21 March 2014

Idea for a new type of quiz: Countdown PL/SQL

Always looking for ways to increase the entertainment value of the site, I came up with this idea last night.

Countdown PL/SQL

You have thirty seconds to answer ten true-false questions. 

With the clock on the page counting down, you are shown a statement about PL/SQL and you must quickly decide: true or false.

Of course, the same could be done with SQL, APEX, etc.

One concern I could see with this quiz is that comfort with the English language could have a big impact on how quickly you can get through the questions. It is also possible that we could offer versions that contained code, not (mostly) words.

Perhaps it is time to look at localization of content: offer it in different languages!

So what do you think? Sound interesting? Sound like something you'd bother playing?

17 March 2014

Q2 2014 Brings Big Changes to the PL/SQL Challenge

Last year, I (Steven Feuerstein) floated the idea that I would end the daily PL/SQL quiz. Many players protested, and several agreed to help me with the workload by writing quizzes. So I agreed to keep the daily quiz going into 2014 and we would see how it goes.

It went pretty well. Some players did write quizzes (a big thank you most especially to Jeroen Rutte, who wrote a total of 7 quizzes, 5 of which were used in Q1). But I still spent and spend lots of time writing quizzes, which I enjoy greatly, but unfortunately is not sustainable.

So starting in Q2 2014, the daily PL/SQL quiz will end and in its place we will offer three weekly quizzes in its place:

PL/SQL Challenge

The PL/SQL Challenge replaces the daily PL/SQL quiz that ran from April 2010 through March 2014. I will write all the quizzes for the PL/SQL Challenge quiz. They will focus on "core" PL/SQL features (including commonly-used supplied packages like DBMS_OUTPUT and UTL_FILE), up through the latest production version of  the Oracle database. Players who take this quiz are eligible to qualify for the annual PL/SQL Challenge Championship.[We may decide to increase the frequency of those championships, but for now: annual.]

PL/SQL Explore 

The PL/SQL Explore quiz explores the nooks and crannies of the PL/SQL language, and the many PL/SQL packages supplied by Oracle Corporation. Quizzes are provided by both Steven Feuerstein and players, and can range from "core" PL/SQL functionality to "edgy" elements of the language, like calling Java from PL/SQ or rarely used supplied packages. like DBMS_XA.

PL/SQL Deja Vu 

PL/SQL Deja Vu offers quizzes from the past - PL/SQL quizzes previously played on the daily PL/SQL quiz or one of the other PL/SQL quizzes. Use Deja Vu PL/SQL to reinforce your PL/SQL knowledge without worrying about competing with others. These quizzes are not ranked!

We will also "re-brand" the daily PL/SQL quiz to the "PL/SQL Challenge", so the daily quiz names will be of this form:

PL/SQL Challenge #276 D2011-04-12

and the weekly PL/SQL Challenge quiz names will look like:

PL/SQL Challenge #1240 WS2013-04-12

where "WS" is the "Weekly quiz Starting on".

We will look into ways to offer rankings across the various competitive PL/SQL quizzes, but we will not be able to get to that immediately.

Of course, the new quarter has not yet started. I am very interested to hear your feedback on these quizzes.

And, of course, you are welcome to shower me with flattery about how much you love those daily quizzes and want them to continue. Surely, my ego could use the stroking. :-)

But this time the decision is made: the daily quiz will end, and three new PL/SQL weekly quizzes will take its place.