Scribd… Publisher of all things stolen…

In recent weeks it seems not a day goes by without me getting a notification of a stolen article that has been uploaded into Scribd ( To be fair to them, every time I’ve written to ask them to remove the content they have done, but I’m failing to see the business model here. From what I can see the whole site is just made up of stolen PowerPoint, PDF, Word and HTML files. There seems to be little if any original content present at all.

As far as my own slides and html files are concerned, the users uploading them seem to make a habit of uploading anything they can get their hands on. I’ve also seen copies of Oracle books in PDF format, which look like they have been scanned in manually, and even the whole Oracle documentation in PDF format uploaded.

I just don’t see the incentive for the users of this site. What is the point of uploading documents that are already freely available on the net. Surely just a link in your favorites list is all you need. In the case of plagiarists, they are trying to pass work off as their own, but that is not what Scribd users seem to do. They just upload the content as-is. Why? I just don’t get it.

Anyway, if you publish any content and you are bored one day, have a search through Scribd (using your domain name, blog URL or real name) and you will probably find something of yours that has been stolen. If you do, follow the Copyright link at the bottom of the page and it will tell you how to send a DCMA takedown notice. They usually respond pretty quickly. I guess if everyone did this the site would be empty and they would probably move on to some other form of organised crime. 🙂



Post Trip Crash…

Well, the excitement and stress of my recent trip is all behind me, so I have the inevitable post trip crash. Now I’ve got to deal with stuff like money, washing and playing catch-up on all the stuff I’ve missed since I was gone. It’s all so Rock’n’Roll… Sigh…

I went to visit some friends yesterday evening and slept through two films on the couch they use for their dogs. I then got up, drove home and have not been able to sleep since. On the positive side you can get a lot done in the middle of the night as there are no distractions. On the negative side it’s now 08:00 and I feel like I belong in a mortuary.

Having said that, there is a little sparkle of excitement here because I’ve got something new from Oracle to play with. More may be revealed in the near future on that front. It’s all so terribly cloak and dagger. 🙂



Hong Kong Update

As always, you never know what you’re going to get when you do an Oracle University class. Originally the Hong Kong class was cancelled, then got rescheduled at the last minute. I was expecting a very small class, but as it turned out I had 19 people, so it was the biggest class I did on this trip.

The room was a little on the small side and a bit warm in the morning of the first day, but we managed to get through OK.

Doing the same course 4 times in such quick succession was a little odd. On a couple of occasions I caught myself thinking, “I’m sure I’ve already said this before”. 🙂

The first leg of the flight back home was “interesting”. There was an old guy on my row who cycled between snorting half his brain down into the back of his throat, then coughing up his lungs up into the back of his throat, followed by a good chew and swallow. It was less than a pleasant experience. Added to that, there was a small kid who was intermittently making a noise which kept waking me up. I kinda forgive kids on planes because it’s not a natural environment for them, but this kid had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, twice. When they don’t look cute I’m much less sympathetic.

The second leg of the trip seemed a lot quicker because I was chatting to an Aussie lady about life, the universe and everything. Seven hours flew by.

So now I’m home and trying to deal with the washing, backlog of mail and yet another time zone. I think it’s two weeks until the next trip, assuming there are no cancellations. 🙂



Hong Kong – Day Off 2

In the morning I got a taxi over to my mate Alan’s house and the pair of us, along with his 16 year old step son Kevin, drove up the nearest hill (Victoria Peak) to have a look down over the city. The Hong Kong approach to tourist attractions seems to be, if you think tourists might come to see something, build a shopping mall next to it. The pollution in Hong Kong is pretty bad, so you will notice that anything in the distance is concealed by a haze. When you are looking at it you still get a lot of detail, but when you photograph it all you can see is the haze.

From there we drove down to the beach. It seems that if public transport can get you to a beach, it is heaving with people (and there will be a shopping mall there). If you need a car it is much quieter. I’m not a beach person myself, but I do like being near the sea.

From there we went back to Alan’s house, where I bonded with his step sons (Adam 13 and Kevin 16) by helping them speed up their computer so their games could run faster. They were playing MMORPGs like Aeon, Warcraft and some Chinese-specific things. I couldn’t understand a word of anything on the screen, because it was all in Chinese, so Captain Support needed a little translation help from Kevin. I did a little tweaking, but most of the performance improvements came from explaining that having 50 programs on all at once, including streaming video and music kinda interferes with the performance of the game, especially one that has to connect to a server, like MMORPGs do. As soon as I closed down the Justin Bieber video playing in HD on YouTube things got a lot faster and sounded a lot better. 🙂

From there we went out to meet a couple of the guys Alan works with. Both were Ausies, but have been living on and off in Hong Kong for a long time. We had a couple of drinks, some food, then early to bed ready for my class today.

Regarding food, being vegetarian in Hong Kong is not a great idea. It’s often difficult to find vegetarian food because even things that look vegetarian have a little something-something thrown in for good measure. During the day Kevin was keeping me on track. In the evening Phil was helping me out. My mate Alan speaks conversational Cantonese, after 5 years in Hong Kong, but can’t help throwing in sentences like, “Did you know Eskimos like peanut butter?”, or, “A big monkey is a gorilla and a big gorilla is King Kong!”, in an attempt to amuse/confuse the waiters, so when he was in charge I was a little worried. 🙂



Hong Kong – Day Off

I did manage to sleep a little on the plane from Melbourne, but not much, so I arrived in Hong Kong at 07:00 feeling very tired. I got the airport shuttle bus to my hotel. It was HK$140, which is about £11 and I was the only person in the full size coach. I think they may have made a loss on petrol for that journey. 🙂 The journey from the airport to the city is very strange. Most of the Hong Kong is forest, but then you will have 3-5 enormous skyscrapers more or less springing out of the forrest at intervals. It looks really odd. 🙂

Arriving at a hotel that early is often problematic because the guests from the previous night haven’t checked out yet. I got lucky in Melbourne and they had a room for me. In HK they didn’t. I checking in my bags and decided to have a look round. After about 30 minutes (including some moments of feeling very lost) I decided I was just too tired to attempt to navigate Hong Kong, so I went back to the hotel and parked on a chair in the reception. After a couple of hours of nodding off and generally making the place look untidy a room became available and I went straight up hoping to sleep. By the time I had scrubbed the stench of a 9 hour plane ride off myself, I only had about 1 hour to rest before meeting up with one of my friends.

A mate of mine from university moved to Hong Kong about 5 years ago (after a year in Sydney). We had met up a couple of time since he left, but I guess we had not crossed paths for about 3 years. He dropped by the hotel and whisked me off into the city to show me some of the sights (and give me lots of money, because my cards seem to be blocked again. 🙁 ).

From the perspective of an adopted Brummie, this city is very intimidating. I mentioned in a previous post that Singapore is full of really tall buildings, but there is a feel of open space between them. The buildings in Hong Kong are truly massive and very tightly packed. In Hong Kong a bungalow is 10 stories. 🙂 What’s more, many of the skyscrapers seem really thin, making them look rather fragile. We started off by dropping in at his office so I could get an aerial view of some of the city. We were only part way up the building he works in and it made me feel a bit sick.

From there is was back down to the street and a trip over to Mong Kok, which I believe is still listed as the most densely populated place in the world. Something like 130,000 people per square kilometre. Alan seemed to think it was a little quiet compared to usual, but it seemed very busy to me. I took a few photos, but to be honest all the streets were so tightly packed I quickly realised that taking photos was a bit pointless because it all started to look the same and it also meant I was interrupting the flow of the people, which was not a great idea with 130,000 per square km. 🙂

So my impression from day 1 is Hong Kong = Blade Runner.

The plan today is to get out of the city and have a drive around. Hopefully I’ll get some more photos today.



Melbourne Update

The Melbourne class was a little bigger than the previous classes, with 12 people including several people from Oracle Support. Being the 3rd class in quick succession, everything felt really smooth, with no real surprises.

I actually managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep before both classes, which was a bonus. Saying that, I fell asleep at 20:00 last night, so I ended up waking up at 03:00, which gave me some time to play catch-up with emails and forum questions. It does mean that today will end up being a pretty long day, since my flight to Hong Kong isn’t until 00:15 (including a slight delay).

Apparently there have been typhoon warnings in Hong Kong and the schools have been closed, but surprisingly it hasn’t really affected flights. Let’s see how that works out.

This was my third visit to Australia, but only my second visit to Sydney and Melbourne. The real take-home message from this trip is I felt really at ease all the time I’ve been in Australia. I’m not surprised a lot of British people decide to move to Australia. It’s probably one of the easiest places for a Brit to relocate to.



Update: I’m in the hotel in Hong Kong now. No signs of a typhoon, but I’ve received a mail saying the class may be cancelled if the weather is too bad. Weird. I’m just off to lunch in the tallest building in Hong Kong, or so my mate tells me.

Sydney Update

I’m now sitting in my hotel room in Melbourne, so the Sydney experience is complete.

Originally I was told the Oracle University classes would be cancelled if there were less than 10 people. In Singapore I got 9 people, which was the smallest class I had ever taught for Oracle University. I immediately beat that record in Sydney by having 7 people in the class. I’m guessing that from an expenses point of view, the costs are lower because I’m doing four courses in what amounts to a single round trip to Australia. If this were just a single class requiring a requiring a return flight from UK to Sydney it wouldn’t have happened. Anyway…

Day 1 went smoothly. I got a few questions that made me think, which is always good. Once I had finished the class, it was straight off to the train station to get into town to speak at the Oracle Meetup organised by the Pythian guys. The train journey took longer than I expected, so I arrived about 20 minutes late, by which point the projector was irretrievable locked away. So instead I did my presentation with my laptop pointing at the people around the table and did a lot of zooming. 🙂 Despite this setback, which was totally my fault, it seemed to go OK.

It’s always good to meet new people, but I was especially happy to finally meet Nuno “Noons” Souto and Gary Myers, whose blogs I’ve been following for ages and who have both helped me in the past by correcting my numerous mistakes. After the presentation finished and we had an informal chat, it was back to the train station and then the hotel.

Day 2 of the course went smoothly enough. I had finally got something resembling sleep, so I felt a bit more on top of my game. As always, I over ran. If they gave me 3 days I’m sure I would still over run. 🙂

This morning was a 06:30 flight to Melbourne, so I had to get up at about 04:00 to get ready and get the taxi to the airport. I actually woke up at 03:00, so I guess I’m going to feel a bit rough later. Luckily I’ve got the rest of the day off to recover before I start the Melbourne class tomorrow.

Melbourne was the first class to confirm, so I’m guessing it has a minimum of 10 people, but you never know. Perhaps I can break my record again. 🙂

On a slightly worrying note, I’m having a bit of trouble with my credit and debit cards. I warned the banks involved that I was travelling so my usage might look a little odd. I also banged some cash onto them to preempt any problems with bills coming in while I was away. Even so, it’s all been a bit random as to which cards are accepted and which cards fail. If all else fails I’ll get Larry to fly me over some cash… 🙂



Sydney – Day Off…

This is my second trip to Sydney. The first time I came I managed to do a lot of the tourist stuff, but I never managed a trip up the Sydney Tower or Taronga Zoo. I did both of those yesterday.

The tower gives an excellent view of the city. It’s worth doing that as your first activity, so you can get a feel for that you are getting yourself in for. As part of the trip you also get to ride on OzTreck, a virtual tour of Australia. This was actually a lot of fun. It’s certainly worth 10 minutes of your time.

Next stop was the zoo. I bought a zoo pass that includes the ferry, skyride and zoo entrance. If you have a concession ticket there are cheaper ways to get in. On the one had I dislike zoos because they have animals in captivity. On the other hand, I love them. Taronga Zoo has a nice feel about it, but some of the exhibits seem a little small compared to other zoos I’ve been to. The advantage is that you get a good view of the animals. The downside is I’m not sure it is a great environment for some of the animals.

The information desk suggested I should try and see the bird show, which didn’t strike me as sounding too interesting, but it was in the direction I was walking and started just as I got to the show ground. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you are going to the zoo you should definitely see the show. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a bird of prey with a 2 metre wing span fly a couple of inches above my head before. Very impressive. It was a really good show for adults and kids alike.

After the zoo it was a train ride back to the hotel in North Ryde and an early night before todays session. Unfortunately I only managed about 4 hour sleep, which included 5 hour gap in the middle of it. 🙁

So today is day 1 of my PL/SQL course in Sydney, followed immediately by a trip into town to speak at the Sydney meetup organised by the guys from Pythian.



The quick guide to being as annoying as possible on a plane…

If you are flying cattle-class it’s pretty easy to get annoyed, but here are a few things that really get on my nerves…

Hand Luggage

  • The correct way to remove your luggage from the overhead compartment does not include bouncing it off my head! The item in question was a solid hand-luggage bag with reinforced corners. The word, “Shit”, came out of my mouth at high volume as I checked my head for bleeding.
  • When they tell you one piece per passenger, that is what they mean. Not three pieces of hand luggage and a suit holder. If you are going to bring that much with you (assuming you are let on the flight with it), don’t you dare complain about there being no room in the over head compartment above your seat you selfish git.
  • Hand luggage does not mean full size cases, fragile items or wedding cakes. If you do decide to attempt to transport a wedding cake as hand luggage, don’t get all uptight with the flight attendants because there is nowhere safe to put it.

Aisle Etiquette

  • When you are walking up the aisle, don’t grab my head rest and pull on it with all your might. It’s really annoying, especially when I have raised my head rest and in grabbing it you push it back down again.
  • When you are walking past the exit row seats, don’t steady yourself on my pull-out screen so your fingers cover half the screen and leave what I can only assume is post-toilet visit residue on the screen.
  • When you are walking up the aisle, don’t grab my shoulder to steady yourself. It’s even more annoying than the head rest or the screen incidents.
  • If you insist on sleeping with your legs and/or head blocking the aisle, don’t give me (or the flight attendants) evils if I/they wake you up as I/they walk past.


  • When you see the flight attendent coming to serve you food or drinks, remove your headphones! Don’t sit there squinting at him/her saying, “What?”, repeatedly. The reason you can’t hear them is you have the volume set to 11/10 on your earphones you daft old bat.
  • Remove your headphones before starting a conversation with your partner. The rest of the cabin are not interested in that “funny” scene in the rom-com you are watching. If they were I’m sure the captain would announce it.


  • Use deodorant. Nuff said.
  • When you are sitting next to me, don’t constantly huff and puff and generally cover me with your stank breath. I’m not enjoying the flight either, but I’m not getting on your tits.
  • Leave the toilets in the state you would expect to find them. I’m sick of having to clean them up for fear of the next person thinking it’s me that made that mess. They do provide bins you know!
  • If you are going to cough, sneeze or hock a loogie please use a tissue. I am constantly ill these days and I’m guessing most of it comes from the dirty air in planes.

Flight Attendants

  • You may not know this, but the flight attendants are not your personal slaves. If you get off your lazy fat ass once in while you might manage to avoid DVT.
  • When the flight attendant asks you to do something, you should do it. That includes not getting out of your seat to retrieve your hand luggage while the plane is still moving.


  • When you see the flight attendants serving food, it’s a nice gesture to put your seat upright. It makes life a lot easier for the person behind you.
  • Just because you’ve finished eating it doesn’t mean the person behind you has, so you might want to think twice before attempting a new world record for speed seat reclining.
  • I’ve paid for my seat so don’t steal my space by leaning on me or sticking your elbows into my ribs. I’m fat and if I can manage to stay within my allotted space you sure as hell can.


  • You don’t need to shout to talk to the person sitting next to you (see headphones).
  • Business people. I’m sure your companies and your clients would not be pleased to know the amount of information you are passing out to strangers by speaking loudly about your latest deal/budget. I sat behind two guys recently who were obviously playing, “my job is more important that yours”, with each other. During several minutes I was clearly able to hear the companies they worked for, the clients their companies were working with and some of the deals they had struck, including the profit margins involved. I was severely tempted to write it all down and phone the companies in question and tell them what I had heard. In summary, it’s not big, it’s not clever and it makes you look like an insecure prick!

Exiting the Plane

  • Removing your hand luggage while the plane is moving is a bad idea. I’m sure if you injure someone doing it you could find yourself with a hefty legal bill.
  • When the time comes to leave the plane, pushing and shoving to try and move one space forward in the queue is really stupid. If you are lucky you will get out 3 seconds earlier, where you will find yourself in a queue for customs and baggage claim. It’s really not worth the effort of trampling me.

These and many more annoying habits can be found in the economy class seating of your favorite airline.