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?