Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Amazon interesting effect...

Amazon interesting effect. From time to time, I track the best selling Oracle General books on Amazon. I always thought it was funny that from time to time an “eBay” book would be listed there (eBay uses Oracle, but it really isn’t a book about Oracle).

But this latest entry really raises an eyebrow:

bestSellers

“MindControlMarketing.com: How Everyday People are Using Forbidden Mind Control Psychology and Ruthless Military Tactics to Make Millions Online”

Interesting title isn’t it. Still trying to figure out the tie in with “Oracle” though. Must be the “forbidden mind control psychology” feature.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Three funny things...

Three funny things.

First this picture “Why Penguins have short lives” – I’ll just link to it (no bandwidth stealer am I). But if you take a second to peek at it (definitely “safe” to look at), you will get a quick laugh I am sure.

Next up is “A Brief History of the World”. A collection of student bloopers tied together to give you a brief history. It starts with:

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies.
They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot.

And gets funnier from there… Definitely worth a read during some down time.

Lastly is a test that every male should get 100% on, but the females out there might not do so well. It has to do with well known urinal etiquette. The rules are just burned into our brains, the guys out there should just be able to point and click without having to think about it. It is so true. Take the Urinal Etiquette test and see how you do!

Probably the first and last time you’ll see potty humor here – I was just laughing at how true it was.

I was just getting ready to post this… And a fourth item came along. The most unbelievable statement I heard this week:

She said she had to overcome shyness to become a singer.

When you consider the source, that is really quite funny.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I know I've mentioned...

I know I’ve mentioned this blog more than once before – but I’m constantly amazed at the apparent parallels between marketing and technology. Might be something to think about there.

This time he points to an old article by Richard Feynman that I haven’t read for a while.

We've learned from experience that the truth will come out.
Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether
you were wrong or right.


That is so true. When I hear about something doing something (yes, being purposely very vague here) I want to know more. I hear “X” was “Slow”. I hear that you should do “Y” regularly for reason “A”. I hear “M” is buggy. “N” doesn’t work at all. Always do “L”, “L” is always good. I want to understand the parameters, the method used to arrive at those statements.

Anyway – I liked the short blog entry by Seth Godin and especially the pointer to re-read the paper by Feynman – a must read.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thanks No...

Thanks. No.

One of the “blogs” I watch (not read) is http://www.rocketboom.com/. This morning I was watching it and it started a little slow – but then I caught on.

Thanks. No.

I laughed out loud when I figured it out. http://thanksno.com/ - brilliant. It reminded me of a .signature I have configured in Thunderbird that reads:

Please do not take this personally, this is a generic response I send to direct questions.Please use http://asktom.oracle.com/ to ask me questions. When I have time, I accept them there. It is not a very scalable solution for me to answer individual questions in email. I cannot share these answers with many thousands of other Oracle users.You must understand there are many thousands of people like you and there is really only one of me (I am not a team, a group, or anything like that -- there is really just me). Answering individual questions via email is not a good way for me to spend my time.

I get to use that signature about 5 times a day (I really try not to answer emailed questions since it just seems to lead to – well, more emailed questions). Before I started using it, I would tend to get flooded.

But I really like the “Thanksno.com” idea. I’ll have to use that on other types of emails.

Deep Insults...

Deep Insults. Got an email from my publisher the other day (no, not the one asking “where the heck is the next book” – I have that one too, this is a different email):

FYI. See below. We discovered today that we messed up Sean's quote in the most recent printing of Tom's book.

Apress apologizes. Most of the copies from the most recent printing are still in our warehouse. Gary says we're still in possession of 95% of the copies that are bad, so the damage is not widespread. Our current plan is to sticker over the quote.

I immediately asked them for a copy of “unadulterated” version of course – for posterity. Here is a picture of the quote (if you click through and look at the “medium” image – it is quite readable:

Deep Insults

It is sort of like having an “Easter egg” hidden in software. There are at least a couple dozen/hundred books out there with the “deep insults” quote. Collectors Items I think. Two versions of the collectors edition – do you have the version with the “insult” or the version with the sticker blanking it out!

I find it all very funny.

Well, to everyone that has the long weekend - have a good one. I'm taking off early this morning. Time for travel soccer once again. At least I spent one short night in my own bed (from hotels in Florida to hotels over the weekend in Virginia)...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A little over a year...

A little over a year… And 1,000,000 views (pretty sure that it'll be over 1,000,000 by the time you read this).

hits

Thanks for reading, it has been fun. If and when it stops being fun, I’ll stop. Until then, just try to shut me up :)

Google trends...

Google trends.  I found this amusing.  

I track well with “anything else”, but “hmm” blows us both away.  Actually, I’ve been catching up to “anything else” which I guess is good.  But the interest is dropping off recently.

Who knows, maybe a trip to India is called for.

Fun thing: add anything even slightly “off color” and watch the above lines just flat line straight out.  Even something not really obviously off color like “legs”.  Much fun to be had.

How timely...

How timely.  I just wrote about how I cannot see the US adopting the metric system in my lifetime and here I see that the UK might be the same way.  

Old habits are hard to break.  I still wonder why all of our bulk soda is sold in 2 liter bottles though.  Seems strange, we buy milk by the gallon, beer by the ounce, but wine and soda by the liter.

I thought this was a nice insight.  Don’t make something better – make something different.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Just bought a new toy...

Just bought a new toy:

xm2go

It is the new XM2go Inno from Pioneer . I’ve never had an iPod or anything like that, my last “personal audio device” was one of the original Sony walkmans in the 1980’s. It used this thing called a cassette tape to store music. Now I’ll have 50 hours of recorded music for airplane trips. Getting to be a little “borg” like here – I have my books on one side of me (on my Treo), my music on the other side and the notebook on my back. I guess I could get a set of these and complete the picture (nice pun eh? "complete the picture"). I really like XM radio though. The commercial free aspect of XM, along with the variety makes it so I don’t have to decide what I want to listen to. Someone is always playing something I want to hear. I have the home dock to plug into my stereo and have on order the car dock as well as another home dock for the office. Much like my phone I think this device will be with me most places I go now. The reception is excellent outdoors and in large cities – very nice indoors as well (using the ground based XM broadcast). At home, I use the external antenna and have perfect reception. For the times I don’t have a good signal – or am on batteries (15 hours listening to recorded material, 5 hours using the antenna), I have the recorded sessions.

I’ve read some disturbing news regarding this recently (the Inno). This sort of thing makes me wonder. So, the Inno can record – only onto the Inno (you cannot offload the recordings) and unless I maintain my subscription to XM radio (you have to use the Inno on their network 8 hours a month), the Inno will lock the music. Seems to me that is a lot more restrictive then, oh I don’t know, recording music from the radio – which is fair use and has been forever. I’ve been able to get high fidelity (higher fidelity than the XM recordings) forever. This seems like a waste of time, energy and effort. Besides – I’m listening to music I would never listen to without XM radio playing it for me, and I might even buy something from an artist I would never have considered otherwise. And since XM is kind enough to actually tell me the artist name and song title – it makes it possible (as opposed to just recording from the airwaves).

I don’t see how this differs from Tivo, from the days when I recorded onto 8-Track (I actually had an 8-Track tape recorder once upon a long time ago), cassettes, burning my own CD’s, whatever. In fact, it is a lot more restrictive (but meets my needs perfectly).

Sunday, May 21, 2006

70000 cans of beer on on the wall...

70,000 cans of beer on the wall, 70,000 cans of beer!  Take one down, pass it around,! 69,999 bottles of beer on the wall…

And so on.  Wow.  That is a case of beer a day for 8 years.  

Zen and the Art...

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I downloaded it from here and saved as word documents. Synced to my palm pilot and had “instant online book”. I’m really liking having the books on my palm for easy access where ever I am. Yesterday I had a bit of down time here and there between taking the kids from place A to place B. Just pull out the Treo (which since it is my phone as well is always with me) and instant book.

It gave me the opportunity to finish this book. I started it about a week ago and read it in bits and pieces on planes, where ever. It was very different from what I thought it would be. Slightly disturbing in some respects – but full of nice analogies. I agree with the recommendations to read this book. Two quotes from it caught my eye and since I was reading the electronic version – are easy to quote:

If you're experienced you'd probably apply a penetrating liquid and an
impact driver at this point. But suppose you're inexperienced and you attach
a self-locking plier wrench to the shank of your screwdriver and really
twist it hard, a procedure you've had success with in the past, but which
this time succeeds only in tearing the slot of the screw.


Your mind was already thinking ahead to what you would do when the
cover plate was off, and so it takes a little time to realize that this irritating
minor annoyance of a torn screw slot isn't just irritating and minor.
You're stuck. Stopped. Terminated. It's absolutely stopped you from fixing
the motorcycle.


This isn't a rare scene in science or technology. This is the commonest scene of all.
Just plain stuck. In traditional maintenance this is the worst of all moments,
so bad that you have avoided even thinking about it before you come to it.


The book's no good to you now. Neither is scientific reason. You don't need
any scientific experiments to find out what's wrong. It's obvious what's wrong.
What you need is an hypothesis for how you're going to get that slotless
screw out of there and scientific method doesn't provide any of these
hypotheses. It operates only after they're around.


This is the zero moment of consciousness. Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput.
It's a miserable experience emotionally. You're losing time. You're incompetent.
You don't know what you're doing. You should be ashamed of yourself.
You should take the machine to a real mechanic who knows how to
figure these things out.


What does that make me think of? ROT – good old rules of thumb. Rules of thumb – good in the hands of experienced people. Not so good in the hands of the uninitiated. Yet, who most frequently wants the rules of thumb? Not the experienced (they have already formulated their own working set based on their in depth past experience). The uninitiated. And they want it now.

a procedure you've had success with in the past,

says it all.

The other quote that grabbed me was about teaching – and how not to do it:

Between the lines Phædrus read no doubts, no sense of awe, only the eternal
smugness of the professional academician. Did Aristotle really think his
students would be better rhetoricians
for having learned all these
endless names and relationships
? And if not, did he really think he
was teaching rhetoric? Phædrus thought that he really did. There was nothing
in his style to indicate that Aristotle was ever one to doubt Aristotle.
Phædrus saw Aristotle as tremendously satisfied with this neat little stunt
of naming and classifying everything. His world began and ended with this
stunt. The reason why, if he were not more than two thousand years dead,
he would have gladly rubbed him out is that he saw him as a prototype for
the many millions of self-satisfied and truly ignorant teachers throughout
history
who have smugly and callously killed the creative spirit of
their students with this dumb ritual of analysis, this blind, rote,
eternal naming of things
. Walk into any of a hundred thousand classrooms
today and hear the teachers divide and subdivide and interrelate and
establish "principles" and study "methods" and what you will hear is the
ghost of Aristotle speaking down through the centuries...the desiccating
lifeless voice of dualistic reason.


Now, I don’t agree 100% with all of this – I believe having a common taxonomy is important in discussion, but nothing should start and end with it. I learn new terms relating to our industry all of the time – and when I hear them, I ask “what does that mean”. Sometimes the discussion surrounding “what does that mean” can be very interesting as what I believe the term to have meant is not at all what the “user” of that term was trying to convey.

Anyway – all in all a pretty good read. A little deep at times, but lots of good stories within the story there. I liked it (and won’t give away the plot too much because it sort of caught me by surprise – if you haven’t read an outline about it, I suggest just getting it and reading it, you’ll be surprised by it).

Friday, May 19, 2006

Interesting concept...

Interesting concept.  Octomatics – looks pretty cool. Probably has as much chance of being adopted as does the Metric system in the US.  I remember as a kid that they started doing our signs in Metric and English units.  That is the only way I can remember the “miles to kilometers” conversion function – there was a billboard near where I lived that I passed probably every day that said “such and such a place – 3 miles, 5 kilometers ahead”.  The 3 miles, 5 kilometers has stuck in my head ever since.

I used that conversion recently in Munich Germany, when I noticed the taxi driver going 180 to 190 kph.  190 * 3/5 is about 114 mph.  I was sure glad I knew how to do that conversion at that point in time.  Maybe ignorance would have been bliss on the other hand.  (Although the Mercedes did feel like it was just hitting its sweet spot as far as speed goes, and we were getting passed from time to time).

I’ve gotten pretty good at the Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion as well – approximately double and add 30/32.  Right now at home, it is 17c – 34+(30 or 32) – 64-66f.  It is close enough.  Traveling around to Canada and Europe makes me do this mental calculation all of the time.

Octomatics – looks like a reasonable idea, that’ll never happen.  Simply because of one of the last sentences in that link:

but habit is a strong force...and we are deeply rooted in
our decimal number system...but who knows...?

Habit is strong.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen any signs in metric in the US.  Probably won’t happen in my lifetime.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

For only $8499.00...

In 1989 – this is what $8499.00 could buy you:

gooddeal

According to the inflation calculator, that is a cool $13,247 today! Can you imagine. I remember thinking for a long time that all computers will always cost about $4,000 to 5,000 – that is what I was paying for them back then.

About that time, at work I had a similarly configured machine (I was the lucky one). It was a 16 Mhz 386 PS2 with the unheard of 4 MB of ram (much more ram than I could actually ever make use of).

It seemed so fast at the time… At home I had the lowly Tandy 1000EX that I ultimately upgraded to a 20Mhz 386 from Gateway Computers. Probably right around the time this advertisement was current.

IBM Micro channel compatible architecture provides
a 32-bit wide data path for
virtually simultaneous
data transfer between peripherals


There was nothing “virtually simultaneous” about these machines in retrospect. They seemed fast back them. Now they would feel painful.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lost in Space...

Lost in Space. Ok, my favorite shows growing up as a kid included

  • Ultraman

  • Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot

  • Space 1999 (yes, I now own both seasons on DVD, season one was so much better than season two – they should never have had Victor disappear)

  • Star Trek (this needs no link! I am in the process of collecting them now, I was a big fan of Voyager, The Next Generation and recently “Enterprise” – never got into DS9 however)

  • Battlestar Galactica (haven’t started the “new” series, have heard it is really good – might pick it up)

You might be noticing a trend here… SciFi was the word of the day. Anything SciFi related – I would watch. It is what I read as well (lots of the Robot books by Asimov – well, all of them really. I just re-collected and re-read all of them).

Anyway, iTunes has started selling Fox shows and Fox owns the rights to one of my all time favorite “campy” SciFi shows – “Lost in Space”. It was great – I watched them all over and over whenever they came on TV.

I’ve downloaded both premieres – yes, it had two. The first one didn’t include either of Dr. Smith or the Robot! The two premieres tracked very well together – many of the same scenes. Minor changes to some things – for example the Jupiter II was originally called the Gemini. I liked seeing the state of mind in 1965 (my year of birth coincidentally) when the series was released. To introduce Dr. Smith – they spun him as a “spy” – pegging him as a spy from a country “that would go to any length of sabotage” (wonder who they might have been referring to in 1965?).

In 1997 (the year the Jupiter II/Gemini took off in the show ), we have a desperately crowded planet – yet there were ashtrays everywhere in mission control. Seems that would help with the overcrowding issue.

I love the computers in the show – who needs a graphical interface when you have lights and mechanical “click/click/click” processing (sounded like cards being processed). Everything is on TAPE.

Best of all – the lack of gravity in one scene. All you need to simulate the lack of gravity is some string on pony tails – if the pony tail is floating in air – you must be weightless. They did a little “whole body floating around” – but I really liked the pony tail effect.

Anyway, I now look forward to getting the rest of the series – something to watch in hotels when I’m on the road. Cannot wait for the color versions of the series to come into play – but black and white is interesting as well. I watched most of the series in black and white originally.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I've been on my own...

I’ve been on my own for the last couple of days at home. Lori and her Mom are in Ireland for a week touring around. Here is a small shot of them at the Cliffs of Moher:

LoriAndHerMom

Lori took her Mom over there as a birthday present. Being a traveler myself, I know the pain of having to stay in different hotels frequently – the worst was when I did five Scandinavian countries in five days (that was after a half a week in Estonia). Packing and moving every morning is a real pain. They are doing something similar – five hotels in six nights. I’m not envious at all…

Anyway, that means someone has to stay behind and be the responsible adult and I keep waiting for that someone to show up. Meanwhile, I guess it is me. Tonight Megan decided she wanted to cook her first dinner all by herself. My dinners consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages – really good stuff. I guess she was tired of that and she wanted something more substantial. So, she developed the menu – chicken, rice pilaf, and broccoli. We went shopping, got what we needed and the cooking began:

MeganAtStove

She decided on BBQ chicken (she picked out a really good sauce, sweet but smoky – we all liked it). And after getting the rice pilaf started headed out to the grill:

TheBBQ-Queen

I stressed the importance of getting the stripes right – she did an awesome job there getting the little diamonds (she would make a mean steak I think):

LookAtThoseStripes

At the end of it all – we had an excellent dinner (just like when her Mom is home). Even Alan complimented her – and there was absolutely nothing leftover.

TheFeastIsReady

And what is a good dinner without some dessert:

Dessert

Nothing like Krispy Kreme, they are not just for breakfast anymore!

I'm often asked what I do for entertainment...

I’m often asked what I do for entertainment. I, like many other people, play video games. However, my idea of a video game is probably a bit different from most. No “doom”, no “halo”, nothing like that. I can honestly say I’ve never played my kids PSP and have used the PS2 in the basement once.

This is my idea of a video game:
VideoGame
I was reminded of that this morning reading this article. I am prone to say you have to drive the Prius a little differently as that article points out. Differently from the way you would drive a normal car without the “video game effect”. In that article – they averaged about 42 MPG, which is just about what I get when I drive “blind” (without the video game effect). It is the mileage reported on my car when I leave it with my wife for a week or two (she just drives it and drives it much like most people would normally drive).

However, when I turn the game on – I consistently get much closer to the 50 MPG. The game involves driving in such a fashion as to maximize mileage. With the constant feedback – I’ve found I can affect the mileage by as much as 20% - which is huge. The road I drive to work on is 65 MPH – I average between 60 and 70 on this road instead of locking in the cruise control. Slower up hill, let momentum carry me downhill and go a bit over, just to make use of that potential energy I built up going up the hill in the first place.

Every 5 minutes, the display inches over and tells me the average mileage for that period of time. The game I try to play is “keep it over 50” – on the way to work I can do that consistently. On the way home, it is more of a challenge (apparently we are “uphill” from work. When I win the game – I use exactly one gallon of gas to go to work (I pay more in tolls than gas on my 50 mile round trip).

I’ve evaluated:
  • Using cruise control and maintaining a constant speed

  • Driving “blind”, without the computer display – driving like I always drove in the past

  • Driving with the display.

Surprisingly – driving blind got better mileage than using cruise control (it was the big loser – but a necessary evil on a long trip). But driving with the display and making an effort to maximize the display results consistently in at least 10 and closer to 20% improvements (which is huge).

The one thing the article I was reading neglected to point out was that while the Jetta did a bit better mileage wise was that the Prius is not only good on the mileage – but excellent on the emissions. I really dig it when the car turns off – totally turns off – at stop signs and in creep and crawl traffic. I can scare the living daylights out of people in parking garages – this car makes no noise whatsoever (unless the tires squeak or something like that).

So, I’ll stick with my Prius for now. I would buy it again – and that probably is the best thing you could say about any product.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Accidental discoveries...

Accidental discoveries. I liked this article. Top ten things discovered on the way to find something else. I am very glad the name “epsicles” did not catch on. I have a feeling many things we have today are “accidental”. Much of what I know about Oracle falls into the accidental category – I did not necessarily set out to learn what I know about it, no formal course of education taught me. I just found things out “by accident” – as a side effect of using the product.

I think much of what I’ve learned about stuff over the years has been accidentally learned – things I’ve learned on my way to look up something else. Serendipity is one way to describe it. Actually that one word sums it up entirely.

On a funny note – this article about travel complaints was very humorous. One of the links is to a page of some of the more outrageous ones – the second complaint on this page will likely make you laugh out loud.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Interesting Research...

Interesting Research. Someone hooked a bunch of people up and monitored their eyeballs – in an effort to see how people read web content. Sort of makes sense, it boils down to:
  • Read the top of the page
  • Scan down a bit to the first real piece of content
  • Read it
  • Scan down the left looking for anything interesting
That seems to fit in with how I scan a page. Look at the top, read the first real bit of content, and then scan the rest. It fits in with the way we write typically as well. You might look at the top of this page in order to figure out “yes, I’m at the right place (or not)” and then read the introductory paragraph and scan the rest quickly.

After reading this, it is unlikely I’ll write blog entries like this one anymore! According to that article – without nice big heading breaks or separate pages, it is unlikely that many of you would have read the entire thing or absorbed it. You might have read the bit about a new blog I’m reading – but the rest of it was probably scanned and not really read.

Using More than one header

Maybe I need to start using headers! To break it up. It is a problem I have. When I’m writing on the books I tend to go on and on and on (and on…). I really relied on my editors to say “enough already, we need a break here”. They are the ones that stick in the nice sub-headings for me many times (something I really appreciate).

I’ll keep the ideas from that page in mind for the future. I had three other articles I was going to talk about here as well, now I just think I’ll save them for another day…

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

This is pretty cool...

This is pretty cool.  Warning: makes “sound” – goofy music, turn down speakers.

I’ve been in those flight patterns before….

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wow Im disappointed...

Wow, I’m disappointed. Ask for a little input and what do I get. A mere 116 recommendations for books to read. A bit disappointing.

Only kidding of course – overwhelmed is more like it. It took almost an hour just to compile the list. I’ve put it below. The first list are the books I’ve read (#13 in that list is some 11 books though – and the Asimov series is a lot of books too). The second is a list of books I have recently purchased but not read.

The third list is just intimidating. Some I’ve read – but so long ago that I cannot really claim knowing them anymore. Most I’ve heard of but not yet read.

I’ll probably be starting with The Three Musketeers – that was the first I found on the Project Gutenberg site – but I haven’t decided yet. Time for that tomorrow.

List 1
  1. 1984

  2. Catcher in the Rye

  3. "The Master and Margarita" Mikhail Bulgakov

  4. The Lord of the Flies

  5. Catch 22

  6. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  8. Five people you meet in heaven

  9. Moby Dick

  10. The Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm

  11. Hitchhiker's Guide...Douglas Adams

  12. The Hyperion / Endymion series by Dan Simmons

  13. Dune books by Frank Herbert.

  14. "The Fountainhead" By Ayn Rand

  15. "A Brief History of Time" By Stephen Hawking

  16. "Foundation" By Isaac Asimov (now a six-volume tirlogy)

  17. War of the Worlds

  18. Fahrenheit 451

  19. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

List 2
  1. "To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

  2. Ilium by Dan Simmons

  3. Olympos by Dan Simmons

List 3
  1. Animal Farm

  2. The Great Gatsby

  3. The Three Musketeers' by Dumas

  4. ‘The Prince' by Machiavelli

  5. The Compromise Sergei Dovlatov

  6. His Dark Materials

  7. If this is a man; and, The truce by Primo Levi's

  8. The Life and Opinions or Tristram Shandy, Gent." by Lawrence Sterne

  9. A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

  10. The Heart of a Dog" By Mikhail Bulgakov, "

  11. War and Peace

  12. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  13. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

  14. The Count of Monte Cristo

  15. His Dark Materials

  16. Treblinka

  17. Once and future king by TH White

  18. Rise and Fall of the Roman empire

  19. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

  20. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut's

  21. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco:

  22. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco:

  23. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

  24. Walden Pond by Emerson.

  25. Leaves of Grass by Whitman.

  26. Innocents Abroad Mark Twain's

  27. Following the Equato Mark Twain's

  28. "The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant"

  29. "Goodbye to All That" by Robert Graves

  30. "Utopia" by Thomas Moore

  31. "Mary Barton" by Elizabeth Gaskill

  32. "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

  33. "Coningsby" by Benjamin Disraeli

  34. 'All The King's Men' by Robert Penn Warren

  35. "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross.

  36. "Cyberiads" by Stanislaw Lem

  37. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  38. "Inherit the Wind," a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

  39. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

  40. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  41. The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh

  42. From The Land of Green Ghost by Pascal Khoo Thwe

  43. Illusions, by Richard Bach

  44. Exodus by Leon Uris.

  45. Anna Karenina

  46. Sidartha by Herman Hesse.

  47. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse.

  48. The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse.

  49. The Seven Brothers by Alexis Kivi –

  50. Mila18 by Leon Uris

  51. The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert

  52. and not only Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier

  53. The Citadell by A.J. Cronin

  54. Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

  55. The alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  56. August 1914 Solzhenitsyn's

  57. The Caine Mutiney Woulk's

  58. Middlesex

  59. 100 hundred years of solitude

  60. Their eyes were watching god

  61. "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote

  62. Disc World Novels by Terry Pratchett

  63. Sherman's memoir

  64. "Valis" by Philip K. Dick

  65. Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons

  66. "Way of the Wolf" By Martin Bell -- Christian inspirational

  67. "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" By Douglas Hofstadte

  68. "2150 Ad" By Thea Alexander

  69. Beloved - Toni Morrison

  70. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

  71. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald.

  72. Downfall by Richard Frank

  73. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

  74. Now It Can Be Told by Leslie Grove

  75. A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

  76. "Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde"

  77. "La recherce" by Proust

  78. Brave New World" by Aldus Huxley.

  79. 'Interpreter Of Maladies' Jhumpa Lahiri's

  80. The Hungry Tide'. Amitav Ghosh's

  81. Man's search for meaning by Victor Frankl

  82. ZMM and LILA by Robert Pirsig'

  83. Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand

  84. Oliver Twist - dickens

  85. David Copperfield – dickens

  86. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

  87. Phlebas

  88. Dog Years by Gunter Grass

  89. Notes from the Underground. By Dostoyevsky

  90. The Silent Cry by Oe

  91. The Stranger by Camus

  92. The Heart is a lonely Hunter by McCullers

  93. Mother Courage by Brecht

  94. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Parallel Universes...

Parallel Universes. Recently, I’ve been caught up in the idea put forth by Kathy here in the Myth Of Keeping Up (I got caught up in the idea before she published it there). That idea is:

Pick the categories you want for a balanced perspective,
and include some from OUTSIDE your main field of interest


So, I’ve been doing lots of reading outside of “technical stuff” and science fiction. Just finished a short book written in the mid 1800’s – “Jane Eyre” for example. I picked it up based on a recommendation from a web site somewhere of “must read books”. It was interesting as it was written as a contemporary book of life during that period of time (so not someone from today looking back and imagining as it might have been but from the point of view of someone alive then – telling it as it was more or less, the social mores and all). One of the things I liked while reading it was the number of words I did not know the precise meaning of (ok, sometimes I frankly had never heard them from before – most I had heard but could not precisely define). Indicating how much language changes over time. Words such as lachrymose, confabulate, dowager, contumacy, and palliate to name a few. Sometimes I was surprised - I always thought I knew the definition of precocious - but I did not. I always thought of it in a somewhat derogatory sense, but it turns it it would be a compliment.

I’ve also been reading some blog writers that probably could not spell Oracle let alone figure out what to do with a sqlplus prompt. One of the newest entries in that genre for me has been Seth Godin – a marketing guy of all things. This morning, as I was catching up I read two of his entries and thought to myself – hey, I know exactly what you are saying – I say the same things about my field of expertise. They were:
  • Good for them for trying something. Now, if they test and measure, we'll see... in the “But I like sticky floors” entry.
  • I realized that every single time I used an analogy, he didn't "get it." Instead, he started talking about the example in the analogy instead of the concept I was trying to get across. In the “Yolks are to eggs as mice are to…”
I know I’ve said that first quote myself over and over again – good to see it has universal application and other people believe in it too. Test and Measure – and then we’ll see. From a marketing guy. You have to like that.

The bit about the analogy is a good reminder – for me, for everyone that likes to use them. I love analogies, I over use them perhaps. I’ve seen that same effect though, if the person you are talking to takes the analogy literally – it can very much backfire (all of the problems the story you just told has – your product suddenly inherits, everything bad about the analogy is bad about your stuff now). An analogy taken to illogical extremes by someone can very much turn them off (or at best confuse them). When used lightly, analogies can help understanding – when taken the wrong way – they will be disastrous. Take care therefore with your analogies.

As he said “Yes, your shampoo may be as fresh as a daisy” – but if I don’t like daisies (or worse, I’m allergic to daises!) it could backfire.

I was just struck by the parallels to what I say/do everyday in this marketing guys blog. And here I didn’t think we had anything in common!

And yes, I will post the list of books I chose to read from the earlier entry “A question for all of you…”. The feedback was great – I’ll list out those I’ve read already (quite a few it turns out) and those I plan on reading. One of the criteria to make it on my short list will be the availability of a ebook version I can put on my palm pilot. I got hooked on that this last trip. I was reading Jane Eyre – the paperback version. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through it – on my way from London to Munich. Got a little sleepy and put the book in the seatback in front of me. And – quite predictably – as I’ve done it many times before, we land, I get my pack out of the overhead and leave – leaving the book in the plane. I hate it when I do that. So, I wanted to finish the book. I searched online and found Project Gutenberg. The book was there, for immediate download. I did so, opened the html file in Word, put it into documents to go and sync’ed my Treo. The book was on the Treo. And I found it quite readable (in fact the ability to click on a word, copy it and look it up on the web when not in a plane was very nice!). I plan on generating the list of books to read and then determining which ones I can get onto the Treo (I’ll put them all on the expansion card) and then I’ll have them with me where ever I go.

The only downside is that I like to keep books I’ve read and enjoyed on the bookshelf. I’ll probably end up buying the ones I liked in paper form anyway. This is the second book I’ve read online now and found both enjoyable and easy to read that way (I haven’t had printed documentation for Oracle since version 7.3 and I personally haven’t missed it).

But – it won’t work at the beach or a lake… First, not sure I want to whip my phone out on the beach (sand, salt, and so on). Second, unless it is a very very cloudy day the screen is hard to read!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ok this wins...

Ok, this wins. This wins the prize for “I will waste too much time looking at this”.

Who would have thunk it – “stick figures in peril”. That is funny. Only 2,919 of them to look at. This won’t impact my productivity at all.

I have a couple of favorites – but haven’t looked at them all…

Don’t freeze penguin’s!
Run – don’t walk – run – really really fast!
Stay away – or DIE!
Don’t kill the penguin’s! (a theme here – penguins?)
Danger Will Robinson! (look at the pained expression on the stick figures face. Ouch)
I liked this because who would let this happen?
BritneySpears – she should have this sign?

This is going to take some time to get through them all…

A question for all of you...

A question for all of you.  Ok, I’ve been reading a lot outside of my area of expertise (that is, not techie books).  I’ve gotten interested in “the classics” –  must read books.  I’ve found a couple of lists and have gotten some of them.  Some “must reads” have been good – some not.

So, what would you recommend and why?  One I’m interested in is the ubiquitous ‘War And Peace’ – anyone out there actually read it, was it worth it (I hear it might be “large” but according to amazon it is only 127 pages longer than Expert One on One Oracle so it cannot be that large…).

The long and winding road...

The long and winding road. You never know what’ll happen when you click around. I like “flickr” interesting pictures (always hoping to see one of mine pop up there but no luck so far). I hit it this evening and saw this:




Thought that was pretty funny – I read some of the comments attached to it and that led me to this site. Some people have way way too much time – buy dehydrated water.com – pretty funny. Read some of the pages.

Anyway, that led me to this other site. Ok, a new identity.com – looks even more “real” than the dehydrated water site. These pages are funny too.

Just finished the last of 4-2 day seminars. Got to meet with some 275 people in the last two weeks in 3 countries. It was interesting. Funny thing though – I still get nervous right at the beginning. The first 5 or 10 minutes is really hard – but then it gets good.

I have found that I need to shave after I talk all day. Someone I was talking to had a theory it could be the “adrenalin rush” you experience while talking all day long. For some reason – the 5 o’clock shadow is just more prevalent after a day doing a seminar than it is after a normal day. Might be a false cause and effect – I mentioned it while talking to them once in the context of “when I go over to Europe, I have to take my electric razor and shave in the evening”. They pointed out that they themselves needed to do that after doing a day’s talk or a road show and their theory was “it is the day of talking, not Europe”. Could be, could just be in our heads too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Vote and Vote often...

Vote and Vote often.  Check it out anyway.

Cleaning out...

Cleaning out.  I’m emptying out my “blog ideas” folder tonight, a little spring cleaning.  The following is a collection of pages I hit recently that made me go “hmm” or laugh out loud.  We’ll look at each in turn.

I’ve just started reading a new blog – Seth Godins’s blog.  I forget how I got there, I forget why I was there – but there I was and some of his posts are pretty compelling.  Outside of my area of expertise – but useful.  I related this posting a lot – one about “Please Go Away (angry)”.  Reminds me of many experiences in a store that may or may not be mentioned in the following paragraph.  I remember going into that store one Christmas season to buy a video camera.  They had dozens of them on display.  Every single one I picked up that I liked – when I found someone to help me (takes a long long time) they would query the computer and say “nope, out of stock – won’t be in for two weeks”.  I really wanted to know why they are on display still – this happen more than ten times.  One time they said “we don’t have it here – but they have it in Baltimore (over 70 miles away). You can drive over and pick it up”.  I was like – you cannot have it shipped over here? I’ll pay? – nope, we don’t share stock like that.  I ended up buying a laptop that year – from another store.  I really detest going there anymore.

Then I saw this “Improv Everywhere” page.  V is for Vengeance maybe instead of Vendetta.  I really enjoyed reading that – I can just see how the management there would react.  I used that example in my seminar today though – on SQL Injection.  I said “if 80 people have the time to dress up as Best Buy sales associates – think about how much time they have to try to hack your application!”.  I was just laughing as I imagined how the sales management at a Best Buy might react under these conditions.  Bravo.

Have you ever wanted a user manual for something you own (electronic/whatever).  If so, maybe this site has it.  Be nice to be able to upload to it – or contribute.  Get all of the manuals online.  I used a similar site to figure out how to program my universal remote when I got a new TV.  Funny how those guides just disappear over time.

Klaatu Barada Nikto.  What more needs to be said.  Another person with way too much time and a huge sense of humor.  I wish I could have done that.

I don’t know whether the picture in this one is funny or plain scary. What would you do if you found that in your garden?  I’d run away…

And I just liked this one for the smile effect.

3 seminars down, 1 more to go.  Looking forward to being done, getting back home (Saturday afternoon – going to see Megan play in a soccer match when I get back).  Will be home for one and a half weeks – should be nice.  

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Three days in Munich...

Three days in Munich. I arrived in Munich on Saturday April 29th a little after noon time. It was raining out – not really bad, just a bit on the cold and damp side. The weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t great – it could be three days of rain (but that was not the be the case fortunately). Having never been to Munich – but having spent some time in London – I decided to spend the three day weekend between the Oracle University seminars I was giving in Munich – exploring.

After checking in and getting situated at the hotel, we set off for Marien Platz – a nice outdoor shopping area. We started here at the one end:
01-StartingOutInMarienPlatz
It is a closed off street with just pedestrian traffic – which is nice (apparently, in Germany – pedestrians do not have the right of way, learned that just by stepping off of the curb when it wasn’t exactly my turn. I’m still not entirely sure they would have stopped…). But it was a bit damp:
02-ItWasABitWet
As we went from store to store – we picked up some stuff for the family back home (they haven’t gotten them yet, so I won’t talk about it…) and noticed some really strange window decorations:
03-TheWindowsWereABitStrange
Still not entirely sure what was up with that one – chickens with needs and hatchets, no idea. As we were walking down the street – someone pointed this out to me as something to been seen:
04-AndItWasNotAnIsolatedEvent
Those are not real people, just mannequins – and again, I did not entirely get it, but it was unusual to look at. Lots to look at. I found the architecture downtown to be really something to take in.

After spending about 3 hours walking around – it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for some Bavarian food – excellent beers and if you like pork (as I do) this is the place to be. Some friends from Oracle Germany took us out and fed us very well indeed.

On Sunday the weather cleared up considerably and we ventured out for a tour. After some suggestions on the blog and because I’ve read about it much in the past – I wanted to see Dachau. So we arranged for a tour. It started out at the old train station that was added later on (originally the inmates had to walk some 5k through town to get to the concentration camp):
05-DachauTrainStation
It was a sobering experience to walk through the same gates the victims of Dachau might have, with the saying “Arbeit Macht Frei” staring at you (one translation is “Work Brings Freedom”):
06-WorkBringsFreedom
The day we were there was the day after the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the camp by allied forces – we missed the services in the morning, but the remnants were all still there:
07-61YearsLater
We had a pretty good guide, his name was Chaim and he lost most of his family in the holocaust. For him, this is always an emotional tour and you could hear it at times. This is the only “person” picture I took at Dachau – it just didn’t even cross our minds to “pose” for a picture here, we talked about it later – it would not even have felt remotely “right” to do so.
08-ChaimTheGuide
One story I remember him telling distinctly was about the prohibited zone. If one of the young guards (and they were very young in many cases – some would not be able to get their learners permit to drive) was feeling vicious – they might grab the hat of a prisoner and throw it into this grassy strip – the prohibited area. Step into it and the guard in the tower was under orders to shoot, no questions. Fail to obey their order to retrieve your hat and you were failing to obey an order – the hat thrower would shoot you. Not a really good set of choices:
09-ProhibitedArea
Never Again, indeed, never again:
10-NeverAgain
On Monday (May day, a holiday – no one working…) we went to Füssen, about two hours by train from Munich:
11-Fussen
There are a pair of castles to visit there, as you can see by this shot – the weather this day was phenomenal – best of the three days. It got into the middle 60’s (f), 17(c) – it was nice. Had to take the coat off from time to time:
12-OldCastle
The buildings on site were great. This one was particularly cool looking I thought:
13-Architecture
But this was the ultimate target – the Neuschwanstein Castle. Interesting story behind the construction – and if it looks familiar, yes, Walt Disney “borrowed” the idea for his “Sleeping Beauty” castle from this one:
14-NeuschwansteinCastle
After touring the castle we hiked up (higher up I should say – the castle itself was a climb), to this bridge (where the prior shot was taken from)
15-TheBridge
The sites around this castle were incredible – This shot looks like a poster if I don’t say so myself (but it isn’t, I took it):
16-LooksLikeAPoster
Now, you might be wondering – I kept saying “we” throughout this entry. What is up with that – who is this “we”. Well – someone dropped in for the long weekend, Lori came over and met me at the Munich airport Saturday and I just saw her off to the airport this morning (I’m back to work). I did not have to eat dinner alone (until tonight when my plate exploded!) all weekend – that was nice.
17-WeHadAGoodTime

The funny thing is...

The funny thing is… I was reading this, just getting ready to drag it into a folder on my desktop entitled “blogideas”. That folder already has 34 things in it. Ironic? I thought so. So, just because I thought it was really relevant – I stopped and did it right now – knowing it would probably age out of that folder due to lack of activity on it.

Once again Kathy hit the proverbial nail on the head as far as keeping up. When I read this paragraph:

Recognize that gossip and celebrity entertainment are black holes
It's like watching a car accident despite our best intentions...
we just can't help look, so the more you can stay away from the publications
that document every personal detail of every music and film star the better.
Let that be your guilty pleasure for when you're at the dentist's office...


I had to laugh out loud. That is pretty much the only time I read People magazine – in the dentist’s office – because there is nothing else there to read!

Some thoughts:

  • I subscribe to one magazine: Wired. I always read it. Once Delta offered the chance to exchange my miles for magazines and I did. I was getting maybe 7 or 8 magazines for a year. I read – one, Wired. The others – no time.

  • I use a news aggregator (thunderbird, combines with email) to avoid polling. I cut out those that become too noisy (ittoolbox – soon, pcmagazine – very very soon if they don’t stop injecting ADS!!! Into their rss feed)

  • I’ve gotten off of all internal email lists I can, I ended up deleting the emails anyway.

  • I read some of the other magazines that accumulate in my house for something outside of my area of expertise when I have time.

  • I read books way outside of my area of expertise. Nothing related to technology in most cases.

  • I decline offers to read technical books and review them (knowing darn well I’d never actually around to it)

  • I live by this part (extracted from her blog) “In any thing you need to learn, find a person who can tell you what is:”

In closing, as Kathy said:

In the meantime, take a deep breath and repeat after me, "I will never keep up. Keeping up is a myth." And if it makes you feel any better, add, "John isn't keeping up either."

I did not expect that!

I did not expect that. My plate just exploded – literally – while eating. I was having a nice steak sandwich (with real steak, I like Germany) when all of a sudden there is this very loud “crack” and much movement of my plate:
plate
The silver disk in the middle started frying the food immediately (sizzle away). It was quite warm.

A nice surprise in the middle of dinner – no falling asleep while eating here that is for sure. After a long weekend – lots to catch up on so working in the room tonight. Room service seemed like a good idea, until the plate exploded…

Monday, May 01, 2006

No Net...

A weekend without any network. I’m in Munich Germany right now. It was a three day weekend here. I had 4 days with 2 seminars last week and have the same this week. Last week it was Helsinki Finland and then London in the UK – with a travel day in between. This week it is 4 straight days in Munich with two different groups. Talking from 9-5 is something I find very tiring – I liked the 2 on, 1 off, 2 on schedule. This week will be more like a marathon than a 2 day sprint.

Anyway – the hotel I’m in has a “broken internet” – at least on the 6th and 7th floors. I’m on the 7th floor (moving to the 2nd floor tomorrow!). So, it has been three days where my only connection has been via my GPRS connection on the phone.

And you know what, 3 days offline – it’s been “not so bad”. Anyone remember life before 24x7 connectivity – I just got back into it for a short while and it “did not stink”.

I’ll have more details on what I was up to over the weekend tomorrow (when I have BANDWIDTH in the evening and can upload some pictures). But – shopping and tours figured into the picture. It was nice.