how to determine the oracle version and default character encoding?

Is there an easy way for somebody connected to an Oracle instance running on a host somewhere to determine 1) the version of Oracle that it's running under and 2) the default character encoding (UTF8, ISO-8859-1, ASCII7, etc)? I assume the values are stored and selectable in Oracle's housekeeping pseudo-tables, but don't have any idea which one(s).

Specifically... suppose I'm connected to the Oracle instance 'foo.database' running on the host 'foohost.mydomian.net' as the user 'bar' using SQL*Plus.

Suppose further that I need to create a table that contains an XMLType field, and I've learned the hard way that using XMLType fields in databases whose encoding ISN'T UTF-8 is just begging for grief and trouble, and that 9.2 fixes lots of bugs with XMLType that Oracle never fixed in 9.0.

Finally, assume it's 3am on Monday morning with a demo looming at noon, the DBA is sound asleep, and I have access to nearly a dozen running instances of Oracle on nearly a half-dozen hosts, running everything from 8i to 9.2i... most using Windows native character encoding (WEI-*?), a couple using ISO-8859-1, and a few using UTF-8. Before I waste an hour setting up the new tables, stored procedures, sequences, and triggers, I want to make sure I'm actually connected to a UTF8-encoded instance running 9.2. How?
jskubickAsked:
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schwertnerCommented:
1. Version (as user SYS)
select * from v$version;

2 Character set

SQL> connect system/manager@lin1
Connected.
SQL> select value from nls_database_parameters where parameter='NLS_CHARACTERSET';
VALUE
UTF8
SQL> select value from nls_database_parameters where parameter='NLS_NCHAR_CHARACTERSET';
VALUE
UTF8
SQL>
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seazodiacCommented:
to know the version of oracle:

in the sqlplus window:

SQL> select * from v$version;

to know that characterset encoding of oracle database:

SQL> show parameter NLS

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schwertnerCommented:
Looking at this and at the above entry it is easy to understatand where youa are connenected,

SQL> connect sys/manager@test as sysdba
Connected.
SQL> select * from v$version;

BANNER
----------------------------------------------------------------
Oracle9i Enterprise Edition Release 9.2.0.4.0 - Production
PL/SQL Release 9.2.0.4.0 - Production
CORE    9.2.0.3.0       Production
TNS for 32-bit Windows: Version 9.2.0.4.0 - Production
NLSRTL Version 9.2.0.4.0 - Production

SQL>

if you add the following statement it will be easy to know also the name of instance and possibly some parameters of the instance;
SQL> show parameter db_name;

NAME                                 TYPE        VALUE
------------------------------------ ----------- -------------------
db_name                              string      test
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jskubickAuthor Commented:
OK, "select * from v$version;" worked :-)

Unfortunately, "show parameter NLS" didn't quite do the trick... it just indicated that various parameters are of type "string"... a few of which had values of "AMERICA", "BYTE", or "FALSE" (most had no value).

What I need to know is the database's default encoding... ie, UTF8, WEISOWIN12 (I'm sure I mangled that one... it's the default windows character encoding), ASCII7, etc.
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schwertnerCommented:
You are to fast and do not read what I mentioned:

SQL> select value from nls_database_parameters where parameter='NLS_CHARACTERSET';
VALUE
UTF8
SQL> select value from nls_database_parameters where parameter='NLS_NCHAR_CHARACTERSET';
VALUE
UTF8
SQL>


This definitelly showa the character set of the DATABASE.
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