Friday, February 29, 2008

Ubuntu Brainstorm

Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, has released Ubuntu Brainstorm. A place where everyone can post and vote ideas that should be developed for upcoming releases of Ubuntu. Quite like Dell did some time ago.

A great way for people to tell what they think about the current state of the distribution and to comment on the ideas of others. By voting a idea can get high up the request list for the Ubuntu Developers and make it to the next release. In my opinion a great idea! Go Ubuntu!

Oracle Price Break, Point or Range.

Oracle Advanced Pricing, price breaks, using Point or Range type? Price Breaks, simply put price breaks are a method of applying discounts. If you order 6 items you get a 5 percent discount, if you order 13 items you get a 10 percent discount and if you order 31 items you get a 15 percent discount.

The range is:
0 till 10 you get 5 percent discount.
11 till 20 you get 10 percent discount.
21 till 50 you get 15 percent discount.

The question of point and range is to determine what to do if you order for example 16 items, this falls in the range of 10 percent discount. The question now is do you get 10 percent discount on the price of 16 items or do you get 5 percent discount on 10 items and 10 percent on 6 items?

A point price break will determine the range and apply the discount for this range on the entire quantity of items.
A range will determine what quantity will fall in what range and apply the discount per range, so in the above example you will get the 5 percent discount on 10 items and 10 percent on 6 items.

To create a Price Break Header modifier in Oracle Advanced pricing you navigate within the Oracle Order Management Super User responsibility (you can access this from various other responsibilitie. ) and navigate to “Pricing” – “Modifiers”. Here you can create a Modifier of the “Discount List” type.

The “Modifier type” on the line you have to create is from the “Price Break Header” type. In this example we have set the “Pricing Phase” to “List Line Adjustment”. We also have set the “Product Attribute” to “Item Number” so this line will only apply for the item given in the “Product Attribute Value” field, for this example we have picked a item named “Alfa-radio”. “volume type” is set to “Item Quantity”, Break Type is set to “Point”, “operator” is “Between”, “UOM” is “Each”.

In the “Price Breaks” tab you have to define the “Adjustment Type”. This can be a Discount, which we will pick in this example or you can select a “Surcharge” for those cases you like to add cost to the price.

Now we have to define the ranges, if you click on the “Define Details” button you will be presented with the “Define Modifier Details” Screen. Here we can setup the ranges and the appropriate discounts that fall into the ranges.

After this is set the modifier will be available, if you enter for this item an amount within one of the ranges the appropriate discount will be applied in the order. In this example we have used a point modifier and not a range so you will see that all the items will have a discount defined in the range where the point resides. So only ONE type of discount in percentage will be applied and not ranges of discount.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

pre-installed VMware

“Through deals with HP, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens and IBM, Vmware has arranged to ship its ESX 3i hypervisor virtualization software preinstalled in servers. The products will also come with a trial version of VMware's Infrastructure 3. While VMware works to capitalize on its position as the leader in the virtualization market, Microsoft is readying its own offering.” Source:

Tuesday VMware announced that servers with ESX 3i pre-installed will ship. This way they hope to gain even more momentum in getting the biggest share in the virtualization world. Even do Oracle and Microsoft are now starting to get their own good share of this market VMware is still the leading supplier of virtualization platforms. Today VMware announced that they will pre-installed ship it on Sun x64 Server and Storage Portfolio.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Toad for Oracle, SQL Optimizer

I received Toad for Oracle, version, to test some of the futures if this would be a good tool to use for developing code. I am used to work with PL/SQL developer from allround automations. However, after playing around with this version of Toad for Oracle I have to say that there are some very nice options, especially in the Optimizer part.

After you create your code you can start to analyze your code and optimize it for different scenarios. Your original code will be checked and several other statements will be written which are all some different from the original. After Toad is finished writing the different sql statements you will be able to test them on the system and you will be presented with a graphical overview of the differences in response time. From this you can pick the version which is best applicable to your situation. The fastest response time, the less read operations, the less memory use,.....

Scaling and optimizing with Toad is now something that can be done very quickly and efficiently. The downside is that “quick” is relative. On my development machine the process was taking quite some time. However, the time you normally put into such a process of debugging and optimizing can now be used for other things. The Optimizer is a real nice option in Toad I have to admit however making it faster would be a real improvement.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Monty Hall problem

A pub is (A) the best place to have a discussion (B) the worst place to have a discussion. A couple of days ago I had a lengthy discussion with a friend in a pub about the Monty Hall Problem. In short the Monty Hall problem is the following:

Imagine yourself in a gameshow, you can pick out of 3 doors, after 2 doors will be a goat after 1 door you will have a brand new car. Lets say you pick door 1, now the showhost is opening an other door and asks you if you want to stay with your original pick or you still want to switch. In my opinion switching will increase your changes of winning. The pictures below will ilustrate why.

In the beginning situation you will have a 1/3 change of picking the correct door. When you pick this door the change that the car is behind one of the other doors is 2/3 (2*1/3). Now the showhost is opening one of those doors so you know that you that the car is not behind this door and the 2/3 change is now on one single door. Making it a better pick than your original door, which still has a 1/3 change.

This little puzzle is the source for some discussion, I had the discussion and a lot of other people did also have very very heated debates about this. Try to make up your own mind and google some on the topic. A nice brain trainer.....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Google Web Toolkit

Ajax, Asynchrone Java And Xml, already for sometime now a promising buzzword which also have gained some momentum in developers communities. Web2.0 is mostly powered by AJAX and AJAX like applications and enables us to have a lot more fun on the web. However, how to work with it is still for some a little mystery and I have no intentions to clear that up in this blogpost. I do intend to give some more insight in some tools and ways you can play with AJAX and I might give some start pointers away. To be honest AJAX is quite simple and can be learned by example from the web. Recently I was asked to code a little web tool and this gave me the opportunity to get some more knowledge to AJAX and after a very little effort I was able to put in to use.

First, Google Web Toolkit, google claims the following on the website:
Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is an open source Java software development framework that makes writing AJAX applications like Google Maps and Gmail easy for developers who don't speak browser quirks as a second language. Writing dynamic web applications today is a tedious and error-prone process; you spend 90% of your time working around subtle incompatibilities between web browsers and platforms, and JavaScript's lack of modularity makes sharing, testing, and reusing AJAX components difficult and fragile.

GWT lets you avoid many of these headaches while offering your users the same dynamic, standards-compliant experience. You write your front end in the Java programming language, and the GWT compiler converts your Java classes to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML.

And I think this is completely accurate. On the google website you can find a lot of examples, books and articles to get you started. What Google offers is a quite good set of pre developed solutions you can put to work for you. You want HTML / AJAX tabs on your website, just issue the command and you have your tabs. You want,...... issue the command and you have it. There is quite a big library of nice "things" you can use and this can speed up your development in a big way.

Secondly a nice thing to explore is the Oracle Berkeley DB Java Edition as a Persistence Manager for the Google Web Toolkit. Oracle has written a whitepaper about this subject and gives away some very nice coding examples for you to use. You can find the document on the oracle website.

I also found a nice video from Google Developers you might want to watch.

Real-Time Profiling & Monitoring

A new Google TechTalk now done by Cliff Click from Azul Systems on Real-Time Profiling & Monitoring (RTPM).

I present an unscripted live demo of RTPM, Azul's profiling & monitoring tool (meaning: I'll take suggestions from the audience on what buttons to push during the demo). JVM's routinely collect a lot of very useful information internally and the Azul engineers were long frustrated that this information was not readily available outside the VM: with RTPM it now is.

Azul works with some of the largest Java programs around. We routinely debug performance problems in programs with hundreds of running threads (not just runnable threads) using garbage-collected heaps with 100's of gigabytes. RTPM is a big selling point with our customers, and our secret weapon for telling you what your program is doing.

* Always-on (low overhead) everything
* All stats viewable from standard web browers
* Contended monitors, i.e. "hot locks" - and call stacks for threads blocked on the lock
* Live counts of all sys-calls, i/o, file caches, RPC's, native calls
* Live stats on GC: heap size, GC cycle times, generation sizes, app pause times, app allocation rates, etc
* Live stats of live stuff in the heap;
* Aggregate "points-to" on all heap objects. Suspect a leak? By looking at the suspicious objects' points-to data you can quickly zero-in on the root of the leak.
* Live hot-code profiling
* JIT asm dumps, annotated with live hardware perf counters
* Live stack traces of running threads (in 1-line-per Java call format, or 1-line-per-Java-local)
* "Peek" into the live heap, much like a debugger can - straight from live stack trace dumps
* Surf around the loaded class hierarchy, or the JIT'd code or all HotSpot flags or...
* Works with 1000's of runnable threads
* Works with 100's of Gigabyte heaps

Speaker: Cliff Click (Azul Systems)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Google and Travel Medicine

Emporiatrics or Travel Medicine is a discipline within medicine that prepares a traveler using vaccines, medicines and knowledge to avoid disease when visiting a foreign destination. I will discuss the current mapping of interventions offered to patients planning trips and illustrate with examples how the constraints of patient needs and the risks at a specific destination overlap to arrive at a list of recommendations that are offered a traveler before departure.

Depending on crowd size I can run through personal case examples for those who are planning an exotic trip. I hope to also highlight limitations of the practice of emporiatrics and suggest where Google can potentially offer a useful "expert system" that might be modulated by risk, price points and insurance coverage using disease maps from publicly available surveillance data and patient records, using the Kaiser Epic Data system.

Speaker: D. Scott Smith. Scott grew up in Boulder Colorado and attended medical school at the University of Colorado. He went to public health school at Harvard University where an interest in Tropical Public Health was further developed, leading to a year long adventure on a Fulbright scholarship in Cali, Colombia, seeking improved diagnostic technologies to understand the epidemiology of leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis (River Blindness). He completed residency then a Fellowship at Stanford University in Medicine then Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine.

Scott practices at Kaiser in Redwood City, California where he heads the HIV/AIDS clinic and oversees the travel medicine services locally but also is developing regionalization of the Travel Medicine Services for Kaiser Northern California. He co-chairs the biennial National Conference on Preparing International Travelers. He teaches at Stanford Medical School in the Microbiology and Immunology Division and directs a course for undergraduates in Human Biology entitled "Parasites & Pestilence: Public Health Challenges". He was recently presented the Bloomfield award in recognition of excellence in the teaching of clinical medicine at Stanford School of Medicine.

Acknowledging Candid's epiphany (after tumultuous world travel) that staying in one's own backyard is a pathway to happiness, in his spare time he gardens and keeps chickens and bees. As one's own content is not a final destination, he recently traveled with family to Uganda and South Africa to speak and visit an AIDS study site and to see family later this year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Multipoint computer interaction

Edward Tse, a student at the University of Calgary is working on supporting people's natural interactions over digital surfaces such as large tables and wall displays.

Application areas include tabletop gaming, military command and control, air traffic control and hospital emergency rooms. Here you can find a couple of nice video's on how this is done. Research like this is most likely a view into the future on how we will communicate with computers in the years to come. Multi point interaction where you will use not one but mutliply "mouse" pointers, your voice, your eyes and maybe even the expression of your face. Those new ways of communicating will, in my opinion become more and more reality in the upcomming years. And to be honest I can't wait to have a even more intimet way of communicating with my applications.

Also good to have a look at is this older post I made about Johnny Chung Lee, a student from Carnegie Mellon, school of computer science who is using Wii hardware to interact with computer applications.

google techtalk Challenges in Causality and Consumers Buy Products

Today Google published 2 new google techtalk video files. You can view them below.

The first video:

What affects your health, the economy, climate changes? And what actions will have beneficial effects? These are some of the central questions of causal discovery. A "causal model" is a model capable of making predictions under changing circumstances, corresponding to actions of "external agents" on a system of interest. For example, a doctor administering a drug to a patient, a government enforcing a new tax law or a new environmental policy. It is often necessary to assess the benefits and risks of potential actions using available past data and excluding the possibility of experimenting. Experiments, which are the ultimate way of verifying causal relationships, are in many cases too costly, infeasible, or unethical. For instance, enforcing a law prohibiting to smoke in public places is costly, preventing people from smoking may be infeasible, and forcing them to smoke would be unethical. In contrast, "observational data" are available in abundance in many applications. Recently, methods to devise causal models from observational data have been proposed. Can causal models thus obtained be relied upon to make important decisions? In this presentation, we will challenge the hopes an promises of causal discovery and present new means of assessing the validity of causal modeling techniques.

Want to play? Check the "causation and prediction" competition presently going on:

Speaker: Isabelle Guyon is a researcher in machine learning and an independent consultant. Prior to starting her consulting practice in 1996, she worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she pioneered applications of neural networks to pen computer interfaces and invented Support Vector Machines (in collaboration with B. Boser and V. Vapnik). Isabelle Guyon holds a Ph.D. degree in Physical Sciences of the University Pierre and Marie Curie of Paris, France. She is vice-president of the Unipen foundation, action editor of the Journal of Machine Learning Research, and competition chair of the IJCNN conference.

The second video:

Internet searching and advertising increasingly plays a role in consumer decisions and purchases, yet pertinent information for making value-judgments is currently awkward to ferret out and certainly not universally accessible or useful. There is rarely a feedback loop aligning vendor or manufacturer's environmental, social or governance policies with a shopper's values, so shoppers, over time, rarely cause industries to change their behavior.

There needs to be a way for shoppers to aim their purchasing power at achieving social values of highest regional priority. There needs to be a way to accumulate and redeem "social values rewards". What's missing is timely and impactful analysis of a candidate purchases' impact on the Shopper's family, region and planet (expressed according to their values), so that the purchaser can more easily make informed purchasing decisions.

With some modifications to Google ads and Google product search, Google could solidify the feedback loop and help consumers, by their actions, build a greener and better world.

Speaker: Bruce Cahan, President Urban Logic, Inc. (a nonprofit organization)

Bruce Cahan is an Ashoka Fellow, a social entrepreneur, a non-residential fellow of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, a lawyer, and a banker.

In 1989, a steam pipe exploded outside his apartment building, spraying the neighborhood with 220 pounds of asbestos wrapping in an 18-story geyser of steam for several hours. After that, Bruce foresaw New York City's need for geospatial preparedness, and founded Urban Logic, a New York nonprofit, to make America's cities safer and sustainable. Bruce convinced New York to fund and build a multi-agency GIS basemap. As a bond lawyer, he found $20+ million in the City's capital budget to pay for its GIS utility.
NYC's basemap was completed just 6 months before the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, and aided in coordinated response and recovery. In the months after September 11th, Bruce joined others at the City's Command Center to organize and staff its Emergency Mapping and Data Center. His team supplied the Mayor's Office, Fire, Police, EMS, military, public health, environment, news and other groups with up-to-date maps of rapidly changing conditions at Ground Zero and throughout Manhattan. Bruce was the catalyst for deploying OpenGIS' SensorWeb project to monitor environmental conditions citywide, and other innovations. Taking 9/11's lessons, Bruce designed the federal OMB's I-Team Initiative to strategically plan and implement spatial readiness across 49 states. Bruce's knowledge of finance, law and organizational barriers to spatial awareness and urban innovation comes from researching and writing major studies for the federal government, including . Financing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (FGDC 2000) . Aligning Investments in Environmental Monitoring and Management Information Systems (EPA 2002) . The Value Proposition for GeoSpatial One Stop (OMB 2004) . A Regional Portfolio Investor's Toolkit (USGS 2006)

In 2005, Bruce moved to Silicon Valley to organize two market-driven mechanisms that support urban sustainability. The first he calls the Means MeterTM, a tool for socially-purposeful consumers to buy products that reflect their values. The second is a bank that amplifies the sustainable impacts of Means MeterTM consumers and their vendors. The bank will reward choices that grow Sustainable ResiliencyTM. Bruce's bank would serve consumers, businesses, NGOs and governments. The bank would offer credit, insurance, investment and merchant banking services, and scale pricing and interest rates based on each customer's impact on Sustainable ResiliencyTM.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

OBIEE, SOA and jDeveloper

Oracle released a whitepaper on integrating Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition Plus with SOA. A great document where they very well documented describe how you can use Oracle jDeveloper to create objects which can be used with OBIEE.

OBIEE the new tool (toy) in the oracle fleet is one of the newly and in my personal opinion great tools launched recently by Oracle. You can view the whitepaper at the Oracle website.

Oracle DoS / Poc buffer overflow

Oracle released the January 2008 CPU (Critical Patch Update) patch as a bugfix for some of security bugs. One of the bugs solved in the January 2008 CPU. One of the fixes is for a DoS / Poc attack written by Alexandr Polyakov which can cause the database to crash.

The exploit is published on the milw0rm website and has the following code:

set serveroutput on
buff varchar2(32767);
/* generate evil buffer */
/* lets see the buffer size */
dbms_output.put_line('SEND EVIL BUFFER SIZE:'||Length(buff));

This is similar to the exploit Pete finnigan talked about in a post on his weblog in November 2007.

new version of woraauthbf

woraauthbf has a new version. Laszlo launched a new version of the Oracle password cracking tool on the Sooner or Later website.

Some main errors are fixed in the new release

* It calculated the possible number of password in the bf mode as 26^6 instead of 26+26^2+26^3 ... etc. It checked less than the possible number of passwords.

* There was a problem in the bin to hex conversation function. It caused problems with certain hashes and affected the authentication functions. It did not affect the hash function.

* There were some problems in the concurrent data access in the authentication functions. It was found when more than three threads were running.

And some of the new Features:

* Test the user names and permutations of the user names as password

* If there is a default.txt it loads and checks it as the list of default passwords. The included default.txt was generated from the site
For more information and for the source and compiled version go to


I have just returned from a short holiday to the Canary Islands where I spend most of the time on the island La Gomera. More than a week living without a laptop and/or Internet connection is not meaning you do not think about computers. One of the things I was thinking about is that I make quite some use of the wikipedia website and have never contributed to it. By making some walks around the island I found some intereseting things and was wondering if it was already added to wikipedia.

After returning from my trip I looked it up and found that it was not on the wikipedia page so I have created a account and added it to the page of La Gomera. My intention is to add more things I come across to wikipedia in the future.

You can find my added content also here below:

The aboriginal inhabitants of La Gomera worshipped their God Orahan in the mountains, as their grand sanctuary, the summit and centre of the island. Many of the natives took refuge in this sacred territory in 1489, when they were facing imminent defeat at the hands of the Spaniards, and it was here that the conquest of La Gomera was completed. Several ceremonial stone constructions have appeared in the archaeological findings. Here they set up sacrificial altar stones or "pyres", stones or slate hollows or cavities where they offered up part of the bounty they received from their God, especially goats and sheep on the sacrificial fires. On La Gomera the God was named Orahan, on La Palma he is known as Abora and on Tenerife and Gran Canaria he was named Arocan.