Forms 12c update

I’ve updated my Oracle Map with new information about Forms 12c. As you might have noticed, we got Forms 12c in October 2015, so we have support until at least 2023.

An important new feature in Forms 12c is the ability to deploy stand-alone (through Java Web Start) without a browser. This is necessary because browser vendors are desupporting the NSAPI interface that the Java plug-in depends on. You already can’t run Forms in Google Chrome, and Firefox will stop supporting NSAPI end of 2016. The new Microsoft browser also doesn’t support it, so you’re stuck with Internet Explorer (as long as it lasts).

arrow2I’m still giving Oracle Forms a down arrow – nothing new is happening in Forms, and Forms developers are slowly retiring or moving to new things.

Write About Cloud – Or Else?

In another indication of how important Cloud is to Oracle, the ACE Director community just received their first official quota of advocacy from Oracle. We are expected to produce a specific number of blog posts, videos, tweets, etc. about Oracle Cloud.

I’ve been part of this great program for eight years, have benefited greatly and have been able to help many Oracle customers along the way. Until now, we ACE Directors have been free to contribute in whatever way we wanted. We’ve handed in an annual report of our doings, and those found worthy have been granted another year in the program.

This is the first time we have been given such a specific assignment, and it makes me worry about Oracle’s position in the Cloud marketplace. They have great Cloud products, but if they consider it necessary to ask us to promote Cloud more, it indicates that Oracle Cloud does not have great traction among customers yet.

Escaping Notification Hell

How many electronic devices are you carrying? Surveys show that most professionals carry two or three, and with the rise in smart watches, increasingly four devices.

The problem with this plethora of devices apart from the need to keep them charged is that all of them have notification features. And most people are not nearly diligent enough about disabling notifications, landing them in what I call Notification Hell.

Notification Hell

Most users leave notifications at the default settings, giving them way too many notifications on all devices. You need to turn down the notification level and vary your notifications by device. You pay more attention to very personal devices that you always carry, so they should notify you very rarely. You watch should hardly ever notify you, and your phone only rarely.

You can allow your tablet and laptop more notifications because the usage situation is different; you have decided to sit down with your tablet or laptop for a longer session. Additionally, they have more screen area and better input capabilities to handle a larger list of items.

Escape notification hell – it’s totally within your power.


I help people and organizations use appropriate information technology to achieve their goals. For more tips, sign up for the Technology That Fits newsletter at and follow @techthatfits. 

Achieving IT Enlightenment

An enlightened person is someone who sees things as they really are. Unfortunately, most IT departments are a long way from being enlightened. Their perception is different from their reality.

Actual vs Perceived Complexity

Some people actually have rather complex requirements but think their situation is simple. The Danish tax authorities are on the brink of throwing away a multi-million dollar system for collecting debt. They assumed there were 10-15 collection types, but have now identified over 400. These people build on an inappropriate foundation and have to perform expensive re-engineering when the system meets reality.

The majority IT organizations are in the opposite situation. They think that their business is absolutely unique and nobody else in the universe have ever faced a situation quite like theirs. These people implement huge standard systems like incur a high cost in licenses and IT resources needed. At the same time, the systems are too heavy and get in the way of the users.

A few people do have an accurate understanding of their requirements and implement appropriate technology to support their processes. Are you one of the enlightened ones?


I help people and organizations use appropriate information technology to achieve their goals. For more tips, sign up for the Technology That Fits newsletter at and follow @techthatfits.

One Visualization is Worth a Thousand Rows

One of the under-utilized killer features of Oracle ADF is the Data Visualization (DVT) compontents.

It is easy to build bad visualizations as Oracle themselves show in the documentation:

However, the commercial application that Oracle build with ADF (Fusion Applications, Enterprise Manager) obviously have benefited from the skills of professional visualization designers. These products use of visualizations well.

You application could probably benefit from some visualizations, too. Check out Status Meter and LED gauges as well as Spark charts. All of these are very compact and can fit into table rows, making a lot more information available to your users.


I covered ADF Visualizations in the latest issue of the ADF Mastery Newsletter. Sign up here for regular tips on how to learn and make the most of Oracle ADF:

Notifications are Evil

I just received yet another promotional email from Apple, touting a new, improved watchOS2 as well as new colors and wristbands. And I’m not buying.

Wearable devices have two reasons to exist:

  • To gather data more conveniently
  • To present data more conveniently

Interrupting you by beeping, buzzing or tapping you on the wrist with clever haptic alerts are not reasons to buy yet another device.

A large part of all wearable devices are various health activity trackers. If you want or need this data, fine, get a device that gathers those.

Some wearable devices present data more conveniently. For a number of specific jobs and situations, devices like Google Glass will be the right tool for the job. For other use cases, having information available on your wrist might be useful. I don’t mind my watch knowing that I’m in the airport and automatically placing my boarding card on my wrist display.

Most people leave their devices at the default notification settings, which allows way too many notifications and alerts to disturb them. Adding another device will lead to more notifications, and notifications are evil. Turn them off!

The Cost of Running Abandonware

Are you running software that is no longer supported by the original vendor or developer? You’ll be in trouble sooner or later. This kind of software is known as abandonware, and running it incurs both big risks and high costs.

If you write or purchase and implement a software system and then don’t maintain it, you will experience an initial cost and then a stable plateau where the software doesn’t cost you anything to run. However, sooner or later you cannot make your abandonware run on new operating systems or new devices. At that point, your cost increase dramatically as you’ll be desperately looking for rare and expensive consultants to keep the system running.

If you decide to keep your software up to date, you will have an on-going cost, but it will be predictable and yoo won’t suddenly be down because of an automated Windows update.

No professional manufacturer would run machinery for years without maintenance. But mysteriously, some IT organizations think that their software will run forever without maintenance. It won’t.


I help people and organizations use appropriate information technology to achieve their goals. For more tips, sign up for the Technology That Fits newsletter at and follow @techthatfits.

Oracle Standard Edition One is Gone

As of, there is no longer a low-cost Standard Edition One license. From Oracle Database Licensing Information:


Oracle Database Standard Edition 2 (SE2) is available starting with Oracle Database 12c Release 1 ( For, Oracle Database Standard Edition One (SE1) and Oracle Database Standard Edition (SE) are available.

That’s effectively a tripling of the price for small databases – we used to pay $5,800 list for a SE1, but now have to pay $17,500 for a SE2. It seems Oracle has stepped up its efforts to chase away smaller customers.

Why Communities Beat Vendor Support

Most users of technology need someone to support them. They might need help with initial implementation of the technology, troubleshooting something that no longer works, or to apply the technology to a new problem. There are three support models: Vendor support, Community support and Vendor/Community support.

Vendor or Community Support

In the Vendor Support model, every user of the technology contacts the vendor directly. The vendor can potentially establish a competent and effective support organization, but it can often be difficult to explain and resolve non-trivial issues.

The Community Only approach is the only possible solution for open source projects, and is one where a number of key experts provide support for users through blogs and support forums. Each user can access several viewpoints on difficult problems and often reach a solution quicker than through vendor support.

The ideal support structure is a combination of these two: The Vendor/Community support model. Each end user has access to both the vendor and a community of experts outside the vendor. This model only works well when the experts have good communication among themselves and to the vendor.

When you evaluate technology, look for a vendor that has a formal program of support for independent experts.


I help people and organizations use appropriate information technology to achieve their goals. As an Oracle ACE Director, I am a member of Oracle’s expert program. For more tips and graphics like these, sign up for the Technology That Fits newsletter at and follow @techthatfits. 

The End of the All-Powerful DBA

The Ashley Madison security breach has again turned IT security (and the lack thereof) into front page news. Nobody in IT should be surprised that hacker attacks like this one is possible – after all, the Ashley Madison CTO managed to easily hack into a competitor’s website.

The problem all unsecure sites share is the all-powerful DBA, and that role needs to be reconsidered. You can take two different approaches:

  • Enforcement
  • Trust but verify

Both of these approaches need to involve an IT security officer whose job is security and only that. The security officer should be a person not involved in database or system administration and should not share an office with the DBAs. The security officer belongs in your compliance organization and is more akin to an auditor.

If your data is truly sensitive, you should decide to enforce security (and accept a cost in lost productivity). With this approach, you place hard restrictions on what users can do. This includes securing that the DBA can’t read sensitive data and can’t grant access. Only the security officer can grant access and you ensure that nobody has both DBA and security officer roles.

If you focus more on productivity than absolute security, you can decide to trust but verify. You don’t place hard restrictions on your data, but monitor who accesses data. In this approach, the DBA can still read data, but not change the logging level or delete logs, and the security officer read these logs.

The problem is that most organizations follow a trust paradigm without the verify, and that is the way to Edward Snowden, the U.S.Office of Personnel Management and Ashley Madison. If you want to be secure, the all-powerful DBA has to go.