Every once in a while two geek worlds collide and the resulting geekiness is several orders of magnitude higher than the sum of the two worlds. This is one of those cases.

Thanks to Carla for posting this.

geek, funny, fun, funny video, star trek, monty python, british humor

On my article about auto increment columns in Oracle Stephane asked about the use of dual in Oracle.

Dual is sort-of a dummy table. It’s a real table, but not one that should ever get updated. It exists in every Oracle database and is useful for troubleshooting and development.

If you describe dual you will see it’s definition:

SQL> desc dual;
Name Null? Type
----------------------------------------- -------- ----------------------------
DUMMY VARCHAR2(1)

Dual has only one row, but you can select the value of it.

SQL> select * from dual;

D
-
X

Dual can be selected by any user. Since it contains just the one row you can use it to return a single result to you, like

SQL> select sysdate from dual;

SYSDATE
---------
11-AUG-06

Now you could have done this against any single-row table. You could even create a single row table to select results like this, but since Oracle provides the dual table everyone tends to use it.

Thanks for the question Stephane. I think many people use Dual without knowing (or even wondering) what it is.

oracle, database administration, dba, database development

Think this blog thing is a fad? Think again! With Technorati now tracking over 50 million blogs (as of July ’06), a number which has been doubling every six months for the past three years.

What does this mean? Well, it means there’s some momentum behind blogs that shows no sign of plateauing anytime soon.

Rod Boothby at great thoughts on the matter…

With blogging growing that fast, it is inevitable that blogs will become a major part of enterprise communications in the near future. CTOs, CIOs and CKOs that fight that trend will find their people turning to open, external providers. That might not be a bad thing, but the more cautious route would probably be to provide a company sanctioned secure alternative.

Check out Rod’s full article. I think he’s got a pretty good pulse on this.

blogs, blogging, blog, blogosphere

Oracle Shell Scripting by Jon EmmonsAs of today I have gone under contract with Rampant TechPress to write the book Oracle Shell Scripting: Linux and UNIX Programming for Oracle. This book explores shell scripting as a means to automate and improve the environment in which many of us run Oracle.

Shell scripting is necessary for automating a broad range of administration tasks on Oracle servers. Many Oracle administrators and developers lack a strong system administration background and therefore manually perform these tasks at the cost of time, money and sustainability.

This book will discuss how to automate many of the common Oracle administration tasks as well as the methods necessary to automate site-specific tasks. Special attention will be given to writing industry strength scripts which free the Oracle professional from daily maintenance tasks yet provide proper tracking and feedback to ensure the best possible operation.

While this will be quite a diversion from blogging (in more than one way) I am quite excited about publishing a longer work. I have always taken a quiet pride in my shell scripts as they chug away nightly backing up databases and monitoring the system. The opportunity to give such an essential topic a full treatment should be quite rewarding.

Having been a Solaris and Linux system administrator for quite some time and now beeing a full-time DBA I don’t know how I could survive without my army of shell scripts. Even more I remember how hard it was to learn shell scripting and UNIX in general. Now my hope is that I can lend some of my experience, and some pre-fab scripts to others.

Speaking of pre-fab scripts, the book will come with over 50 working shell scripts for a broad range of purposes. Read all about the book and even check out the table of contents at Rampant’s site.

Well, the book won’t hit shelves until May of next year, but you can expect to hear more about it from me as that date gets closer.

Aerobie AeroPressAfter reading about the Aerobie AeroPress at Brotherhood of the Bean I was very curious about this new method of brewing coffee. Skeptical from my experience with the Toddy cold brew system I decided to see if Aerobie would send me one to review. Alex at Aerobie was quick to respond and a couple days later I got the AeroPress.

How it works

Part French press, part espresso the AeroPress is a new breed of coffee maker. First you insert one of the micro-filters into the filter holder and twist it onto the larger of the two tubes (seen in the picture to the left.) Set the tube on top of your coffee mug (not included, but I’m sure you don’t need another one anyway) and add one scoop of ground coffee for each shot of espresso or (small) cup of coffee you wish to make.

You then add hot water (165-175 degrees Fahrenheit) to the tube and stir for ten seconds with the included stirrer (the tube is graduated so you’ll know how much water to add.) Now the fun part… Take the plunger and press the coffee through the filter. This part takes about another 20 seconds.

If you want espresso, you’re done. If you want Americano-style coffee just top off your cup with a bit more hot water. Cleanup involves untwisting the filter holder, pushing the coffee and filter out of the tube and rinsing the plunger and filter holder. It’s just that easy.

I found the maker very easy to learn and I got fantastic coffee on my first try. The only tough part was getting the water at just the right temperature. An instant-read thermometer helped me figure out the timing and now I can nuke up the hot water with no guess work.

The results

Though skeptical at first, after using the Aerobie AeroPress for a couple weeks I have to say it makes great American coffee and some of the best espresso I’ve ever had! Now to back that statement up I feel I should mention that I used to work in a coffee shop with a Rancilio Z9 which served nothing but Lavazza espresso and this $30 home machine made equal or better espresso than the best we ever got out of our Z9! The AeroPress process even yields a nice crema on top of the espresso.

And yes, you read that right, $30 is the price. That includes the maker, funnel, scoop, stirrer, filter holder and 350 filters. The filters are proprietary, but hey, when you only have to order them once a year (or so) who cares…

After a couple weeks of use I can only see two drawbacks to it. First, you will use more coffee than in a typical drip coffee maker. This is typical to espresso makers. Second, the unit will only make four cups (about two typical mugs) of coffee at a time. Typically this won’t be a problem as the whole process is so quick you could still turn out a dozen mugs in less than 10 minutes.

Conclusions

The Aerobie AeroPress has earned a place on my counter. Fulfilling my need for an espresso machine, at a fraction of the cost of any other I would consider, and my occasional need for a single-cup maker my AeroPress isn’t going anywhere.

Beyond regular use I think this maker has great potential for camping. The maker, scoop and stirrer weighs in at just over 9 ounces and is all made of durable polycarbonate (I believe) so it would pack small and light and would be much less fragile than a French press.

The AeroPress would also make perfect espresso for recipes. At the price it would be worth having around for this alone.

Read more about the AeroPress at Aerobie’s site. They also have a complete listing of both US and international vendors.

coffee, espresso, drinks

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