OTN APAC 2014 : Bangkok

I spent a long time in bed last night, but it was quite fitful sleep. As a result, I slept in late this morning, which wasn’t really a problem as I was not speaking until 14:45.

The Bangkok event was a single-track event, with the following running order.

I arrived just as Dan was finishing his session. I’m sure I’ll get to see it in Auckland. It was a rapid-fire event, with a few small breaks. It was nice to get to see everyone, but it would have been better if I was not so rushed for time. As soon as my session was over I only had time to take a few pictures, then I was rushing off to the airport to start the next leg of my journey. Next time I will try to stay longer…

Thanks to everyone in Bangkok for organising the event and keeping everyone on schedule. It would have got really tricky if things had run behind schedule. 🙂

So tonight I start the journey to Auckland. I’ve got about 6 days left of the tour and because of the way time zones work, about 3 days of that time is on a plane. I could have done with the Auckland event being in the middle of the tour, so I would be half way home now, rather than travelling to the furthest point before heading home. I’m sure it will be worth it. The Kiwi event is good fun and I will hopefully get to meet up with some of my friends who live in NZ.



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing to Bangkok

The day started at 03:00. Once everything was packed and ready to go I typed up some blog posts to fill my time before the taxi arrived. I had checked out the night before, so there was no drama getting out of the hotel.

The great thing about travelling early in the morning is there is very little traffic. The cab to the airport took about 20 minutes. Everyone had suggested it would be 40-60 minutes, which of course it would have been later in the day.

Airport security went relatively smoothly. They wanted to scan my cables several times. Joel got one of his power-banks (mobile chargers) confiscated. Interestingly, they confiscated the small low-power one, saying it was dangerous, but let him keep the bigger, high-power one. Go figure…

The flight to Bangkok took a little under 5 hours. There were some quality passengers as always. One guy decided to get out of his seat to look through the window about 1 minute before we landed. Others got out of their seats and started to collect there hand luggage as soon as there wheels hit the ground. It seams there is no cure for being a dumbass. 🙂

When we boarded the plane in Beijing the air was cold and dry. On leaving the plane you were instantly hit with the hot and wet air of Bangkok.

Bangkok airport is quite large and very busy. The immigration line was *very* long, but it moved quite quickly. Joel got to the front of the line and was then told to go somewhere else, so I picked up the luggage and waited for him to arrive. He joined me about 15 minutes later and we went through the customs etc.

The taxi to the hotel took about 15 minutes, with only a couple of near-accidents, but I was too sleepy to care. I checked into my hotel and was told I had a free upgrade to a suite. The room is amazing. I have:

  • A lounge/office room.
  • A bedroom with a balcony.
  • A massive bathroom with a bath, separate shower, makeup mirror, Dalek style toilet with controls on the wall
  • A walk-in wardrobe.
  • Two TVs with cable.
  • A bowl of fruit.

It’s like my own little flat. If it had a washing machine I would move in permanently.

I’m only in Thailand for about 24 hours, so I’ve not got time to do any real sightseeing. I took a walk around the hotel, which is very posh. I walked around the nearby park, which was quite hard work in the heat, while dressed completely in black. I also walked along a couple of small streets, which were full of rather interesting establishments. I popped into a big shopping mall to cool down and bought some posh bread, then grabbed some diet coke from a 7 eleven near the hotel. That’s dinner sorted!

I’m back in the hotel now and I’m going to bed soon. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I go straight from the conference to the airport for a 9.5 hour flight to Sydney, then a 3 hour flight to Auckland. It’s going to get really messy if I don’t sleep on the plane!

I’ll check in tomorrow with another post where I moan about my lack of sleep… 🙂



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing – Day 2

For some reason, unknown to me, I could not sleep. I left the restaurant at about 22:00 and switched between attempting to sleep, watching TV and playing on the computer until 06:00 the following day. I have no idea why. When 06:00 eventually came I went down for breakfast, then got back to my room and attempted to sleep again. This time I went out like a light and was woken by Bjoern at 12:00 asking if I was coming to lunch. Of course I did not turn down food, so I threw on some clothes and went with him. After that I hit the shower, then was ready to start the day…

I had no presentations on the second day, so I originally planned to work most of the day. That didn’t happen…

I went along to see Giuseppe Maxia speaking about MySQL replication. The MySQL track had a great turnout of attendees. Giuseppe asked about usage of a few different technologies to get a feel for the audience. Interestingly, when asked who uses Hadoop, the crowd didn’t seem to react, but when asked about MongoDB, lots of hands went up… I’ve had some time to speak with Giuseppe over the tour and he’s given me some ideas about what I need to look at next to improve my MySQL installations. The networking at these things is really the best bit. 🙂

Following that session we did some mingling and some group photos and the event started to wind down. Bjoern must have taken a photo of himself with every woman in the place. He was loving the attention. In the evening we did a quick walk around the local area, including looking at a high-end shopping mall that was pretty much empty of customers… 🙂

Then it was back to the hotel to check out and book a taxi for 04:00 the following morning…

Big thank you to all the folks in Beijing for making this happen. This event certainly has a buzz about it now and I hope it keeps going from strength to strength. I look forward to coming again to see how it progresses in future.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok…



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing – Day 1

Having an extended period of sleep was really good. After a week of minimal sleep I felt vaguely human again…

On my last visit to Beijing in 2011 the conference had about 500 attendees registered and we used translated slides and live translation of the speakers. This time it was a much bigger event. Over 1000 people registered, split over 3 tracks. The keynote room held in excess of 1000 people and there were people standing. Quite impressive. Also, there was no slide or live translation for this event. I was going to use my Chinese slides from Shanghai, but the organisers said they preferred the attendees to listen to English and read the English slides. That is quite a change in 3 years.

Another encouraging sign was the number of slots for English speakers was quite limited. The aim of the Oracle ACE program is to encourage a stronger local community, so ultimately it would be good if overseas speakers were totally surplus to requirements. It certainly looks like China is moving that way, which is great. Interestingly, they do not seem to have any interest in the apps side of Oracle. It seems to be purely a tech conference.

In addition to the growth of the conference, there was also a growth in the vendors having stands at the event. It’s kind-of freaky looking at Dell’s Spotlight running with Chinese text. 🙂 I think the growth of the event is really encouraging. I hope it continues to grow.

Since most of the sessions were in Chinese, I spent most of the morning playing catch-up with some stuff for the website. I met up with Bjoern for some food at lunch time, then went to do my session. The room could hold about 500 people. Tom was in the room before me and not surprisingly he had it packed out. I had less than half that number for my session, but I was pretty pleased with that considering it was a straight PL/SQL session and I’m a foreign speaker competing against native speakers.

In the evening we went to the Hotel’s Brazilian Barbecue. 🙂 It was a meat-fest, but there was plenty of Chinese veggie stuff for me to eat and I took full advantage of it. 🙂

I was expecting a really easy night with loads of sleep, but things didn’t work out that way. More about that tomorrow…



OTN APAC 2014 : Tokyo to Beijing

Not much sleep last night. When I know I’ve got an early start I don’t sleep well because I’m worrying about waking up late. 🙂 At 04:00 I started getting everything ready to leave. I met Bjoern in the lobby and we took the airport shuttle to Hanada airport. Once again, I piggy-backed on Bjoern’s lounge access to get some free drinks and breakfast. 🙂

It was my first flight on Air China and I can’t say I was too impressed. With one exception, the stewardesses were as miserable as sin. If they tried to smile they would have cracked their faces. I was attempting to get my one and only piece of hand luggage into the overhead locker and I was told twice to get out of the aisle so people could carry on boarding, and of course put their 75,000 pieces of hand luggage into the storage bins. By the time I was able to try and put my bag away without being moaned at there was no space. Needless to say I got the right hump and will do my best never to fly with them again!

The flight itself went OK. I got between 1-2 hours sleep during the 3 hour 40 minute flight. On arrival at Beijing we took a taxi to the hotel, dumped our stuff and went in search of food. Being the adventurous types we are, we settled on Pizza Hut. 🙂 Bjoern wasn’t feeling too well, so I was forced to eat his food too. 🙂

It’s 15:00 now, but we’ve both come back to the hotel to crash. I’m planning on sleeping for the rest of the day and night. Conference starts tomorrow…



PS. I’m back behind the Great (Fire)Wall of China again, so I’ve got limited access to social networks and emails for a few days…

OTN APAC 2014 : Tokyo – Day 2

db tech showcase tokyo 2014Day 2 of the English speaking track of the Tokyo event began with:

  • Tom Kyte : Oracle Optimizer : What’s new in the Oracle Database 12c?
  • Mike Dietrich : Hitchhiker’s Guide to Oracle Database Upgrades

After Mike’s session we went out for lunch at a Tempura place. I had vegetable tempura. Very nice!

Tom took great pleasure in saying things like, “You’re only saying that because you get those cheques from Oracle every month…”, after everything I said. 🙂 For those that don’t understand the joke, read these blog posts (Fanboy, Oracle Bitch, Follow Up).

The afternoon sessions were:

Presenting so late on the second day was really tough. I just wanted to climb into bed and sleep. I had to miss a couple of slides out as I ran out of time, but it’s all backed by an article, so people can fill in the gaps later if they are interested.

After the event we went out to eat and few brave souls went out to Karaoke.

I’d like to extend a big thank you everyone involved in the setup of the event, especially Noriko, who went out of her way to make everything as simple as possible for us. I look forward to seeing you all again.

Tomorrow is an early start for the flight to Beijing, so I’ll probably post an update once I land and get into the hotel there.



OTN APAC 2014 : Tokyo – Day 1

Day 1 of the Tokyo event started with a taxi ride over to the conference venue. The traffic was not as bad as I expected, based on the stuff you see on TV. Does that mean TV has been lying to me all this time? Who’da thunk it? 🙂

db tech showcase tokyo 2014The event has 1 (mostly) English speaking track and 3 Japanese tracks, which cover a whole bunch of technologies including RDBMS engines, NoSQL engines, Hadoop and hardware. It’s a general database tech event, hence the name db tech showcase 2014 – Tokyo.

On the English track, first up was was Craig Shallahamer talking about “Memory Structure Control: How it works (latches & mutexes)”, followed by Bjoern Rost taking about “Oracle Hard Partitioning Technologies”.

At lunch we went out to a noodle bar which was pretty interesting. You pick your food from the menu on the wall outside, buy the relevant ticket from a vending machine, then walk into the restaurant, present the ticket and eat. 🙂

After lunch it was Francisco Munoz Alvarez speaking about “Everyone talks about DR – But why so few implement it”, followed by me doing the first of my two PL/SQL performance sessions. After a short break it was Bjoern, this time with “Setting up RAC properly to avoid application downtime”. After that the rest of the track was made up of Japanese speakers, so we kind-of ditched. 🙂

After the event we headed out for some food and networking. We got some drinks and food, then played bingo. I was hoping one of our group would win the bike or TV, which would have been funny, but we didn’t. Craig won a Chromecast though! After the bingo we were given glow-sticks and had a show by a girl group called Symphony-5, who had impossibly high voices and were very kawaii. Many of the attendees were very formal during the day, but the drinks and the show loosened everyone up, which gave us a chance to speak to a number of people, which was really cool! It was a really fun evening!

We popped back to the hotel to dump our stuff, then went across to a tall government building to get a night-time view across the city. I took photos, but I’m not sure how good they were yet. You can see what I’ve got here.



OTN APAC 2014 : Shanghai to Tokyo

Not the best night of sleep last night. During the day I noticed the load time for pages on my website is really slowly in China because it hangs waiting for a Google Javascript file to load, which eventually does a timeout. Once the timeout happens the page continues to render. That means it takes over a minute to load the page. Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to get out of bed and fix it. It turned out the Javascript file just renders the “Powered by Google” text in the search box, so I removed that and the pages now load fast. There are still some asynchronous calls to Google code that timeout, but those don’t block the page rendering, so I don’t care about them. The site is usable now… 🙂

After breakfast I got a taxi to pick Bjoern up from his hotel, before heading off for the airport. It was a quick flight, about 2:35, so it was pretty small compared to what we’ve done so far. I was sitting near some people who were talking really loud. I had my earphones on almost full volume, but the people were still clearly audible. The landing in Tokyo was quite hard, which prompted one of the loud women to wail somewhat, then the woman across the aisle was sick in a bag. I didn’t think the landing was that bad… 🙂

From there we got the Narita Express into town and a short taxi ride to Bjoern’s hotel. He dropped his stuff off, then we got a taxi over to my hotel, where most of the other speakers are staying. We took a walk around the local area to look for food, but I got scared as everything looked like it contained meat or fish, so I got some fries from McDonalds. I will try some proper food tomorrow, when we have someone who speaks Japanese to help make the choices. 🙂

I’m a little worried about my hotel room as the bathroom has been taken over by a Dalek.




OTN APAC 2014 : Shanghai

It’s Sunday, so it must be Shanghai…

Shanghai BannerBecause of the early night, I managed to get about 8 hours sleep, which was probably the best night I’ve had since I started the tour.  The hotel room had a super-firm bed, which was great.

The Shanghai conference started with a session by 刘冰冰 covering most of the latest announcements from Oracle. It was in Chinese so I wasn’t able to follow properly, but I could get the gist of it from the pictures on the slides and the occasional English words (In-Memory) or acronyms (PDB, CDB) spoken in English. 🙂

My session came next. One of the guys translated my slides to Chinese, which you can download here, so I was presenting from those. Taking Giuseppe’s advice, I spent a few minutes putting some of the English text into the speaker notes. If I hadn’t done that I would have got lost a number of times. 🙂

The room was enormous, so people did what people do and spread out across it, which made it feel a bit like I was speaking to the chairs. I had to keep reminding myself to look around the room, rather than focussing on one spot. 🙂

After lunch it was Giuseppe Maxia speaking about MySQL replication. Followed by Maclean Liu , then Bjoern Rost speaking about RAC.

Bjoern didn’t have his slides translated, so he was doing some “slide polishing” right up to the last minute before his session started. I think he’s been spending too much time with Doug Burns.

Bjoern was followed by 沈宏 speaking about the In-Memory option and Joe Huang speaking about Mobile Application Framework (MAF).

Once the conference was over we went out to get some food, which was really good. I got to try a number of different things, including something which translates to “stinky tofu”. I won’t be having that again. 🙂 Then it was back to the hotel and bed.

Overall it’s been a really pleasant experience in Shanghai. Thanks to all the people here in the SHOUG for organising the event and inviting us.

Tomorrow it’s a late morning flight to Tokyo, so it should be quite a normal day from a time perspective.



PS. For those that like to follow my laundry habits, I’ve had some clothes washed using the hotel laundry service… 🙂

OTN APAC 2014 : Journey from Perth to Shanghai

As I wrote previously, after some drinks and food after the Perth conference, Bjoern and I went to the airport to start the trip to Shanghai. Fortunately Bjoern has gold status so he could get into the lounge and sign me in, which made the long wait for the first flight much easier.

The first flight was about 5 hours to Singapore. I didn’t sleep, which was a pity. We were a little delayed, so the layover in Singapore wasn’t too long. Then we boarded the flight to Shanghai, which was another 5-ish hour flight. I did manage to sleep for between 1-2 hours on this flight, so if my maths is correct I got about 2 hours sleep in the last 38-40 hours. I arrived at Shanghai feeling pretty terrible.

MagLev SpeedOn arrival at Shanghai airport we took the Maglev train to the city. Its top speed for this journey was 430kph. Crazy fast! We then switched to the {metro | subway | tube} to get us right next door to Bjoern’s hotel. I got a taxi from there to my hotel. I’m staying in the conference hotel, so life should be simple…

I’ve ducked out of the dinner tonight (sorry folks) because I’ve got to get some sleep or I simply won’t be able to do anything at the conference tomorrow. Bjoern sleeps OK on planes, so he’ll be there to entertain everyone. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll feel fine tomorrow…

Just a word of warning to anyone trying to get hold of me in the next three days. From the hotel wifi I am unable to access Gmail or any social media. I’ve posted a couple of messages by connecting to my computer at work, but I’m not really going to be doing that too much. The great firewall of China strikes again… 🙂

Bjoern is able to access all this stuff from his phone, so I might use him as my secretary…