Singapore Update

Call me paranoid, but when I started filling in a customs declaration that mentions the death penalty for drug traffickers, I suddenly got worried about the cold curesย and vitamin C pills in my bag.

When I walked out of the airport in Singapore I couldn’t believe how humid it was. Dubai is hot, and Washington was very humid this year, but Singapore was something else.

I got to the hotel pretty late and I was teaching the next day, so I went straight to bed. The Oracle University office was about 1 km from the hotel so I walked to it. By the time I got there I felt like I needed a shower. Even at 08:00 in the morning it felt like hard work. After a couple of hundred yards I could feel myself panting like a dog.

The class was pretty small, with nine paying attendees and one Oracle University instructor who came along for the ride. Big classes can be exciting, but small classes feel more informal, so either way it’s pretty cool. We went out as a group at lunch timeย on both days, so there was plenty of time for gossiping, as well as the teaching stuff.

Singapore is full of restaurants. It feels like every building has a food court in it, and most of the places are busy. Speaking to a couple of people on the course, it seems many of the people never cook. Eating out is so cheap that unless you are cooking for about 6 people, it’s cheaper to eat out that cook at home. Sounds good to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the first evening I went for a walk around the bay area. It was dark by the time I got out, so all the photos are night shots. I’m not great with a camera at the best of times, but add in darkness and you know it’s going to go wrong. I took a lot of shots, but I’ve deleted most of them because they were just too blurry. The “altitude” shots, where you can see my reflection in the glass, were taken from the Singapore Flyer. My photos don’t do it justice.

The skyline would make you believe the place is like a scene out ofย Blade Runner, but when you are walking around the central business district it actually feels quite open. There is a lot of space between the buildings, so it never feels claustrophobic. Another nice thing is the streets are very clean. No litter, no chewing gum stuck everywhere and no dog crap on the pavements. If only the residents of Birmingham could act like this.

The bay area is obviously where all the money is. There is a crazy casino built to look like a boat is sitting on three towers. Next to that there is an absolutely giant shopping mall, half of which is still under construction. They were prepping for a Christian Dior show when I was walking round. The other side of the bay seems to be where the young and rich go out to pose in the evening. Lots of very expensive cars and people trying hard to be noticed. I’m surprised I wasn’t escorted away by the authorities. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the second day of the course we had a couple of delays, so I ended up running over by an hour. No big surprise there. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was going to go to the Night Safari on the second evening, but I foolishly turned on my laptop when I got back to the hotel and the next thing I knew it was 22:00, so I went to bed.

This morning it was a 06:00 start to get to the airport. I waited for a few minutes for a taxi and started to break a sweat standing still. Even at silly o’clock in the morning it was boiling.

The journey from Singapore to Sydney was pretty standard seven hour flight, so nothing major to report, but a few little incidents will be added to a general travel rant (about passengers) I am in the process of writing. ๐Ÿ™‚



All Systems Go…

Earlier today I started to write a mega-rant about the total chaos that is currently my life, but before I got to post it the situation has changed quite a bit.

  • I’ve been having a panic about addresses (or lack of addresses to be more precise) of hotels and venues for the Asia-Pacific OU trip I start tomorrow. This morning I got all that information, so I know what to do when I land at the airport now. Stress -=1
  • I’ve been having a panic about the flights because the invoices I’ve received suggest I’ve paid for flights I’m not taking, and not paid for flights I am taking. This concerns me because on two occasions in the past I’ve turned up at check-in desks only to be told my flights are confirmed but not paid for. Well I’ve just got revised invoices that list all flights I am taking. I’m still not sure how the numbers stack up because I think the new invoices only list additional costs for flight changes compared to the originals, rather than explicit costs per flight, but I can deal with that later. Stress -=1
  • My dad died nearly three years ago and I’m about to post a letter that marks the end of my role as Executor of his Will. Stress -= 1

I will now keep my fingers and toes crossed that nothing new comes out of the woodwork…



Travel Stress Continued…

Just to continue my Travel Stress theme, it’s now Saturday, I fly on Tuesday. As yet I have no idea about:

  • Locations of training rooms.
  • Hotel reservations. I believe they have been made for me (I hope), but I don’t know any addresses.
  • Ground transportation. I don’t know if this is arranged by OU or me, but as I’ve not been given any addresses yet it’s a bit of a worry.
  • Flight payments. I received some invoices from Oracle Travel, but they appear to have invoiced me for the original flights, not the revised flights, so I’m not sure I have actually paid for the flights yet and therefore I can’t be sure I’m actually going to make it to some of the locations.

I’m not too happy at the thought of starting a trip when I don’t know any addresses in the places I’m visiting and I’m not even sure my flights between some of the locations have been paid for.

Stress. Aaarrrggghhhh!!!!



Travel Stress…

The thing that really bugs me about traveling is the organization that is needed prior to the trip. When I’m travelling with the ACE program life is a lot easier because Victoria and Lillian (from the ACE program) do all the hard work for me. When I’m travelling with Oracle University I have to do most of it myself and that is a killer for me.

I was just starting to calm down about it all, then the Hong Kong course was rescheduled, which created a couple of days of panic. Once that was sorted I started to relax again then today I’ve received the invoices for the flights and they don’t look correct, so I’m left wondering what flights I’ve actually paid for. Now you may think I’m worrying unnecessarily, but I’ve turned up at an airport before now to be told that I have a reservation, but the flights have not been paid for. It’s not a nice position to be in, especially when you have to make international calls to sort the issue out, all the time wondering if you are going to miss the next flight.

I enjoy presenting and I love meeting new people in new places, but the travel stress is starting to get to me. I just have to keep telling myself it’s all going to be worth it in the end…



Advert: PL/SQL Masterclass in Hong Kong is back…

I managed to swap the Melbourne to Birmingham flights, so the Hong Kong date (October 25th-26th) is back again. If you are interested in coming, the contact details are listed here. The date hasn’t made it back onto the website yet, but it is definitely going to happen.

The final trip schedule is pretty scary.

  • Birmingham -> Dubai -> Singapore
  • Singapore PL/SQL Masterclass (14th – 15th)
  • Singapore -> Sydney
  • Sydney PL/SQL Masterclass (18th – 19th)
  • Speak at the Sydney Oracle Meetup in the evening (18th)
  • Sydney -> Melbourne
  • Melbourne PL/SQL Masterclass (21st – 22nd)
  • Melbourne -> Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong PL/SQL Masterclass (25th – 26th)
  • Hong Kong -> Bangkok -> Dubai Birmingham
  • Nervous Breakdown

I feel a bit sick at the thought of all that time on planes and all the timezone switches. The last time I did a trip this complicated I was away from home for 2 months. This time it’s compacted into 16 days, so if you see a fat zombie, point him to the projector and tell him to start speaking. Once the mouth starts, the rest will take care of itself. ๐Ÿ™‚



Let’s play spot the Sve…

I was just looking at a couple of photos from OpenWorld and I noticed a “not so little” Bulgarian hiding in the photo. Can you spot the Sve (Svetoslav Gyurov)?

Other things to notice about the photo are:

  • Richard Foote explaining exactly how much like David Bowie he really is. My original explanation of his action was a little more uncharitable. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Me being interested enough in Richard’s conversation to drag me away from my iPad for 2 seconds.
  • Chris Muir ignoring us both and trying to come to terms with the fact he hadn’t brought his iPad to the US and was forced to use one of those mini-iPads.

If you recognize yourself on this photo feel free to comment. I think the foot may belong to Jacco Landlust as I seem to remember him having one of those posh lunch boxes one of the days we were camped out in The Zone. Having said that, Jacco is usually making far more of a fashion statement than denim. ๐Ÿ™‚



PL/SQL Masterclass in Hong Kong?

Two days after getting the final confirmation for the Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne dates and the cancellation of the Hong Kong date things have changed a little… Maybe…

I’ve been asked to try and reschedule the Hong Kong date (October 25th-26th). I’m in the process of trying to check the implications of the flight changes now. If it were a Eurpoean date it would be a no-brainer, but since it’s the other side of the world it has to be combined with the existing trip or there is simply not enough time to get home and fly back out again.

I’m hoping to know by tomorrow if the date can be rescheduled. Watch this space.



Advert: PL/SQL Masterclass Updates…

This month I’ll be doing some PL/SQL Masterclasses for Oracle University. The following dates have been confirmed:

  • Singapore (14-15)
  • Syndey (18-19)
  • Melbourne (21-22)

For more details contact Oracle University here.

Originally there was an extra session in Hong Kong, but this has now been cancelled.

In November the following dates are scheduled:

  • Bulgaria (22-23)
  • Serbia (25-26)



Optimization is a lifestyle…

Situation 1

I was in a supermarket a few days ago and I watched the young guy in front of me place his basket on the floor and use one hand to transfer his shopping from the basket to the till. It was a painfully slow process to watch and resulted in him repeatedly exposing his butt crack. Not good.

When it was my turn, I placed my basket on the metal plate at the back of the till and used two hands to transfer my shopping. I had:

  1. Reduced the latency of the operation. Each item was traveling between the basket and the till faster due to the reduced distance.
  2. Increased the bandwidth. I was able to transfer 2 items at a time (sometimes more if I could scoop stuff out). Look mom, I’m parallelized.
  3. Kept my butt hidden from view.

Situation 2

The previous incident got me thinking about a summer job I did when I was at university. My job was to pack items coming off a production line into crates. The process was:

  1. Walk to the corner of the room.
  2. Pick up an empty crate from a pallet.
  3. Walk back to the end of the production line.
  4. Fill the crate with product.
  5. Pick up the full crate.
  6. Walk to the corner of the room.
  7. Put down the full crate on a pallet.
  8. Goto 2.

My solution to this was to have the pallets moved next to the end of the production line, thereby eliminating steps 1, 3 & 6. Unfortunately the performance improvement kinda backfired as some of use ended up having to do less interesting work to keep ourselves busy. Sorry to all those people who ended up having to help the butter unpackers because of me. ๐Ÿ™

The Moral of the Story

If you don’t want to unpack butter all day, leave the pallets in the corner of the room… No… That wasn’t it… Oh yeah…

A lot of the time optimization and performance tuning is really simple. Look at what you are doing and ask yourself:

  • Do I really need to do this?
  • Is this the best way to do it?
  • How can I get back to packing crates instead of unpacking butter?