Captain Support and TeamViewer

I recently read the news that LogMeIn have stopped their free service. I’m not a big user, but it’s handy to get into family PCs so I can sort stuff for them without having to talk them through things.

As I was reaching for my credit card to pay the yearly fee for LogMeIn, I noticed people speaking in the comments about alternative products, so I decided to give TeamViewer a go before parting with my cash.

The result is, it’s fine. If you are a casual user of LogMeIn like me, you might want to consider trying TeamViewer out before parting with your cash.

Note. I don’t have a problem with paying for software, I do it all the time, but if there is a free solution for something I only use on occasion, I’m probably going to go that route.


Captain Support…


Fedora 20 : Upgrade from Fedora 19

It’s a little over a month since Fedora 20 was released, but during a terrible bout of insomnia last night I decided to upgrade my desktop PC.

The upgrades using “fedup” worked fine for the previous releases (Fedora 18, Fedora 19). Unfortunately, it failed abysmally for the upgrade to Fedora 20. I tried a few times, but I was not able to troubleshoot it, so I gave up and did a reinstall.

I’ve got an SSD for the system drive, but keep almost everything of importance on a second drive (and a backup drive). I tend to do most things in VMs, so I ended up doing the following:

  • Backup.
  • Copy a few config files to the second drive (smb.conf, hosts, fstab etc).
  • Clean installation on the SSD, not touching the second drive.
  • Put the mount information back into the “/etc/fstab” and mount the second drive.
  • Put the “/etc/hosts” file back in place and install dnsmasq.
  • Put the “smb.conf” file back in place and start samba.
  • Do a “yum update -y” and reboot.
  • Install some utilities, like UltraEdit, VirtualBox, DropBox and Chrome etc.
  • Open up the existing VMs on the second drive using the newly installed VirtualBox.
  • Backup.

That was pretty much it really. I’m, back up and running with a clean OS installation and I guess it took less than an hour from start to finish. I think in future I’ll avoid upgrades. There’s something nice about a sparkly new installation, without any of the old crap left hanging around.

During the installation, I picked MATE as my desktop. I’ve tried the others and this is the one that feels the most natural to me.



OUGN Vårseminar 2014

I’ve had some papers selected for the OUGN Vårseminar 2014 event in April, so I will be there representing OTN and the Oracle ACE Program. There is an impressive array of speakers lined up for this event already. Should be fun!

I’ve got a couple of months to practice my Captain Jack Sparrow impression. I wouldn’t want to look out of place on the boat!




OTN Yathra 2014 : See you there!

In November I wrote a post about my possible inclusion in the OTN Yathra 2014 tour. That has been confirmed now, so I’m representing OTN and the Oracle ACE Program at all the cities in the tour.

  • Jalandhar – 18th February
  • Noida – 20th February
  • Mumbai – 22nd February
  • Pune – 23rd February
  • Hyderabad – 25th February
  • Bangalore – 27th February
  • Chennai – 1st March

I’m a little bit scared by this trip. The OTN tours are good fun, but they are hard work. Doing seven conferences in 14 days seems like an awfully big task. I could have skipped some of the events to make my life easier, but that feels a little mean. At least when I get back from this tour I will have a week at work to rest before I go off to OUG Ireland… 🙂

So now I’ve got to get my visa sorted out…



OUG Ireland 2014 : I’m going to be there. Are you?

Earlier in the week I got confirmation I have two papers selected for OUG Ireland 2014.

  • PL/SQL : Stop Making The Same Performance Mistakes
  • An Oracle DBA’s Guide to WebLogic Server

You can see the full agenda here.

I got on the net to check flight prices and Ryanair were doing a round trip for £13. The booking fee on the travel site I used was more then the flight costs, so the total flight costs came to £30. 🙂 Needless to say I booked them straight away, so I will be there representing OTN and the Oracle ACE Program.

In addition to presenting, myself and some of the other ninjas have been speaking with the conference organisers to get RAC Attack included in the event. That’s sorted now. At last count there were 6 RAC Attack Ninjas coming to the event, but others may be lurking around in stealth mode. 🙂 If you are interested in RAC, come and speak to us. We are happy to help people do a full RAC installation on their laptop, but if you don’t want to commit that much time, you can just do part of the installation, like the Grid Infrastructure, and finish it off at home. A lot of people just want to come and ask questions about RAC. That’s fine too! 🙂

As if that wasn’t enough, there are Master Classes with Tom Kyte, Joel Goodman and Uwe Hesse!

Registration is now open, so get yourself sorted. See you there! 🙂




The recent public speaking posts have made me very aware of other people’s behaviour at the moment. I’m sure I will soon revert back to my self-obsessed state, but for now I’m riding this wave. 🙂 Something happened a few days ago that I thought was very interesting…

I took my 12 year old nephew to a local store so he could buy something. We both waited in the queue, him holding the items. He walked up to the counter, placed the items down and stood, money in hand, waiting for the items to be passed through the checkout. The checkout lady looked at me and said, “Do you want a bag?”. I tilted my head towards my nephew in a “why don’t you ask him?” manner, which she ignored, so I conceded and said to my nephew, “Do you think we need one?”

When we left the shop I chatted with my nephew about the encounter. In this situation, it’s not unnatural for people to direct their attention to the adult, but I suggested a slight modification of his behaviour could have altered this. If he had walked up to the counter and said, “Hello. Just these please?”, or something to the same effect, I’m sure she would have seen him talking ownership of the situation and would have directed her question to him. I can’t guarantee it, but I think it is very likely.

It’s kind-of like that fake it until you become it thing I mentioned in a previous post. If he had asserted himself early in the interaction, the outcome might have been different. It makes you wonder how many interactions you have on a daily basis that you blindly float through on autopilot and what impact they would have on your life if you paid more attention…



PS. I’ll stop with this hippy stuff soon and get back to book and movie reviews. 🙂

Public Speaking Tips

I figured this would be a series of 5 posts max and it ended up being two weeks of daily posts. 🙂

Here is the list of posts:

  1. Do some public speaking!
  2. Rehearse!
  3. Pick a subject you are interested in!
  4. Have a disaster recovery plan!
  5. Deliver what you say you will!
  6. How to handle questions (crowd control)
  7. Live demonstrations
  8. You can’t please all the people all the time!
  9. Feedback helps you improve!
  10. Watch other speakers!
  11. International presentations
  12. Why Bother?
  13. Understand your motivation for speaking
  14. What do I present? (the pursuit of cool)

The reaction to this stuff has been really interesting. I’m glad people enjoyed it. For easy reference, I will add a link to this post on the toolbar at the side of the blog.

This post concludes the series, but if I think of anything else, I will certainly post it and add it to this list. If anyone has suggestions for posts on related subjects I may not have considered, I would gladly voice my opinion on them and add them to the list also.



Public Speaking Tip 14 : What do I present? (the pursuit of cool)

Deciding what to speak about is one of the most difficult things to do. I still struggle with it now, but this last year has been a turning point for me. I’ve already said you should present about something you are interested in, but what?

It is very easy to fall into the trap of “the pursuit of cool”. You quite fancy doing a presentation on subject X, but think it’s not new or cool enough. The pursuit of cool also makes you question how your choice will be perceived by others, because you are trying to impress specific people or groups of people. If you feel yourself falling into the trap of the pursuit of cool, just remember the following:

  • The vast majority of the time DBAs and developers are doing rather mundane work. As a result, they are looking for ways to be more time efficient while doing those mundane tasks. I remember a few years back sitting in a room at OpenWorld with about 600 other people. What subject had we all gone to listen to? It wasn’t RAC or Exadata. It wasn’t even Data Guard. It was Data Pump! That’s right. Import and export pulled a crowd of that size!
  • A lot of people out there still use Oracle 11g like it’s Oracle 7 or 8i. It never ceases to surprise me how you can mention a feature that was introduced in Oracle 8i and people ask if it is a new feature in 11g. As long as the material is new and relevant to the audience, it doesn’t matter what version it is from.
  • For many people, it will be their first time at a conference and the first time they have seen a presentation on that subject. I spoke to Debra Lilley a couple of years ago and she said 40% of the attendees at the UKOUG conference each year are first-timers. So that’s nearly half the audience who will find your material new.
  • Each year a bunch of people retire or move up the management food chain and a bunch of new DBAs and developers join the ranks. Fresh meat for the grinder. 🙂 They’ve got to go through the process of learning all that stuff you take for granted. It sometimes feels like “groundhog day”, but that’s how our industry works.
  • Just because someone has got 20 years of experience, it doesn’t mean they have experience of feature X. If someone asked me to do some work on Oracle Spatial, I would probably rock up to a few “Oracle Spatial for Dummies” sessions to get me going. 🙂
  • Depending on the type of event, there may be non-technical folks in the audience who are just looking for an overview of the subject. This is very true of marketing events, like OpenWorld.
  • Just because a subject has been done in previous years, doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Sometimes a fresh perspective is helpful. I’ve resisted doing talks on Analytic Functions for years because they’ve been around since Oracle 8i and I’ve seen some great talks on them by others, including Alex Nuiten. This year I thought to hell with it and started doing a session on them and it has worked out really well. It’s the same subject, but my take on it is a little different…

The delays to the release of Oracle 12c actually did me a favour this year. If it had been released earlier, I would probably have spent the year battling it out with others to fill the slots for “What’s new in Oracle 12c for X?” type sessions. Because I couldn’t do that, I took inspiration from the presentations I had been doing at work and took a step back. Nearly all of my presentations this year have had a “retro” feel for me, but they have been received really well. Why? Because the information was either new to the audience in question, framed it in a manner they had never seen before, or it reminded them of things they had known, but forgotten. 🙂

If in doubt, remember this mantra,

Presenting is not about you, it’s about the audience! Don’t get caught up in the pursuit of cool!

Check out the rest of the series here.



Update: I’d just like people to remember this is my personal take on things. It is not some political statement about conferences. 🙂