UKOUG Tech14 : It’s nearly here…

TECH14_ResourcePk_IS_v1I’ve literally just picked up my train tickets for Monday’s trip to Liverpool for UKOUG Tech14!

I’m only going to be there for Monday, so I’ve got a lot to pack in. I’ll be doing 2 sessions, at 09:00 and 14:30, so if you don’t want to come to my sessions, but want to meet up to chat, grab me before or after them. Geeking out is much more important than the sessions. :)

I thought I might be able to make the Sunday stuff this year, which I usually have to miss because of my nephew’s birthday party (got to get your priorities right). I thought I might make it this year because his birthday is on Wednesday (today), but they decided to do the party on the weekend following, rather than the weekend preceding, so no luck. One of these years the stars will align and I’ll get to do the whole event!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again. Hopefully I will get to see the wife and kid. Not sure if dad (and master of social media) is going to make it this year…



Home Kit Update

A little over a month ago I wrote about my new ReadyNAS 104. Since then I’ve done a couple more purchases.

After much deliberation and consultation with others I eventually turned off my brain and bought a new Mac. I got the top of the range MacBook Pro. The stuff from website describes it like this.

15-inch: 2.5GHz with Retina display

  • 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz
  • 16GB 1600MHz memory
  • 512GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Intel Iris Pro Graphics
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 2GB GDDR5 memory
  • Built-in battery (8 hours)

I am comparing it to a 5 year old 13-inch MacBook Pro (SSD and 8G RAM), so not surprising this new one is incredibly fast. :) The screen is very good, but retina is overkill really. I can’t comfortably use it on anything higher than 1680×1050. On 1920×1200 is a pretty much unreadable on a lot of stuff. You can’t even run it at max resolution unless you hack around. It was very expensive, but so far I am very happy with it. If it lasts anything like as long as the last one did, then it’s a good purchase.

Since this is supposed to be my new desktop machine, I invested in a new ultra-wide monitor to go with it.  I got this one.

It’s brilliant! It’s a touch shorted than my previous monitor, but a lot wider, so it feels like a double-width screen. I have that sitting above my laptop so if my mouse goes to the top of my laptop screen it moves into the big monitor.

I can’t bring myself to give up my old Linux (Fedora 20) desktop completely, so I’ve moved it to the other side of the desk until I can break the habit.


The main server I use for my bigger stuff is in another room. It’s too noisy to keep in this room. :) I should probably get rid of everything except the new laptop and monitor. Most of the other stuff is quite old now…

I’ll be doing UKOUG Tech14 with my old laptop. I’m still not 100% convinced that everything is installed and tested on the new laptop yet and I don’t want to risk a bad conference for the sake of showing off. :)



Oracle Midlands : Event #7

The line-up for the Oracle Midlands Event #7 has been put on the website. You can see the details here.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it as I’ll be at the Riga Dev Day in Latvia. This will be the first Oracle Midlands I’ve missed. :(



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing Interviews

While we were in Beijing on the OTN APAC Tour, some of use were asked to do some media interviews. You can see them here:

I don’t like seeing myself on video, because it reminds me I don’t look like Brad Pitt. :)



Inspirational Quotes : Skin Game

I’m reading Skin Game by Jim Butcher and a couple of things jumped out at me last night. First, one about interpreting facts.

“You have an array of facts in front of you that can fit any of several truths. You have to choose what you’re going to allow to drive your decisions about how to deal with those facts.”

The next one is about fear.

“… fear is a terrible, insidious thing… It taints and stains everything it touches. If you let fear start driving some of your decisions, sooner or later it will drive them all. I decided that I’m not going to be the kind of person who lives her life in fear…”

Nothing really new here, but occasionally your hear the right words at the right time and they hit you with extra meaning…



phpBB 3.1.2 Released : Upgrade ASAP

phpBB 3.1.2 has been released. The downloads are in the usual place. I assume by now everyone is using the “sort-of automatic” update process…

As is mostly the case, update as soon as possible to avoid exploits…



Oracle Midlands Event #6 : Summary

OraclePressBearLast night was the Oracle Midlands Event #6 with Bjoern Rost.

Let’s start with the important stuff! I am now the proud owner of an Oracle Press bear! I didn’t technically win it, but one of the people who did donated it to me. This was the right thing to do for two reasons. (1) I wanted it more than him and (2) it is his fault I am in my current job, rather than living the good life. Thanks Dave!

Bjoern’s first session was on SQL Plan Management, which I think is an awesome feature when used in the correct context. For most DBAs, consistency is the primary goal, not ultra performance. SQL Plan Management gives you the ability to lock down your execution plans to give you more consistent results. I’ve used this during upgrade and patching cycles and it really works well. I see even more need for this as we move into the new world order of everything being optimized 75,000 times before we get the final good plan. :)

After some food, Bjoern was back with 12c New Features for DBAs and Developers. This was a quick tour through some of the cool bits of 12c. I like the way Bjoern presents. He’s very honest about features he’s not used much yet, which makes a change from people acting like they know everything, only to crumble under questioning. It also makes the talks very amusing, as well as being informative. Having spent so long with him on the APAC Tour, it was surprising that I hadn’t seen him present either of these talks before.

After the event a few of us ventured over to the German market, which was actually closed by the time we got there. :) Instead, we went into a local pub and discussed life, the universe and everything until far too late.

When it was time to leave, I gave Bjoern a lift round Birmingham city centre, looking for a taxi rank. Eventually, he got out of my car at some traffic lights and got into the taxi behind me. :) In my defence, there is loads of building work around the city centre, so roads are closed and the taxi ranks have moved… I also gave Dave (my bear supplier) a lift home…

Thanks to RedGate for sponsoring the event, allowing it remain free.  Thanks to Mike Dirden for organising the event. Thanks to Bjoern Rost for coming to entertain us and to the Oracle ACE Program for getting him across to us. Thanks to Oracle Press for my bear. Thanks also to the attendees, without whom this would not happen. Please keep spreading the word. :)



PS. The next event is in January. I’ll write a post about it once it is up on the website…

Oracle Database 12c : EXPAND_SQL_TEXT, APPROX_COUNT_DISTINCT, Session Sequences and Temporary Undo

While I was away on the OTN APAC tour, I wasn’t really able to sink my teeth into anything, so inspired by Connor McDonald‘s session in Perth, I decided to write up a few bits and pieces in my free moments in the hotels and planes (when I had enough elbow room to type).

Here is what I’ve neatened up so far.

I’ve got a couple of other things that are part done, which will no doubt be coming out over this week…



OTN APAC 2014 : Summary

As you will have seen from my last post, I’m back in Birmingham after completing the OTN APAC 2014 tour. Here is a list of all the posts I wrote over the course of the tour.

At just short of 3 weeks, that was a really long tour, most of which seemed to be in planes. If someone could hurry up and invent a teleport system I would be most grateful!

I feel like the tour went really well. There are a lot of user groups in the Asia Pacific region (see here), whose membership numbers vary considerably. For some of them, overseas speakers are essential to draw people to the events. For others, it is a way of encouraging the members to interact with the English speaking community. Oracle is an American company, so being able to speak English is a distinct advantage if you plan to use Oracle technologies. The bigger user groups, like those in China and Japan, recognise this and encourage people to come to the English sessions.

I’m in a bit of a daze now. I think it’s going to take me a few days to feel vaguely normal again. Back to work tomorrow. :)

Now for the thank you list…

  • Big thanks go out to all the Oracle user groups, companies and individuals that helped make this tour happen (AUSOUG WA, SHOUG, Insight Technology Inc.ACOUG, OUGTH,  NZOUG).
  • Thanks to Francisco for his work in bringing this about.
  • Thanks to all the attendees. Without your support, none of these events would happen.
  • Thanks to all the other speakers for putting up with me.
  • Many thanks to Bjoern for being my PA during the start of the tour. I hardly had to do anything. He planned the lot for me. :)
  • Last, but not least, thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for getting us ACEDs to these events. Your assistance is very welcome!

I hope I get to see you all again soon!



OTN APAC 2014 : Auckland to Birmingham

Everything went smoothly at Auckland airport. Boarding an A380 takes quite a bit of time and I was near the front of the plane, so I was in the last group to board. Fortunately there was loads of room for hand luggage and the seat was pretty good. The people too my right were a couple, so they were leaning together, which gave me more elbow room. The extra room and a plug socket meant I was able to have the laptop open for most of the 4 hour flight.

At Melbourne we had to get off the plane, go through security, then wait to board the same plane in the same seat. My neighbours were also flying through to Dubai, so I had the same folks next to me for that leg of the flight. No matter how good the conditions are in economy class, and they were good on this Emirates flight, sitting in a plane for 14 hours is hell. Eventually I get cabin fever and have a desperate desire to get out. I have thoughts of faking a heart attack and forcing an early landing, just to get out. It’s really not cool. With a little bit of sleep, some re-watching of films and a lot of pacing up and down by the toilets I managed to get through it. The only bit of drama was when I was leaving the plane I realised I had left some things behind. I was allowed back on the plane to get them, so all was good!

After a totally uneventful 2+ hour layover in Dubai, it was back on to a 8 hour flight to Birmingham. By this time in the journey I’m usually kind-of frantic. Not so much thing time. I think my brain was mush by now. This flight didn’t feel so long, but I don’t remember too much about it, apart from ripping one of my finger nails and needing a plaster. I don’t think I slept much. I think I was just kind-of dazed.

I arrived in Birmingham in the early afternoon. After getting my luggage it was a relatively short taxi ride home. At one point we got in a traffic jam and I wanted to die, but then the traffic opened up and I got home. Once home I got a drink, put some washing on, had a bath, then went to bed. It was about 14:00.

Next thing I know, I was having a dream about something biting my finger. I shook my hand to get it off, and knocked my tablet off the bedside table. Freshly awake, I looked at the clock and thought, damn it. It’s 5 o’clock and I’ve slept for only 3 hours. I got up and drove to a store and it was closed. I checked the clock again and I had actually slept 15 hours. It was 5am, not 5pm. I guess I was pretty tired… :)

So now I’m back and I think I’m OK. I have that “aeroplane nose”, which I’m hoping is not a cold coming, and I also have a foggy head, which is I guess a jet-lag thing. I’ve got today off as it’s Sunday, but it’s back to work tomorrow…

My next post will be a wrap-up post…