Happy birthday to the transistor!

The first transistorSixty years ago today (December 16, 1947 for those who may not read this right away) there was one transistor in the whole world. The transistor had just been invented by three physicists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, USA who were looking for a viable alternative to traditional vacuum tubes which were comparatively large and also consumed much more power.

The basic function of the transistor is to act as an electronic switch (without any moving parts.) By combining several of these switches it is possible to make simple decisions based on input and perform basic (binary) math.

While the transistor has at times been the target of an analog-vs-digital style debate in the music field there is no debating that the transistor has changed our world. The modern computer processor contains hundreds of millions of transistors and every pixel on an LCD display has an accompanying transistor lending a few hundred thousand more transistors to the average computer.

Every modern electronic device more sophisticated than the flashlight contains transistors, usually by the hundreds or more. The relatively small size of modern hand-held electronics (e.g. cell phones) is largely due to the ever-shrinking transistor.

Just think how many other advances have been enabled by the mainframe computer and now the microcomputer. The transistor will go down as one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century and will continue to shape our digital world for quite some time to come.

Thanks to the MAKE magazine blog for mentioning this milestone. They also point to an article from Forbes.com which makes for some good reading.

electronics, electronic, transistor, electric, computer

Oracle Shell Scripting: First Review on Amazon.com

Last week my book, Oracle Shell Scripting: Linux and UNIX Programming for Oracle got its first review on Amazon.com:

Here’s Mike Bennett’s complete review from Amazon:

I’m a veteran Oracle Database Administrator and most of my work is on Unix systems so I wasn’t sure how much information in this book would be useful to me. I was pleasantly surprised to find what a wide range of scripting tips and techniques this manual provides. I was impressed by the fact that the author didn’t just describe HOW to do something, but also explained WHY a particular approach was taken. I also like the fact that the scripts given aren’t just contrived samples, but are practical and useful as given. This information will definitely help simplify some of my routine tasks and provide me with timely information about the environments and systems I work with. The author also pointed out how to go beyond what was provided in the book by suggesting ways the examples might be modified. I’ve already taken advantage of that with a script I helped one of my clients develop.

Thanks to Mike for the great review! I’m glad he found the book useful and I hope others do as well. If you have my book I welcome your feedback and encourage you to post your own review on Amazon!

Oracle Shell ScriptingFor more information like this check out my book Oracle Shell Scripting, only $34.95 from Rampant TechPress.

Buy it now!


When to use shell scripts

With my new book “Oracle Shell Scripting” now on shelves you may be wondering what shell scripting can do for you. Below is an excerpt from the book that touches on when you may want to think about scripting. While the book is geared toward Oracle users much of the content would apply to shell scripting regardless of the use.

When to script

A shell script can be written to do anything you would do at the command line. So when do you want to write a shell script? When is it a bad idea? Well, here are a few guidelines I use.

Shell scripts can yield the biggest return on regular tasks that are performed more-or-less the same way each time. If every day you log into a system and remove some files out of a directory, backup a database or check a log file for a specific string of characters you should automate these tasks. Chances are you can make them run automatically and save yourself the hassle all together.

Shell scripts aren’t just for automation though. In some cases a script saves us time in a different way by allowing us to run a simple command instead of a very complicated one.

One of the most powerful features of the shell and shell scripting is the ability to affect several files and even multiple servers with a single script. Loops and commands like find make shell scripting ideal for managing large numbers of files in a single step.

In general there is little point in writing a shell script to do something once. The exception to this is occasionally something needs to be run at a time when you would rather not have to be around to run it yourself. In this case you may decide to bundle those commands into a shell script and schedule it to run without you involved. Be careful with this type of script and always be thinking “what if something goes wrong?” because sooner or later it will and if you’re not around to fix it you could get in some hot water.

Oracle Shell ScriptingFor more information like this check out my book Oracle Shell Scripting, only $34.95 from Rampant TechPress.

Buy it now!


shell script, unix, linux, oracle, bash, scripting

Another great T-shirt

It’s the holidays and that means two things at Life After Coffee… 1) I have some fun posting gift ideas, and 2) I get a little lazy about blogging and do a lot of sniping from other people’s blogs. Today it’s yet another great product that Dee pointed out:

Call A Meeting T-Shirt


This image is available on a number of shirts at CafePress and would be perfect for the office Yankee Swap, Secret Santa or maybe just to send a message, comical or not.

humor, funny, fun, gift, shopping

Oracle Shell Scripting available on Amazon.com

Oracle Shell ScriptingMy book Oracle Shell Scripting: Linux and UNIX Programming for Oracle has just become available on Amazon.com!

The book has been out for just a couple weeks and should be in book stores soon, but it can be had online right now! The best price on the book right now can be found at Rampant TechPress who is currently selling the book for $34.95. Amazon is currently selling the book at the cover price of $49.95.


unix, oracle, shell scripting, linux, book, database tuning, database administration, database security