This tutorial from the Oracle Technology Network outline the use of the three types of variables available in SQLPlus. Bind variables, substitution variables and system variables are all explained in this succinct yet thorough tutorial. The best I’ve seen on the subject.

SQL*Plus Substitution Variables from Oracle Technology Network.

For information on other Oracle web resources, check out my other article on the topic.

oracle, dba, database, database administrator, rdbms, database development, database design

After some web searching I found these two resources on PL/SQL. Of course there are many others, but these two seem fairly good without being overly complicated.

Using Oracle PL/SQL from Stanford University

PL/SQL Reference & Tutorial from Elliot Spencer’s web site

While neither of these sites display the polish of a site like w3schools.com they both have great, well organized information.

For more of my favorite Oracle resources, check out my previous article on Oracle Web Resources

oracle, sql, plsql, dba, database administration, database, database design

PULSEPink Floyd “Pulse” tour soon to be available on DVD!

Arguably the greatest live rock performance ever (though you won’t get any argument from me), Pink Floyd’s final tour has been available on VHS since 1995. According to a Reuters.com article it will be available on DVD this December.

Scheduled for North American release on December 6, I’m afraid I won’t be waiting until Christmas for this one.

This is not yet listed on Amazon for pre-order, but I’ll keep an eye on it and post an update here when it is available.

pink floyd, music, rock, entertainment, classic rock, david gilmour, roger waters, nick mason, richard wright, pulse

high waterWondering how high the water really was when I came over the temporary bridge on the Pemigewasset into Plymouth this morning I went straight to the folks who track these things.

The U.S. Geological Survey tracks river and stream data for many points on many streams in the US and they’re nice enough to put it on their website. Their site will never win any awards for web design, but the information is there, even with a webcam (updated hourly or so.) The information on the Pemi in Plymouth is available here, or look up realtime streamflow data for your area here.

The USGS also posts great historical data on their site if you’re interested in doing some data mining!

flood, pemigewasset, plymouth nh, river flooding, nh, nh flooding, high water, weather, streamflow, usgs

With the growing popularity of distance education (The University of Phoenix claims to be the largest accredited school in the US) I wonder how long it will be until you can “outsource” your class work.

Several schools offer distance education in a model which is designed to accommodate students who never set foot on a campus. While this is compelling to the university, who does not have to provide a classroom, lights, heat, parking, and it is compelling to the student who is freed from the restrictions of class times and travel, does this model open the door to a new form of cheating?

An industrious company based somewhere that labor is cheap, could offer a “tutoring” service for online education. If someone had the means (price of enrollment plus a couple hundred dollars per course), they could enroll in an online course for their undergraduate, masters, or even doctoral degree and pass off their username and password to a proxy scholar. The proxy scholar then would complete the class work from anywhere in the world, and the class is applied to the degree of the purchaser.

Sound far fetched? In the game industry “farming” is common practice. Farming is when players play the game, by the rules, and once they acquire items within the game they sell them for real money! To avoid the problems with selling something that is intellectual property of the game producers, farmers sell their time invested in obtaining the item, but essentially the purchaser is buying the item. For more information on this, check out borkweb.com’s article World of Warcrack and the future of MMOGs

Perhaps more concerning is this example of three teachers at a technical college in Georgia who are being accused of this exact crime. While it is currently unclear if money changed hands, it is believed that another individual not associated with the college completed course work under the name of these three teachers.

So how can colleges combat these “proxy scholars?” Of course there are academic integrity policies in place, but they are unlikely to detour the student looking for the easy way out. PKI solutions and biometrics have their own scary side-effects and anyone who thinks they can’t be forged is not paying attention.

I am afraid we will only hear more about this type of fraud. Hopefully institutions offering distance education can develop a way to mitigate this outsourcing of class work before it devalues the online work that so many students are legitimately achieving.

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