Skip navigation.

Andrew Clarke

Syndicate content
Notes from the Tooting Bec Underground
Updated: 12 hours 38 min ago

Goodbye Spaceboy

Mon, 2016-01-11 22:45
"Sometimes I feel
The need to move on
So I pack a bag
And move on"

Can't believe Bowie has taken that final train.

David Bowie's music has been part of my life pretty much since I started listening to pop music seriously. Lodger was the first Bowie album I listened to all the way through. It's probably his most under-appreciated album. It's funny to think that back then in 1979 Bowie was dismissed as past it, a boring old fart who should be swept aside by the vital surge of post-punk bands. Because those bands were raised on Ziggy, they were taught to dance by the Thin White Duke and they learnt that moodiness from listening to Low in darkened bedrooms too many times.

Even if you don't listen to Bowie, probably your favourite bands did. If they style their hair or wear make up, they listened to Bowie. If they play synths they listened to Bowie. If they make dance music for awkward white boys at indie discos they listened to Bowie. If they lurk in shadows smoking cigarettes in their videos they listened to Bowie. That's a large part of his legacy.

The other thing about Bowie is that his back catalogue has something for pretty much everybody. People who loved Ziggy Stardust might loath the plastic soul phase. Hardly anybody gets Hunky Dory; but for some fans it's their favourite album. My favourite is the first side of "Heroes" and the second side of Low, but that whole stretch from Young Americans to Lodger is a seam of sustained musical invention unparallelled by any other pop act. (Judicious picking of collaborators is an art in itself.)

Of course, there was a long fallow period. Tin Machine weren't as bad as we thought at the time, but the drum'n'bass was too 'Dad dancing at a wedding reception' for comfort. So it was a relief when he finally started producing decent albums again. Heathen has some lovely moments. The Next Day was something of a return to form (although a bit too long to be a classic). Then there's Blackstar.

It's almost as though Bowie hung on just long enough that Blackstar would be reviewed as his latest album, rather than his last one. The four and five star reviews earned through merit rather than the mawkishness which would have accompanied a posthumous release. And it really is pretty good. When I first heard the title track it sounded like Bowie was taking a cue from Scott Walker's latter period: edgy, experimental and deliberately designed not to be fan pleaser. But, unlike Walker, Bowie can't do wilfully unlistenable. Even in the midst of all that drone and skronk there are tunes. He can't help himself, his pop sensibility is too strong. Which is why I've already listened to Blackstar more times than I've listened to Bish Bosch.

So, farewell David Bowie. We're all going to miss you terribly. "May God's love be with you."

Death and taxes - and Oracle 11gR2?

Thu, 2015-12-31 02:48
Oracle Premier Support for 11gR2 Database expired this time last. However, Oracle announced they would waive the fees for Extended Support for 2015. This was supposed to provide 11gR2 customers an additional twelve months to migrate to 12c. So, twelve months on, how many of those laggards are still on 11gR2. My entirely unscientific guess is, most of them. Why else would Oracle announce the extension of the Extended Support fees waiver until May 2017?

But 11gR2's continued longevity should not be a surprise.

For a start, it is a really good product. It is fully-featured and extremely robust. It offers pretty much everything an organization might want from a database. Basically it's the Windows XP of RDBMS.

The marketing of 12c has compounded this. It has focused on the "big ticket" features of 12c: Cloud, Multi-tenancy and In-Memory Database. Which is fair enough, except that these are all chargeable extras. So to get any actual benefits from upgrading to 12c requires laying out additional license fees, which is not a popular message these days.

And then there's Big Data. The hype has swept up lots of organizations who are now convinced they should be replacing their databases with Hadoop. They have heard the siren singing of free software and vendor-independence. In reality, most enterprises' core business rests on structured data for which they need an RDBMS, and their use cases for Big Data are marginal. But right now, it seems easier to make a business case for the shiny new toys than spending more on the existing estate.

So how can Oracle shift organizations onto 12c? They need to offer compelling positive reasons, not just the fear of loss of Support. My suggestion would be to make a couple of the Options part of the core product. For instance, freeing Partitioning and In-Memory Database would make Oracle 12c database a much more interesting proposition for many organizations.