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).