OTN APAC Tour: Beijing, China (update)

Following on from my previous post, once the OTN APAC event was over I managed to see some of the sights of Beijing and the surrounding area, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and Ming Tombs. I’ve uploaded some photos here, but it seems my photography skills are getting worse, not better. I’m ashamed to say these are the better photos. Let’s not discuss the ones I’ve not bothered to upload. 🙂

I have a few suggestions for any travellers to China:

  • Do not consider driving yourself. The traffic is crazy! I’ve never seen anything like it before. I experienced several “we’re all going to die” moments in every trip I took. Probably the worst was when two lorries moved together with our minibus between them. If our driver had not sped up in time, I’m quite convinced the ACE program would have lost several members. As you may have already read, some of the ACEs were in a crash, but came out of it unharmed. I was only able to wear a seat belt on one journey because all but one of the vehicles either had no belts, or belts but nowhere to plug them in. This takes a lot of getting used to.
  • If you have any sort of respiratory issues, it’s probably best to avoid Beijing completely. The pollution is very bad. It quickly makes you feel like you’ve smoked 40 cigarettes for breakfast. Even at the Great Wall (50+km from the city) it is still really bad.
  • Make sure you have printed copies of the Chinese names for any locations you want to visit. Having an English address is pretty much useless. Even with the Chinese addresses, it was often very difficult, especially if the print was small.
  • Don’t rely on any cloud services for your journey. You need local copies of everything and any apps you want to work with should have full offline functionality. Why? The Great Firewall of China is very effective at blocking a variety of services. Most Google services were trashed. Gmail was intermittently offline and I was never able to access attachments. Google Docs essentially doesn’t exist. Google Reader would work for about 5 minutes at a time, then fail bigtime. Most annoyingly, I was unable to use Google to search for anything. 🙁 I was able to search with Bing, but I could only see results in Chinese. Even when I switched to English, I still got results in Chinese. Like I said, be very well prepared because searching for information is not easy. I’m sure there are ways to cope if you are clued up, but I was a little naive and went with very little preparation as far as logistics were concerned.
  • Take money with you. I was able to get cash advances from my credit cards, but the ATM failed to get cash from any of my bank accounts.

I’m now stationed at my friends house about 40 minutes from Auckland. There are cows in the garden, including 6 new calves which are pretty funny, and two pre-school children who are pretty funny too. Although I’m very much a towny at heart, I must admit the change in pace and air quality is very welcome. Last week I was talking about Oracle and this week I’ve chopping down some trees, cleared some scrub and pretended (very badly) to be a farmer. I’ve nearly mastered saying, “Get off my land!”, or as the Kiwi’s say it, “Gt ff my lnd aye!” I’m trying to introduce vowels to the natives, but with the exception of the word “aye” that is added to the end of every sentence, vowels seem to be lost forever. 🙂

In a few days I will transplant to Auckland and start the NZOUG conference.

Cheers

Tim…

APAC OTN Tour: Beijing, China

My flights to China were rather uneventful. The Birmingham to Dubai leg was delayed by an hour due to fog in Dubai. I had a 4 hour connection in Dubai originally, so the delay was no big deal.

Arriving in Beijing was a little unnerving. I misplaced the Chinese version of the hotel address, but had the English version. Finding someone to translate it proved very difficult and as it turned out they translated it incorrectly. Fortunately I found a cached version of the address on my iPad, so that saved by bacon. The second hitch was that I couldn’t get cash with by debit cards. Just a flat-out refusal from any ATM in China. Arrrggghhh! Fortunately, I was able to get cash advances using my credit card. I’m going to pay through the nose for it, but at least I can survive.

Today is the first day of the conference and I had a morning slot. For the English speakers, we had one screen showing our slides in English and one showing the Chinese translation. I was asked to speak more slowly than usual (kinda difficult for me) and as a result I had to reduce the content somewhat. I did a run through last night to make sure my timing was OK with this adjustment.

The conference has a single track, so you get a room full of people from different technical areas. This is always a little unnerving as you worry about the relevance of your material to audience. Here are a couple of photos of the audience I took while I was setting up.

 

Everything seemed to go OK. I hope they understood my accent. 🙂

With a bit of luck I will get to see some of Beijing over the next couple of days. I’m behing the Great Firewall of China, so some sites (Facebook and Twitter) are blocked completely and many other sites (like Gmail and any other Google related services) seem to come and go. For the time being my blog seems active. If I lose access to it I will update things once I get to New Zealand.

Cheers

Tim…

Real Steel…

If you remove the humans from Real Steel, you pretty much have Rocky.

As far as the humans are concerned, Hugh Jackman is ok. The kid who plays his son is a little annoying, but to be fair, so are most of the kids in films. There are quite a few cheesy moments, but they are spread out so they aren’t like fingernails down a chalkboard.

I think the biggest problem with the film is the robots have no personalities. It’s just a giant and very expensive version of Rock’em Sock’em Robots. It’s hard to engage with a chunk of metal when it has no outward signs of personality. They are nothing like Transformers, which are totally real. 🙂

Having said that, its an OK bit of mindless fun. I tried to listen to other people talking on the way out to gauge the general reaction. It seemed to vary from “Awesome!” to “What a complete pile of xxxx!”. I guess I stand somewhere in the middle.

Cheers

Tim…

A History of (my) Certifications…

I was chatting with the lady doing OCP Lounge registrations at OOW11. During this chat I mentioned I hadn’t received a certificate for the SQL Expert certification. It never crossed my mind to re-request it, since my certifications are visible on certview.oracle.com anyway. Yesterday, a DHL man delivered the missing certificate, which prompted me to look though my certifications and scan this image.

First, check out the card on the bottom right. I was unaware the “Expert” certifications had a different colour card.

Second, notice anything funny about the 9i DBA OCP certification?

It’s hard to believe it’s over 12 years since I first completed one of these certifications… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Night at OOW11: Circus Performers…

I mentioned in a previous post that I went to the OTN Night on the Monday at OOW11. I also spoke about eating far too much when I was there, but forgot to mention were the circus performers…

Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with flexibility. I love stretching and I love watching anything involving flexibility. San Francisco has a famous Circus School, so previous OTN parties have had assorted circus performers to entertain the punters. In addition to the usual clowns, this year there was a contortionist with a hula hoop. She did elements of the Cirque du Soleil act made famous by Elena Lev in Alegria. You can see the original act here.

Needless to say I watched the contortionist at the OTN Night while stuffing noodles into my face.

Cheers

Tim…

iOS 5 on my iPad1…

I’ve just put iOS 5 on my iPad, who wants to touch me?

It took about 30 minutes in total, but I’ve heard some on Twitter saying it took them 3 hours. The update does a full backup and restore, so I guess the more stuff you have on your iPad or iPhone, the longer it takes.

What has changed? Still hasn’t turned it into a white iPad 2… 🙂

For the casual user like me it seems pretty much the same. I only use the browser and play the odd little game, so I guess I’m not the person to ask about the life-changing nature of iOS 5. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Database on Oracle Linux 6.1…

I mentioned the day before Open World I put a Virtual RAC on Oracle Linux 6.1 article live. Although the procedure was complete, some of the screen shots were from an old article as I didn’t have time to redo them before my flight. 🙂 I’ve just run through the procedure again and taken new screen shots. As a result, I’ve allowed the article to display on the front page of the website, which is why you will see it listed as a new article there.

This kinda rounds out the whole Oracle on 6.1 stuff as there has been a single instance installation guide out for ages and more recently the Cloud Control installation, which references it.

Remember, it’s still not certified yet, but it’s coming.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: It’s finally certified. See here.

The Death of UK Football…

If anyone was wondering why football (soccer) in the UK is gradually being eroded to the point where we are a 3rd world country, you might want to take a look at this.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2047420/Childrens-football-league-lists-scores-1-0-1-1-avoid-humiliation.html

So in schools the kids are streamed based on their ability, with the most able kids paraded as shining examples of academic excellence and that is considered fine, but put them on a football field and the physically excellent kids have to be held back to allow for the weak to “compete”. This makes me sick. This has nothing to do with the kids. They don’t even read the papers. It’s to do with politically correct parents who just can’t deal with the fact their kids are wet lettuces. You can be sure the kids will remember a 20:0 defeat and you can be sure their friends will know the real score.

The real problem with the Telford Junior League is they have a “football for all” policy, which is good, but they refuse to stream the kids at an early age, so teams made up of Premiership Development Center players are playing against kids who are rarely facing in the direction of the ball. That’s no joke. I’ve seen it. With this in mind, of course some teams are going to get the sh*t kicked out of them.

Every kid should have the right to play football, but it should be against opposition that is of an appropriate level to them. Stream the kids in sports, the way they are in school. This latest nonsense from the TJL is political correctness gone mad. Life isn’t fair. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Kids need to learn that and start working hard for the things they want, rather than having it handed to them on a plate.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: The decision has been reversed. The full scores are now being published again. I like to think my blog rant helped, but the reality is, just about everyone with any sense could see that lying about the scores was not sensible.