OGh Oracle DBA and SQL Celebration Day 2016

oghThe OGh Oracle DBA and SQL Celebration Day was the last stop on my trip and it went super-quick! The morning started with a keynote by Dad. He managed to resist the urge to talk about me for 60 minutes, which was good. It gets really embarrassing when he keeps telling everyone I’ve eclipsed his accomplishments in every way possible!

After the keynote is was speaking about efficient PL/SQL calls from SQL. I lost the ability to type, but I think the session went OK. There is a playlist of videos about this stuff here. 🙂

My plan was to move on to see Alex Nuijten speaking about the Model Clause (in Dutch), but I bumped into Mark Rittman and we chatted for the next hour. Whoops.

There was a long lunch break, which worked out really well as people were all networking. One of the important points of any event is the networking and sometimes organisers try to cram too many sessions into the day, which makes networking impossible. I think they got it right here.

After lunch was Mark Rittman with a session called, “Using Oracle Big Data SQL to add Hadoop + NoSQL to your Oracle Data warehouse”. The main message here was for “some workloads”, SQL is still the best interface to the data, even if that data is in Hadoop or NoSQL databases. Of course, for some workloads, the opposite it true.

Next up was Marco Gralike with “Getting Started with JSON in the Database”. I was interested to see if there was anything I had missed while I had been looking into this stuff. Marco gave a shout out to my YouTube videos on JSON (here), which was nice. 🙂

From there it was the last block of the day and I was presenting about analytic functions. Mark warned me not to call them “Analytics”, because “Analytic Functions” are not the same as “Analytics”. 🙂 I think I’ll start calling them just “Analytics” to wind him up. 🙂 The session felt like it went OK. 🙂 I suggested people take a look at the videos Connor McDonald has been doing on the subject (here).

With the last session over people started to filter away. We hung around for a while chatting, then a few of us went out to get some food at a restaurant across the street. Before I knew it, the event was over…

Thanks to the folks from OGh for organising the event and inviting me. Thanks to the other speakers and attendees for making the event possible. Also thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for allowing me to fly the flag. 🙂

See you all again soon.



PS. My video of the event is a little embarrassing as I didn’t get to film too much and what I did film was even shakier than usual. Ah well, I tried my best. 🙂

Amsterdam to Zeist

I had a lazy morning, then it was time to start the journey to Zeist. It was a pretty straight forward journey from Amsterdam Central, via Utrecht to Driebergen-Zeist station. I had planned to get a bus from Driebergen-Zeist station to the hotel, but looking on the map it was only a couple of miles so I walked it. It was a little annoying dragging my suitcase, but no big drama. You can check out the journey and the hotel in the video below.

I had a quick walk around part of the town, near the hotel, where I bumped into my new stepmom.

In the evening I got a message from Dad asking if I wanted to go out to a family dinner. It was just as you would expect. Me crying and screaming, “You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my mother!” and her saying, “I’m not trying to replace your mother. I just want to be friends!” I got back to my hotel room to find some brochures for posh, but secluded boarding schools. I’m not sure what I should be thinking at this point…

Tomorrow I’m speaking at the OGH Oracle DBA and SQL Celebration Day. Dad is doing the keynote and my new stepmom is going to visit some relatives that live near. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be like “The Princess Diaries” and she will find she’s actually next in line to the Dutch Throne. Does that make me a step-prince?



Amsterdam : A long weekend that didn’t quite happen.

My plan was to spend a long weekend in Amsterdam before heading off to the next conference…

I got off the train at Amsterdam Central and felt hot, very tired, sick and had the start of a headache. By the time I got to my hotel room I was feeling about 3/4 Machu Picchu. I took some Lemsip capsules and crashed out. I woke up about 20 minutes later still feeling bad, but knowing I would survive.

The next day came and went. I spent most of the day in bed. I ventured out of my room to film some bits of the hotel and get some food, which I promptly threw up, then went back to bed. If nothing else, I did manage to edit some videos between bouts of sleep. If you want to see where I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday, check out the video below.

Sunday morning was significantly better. After my Machu Picchu incident last year, a couple from the US gave me some electrolyte replacement sachets. I didn’t use them at the time, but found them in my bag and took one as soon as I got up. I decided to go and have a walk around, but it quickly became apparent I had zero energy. I didn’t feel ill, but just couldn’t walk any sort of distance. After about 2 miles I was totally done.

To make sure the day wasn’t a total right-off, I got onto a Sightseeing Boat and did one of the three possible loops (Green). I then picked up some food and headed back to the hotel. No puking this time, which was good. Once I was sure I wouldn’t be seeing lunch again, I headed back out and did another loop in the boat (Blue). You can see the photos and videos from the day here.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for the weekend, but what ya gonna do?

So tomorrow I have to get a train down to Zeist for the OGH Oracle DBA and SQL Celebration Day on the following day.



PS. The “My Glamorous Life” title for these type of videos was always meant to be a joke, but in this case it is really funny. There was nothing glamorous about this weekend. 🙂

AMIS 25 – Beyond the Horizon – Day 2

amisDay 2 of AMIS 25 – Beyond the Horizon started with me playing catch-up on some blogging, then the conference proper started.

The first session I went to was Jeremy Ashley presenting “General Session – Oracle Applications User Experience: Trends and Strategy”. I wrote loads of notes on this, because I find it really interesting. I’m not going to post them here because I will make some mistakes and look like a fool. I’ve seen a number of sessions by the UX team over the years and each time I do, it seems to click a little more. I’m starting to think SQL*Plus may not be the ultimate in UI or UX, but I’m not 100% sure…

Next up was Björn Rost doing a “Quick Guide to Open Source SQL Tuning Tools (Quickie)”. This was a short session talking about some tools I know and use (rlWrap, SQLcl, MOATS, Snapper, SQL Developer) and something that was new to me TUNAs360.

After that was my session about running Oracle databases in the cloud.

I then took a break do some work, upgrading Tomcat and deploying a new application, before heading off to the OTN Cloud Developer Challenge results.

I would like to say we were robbed, but we really weren’t. 🙂 Second place went to the AMIS team who did a conference organisation application. First place went to the “Team No Borders” with an application to help control air pollution in Mexico City. I think that was a popular choice amongst a number of people I spoke to before the awards. Well done guys!

Before I knew it, the conference was over! Thanks to everyone at AMIS for putting together a great event. It went so smoothly, it’s hard to believe it was the first one. Thanks also to OTN and the Oracle ACE Program for organising the Cloud Developer Challenge. It was good fun! Thanks to all the attendees and speakers. I hope to see you again soon!



AMIS 25 – Beyond the Horizon – Day 1

amisWe had already been at the venue the day before for the beginning of the OTN Cloud Developer Challenge, but today was the first day of AMIS 25 – Beyond the Horizon. The day started at about 07:00, with a short minibus trip to the venue.

The first session I attended was “Get your money’s worth out of your Database” by Patrick Barel. He presented a whole bunch of database features that developers need to be using to make the most of their Oracle databases, including a bunch of 12c features. I like these kind of sessions. Much of what we end up doing at conferences is giving people pointers to what we think is interesting.

Next I went to “Smart Offices Are the Future of Work, Powered by the Internet of Things” by Noel Portugal. This started with some talk about designing for mobility, because people are connected all the time. It then moved on to the internet of things, where he discussed how small, cheap electronics can bridge the gap between the physical world and the internet, using examples like Amazon Dash, gesture controls, voice controls like Amazon Echo etc. The UX team are regularly using a lot of this stuff for their own office, kind-of making it the office of the present, not the future.

At this point, our team got together to carry on working on the OTN Cloud Developer Challenge, which took a big chunk of the day…

Later I headed off to see Jonathan Lewis present a session called “Just Don’t Do It”. As the name suggests, this session was focussed on improving performance by avoiding unnecessary work. The session was made up of examples from the OTN forums and consulting jobs where SQL was doing loads of unnecessary work. Often reframing the question allowed the statement to be rewritten to reduce the amount of work necessary to achieve the same goal. Neat!

From there it was back to the OTN Cloud Developer Challenge. All the groups got together to do the pitch for their solutions. With such a short timescale and the complexity of some of the services, most groups had hit some roadblocks, but everyone produced something. Debra actually did the pitch for two groups, but she did an exceptional job for ours. As I mentioned in a previous post, our team didn’t actually include people who do development outside of the database, and the challenge focussed on the non-DB side of things, which left us in a rather awkward position. By substituting comedy for content, Debra managed to make our pitch sound a lot better than it was. She also demoed our mobile app on her phone, and conveniently forgot to mention it was written in APEX. Your can see the home page below. 🙂


From there is was on to the evening event. Lots of food. Lots of drinks for those that do. There was also a covers band called The Originals who took request for literally anything. Pretty impressive. A few of us old folks ducked out a little early and headed back to the hotel and our beds.

That was Day 1 over. 🙂



OTN Cloud Developer Challenge 2016

cloudThe Oracle ACE Program decided to tag an extra day on to the front of the AMIS 25 Beyond the Horizon conference for the “OTN Cloud Developer Challenge”. The idea was for teams of ACEs to get together and build applications using Oracle Cloud services. It was originally called a cloud hackathon, but got renamed to something that didn’t contain the word “hack”. 🙂

My team was made up of Debra, Heli, Gurcan and Osama (who couldn’t make it due to visa issues 🙁 ). The plan was to create a schema in a cloud database. Expose the tables as REST services using ORDS. These REST services would then be consumed to produce a mobile application using some of the mobile technologies on the Oracle cloud. Unfortunately, we were a group made up of database people, so the last bit of the puzzle proved rather tricky/impossible for us. 🙂 So that we could produce a POC, we cheated and used APEX to push out some screens. The work for this continued the following day. 🙂

Towards the end of the day we broke away from the challenge and joined the AMIS 25 Beyond the Horizon introductory drinks. At about 21:00 I headed back to the hotel, did some washing, then crashed out for the night.




Paris to the Netherlands

airplane-flying-through-clouds-smallGetting to bed at 01:00 and having to wake up at 04:30 is not ideal, but it was worth it.

The alarm went off at 04:30, I had a quick shower, checked out of the hotel and took the shuttle across to terminal 2 in Charles de Gaulle airport. Despite the early hour, there were a lot of people around. I grabbed a coffee and caught up with my blog posts. By the time I had done that, it was time to board the short flight to Amsterdam.

We boarded on time, but unfortunately the flight was delayed by about 50 minutes, so a 50 minute flight became a 100 minute plane ride. 🙁

From Schiphol airport it was a train ride to Leiden. I actually got on the wrong train initially, so I had to get off at the first stop and turn around. 🙂 Once in Leiden it was a taxi ride to the OTN Cloud Developer Challenge. I ended up arriving about 3 hours late, but it was a free-format type of day, so being late wasn’t a major problem. I’ll write a separate post on that event.

At the end of the day I headed back to the hotel, did some washing and went bed to try and catch up on some sleep.

You can see video of the trip and my hotel here.



Paris Province Oracle Meetup

paris-province-oracle-meetupThe reason for me being in Paris was to speak at the Paris Province Oracle Meetup. Breaking my journey to the Netherlands with a quick trip to Paris was a really easy way to connect with more people.

The Paris meetup is very similar to those found in other cities around the world, including Oracle Midlands in my home town. We all gathered at about 19:00 in the AVNET office in Paris and I did two talks with a short break between them. The first talk was about pluggable databases and the second one was about running Oracle databases in the cloud.

I like these local meetups. They feel a lot less formal and more personal than some (but not all) conferences. It just feels more natural to me. I really enjoyed doing the talks and the crowd seemed to respond well to them, which was nice. I’ll definitely be back again, if they will have me. Maybe next time I will get to do some sightseeing in Paris too. 🙂

The meetup finished at about 21:45 and Stew Aston took me out to get some food. We chatted for ages about life, the Universe and Oracle. 🙂 Once the food was over, he gave me a lift back to my hotel and by the time I got into bed it was about 01:00.

Big thanks for Yves for inviting me across to the event, and thank you to everyone who came out to support the event. Without you it can’t happen. Also thanks go out to the Oracle ACE Program for continuing to let me fly the flag. 🙂

So that’s paris done in less than 24 hours. Next stop the Netherlands!



Birmingham to Paris

airplane-flying-through-clouds-smallThe day started at a rather civilised time of 06:00, which makes a change. I usually book early flights, forgetting I have to get to the airport a couple of hours early, then regret the decision later. 🙂

The taxi driver didn’t have any receipts, then the lady “managing” the queue at the baggage drop left a lot to be desired. Fortunately the lady on the baggage drop desk was awesome and lifted my mood. The departures screen did its normal thing of saying “Gate opens in 5 mins” for 20+ minutes. I was one of the first on the plane and the flight was fine. A bit of a shaky landing, but that was probably down to the bad weather.

My original plan was to head into the city and have a look at the sites, but after I had got through airport security and made my way to the hotel, time was moving on.

The citizenM hotel is really cool. The rooms are quite small, but the lobby is great. Added to that the wifi is incredible. I uploaded the following video to YouTube in about 5 seconds. 🙂

I grabbed a coffee and headed off into the city. By the time i got there it was an hour before my session, so I parked myself at the AVNET office and wrote this blog post. 🙂