Don’t try this at home…

All I can say is here are three fairly insane Tesla coil videos. The third one may not actually be a Tesla, but it’s insane enough for me to overlook that.

This guy set up his Tesla to ground to the dropped ceiling grid.

Here we see a crazy man. Note the flames coming from the fluorescent bulb in the last couple seconds of the video.

This… Well, this is just plain the coolest thing I’ve ever seen done with high voltage. I don’t know exactly how this was done, but I’m damned glad it was.

electric, electronic, tesla, tesla coil, electricity, lightning

Life After Coffee – Now With Caffeine

Life After Coffee – 26% Wider and Now With Caffeine

After many hours playing with my site theme I have finally made the leap. Unless something has gone horribly wrong (or you’re reading this in an RSS reader) you’re now looking at Caffeine, my new WordPress theme.

I’m no web developer, so this is a fairly big departure for me. If you have any suggestions, or if you find any browser issues or other bugs, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or contact me through the contact link above.

This theme is based on the default WordPress theme, but is also inspired by the popular Connections theme. Once I’ve had a bit more time to touch up the code I’ll probably be making this theme available for download.

I’m interested in distributing the theme not because I think everyone wants their site to look like mine, but rather because I’ve spent a ton of time making the theme easy to modify. Hours were spent indenting code, adding comments, organizing the css and replacing the archaic endif and enwhile markers in the code.

The result is what you see here. The whole theme only uses four images so it should be easy to change up the entire look of it fairly easily. Everything that’s opened in the header.php is closed in the footer.php and all the sidebar stuff is in the sidebar.php. I’ve also been able to add a (very usefull) admin panel in the sidebar.

As I said above, I’m no web developer. As such I have to give great thanks to Matt Batchelder and Zach Tirrell (who are web developers) for helping me with my theme redo.

Please leave any suggestions or problems and check back often if you’re interested in the Caffeine theme.

blogs, wordpress, theme

Banner/Oracle User Conference

Yesterday I attended a Banner/Oracle user conference at Wellesley College. This annual, one-day event of largely peer presentations was a great opportunity for networking and knowledge exchange. Here are some of the take-homes I got out of this conference in no particular order. These are just my observations and opinions and pertain to the scope of our institution and environment.

Oracle Database

Marc Kelberman, Oracle pre-sales engineer for higher-ed gave a presentation on RAC/Grid control and SQL Developer.

Very few have moved from 9i to 10g. Those who have, or will soon, are going straight to 10gR2.

It is important to go to the latest patchset for 10gR2.

Oracle’s RAC/Grid technology is very cool, but it is unlikely it would offer much to our small (6,000 student) university. Larger universities may benefit from it.

Grid/RAC requires a shared storage architecture.

It would take a great effort between systems, networking and database administrators to implement RAC/Grid.

Around 75% of the institutions I spoke to were running Oracle on Sun Solaris.

None of the institutions I spoke to were running Oracle on Linux.

None of the institutions I spoke to were running clustering/RAC/Grid Control.

Several institutions are running some type of network attached storage (NAS) to store their data files.

One institution (I believe this was the host institution, Wellesley) is running their Oracle home directories on network attached storage. This allows them to maintain only one oracle home per database version saving hours of work per upgrade.

Most institutions are still relying on cold backups as their primary backup method.

Only a couple institutions I talked to have adopted Oracle RMAN for backups.

Oracle SQL Developer

Marc did a good demonstration of SQL Developer, but this product is hard to appreciate until you’ve used it. Thankfully it’s free, so there’s no good reason not to test drive it.

Identity Management

Dan Sterling, Chief Technology Architect for SunGard Higher Education presented on SunGard HE’s plans for identity management. It looks like they will focus on integrating with third party tools via open standards.

Banner Student Information System

One university mentioned that when a user asks for a modification to their student information system they require that the user submit a request for product enhancement with the vendor before a local modification is made. This seems like a good policy.

Final thoughts

The relatively small number of attendees made this conference great for networking. It’s very interesting to interact with universities of different sizes. Some of the universities in attendance had one administrator for their Oracle databases, application servers and application support, while others have a large staff and highly individualized positions.

Though this conference happens near the end of the academic year it was a nice diversion from summer planning. Beyond the networking, the take-homes are more than worth the day out of work.

oracle, banner, sungard he, summit, conference, higher education, database, database administration, database development