Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Mapping The World's Energy On The Move...

Here's a link to a nice write up in Forbes on something that I was involved with over the last few years:

Thomson Reuters Eikon - Mapping The World's Energy On The Move

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Oracle Locator and Spatial

If you already use Oracle Spatial or Locator then you probably already know Simon Greeners SpatialDB Advisor blog, but if not then I can recommend it as an invaluable source of Spatial nuggets.  Whether you are just starting out with Spatial or have some level of experience with it you will find something there which will knock your socks off!

When I was helping a client with creating a geo-spatial database I found it confusing with regard to what is included as part of the Locator licence ('free' with Enterprise Edition) instead of the additional fee option of Spatial.  One of Simons posts really makes it clear what is and isn't included with Locator, and thus I was able to ascertain that the client only really needed the functionality available within Locator, resulting in a considerable saving on licence fees for the Spatial extension.

Apex and Graph Visualisation Libraries

I was recently asked by a client to create a quick POC in Apex to demonstrate how relationships between physical assets (in this case oil refineries) could be maintained using a graphical tool.  So I looked at a number of different Javascript graphing libraries and chose MXGraph from JGraph which seemed to have the most features and looked relatively easy to integrate.   It's worth mentioning that it is not Open Source and has a fairly hefty licence fee.

The requirement was to be able to show the process flow between units in a particular oil refinery with relationships representing the refined output from one processing unit and the input into another.  The idea is to build out quite detailed maps of the process flows within refineries and then use this with other 3rd party outage data to predict the affect on production and thus ultimately the change in price of crude and refined oil products.

The POC was quite simple, as you can see from the screenshot below, and was really just put together to show off what could be done with a graphing tool.  The refinery units and relationships are pulled from the DB and, at the point a graph is saved, all the positional and sizing data is saved as well.  It would need a lot of work to get it up to scratch but it was just starting point to illicit further ideas from the client.

Oracle Apex with MXGraph
Oracle Apex with MXGraph
I've uploaded the demo to  if you want to take a look.  There's an example refinery configuration for 'BP Texas City' (in case anyone notices it's not an accurate representation!).   I've disabled the 'Save' functionality as the demo doesn't allow for the creation of new refinery units, but does allow deletion, so each time you view it it should look the same.

I'm really interested to know what other uses people are finding for graphical interfaces within their Apex apps, as I often come across complex data sets that would benefit from being maintained graphically rather than using a form based approach.  Also does anyone have a particular preference for  a Javascript library?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Work Yourself Fitter

It's been a while since my last blog post but as I'm now looking for my next Oracle contract (hopefully Apex again purrrlease) I've a little time on my hands.  So I thought I would share with you my latest creation.  It's a variation on the Treadputer which is basically a treadmill adapted for use as a standup desk - you simply work and walk at the same time.  Yes I know it seems a little crazy but here's a picture of mine.
Just working on this thing for around 3 hours a day at something like 1.5 miles per hour means I walk about 4.5 miles and burn around 600 extra calories.

This is a home-brewed effort.  I already had the treadmill, so I added a shelf for the keyboard and mouse, plus a wall shelf to hold my laptop.  Of course I've tried to be as ergonomic as possible and placed the wall shelf so that my eye level is at the centre of the laptop screen, and the keyboard shelf is at the correct height so my forearms are horizontal.

Now considering I've mainly been working from my home office for the last 5 years I probably should have done this earlier, as I'm sure my next contract will end up being based onsite.  Oh well.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Apex 4.0: SQL in Plugins and seeing Stars.....

This is my first post in a few weeks as I've been a little busy with work recently, which is just criminal as I really just want to play with Apex 4 EA2.  Oh well, bills have to be paid and children fed I suppose.

Anyway, let's cut to the chase.  There is a nice feature of Apex 4 plugins (which I'm pretty sure wasn't working correctly in EA1) where you can create a custom attribute of type 'SQL Query'.  I've added this to the Range Slider plugin I use on my Online Store demo for the min and max default range values, as you can see below:

Anyone using the plugin can write SQL statements for these attributes, and the good part is that they will be parsed when the changes are saved.  You can see in the screenshot below that I have set the Default Range Min Value to the mimimum selling price and the Default Range Max Value to maximum selling price.  I should, of course, set the Minimum Value and Maximum Value to also be 'SQL Query' attribute types and set them to be slightly smaller and large that the min/max selling prices, but I haven't got around to that yet.  Sorry.  The plugin can be found here.

And what does he mean by '....seeing Stars' in the Blog post title, I hear you ask?  Well let me explain.

You may have noticed that I have used a Star Rating on my application, which is taken from Patrick Wolf's excellent sample Plugin application which can be found via this blog post.  I have taken that Star Rating plugin and used some jQuery magic to dynamically update the list of products in a similar manner to the Range Slider and Categories in the Refine Search region.   Click on a star and it will displ;ay products that have at least that rating as a minimum.  So clicking on star 3 will display all products with ratings of 3, 4 or 5 stars.  You can also click on the reset button to the left to set it so that all products are displayed including those without a rating.  If you want to know how to do this in more detail, then please let me know and I try and find the time to explain.

At some point I promise I really, really, really am going to smarten the demo up.   Bye for now.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Apex EA2 update

To see the new style Plugins use this link to the Plugins Application provided by Patrick Wolf:

Plugins Application

I've managed to copy the syntax used in some of these plugins to update those on my Online Store demo.

I've still need to upload some images and it looks like there are a few issue with my schema, but generally the app appears to be working.  So, in general it looks like EA1 apps can be imported into EA2 with little need to change anything.