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As you'd expect from the winners of the Specialized Partner of the Year: Business Analytics at the Oracle UKI Specialized Partner Awards 2014, Beyond work with leading edge BI Applications primarily within the UK Public Sector. We intend to share some of our ideas and discoveries via our blog and hopefully enrich the wider discussion surrounding Oracle Business Intelligence and driving improved insight for customers

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This issue arose at a customer today, and I've seen it happen in the past, so I thought it worthwhile making a quick note.
A situation had arisen which had caused the overnight ETL execution to be delayed. Once this had completed the users complained that the dashboard was missing some data. This was tracked down to a shared filter which contained a restriction using the variable LAST_REFRESH_DT. When we checked this value of this variable we found it was two days behind.

This had happened because of the way repository variables are refreshed in OBIEE. They are not refreshed as part of the ETL, they are refreshed on the initialization block.


So in this case, at midnight every night. That clearly is no good if our ETL starts anything later than midnight as we miss the update on w_day_d.
We need to set it to something that is a factor of the latest expected finish time of the ETL, and the latest time the end users are willing to wait for the refresh. And as the latter always has to be after the expected finish time, then we can use that. Let's say it's 8am. We should therefore change the time on the schedule o 8am to ensure the refresh of the variable (not just this one, but in theory any repository variable) is done after the warehouse refresh has completed. If there are any exceptional circumstances we need to be aware of these and deal with them accordingly.

Changed Refresh Time

There is of course the option for changing this to an hourly refresh instead, however this similarly needs a change from the default. It's more about being aware of the issue and knowing that there needs to be some planning in place that is a function of your ETL schedule and end user expectations.

That's all - short and sweet! :)

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Tagged in: BI Applications
in Business Intelligence 385 0

Data Flows in v4 of Oracle Data Visualization (in the new OAC as well as Desktop) is much improved, so let's look at creating a flow to :

  • Join together two datasets
  • Filter the columns
  • Create some bins
  • Add a new calculated column
  • Save the results as a singe data source that we can then analyze.

Our flow will eventually look like this .....


We will start with one data set I have created, that being a spreadsheet of ficticious sales people and their travelling and renumeration.


The second data set is a sheet of the sales people with the cars that they drive


So let's get the basics out of the way and load them both up as data sets ....

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in Business Intelligence 524 0

Oracle Data Visualizer has been out for a couple of years now and is already on version 4.  I'm a big fan and have been digging deep into the latest release which has brought in a substantial amount of changes.  They are all available here, but I think that the most exciting inclusions are around the Explain capability and new algorithms that have been included in the product focused on Sentiment Analysis and Machine Learning, as well as the opportunity to load up your own custom scripts. 

As an example, let us perform some Sentiment Analysis.  I have created some sample data by means of some short reviews of three ficticious restaurants. 


Two look pretty good to me and one somewhat less so.  Let's push this through the sentiment analyzer and see what results we get.  Firstly I  navigate to the new super-dynamic Home Page in Data Visualizer v4 and selet the Data tab on the left hand side


As per previous versions, we can upload the data - it can of course be sourced from multiple types of sources, but for this example we're just uploading my small review spreadsheet.


Now we have the data file, we can goto the Data Flows section and create a new data flow.  Here we start the flow with the source restaurant review data file.


Note that there are a substantial number of Machine Learning models now available to use in the flow and we will be covering examples of these in further posts.


So, let us add a Sentiment Analysis as the next part of the flow.  We will tell Data Visualizer to use the Review column as the source of the analysis and to write out the sentiment to a new column called Emotion.


Let us now add the final storage step to hold the results of the output of the flow.  If you look at the table below you can also see that the Sentiment Analysis has done it's job already actually and created what I think look to be pretty accurate results.


We will now save and run the data flow - which will be instant - and then we can look at the results by creaing a simple Project and a visulaisation with a bit of colour.


Personally I think we can now really see the investment in the product coming through and not only is getting so much more powerful, it stilll importantly remains intunitive to use and is a great tool to augment "traditional" BI. 

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in Business Intelligence 854 0

Oracle APEX Exploitation - Part 1

I decided to write a short series of posts detailing some different mechanisms that a malicious user may use to "attack" an application written in Oracle Application Express (Apex) - note - "Attack" is used loosely here in that it is more of "making the application perform in a way it was not intended". These posts are not intended to be instructional, more they are intended to assist the developer in ensuring their applications are written to a standard which protects against such attacks. It should be noted from the outset that none of the techniques illustrated infer there is a security issue with Apex - Apex is secure for all intents and purposes - any security vulnerabilities are 99%+ of the time due to the developer not implementing appropriate defences. Some of them are quite obvious, however some may not be so. I won't be using any fancy tools - just a browser with developer plugins.
I'll try to explain a problem under a number of headings.

  • The mechanism of the attack
  • The implications
  • How to defend against it

It of course goes without saying that all liability is relinquished - anything you do to your own (or other's) applications is entirely at your own risk.

I am using a sandpit application on to demonstrate, which can be accessed here.
So with that said, the first thing I'd like to show is by far the most simple - URL Parameter Modification. I'll then work through more complex and intricate attacks in subsequent posts.

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Tagged in: APEX
in Techniques 936 0

Data Visualization 12.2.3 ( aka v3 ) is now downloadable from here



What a great upgrade it is, absolutely packed with new enhancements to increase the functionality and make data discovery even quicker. 

The trendlines (as shown above) now allow for additional functionality such as a %age confidence. 

There's new data sources too - we can even connect to BI Applications subject areas as well as analysis and folders.


There's even enhancements in the dataflow so we can perform more manipulation of the data as we load it


I'd do a demo of all the features, but Oracle have already done that in a nice little video suite which you can find here - which shows an overview and then some specifics - all of which are worth watching.

If you've any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.



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