Ranty thoughts about MySQL, with added Oracle

I regularly use MySQL for many of my personal projects (except for that one that uses SQLite). As such, I have a well-used MySQL server on my main cluster in London, and another well-used MySQL server on my local cluster in my flat, not counting the numerous development MySQL servers sat on pretty much every device I own (including my phone…).

At work, we’re developing and maintaining an application which is backed by an Oracle database, and much of our application logic is contained within this database. As such, I get a lot of exposure to Oracle as well, and have even gone as far as setting up an Oracle XE instance at home, just to play with.

I’m not a cranky person, I don’t often complain about things, but recently as I’ve been getting more and more exposure to Oracle, and building more and more complex applications in my personal time on top of MySQL, I’ll try and do something that I know will work perfectly in Oracle, but for some unknown reason it doesn’t work – normally it is a very old bug or design decision I disagree with in MySQL.

To be fair, I have a fair share of grievances with Oracle too, which I’ll try and mention at the bottom, but mostly it’s MySQL’s issues that drive me up the wall.

Most of these stem from the differences between the two systems, and the intended audience of each. Oracle is much more enterprise-focused, but some of the things I mention below would not only be useful to MySQL users, they would allow developers to better leverage the database’s power, rather than being forced to do lots of data manipulation within the application layer.

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Recently, Tom Daley has publicly announced that he’s met someone who makes him feel safe and happy, and that someone is a man Growing trend towards discarding labels altogether – they can help with self-discovery and classification for others, but do they really help? When you find someone, there’s no point in labels. They don’t fit everyone either, some people may feel they don’t fit anywhere, or don’t know where they fit.

Tom has said it’s all very new to him, so he’s not wanting to apply labels to himself yet. Applying labels to people before they have applied then to themselves only complicates matters and is really presumptuous about them.

I know of a couple of people now who don’t want to apply labels to themselves, either because they don’t believe in labels, or they don’t feel that any labels fit anyway. Everyone’s sexuality is their own, and it’s only them who can say anything about it, so please, as a global community, can we PLEASE only use labels to describe someone if they want to use these labels themselves?

Internet censorship doesn’t work. At all.

When David Cameron announced that he was planning to force all the ISPs to implement automatic filtering of porn on the internet, a lot of people said it was a good idea in principal. And a lot of people who know how the internet and/or filtering tech works said it’s never going to work.

Let me clear something up. I don’t think kids should be looking at porn. I also don’t think there’s a damn thing (on a technical level) that can be done to stop them.

Filters generally work with blacklists and whitelists, and heuristic patterns. Basically speaking, some sites may never be blocked, others will always be blocked, and the heuristics will likely work with keyword lists, so if a page contains a word like XXX or a phrase like “hot hard-core action”, the filter will probably block that site.

Enter the problem: now this site contains those phrases and isn’t one of the huge well-known sites, it could be blocked by those heuristics. Other sites like LGBT sites, rape support sites, and even teen puberty help sites could find themselves blocked, and not all porn sites will contain those phrases so some will inevitably slip through. What’s more, ISPs could find themselves breaking the law by following the law. The LibDem LGBT site was one of those caught in the crossfire, and blocking the website of a political party around election time could be seen as something like electoral fraud.

Apparently parents can override these filters, but what’s to say that parents don’t let their more knowledgeable kids manage the net connection? Or maybe don’t want to disable them because they’re oblivious to the issues? Or even worse, what if the kid is trying to get support regarding parental sexual abuse?

There is so much that could go (and has gone wrong already) with this, and there’s so much damage that could be done to vulnerable people who are trying to get support. It’s a real kick in the teeth for charitable organisations who are doing their best to help people, and then the government comes along and pushes this through.

This is one of many examples of why I feel so strongly against Governmental intervention in technical matters such as internet governance. If you don’t understand the technology, don’t try and legislate for it. Learn the technology, how it works on a basic level, for example with filtering learn how filtering works, and what sort of things get filtered, advantages and disadvantages, and problems. Don’t assume the industry will work out the problems Mr Cameron.

Alan Watts – Dreams


I wonder, I wonder, what you would do if you had the power to dream at night any dream you wanted to dream and you would of course be able to alter your time sense, and slip, say 75 years of subjective time into 8 hours of sleep.

You would, I suppose, start out by fulfilling all your wishes. You could design for yourself what would be the most ecstatic life – love affairs, banquets, dancing girls, wonderful journeys, gardens, music beyond belief. And then after a couple of months of this sort of thing, 75 years a night, you’d be getting a little taste for something different, and you would move over to an adventurous dimension, where there was sudden dangers involved, and the thrill of dealing with dangers, and you could rescue princesses from dragons, and go on dangerous journeys, make wonderful explosions and blow them up. Eventually get into contest with enemies. And after you’ve done that for some time, you’d think up a new wrinkle. To forget that you were dreaming, so you’d think it was all for real, and to be anxious about it. Because it’d be so great when you woke up, and then you’d say, well, like children who dare each other on things, how far out could you get? What could you take? What dimension of being lost, of abandonment of your power, what dimension of that could you stand? You could ask yourself this ‘cos you know you’d eventually wake up.

And after you’re gone on doing this, you see, for some time, you’d suddenly find yourself sitting around in this room, with all your personal involvements, problems, etc, talking with me. How do you know that’s not what you’re doing? Could be, because after all, what would you do if you were god? If you were, what there is, the self, in the Upanishads, the basic text of Hinduism, one of them starts out saying in the beginning was the self, and looking around it said, I am. And thus it is that everyone to this day, when asked who is there, says that it is I.

If you were god, and in this sense that you knew everything, you would be bored. Because, if looking at it from another way, we push technology to its furthest possible development, and we had instead of a dial telephone on one’s desk, a more complex system of buttons, and one touch would give you anything you wanted, Aladdin’s lamp, you would eventually have to introduce a button labelled surprise, because all perfectly know futures are past. They have happened, virtually. It is only the true future that is a surprise.

So if you were god, you would say to yourself – man, get lost.
—Alan Watts

Alan Watts – How Do You Define Yourself?

I know there are astronomers, who say there was a primordial explosion, enormous bang millions of years ago – billions of years ago, which flung all the galaxies into space, well let’s take that just for the sake of argument and say that was the way it happened. It’s like you took a bottle of ink, and you threw it at a wall. Smash, and all that ink spread, and in the middle it’s dense…and as it gets out on the edge the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns…So in the same way there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread, and you and I sitting here in this room as complicated human beings are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting, but…we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlicue way out on the edge of that explosion, way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being, and then we cut ourselves off and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang, but you are.

Depends how you define yourself.

You are actually, if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning, you are not something that is a result of the big bang, on the end of the process, you are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. See when I meet you, I see not only what you define yourself as, Mr. So-and-so, Miss So-and-so, Mrs. So-and-so, I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I’m that too, but we’ve learned to define ourselves as separate from it. The experience you are having, which you call ordinary everyday consciousness, pretending you’re not it, that experience is exactly the same thing as it. There’s no difference at all, and when you find that out you laugh yourself silly. That’s the great discovery.

In other words, when you really start to see things, and you look at an old paper cup, and you go into the nature of what it is you see, what vision is, or what smell is, or what touch is, you realise that that vision of the paper cup is the brilliant light of the cosmos.

Nothing could be brighter, 10k suns couldn’t be brighter, only they’re hidden in the sense that all the points of the infinite light are so tiny, that you see them in the cup, they don’t blow your eyes out. That it is actually, see the source of all light is in the eye. If there were no eyes in this world, the sun would not be light. You evoke light out of the universe. In the same way, you, by virtue of having a soft skin, evoke hardness out of wood. Wood is only hard in relation to a soft skin. It’s your eardrum that evokes noise out of the air. You, by being this organism, call into being the whole universe of light and colour and hardness and heaviness and everything.
—Alan Watts

Alan Watts – The Real You


If you’re ready to wake up, you’re gonna wake up. And if you’re not ready, you’re gonna stay pretending that you’re just a little, poor little me. And, since you’re all here, and engaged in this sort of enquiry and listening to this sort of lecture, I assume that you’re all on the process of waking up. Or else, you’re teasing yourselves, with some kind of flirtation with waking up, which you’re not serious about. But I assume that maybe you are not serious, but sincere; that you are ready to wake up.

So then, when you’re in the way of waking up, finding out who you really are, what you do is what the whole universe is doing at the place you call here and now. You are something the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing. The real you is not a puppet that life pushes around. The real deep-down you is the whole universe. So, then when you die, you’re not going to have to put up with everlasting non-existence, because that’s not an experience. A lot of people are afraid that when they die, they’re gonna be locked up in a dark room forever, and sort-of undergo that. But one of the most interesting things in the world, this is a yoga, this is a realisation – try to understand what it would be like to go to sleep and never wake up.

Think about that; children and stuff. It’s one of the great wonders of life. What would it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? And if you think long enough about that, something will happen. You will find out, among other things, that it will pose the next question to you, what was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born. You see? You can’t have an experience of nothing. Nature reports a vacuum. So after you’re dead, the only thing that can happen is the same experience or same sort of experience as when you were born. In other words, we all know very well that after people die, other people are born. And they’re all you. Only you can only experience it one at a time. Everybody is I, you all know you are you, and where-so-ever beings exist throughout all galaxies, it doesn’t make any difference, you are all of them. And when they come into being as you come into being. You know that very well. Only you don’t have to remember the past, as you don’t have to think about how you work your thyroid gland, or whatever else it is. You don’t have to know how to shine the sun; you just do it, like you breathe.

Doesn’t it just astonish you that you are a fantastically complex thing, and that you’re doing all of this and you never had any education in how to do it?
—Alan Watts

Alan Watts – What if money was no object?


What do you desire?

What makes you itch?

What sort of a situation would you like?

Let’s suppose I do this often in vocational guidance of students. They come to me and say, “Well, err, we’re getting out of college and we haven’t the faintest idea of what we want to do.”

So I always ask the question, “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?”
Well it’s so amazing as a result of our kind of educational system crowds of students say “well we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers, but everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way.” Or another person says “well I’d like to live an out of doors life and ride horses.” I say “do you want to teach in a riding school? Let’s go through with it, what do you want?”

When we finally get down to it, to something the individual really wants to do, I will say to him, “You do that. And, err, forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living – that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.

Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.

And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually become a master of it. The only way to become a master of something is to be really with it. And then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much, somebody’s interested in everything, and anything you can be interested in you’ll find others, but it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending things you don’t like or doing things you don’t like and to teach your children to follow the same track.

See what we’re doing is we’re bringing up children and educating them to live the same sort of lives we’re living, in order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same sorts of things so it’s all wretch and no vomit, it never gets there!

So, therefore it’s so important to consider this question – what do I desire?
Alan Watts