Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So, How's It Going?

I am working on a Facebook application for my company, as my official project.  None of this under the table when you get a minute stuff.  My job is to get the app up as fast as possible.

Facebook API server is down at the moment.

Normally when Facebook goes down during the day, people *start* working :).  I have to stop.  So I've been wandering around bothering my coworkers.  :-D  Fun fun.


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fixing ORA-03113

I've got this stored procedure, a very simple little creature, that does a simple select into XML, and then returns the result as an XmlType.  Works fine...most of the time.  But for some unknown reason, when moving between machines, the procedure will suddenly begin through an ORA-03113 error, or "end-of-file on communication channel" error.  This is somewhat similar to the more drastic ORA-0600 error, in that it basically means "Something screwed up bad enough that I'm bailing out on you."

The annoying thing, though, is that it would work on other machines.  And sometimes a recompile, or a reboot of the machine, would fix the problem.  So it's not the SQL itself.  Even more proof - if I snip the body of the procedure out and run it directly?  Works fine.

In our case, at least, we seem to have nailed the problem down to one of trying to return XmlType.  One of our Oracle consultants said simply, "CLOB has been around a lot longer than XmlType, I trust it more."  So I modified the procedure to return its clob value, instead of XmlType.  Since I needed it to be XML, however, I added an XmlElement.createXML(...) wrapper around the final result.  Guess what?  So far, no more ORA-03113.  Not saying we've completely fixed it, just that it's a step in a positive direction.  Our consultant feels that maybe the error occurs when the stored proc, which runs in different memory space than just the straight SQL would, is forced to cast its return value into the XmlType.  By basically letting it say "Whatever's in here, I don't care, have a CLOB", we're getting around that problem.

Just documenting in case somebody else is in a similar situation and can say "Aha!  Let's try that."

UPDATE:  Apparently that was NOT the problem, as my QA guy reports that it just started happening again.  It looks like the act of recompiling the procedure was enough to make the problem go into hiding again.  I just confirmed that by making a non-trivial change to the code (that did not otherwise change what is returned, or the signature of the method), and presto chango, suddenly no 3113 bug anymore.  Not sure what that means, but part of our build process does involve potential updates to the stored procedures, so it is possible that there's some sort of "The error may or may not occur after a build" causality going on.


Friday, October 12, 2007

iPod Audiobook Bug?

Does anybody else have this problem?  When I find a series that I particularly enjoy (mostly serialized podiobooks that are complete), I use a converter to cat all the MP3s together and convert it into Apple's audiobook, or m4b format.  Then when I put it on the ipod it shows up in the Audiobook section and, most importantly, responds to the "faster" mode and I can get more accomplished.

The bug is this:  Sometimes, by no discernible pattern (yet), the audiobook resets itself.  Say that I am 3 hours into a 5 hour file.  Normally when I pick it up again it'll go right where I left off.  Which is the whole point.  But sometimes it'll show like it's going to do that, complete with the progress bar that tells me my position, but then rather than starting to play, it resets back to the main menu like something went wrong.  When I go back in to that same audiobook again, I'm back to 0 position.

This is particularly annoying.  Can you imagine spinning that clickwheel for the equivalent of 3 hours worth of time?

I'm trying to decide if this is an ipod bug, or possibly something in the converter I'm using (but I doubt that).  It seems to be related to when I've synced the ipod.  I can go in and out of audiobooks at will, but once I connect back up to my PC and hten disconnect again, it may or may not do the crash thing on me.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Java Sucks

So I'm a little late to the party, but as a former Java guy myself, I found this (and the reaction to it) quite amusing. 


Friday, October 05, 2007

Elevator Hack?

I work on the ninth floor.  Yesterday I notice something strange, the door to the elevator opens by itself.  I expect maybe somebody is getting out, but no, it's empty.  It's then that I realize some jackass has pushed every button from 9 down to 1 (and presumably a few above as well).  So I'm going to have a slow ride down, stopping on every floor.

As we pass each floor, I hold down the close button to speed my ride up as much as I can.

And you know what?  After 3 floors of immediatley closing the doors again -- all the other lights went off.  So I stopped on 8, 7, 6...and then suddenly I had my choice again.  I pressed L and went straight there.  The elevator must have been programmed against such things. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Quick iPod Tip

Not sure if this is common knowledge, but I just discovered it.  On the now "classic" clickwheel models (I have a 60gig video, black), holding down the "Menu" option for a second automatically jumps you back to the main menu.  This is particularly handy if you are a handful of menus deep into the notes, for instance, where a single click of the menu button can actually just move you back to the last page you were on.

Sidewalk Chalk FTW!

Walking across town today on the way in to work, I noticed that a pathway in the park had been scribbled in with sidewalk chalk.  "Perhaps somebody took a class on a field trip," I mused as I walked by.  There were flowers, and shapes, and a squid named "Sam."  Beneath the various pictures read the words  "Peace", "Heart", and my favorite, "PWNED".

I like that kid.

ProBlogger Birthday Bash

ProBlogger, one of the most popular and profitable blogs out there, is having a birthday bash and giving out lots of cool stuff!  I realize it's pretty blatant link building, but the fact is the prizes are actually very good, and it's all straight forward drawings, no pyramid style "earn credits and eventually get a free Nano" sort of thing.  I think it's a good deal.