May 26, 2005

Oracle sqlplus "&" issue

I ran into an interesting issue today with sqlplus for Oracle 10g. I was trying to insert a row using a statement like:

INSERT INTO tablex (SomeVarcharField) VALUES ('Cats & Dogs');

When the script ran I got a message like this:

"enter a value for dogs:"

When I press enter the value that was inserted was 'Cats '.


I found out that sqlplus treats ampersands as special escape characters and that the only way it will accept it is if it is the last character in the string. So the work around is to end the string at the ampersand and concatenate the rest of the string. For example: 'Cats &'||' Dogs'

That worked. In my case I had a bunch of INSERT statements in a SQL file and I didn't want to change each one individually so I asked some of my coworkers what I could do. They suggested a nifty command (using SED) to do the trick:

sed -i.bak "s/\&/\&\'\|\|\'/g" MyFileOfInserts.sql

This creates a file called MyFileOfInserts.sql.bak with my old data and then replaces & with &'||' . That nasty stuff in the middle is a regular expression. You gotta LUV IT!

May 24, 2005

Marketing: Get the Geeks!

Apple is a marketing genius and it's about time. For decades computer users have been plagued with Microsoft dominance. Windows has saturated the Operating System market which has made it a favorite target for identity thieves, hackers, and virus makers. During those years, the quest was on for something better. I think that most of computer users have become accepting of the "Blue Screen of Death" as well as other wonderful Windows features that makes life miserable and frustrating.

Enter OS X.

Apple did what I think was a stroke of brilliance to regain the audience. They went after the geeks. They built an OS based on BSD, a popular Unix environment for geeks which made them giddy as school boys. Build to be robust as well as easy to use, OS X is a marvel and a thing of beauty to behold as well as a much welcomed breath of fresh air for power users.

Why is that genius? Who do the novices of the computer world call to get help with all of their problems? It is usually a friend or relative who has the reputation of being a geek. What will the geek recommend to their fellow novice who's new PC computer starts locking up after only 3 months of use? What will the geek recommend when that friend or relative calls frantically because their computer has been infected with a virus, trojan, etc. ? What will the geek recommend when their parents call because they can't get their photos off of their new digital camera -- and when they do they don't know where they went -- and when they finally do find them they accidentally deleted them?

The answer is obvious, "Dude, you should buy a Mac." Yes, get the Mac. Make the move. Life will be much easier on us all.

May 5, 2005

Orem will fund part of structure

If anyone has driven down State street in Orem in the last year you've probably noticed a gaping hole in the ground surrounding a very tall, majestic looking tower. You may also have noticed that very little has changed in the last year. Well, all of that could change now that the city of Orem has bailed out the financially struggling owners. Overall, I am happy to see someone step in and do something about this. Although it is nice to have the trailor park gone, a huge hole in the heart of the town is not much more amusing.

I will be interested to see how this all works out.

--- | Orem will fund part of structure: "Orem will fund part of structure

OREM — Orem city officials have agreed to help build the first level of the Midtown Village parking structure at 320 S. State — paid for by assessments against the project.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the resolution creating a $7 million special-improvement district that's been in the works for months.
'This is a very complicated project,' said Mayor Jerry Washburn. 'A great many hours have been invested in this.'
City Manager Jim Reams said the agreement constitutes a construction loan that acts as a lien against Midtown Village, which is worth many times the cost of the parking structure.
Orem has the right to foreclose if the project should stall.
Larry Myler, one of the project's owners, said he supports the city's action.
'I think the city made a wise choice in having the project bear the burden rather than the county taxpayers,' he said. "

May 4, 2005

New Mormon temple offers heavenly views

I read this article from a San Antonio newspaper about the Temple being dedicated. I couldn't help but feel what an incredible contribution the temple makes to those that enter it's doors. I thought the article was well written and fair.

You can read the article by following this link: | New Mormon temple offers heavenly views

You will probably have to create a login to view the page, but it is worth it.

Pelosi on Social Security

I thought the following post from the Wall-Street Journal was amusing. Although I am not sure Bush is right in his approach to Social Security, I know I don't agree with Pelosi. In fact, I don't think I agree with hardly anything she ever says-- on anything!

Best of the Web Today - May 2, 2005


You Bet Your Life
ABC doesn't put transcripts of "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" on its Web site, which means it goes pretty much unnoticed except for TiVo-equipped political junkies. Fortunately for you, dear reader, your humble columnist is just such a junkie, and we sit through "This Week" so you don't have to. Anyway, here's a hilarious exchange from Stephanopoulos's interview yesterday with Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader:

Stephanopoulos: Why should American people trust the Democrats [on Social Security] if you don't have a specific plan?

Pelosi: The American people should trust the Democrats because we originated Social Security. This was a very entrepreneurial idea of the New Deal and Democrats will not allow the Republicans to turn this great deal for the American people into a raw deal for them by what they are proposing. They've never really supported Social Security, and the way to damage it, I'm trying to select my word carefully, is to destroy the universality of it. The genius of Social Security at the time was that everybody supported it in terms of the working families of America because they got a stream of income commensurate to what they put into the program.

So the Republicans have "never really supported Social Security" even though at the time it originated "everybody supported it." Granted, the GOP was the minority party in 1935, but like the Democrats today, it never quite ceased to exist.

Even funnier is Pelosi's statement that "the American people should trust the Democrats because we originated Social Security." Sounds great, except that Claude Pepper died in 1989, and every other New Deal-era Democrat we can think of predeceased him. Even Robert "Archaeopteryx" Byrd arrived in Congress almost 18 years after the passage of the Social Security Act.

Pelosi's comment has overtones of Marx--not Karl but Groucho, who in "A Night at the Opera" uttered this line: "Nix on the love-making because I saw Mrs. Claypool first. Of course, her mother really saw her first but there's no point in bringing the Civil War into this."

"A Night at the Opera" came out in 1935--the year Social Security was born, 70 years after the end of the Civil War, and 70 years before Nancy Pelosi's Marxian performance on "This Week."

May 3, 2005

A Fresh Start

So, I am sitting here at the University Mall campus for Utah Valley State College (UVSC) about a half hour before my Biology 1010 class starts. I was happy to find that the wireless connection that I purchased for the main campus is in place here so that I can be online during class. This kind of technology is really cool.

After the last semester, I am glad to have a fresh start. I really felt that last semester I put in a sub-mike-farmer-standard effort. With only one class, I am glad to start anew and really put forth a revitalized effort.


Funny thing just happened. The instructor here, who seems really nice, is setting up a projector. Looks like she will be using powerpoint for her lecture. She just asked me if I knew how to make the remote for the projector turn the slides. She needs a cable to plug the projector into her laptop to get it to work. The funny thing about this though is that you never know when odd-ball computer skills will come in handy.

The Perfect Email Client

Word processors, such as WordPerfect and MS Word, have been around for some time now - over 20 years. Honestly, I can't think of anything that I would add to them. I have been using Word for over 5 years and I love it. For me, it is the perfect word processor. That isn't to say that it has flaws. I wish someone would come up with a way to do numbered lists and bullet points that isn't excruciatingly painful. There must be some balance of automation there that is helpful rather than frustrating... but that is another post.

With email being around for over 10 years now, it strikes me that there is yet to be an email program that is simple and easy to use. I have been a consumer of GroupWise, Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, Evolution, and various web clients. All of these products get the basic job down and each have their elements that are cool. The problem that I see is there is yet to be a single email client that is both simple and gets the job done.

Currently, I use Outlook because of the my reliance on an Exchange Server where I work. It is a good start and probably my client of choice right now. The problem is that it is so slow and clunky. Because of the massive code base behind it, it is neither simple or easy to use. That takes me to my next favorite email client, Thunderbird. This is a small and easy to use email client, but lacks some of the simple functionality that I love in Outlook. One thing that I wish Thunderbird would do away with is the Mozilla, Netscape "To" line that requires every contact to go into a wierd list. That wouldn't be too bad if they could incorporate some easy-to-use key strokes to move from line to line. Instead, it turns out to be a hassle to send email to more than one person.

With a concept as easy as email there is still a huge void for a product that just works. If anyone runs across one, please let me know. If not, will somebody please just take the cool features from these packages and just write me a simple, easy-to-use, feature rich mail client?