Friday, December 07, 2007

Discoverer Cumulative Patches available

Last updated: June 5, 2008 (link to useful patches)

If you didn't know already, let me be the first to give you the great news that Oracle has changed its patching policy for Discoverer. Gone are the days of sifting through myriads of individual patch numbers trying to figure out if there is a patch for the issue you are seeing. Instead, Oracle has introduced what are called Cumulative Patches.

If you have access to MetaLink you should take a look at note 466058.1. Here are the main points (mostly Oracle's text with some explanatory comment from me):

After getting numerous suggestions from customers, partners, and internal support engineers, Oracle Discoverer Development has implemented a cumulative patching model starting with Oracle BI Discoverer 10g ( This is Discoverer version The new model replaces the one-off patching model that was in practice with previous versions – (Discoverer

These Discoverer cumulative patches can be installed on top of the full Oracle Application Server or the Oracle BI Discover standalone editions (Discoverer, and higher versions.

The cumulative patching model applies to Discoverer Plus and Viewer (in other words the middle-tier), for both Discoverer relational as well as Discoverer for OLAP. Patching for Discoverer Administration and Desktop on Windows (the client-server components) will continue to use the previous one-off patching model, at least for the time being.

Here is some additional information about the cumulative patching model:
  1. The Discoverer cumulative patch (otherwise called CP):
    The Discoverer cumulative patches (CP) for Oracle BI Discover 10g ( are what Oracle call merge patches. These combine multiple one-off bug fixes rolled up into a single patch. The good news is that these cumulative merge patches include bug fixes for both Discoverer Relational and Discoverer for OLAP. The excellent news is that each patch is cumulative, meaning, that CP7 will include all fixes up to and including CP6 plus any new bug fixes.
  2. The Discoverer cumulative patch schedule:
    Oracle plans to release the Discoverer cumulative patches approximately every five (5) weeks. According to Oracle, these dates are approximate and may change depending on the number of bugs encountered. In reality the average has been about 10 to 12 weeks. As of the time of the latest edit to this posting, Oracle has released 7 cumulative patches. The latest one is CP7 (patch number 6778560) and contains over 300 bug fixes on top of the base Discoverer patchset. (link to useful patches)
  3. The advantages of Discoverer cumulative patches:
    Unlike the one-off patches, which are still availble by the way, each cumulative patch contains large number of bug fixes and undergoes Quality Assurance (QA) regression testing. Oracle state that this will greatly improve the stability of the patches and the product and will help customers take advantage of the latest available bug fixes. This also greatly reduces maintenance since you install only one cumulative patch and do not have to install and rollback multiple one-off patches

Friday, October 19, 2007

Open World is coming

With only a couple of weeks to go before Open World I have been looking through the agenda and have selected the when, who, where and what of some of the Business Intelligence and Discoverer presentations that caught my eye. I'll be at most of these so say hello if you see me.

When: Monday 12th November 11:00am to Noon
Who: Michael Armstrong-Smith
Where: Franciscan Room D, Hilton
What: Build a Discoverer EUL in one hour

Yours truly will be giving a a quick, fast, live (yes live) demonstration on how to build a Discoverer End User Layer

When: Monday 12th November 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Who: Steven Feuerstein, Quest Software
Where: Hilton Continental Ballroom 5
What:Break your addiction to SQL
Steven is one of the best speakers on the Oracle circuit and has written many books on SQL (link). If you have never heard him before you should drop in. He also runs a cool blog (link)

When: Monday 12th November 3:15pm to 4:15pm
Who: Steven Feuerstein, Quest Software
Where: Hilton Yosemite Room B
What: Optimize PL/SQL with Collections

When: Tuesday 13th November 10:45am to 11:45am
Who: Mike Durran, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3022 L3
What: What's coming next for BI Standard Edition and Discoverer

Along with Jeff Hohman and Mike Donahue (see below), Mike Durran is among my favorite presenters. Even if you don't like the subject, which you should seeing as you are reading this blog, drop in anyway because all of them are nice people. You'll always get straight answers from these gentlemen.

When: Tuesday 13th November 12:15pm to 1:15pm
Who: Mike Durran, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3022 L3
What: How to migrate Discoverer to BI Enterprise Edition

When: Tuesday 13th November 3:15pm to 4:15pm
Who: Steven Chan, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3022 L3
What: Using E-Business Suite with Application Server 10g

Steven runs a great blog (link) for everything to do with E-Business Suite. If you use it you could do a lot worse than drop in and take a look.

When: Tuesday 13th November 4:30pm to 5:30pm -
Who: Michael Armstrong-Smith
Where: Moscone West 2nd Floor Lobby

What: Oracle Press Author Meet and Greet
If you have a copy of my Discoverer 10g Handbook bring it along and I will sign it for you. If you don't have one yet, get one at the bookstore - you know you want one!

When: Wednesday 14th November 3:00pm to 4:oopm
Who: Simon Griffiths, British Telecom
Where: Moscone South 303
What: Partitioning experiences

When: Thursday 15th November 8:30am to 9:30am
Who: Jeff Hohman, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3024 L3
What: Discoverer, Portal and VPD

Where: Thursday 15th November 10:00am to 11:00am
Who: Mike Donahue, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3014 L3
What: BI Publisher with E-Business Suite

When: Thursday 15th November 11:30am to 12:30pm
Who: Mike Durran, Oracle
Where: Moscone West 3014 L3
What: Oracle BI Standard Edition Best Practices

When: Thursday 15th November 2:30pm to 3:30pm
Who: Debbie Arnold
Where: Moscone West 3024 L3
What: BI Publisher made easy

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An EUL horror story

EUL backups - now there's a novel concept. Let me tell you a story.

Just over a year ago I consulted to a large organization and created a new EUL with a couple of business areas. It took three weeks to complete. On the Friday when I was leaving I migrated the whole lot from Dev to Prod and left.

About 11am on Monday morning I received a call that went something like this: Michael, hello, how are you? Ummm - Discoverer deleted itself from production. Don't you find that odd? Why does it do that?

Well you can't kid a kidder. Because I know the tool so well I said - it cannot just delete itself - either the owner or someone who knows the EUL owner's password must have logged in and told Discoverer to delete the EUL.

No admissions of guilt were offered - naturally. I mean - would you own up to having deleted your company's production reporting system on the same day that it went live? Perhaps booking a one-way ticket to Australia (sorry oz - but I am English) would be in order.

No problem - I said - go to your Prod backup and restore your EUL schema. You'll soon be back up and running.

Ah - they said - here's the second problem - we forgot to put the EUL schema into the backup routine.

Hmm - I said - in that case all you have to do is go to your Dev instance, export the EUL and then import it into Prod.

Ah - they said - here's the third problem - we refreshed Dev from Prod on Sunday afternoon and it also does not contain an EUL.

Oops - I said - when do you want me to come back?

Let us think about it - they said - and we'll call you back.

They did call me back and I informed them that before I left on Friday I had taken a backup myself of the EUL in Dev and told them where it was on their server.

Phew - they said - thank you, thank you. Oh and by the way the DBA admitted to having dropped the EUL schema on Friday evening as he thought it was a user messing about!

I recount this story as a warning to everyone else - please make sure your EUL schema is included in your backups. A good administrator should also take periodic exports of the EUL - just in case!

Anyone else got a similar horror story - hopefully with a happy ending?

By the way - I'm in Boston this week and I can't find a decent English cup of tea anywhere. In years gone by we would have gone to war over that. Oh - we did - and we lost. Methinks I'd better keep a low profile.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Paper accepted at Open World 2007

I am delighted to be able to let you know that I have had a Discoverer paper accepted for Oracle Open World 2007. I will be presenting my famous Build an EUL in one hour paper. Perhaps you have already seen it? Perhaps you have heard of it and would like to see for yourself?

Either way, this will be a live demonstration, using the Discoverer 10.1.2 Administration tool of how to create a fully working End User Layer inside one hour. You will be shown all of the steps involved in creating a fully working Oracle Discoverer EUL. If you have a copy of the Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook, this presentation will take you through all of the steps required to build the tutorial database.

I will start by selecting the schema owner and tables required. Using the Load Wizard, you will be walked through all of the steps involved in loading the meta data definitions from the source database. Sticking close to the wizard's defaults, you will see how Discoverer automatically builds joins and lists of values.

After I have the base folders loaded, now the fun stuff begins. You will now be shown how to add some new items, in particular we will add new columns for calculating standard margin and mark up, as well as for profit and profit percentage. We do this so that the end users do not need to build these for themselves.

Next, you will be shown how to build complex folders out of the simple folders that we have just created. We will create fiscal date folders, linking these back to the sales order folder. After creating these new folders, you will be shown how to create fiscal date hierarchies so that users can drill from day, to fiscal month, fiscal quarter and so on.

After you have been shown how to build complex data folders, you will be shown how to build a geographic rollup. This rollup will allow the users to drill from City to District to Region.
After building the complex folders for fiscal date and geography, we will have created a psudo star schema with the our sales folder at the center.

The presentation will conclude with a walk through of some of the most often used features of Discoverer's Administrator edition. As I have said many times, you are only limited by your own imagination when it comes to working with Discoverer.

If you're going to be in San Francisco in November come and join me and say hello.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Using ALL in a parameter

From time to time, I get asked and I see questions in the OTN forum regarding how to create a condition / parameter that will allow a user to select all items from a list of values without actually checking off every item in the list.

Here's an example drawn from my own database.

As you can see I am starting out with a Crosstab workbook that displays the Cost and Selling Price for my Products by Channel and Product Line, with the Product Line being a page item.

Next, I started out by creating a new parametized condition. As usual, from the Values drop-down list I selected New Parameter. Below is my completed New Parameter dialog box. Of note you should see that I have told the user that they can enter ALL for all values, and I have even set the default to be ALL. Even though that value does not appear in my list of values, it doesn't matter. Discoverer will allow me to continue.

After clicking the OK button to close the New Parameter dialog box, back in the New Condition box I clicked the Advanced button to the side of the condition and from the enhanced list I selected OR so that I can add some Boolean logic to my condition.

The first thing I did was to click the drop-down alongside the Item. From the list I then selected New Calculation. In the calculation I typed in the following: UPPER(:ProdLine). I did this so that my users do not have to type ALL (in uppercase) but rather they can type all if they wish, or even All.

Finally, as you can see below, I completed my condition my typing in ALL into the Values area.

My final condition is therefore this:

Line Name = :ProdLine
=UPPER(:ProdLine) = 'ALL'

Notice how Discoverer added the = character in front of my calculation. This is Discoverer's way of letting you know that what follows is to interpreted as a calculation and not a literal value.

That's all there is to it. With the condition finished, whenever my users are prompted to select one or more product lines, they can type in ALL and Discoverer will return all values.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Memories of ODTUG 2007

Last week I was in Daytona Beach, Florida, attending the ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2007 conference, and what a great conference it was. Not only did I meet up with many old friends, among, in alphabetical order, Mike Ault, Mike Durran from Oracle, Kent Graziano, Mark Rittman, and Dan Vlamis; but I made contact with several new people who are destined to become regulars on my emailing list; presented a couple of interesting papers; but I got a chance to attend some great presentations.

I particularly enjoyed Mark rittman's paper on BI EE for Discoverer users, Jeff Hofman's paper on integrating Discoverer with SSO and Portal, and Mike Donahue's paper on BI Publisher. One paper that I had to miss, because it was being given at the same time as I was presenting, was by Mike Durran who was presenting Oracle's roadmap for Discoverer. Mike himself had published Oracle's Discoverer Statement of Direction on OTN (link). If you haven't had a chance to take a look, I fully recommend doing so as it clearly spells out that Discoverer is here to stay.

All in all, I counted almost 10 papers either directly focused on Discoverer on with Discoverer content. This makes a sharp increase over previous years and shows how popular Discoverer has and is becoming. If you or your company are sitting on the fence, already have Discoverer, but haven't made full use of it yet, then now is the time to do so. Discoverer is not going away and is firmly an integral piece of Oracle's business intelligence offerings.

By the way, my two papers from ODTUG will be available for download from by website (link) before the end of this week.

Monday, May 21, 2007

All about ODTUG

The Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) is having its annual conference next month in Daytona Beach, Florida. If you have never been, perhaps this might change your mind:

If you haven’t already heard about the ODTUG Kaleidoscope Conference, June 18 through 21 in Daytona Beach Florida, I recommend that you check it out. I will be presenting at it and am looking forward to mingling with other Oracle technologists in an atmosphere that is both conducive to learning and relaxing. Long-heralded as the Oracle user group for developers and by developers, the Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) established Kaleidoscope as its flagship event with sessions covering all the practical technical information you need to excel in your job.

Why attend ODTUG Kaleidoscope? Because it's the only conference of its kind to give attendees the opportunity to get hands-on training with the tools, learn smart techniques, and talk with the experts that make Oracle tick. Kaleidoscope features:

  • More than 125 Technical Sessions with handouts—real topics, with real information, for real developers. No hired presenters. No fancy footwork. Just genuine colleagues sharing practical information.

  • Two full days of preconference Hands-on Training.

  • Oracle product updates.

  • A full-day Oracle Fusion Symposium.

  • An Oracle PL/SQL Test-A-Thon, developed by Steven Feuerstein and packed with great prizes. The Test-A-Thon is sponsored by Quest Software and O’Reilly Books.

  • A one-of-a-kind Install Fest, where you will learn from the "gurus" how to install and configure Linux to run Oracle 10g software.

  • APEXposed, an ODTUG exclusive "Seriously Practical" training event on Application Express.

  • Unprecedented opportunity for networking with colleagues and experts at organized functions, on-site SIG Meetings, and more.

It's affordable. It's technical. It's in Daytona Beach. And it's what you need to survive in today's fast-paced Oracle environment. When it comes to supporting Oracle developers in the trenches, the most targeted conference available is ODTUG Kaleidoscope,

For more information about ODTUG Kaleidoscope activities, location, exhibitors, or sessions, please visit or call 910-452-7444.

Hope to see you there.

P.S. Click here for information about the papers I am presenting.

My sessions at ODTUG

For everyone who has been asking, here are the dates and times for the two presentations that I am giving at next month's ODTUG conference in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Securing Private Confidential Information is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20, 2007 from 4:00-5:00 in Coquina B

Automated Scheduling and E-mailing from Within Discoverer—and More is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 from 11:00-12:00 in Coquina G

Are you going to ODTUG? If so, look me up.

By the way, here's the low down on the two papers:

Automated Scheduling and E-mailing from Within Discoverer:

Ever wanted to know how to schedule a Discoverer workbook and automatically e-mail it? Perhaps you are one of the hundreds of people who have asked this very question on the OTN forums. If so, your search is over. You'll be amazed at the simplicity of the approach and be ready to take it back to your office and try it for yourself. You will also learn how to set up Discoverer lists of values that comprise both an ID and a Description at the same time. This live demonstration of both Discoverer Administrator and Plus will show you how to create parameters that will accept an ID or a Description, yet still return the description to the user.

Securing Private Confidential Information:

Recent high-profile cases have highlighted the need for data such as social security numbers, dates of birth, and ethnicity to be protected. Have you considered securing your private and confidential information but decided it was too difficult? Using profiles and a VPD, you will see how to set up both row-based and column-based security. Using Discoverer, you will learn how to set up a mechanism to allow your support staff to connect to the database using the same profile as an end user, without the need to know the end user's password. Thus, you can set up a secure environment yet at the same time enable your support staff to help your users without the security breach of a disclosed password.

Thoughts on OBI EE for Discoverer Users

There's a very interesting article of Mark Rittman's blog entitled Thoughts on OBI EE for Discoverer Users. I won't bore you with the ins and outs but, and to quote from Mark:

if we’re looking at a potential upgrade for Discoverer users, it would be useful to take a moment to think about what’s good, and what’s not so good, about Oracle Discoverer

Mark does a very good job of discussing the pros and cons of Discoverer and at first glance the article can look a little anti-Discoverer. However, read on and you will see that Mark has been equally tough on the new OBI EE. Thus, in my opinion, I think the article is well worth reading.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Totals and blank lines

The following is an interesting conundrum that I have come across recently and is something that you might be interested in knowing about. It's concerned with what happens when you combine sub-totals and additional rows between group sorted items.


In the following worksheet, as shown in illustration 1, you can see that I have a group sort on the Customer with a sub-total on the Profit. A not uncommon scenario I hope you will agree.

Illustration 1: A group sort with the sub-total displayed correctly

Next, I right-clicked in the Customer and from the pop-up menu selected Format Table. Discoverer opened up the Format Data dialog box. This box has three tabs:
  • Format - on this tab you set up the standard formatting characteristics such as font, size, background color, foreground color, alignment and so on

  • Text - on this tab you can set additional characteristics such as uppercase, lowercase or capitalization

  • Breaks - on this tab, which is only enabled if you are formatting a Group Sort, you can control what happens when group sorted items change. As you can see in illustration 2, I have enabled a line width of 2 in red, and the insertion of one blank row between each group sorted item.
Illustration 2: The Format Data dialog box and the Breaks tab

After I clicked the OK button in the above box, Discoverer redrew my screen, but drew it incorrectly as shown below in illustration 3. As you can see, the totals still calculate correctly. But take a close look at what happened on the totals line for each sub-total other than the first one. As you can see, the word NULL has been inserted against each of the other items. In addition, take a very close look at row 9 and in particular at the cell value containing the Profit. As you will see, Discoverer has placed the Sum label here instead of alongside the $23,939.00 on the previous row.

It therefore appears that the insertion of an additional line for the group sort has caused the label to move down by that number of rows also. This means that Discoverer does not know what to do with the cell values on the original sub-total and so it inserted a NULL value. Formatting the table to change the display of NULL values to something other than NULL does indeed change the wording.

Illustration 3: A group sort with the sub-total displayed incorrectly

Therefore, please be very careful when using additional lines between group sorted items when there are sub-totals. The following illustration shows the same worksheet displayed in Viewer. As you can see below in illustration 4, Viewer does not appear to have this issue. I can therefore only assume it is something to do with the Java.

Illustration 4: The same group sort, as seen in Viewer, with the sub-total displayed correctly

Friday, April 13, 2007

The future for Discoverer

From time to time people approach me and ask me what do I think will happen to Discoverer now that Oracle have Siebel and Hyperion (including Brio). The pessimists in the world think that Oracle plan to drop Discoverer. I don't believe this for one minute.

But why don't I believe this? Well for a start Oracle have new releases of Discoverer planned for this year (, and next (11g). However, for fun, let's assume that Oracle do plan to drop Discoverer. They won't announce this in the same year that they release 11g because that would just make folks not even bother to use the latest version. So the earliest I would see such an announcement would have be in 2008. However, as all Oracle products carry a 5 year full support agreement from whenever the drop is announced this would mean that Discoverer would remain a fully supported, patchable, fixable product until at least 2013. That's a lifetime in terms of software. That's 6 years from now. Oracle will have bought SAP by then. Maybe even the San Francisco Giants will have managed to win a game against the Padres!

However, the real reason I don't believe Oracle will drop Discoverer is because of some very favorable comments coming out of Oracle.

Firstly, Oracle has recently revamped its Standard Edition page on (link) which makes for very interesting reading.

Secondly, follow the link for the data sheet (link) and you will get to a PDF document that outlines just where Discoverer fits into the Fusion picture. With acknowledgements to Oracle, here are some interesting snippits from that document:

You've already chosen Oracle database for your business, now make it shine by complementing it with the business intelligence suite that is most tightly integrated with it - Oracle BI Standard Edition.

Oracle BI Discoverer is [tightly] integrated with other components of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Discoverer reports are easily embedded within Oracle Portal using a simple wizard, making role-based dashboard creation a simple exercise.

Oracle Discoverer is also unique in that it recognizes and respects the Oracle E-Business Suite security model.

Today few of us buy best of breed kit parts and hand craft our own cars; most of us simply go to an established, proven manufacturer to obtain a complete solution, backed by a warranty with a single support organization should anything happen. Software should be like this - and this is where Oracle BI SE delivers. Everything - from ETL (with Oracle Warehouse Builder), to ad-hoc query (with Oracle BI Discoverer), to dashboards (with Oracle Portal), to pixel-perfect reporting (with Oracle XML Publisher), to custom BI development (with Oracle BI Beans) - is available as an integrated set of components.

The entire middleware solution can be effectively clustered with low cost hardware. Combine this deployment flexibility with an attractive pricing model for BI and middleware components, and you will be hard pressed to find a more affordable fit for your growing BI needs.

There - I could not have said it better. I think this clearly shows Oracle's intentions.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Looking for a great Discoverer position

If you are an experienced Discoverer developer and are looking for a great position and opportunity in Washington, DC, then we may have the job for you. Click here for more details.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Workbook Migration Document

By popular request I have made my Workbook Migration white paper available for free download on my website. You will find it at this link.

It now joins these other white papers available for download:
  • Discoverer libraries - a concept
  • Setting up an Apps mode EUL
  • Multiple Oracle Homes

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I am delighted to be able to announce that Armstrong-Smith Consulting has partnered (link) with InfoCaptor to bring you access to a superb dashboard tool that can revolutionize the way you see your Discoverer metadata. I have been using it in-house for a while now and can endorse this tool's ability to make your Discoverer metadata available to a wider audience in a format that you'll love.

With InfoCaptor you have the ability to generate CSV, Excel, HTML and PDF output of your data. You will love this tool - and it's affordable too. For an HTML example of the output from our own database, scroll down or click here.

To purchase or to find out more information, click here.

What can you do with InfoCaptor?
  • Drop your SQL query in the editor, then quickly create tables and charts
  • Link up related portlets (tables, charts) using drills
  • Define parameters and wire up all of your portlets
  • Generate documentation for your database in PDF, HTML, Excel
  • Generate Lineage documentation for your Data Warehouse and BI environment
  • Create briefing books from your dashboard contents, suitable for distributing and presentations
  • Create quick Dashboard prototypes, no server installation needed
Example Output:

Discoverer 3.1 licenses

Whether Oracle chooses to accept it or not there are lots of organizations who are still using Discoverer 3.1 and, at least for now, have no intention of upgrading. These organizations all bought legal copies of the software and have done nothing wrong. However, I was amazed to hear that Oracle is refusing to take new revenue from those organizations in an attempt to force them to upgrade.

I was contacted today by one such organization who wanted to purchase additional Desktop licenses for 3.1. When they contacted Oracle they were told that because Oracle no longer sells 3.1 they cannot purchase those additional licenses. They're not asking for new software, they're not asking for support, all they want is to add extra users to their system. Remember that Desktop is priced at $1,000 per named user. This makes me wonder how much revenue Oracle has turned away in the past couple of years since 3.1 went out of support.

Anyway, Oracle's loss of revenue is not the issue in this posting. My dilemma is the advice that I should give to the organization that contacted me? Seeing as Oracle seem to be washing their hands of 3.1, does this give the organization the green light to go ahead and keep adding the extra users until they are ready to upgrade? Do I tell them that they must hurt their own business by only using the licenses they have already purchased? Do I tell them that they must upgrade? Seeing as Desktop has hardly changed since 3.1 and the cost of the license is identical I don't see any reason to force them to upgrade when they are not using Plus. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Discoverer 10g Handbook Review

The December edition of the ODTUG (link) technical journal published a review of our Discoverer 10g Handbook.

Written by Karen Cannell from the Integra Technology Consulting Corporation a copy of this review can be read on our website (link), or if you are a full member of ODTUG you can download a copy of the review by following this link.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Freeing up disk space on XP

If you're like me and have a laptop with XP you'll know that you don't have a huge hard disk. Thus, keeping that disk space down to the minimum is essential.

Windows XP’s System Restore is a great way to recoverer your system after you’ve made a configuration change or installed new software that your computer doesn’t quite see eye to eye with.

Did you know that every 24 hours, or when you make a change to your system, XP will create a new restore point? Did you also know that these stored restore points can use up to 12% of your hard disk space?

Therefore, should you find that you have a need to free up some of that valuable disk space, what can you do? Well one thing you can do is to delete all but the most recent restore point - providing of course that you are happy with the current setup. To do this you need to use Microsoft's Disk Cleanup utility.

Use the following workflow:
  1. From the Start button, navigate to Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Cleanup
  2. On the Disk Cleanup tab, check or uncheck the files to delete, then click the OK button. I usually allow the system to clear out Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Microsoft Error Reporting Temporary Files, Recycle Bin and Temporary Offline Files
  3. Click the More Options tab
  4. In the System Restore area, click the Clean up button
  5. You will be asked to confirm that you want to delete all but the most recent Restore Point. If you are sure you want to do so, click the Yes button

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Memories of Summit 2007

For the past week, my wife and president of Armstrong-Smith Consulting, Darlene, and I, along with 3 other members of our highly experiended team, Dale Jones, Byron Smith and Stephanie Smith, have been in Las Vegas attending the SunGard Summit 2007 (link) conference. At the conference we had a 10 x 10 booth and discussed our Oracle Discoverer training and consultancy offerings with hundreds of attendees. All in all we had over 500 people attend our booth. During the conference we also gave away an iPod and 4 copies of our Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook (link).

On Tuesday between 11:30 am and 12:30pm in the South Seas ballroom of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center (link) I presented a paper called A look at the powerful features of Discoverer 10g. This was well received and I am so pleased that so many people came to see me. During the conference I was also able to put a face to many of the SunGard staff whom we have been conversing with during recent months. Don't you think the world is just full of charming people?

For those of you who don't know, SunGard Higher Education (link) provides software, systems implementation and integration, strategic consulting, and technology management services to colleges and universities. Here at Armstrong-Smith Consulting we are delighted to have partnered with SunGard and to be a part of the SunGard Higher Education Collaborative (link). Our partnership allows us to provide report building, training and other consultancy services for Oracle Discoverer on the SunGard ODS and EDW products. We can even help institutions comply with federal and state regulations to ensure that their private data is secured.

Are you a SunGard Higher Education customer?

Do you have the SunGard ODS or EDW?

Do you have Oracle Discoverer?

If you answered yes to the above three questions you need to speak with either your SunGard Higher Education support representative or email us at and find out how we can help you make the most of your investment.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Discoverer and IE7

It seems Oracle have released a patch (5758865) , available on MetaLink, with the fix for IE7. This is a one-off patch and requires a password which means you will have to raise a service request and tell Oracle you are having trouble drilling in Viewer when using IE7. This patch is applicable whether you are using relational or OLAP modeling.

The downside of this patch is that it can only be applied on top of You can get the patch (4960210) also on MetaLink. Be warned though that is not a small patch. It is 1.6 GB in size and is a full upgrade of the application server.

Has any body applied the patch yet? I'd be interested in hearing how it went and how long it took. I ask because the installation instructions, when downloaded in Word, are a staggering 189 pages.

New Blog with Discoverer content

I cam across another blog with postings about Discoverer. This one is run by Senthil Rajendran (link) who works in Oracle's OnDemand Operations. He has posted several interesting postings on Discoverer recently. This is a blog I will be following.

Some recent postings:

Installing Discoverer Administration Edition on Windows PC (link)

Upgrading the existing Discoverer End User Layer to Discoverer 10.1.2 (link)

Follow this link for the best of Senthil's Discoverer postings.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mark Rittman's new company

Mark Rittman and a colleague, Jon Mead, have started a new venture called Rittman Mead Consulting. Their aim is to become the No 1 supplier for high end business intelligence architecture, design and training resources in the Oracle market. I have known Mark for several years and I know he is an expert in this area and wish him and Jon all the very best for their new and exciting venture. I know they will be a success.

Because Mark has moved companies please note that his blog has moved also. You will now find his blog here:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is your PC ready for Daylight Savings Time change?

Unless you have been living on a desert island for the last few months you will be aware that this coming weekend the US implements a change to Daylight Savings Time.

Are you ready for the upcoming change to Daylight Savings Time?

If you are working on a network and your company has a centralized update mechanism for your PCs you are probably ok. However, if you have a laptop or work from home or work in a company that doesn't have a centralized update policy you may want to check that your PC knows about the changes.

Microsoft has issued a web page (link) that you can use to check your computer. If you haven't got automatic updates enabled you will want to follow this link and get your computer updated. Only verified users of Microsoft Windows can use this service so if you have an illegal copy, which you shouldn't tsk tsk, you won't be able to run the update.

Having verified that your computer is ok the link will then ask you if you use Outlook. If you are using Outlook and you are using the Calendar and you have meetings or appointments scheduled during the next four weeks, you need to download and run a further update. The updater web page will walk you through this.

By the way, if you are using XP Service Pack 2, the Microsoft patch number for ensuring that your PC has been updated for Daylight Savings Time is KB931836. You can use the Control Panel Add or Remove Programs to check if this has been installed. Scroll to the bottom of the list and look at the last few Security Updates. If the update has already been installed you won't need to run it again (the updater checks) but you will still need to update Outlook if you are using it.

If you are absolutely certain that your PCs operating system has been updated, you can just check Outlook (link).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Need to upgrade Java for U.S. Daylight Saving Time Changes


On the Sun Java website (link) is the following posting:

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a system of handling the changing amounts of daylight throughout the year. The goal of DST is to maximize the daylight hours available during typical waking hours. By adjusting clocks ahead a standard amount, usually an hour, people can have more daylight available during their typical work day. For example, suppose you wake daily at 7:00 AM. In the spring, the sun rises earlier each day. Instead of waking up at 6:00 AM to take advantage of the daylight, DST observers move their clocks ahead an hour. The effect is that they can continue to wake at 7:00 AM according to the clock and enjoy more daylight. In the fall, people set their clocks back an hour as sunrise happens later each day.

The United States has planned a change to its DST observance beginning in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that DST will start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. In 2007, the start and stop dates will be March 11 and November 4, respectively. These dates are different from previous DST start and stop dates. In 2006, the dates were the first Sunday in April (April 2, 2006) and the last Sunday in October (October 29, 2006).

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) stores rules about DST observance all around the globe. Older JREs will have outdated rules that will be superseded by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. As a result, applications running on an older JRE may report incorrect time from March 11, 2007 through April 2, 2007 and from October 29, 2007 through November 4, 2007.

If you are concerned about application failures that may result from these DST changes, you should update your Java Runtime Environment. If you have 1.4.2_05 or 1.4.2_06, which many of you with Discoverer will have, then you should upgrade your clients to 1.4.2_13 by downloading it from the Sun website. If you are unable to download the update, Sun has provided a utility that will upgrade the timezone elements of your current install.

Note: The latest information I have is that there is no need to upgrade the Java on the server.

Download and install 1.4.2_13
To remove the Sun JRE 1.4.2_xx and re-install the correct version, use this workflow:

  1. Download the Sun JRE 1.4.2_13 from the Sun website. It can be found here:
  2. On this page, look for and click on the Download J2SE JRE link.
  3. On the next page, you are required to read and accept the license agreement.
  4. After checking the box labeled "Accept License Agreement", download the software labeled "Windows Offline Installation, Multi-Language". This file is about 15Mb in size *.
  5. Either you or one of your IT staff should now connect to your machine as a local administrator and install the software. Just follow the onscreen prompts.
  6. When done, you will need to restart the computer. When the system reboots, you will need to disable the automatic upgrade mechanism ** by following the remainder of these steps.
  7. From the Windows Start menu, select Settings > Control Panel.
  8. Double-click the icon for the Java ™ Control Page. It is usually named either Java or Java Plug-in.
  9. When the Java Control Panel opens, click the Update tab.
  10. Uncheck the box labeled "Check for updates automatically".
  11. Click the OK button to save and exit.

* The file that is downloaded is an executable called: jr2e-1_4_2_13-windows-i586-p.exe.
** Even though you may have already told the previous version not to automatically upgrade, when you install 1.4.2_13 this will have been reset.

Download and run the updater script
There is a tool on the Sun Java website (link) that you can download to upgrade the time zone data for your Java. To get this tool you will need to be registered for support with Sun. This is a very easy process. If you have not registered for support with Sun you will find a link called Register Now on the page (link).

To download and run the updater script, use this workflow:

  1. On the Sun Java(TM) 2 SDK, Standard Edition - US DST Timezone Tool 1.0.1 page, click the link for the download and save the file ( in a safe place on your system.
  2. Unzip the file. It will create a folder called tzupdater2007a
  3. Launch a Windows command prompt session
  4. Navigate to the folder called tzupdater2007a
  5. Execute this command: java -tar tzupdater.jar -t

Some Daylight Saving Time Links:

About Daylight Saving Time

When does Daylight Saving Time begin and end

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What would you like to see?

Hi everyone
Is there anything about Discoverer that has been bugging you, something where a posting might help? Perhaps you have a desire to know how to do something, or perhaps you would like to see a visual aid for working through a workflow?

Drop me a line to and I will see what I can do.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

ODTUG 2007 Presentations

Hello everyone. Just wanted to let you know that I have had two papers accepted for this year's ODTUG Kaleidoscope conference in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The two papers are entitled:
  • Securing private information
  • Automated scheduling and e-mailing from within Discoverer

Securing private information

Recent high-profile cases have highlighted the need for data such as social security numbers, dates of birth and ethnicity to be protected.

Have you considered securing your private and confidential information but decided it was too difficult?

If so, come to ODTUG in June and let me show you how to use the database to secure your organization's information. Using profiles and a VPD, you will see how to set up both row-based and column-based security. I will of course use Discoverer to demonstrate how the data has been protected.

The second part of the presentation will show you how you to set up a mechanism to allow your support staff to connect to the database using the same profile as an end user, without the need to know the end user's password. This will also be demonstrated using Discoverer.

Thus, you can set up a secure environment yet at the same time enable your support staff to help your users without the security breach of a disclosed password.

Automated scheduling and e-mailing from within Discoverer

As a regular contributor to Oracle OTN forums I am frequently asked how to do this and how to do that. Many of the answers that I give relate to the advanced use of Discoverer in ways that it was not designed to do in it's standard mode.

One of the most frequently asked questions that comes up is how to automate the scheduling and emailing of Discoverer reports. Using a combination of powerpoint and a live demonstration, I will show attendees just how to use the Discoverer command-line interface in conjunction with a third-party scheduler and third-party command-line email tool to do exactly this.

The second half of my presentation will be a live demonstration of how to set up Discoverer to allow the creation of lists of values that comprise both an ID and a Description at the same time. The live demonstration will use a combination of both Discoverer Administrator and Discoverer Plus to show parameters that will accept either an ID or Description, yet still returning the description to the user.


Both of these presentations will be in my usual style yet will cover a couple of really complex issues that have constantly been asked for on the forums.

By providing attendees with these practical hints and tips, I am hopeful that attendees will come away with a better understanding of the power of Discoverer.

Being a member of Oracle's business intelligence customer advisory board, the author of the Oracle Discoverer 10g Handbook, and an Oracle ACE, I probably know Discoverer better than most. Who better, therefore, to show you how to make the most of the amazing product that is Oracle Discoverer?