Book: Easy Oracle HTML-DB (Cunningham & Crotty)

HTMLDBBOOKBeing new to ApEx, and to a lesser extent, databases in general, my bud Jon lent me a copy of the above book. We decided to take it for a spin, and our first task was to actually get an instance of ApEx up and running. This is what much of chapters 1 and 2 do, and according to our resident Seux-DBA Scott, it is well worth it. It was installed quickly, and an odd bug forced a patch to be installed (tracked down quickly onlne) and has since worked like a dream.

The next several chapters effectively take you through the process of creating workspaces and accounts, and then takes you into right into application building. The book is accompanied with an Online "Code Depot," which while it has the scripts needed to create some rudimentary tables in which to work, somtimes needed a little tweaking on copy/paste and most sql blocks of code were in a larger file instead of being in individual files as you might think as you go through.

In these chapters you do some interesting work, and I hope to benefit down the road by being able to either look at the book as a reference or literally at the work I did, but I have to admit the book might have led me through a little too directly. This is not necessarily a criticism of the book, but that my learning style is such that I often found myself just going through the steps...time will tell how much I really learned.

There is a clear demarkation at about chapter 10 where the book goes from directing you to being much more broad and nebulous -- talking more vaguely about what can be done...I liken it to the baby bird that just got shoved out of the nest. For this reason, I did not continue too deeply into the second half of the book as I felt I now need real and institutionally relevant work. I therefore reserve the right to add to this if my work finds me rushing back ot the book in the future.

All in all I strongly recommend this book for anyone considering starting with this product regardles of prior experience. It serves as an installation guide, tutorial, and reference. It may have its quirks, but all books do, and that should not stop you.

ApEx, application express, oracle application express, html-db, book, easy oracle html-db, cunningham, crotty, burleson

Deep-dish Chicago-style pizza in New Hampshire?

Quality ZaNot quite, but a while back the Food Network program Unwrapped featured regional foods that could be shipped to just about anywhere. One of these such locations was Chicago, and they featured deep-dish pizzas from Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (Availble at

Being from Chicago myself, I know Lou Malnati's pizza and have eaten in a couple of the restaurants.

Aside: I am actually from the suburb of Elgin, but when you live as far away as New Hamspshire as I do, it is easier to stretch the truth, but a helpful hint -- do not tell a real Chicago native that you are from Chicago when you are really from the 'burbs!

The fact that Lou Malnati's classic Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas can be purchased and delivered anywhere in the United States, and I live 900+ miles from the Windy City, only made my experience with this program inevitable. And God bless my Mom, who finally made it happen!

I write this for my few friends up here in the Northeast who have never had the pleasure of tasting the true Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. You can not let your life slip by without doing this at least once!

Of course by now you know that I whole-heartedly enjoyed this pizza. However, I will temper this with two facts. 1) If you live in Chicago, go to the restaurants (Gino's, Lou's, whatever) -- it will be better than these. 2) It's pricey. 2 pizzas go for about $50; 4 for $70, and yoou will likely only feed 2-3 people per pizza.

But when you are as far away as I am, it is definitely a special treat. There are two things that make the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza unique -- the massive, crispy, buttery crust, and the upside-down-tomatoes-over-the-cheese arrangement. These pizzas certainly deliver on both counts -- with instructions that are very straight-forward. The sausage are better than the cheese, and these are the two options you have.

I should mention that this service also ships Carson's ribs and Eli's Cheesecake, among others, but the pizza is the prize.


Don't call me WebCT!

I received an email (as did all WebCT administrators and support personnel) from Michael Chasen, the CEO of Blackboard.

It now appears that WebCT has a much shorter lifespan than one might have originally thought -- at least as a name.

In the next release, you will see new names for the WebCT products. As part of our commitment to fostering a greater shared community of practice, Campus Edition and Vista will become part of the Blackboard Academic Suite line-up. The new product names will be:

The Blackboard Learning SystemTM - Vista Enterprise License
The Blackboard Learning SystemTM - CE Enterprise Ltd License (formerly the Institution License)
The Blackboard Learning SystemTM - CE Basic License (formerly the Focus License)

They show that these name changes will come effective with future Application Pack upgrades...this would mean we will be running Blackboard Campus Edition 6 or BbCE6.

...stay tuned...

This space for rent?

In a New York Times article, reporter David Joachim wrote that the CBS network has arranged to have advertising printed for their fall season onto 35 million eggs. Each egg will have the trademark CBS logo, the name of an upcoming fall season show, and a silly egg-related pun.

The eggs are created by EggFusion, who have special technology to engrave the markings onto the eggs instead of using inks. Mr. Joachim also noted that the ability lies to track eggs well enough in their delivery to stores that they can target ads to specific zip codes.

You will need a [free] subscription to to read the article in its entirety, or you can read a shorter version of the story from CBS News.

Being in central NH, I haven't seen these, nor do I expect to anytime soon, but this idea has legs and will only become more popular and ubiquitous with your everyday egg purchase...I can't wait until they start printing coupons on them...

AP Photo (click to enlarge)

ads, advertising, cbs, eggfusion, eggs, new york times

WebCT Application Packs: Boiling Frogs?

One of my colleagues attended the 2006 IMPACT conference, the annual WebCT users meeting in Chicago. He posted a great outline of the opening keynote that Blackboard Chairman Matthew Pittinsky and CEO Michael Chasen gave.

While there were many points made, the one that I think stuck with me the most was the following

...As a side note, they currently plan two means by which clients will be able to migrate to the ultimate end product. One is the gradual conversion over time through the use of Application Packs which will evolve and reshape the existing system. The other option is to wait a take a single leap into the new system...

This, if they can pull it off, is a very clever move. Many WebCT institutions will be taking the Blackboard-WebCT buyout as an opportunity to investigate other LMS solutions -- namely ones of the open-source variety. It now sounds like blindly upgrading through the Application Packs will ultimately transform their LMS environment into something very close to the future BlackCT product -- making it more difficult to leap to an open-source solution (or even consider one).

I haven't seen yet if the Application Packs will be mandatory upgrades or if they will be in parallel with the others (i.e., Service Packs). Certainly I would hope the latter. We may ultimately choose to go down this road, but I would like to make that choice, thank you very much.

If you are confused by the boiling frogs remark, I was surprised (well, not really) to find a reference on wikipedia.

webct, blackboard, impact, boiling frogs

WebCT CE 6 and the Yahoo Toolbar (Access problems)

WebCT Campus Edition 6 does not behave very well when the browser you are using has a popup blocker running. Most all browsers today have a popup blocker feature, and you can have a popup blocker installed on your machine AND use WebCT CE 6, but it really seems to be the blockers that come with the 'toolbars' that cause the largest problems.

What kind of problems? Usually they are the kind of problems where at the moment they are trying to do something that requires the popup (like opening the File Browser or creating a message for discussion/email), they will receive a message like 'you have no access or permissions' when all reason suggests that they should.

Toolbars, for those who do not know, are those extra rows of buttons and pictures you may find near (usually directly below) the Address bar in you browser (see example below). There are many of them, but the most popular from my experience appear to by those distributed by Google and Yahoo. For most of you, especially those who have the Yahoo toolbar, you will have absolutely no recollection as to how that 'got there.' Oftentimes it piggybacks on another application or update you DID intend to install.


The most noteworthy offender is Macromedia (or is it Adobe) Flash Player. It is a free download that has [relatively] frequent updates. Each update, if you are not careful, will install the toolbar. Of course if you do not have it already, then you do not receive a second. However, if you have deleted the toolbar program (easy to do), the next update can again put it back.

I use -- and enjoy having -- the Google toolbar. However, the popup blockers always start 'on.' I turn them off, and leave the Internet Explorer one on. I then add the WebCT site (actually I add '*' where the institution is yours) as a trusted site.

browsers, webct, campus edition 6, toolbars, popup blockers