Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oracle SQL Developer

I needed to access some data on our corporate Oracle database server. Unfortunately, no information was given to me other that the PHP connection string. I had not idea about the table or view names either, so I tried to use a database management tool but lacking any previous knowledge about Oracle databases I look for what I've used in the past. I was quite happy with EMS Postgresql Manager and I learned they do have a simlilar product for Oracle databases, but after installing it I learned I needed to install SQL*Net software which I did not know where to get from.

However, a quick Google search lead me to another gem from Oracle: SQL developer and the word free captured my attention inmediately. It turns out it is a nice Java program that is available for a variety of platforms. I'm currently using it on Windows and Linux successfully (please note JDK >=1.5 is required).

Using this program I was able to learn about the tables on the server but not before I was able to discover the SID value which was not given to me but apparently necessary to connect to the server.

Sqldeveloper works nicely and it has many useful features (provided you are familiar with SQL language). For some weird reason it did not print on Ubuntu Linux, not even to a file. It has many useful export filters (i.e. XML, HTML, CSV, TEXT ...) and you can beat the price. The only drawback is that you need to register first, but it is a quick one.

Definitely worth a try if you are into Oracle databases. Just do not be confused, this is not MS Access, you have no macro capability nor forms or reports features (well ... actually it does but I still need to learn about that). But you can always use your Oracle database from MS Access by installing the ODBC driver on your Windows machine.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

eBay deals

If you use eBay long enough you'll end up with some trouble. I guess the same is true wherever you buy your stuff. Sometimes things go wrong either with shipping or you get a nice DOA. My case is no different, after several good deals I've got a badly broken bycicle headlight (pictured on the left).

As it was a cheap item money was not a big problem, but still you feel you should get a fix, either in the form of a refund or a new item. The problem this time was the seller was not answering my messages. At this point I decided not to let him go without a fight. After 48 hours without an answer and checking in that seller feedback that not answering complains was his standard behaviour I filed a complain with eBay. However, eBay forwarded me to PayPal as the item had been paid using PayPal.

I thought that although I might not get the money back I would be educating the seller as I was guessing PayPal (through which he gets most of the payments) would force him to at least provide an answer to my complaint. After two more days I escalated my complaint to dispute, asking PayPal to mediate to get it fixed.

I was amazed when only two days later I've got a message from PayPal telling me a full refund was on its way. I was even more surprised because I've offered an slightly lower amount of money for happily settling my claim (as I thought getting a partial refund was better than nothing). After checking on my PayPal account I learned that it was the seller who actually refunded my money.

So then I was faced with the moral dilemma of what to do about the item feedback. I was tempted to leave negative feedback as I was not happy with the seller behaviour, but although it took me more than one hour to go through all the steps, the seller utimately did the right thing, so I am leaving positive feedback after all (and I hope he'll do the same for me, but I won't hold my breath).

And now, I think I'll stop by the bycicle shop to get a new byclicle headlight.