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Where Is That Oracle Virtual Book?

The advanced search in Oracle Database 10g Release 2 (10.2) documentation library gives you the option to format search results into a virtual book.

This is a nice little feature that formats your search results as a single combined table of contents, making it easier to scan through similar topics from different books. For example here is a virtual book about materialized views. It took about 15 seconds for the search engine to return results formatted as a virtual book, not very fast.

What about Oracle Database 11g?
It seems that the virtual book option is missing from the Oracle Database 11g Release 1 (11.1) documentation library. I could not find it on the advanced search page. If it is there and I missed it, please let me know. Until then, I figured out a simple way to transform an 11g search result into a virtual book. Just append “&vbook=1″ to the end of the search results URL. For example:

http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/search?word=materialized+view
http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/search?word=materialized+view&vbook=1

Even though the virtual book format option is not exposed on the advanced search page, it is mentioned and explained on the 11g search help page. Hmm!

You could also bookmark this page http://www.oracle.com/pls/db111/vbook and use it whenever you want to generate a virtual book for any search term.

A new search plugin
Finally, the easiest option of all is to install the Oracle DB 11.1 Virtual Book search plugin in your browser (Firefox or IE7). If you use Google Chrome, here are the instructions on how to add a new search engine.

Comments Off | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , ,


AskTom Search Engine Plugin Revived

I went to AskTom to add the site’s search engine to my Firefox’s Search Bar but too bad the search engine link was broken:

So, I went ahead and created a new AskTom search engine plugin.

If you are browsing this page in Firefox 2 or above or IE7 or above, click here to install the AskTom search plugin.

Check out this page for more Oracle related search engine plugins.

Comments Off | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , ,


Find Out If Your Blog Is Usable, Accessible or Simply Good

Tom Johnson has a list of twenty usability tips for your blog. Does your blog follow these principles that distinguish good blogs from poor ones? I believe that mine does. Here is why. My blog:

  • Has a tag line that clearly identifies the topic of the blog: News, views, tips and tricks on Oracle, ColdFusion and other fun stuff. Although, the focus has been mostly on Oracle.

  • Allows comments and does not require readers to register before commenting. At one time, I turned comment registration on. That was before I discovered this WordPress plugin: Math Comment Spam Protection.

  • Provides the option to be notified of follow-up comments via e-mail and RSS, thanks to Subscribe to Comments WordPress plugin.

  • Makes it easy to subscribe to the blog’s feed by placing an orange RSS button in a highly visible location (the menu bar at the top). Moreover, the Subscribe Me WordPress plugin adds site subscription links to popular RSS readers, and Feedburner Feed Replacement plugin forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner.

  • Offers an e-mail subscription to the latest posts.

  • Has an About page to tell the reader who I am.

  • Has a Contact page to give the reader the option to contact me offline, thanks to the WP Contact Form III plugin for WordPress.

  • Includes visuals (graphs, charts, photos, blockquotes, videos…) in blog posts. Here is an example.

  • Has mostly short blog posts. Unless they are extremely useful or interesting, I do not have time to read long posts on other blogs and I figure other people do not have the time to read my long posts either.

  • Has subheadings for long posts. Here is an example.

  • Is generous in linking to other blogs and websites. Here is an example.

  • Clearly describes posts’ content in the posts’ titles. You judge for yourself.

  • Archives posts by category.

  • Has a search feature and with the Google Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress, Google visits my blog very frequently, quickly making it searchable on the net as well.

  • Has a list of related posts beneath each post, thanks to these WordPress plugins: Ultimate Tag Warrior and ST Add Related Posts to Feed.

  • Does not have confidential, overly-emotional, rude, or unprofessional posts. I’m not an emotional guy anyway and I’m nice overall.

  • Has a “top posts” section in the sidebar (or bottombar) thanks to WP-PostViews WordPress plugin.

  • Has a “recent posts” section in the sidebar (or bottombar).

  • Has a “top commentators” section in the sidebar (or bottombar), thanks to Show Top Commentators WordPress plugin.

  • Has a sitemap or index page, thanks to Sitemap Generator WordPress plugin.

  • Has a URL that nearly matches the title of the blog. The URL of my blog is awads.net/wp, the title of my blog is Eddie Awad’s blog. Close enough.

  • Is refreshed with new posts on a regular basis. I used to post at least 4 times a week, but with two kids, a full time job and project deadlines looming, I try to post at least once a week on average.

And here are some additional usability measures I think are also important and worth mentioning:

  • Has a white background color. To me, It’s just more readable having dark text on light background.

  • Makes it easy to share posts Web 2.0 style, thanks to the Share This WordPress plugin and FeedFlare.

  • Publishes a full-text feed instead of a truncated one. Here is why I switched to a full-text feed and here are more thoughts about this subject.

  • Has useful and interesting content (at least to me). After all, what’s a blog without good content?

5 Comments | Filed in Tips, WordPress | Tags: , ,


Introducing: Stumble Upon a Post

It’s the season of stumbling:

  • StumbleUpon, in its most recent toolbar, introduced a new feature called StumbleThru, which allows users to stumble through pages on a specific web site.

  • Google introduced a recommendations button that you can add to the Google toolbar. The button looks like a pair of dice. Every time you click on the dice, you will be taken to a site that may be interesting to you based on your past searches.

  • Matt Mullenweg introduced a new WordPress plugin, Random Redirect, which is a special URL that, when clicked, will redirect to a random post on your blog, in a StumbleUpon-like fashion.

I have activated the Random Redirect plugin on my blog. Every time you click on this link you will be served a random post from the list of all my previous posts. You can also find this link on the blog’s top menu bar.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the code behind the Random Redirect plugin, and amazingly, it is very short and simple. Here it is, the whole plugin:

function matt_random_redirect() {
   global $wpdb;
$random_id = $wpdb->get_var("
    SELECT ID 
    FROM $wpdb->posts 
    WHERE post_type = 'post' 
    AND post_password = '' 
    AND post_status = 'publish' 
    ORDER BY RAND() LIMIT 1");
wp_redirect( get_permalink( $random_id ) );
exit;
}
if ( isset( $_GET['random'] ) )
add_action( 'template_redirect', 'matt_random_redirect' );

Notice the ORDER BY RAND(), this reminds me of one of my earlier posts: ORDER BY no order. Basically, you can do the same in Oracle: ORDER BY dbms_random.random.

Happy stumbling.

3 Comments | Filed in Oracle, WordPress | Tags: ,


See How Easily You Can Search Oracle

Since the introduction of the first Oracle search plugins for Firefox, a few things have changed:

So, what does this have to do with search plugins? Read on and you will know:

  • What’s new in IE7 and Firefox 2 regarding search plugins.
  • You will be introduced to the new Oracle custom search engines powered by Google.
  • And you will be able to install many Oracle search plugins that will help you in your Oracle-related research and learning.

Search plugins in the new Firefox 2 and IE 7

Both Firefox 2 and IE 7 browsers now support the OpenSearch description format (XML) for search plugins. Which means that if you develop a search plugin for Firefox, that exact same search plugin can also be installed and used in Internet Explorer.

Moreover, there are now two (automated) ways to install search plugins (and they both work in Firefox 2 and IE 7). The first is to call one simple JavaScript function, the second is through auto-discovery of search plugins.

Using auto-discovery, a web site that offers a search plugin can advertise it so that Firefox 2 and IE 7 users can easily download and install the plugin. This is similar to the RSS auto-discovery of feeds.

Search Plugin Installation in IE 7 Using Auto-Discovery

In IE 7, here is how the search bar looks when you browse a website without search plugin auto-discovery:

iesb.png

And here is how it looks with search plugin auto-discovery enabled:

iesb-ad.png

If you click on that small orange down-arrow, you will see something similar to this:

iesb-ad2.png

In fact, if you are using IE 7 to browse this very page, you will be able to see it in action in your browser right now. Just look at your search bar.

Note: I have noticed that IE 7 does not discover more than 3 search plugins using auto-discovery.

Search Plugin Installation in IE 7 Using a JavaScript Link

Alternatively, if the installation is done using the JavaScript link, you will be presented with this window in IE 7:

iesb-ad3.png

Search Plugin Installation in Firefox 2 Using Auto-Discovery

In Firefox 2, here is how the search bar looks when you browse a website without search plugin auto-discovery:

ffsb.png

And here is how it looks with search plugin auto-discovery enabled:

ffsb-ad.png

If you click on that small blue-ish down-arrow, you will see something similar to this:

ffsb-ad2.png

In fact, if you are using Firefox 2.0 to browse this very page (or Wikipedia for example), you will be able to see it in action in your browser. Just look at your search bar.

Search Plugin Installation in Firefox 2 Using a JavaScript Link

Alternatively, if the installation is done using the JavaScript link, you will be presented with this window in Firefox 2.0:

ffsb-ad3.png

Oracle Custom Search Engines

I have created three Oracle custom search engines powered by Google.

  1. The first search engine is for Oracle-related blogs. It searches all the blogs aggregated by OraNA.

  2. The second search engine is for Oracle-related forums and mailing lists. Currently this search engine searches the following sites:

    Let me know if you have other Oracle-related forums you want to include in this search engine.

  3. The third search engine is for Oracle-related websites. Currently this search engine searches the following sites:

    Let me know if you have other Oracle-related sites you want to include in this search engine.

These search engines, and more, are now available to you right from your browser’s search bar.

Install Oracle search plugins

Just click on a search plugin below to add it to the list of engines available in your browser’s search bar:
(Firefox 2 or IE 7 and above only)

Oracle Custom Search Engines:

Oracle Documentation Search Engines:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are four search bar keyboard shortcuts that will make using the search bar even faster:

  • Go to search bar: Ctrl+K in Firefox. Ctrl+E in IE.
  • Select next search engine in search bar: Alt+Down in Firefox. Ctrl+Down in IE.
  • Select previous search engine in search bar: Alt+Up in Firefox. Ctrl+Up in IE.
  • Open search results in a new tab: Alt+Enter

And here is a bonus tip to change the width of the search bar in Firefox.

Happy searching!

6 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , , ,


Search Oracle Documentation Google Style

Last month, Oracle removed the authentication requirement from its documentation libraries. Since then, OTN membership is no longer required for accessing the Oracle documentation.

Yesterday, Justin announced that a new way for searching the documentation has just gone live.

For example, to see the new Oracle Docs search in action, here is the search result for “merge”.

Check it out at search.oracle.com.

To make searching easier:

  • For Firefox users: Install the new Oracle Docs (SES) search plugin.
  • For IE users: Add the new Oracle Docs (SES) custom button to your Google toolbar.
4 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , , ,


Bring your old posts to life

By using the following two plugins, I was able to increase the page views on my blog by almost fifty percent. If you have a WordPress blog and don’t use these two plugins, you’re missing on features that can make your blog more useful and help your readers find your old posts a lot easier.

Ultimate Tag Warrior

This plugin allows you to add tags either through the Write Post page, on posts using an AJAXy box, or in posts using a special syntax. From the Write Post page, you can also get suggestions for tags using Tagyu or Yahoo.

You can see this plugin in action here on my blog. At the end of each post there is a list of tags that describe what the post is about and also links to posts that share all or some tags with the current post. Clicking on a tag lists all posts tagged with the selected tag. For example, click here to view a list of all posts tagged with sql. There is also the tag archives page that lists all tags in a tag cloud format. Moreover, the tag search page is a quick and easy way to list posts for a tag or a group of tags.

Landing Sites

This plugin checks if a visitor has come from a search engine (like Google or Yahoo for example), and uses their search terms to display links to related content on your blog. This plugin also allows you to display targeted and relevant advertisements only for visitors coming from search engines.

To see it in action, click here to search Google for oracle firefox extension. On the Google search results page click the link to this blog. When you land on the relevant post, you will see the welcome message with the related links and ad on the top of the post. The welcome message is only shown when a visitor reaches the blog from search engines.

Combined with quality content, the two plugins will definitely increase the page views on your blog and help visitors find posts that otherwise are buried deep in your blog archives.

Download:

Comments Off | Filed in WordPress | Tags: ,


Oracle Metalink Firefox search plugin

Similar to my other two Firefox search plugins (found here and here), I have now created a plugin to search Metalink (as promised). You can download it from here.

Note that you need to login to Metalink in order to get results. Once logged in – and as long as you do not exit your Firefox browser – you do not need to keep the Metalink site open and you do not need to log in again every time you search. Enjoy!

9 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , ,


Oracle docs virtual book Firefox plugin

Even though the “Format results into a virtual book” has always been an option for displaying Oracle documentation search results, I have never paid attention to it until Tom Kyte mentioned it in his latest podcast. After trying out this option a couple of times, I noticed that it could easily be converted to a Firefox search plugin. Unlike my other Oracle documentation search plugin, this one is version specific. I have created three search plugins, one for Oracle DB version 8.1.7, one for 9.2 and another for 10.2. The result of the search is directly formatted into a virtual book.

I successfully tested the Oracle documentation search plugins on both Firefox 1.0.7 and 1.5 (Beta). I noticed one difference though, which is not related to how the search plugins work but to where each FF version installs them. the plugin files in FF 1.0 were stored in the FF installation directory (usually C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins), whereas in FF 1.5 they were stored in the user’s profile directory (usually C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles...).

Back to the Oracle documentation search. Here are a couple of tips. You can refine your search results by using boolean operators and wildcard characters. Very helpful sometimes. Also note that searches are case insensitive.

Finally, it seems to me that if I use the same search string to search the documentation for versions 8.1.7, 9.2 and 10.2, version 9.2 always produces fewer (virtual book) results than the other two. Consider the following examples: Continue reading…

5 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , ,


Oracle Firefox search plugin

Up in the top right corner of Firefox, there’s a handy search box that puts search engines at your fingertips. When you download Firefox, a number of searches (like Google, Yahoo, and Ebay) are included but you can easily add more.

Search Plugin

Because I find myself quite frequently using tahiti.oracle.com to search the Oracle documentation, I created my own Firefox search plugin to do just that, search the Oracle documentation. You can download, install and use my search plugin from here. The search plugin will only work in Mozilla Firefox. If you do not use Firefox, now is a great time to switch and use this great browser along with the other 75,000,000 users.

24 Comments | Filed in Firefox, Oracle, Plugins | Tags: , , ,