20 May 2007

Review Mastering Oracle SQL 2nd Edition

Mastering Oracle SQL 2nd Edition by Sanjay Mishra and Alan Beaulieu

The goal of the authors is to explain how to write good readable SQL queries in Oracle 10g. The book starts with how to construct SELECT statements to group, filter and format result sets for dates, reports and data analysis. Then it proceeds to cover Oracle-specific queries and functions for hierarchies (data in tree structures), object-oriented types, XML documents, regular expressions and models (spreadsheet-like objects). Where relevant, there are notes about the differences between SQL for Oracle 10, Oracle 9 and the ANSI standard.

As expected from the title, the chapters using declarative programming (i.e. SQL queries) for relational data, hierarchical data and reports are the most comprehensive. Chapters on interfacing Oracle SQL with other technologies such as scripting (Oracle's PL/SQL), object-oriented types, XML and regular expressions, or on optimization, are brief but sufficient to get you started, especially if you have a existing background in those technologies.

This is the 2nd edition, so it's not surprising that the scope of the book is well-defined and that the writing is easy to read and polished. The example data and queries are just complex enough to demonstrate the issues without obscuring the main points. Minor annoyance about Chapter 15, "SQL Best Practices", which does not explain how to use the query analyzer and bind variables.

I was already familiar with basic Oracle SQL but didn't really understand the language; this book blew away many of the fuzzy concepts in my mind and provided me the framework to tackle more complex problems.

19 May 2007

Auslogics Disk Defragmenter

Diskeeper Lite doesn't work out-of-the-box in Vista; it complains about not having access to Terminal Services. After installing and uninstalling Diskeeper Lite, Vista thinks that there's no longer a defragmenter registered! Ay caramba! Another problem to fix later.

Vista's built-in defragmenter defrag.exe is mute (no status, no progress bar) so I have no idea when I can shut down my computer after I've started a defragmenting job. I found another free disk defragmenter program Auslogics Disk Defrag.

15 May 2007

WinCVS Tcl Shell

Just noticed that I can enter Tcl commands in the WinCVS Output pane (see View / Output menu item). For instance …

info commands
tell socket subst open eof pwd glob list exec pid dir time eval lrange fblocked
lsearch gets case lappend proc break cvsentries variable llength …
info nameofexecutable
C:/Program Files/GNU/WinCvs 2.0/wincvs.exe
info tclversion

Useful commands for me, right now, are ls and pwd, so that I can open files or change the working directory in cmd shell.

12 May 2007

06 May 2007

Vista First Impressions Again

After getting over the difficulty of transferring all my files from my old PC to the new one, here's my first impressions of Vista compared to XP:

  • Definitely lots of eye candy. The semi-transparent borders are neat. Shadow around each window softens their edges.
  • Text display is very clear. Can't tell if it's because of the new computer or improvements in font display. Where's the option to tweak font appearances?
  • Windows Sidebar takes up too much desktop real estate. Until I can find a useful gadget, I turned it off.
  • System administration tasks are better integrated with Control Panel. The related tasks in each window are helpful.
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 now has tabbed browsing, but Windows Explorer doesn't. Trying to opening a folder in MSIE7 just opens yet-another Explorer window. Isn't it obvious that Explorer should have tabbed views to improve file and folder management? Stick with 2xExplorer!
  • Tablet PC input device is standard. No idea how to enable it for the touchpad or a tablet device.
  • What, Powershell not installed by default?
  • Windows Media Player is less annoying than previous versions that wanted to go on-line all the time.

05 May 2007

Windows Vista First Impressions

Started playing with Windows Vista Home Premium (that's a mouthful). First thing I noticed was the eye candy. Desktop is very pretty. Second thing I noticed was how slow network transfers were. So slow that nothing happened when I tried to transfer files from my old computer to my new one.

Applied the following tweaks from Top 10 Vista Speed Tweaks.

  1. Disabled Indexing. I choose Google Desktop for indexing my computer.
  2. Turned of Remote Differential Compression.
  3. Turned off Windows Defender.
  4. Disk Defragmentation is not scheduled.
  5. Didn't try the USB boost option.
  6. Didn't try the Hibernation option.
  7. Left System Restore feature running. It seems like good insurance.
  8. Disabled User Account Control (UAC). Those Apple Get a Mac - Security ads were spot-on. UAC is such a pain in the neck if you want to do anything remotely resembling system administration.
  9. Disabled some unused services.

I also did the following:

  • Turned off Remote Assistance.
  • Removed Symantec Norton. This program also installed its own network adapters. Speed improved from less than 1 MB/sec to 2.3 MB/sec, which is about 50% the speed of my wireless router. Good enough for transferring my files from one computer to another.
  • Turned off the Firewall. My router has a hardware firewall and I prefer Sygate software firewall.

02 May 2007

Disable Compressed Folders

Here's how to disable Windows Explorer's compressed folder view. Basically, start cmd shell, then enter regsvr32 /u zipflr.dll. It's annoying (conceptual overloading, anyone?) when only ZIP files, rather than all compressed files are listed with normal folders in the right pane.