I live in abject fear of lectures. I spent 12 years in and old fashioned Catholic School, complete with full uniform and wooden paddles. The first 8 years were a futile attempt to civilize me. During the remaining four years, the main thing I learned was how to sleep with my eyes open. And college wasn't much better. I don't know how I finished. I'm not even sure I finished. Instead, give me a few scraps of metal, a blow torch, and let me figure it out.
So when the folks from Oracle University offered to let me take one of their On-Demand online courses, I raised an eyebrow. Me? Are you sure? Maybe you should talk to Sister Mary Shackles, my high school principal.
But I decided to give it a try. After all, I am now a contributing member of society. I can probably pay attention for a few minutes without screaming. Holy Moly was I surprised. Hold still whilst I elucidate ...
Eric Siglin, the instructor, looked like he could head-butt me into the next building. If he'd been my high school principal I might have done better. Mister Siglin, which is how I'll refer to him so I remain in his good graces, has a background in Oracle Database, Solaris, Linux, and Oracle's Database Machine. Not bad.
Once you register for the course, you land in a dashboard of sorts that has three parts:
Selectable course outline
This one's pretty straightfoward ... a list of the course segments, and you can jump back and forth between them.
High-def video screen
Mister Siglin has a wicked black Fu-Manchu/white beard combo. And in full screen mode the resolution is good enough to verify that it's not a fake. When he needs to show you a screen, Mister Siglin simply replaces the video with a shot of the screen, and sometimes shows up live in the right corner of the screen.
As with those superbike crash compilations videos that I enjoy watching so much on YouTube, you can expand the window to full screen.
Scrolling Text Window
Below the screen is a scrolling text window that highlights the words as Mr Siglin speaks them. Reminds me of the Sing-Along-With-Mitch programs on American TV. You can turn off this feature with the little red lock icon a the top right of the text box, though I can't imagine why.
This is too cool: if you want to go back and review a portion of the lecture, you can click on the text below the window, and the video rewinds to the part where the instructor, Mister Siglin, spoke that word. And it advances normally from there.
But wait! There's more. Enter a word into the search window, and the progress bar indicates where in the recording Mister Siglin has said that word. Click on the indicator, and the video rewinds to that spot. Along with the scrolling text, of course. Unless you're the kind of guy who turns off the cool scrolling text. You probably pay for your fast food with small coins, don't you?
As cool as all those bells and whistles are, the best part is the content. Here's an example of Mister Siglin's introductory comments.
"We are assuming that you have some prior Solaris experience coming in here, because we're going to address what's new with Solaris. We're going to talk about the image packaging system. Now, the image packaging system reminds me an awful lot of what we have in the Linux environment. The automated installer, which is a replacement for Jumpstart...
"Plus, we're also going to come up with some ideas to help it make it easier for you to transition from Solaris 10 to Solaris 11...
"So we're going to look at managing the software packages in Solaris 11. And that's going to continue perhaps until tomorrow. That's one of the nice things about having a small group like this one, that makes our schedule a little more flexible. So then we're going to talk about enhancements to the installation process. We have a couple of different ways of looking at that, because the installer's been improved. We have several options. And then we're going to get into Solaris Zones. We're going to take a look at what is new with the Solaris Zones, new with networking, especially since we're dealing with a lot more virtualization. And then on the last day, we're going to get into storage enhancements. There are some major enhancements with ZFS, for example. We're going to address those. And then the security enhancements that are in this version of Solaris.
If you get a minute ...
In a couple of weeks I'll tell you what I think about what I've been learning. Till then, here's another motorcycle crash video. And, for those of you who have not surrendered the romance in your soul to the rigors of keeping an IT shop humming, here's another enthusiastic sing-a-long from Mitch.