When I’m done…

I hesitate to draw comparisons between me and Michaelangelo doing the Sistine Chapel, but I am reminded of Rex Harrison (ok, the Pope) forever asking Charlton Heston (ok, Michaelangelo): “When will you make an end of it!” And Heston,Michaelangelo tartly replying, “When I’m done!”

Well, we’re finished: the Wilson server article has just been completed, and only a week overdue :-)

And that completes the Churchill framework. Use it to its full and you now end up with two two-node clusters, one of which becomes a primary 2-node RAC, leaving the other to become a 2-node RAC running a standby copy of the primary; one network services server and its backup (Churchill and Attlee), and a beefy Enterprise Manager server to keep an eye on everything else (Wilson).

It’s quite a nice environment in which to try out things like patching, failover and switchover, configuring Cloud Control to send meaningful alerts, and so on. Happily, I’ve used, and with equally good results, and on top of CentOS 6.5 and 6.6, with an OEL 6.5 in there somewhere too.

My main desktop runs this complete infrastructure very nicely; my Toshiba (16GB RAM, 1.5TB solid state HDD) runs it just as nicely, though I have to dial down the memory numbers for my database VMs. My poor, ageing HP Folio 13 (8GB RAM, 256GB Solid State) has no problem with a 2-node RAC and an Enterprise Manager, but gettng it to do an additional 2 nodes for Active Data Guard practice is pushing it a bit. Maybe I should buy more solid state hard drive for it?! There’s a thought…

It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a ‘build Oracle properly, routinely, accurately, automatically’ tool.

So now I can stop…

Today is an important day…

As the Ferryman in Benjamin Britten’s Opera “Curlew River” puts it, “Today is an important day”.

For today would have been Britten’s 101st birthday. Exactly one year ago today, I was settling down at the back of the Maltings Concert Hall, Snape for the Centenary concert (and a good one it was, too!) Twenty-six years ago, I was settling down in my seat at the Wigmore Hall for his 75th anniversary concert. And thus it has often been for more than half my life: today is spent playing pretty much nothing but Britten from dawn to dusk, and we pray that ToH thinks to do the vacuuming tomorrow rather than today!

Birthdays are for giving, of course (as I constantly have to remind ToH!) In this case, I’ve decided to release version 1.3 of Churchill, which has now been tested for, and, for standalone, RAC, RAC+Data Guard and 12c Cloud Control installations. I’ve also taken the opportunity to tidy things up a lot, so necessary files are housed more appropriately, rather than all being plonked into a single directory. There are some more documentation issues that arise as a result of the clean-up, but those are relatively minor and should be done by tomorrow. Assuming I am not made to do the vacuuming tomorrow as penance…

Update 25th November: Beware of birthday gifts bought in a hurry! The new 1.3 ISO of Churchill was missing a key file (the ksh RPM), without which all attempts to run the root scripts at the end of a Grid Infrastructure install would fail. Oops. Now corrected (without incrementing the version number again: call it “1.3 Update 1” if you like… Microsoft can be such an inspiration!).


As promised, Salisbury and Asquith have been “retired” and have accordingly disappeared from the front page. They can still be reached from the Downloads page, though, should anyone still need them.

Churchill is now very nearly completely documented and replaces both. The only thing still missing is the description of how to create a Wilson server to act as an Enterprise Manager Cloud Control, and that should be finished by the end of the week.

I’ve also set up my own “ownCloud” hosting service and am hosting the Churchill ISO from there rather than from Dropbox. I think it’s all working and the necessary files are available to all, but if you run into any problems, just drop me a line and I’ll get it sorted ASAP.

Not Again!

I’ve been running with dual 24“ monitors for many years, but decided recently that a single 27” might be more useful to me. So I ordered the monitor you see on my left (Acer, B276HL) from Auspcmarket.com.au.

They delivered it a day late and, as a result, I didn’t get it home until about 5 days later. Having excitedly unpacked it, I then discovered this:

At first, I thought it was a chunk of glue sticking on the screen. But a moment of trying to scratch if off having proved fruitless, I took a close look. It then appeared to be more of an indent you’d cause by hitting the screen with a hammer: all the pixels under the ‘dent’ worked, but displayed the wrong sort of colour.

Anyway: no worries. I was very disappointed, and it quite spoiled my evening. But I’ve been doing business with AusPCMarkets since 2007 or thereabouts, at a rate of about $1500 a year. My UPS, 4TB NAS hard disks, a couple of PCs and God-knows what else have all come from them. They’re a bit pricier than other suppliers, but delivery in the central business district is free and their quality is good. So: make a note on their website that I want to return the monitor and get a replacement and all will be well, right?

Well, no, as it turns out. First email reply: “First step is to contact Acer on 1300 723 926 to obtain an Acer NCC reference number.”

Actually, that’s in breach of New South Wales consumer law, which clearly states that “The retailer cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer”. (See here for details!)

So I pointed that minor detail out to them and explained that my relationship was between me and AusPC, not with Acer. Would AusPC please authorise a return? And they indeed did so and sent me a returns form to fill in. Problem solved!

Except the next day, I got an email saying, “The Acer people are asking for the following information so that they can organise Pick-up. (1). SNID number located on the unit. (2). Full contact name, phone number and pickup address of where the unit is located for Acer to pickup.”

So I again replied, “I don’t deal with Acer. And I will not return my monitor to Acer. Please reply acknowledging the same”.

And their reply, in full, was: “Thanks for your quick reply.”

I kind of knew we were on a downward spiral at this point, but persisted with “And your quick reply hasn’t acknowledged what I asked you to. Are you going to accept that the monitor will be returned to you or not? Can I please have a yes/no answer?”.

To which they replied, “Awaiting your call for AusPC Pick-up.”.

So that seemed to be a ‘yes’ and AusPC was now undertaking to do the pickup. Things were back on track, and the monitor was indeed picked up that afternoon. Excellent.

Until I emailed this morning an innocent question, “Did it arrive with you OK?”. And they replied, “the AusPC Driver picked up the monitor. The monitor is currently with the supplier.” Again with the supplier nonsense! I asked when I’d be getting my replacement part, and their reply was “Your monitor will have to be inspected and approved for replacement by a qualified Technician from Acer. Once a manufacturing fault has been substantiated and physical damage ruled out – AusPC will promptly despatch a new replacement.”

Or, to put it in plain English, ‘Although we were the suppliers of defective goods to you, we are waiting to see what the manufacturer says before we offer you a replacement’. Which is not what New South Wales consumer law says they are allowed to do.

At this point, I informed them I wanted to cancel the sale all together and wanted a refund. They said, “only when the Acer technicians agree it’s a manufacturing issue” (illegal). And I replied that, given I was without a monitor, I was within my rights to just ring the credit card company and have the entire transaction disputed, resulting in a near-instantaneous refund to me. Their reply came about 3 minutes later: “The Supplier has just informed me that Acer has approved the Return to be processed”.

So, I get my refund, and the transaction is as if it had never been. And I get to spend my $360 somewhere else. No harm done, right?

Wrong. AusPCMarket are, in my view, in flagrant breach of NSW consumer law. They’re even in breach of the terms posted on their own website which talks eloquently about “For parts tested to have manufacturing defects a short period after their invoice date (DOA), we will replace them from our stock where possible” and “Customers must arrange to return the goods to us”. No hint at all there that “customers will be asked to arrange to return the goods to whoever we think they should be returned to” or “For parts tested BY THE MANUFACTURER to have defects…”.

When preparing my inevitable complaint to the NSW Fair Trading officers, I happened to notice that not once, in an exchange of over 12 emails, did they mention ‘sorry’ or ‘apology’ or ‘shame about the inconvenience’. Never mind their flagrant breach of NSW consumer law: these people are shysters of the first order.

Remember people: if Bloggs and Co sell you faulty products, no matter how innocently, then your course of complaint and restitution lies with Bloggs and Co, not with whomever Bloggs and Co do business. This is true in NSW and England (Sale of Goods Act), at least.

And if it’s not true in your particular jurisdiction, then all I can say is: make sure you don’t try doing business with AusPCMarket. Responsibility-dodging bastards that they are.

CentOS 6.6

CentOS released the 6th update to their version 6 distro at the end of October, just two weeks on from Red Hat’s original release. Clearly, the new(ish) relationship between Red Hat and CentOS is paying dividends.

The usual round of framework and documentation updates now follows at chez Dizwell, of course. Wouldn’t want my Churchill articles to suggest that 6.5 is the latest version it works on, for example!