Public Speaking Tip 2 : Rehearse!

I can almost hear the chorus of, “Well durr!”, but stick with me…

Do you remember the kids at school that always said stuff like, “I’ve done no revision at all for these exams!”, when you knew full well they had been slaving away for weeks to prepare. Speak about rehearsing for a presentation at a conference and those kids all come out of the woodwork, but in the guise of Oracle geeks… πŸ™‚ Now I’m not calling these people liars, but rehearsal means very different things to different people.

For me, rehearsing involves the following to a greater or lesser degree:

  • I’ll talk myself through little sections or topics. Not a formal thing. Just a quick couple of minutes when I’m bored, like waiting to fill the car with petrol.
  • Try and remember what anecdotes, used to explain a point, come where in the presentation.
  • Anticipating questions and thinking of how I would approach answering them.
  • Walk through of the presentation while sitting at a computer. This is normally a super quick pass through. An hour presentation might take 15 minutes to practice in this way.
  • A formal walk through, where I stand up and present to the window in my room, which typically takes about as long as the full presentation.

When people speak about rehearsal, they are normally only thinking about the last point. They seem to forget all the hours of work they’ve put in before that. If you are new to presenting and you read stuff by people saying they “just wing it”, I think you may be surprised at how much work actually goes into “just winging it”! πŸ™‚

There are a few warnings I should give about rehearsals though, which may be specific to me, or common to others…

  • Don’t try to learn lines so your presentation is word-perfect. This invariable sounds really dry and lifeless, unless you are a trained actor. You should be learning cues, which set you off down the next path. This way, your presentation is semi-ad-libbed, but has some structure. If you’ve rehearsed enough, you won’t get lost for words.
  • Following on from that point about trying to be word-perfect, if you do forget “the script”, or someone interrupts you with a question, it can throw you so badly. Better to avoid this.
  • Don’t rehearse to the point where you are bored of the presentation. Your lack of enthusiasm will be visible to all. Another point in favour of the semi-ad-libbed approach is each time you present the same slides it will be different.
  • If you are doing multiple dates in a tour, you probably need to back off the rehearsals a little. It’s hard not to get stale when you’ve presented the same three talks 6 times in a couple of weeks.

Ultimately, you need to learn what works for you. If you watch someone like Connor McDonald, you know he’s put in crazy amounts of hours to get that stuff so slick. Others have a looser style, that probably requires less total rehearsal time. Suffice to say, if your talk goes badly, you probably need to put more effort in next time. πŸ™‚

Check out the rest of the series here.



Public Speaking Tip 1 : Do some public speaking!

A number of people have asked me how they can improve their public speaking. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I thought I’d share my thoughts over a series of posts. Why a series? Because I figured if I tried to write an all encompassing post on the subject it would become long and boring, so small sound-bites it is! πŸ™‚

So the first suggestion I would make about improving your public speaking, is to actually do some public speaking. There’s a pretty simple rule in life, you tend to get good at things you do regularly. I would suggest that very few people in life can stand up in front of an audience for the first time and feel the audience is about to witness greatness. No matter how bad you are at presenting, after you’ve done 20, you will be better than you were at the start. After 40 you will be better than you were at 20…

So I’m suggesting you get up in front of 1500 people at OpenWorld for your first gig right? Wrong! That’s likely to turn you into a neurotic wreck. There are a whole bunch of ways you can break yourself in gently, including some of the following:

  • Organise a regular session in your company. You could get together with a bunch of colleagues and arrange to present stuff to each other on a regular basis. This not only improves your presentation skills, but adds greatly to knowledge spreading in the organisation. I was first introduced to this during my PhD. Every Friday we had a meeting where 2-3 people from the lab were picked to present for 10-15 minutes each. If you had made some progress in your research, you might present about that. If not, you might present about a specific scientific paper you had read recently. I do a similar thing in my current company. Every 2 weeks I present to my colleagues for an hour. I’ve suggested someone else steps up to the plate occasionally, but so far that’s not really happened. πŸ™‚
  • Speak at a Special Interest Group (SIG). There will probably be a number of SIGs happening around your region for a variety of user groups, including your local Oracle User Group. They are always on the hunt for new speakers. It’s much easier to do something like this first, rather than rock up to a full blown conference.
  • Toastmasters. I’ve never tried this myself, but a number of people I respect have said very good things about it.

Whatever you decide to try, the main thing to remember is, you will never get good at speaking in public if all you do is sit at home and bitch about the fact you are crap at speaking in public! πŸ™‚

Check out the rest of the series here.



Oracle Database 12c : Some Backup and Recovery Stuff

In a previous post, I had already listed an article on backup and recovery when using the Oracle 12c multitentant option.

In that article I made reference to a restriction when using flashback database against a CDB with a PDB that has had a point in time recovery. I finally got my head round this and posted a note about it here.

As well as this stuff, I’ve also had a play around with table recovery. It’s pretty cool! In previous versions you had to do a manual point in time clone to recover a table in this way. In Oracle 12c it still does this, but it has wrapped it up and hidden it behind a nice RMAN command, making it feel a lot simpler. Definitely a neat feature when you need to recover old versions data that pre-date the level of undo available.

I word of advice before you launch into playing with any of this. TAKE A SNAPSHOT OF YOUR VM!

I’ve been playing about with this stuff using Oracle 12c on Oracle Linux, running on an Oracle VirtualBox VM. You would not believe the number of times I’ve totally screwed up my databases while figuring this stuff out. I’ve recreated PDBs and CDBs a number of times. I’ve had to recover databases that I broke by accident. I’ve even had to restore a previous snapshot of the VM a couple of times to get myself back to a stable state. All this messing about is great for getting to grips with the tech, but it can be frustrating if you are only trying to investigate one specific feature. For this reason, I would say avoid trying to learn this stuff on a physical machine. Especially when learning backup and recovery, it can be a time consuming pain in the ass when you screw things up.You want to be able to get back to the start and try again as quickly as possible. This is where VM snapshots rule! Of course, if you’ve got the time to spare, you can come across some interesting things when you accidentally break things and try to fix them! πŸ™‚

One of things I’ve noticed specifically about RMAN and PDBs is the error handling of some commands is not what it could be. Sometimes you perform a relative simple RMAN command while the PDB is closed and it gives you a “sky is falling in” type message, including the odd ORA-00600, which leads you to believe things are really screwed. You notice the PDB is closed, so you open it and hey presto, the RMAN command works just fine. Now admittedly, I was attempting to do something stupid, but a “You can’t do that when the PDB is closed dumb-ass!” message would have been a lot less scary than an ORA-00600. πŸ™‚ I’m going to try and recreate the specific scenarios and log them on MOS so future versions can handle people doing stupid stuff a bit better. πŸ™‚



Dreaming of Google Searches (La La La Human Steps)

You know you’re a geek when you are dreaming of a conversation with someone, reach for your tablet to search for the answer to something and can’t find it. Due to your frustration in the dream, you wake up in real life, reach for your tablet and continue to search for the thing you couldn’t find in your dream!

That is exactly what happened to me this morning. In my dream I was recounting watching The Word as a kid and seeingΒ Louise Lecavalier from La La La Human Steps. I was totally blown away! This was before the days of YouTube, so I had never seen anything like it before. I can’t find that performance on YouTube, but if you are interested, this was what the “dream conversation” was about.

I have no idea where this memory got dragged up from. Probably eating too much cheese before bed. πŸ™‚



Articles on Oracle Database 12c Multitenant Option

From a technology perspective, the Multitenant option is really cool, but it can be rather difficult to get to grips with some aspects of it. Everything is so intertwined and every feature in 12c somehow links back to the Multitentant option. As I’ve been working my way through the features the same pattern keeps repeating.

  • Write an article on a feature X.
  • Put it live.
  • Move on to looking at feature Y.
  • Notice something about feature Y that affects the article I’ve written about feature X.
  • Go back and revise the article on feature X.
  • Rinse and repeat.

This pattern has made me rather reluctant to post anything on the blog about new articles, because although I don’t release articles until I think they are finished, all these Multitenant articles feel very much like a work-in-progress. I fully expect to step back and revise/rewrite all of them as I figure more out about this stuff.

The first link is not so much an article, more of a links page. I originally wanted to write about Multitenant as a single article. Looking back now that is quite laughable. Ten articles in and I’ve barely scratched the surface. As I keep adding more content, I’ll keep adding it to the overview article, so it remains the index page for the option.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s going to take a long time to get fully up to speed with this option, so you really need to start learning about it now!



Scheduler Enhancements in Oracle Database 12c

I’ve spent the last couple of days playing around with the scheduler enhancements in Oracle 12c.

I guess the big news is the new “script jobs”, which are pretty cool. This kind-of passed me by until Brynn Llewellyn mentioned them at UKOUG in his Multitenant presentation, at which point I made a note to check them out.

I’ve been having some trouble with the “BACKUP_SCRIPT” jobs up until a few minutes ago. My problem was I couldn’t see what the stdout/stderr text was, so I couldn’t determine why there were not working. The “$ORACLE_HOME/scheduler/log” directory was empty and there were no messages in the trace files or alert log. Then I stumbled upon the new columns added to the ALL_SCHEDULER_JOB_RUN_DETAILS view. The OUTPUT column, not surprisingly, gives you the output from the scripts. Once I could see the error message it took me a few seconds to fix the issue andΒ Bingo! πŸ™‚

The new job types are a nice addition, allowing you to run file-based scripts or incline scripts much more easily that before.




Data Pump Enhancements in Oracle Database 12c

Another one to file under “Not sexy but flippin’ awesome!”

If you are a DBA, you are going to spend a lot of time with Data Pump. All roads seem to lead back to it. πŸ™‚ There are some more headline worthy features, like transportable database, but the two that jumped out at me were actually pretty small, but awesome.

  • “TRANSFORM=DISABLE_ARCHIVE_LOGGING:Y” – Switches table and/or index imports to NOLOGGING for the lifespan of the import operation.
  • “LOGTIME=ALL” – Puts a timestamp in the output message so you can see how long individual operations took.

I wrote up an article about it here.



WordPress 3.8 Released

WordPress 3.8 has arrived. The downloadΒ and changelog are in the usual places.

The admin interface has had quite a big redesign. I think it looks neater, but I’m sure it will take a bit of getting used to. The nice thing is it’s mobile aware now. If I run it on my Nexus 7 in landscape I get something similar to the browser view. If I switch to portrait it rearranges the screen to make it fit better. Neat.

The auto-updater (manually initiated) worked fine on 5 blogs, so not worries there.





SQL Developer 4.0

Oracle have given birth to SQL Developer 4.0 today, as announced by Jeff Smith.

I had access to the first Early Adopter a few weeks before it hit the OTN download page, so it feels like I’ve been using some flavour of SQL Developer 4 for ages.Β I’m kinda old-school, so I still find myself working with a text editor (UltraEdit) and SQL*Plus a lot, but I’m trying to use SQL Developer more these days. The addition of the Performance Reports (AWR, ADDM and ASH) was certainly a nice touch.