OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 2

Day 2 started at 03:30 local time, so I got about 5-5.5 hours sleep. After doing a bit of work on the computer I went for a swim at the beach. I would like to say I was very brave and marched in, but I got to waist level and gave up. It wasn’t so much that the water was cold. It was more than the wind was so strong I was freezing to death before I got to the water. Bjoern and Connor were made of sterner stuff and stayed in. I wrapped myself in a bunch of towels and paddled. Once I was covered up I realised the water was not so bad, so I actually got back in. It wasn’t so much a swim, as jumping up and down trying not to get drowned by the waves. :)

The second day of the conference started for me with Connor‘s session on 12c for developers. It was a fast paced pass over a whole bunch of features that don’t necessarily make the headlines. There’s so much stuff in Oracle 12c I found myself thinking, I really need to write and article on that, only to remember I’ve already done it. It’s going to take a long time for this to become a natural part of my toolset.

Next up was Penny Cookson talking about the optimizer, focussing on the traps people fall into when they forget the optimizer sometimes has to make assumptions or guesses. Amongst other things, this included cases where histograms help and where they don’t. Where extended statistics help and where they don’t. Where cardinality (statistics) feedback helps and it doesn’t. Penny always uses a specific example or metaphor to explain her case. In this case is was OHarmonry (eHarmony in UK & USA) and all about finding the perfect man. Very amusing. :)

After lunch it was back-to-back sessions for me. I think they went OK, but I was very tired so it was really hard to get psyched up for them. A couple of times I felt like I was really straining to speak without slurring my words. I always say I am nervous before every talk. I was too tired to be nervous before these, which is not a good thing. It’s quite hard to be objective about your own performance. I felt kind-of hyper in yesterday’s sessions, which made today feel comparatively flat. I hope they didn’t come across that way. Four sessions and a 5 minute contribution to a keynote in two days while sleep deprived is not optimal, but you gotta get the job done. :)

After my sessions I went to watch Penny Cookson and Scott Wesley speaking about presentation skills. Every bit of advice you can get helps…

The last session of the day was Connor McDonald speaking about hardware options for Oracle DBAs. Over the years you come across a lot of information, but it’s really nice when someone breaks it down into really simple terms and puts it all together so you get hit with it in one go. It kind-of crystallises in your mind. As is normal for Connor, it was a fast paced session, which was what I needed for the last session of the day. If I had sat in a sedate session I would have fallen asleep…

After a quick wrap-up, we headed down to the bar and sat speaking to the AUSOUG and SAGE Computing Services folks. After that we popped out to get some food, then Connor gave Bjoern and myself a lift to the airport.

It’s now 00:30 local time as I write this and in about an hour we board a 5 hour flight for Singapore, then a 5 hour flight to Shanghai. I’m going to be a right mess by the time I get there! :)

Thanks to all the folks in Perth for inviting us along and making sure everything went smoothly. Thanks also to Connor for being our chauffeur. :)



OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 1

I got up at 04:00 local time and spent the morning working through some stuff on the computer. Due to not reading tweets properly, I missed going for a morning swim at the beach with Bjoern and Connor.

Day 1 of the Perth conference started with some quick keynotes, then it was on to the first session. Inspired by the lightning talks at OOW, the first session I was involved in was a group of us each giving a 5 minute talk about impressions of this years Oracle OpenWorld. This one was less technical than the OOW sessions, but I thought it was fun.

After that I headed off to watch Chris Muir‘s talk about the data visualisation functionality in ADF. There is some pretty neat stuff in there these days! I think the important message from this was Oracle are not trying to make it all things for all people, but it should be pretty easy to use these visualisation gizmos for most of the stuff you need to do. There will always be a place for specialised visualisation tools. I think this is a good move on their part. Overcomplicating the offering would be a mistake IMHO. Even so, it’s darn impressive what this stuff can do these days! You can see some of the stuff that gets bundled with ADF 12.1.3 here.

After that I headed over to watch Bjoern Rost do a session on Flashback Data Archive. I had a quick chat with him and Connor about the subjects afterwards. I’ve not looked at the 12c enhancements yet, but it seems there is some interesting stuff there.

I spent quite a bit of time catching up with Chris Muir after Bjoern’s session, so I missed some other sessions. Then it was off to mine. I did back-to-back sessions on virtualisation and WebLogic. They are intentionally “light and fluffy” introductory sessions, so I hope they were useful to people. I got some questions at the end and talked to a couple of people afterwards, so I know there were at least some satisfied customers. :)

There was a social gathering to mark the end of the first day, then we headed back to the hotel and bed.

I’ve not been in this neck of the woods since 2011, but it feels like only yesterday. I kept bumping into family faces for a chat, which was really cool.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I’ve got the conference all day, with my two database sessions in the afternoon, then Bjoern and I have got to hang around until 02:00 in the morning to fly out to Shanghai. I’m looking forward to the conference, but not looking forward to the long wait before a long two-leg flight…




OTN APAC 2014 : The Journey to Perth

It was a pretty uneventful morning. I did my normal trick of checking everything was turned off, then checking again, just in case… :)

I breezed through baggage drop-off and security in record time, barely breaking stride.

We were a little late getting on the plane and stared taxiing out to the runway before everyone was seated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. The first flight was somewhere between 6.5-7 hours long, followed by a 2+ hour stopover in Dubai. There was one minor incident when a woman had a hissy-fit at the stewardess, which resulted in her reporting the stewardess to the purser. A little while later, I went and found the purser and told her what I saw as a witness of the event. Basically, the stewardess was really nice and the passenger was being a stupid miserable old cow. Nuff said.

The second flight from Dubai to Perth was about 10.5 hours. No real dramas, and amazingly for me I actually got some sleep. I probably slept about 3 hours in total, made up of a few minutes here and there.

I arrived in Perth at about 17:45, having told folks here I would be arriving at about 14:00. I really don’t know what is wrong with me and travelling. :) I got through passport control and customs with no worries, then got a taxi to the hotel. Once I was connected to the wifi I had to deal with nearly 2 days worth of emails in one go. It always amuses me how it feels like one long day for me, but 2 days for the rest of the world.

There was a dinner in the evening, but I was frazzled, so I ended up going to bed at about 22:00 local time and waking up this morning at 04:00. I’m supposed to be going out swimming in the sea this morning, but I’m hoping Connor and Bjoern are hungover and change their minds…

So the madness starts today. Wish me luck!



An Idiot (trying to get) Abroad

I’ve been wittering on about my latest trip and how manic everything is during the lead up to leaving. The panic reached new heights over the weekend when I remembered I hadn’t submitted my eVisitor application for Australia. I did it and figured I would get a decision in a few minutes like you do with an ETA when applying to go to the USA. Last night (Monday morning Australian time) I got an email confirming the receipt of my application and pointing me to the website, where it said processing time is 1-14 days. At that point I was due to leave in about 36 hours, so naturally the sky fell in…

I phoned the enquiries number in Australia (thank heavens for Skype), emailed the conference organisers saying I may have to pull out of the Australian event and had a DM chat with the wife, who persuaded me not to end it all. I was just about to go to bed thinking there was nothing more I could do when I got an email confirming I could enter Australia. I then emailed the conference organisers again to say things were OK and thanked the wife for stopping me from ending it all…

It’s amazing how fried your brain can get in just a few short minutes. I feel positively ill today at work. I think it’s the come-down from such a massive adrenalin rush…

So once again, I think I am set to leave tomorrow. If anything else like this happens I think I will just sit in a holding cell in the relevant country until my next flight…

It doesn’t matter how much I do this stuff, I can always turn it into a drama…





phpBB 3.1.1 – Update Now!

Hot on the heels of the phpBB 3.1 release comes phpBB 3.1.1. It’s just a fix for a minor security flaw and a few small functional things, but you should apply it straight away.

This sort of thing is quite common for big feature releases. I expect there will be a version 3.1.2 coming soon too. :) Having said that, the release cycle of phpBB is quite reserved compared to most open source projects, so once it’s stable, you can forget about it for a while!




With the recent publicity about the POODLE bug, many web masters are turning off SSLv3 support. Depending on your Oracle database version/patch, that can present a bit of a problem for people using UTL_HTTP to access HTTPS resources, as described here.

  • UTL_HTTP Package Fails With ORA-29273 ORA-28860 When Using TLSv1 (Doc ID 727118.1) : Basically, older database releases only allow HTTPS using the SSLv3 protocol from UTL_HTTP. If you want to use the TLSv1 protocol you need to make sure you are on a patched up version of 11.2.

Interestingly, if you upgrade to Oracle 12c, you might have problems in the other direction, since Oracle 12c prevents UTL_HTTP calls over HTTPS to anything older than TLSv1.2, as described here.

So you might have trouble accessing legacy systems, without reverting to HTTP…

Fun, fun, fun…



MySQL : What management tools do you use?

A quick question out to the world. What management tools do you use for MySQL?

We currently have:

  • MySQL Workbench : It’s OK, but I don’t really like it. It feels like half a product compared to tools I’ve used for other database engines…
  • phpMyAdmin : I’ve used this on and off for over a decade for my own website. While I’m typing this sentence, they’ve probably released 4 new versions. :) We have an installation of this which we use to access our MySQL databases should the need arise.
  • mysql Command Line : I use the command line and a variety of scripts for the vast majority of the things I do.

When I’m working with Oracle, my first port of call for any situation is to use SQL*Plus along with a variety of scripts I’ve created over the years. The performance stuff in Cloud Control (if you’ve paid for the Diagnostics and Tuning option) is the big exception to that of course.

I still consider myself a newbie MySQL administrator, but I’ve found myself spending more and more time at the command line, to the point where I rarely launch MySQL Workbench or phpMyAdmin these days. I’m wondering if that is common to other MySQL administrators, or if it is a carry over from my Oracle background…

Enquiring minds need to know!



A World View

I’ve mentioned this before, but I thought I would show something visual…

The majority of my readers come from the USA and India. Since they are in different time zones, it spreads the load throughout the day. When I wake up, India are dominant.


In the afternoon the USA come online, by which time Russia have given up, but there is still a hardcore of Indian’s going for it! :)


I haven’t posted an evening shot as it’s the same as the afternoon one. Don’t you folks in India ever sleep?

I’m sure this is exactly the same with all other technology-related websites, but it does make me pause for thought occasionally. Most aspects of our lives are so localised, like traffic on the journey to work or family issues. It’s interesting to stop and look occasionally at the sort of reach this internet thing has given us. It may be a little rash, but I predict this interwebs thing might just catch on!



OTN APAC Tour 2014 : It’s Nearly Here!

airplane-flying-through-clouds-smallIn a little less than a week I start the OTN APAC Tour. This is where I’m going to be…

  • Perth, Australia : November 6-7
  • Shanghai, China : November 9
  • Tokyo, Japan : November 11-13
  • Beijing, China : November 14-15
  • Bangkok, Thailand : November 17
  • Auckland, New Zealand : November 19-21

Just looking at that list is scary. When I look at the flight schedule I feel positively nauseous. I think I’m in Bangkok for about 24 hours. It’s sleep, conference, fly. :)

After all these years you would think I would be used to it, but every time I plan a tour I go through the same sequence of events.

  • Someone asks me if I want to do the tour.
  • I say yes and agree to do all the dates.
  • They ask me if I am sure, because doing the whole tour is a bit stupid as it’s a killer and takes up a lot of time.
  • I say, no problem. It will be fine. I don’t like cherry-picking events as it makes me feel guilty, like I’m doing it for a holiday or something.
  • Everything is provisionally agreed.
  • I realise the magnitude of what I’ve agreed to and secretly hope I don’t get approval.
  • Approval comes through.
  • Mad panic for visas, flights and hotel bookings etc.
  • The tour starts and it’s madness for X number of days. On several occasions I will want to throw in the towel and get on a plane home, but someone else on the tour will provide sufficient counselling to keep me just on the right side of sane.
  • Tour finishes and although I’ve enjoyed it, I promise myself I will never do it again.

With less than a week to go, I booked the last of my hotels this morning, so you can tell what stage I’m at now… :)

I was reflecting on this last night and I think I know the reason I agree to these silly schedules. When I was a kid, only the “posh” kids did foreign holidays. You would come back from the summer break and people would talk about eating pasta on holiday and it seemed rather exotic. Somewhere in the back of my head I am still that kid and I don’t really believe any of these trips will ever happen, so I agree to anything. :)





phpBB 3.1 Ascraeus Released

Just a quick heads-up for those that use it, phpBB 3.1 Ascraeus as been released. It’s a feature release, so the upgrade is a bit messy. I did the “automatic” upgrade. There was so much manual work involved, I would recommend you take the approach of deleting the old files, replacing with the new ones, then running the database upgrade from there. I’ve not tried that approach, but the docs say it is OK to do it that way…

I figured I might as well upgrade, even though the forum is locked. :)