I've been spending a lot of time lately redoing the website.
When I started this site, it was just a way to provide some technical details about the jDUL/DUDE tool. I needed a quick jumpstart of a website. The easiest way to do that, is to buy a Frontpage html template (which are offered by a gazillion sites), and upload that to a cheap hosting/provider. Actually, I only did the 'History' page because I otherwise had to throw one of the template's pages out. I think I all did that within 30minutes and in total costed me 25$.
It all went so fast because the website was not a priority - I had to get things moving. In fact, the whole company (ORA600) was setup within half a day (I was pretty chuffed about that - when starting a small company in Belgium there's almost no red tape anymore). For the first 2,5years I did all the financials myself... which I utterly hated. (someone give me an MBA for this ). Anyway ... the jDUL/DUDE tool ... that was and still is the focus.
When looking back, it's - ahum - a miracle we got ORA600 off the ground. It was the opening of the Miracle brewery that triggered the startup...
Back then, I had no interest whatsoever in the Oracle community. I've lost my mother in 2003 (after loosing my dad 5y earlier). I did not have any brothers and sisters - and so I had decided that I should enjoy life and not wait for retirement. I had thought about it for a long time when I told my boss at AXI that I wanted to work only 4 days a week anymore. Mind you, I was only 28, 29y old - I expected him to say that I could look for another job (and I had a job in mind - the banking and insurance business is always throwing with large amounts of vacation days ). But no, he accepted and I haven't regretted it yet (this year is my 10th year at AXI). Just to say - I wasn't really eager to start a company on the side.
What I said above about the Oracle community is not entirely true. I wrote some open source tools - and got a paper/presentation approved for the Oracle Openworld in Berlin, 2001. The topic of the presentation was about Oracle Parallel Server and single instance databases. My luck was that 2001 was the year Oracle launched RAC - so my paper got selected (I was smart enough to put some buzzwords like cache fusion in the abstract). In actual fact, the conclusion of the presentation was that you only needed OPS/RAC if one big SMP box is not big enough and if you used it, watch out for scalability issues in your application. Funny enough, by the time I started doubting my own theory, I stumbled upon a paper called 'You probably don't need RAC' by Mogens Norgaard. I had no idea who he was, but I contacted him because I couldn't find the RAC benchmark by Mario Broodbakker he mentions in the paper.
Another year later, 2004, I buy this book 'Oracle Insights : Tales of the Oak Table' from Amazon (I used to buy a *lot* of books back then). I've already had a quite complete jDUL version - I used it now and then on databases from people who contacted me. The problem was - I needed more people I could trust to test jDUL. The tool itself was controversial and I couldn't just give it to anyone. Now I'm really bad with names, but after reading that book, I realised (it took me a while) I had already had exchanged some mails with this Mogens character. So I thought, why not let him and his buddies play around with jDUL. I contacted him and he was interested - in fact, he cc'd Peter Gram (also from Miracle and ex-Oracle), who had tried to create a DUL like tool in the past. Those were not the words I was looking for and just blew things off. (mind you that jDUL is written in java and can be easely decompiled to it's source code - I was and still am very protective about the source code).
Fast forward another - 2005. I get a call at my office - Mogens Norgaard. He asks if I can recover a database for him and asks about the rate. Back then I agreed on recoveries, only if you uploaded the datafiles and within a limit of 15Gb. I did the recoveries basicaly for free as they were excellent test cases. Mogens refuses the 'free' part and says he can not accept that. I found that a bit strange at the moment - I now know better, and people knowing Mogens, know he's made out of a different kind of wood then most other people. In the end we agreed that he either would give me a free seat to Miracle's next masterclass (which was Steve Adams in Utrecht - i think) or we would discuss later on how we could colaborate.
I probably would have taken the free masterclass if it wasn't for the grand opening of the Miracle Brewery. My cousin Wim is a micro brewer. In Belgium, everybody has a cousin who either makes beer or wine as a hobby or (semi-)professional. And I used to work for a brewery (Primus Haacht) as a student. (it's not part of InBev mind you!) Needless to say we were both interested in seeing the brewery. And as Mogens promised to set us up at Lasse's place it was only natural that Wim, me and Els (then girlfriend - now wife) would go on a roadtrip. I had this gps system back then - a pioneer AVIC X1. I trusted it blindly - unfortunately, the brewery is located in a street called 'strandvej' or basically 'beachroad' ... apparently, there are a lot streets called 'strandvej' near the beach even within the same village... I think Lasse will still remember the trouble he had guiding us in !
Anyway - the opening itself was pretty cool - lots of beer of course. And the beer was quite good. Much to our surprise, because it's not normal that a recipe is good on the first batch. So kudos to Lasse. As you can see from the picture above - my cousing Wim had the time of his life . I had no idea what Mogens looked like and we only got to talk business later in the evening. I think we were both drunk and the conversation was quite short (I only needed an answer to one question really). Anyway I had met Lasse and Mogens face to face and that was enough for me to go for it. (beer is an excellent catalyst) So that day was quite defining and quite unexpected.
That's the reason I went with the simple web presence - it was all quite sudden. So after 3 years, I think it's fair to say it was time for a make over. I took the original Frontpage theme and turned it into a Drupal theme. Drupal is a CMS with its origine in Belgium. It's database driven - I could have used OracleXE, but I didn't (I could have even used APEX, but I didn't). I went with mysql instead. Maybe I'll blog about it later. The major reason for going the Drupal road is that it's :
The last thing that was missing was a blog ... this whole web 2.0 thing sure got fired up the last 3years so maybe it's time I jump that wagon too. You'll probably find some recovery war stories here in the future... but what you probably will not find here are whole replicas of Oracle manuals (that's not why I read blogs). Anyway - I won't be writing any hardcore dry technical content ... I do that enough already during the day.
I guess that's enough for now - time to get back to the real world.
Kurt Van Meerbeeck
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