UKOUG Tech16 : I’m Speaking

tech16_300wI originally thought the BGOUG event was my last speaking event of the year, but as it happens I am now presenting at UKOUG Tech 16 in a few days time.

If you fancy coming along to my session, it’s on Wednesday 11:30 – 12:20 and it’s called Put Your Feet Up & Have a REST. Take a Tour of JSON Support in the Oracle Database.

We might be celebrating my nephew’s birthday on the Saturday this year. If that’s the case I will be able to come to the Sunday event for the first time ever.

As for the week days, I will be in on Wednesday just to present, then I will be going back to work. One of my colleagues wants to do Wednesday, so I have to be in the office to provide cover. I will be doing one of the other two days (Monday or Tuesday), but I don’t know which yet.

See you there!




Imagine someone watched Independence Day and thought, “What a complete sack of shite! I’m going to make something completely the opposite of that!” What you would probably get is Arrival.

It is absolutely not your typical alien action film. It focusses on how we would communicate with visiting aliens who experience everything in a completely different way to us. I can’t really say much more than that or it will ruin things for you.

I really enjoyed it. It’s well worth seeing in my opinion!



Cloud Control 13c Release 2 (13cR2) : It’s Alive!

o-enterprisemgr-13c-clr-2769481I delayed our upgrade from Cloud Control 13cR1 to 13cR2 until I finished all my travelling. It’s not really fair to make a major change then swan off round the world. 🙂

Yesterday was the day. I got in and started the upgrade, following the process I documented here and it worked. 🙂


I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I had tested it all at home anyway.

We now have Cloud Control 13cR2 monitoring all out Dev and Test systems. For the next few days we’ll be kicking the tyres before continuing to roll it out to production, which is still currently monitored by Cloud Control 12cR5.

You can read my notes about this stuff here.

There are some related blog posts on this subject here.



Oracle ACE Program : Some more opinions

I’ve written about the Oracle ACE Program a number of times over the years, including the following.

I’ve also recorded a video on the subject.

Some things have come up in conversation a few times recently that lead me to believe there are some misunderstandings about what the label “ACE” means and the classifications within the program. I figure I’ll chip in with my thoughts on this. I’m not involved in the organisation of the ACE program, so I’m not saying I’m correct, but this is how I think of it.

Q: Is the Oracle ACE program proof of technical ability?

A: NO! It is a community/evangelism program funded as part of a marketing budget. Members of the ACE program should be technically competent, but they do not have to be the “best” people in the industry. If they are that is great, but it is not mandatory. They are people who are actively participating in the community. If someone is technically awesome, but rarely contributes to the community, they do not deserve to be on the program. If someone is less technical, but contributes a lot to the community and helps lots of people, they do deserve to be on the program in my opinion. The most important point is the community participation and the profile you’ve created for yourself.

Q: Why is there a focus on new members having an existing community profile?

A: The aim of the ACE program is not to make you “famous”. It’s a pat on the back for those people who are already contributing to the community and have built a profile for themselves. Putting it bluntly, why would a community evangelism program care about promoting people who are not already promoting themselves? I feel this is kind-of obvious, but it seems to be lost on some people.

Q: Oracle ACE Associate is a “baseline entry for new community members” or the “starting point for advocates building their reputation”, so those people are not as good right?

A: NO! You couldn’t be more wrong! These descriptions are a little misleading in my opinion. If someone is “new to the community”, it is unlikely they will be contributing through as many channels (blog, whitepapers, books, social media, videos, user groups, presentations) as the more established members, but that in no way makes them less worthwhile. Everyone has to start somewhere. The status within the program does not indicate varying levels of ability. New to the community doesn’t mean new to the technology. The Oracle ACE Associates are in some ways more valuable than the other categories as in many cases these people represent “fresh blood” that will keep the community alive after the old farts like me retire.

I would feel really disappointed if people think this category is of any less worth than any of the other categories. The hope is that these people will continue their community involvement and maybe spread their wings a little.

Q: Oracle ACE Director is the pinnacle of the program right?

A: NO! Once again, IMHO this is another misunderstanding. We are all still doing the same stuff. The big difference is the ACE Directors typically do a bit more of it and we are expected to maintain stronger ties with Oracle. Many of us are in regular contact with Oracle product managers for our respective areas. We might get early adopter access to products before the public early adopter releases are made available. It takes a while for people to build a level of trust in each other. You can’t expect that over night.

Of course, these types of relationships are developed with other members of the community, who are not ACEs, too. It’s not exclusive to the ACE program, but it is becoming increasingly common.

Q: All ACEs should be looking to become ACEDs over time right?

A: No. The ACED thing is a big commitment. For someone like me it is fun, so it doesn’t feel like a commitment, most of the time, but for others it is too big a step. For example, as an ACED you are meant to attend the ACED briefings at Oracle HQ before Oracle OpenWorld. With travel time that makes the whole OOW experience take nearly two weeks every year. For some people that is most of their annual leave used for just *one* of the ACED commitments. That means no family holiday!

I’m currently working for a UK university who are very flexible when it comes to my “holidays”, but last year I used all my holidays, flexitime and some unpaid leave to do conference stuff. That’s not including the website, blogging and YouTube, which are done in my “spare time”. This year I took twice as much unpaid leave. When I leave this job I will probably have another hiatus from work to play with the technology and do community stuff.

If you are in a company that encourages community participation, great. For many of us that is not the case and it means using holiday or unpaid leave. That is just not practical for everyone. If you are in that category, ACED may not be a practical choice for you.

Q: I do a lot for the community, but according to the new review process I don’t qualify for a specific status in the program. Do you think that is fair?

A: As an ACED we’ve been reviewed every year for quite some time, but obviously the review process has changed this year. What’s more it has been applied to the ACE and ACE Associate classifications too. I am in favour of the review process, because I feel people should be actively contributing or they should be removed. I don’t think the review numbers need to be made public, but I think a more formal review process is necessary as the program grows. Over the next few months the review process will evolve. There is no telling what the final qualifying numbers will be at this point, so fill in your stuff, give your feedback to the program, and let’s see what happens.

Q: How would you feel if the review process resulted in you being kicked out of the program?

A: I would be gutted as the ACE Program has been a large part of my life for the last decade, but at the same time there would be a certain amount of relief. Being part of the program is a big commitment and every now and then I long for the time when I was an anonymous guy with a website. Ultimately, whatever happens with the ACE program in future I will still be writing articles and blog posts and I will still present at some conferences. I do it because I like doing it, not because I get a badge. 🙂

Like I said at the start, these are just my opinions. I have no inside information. It’s just the way I feel about it. You are entitled to disagree with me, but it doesn’t mean you will convince me of your opinion. 🙂



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : It’s a Wrap!

bgougSo that marks the end of my 6th BGOUG event. I’m already planning to return next year. 🙂

As part of this event I put out the following blog posts.

I’ve already said it, but my thanks got out to Milena and all the BGOUG folks for inviting me once again. Thanks to all the attendees. Thanks as always to the Oracle ACE Program.

See you all again soon!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Pravets to Birmingham

bgougA group of us were being picked up by a minibus at 09:50 for the trip back to the airport. Timo Raitalaakso and Gianni Ceresa were on the same flight as me for the first leg. We said our goodbyes to everyone in the hotel lobby, then it was off to Sofia airport.

The airport was very quiet when we arrived. We checked in and dropped off our bags, then walked straight through security. It really doesn’t get easier than that. Timo, Gianni and myself then sat and chatted until the it was time to board.

The flight to Munich was listed as a two hour flight, but I have no idea how long it actually took. I was reading a novel written by one of my friends during the trip. The guy a couple of seats along was snoring so loud it kept making me laugh. I’m not sure how anyone could sleep in the same house as him!

We arrived at Munich, where I said goodby to Timo and Gianni, before trudging around for quite some time trying to find my gate. It was a 1:40 layover for me, so it wasn’t a rush.

The flight from Munich to Birmingham was another two hour flight. I spent the journey reading again, so I didn’t really notice much about the flight.

Back in Birmingham, I got my case and took a taxi home, while continuing to read my book. By the time I got home I was feeling quite drained, so I went to bed early, ready to start the working week!

That marked the end of my last international event of the year and I’m looking forward to spending some time at home in a single timezone. The last few months have been a killer!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Day 2

bgougI planned to go to breakfast for a few minutes and then hit the gym. I got caught up in conversation during breakfast and several hours later the gym was not an option.

I headed off to the Christian Berg‘s session called “Back2Basics – 50 Shades of #Fail: OBI Worst Practices in Real Life”. I know next to nothing about OBIEE so this was me checking out something new to me. it quickly became obvious quite how little I knew as it all shot completely over my head…

Next up was me with “Pluggable Databases – What they will break and why you should use them anyway!” This session is getting increasingly difficult to present as I pick up new stuff about Oracle 12.2. Once I’ve spent some time on 12.2 I will revise this session and the associated article. I think it is still relevant in the 12.2 world, but it may need a little tweaking.

I spent some time chatting to people before the last session of the event, which was called “Discussion Over Beers About Oracle Database” with Joze Senegacnik, Martin Widlake, Bryn Llewellyn and myself. Most of the session was a discussion of cloud and what it means to the current batch of DBAs. As Bryn pointed out, it is quite a hard subject to talk about when everyone in the room seems to have a different definition of what cloud means. Added to that, I’m not sure I know what job is currently described by DBA, as mine seems to be very different to everyone elses.

That marked the end of the day, so after a bit more chatting, we headed off to the hotel restaurant. In addition to the regular food I got myself some chocolate cake that was so rich and heavy it seemed to drain the life out of me. Rather than a sugar rush, it felt more like it gave me a stroke. 🙂 I excused myself and crashed out for the night…

Big thanks to Milena and all the BGOUG folks for inviting me and making my stay so effortless. Thanks to all the attendees. This conference is going from strength to strength! Thanks also to the Oracle ACE Program for letting me fly the flag.

See you all soon!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Day 1

bgougI woke up, went down to breakfast, then went off to the gym. By the time that was all over I felt totally knackered.

I headed down to register and quickly moved to the first talk of the day, which was Martin Widlake with “The Heart of Oracle – How the core RDBMS works”. As the name suggests, this was a romp through the basics of how the Oracle database does what it does, which by his own admission included some over simplifications. As a presenter it’s easy to get caught up in trying to present “cool stuff”, or trying to “impress your friends”. It’s easy to forget about the newer folks who aren’t coming to the conference with all the basics in place. These days, there’s a lot of “experienced” people who also don’t have all the basics too. 🙂 I like this type of session and I think there is an audience for it.

After the session I was feeling very drained. The recent time zone changes and a night of broken sleep (body clock related) got to me, so I parked myself in the hotel lobby, caught up on some blog posts, video editing and then turned my brain off to do some mindless admin stuff I’ve been putting off for a couple of months. I feel kind-of guilty coming to such a great conference in such a beautiful place and not taking full advantage of it, but I’m in survival mode at the moment.

I met up with some of the folks over lunch and went outside (yes, outside) for the group photo, then it was back to the lobby for a while until my session.

I did my “It’s raining data! Oracle databases in the cloud” session, with some live demos of Oracle Cloud. Depending on my mood, this session can sometimes be rather upbeat and at other times be rather cynical of cloud in general. This one leaned more towards the cynical side. I think cloud is a very valuable tool when used correctly. It is not the solution to all problems that some people would like you to believe. Doing my session brought me back to life.

There was a gap between the last session and the evening’s festivities, so I went to the gym again. It was either that or lie in my room and I would definitely have slept through the party.

I got to the evening party a little late and things were already in swing. I sat down, had some food and then the entertainment started. I would describe this as the Bulgarian answer to The Three Tenors. During some songs the singers were joined by three ballet dancers. Once these performances were over, we got to the Bulgarian dancing. Milena found me and we joined the line… It’s been a couple of years, so it took a while for my brain and feet to start speaking to each other, but that just adds to the fun. 🙂

After a while the singers returned to do some more pop-style numbers, which kept the crowd going and then it switched to a DJ playing pop songs and people dancing.

This is my sixth visit to a BGOUG events and ever since my first I’ve described the events as being like a family wedding without the fights. I spent the evening with a smile on my face thinking, I really need to come back more often! The people are so happy. The male/female ratio is always the best you will see at a tech conference. It feels like coming home.

I went to bed at about 00:00 with the party still in full swing. I pretty much put my head on the pillow and fell into a coma until 06:00 this morning.

Let’s see what day 2 will bring… 🙂