Oracle Midlands : Event #3 – Registration Open

Registration is now open for Oracle Midlands Event #3 on Tuesday 20th May..

As I mentioned in a previous postChristian Antognini will be the speaker for both the sessions this time. He’ll be covering “12c Adaptive Query Optimization” and “Row Chaining and Row Migration Internals”.

Red Gate Software have kindly offered to sponsor the event again, so registration is free!

I’ve already registered. 🙂 Please make the effort to come along and support the event!



300 : Rise of an Empire

I went to see 300 : Rise of an Empire yesterday.

My feelings on this were a bit of a mixed bag. I was not the biggest fan of the original 300 movie at the cinema, but I have subsequently warmed to it. This film adds a bit more story about the lead up to the first film and fills in more details about what happened after, so it is kind-of like a combined prequel-sequel. Visually it was quite similar to 300, but it felt a little more low budget to me, like a longer, high budget episode of the Spartacus TV series…

The action sequences tended to follow a similar pattern of,

  • Fast shaky camera with no focus.
  • Slow motion slash.
  • Ultra-slow motion blood splash.
  • Repeat.

I did like the back story of how Xerxes became a God King. During that sequence I got really into the film, but after that the film started to meander and drag on a bit. By the end I was starting to nod off, so too was my pregnant friend, but her husband thought it was brilliant.

As is often the case, if you like the first you will probably like this. Just don’t hold out any hope that it will push the envelope, because it won’t.



PS. While Spartan’s had Scottish accents (see first film), it appears Athenian’s  had Australian accents! You learn something new every day… 🙂

UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event – 28th May

Just a quick note to say the call for papers is open for the UKOUG Operating System and Storage Event in Birmingham on the 28th May. To quote the website,

“This event will cover Linux and Solaris Administration, Storage and Network Administration, Virtualisation and Engineered Systems.

UKOUG Operating Systems & Storage Event takes place in Birmingham on 28th May and will become a key event for DBAs, OS, Network and Storage Administrators who support an Oracle Infrastructure.”

Hope to see you there!




Oracle Midlands : Event #2 Summary

The second Oracle Midlands event took place last night.

The most important part of the evening was the opportunity to win an Oracle Press teddy bear.


Oh yeah, there were a couple of talks too…

I was planning to arrive early and go for a quick drink with my dad, but the Birmingham traffic put that plan to rest. Instead we just chatted a bit before the event started.

First up was my dad (Graham Wood), who dropped by on his way to the UKOUG Real World Performance Day in London, speaking about “Advanced ASH Architecture and Usage”. I’ve seen Graham doing this presentation a few times, but each time something new jumps out at me. If Graham came back next week and did the same talk, I would still go and watch it. Every year that goes by I find myself using AWR reports and SQL Trace less and less because I can get the information I need out of ASH.

After saying an emotional farewell to Graham, I drowned my sorrows in vegetable samosas and chatted to people, including Martin Widlake, who I assume was lost since he’s not from round these parts… 🙂

Next up was Nikolay Manchev, who drove up from London to speak about “Using Clusterware 11g to protect single-instance databases”. This was essentially using Oracle Clusterware to mimic RAC One-Node without having to buy a RAC One-Node license. Almost the whole of this presentation was live demonstration. I love doing demos, but I don’t think I am brave enough to do live demos of Oracle clusterware and failover etc. To much to go wrong on a little laptop. Nikolay laughs in the face of danger and jumps right into that stuff. 🙂 He had a couple of little hiccups with the projector not playing well with his laptop, but he got through the demo and his cold failover of the database, listener and VIP worked just fine. Neat! 🙂

After the event was over, a few of us wandered over to a nearby pub and sat chatting for a couple of hours more. 🙂

All in all a really cool event! Here come the thank you messages.

  • Thanks to Mike for actually organising this event. I think you are doing a fantastic job!
  • Thank you to the speakers for coming along to the event.
  • Thanks to those kind folks at Red Gate Software, whose sponsorship allowed this to be a free event.
  • Thanks to Oracle Press for the raffle prizes of bears, books and t-shirts. I really wanted a bear, but I didn’t win.
  • Thanks to the attendees for coming, some from very far afield. Please keep coming and please keep the word-of-mouth about these events going. Local user groups like this live or die based on your support!

The next event should be on May 20th, with Christian Antognini doing both sessions. Christian is the author of probably my favourite technical book, Troubleshooting Oracle Performance, so I’m really looking forward to this. You never know, you might get to win the second edition of this book, which must be about to arrive… 🙂 Keep an eye on the Oracle Midlands website for registration information.




VirtualBox 4.3.10

VirtualBox 4.3.10 has been released. The downloads and changelog are in the usual places.

At the time of writing, the link to the Windows version seems to be broken, but the Mac, Oracle Linux and Fedora versions are there.

Happy upgrading!



Update: Probably best to wait a while before downloading this new version. This version is currently on its 3rd build since I first downloaded it and now the download links are broken. 🙁


The Wolves of Midwinter (The Wolf Gift Chronicles)

The Wolves of Midwinter is the second book in The Wolf Gift Chronicles by Anne Rice.

After my enthusiasm for The Wolf Gift, I jumped straight into The Wolves of Midwinter, then kind-of got distracted and took about 3 months to finish it. The long breaks during reading this book made it feel more disjointed than it probably would have done if I had read it in a shorter time frame. The book was divided into several distinct story lines, which in some ways made it easier to take breaks. With the exception of a few scenes of werewolf-on-werewolf love action, which I could have lived without, it was a pretty cool book.

I’m looking forward to the next one!



Facebook Groups and Lists

For quite some time I’ve had a specific policy on how I use social networks.

  • Google+ : I a have regular G+ profile which is public. I post whatever takes my fancy here, including Oracle and technology stuff. Anything posted on this profile is bounced across to Twitter using ManageFlitter.
  • Google+ ( : I have a G+ page that is specific for Oracle and technology related links. I don’t post so much random stuff here.
  • Twitter (@oraclebase) : The usual junk you get on Twitter.
  • Facebook ( : I have a Facebook page for the those people who prefer to follow me on Facebook. All my tweets get forwarded to this Facebook page.

In addition to those I’ve had a regular Facebook profile for a long time, but I’ve been very specific about its use. I only accept first-life friends and family. With all the other way of connecting to me, keeping one for myself didn’t seem selfish. Recently, I’ve been playing around with Facebook Groups and Facebook Lists in an attempt to allow connections to more people, but keep groups of people separated from each other. I don’t want to bore my friends with Oracle stuff and I don’t want to bore the Oracle community with tales of my crocodile wrestling.

I created some Facebook Groups and started accepting some Oracle-related people as friends and assigned them to a group called “Oracle”. I figured this was like a Google+ Circle, it’s not. For a start, everyone in the group can see everyone else in the group and they can see what the group is called, so don’t call it “People I Hate!”. 🙂 There are a variety of security options, but none of them really did what I was looking for. I pretty quickly removed the groups and wrote to everyone saying it was not a snub. I just didn’t want to be the leader of some new communities. 🙂 If you are into building communities in Facebook, groups seem like a pretty good idea. You can be a dictator, or let other people in the group join in the administration.

The next thing I tried was Facebook Lists. This is a lot more like Google+ Groups. Hover over the “Friends” section on the left hand side of the page and a “More” link appears. Click on the link and you can see all the lists you’ve already got, which include smartlinks created automatically by Facebook. You can create new lists and manage existing lists from here. When you accept a friend request, you can select the relevant list for the contact. There are some standard lists that come in handy, like “Restricted” and “Limited Profile”. If I’ve not actually met someone before, they tend to get put on one of these lists. This is not so much to hide stuff I post, but it is to provide some layer of protection to my other contacts. I don’t see why something one of my non-Oracle friends posts should be visible to someone I’ve never met. OK, that’s the price you pay for getting involved in social networks, but I don’t want it to be my fault someone else’s posts become public. When you write a status update, you can select which list it is visible to. Alternatively, you can click on the list of interest, then post the status update.

I’m still not sure if altering my policy on Facebook usage was the correct thing to do. I also reserve the right to unfriend everyone and revert to my previous policy at any time. 🙂




Oracle Scene Magazine Article

While I was in OUG Ireland I was given a copy of the latest Oracle Scene Magazine, which includes a little column about my Public Speaking Tips. You can see the write-up here.

Oracle Scene are always on the lookout for contributors. If you have something you think they might be interested in, go to the Article Submissions page.



OUG Ireland 2014

As you probably know by now I was at OUG Ireland yesterday.

It was a pretty early start for me. I needed to be up by 03:30 to get a taxi to the airport, but fear of missing my flight meant I was awake from about 01:00 onward. My taxi driver wanted to talk about some rather strange stuff during the ride. A conflicted individual I guess…

The Ryanair flight across to Dublin went smoothly enough. There were 18 people on a 737, so I’m guessing that flight didn’t cover the staff costs, since I paid £30 for a return flight. Once at Dublin I took the AirLink bus for 10 euros, which dropped me outside The Convention Centre Dublin.

I headed straight for the RAC Attack table at the Oracle stand, where I met some of the conference organisers and of course some of the RAC Attack Ninjas. I pretty much spent the rest of the day there, speaking to anyone and everyone that came within a three yard radius of me. 🙂 Thanks to Mina Zadeh for getting the ball rolling on organising this! I hope we will be able to do this every year. Even if people don’t want to spend time during a one day conference doing the RAC installation, it acts as a good focal point for people to come and chat about RAC and any other Oracle technology that they are interested in. Kinda like a “meet the geeks” thing. 🙂

It was good to meet up with Debra Lilley again, as it must have been at least 9 days since I last saw her. Thanks for my little brass Ganesha!

My first presentation of the event was “An Oracle DBA’s Guide to WebLogic Server”. I felt really nervous at the start of this presentation. I’m very quick to tell people I am still a newbie and this is very much sold as, “What I wish I had been told in my first hour of learning WebLogic”. Even with that in mind, there is always a niggling doubt that people might be expecting something different, which feeds into the insecurities and the inferiority complex. I think it went OK, but the nerves made me race a little and it might have freaked some people out with the pace.

My second presentation was on “PL/SQL : Stop making the same performance mistakes”. Being back on familiar ground felt good! I was really relaxed for this one and just went with the flow and enjoyed it. I had to miss some slides at the end because of the shorter time slot, but all the information is on my website, so it’s not that big a deal in the scheme of things. 🙂

Despite the jetlag, Tom was on great form during the day. He’s got a very British sense of humour and he handles having the piss taken out of him really well, so when he pulled out his phone I couldn’t help but comment on how massive it looked next him. I think it was a Galaxy Note of some description, but it looked like me using an iPad for a phone. 🙂 That prompted a comparison in hand sizes and I can now categorically state that my hands are smaller than Tom Kytes! That’s hardly surprising, since my hands are smaller than most humans above the age of 10 years old. After that bit of banter it was off to watch Tom do his thing for the last session of the day. I was in a playful mood, so I couldn’t help but heckle a bit. 🙂 This morning I got an email from him pointing to this Dilbert strip.

From there it was a quick trip to the boat/bar next to the conference centre for a farewell drink, then it was off to get my plane. Patrick Hurley was on the same flight as me, so we got to chat for a while at the airport. We’ve met a few times, but I’ve never really got to speak to him for that long before. He’s a totally cool guy! He is also a witness to the fact I drank a pint of Guinness in Ireland before I got on the plane home!

I got back into my house at about 23:00, so it was a very long, but very enjoyable day.

Thanks to everyone at OUG Ireland for making this event happen and thank you for inviting me. I’m hoping this will become a yearly entry in my calendar from now on. Thanks also to all the RAC Attack Ninjas and of course to all the attendees, without whom there would be no conference. Thanks to OTN and The Oracle ACE Program. It’s a privilege to be able to represent you folks at these events!



The Language of Pseudoscience

If Google were to characterise me based on my YouTube views, they would probably list me as some major conspiracy theory junkie. I watch a lot of conspiracy theory rubbish on YouTube, but for me it is light entertainment. I find it amusing to see how they try to present a bunch of random nonsense as science. Watch any of this stuff and you will hear the same types of phrases again and again…

  • “Many experts now believe” : Nice work. They are experts and there are many of them, so it must be true right? No qualification of who these experts actually are, what qualifies them as experts and how many of them constitutes “many”.
  • “There is a growing belief” : So yesterday there was one person that believed this and today there are three. That’s a belief that is certainly growing, so this is proof of that theory right?

Along these same lines, there is this idea that popularity is in some way related to truth. According to Wikipedia, the most popular religion in the world in 2012 was Christianity, so by this measure Christianity is scientifically proven to be true right?

There seems to be this strange disconnect these days between actual science and the public perception of what science really is. I get quite frustrated when I watch science shows on TV that have been dumbed down to the point where they sound more like pseudoscience. When real science is presented like pseudoscience, how is the general public meant to differentiate between that and your average Daily Mail story?

The term pseudoscience itself is open for interpretation, but the first paragraph of it’s definition on Wikipedia is quite interesting.

“Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.”

Real science is not a popularity contest and it’s not about vague statements. All information must be presented in the correct context with the appropriate caveats where necessary. If what you are reading/hearing/watching is not qualified properly at best it is watered down for public consumption. At worst it is total bullshit!

Rant over…



Update: Following on from Noons comment, disproof is the other side of the same coin. Same rules apply!