my recent reads..

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
Power Sources and Supplies: World Class Designs
Red Storm Rising
Locked On
Analog Circuits Cookbook
The Teeth Of The Tiger
Sharpe's Gold
Without Remorse
Practical Oscillator Handbook
Red Rabbit

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tripping up on base64 encoding with webcache

Looking at an Oracle Portal installation recently, I wanted to call the WebCache invalidation API from SQL.

$ORACLE_HOME/webcache/examples/invalidation.sql sounds like a good idea, until:
Error report:
ORA-06502: PL/SQL: numeric or value error
ORA-06512: at "SCOTT.BASE64_ENCODE", line 51
ORA-06512: at "SCOTT.BASE64_ENCODE", line 57
ORA-06512: at "SCOTT.INVALIDATE", line 38
ORA-06512: at line 2

Uh-oh. The base64_encode function included in the script is having trouble with the password. A quick look at the code...
create or replace function base64_encode
p_value in varchar2
return varchar2 is

BASE64_KEY constant varchar2(64) :=
l_buffer varchar2(32767);
l_len integer := trunc(length(p_value) / 3);


for i in 0..l_len loop
l_buffer := l_buffer || encode_chunk(substr(p_value, i * 3 + 1, 3));
end loop;

return l_buffer;
end base64_encode;

Note l_len division by 3, then using it in the for loop. Yep, classic 0/1 base offset issue. Any password with a length of 3, 6, 9 etc characters breaks the code. Fixed with a -1:

for i in 0..l_len - 1 loop
l_buffer := l_buffer || encode_chunk(substr(p_value, i * 3 + 1, 3));
end loop;

But that raises more questions. What is this base64 encoding function doing here anyway?

At some point in time it might have been required, but Oracle Database has had the standard function utl_encode.base64_encode for at least a few versions. It encodes RAW so there's a bit of friggin around with types:
select utl_raw.cast_to_varchar2( utl_encode.base64_encode( utl_raw.cast_to_raw('password1') ) ) as B64 from dual;


I did note the comment in invalidation.sql to the effect that:
-- this old example is replaced by 2 files, collectively known as the
-- PL/SQL invalidation API.
-- the 2 files are
-- wxvutil.sql which does similar things as what invalidate.sql did
-- wxvappl.sql which is a wrapper of wxvutil.sql
-- both files are located in the same directory.

Well, these files are not in the same directory (they are actually in ../toolkit), and what's the excuse for shipping broken examples anyway, even if they are old and obsolete?

Monday, January 26, 2009

A case of severe backblogarrythmia

My backblog is giving me the irits. And what's worse I join the sad club of people who thought they cleverly invented a new word!
Backblog - Overflow of incidents you intend to write about on your weblog.

However, perhaps I can claim backblogarrythmia as my own:
.. a disruption in the regular flow of weblog posts, often caused by overwork, booze or a new romance. Primary symptom is the backblog, which in turn can exacerbate the problem through increased levels of performance stress. Treatment: JFPS*.

I used to work in a factory where I swear one of the leading hands had a personal goal of inventing a new word everyday. He'd casually call over something like "Hey, pass me the gumlicker would ya?" and take great pleasure in our confusion. He'd be mock-shocked of course at our "ignorance", and delight in explaining the word and how stupid we were for not knowing it. Crazy thing is, he'd always have a great and usually convoluted etymology.

He did this pretty much every day I knew him. Just an average working class bloke, with an average education. But I always secretly admired and envied his creativity with words, wondered where the inspiration came from, and whether he'd use the gift for anything more than keeping his workmates from boredom.

Me? The only words I invent tend to arrive as serendipitous typos. Yesterday's effort:
Museover - particularly thought-provoking and succinct tip or pop-up text that is displayed when you hover your mouse over an icon or word.


Update 27-Jan: It's official: museover and backblogarrythmia are in the (pseudo)dictionary

* just fucking post something