catch a glimpse of what will hopefully soon be mine. Unfortunately for me, my Q was nearby, and saw the glean in my eye as I was watching them. Out of a combination of jealously and fear, it promptly froze - which I'll admit it had not done in a good solid week. Upon trying to revive it the traditional way, it quietly refused. Three or four attempts later, it finally relented and re-booted itself with one small difference - every last bit of my data was gone.

Fortunately, I keep everything synced on my Mac, so nothing except for the list of recent calls was truly lost.

Your time is limited, Q...

New APEX Podcast

Lewis Cunningham @ IT Toolbox has posted a new podcast, where he interviews Oracle APEX Product Manager David Peake and Peter Martin from RL Polk & Co.

The overall focus of the podcast is how APEX has provided a variety of customers with a tool which is not only fast & easy to use, but also scales up to meet enterprise-class requirements. APEX is also compared to other RAD development environments, such as PHP & Ruby on Rails.

Peter also did a perfect job in pronouncing my last name - a feat which most telemarketers struggle with.

You can listen to the podcast here.

UPDATE 2: Free APEX Hosting

Seems like AppsHosting is just getting started, as they contacted me to state that some of the information on their site was inaccurate.

Some corrections as to the information in my previous post:

- You DO get a private workspace with 250MB of space - a significant increase from the 5 or so that Oracle gives out and secure and isolated from any other developers.

- You DO NOT need an Oracle CSI with their paid plan. The $199/month price does include the license fees to use Oracle.

In speaking with them, they also said that SQL*Plus access is a very real possibility, even with the free accounts.

Something to keep an eye on, to say the least!

UDPATE: Free APEX Hosing

Well, you get what you pay for. It seems as if there is a single public workspace that you're account will be tied to when you create a free account with AppsHosting. Hardly secure! Any other user is free to wreak havoc on what you build, unless you meticulously lock each and every page. Unfortunately, that won't stop anyone from seeing (and altering) your database objects, as those are all shared among all users as well.

Guess I'll keep the account to use in a bind, but won't ever put anything in there that I don't want anyone else to see or that I may want to see again...

FREE APEX Hosting (Sort of...)

Looks like AppsHosting is getting into the business of hosting APEX applications. And they will do it for free, too - provided its for development only.

If you want your own dedicated APEX environment, that will run you $199/month. And you'll also need an Oracle CSI# for production applications, which is interesting, as it would seem that you would have to license Oracle for their servers, which could be way more or less than you need...

APEX 3.0 Public Training

There's been some discussion on the OTN Forums about APEX 3.0 training. Well, Sumner Technologies, LLC is pleased to announce that it will begin offering APEX Training to the general public this July in the Washington, DC area.

We're going to start with a 3-day APEX 3.0 Intro class, and then add a 2-day Advanced Concepts class shortly after. Classes will be held just north of Dulles International Airport, about 20 miles outside of DC, in a brand new state-of-the-art training facility.

We're shooting for the week of July 9th for the first session, and based on how many people we get, will be looking to do this on a somewhat regular basis.

I'll post more concrete details once they are available.

Also, if you have any thoughts of ideas on what you would like to see in an Advanced Class, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

Y2K Part 2

In less than a day, the 3-week early DST change in the US will occur. Airplanes will fall from the sky, your bank account will be reduced to nothing, ATMs will run out of cash, nuclear missiles will launch and your Tivo will be hurled into a wolrd of recording the show after the one you wanted it to.

Actually, you'll probably just lose an hour of sleep tomorrow morning. Unless you have kids. Then you will lose two.

The media has really hyped this problem up, in a style reminiscient to the Y2K bug. Sure, there may be a few missed appointments on Monday, people may have some issues with Outlook (I got 6 invites from a client for the same meeting last week.) But by and large, the impact of this change will be less than that of realizing it's 8:00, not 7:00 and still light out.

Verizon Wirelss is doing all they can to get their customers ready. They sent a text message to my phone the other day, which conveniently had a link embedded in it to its DST Resource Page. What they failed…

2007 APEX Conference Details Announced

We've posted the session titles & abstracts for the 2007 APEX Conference to the ODTUG Kaleidoscope site.

There will be two tracks - one for beginners and one for experienced users. The Beginners Track will be more hands-on sessions and will assume no or little knowledge of APEX, whereas the Experienced Track will be more lecture and assume working knowledge of APEX.

Also, the Early Bird registration deadline has been extended until March 20th.

Hope to see you in Daytona this June!

Right Justify Input Text

Recently, I was asked how to right-justify text in user-editable fields. It seemed like a simple enough requirement, as most number-based fields are right-justified so that you can perform quick calculations in your head, or just have them look pretty if you're not so good at math.

In any case, there are two different ways to accomplish this in Apex, depending on what type of object you are trying to modify.

For a Page Item, you may be tempted to change the Horizontal/Vertical alignment option under the Elements section. Close, but that won't quite do the trick, as that parameter controls ALL of the HTML for a specific item, not the Form component.

In the same Element, section, you will need to enter the following for the HTML Form Element Attributes: style="text-align:right;"


If you are working with a Tabular Form, there aren't any page items which to change. Thus, you have to modify the Column Attributes for the text item that you want to be right-justified.

Edi…

Apex 3.0 Public Beta

Looks like Oracle has released the Apex 3.0 public beta. You can sign up here.

I created a quick report and then set it to export to PDF & Word - all of it worked as advertised! I was also able to quickly create a new Flash-based chart with little effort. Very impressive!

100% Mac

On the eve of the MacWorld keynote, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the single application which enabled me to complete my "switch" from a PC to a Mac: Parallels.

For those who may not know, Parallels is a virtualization environment for the Intel Macs. It enables you to run an operating system - from Windows to Linux to DOS - within Mac OS X. The entire guest operating system is stored in a single file, which can easily be backed up and/or moved around easily.

I first saw Parallels at a client, where Ben Rudolph from the Parallels team was getting ready to demo it. He turned on his MacBook Pro, fired up Parallels, and then stared up a pre-release version of Vista. He looked at me and said, "Pretty cool, eh?" My only reply was "Why?"

He chuckled, but went on to claim that even a pre-release version of Vista worked with their software. From a tecnical point of view, it was quite impressive, as having Vista gives you access to all of its ne…