Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Happened Fifty Years Ago

About three hours east from where I sit is Lake Charles, Louisiana. It was there, fifty years ago today,..I came to be.

..even then, the hat.
I must admit the first few years remain a bit fuzzy.

My earliest memory is still about the time I turned three. I remember living in the Riverside section of Orange, Texas.

I remember well the day my sister arrived.

As a child my free time was spent playing Pop Warner football. Kind of a family affair - my dad was the coach, my mom was Team Mom and my sister was a cheerleader.

Growing up in Southeast Texas, we also spent a tremendous time on the water... fishing, hunting, skiing. By the time I was twelve I had my own boat.

In high school I signed up for Data Processing. The instructor was Junios O. Tuley but everyone called him JOT. He was an ex-Air Force officer who understood the goal of the class was to plant the seed, to spark interest. Boy, did he.  We actually punched cards back then. You youngsters have it so easy. I loved the discipline and the precision required for computer code to work properly. At the same time, tremendous creativity could be brought to bear on a solution. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Went to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. We had no PCs, We had a VAX and a Honeywell mainframe. You would submit your programs and grad students would compile them and run them overnight. You would come back the next day and receive your output. I remember the angst of seeing a compilation error due to something like a typo and having to do it all over again. You youngsters have it so easy.

Really? Forget Harvard??
Back then college was affordable. With only a part time job, I was able work my way thru school. Never threatened the Dean's List, but the requisite wild oats were sown. Life was good.

After graduation I took up dBase and FoxBase to maintain inventory for a building trades manufacturer I worked for, I was able to transfer within the company to our California plant and ultimately to the Oregon facility. Loved living in the Pacific Northwest. So much to explore...snow skiing...the outdoors...Yes, life was really good.

Here is where the plot pay attention.

I returned home to Texas for a visit and came into the company of Dianne Richards.

In Dianne, I found someone who shared my core beliefs, but at the same time was much more of a free spirit. She lights up any room she walks into and has the ability to make each person she meets feel special. A ski trip to Vail. A visit out to Oregon and within months we were married. She left a life of her own back in Texas to join me. She's the one who gambled, but I'm the one who cashed in.

We lived in the coast range of Oregon between Newport and Philomath. She took a job with Oregon State University. I ran a hosting company from the house. Life couldn't get any I thought.

A little over a year later our first born arrived. Madelyn Elaine Latiolais. We call her Maddie. She's a whole lot like me. Driven. Intelligent. Stubborn. Voracious reader. She's unique in that she's extremely analytical yet artsy and creative at the same time. She's got in her the best of Dianne and the best of me. She will excel in whatever she attempts in life.

It was time to go legit. Took a job near Denver, Colorado coding Oracle Reports. So from Oregon to Colorado we went. Dianne and I bought our first house together. If you could believe it, life got even better.

We soon began to tire of the seventeen hour drive back to visit family in Texas. I took a job in San Antonio doing Oracle development.

San Antonio was very good for us in that it brought us closer to our families, was able to advance my career, but most of all it was the birthplace of Mason Luke Latiolais. Mason is a real lover of life. A people person who shares Dianne's musical ability and my love for music. At nine years old, an accomplished piano player. So young, so talented. Life just kept getting better.

While at San Antonio I petitioned management to go to KScope, Kaleidoscope as it was then called. I'd been reading the ODTUG Technical Journal for a years as well as the mailing lists. I definitely wanted to see and experience it in person. Two words - awe-some.

The next few conferences I got to know Mike Riley and a few of the other board members like Bruce Bergman and Jeff Jacobs. I was asked to serve on the conference committee for Kaleidoscope 2009 in Monterrey, California.

One thing led to another and the next thing I know I'm on the ODTUG Board of Directors. A few years later I was asked to serve the organization as President. I
owe a debt of gratitude to ODTUG, because the membership houses my closest friends the world over. From Estonia, to Canada to Venezuela to Australia, the Middle East, India...and all points in between.

In order to get even closer to family we moved yet again. This time to Houston. I'd like to think we're done moving. I'd like to think the roots we're putting down now will run deep.

I want to make mention of another development from the past year that really affects how I look at fifty and how I look at the next twenty years. Last August, I accepted an offer with Insum Solutions. I now work from home which allows me to spend more time with my wife and family. Work life balance is within sight. If life got any better, I don't think I could stand it.

Wow, it all happened so fast. Elders will tell you it will, but you don't believe it. As a child and young adult you're always wanting to get to the next thing. As you age you realize it's much more about savoring the moment.

I'm fifty. In some ways I thought I'd be further along. I figured I'd be a grandfather by now with retirement in sight. Both will have to wait.

To the men in my family, THANK YOU for the work ethic, the grit and the determination required to make one's mark on this world.

To the women in my family, THANK YOU for smoothing my edges and giving me an understanding that in order for me to win it's not necessary that someone else has to lose.

Yes, it's at these milestones that we take stock. We look back, but in true optimists fashion I choose to look ahead. The sun will come up tomorrow and don't ask me how it happens, it will shine brighter than the one from earlier today.

I don't know what the next fifty years hold in store, but I do know that with my wife and my family and my friends I'm going to take my time, enjoy the ride, and savor each and every moment.

...our journey continues

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hmmm...NOT What I REQUESTED...

The saltier of you out there probably already know this, but it bit me recently so I thought I'd share...

I've used the REQUEST variable to conditionally manage processes. It's quite simple to do and we're actually provided four individual conditions to which the REQUEST variable applies: They are:

  • REQUEST = Expression1
  • REQUEST != Expression1
  • REQUEST is Contained in Expression1
  • REQUEST is NOT Contained in Expression1

Pretty straightforward, right? Not so fast. The problem presented itself when I had two possible REQUEST variable entries...CREATE   and CREATE_ANOTHER. I noticed that the CREATE_ANOTHER code was actually running when I was passing a REQUEST variable of CREATE. The condition on the code was "REQUEST is Contained in Expression1" where Expression1 was CREATE_ANOTHER,FOO,BAR ...or some such.

A trip to the Oracle docs didn't help. It clearly states...

Request is contained within Expression 1
Use this condition to specify a comma delimited list of allowed requests (such as SAVE or UPDATE) in Expression 1. The condition evaluates to true if the value of REQUEST is contained in the list.

I definitely supplied a comma delimited list. What to do, what to do? I found a thread some 5 years ago from Patrick Wolf that provided the answer. He said that "REQUEST is Contained in Expression1"  actually is no more than an INSTR. It does not execute against a list. As a result things began to make sense. I changed my condition to PLSQL Expression with ":REQUEST IN ('CREATE_ANOTHER','FOO','BAR') and life was worth living again.

Created a simple test to demonstrate the findings...

Specifying a REQUEST variable of "New", you can see the second region is rendering albeit incorrectly as "New" was not an element in the comma delimited list. The other two regions displayed as intended.

OK, back on your heads. That's all for now. As I mentioned it may have been something you already knew, but I'd bet money it will continue to bite others out least until Oracle updates the documentation.

...our journey continues.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pivots Made Easy with APEX 5.0

From time to time we need to pivot data for presentation purposes. It's not something I do everyday, so the syntax is usually something I have to pull from the old toolbox as needed. With APEX 5.0, you can now pivot data within an interactive report and it's quite easy.

Let's say we've got a table of Super Bowl quarterbacks and their pass attempts per quarter.

...but we really would like the data displayed where we can compare the quarterbacks side by side...a textbook pivot. To accomplish this, go to Actions / Format / Pivot. There you see a dialog box that requests the pivot column, the row columns and the data to be included in the grid. The "Sum" checkbox does exactly that...totals the columns.

...resulting in the following output.

Obviously you should season to taste, but there you have it! Your data instantly pivoted courtesy of APEX 5.0

If you haven't signed up for your own EA3 instance, do so now at

...our journey continues

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

APEX OOW 14 Meetup

Each year the Oracle APEX community gets together at Oracle Open World (OOW) to have a few beers and catch up. This is a great informal event and its your chance to network with a lot of people in the APEX community and meet some of the gurus and members of the core APEX development team.

Back by popular demand, we'll be having the annual APEX OOW Meetup downstairs at Johnny Foley's Dueling Piano Bar on Tuesday, September 30th. Doors open at 8:30 with the downbeat precisely at 9:30. 

I've held out hope that we'd be joined this year by ODTUG's own, Martin D'Souza, but I found out this week that he is not going to be in attendance. He is still feeling the effects of a concussion suffered last June. He is making slow and steady progress and will surely join us at the next event. Martin, my friend, you will definitely be missed! 

Like last year, this event is "shrimp-friendly"
So here's goods...

Johnny Foley's Dueling Piano Bar (remember, we'll be downstairs) 
243 O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

ODTUG will be giving away some cool APEX swag.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

...our journey continues

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Autobiography

Hey, don't laugh. We don't always succeed. In fact, sometimes we fail as the book title indicates.

But it's during those times of failure that we can learn the most. We learn about the systems we work on. We learn about the people we interact with. Most of all we learn about ourselves.

Failure is inevitable if you're out there reaching higher and extending yourself. Learn from it!

...our journey continues

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Glad to be a Part of Insum!

Sometimes it just clicks...sometimes it just feels right...sometimes the best things are worth waiting for. That's the feelings I have around my decision to join Insum, the largest APEX consultancy in North America.

A little bit about Insum...
"Insum is a highly creative solution center specialized in Oracle Database, developing innovative applications for clients and partners in North America. Founded in 2002, Insum has been assisting customers realize the full benefits of Oracle Database with Application Express since 2005. In fact, Insum is a pioneer with APEX and is today the largest consultancy specialized in Oracle APEX developments in North America. Privately held with offices in Montreal, Canada and South Burlington, USA, Insum has the most complete and experienced staff to serve the needs for complex application development and deployments in a wide range of industries. Come discover our unique APEX center of excellence"

I first became aware of Insum through Francis Mignault. We met in New Orleans during KScope2008 at the last, great APEX meetup. I think back now and realize what a special night that was. Going around the room was Carl, Dimitri, John Scott, Dan McGhan, Roel, Raj, Josh, Joel, Dietmar, etc. Francis and I just kinda hit it off that night. Ever since then we do our best to carve out time to sit and visit. Sometimes it involves a nice cigar, sometimes it's five minutes between sessions, all times special. A few years later I met Michel and Patrick. Solid folks whom you could tell had a passion for the technology and even back then I knew that given the opportunity, I would take up with this company from the Great White North.

Insum continues to grow their client base in the U.S. and as a result is building a team of developers to handle this demand. For the first time in my career I'll be able to concentrate full time on Application Express. It's going to be fun. I'll commit to blogging more and probably get back on the lecture circuit.

I'd like to thank SCGTS for the last four years in which I have grown personally and professionally. Truly some of the smartest individuals I've had the pleasure of working with. I'm expecting to aid in transition through August 15 before reporting to Montreal for onboarding.

So, I'm proud to Insum-niac! (I doubt that's actually a word) Look it, if you're a highly skilled APEX developer..let's talk. If you're a company in need of APEX expertise, let's definitely talk.

...our journey continues

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who is the drummer for AC/DC?

A year from now Jeff Smith will ask me if I know who is the drummer for rock band AC/DC. It is no other than Phil Rudd. Who I might add will be charged one year from today for putting a hit on two people in New Zealand.