OTN Appreciation Day?

This morning, from nowhere, I just thought, “We should have an OTN Appreciation Day!”

Oracle Technology Network (OTN) has had a pretty big roll in my life for over a decade. I download most of the software I use from there. For years the OTN forums have been a great source of information, both directly or when Googling. There are loads of articles and whitepapers. It has an entry point for most products/features that bring together the relevant docs, whitepapers and downloads for that product/feature. Outside of the website, there is the promotion of the community through participation at events and of course the Oracle ACE Program. I’m probably missing out a load of stuff, but you get the idea.

So what’s my idea for this? Well, actually it’s not really my idea. At this years Oracle OpenWorld Debra arranged the “EOUC Database ACES Share Their Favorite Database Things” session. I thought it was pretty neat hearing people speak briefly about their favourite Oracle features, regardless of version. So taking that as the basis, and considering OTN is all about community, I figured it would be fun if we got as many people as possible to write a small blog post about their favourite Oracle feature and we all post them on the same day. The “rules” would be…

  • The blog post title should be “OTN Appreciation Day : <insert-feature-name-here>”.
  • It can be a feature related to any Oracle product, not just database.
  • The blog post content should be short, focusing more on why you like the feature, rather than technical content. This makes it more accessible for new people to join in. If you’ve written in detail about that feature before, then link to that post and/or the docs from your blog post.
  • Tweet out the blog post using the hashtag #ThanksOTN.
  • We should try to all do it on the same day. I would suggest in about two weeks, which would be Wednesday 12th Tuesday 11th October *. That gives people enough time to put something together, especially first-timers.
  • It really doesn’t matter if you write about the same feature as someone else. It’s interesting hearing different perspectives.
  • Oracle employees are welcome to join in, but they should look deep into their souls and ask themselves if it is fair to pick their own product/feature as their favourite. 🙂
  • You are not allowed to call me a kiss-ass, then subsequently join in. 🙂

It would be really nice if we could get a bunch of first-timers involved. Signing up to WordPress or Blogger is free and really easy. It doesn’t matter if this is your first and only blog post. Maybe it will be the start of something new. If you’ve not posted much recently (Garth), this will be an easy way to get back on the horse. 🙂

I would be interested to know if people are up for this. Write a comment or tweet me if you think it is worth doing. Maybe it will just be me. 🙂




Date altered to Tuesday 11th October to avoid clash with national holidays.

Clarification of rules for Oracle employees who shamelessly want to plug their own products/features. 🙂

Oracle Midlands : Event #17 – Summary

Having spent the last two weeks at Oracle OpenWorld 2016, what’s the obvious thing to do within a couple of days of getting back? Go to Oracle Midlands to hear more about Oracle 12c Release 2 of course!

First up was Dominic Giles with “Oracle Database 12c Release 2: Whats new?… What’s improved?” I’ve been a big fan of SwingBench forever so the name Dominic Giles has been familiar to me for a long time. Up until recently I had never actually put a face to that name, but once I did I realised I’d seen him loads of times over the years. I was finally able to introduce myself properly at this years ACE Director Briefing and apologise for not doing so earlier. 🙂

Dominic’s session was a romp through some of the 12cR2 new features and enhancements. With allegedly 500+ new features in 12cR2, not all of which are documented yet, there was a bunch of stuff I hadn’t already heard of. Dominic is relaxed and super-confident in his presenting style. That combined with the huge list of new stuff knocked my internal 12cR2 hype-meter up a few notches. There is so much new stuff it is really daunting, but exciting too.

Note to self. Keep checking the v$version view on LiveSQL incase it mysteriously switches to 12cR2 at some point soon…

redstacktechNext up was Nigel Bayliss, the latest incarnation of “The Optimzer Lady”, with “The Optimizer in Oracle Database 12c Release 2: What You Need To Know”. I had the good fortune of being on a SQL performance panel with Nigel at this years Oracle OpenWorld, so this is the second time we’ve bumped into each other in a week, but on different sides of the planet. 🙂

As the name suggests, Nigel’s session was also about new features, but focussed on the optimizer. With finer grained control over the adaptive features and more conservative defaults in this regard, I think a move from 11gR2 to 12cR2 will be less of a mystery than the switch from 11gR2 to 12cR1 was for many people. 🙂 The session actually covered most of the 12cR1 optimizer features as part of the setup for what’s changed in 12cR2, which I thought worked really well. Nigel is also a confident speaker, with a laid back approach and midlands accent, which of course makes him a superior presenter! 🙂 Once again, my internal 12cR2 hype-meter got knocked up a few more notches!

Come on Oracle! Give me 12.2! 🙂

Big thanks to Dominic and Nigel for coming to speak to us. Thanks as always to Red Stack Tech for sponsoring the event, allowing it to remain free, and to Mike for organising it!

See you all again soon!



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : It’s a Wrap!

That’s another Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) done, so it’s time to reflect on the event.

I think the most surprising thing for me was how much I enjoyed the User Experience (UX) and Internet of Things (IoT) stuff. I did the UX Strategy Day and the “Oracle Applications User Experience Cloud Exchange” afternoon and they were really fun and interesting. The IoT session took me back to my childhood, playing with wires and breadboards.


For years the AppsLab folks have kind-of dragged me along into the future. Often I don’t get what all the fuss is about at first, then two years later it’s part of my everyday life. 🙂

The tech side of OOW16 was a little disappointing for me. I’m a tech guy and repackaging existing tech into a new cloud service isn’t really exciting to me. That’s not a criticism of the cloud services themselves, but a reflection of my interests. Even the release of Oracle Database 12cR2 was not that thrilling, because it’s not available for download yet, so I can’t get my hands dirty with it. In fact I was feeling really flat about 12.2 until I spoke to Chris Saxon and Connor McDonald, who managed to re-ignite the spark, leaving me eagerly anticipating the download. Let’s hope it comes soon!

Oracle continue to push their cloud agenda and as I’ve mentioned several times over the last few years, this is good for us on-premise users too. As a cloud provider Oracle have effectively become a customer of their own technology stack. Having felt the pain of what that can mean at times, the products are changing. There are a bunch of features added into their technology stack over the last few years that directly affect their ability to run efficiently in the cloud. There is a greater emphasis on reduced resource usage and better consolidation, which IMHO is good news for us too. I don’t know what the future will bring, but for the moment I feel the cloud is having a positive effect on Oracle products, which is good for me as a consumer.

One thing I’m conscious of is how few presentations I go to and how that might be perceived by those who’ve never visited OOW before. Presentations are the least valuable thing at OOW from my perspective. You will often get more value out of a 10 minute conversation at the demo grounds than you will watching a 45 minute marketing presentation. What’s more, you’ll make contact with the people that matter. The networking side of conferences is the number one priority for me as it gives me more access to information. Of course, I see a lot of presentations at conferences through the year and I have the ACE Director briefing before the conference starts, so my situation is a little different to the average attendee, but I would still advise networking over presentations.

I put out quite a few posts during this trip.

Big thanks go out to the Oracle ACE Program who made this visit to Oracle OpenWorld 2016 possible for me. What with the UX Strategy Day, ACE Director Briefing and OpenWorld itself, this has become a 9 day event, not counting travel on each side. I’m very grateful for the opportunity!

Let’s see what this next year brings!



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : San Francisco to Birmingham

I did my usual thing of not sleeping well before an early flight. I’m so nervous about waking up late and missing the flight I can’t sleep properly, which sets me up for a terrible day of travelling…

I was awake before my 04:45 alarm, so I had a shower and messed about on the computer until it was time to leave. I was sharing a car with Gustavo and Alex, who both had masses of luggage, having bought half of San Francisco during the trip. The drive to the airport was easy at that time in the morning and so were the airport queues. As usual, I was in the last boarding group and everyone in front of me had brought 17 pieces of oversized hand luggage and a donkey. Sigh…

The trip from San Francisco to Newark took about 5 hours, then it was a 3 hour wait before the next flight. Newark airport is a food desert. That’s not to say you can’t get food. It’s just the choice is terrible. They only seem to server horrible crap or chocolate, so guess what I ate…

The flight from Newark to Birmingham took about 6 hours. The flight itself was fine, but after we had some food I felt a little bit odd. I went to the toilet and threw my guts up in spectacular style. After that I felt great and I’ve had no more issues since. I suspect they may have fed me something that wasn’t synthesized in a lab and my body rejected it. 🙂

I landed early the next day, feeling a little delirious because of the lack of sleep. Security was the quickest I had ever experienced. I barely broke my stride. Of course, that meant I had to wait ages for my bag. Once that arrived I took a taxi home and unpacked into the washing machine, lay in the bath for a while (sorry for the image) and went to bed. The trip was over…

Six hours later I woke up, got some food, put on the next lot of washing, then went to bed again… I’ve been up since 03:00 doing some video editing as more sleep is really not on the agenda right now. 🙂

I’ll post a wrap-up post about OpenWorld 2016 in the next couple of days.



MobaXterm 9.3

MobaXterm version version 9.3 was released about a week ago. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed I didn’t post about 9.2. That’s because it was released the day before 9.3. 🙂

The downloads and changelog are in the usual places.

If you use Windows and ever need SSH or an X server, you need this in your life. Imagine Putty and Cygwin wrapped up together, placed on a exercise program and injected with steroids 3 times a day. That is what MobaXterm is.



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Thursday – Day 4

And here we are. The last day of Oracle OpenWorld 2016…

The first session I went to was a panel session called “Thinking Clearly About Database Application Architecture” with Gerald Venzl, Bryn Llewellyn, Connor McDonald, Toon Koppelaars, Cary Millsap. The session started with an introduction by Toon, explaining how the thick database architecture model is provably superior to the thin database model, especially from a performance perspective. I am definintely in this camp, so they were preaching to the converted, but IMHO some of the most interesting comments came from Gerald. To paraphrase, and I hope I didn’t distort his meaning…

  • The object model favoured by most developers (Java, C#, Javascript etc.) does not fit well with the set-based approach of relational databases, which is why they rely so heavily on persistence layers to bridge the gap. The challenge is how to make them coexist.
  • Oracle is not the only database technology being used out there. Depending on the engine, the thick database approach may be more difficult or even impossible. That may make developers less likely to adopt it.

I liked both of these comments for a variety of reasons.

  • We need to make what we do more accessible to the current crop of developers by putting it in a form they find acceptable. Making the PL/SQL APIs we produce available to non-PL/SQL developers through REST web services (see ORDS) might be one way we could do this.
  • Thick or thin doesn’t have to be a binary decision. You might choose a middle ground (chubby?). For example, you can have a transactional layer (not table APIs) with some logic in the database, that allows you to leverage the power of the engine. Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL are all capable of doing this. You can use this transactional layer as the foundation of your business logic layer, which may be in the database, if that is your choice, or in the application server depending on your needs. I have a preference, but making it a binary decision marginalises people. Some may say this halfway house is not the best solution, but I would argue a halfway is better than nothing, as well as sowing seeds for the future…

I spent the gap between this session and the next one speaking to John Clarke from the Real-World Performance Group. Clever guy!

Next up was a panel session called “Optimizing SQL for Performance and Maintainability” with me, Keith Laker, Nigel Bayliss, Chris Saxon, John Clarke and Connor McDonald. The most scary thing about being on a panel is actually trying to understand the questions. From the stage the PA echoed so much I could barely understand a word. 🙂 We got through quite a few questions and had a lot of laughs. I think it went well. 🙂

From there it was back to the hotel. I ended up standing outside chatting to a bunch of people for ages, then it was some goodbyes and back to my room. I’ve got an early start tomorrow for the trip home, so it was going to be an early night…

After a while I got a DM from Debra asking me to collect an oraclenerd towel and I was persuaded to go out to eat pizza. So not so much of an early night.

Let’s see how tomorrow goes… 🙂



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Wednesday – Day 3

I started the day by meeting up with a bunch of people at the Dbvisit breakfast. This has become a regular event over the last few years. Followers of the blog know I like the Dbvisit folks and they tend to attract people I find fun and interesting. After food, loads of coffee and interesting conversation, it was time to head across to the conference.

I bumped into Liron and Zohar at the OTN lounge and walked over with them to watch Connor McDonald with “12 Things DBAs will love about in 12cR2”. We joined a big queue of people, which included Toon Koppelaars and Kim Berg Hansen, all waiting to get in…

Connor’s sessions are always great. It’s a pity he had to squeeze it into 45 minutes. The combination of his session and my chat with Chris Saxon yesterday have left me really looking forward to the 12cR2 on-premise release, regardless of when it gets released. 🙂

After grabbing some lunch, I headed across to watch Chris Saxon, Connor McDonald, Steven Feuerstein, Bryn Llewellyn and Michael Rosenblum in “Optimizing PL/SQL for Performance and Maintainability”. It was a panel session, I was there early and near the front, so I got picked to do microphone duties during the session. I was the person walking around passing the mic to people wanting to ask questions. 🙂


From there it was back at the OTN lounge where I chatted to a bunch of people, whilst blocking the gangway, then I headed back to the hotel.

I showed my face briefly at the Bloggers Party and found a new home for my Appreciation Event wristband. I got to have a quick chat with Sten Vesterli about his thoughts on the future of ADF, MAF and JET. I also got to have a quick catch-up with Mike Dietrich, who I see eye-to-eye with on a bunch of subjects. 🙂

From there is was back to the hotel, where I spent the next few hours on the laptop dealing with some work, community and website issues that have been building up in my absence…

Tomorrow is the last day of OpenWorld and my last day in San Francisco!



Community : Discussing the Meetup Format

I spent a bit of time with Liron Amitzi today brainstorming ideas about user group meetups and putting him in touch with a potential sponsor.

Since his move to Vancouver, Liron’s been involved with the user group there and he was asking for ideas about how to help promote it. I don’t claim to know much about this stuff, but I do see what others like PythianOracle Midlands and RedStackTech (#ClubOracle) have done with the meetup format, and I’m always willing to help if I can. Some of the things we discussed, related to the meetup format, were as follows.

  • Be opportunistic. Many people in the community mention their travel plans in advance. There are often people passing through or close to your city. See if they are willing to drop in to do a meetup while they are there. Even if you don’t know their travel plans, ping them a message asking if they are going to be close to your user group during the year. As long as you don’t hound them it shouldn’t be a big deal.
  • Timetable? What Timetable? Don’t get pressured into thinking you should have a strict timetable of events. Trying to get speakers on a strict schedule is really difficult. If you are being opportunistic, you will probably have to be flexible on your schedule. The world won’t end if you don’t have a meetup for a few months.
  • Develop local talent. Things like lightning talks (10, 15, 20 minutes) are an easy way to get people involved and let them try presenting without it being too scary. You might help develop the next rising star!
  • Established local talent. If there are any local speakers that are already established, see if they will jump in from time to time to do a session. It’s OK to have repeat speakers, so long as it isn’t always the same faces.
  • Promotion. Make sure you and your members tweet and blog about your events. If you ask someone to come to your event they are probably going to Google you. It helps if you have a reasonable online presence to let them get an idea of who and what you are. This is also going to make getting sponsorship easier too.
  • Costs. This should be pretty obvious, but keep costs at an absolute minimum. If possible you want to make local meetups free and include some cheap food and drinks. Nobody expects a meetup to be fancy. If you can find a friendly company that will give you a free room for the sessions, that’s awesome. Sponsorship is not the easiest thing to come by, but if your costs are small, it’s going to make life a lot easier.
  • Sponsorship. Keep an eye out for who is sponsoring other similar events. There are some community friendly companies out there, but sponsorship is all about marketing and ultimately companies are going to want to see a return on investment. They are going to want people to know they are sponsoring your events (see Promotion). If you are keeping costs to a minimum you will not need a lot in the way of sponsorship, so a little can go a long way.
  • Ask for advice. Keep an eye out for other people who are running similar events, preferably outside your area so you are not competing with them, and ask for advice. They probably know a lot more about this than me. 🙂
  • Don’t expand too quickly. Conferences can be really expensive and very hard to organise. I speak to a lot of people involved in user groups and they are always stressed about something, especially conference organisation. Don’t make life unnecessarily hard for yourself. Keep things simple, cheap and fun if possible. I guess the meetup format is about as simple as it gets.

Like I said, I’m no great expert on this, so if you have any other ideas, put them in the comments. 🙂



Oracle OpenWorld 2016 : Tuesday – Day 2

Day 2 started a little late for me. I was up early, but I logged in to work and had to do a few things. Once I had got through that I headed down to the conference…

On the way there I bumped into Ronald Bradford and we hit the exhibition hall together. We stopped by the SolarWinds stand and noticed a “Deploy Faster” sticker. Part of the promotion for the Girls Who Code Foundation. If you see one, take a selfie with it and tweet it using the #DevelopersRule hashtag. That will get them a $10 donation!

From there I moved across to the demo grounds and made a nuisance of myself with Jeff Smith, Kris Rice and David Peake at the SQL Developer, ORDS and APEX stands…

After that I headed off to watch Dad do his Real-World Performance Group session. Unfortunately the session was full and they wouldn’t let me in. I tried both the, “Don’t you know who I am?”, and, “I just want to see my Dad speak!”, lines, but neither worked… Instead I headed back down to the demo ground to annoy more people. 🙂

I watched the start of Larry’s keynote on a big screen outside, then went down to the keynote room itself to see the second half of it. I’ve not watched a keynote live for years…

I bumped into Liron Amitzi and we spent a little time brainstorming ideas for the British Columbia Oracle User Group (BCOUG). I’ll write a separate post about that…

I met up with Chris Saxon and we discussed 12cR2 PL/SQL and SQL features. He had already done a session on it, so he gave me a quick run through. From there I headed off to watch him and Connor in “Ask Tom Live with Chris Saxon and Connor McDonald”. It was a really fun session!

A quick chat with Y.V RaviKumar and Oren Nakdimon, then I headed back to the hotel and that was Day 2 over…