OGh Tech Experience 2017 : The Journey Home

I woke up really early so I decided to head straight for the airport. It was a 20 minute bus ride to the station, then a train to the airport, or so I thought. It turned out there wasn’t a straight through train, so I had to go via Utrecht. Once at Utrecht I got on a train the the airport, but it stopped early due to work on the lines, so I had to change to a third train for the last bit of the journey. I was now really glad I had set off early. 🙂

Even with the unplanned changes to the journey, I still arrived a couple of hours early for my flight. The airport bag-check area was chaos. I had done an online check-in, and I didn’t need to check bags, but it took quite a bit of time to negotiate the hordes. Once past the bag-check, it was a smooth run through security, although I did get the most thorough search I’ve ever experienced. I think I may be married now, or pregnant!

My gate was really close, so I didn’t have much to do other than wait a couple of hours, listening to the conveyor saying, “Mind your step!”, every couple of seconds.

The flight home took a little over an hour. No dramas. From there is was a taxi home and the OGh Tech Experience 2017 was done!

As I said in the last post, I’m sorry to everyone for not being more involved in the event. It was out of my hands! Thanks to everyone at OGh for inviting me. This trip was self-funded, but I would still like to thank the Oracle ACE Program for continuing to let me fly the flag. Thanks to the attendees that supported the event and thanks to all the speakers for doing what you do! I hope to see you all soon, but in better health next time! 🙂

Here are the posts I put out during this trip.



OGh Tech Experience 2017 : Day 2

I woke up on day 2 feeling pretty dreadful, but I lay in the bath for a while, waiting for a dose of Lemsip to kick in. By the time I got out of the bath I was feeling OK-ish.

By the time I finished the 20 minute bus ride and the short walk to the venue I wasn’t feeling so great, but the adrenalin started to kick in, which always helps. I sat for a while chatting to the people in the speaker room.

My first session was “It’s raining data! Oracle Databases in the cloud.” It went a lot better than I expected. There were a lot of people in the room and I managed not to cough too much and generally stayed snot-free. 🙂

After that there was a gap of about 2 hours until my next session. I hid in the speaker room for most of it and had another dose of Lemsip before my next session.

My next session was “Pluggable databases – What they will break and why you should use them anyway!” By this point the adrenalin was starting to wear off and I started to find it a little harder to find my words, getting a little tangled up a couple of times. Hopefully it wasn’t too bad for the audience.

From there I went back to the speaker room for five minutes, then headed back to the hotel to sleep.

I’m glad I managed to get through my sessions, but I feel bad I was not able to contribute more to the event. The fun thing about most events is interacting with everyone, as well as watching some of the other presenters. Instead I was pretty much absent for the whole event. I’ve had a few people message me asking where I was. 🙁

Sorry everyone!



OGh Tech Experience 2017 : Day 1 – Rumours of my demise

For those that missed me, I did actually turn up to the event today. I arrived at about 11:00, got my badge, sat down in the speaker room for a bout 2 minutes, then left and came back to the hotel.

I was ill most of last week and I thought I was a lot better, but the flight yesterday and the heat since I’ve been here have really put me back. My sinuses feel like they are going to explode and I have zero energy.

I seem to be jinxed where the Netherlands are concerned. Last year I got ill between the AMIS and OGh events. This time it’s come slap bang on the OGh event.

Unless something changes drastically overnight, my plan for tomorrow is to arrive late, do my two presentations, then leave and get back to bed. I fly home the following morning.



OGh Tech Experience 2017 : The Journey Begins

For a change I was able to book a flight at a reasonable time of day, so I didn’t have to get up stupidly early. The downside of that was I didn’t do anything the night before, so I spent the morning rushing around getting myself ready, which included a cold bath since my boiler has broken. Amazing luck I’m having recently! 🙂

I had a good chat with my taxi driver on the way to the airport, which makes the journey so much better. At the airport I was presented with massive queues for security. Fortunately they moved pretty quickly, so it was not as bad as it looked.

Once through security I went to get some coffee, which is where a douchebag in a suit with a phone at his ear walked straight past me, obviously waiting to be served, and ordered a coffee. I’m about 6 foot tall in shoes and weigh 18 stone. I would have thought that was pretty hard to miss, but aparently I’m invisible to entitled arseholes!

The flight to Amsterdam was pretty straight forward, taking a little over an hour. There were some issues with the plane, so we had to use a smaller one instead. We were a little late leaving, but nothing major. It was a 50 minute train ride from Schiphol to Amersfoort, then a 10 minute taxi ride to my hotel.

The OGh Tech Experience 2017 conference starts tomorrow, but I don’t have any presentations until the following day, so tomorrow is an easy day for me. 🙂



BGOUG Spring 2017 : The Journey Home

I got up at about 08:00 and headed down to breakfast, where I met a bunch of conference folks. Some of the people were leaving early, so when we were done we said our goodbyes. I then went back to my room for a few hours before heading down to the lobby for my lift back to Sofia. I got talking to Bryn about REST, JSON, ORDS and PL/SQL, which carried on during the journey to Sofia in Milena‘s car. 🙂

Rather than leave stupidly early from Pravets to get an early flight on Sunday, I decided to leave the following day, which meant staying over in Sofia for a day. Milena dropped me off at the hotel and I spent the rest of the day in my room on the computer.

The plan was I would be able to get loads of sleep and wake up at 04:00 to leave for my flight. The reality was I stayed awake until about 03:30. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t sleep. There was nothing wrong with my room, but for some reason sleep didn’t come until ist was too late. At 04:00 my alarm went off and I felt like I had been kicked in the head. It might have been better to not drift off just before my alarm.

I got cleaned up, packed the last of my stuff (including my laptop charger this time) and headed down to check out and get the shuttle to the airport.

The airport was pretty busy. I couldn’t do an online check-in as my ticket was KLM, but the first leg of the trip was Bulgarian Air, so I had to queue at the check-in and bag-drop area, at the entrance to the gates, at security and at passport control. The queues were quite big, but moved quickly, so it wasn’t a problem.

The flight from Sofia to Amsterdam took about 2.5 hours. We were a little late, but the gate for my next flight was close, so it wasn’t too much of a worry.

The flight from Amsterdam to Birmingham took about 50 minutes. I arrived in Birmingham to 12 degrees C and rain, so it felt like being home. 🙂 It was a quick ride home in the taxi, where I discovered my car had been stolen while I was away. 🙁 That gives me something to whine about for a bit, and I’m only happy when I’m moaning. I’ll put some washing on to cheer me up. 🙂

Thanks to the folks from DXC for asking me to come across and spend the day with you before the conference. Special thanks to Milena and everyone else from BGOUG for inviting me and making everything go so smoothly during my 7th visit to Bulgaria. Thanks to all the attendees for making this such a friendly event. I paid for this trip myself, but I would still like to thank the Oracle ACE Program for letting me fly the flag.

So that is my 7th BGOUG event over. I’m looking forward to number 8. See you all soon!



PS. Posts for this conference include the following, some of which have brief videos. 🙂

BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day 2

Breakfast at 07:30 was surprisingly busy considering the late night. Food, coffee and chatting. 🙂

After that I went back to the room to finish off the blog post about the previous day. Then it was time to start the day proper.

The first session of the day was “Utilizing the data attribute: Client-side behaviour in APEX” by Richard Martens. I’m an eternal newbie at APEX, so its good to keep turning up to APEX sessions to see what a real APEX developer can do. 🙂

Next up was Joel Goodman with “Oracle Database 12cR2 Application Containers”. We chatted before the conference to make sure our sessions didn’t overlap too much. I like going to see other presenters covering similar topics to me. It’s good to see how they approach the topics and to get their opinions on a feature.

Next up was “Oracle Compute Cloud vs. Amazon Web Services EC2 – A Hands-On Showdown” by Ahmed Aboulnaga. This was another session where I was getting someone else’s view on a subject I present about. It was interesting to hear his views on the differences in pricing and maintenance of the two providers, and their move from AWS to Oracle Public Cloud.

I got talking to Bryn at lunch and someone said, “Don’t you have a session in 2 minutes?” Quick dash to the room and it was me with “Put your feet up and take a REST. Take a tour of JSON support in the Oracle database”.

Next up was “Exadata on-premises or in the cloud? The reasoning for our decision” by Elise Valin-Raki and Heli Helskyaho. The title of the session pretty well sums up what this was about. Literally going through the evaluation and decision process. By the way, they chose on-prem. 🙂

After that it was a panel session, mostly focussed on security and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Lots of interesting conversation and yes, I had a drink during the session and was a bit drunk! 🙂

From there is was off to get some food and do more chatting. I got to have a longer chat with Julian Dontcheff, which was really nice. We have known each other since our days answering questions on DBASupport.com, and we always speak at events all the time, but it was good to spend some more time with him.

Gradually the food and beer took its toll and I switched into hibernate mode, so I said my goodbyes and went back to my room.

That marks the end of another fantastic BGOUG event. I’ll save my proper thank you messages for a wrap-up post when I get home, but for now I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came to the event! See you at breakfast tomorrow. 🙂



PS. It seems I pressed publish when this post was half-written. Whoops!

PPS. It takes very little to get me drunk… 🙂

BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day 1

Day 1 started with far too much for breakfast, followed by trying to rehearse a new presentation as my laptop complained about having no power.

The first session of the day was “Oracle Database Links” by Joel Goodman. I don’t care what the subject is, and how much you think you know about it, you will always come out of a session by Joel saying, “Well I never knew that!” I learnt some new stuff which I will now pretend I always knew! 🙂

The next session I went to was Julian Dontcheff with “45 most useful new DBA commands in Oracle 12.2″. I like sessions like this that act like an index of new features. A load of pointers to remind me what I should be learning. 🙂 There is so much in 12.2 it’s both fun and depressing rolled into one. So much to learn and so little time.

After that it was me with”Multitenant : What’s new in 12.2”. It’s impossible to fit all the new features into 1 hour, so I cherry picked a few and covered those, then listed the others and spoke briefly about them. The session was based on these articles. This was the first time I’ve done this presentation and I was a bit nervous, so I think I spoke a bit too fast. Hopefully people got the message that multitenant rules. 🙂

After lunch I went to see Giuseppe Maxia with “A quick tour of MySQL 8.0 roles”. This was really useful for me. There are some similarities to roles in Oracle, but also some really important differences too. I have been looking forward to this new feature, and this session will definitely save me time and some headaches when using it.

From there it was on to Ilmar Kerm with “Implementing incremental forever strategy for Oracle database backups”. This was based around Incrementally Updated Image Copy Backups, but included some custom stuff they do with their storage. I’m always interested to see how people use the same tech as me, but use it in a different way. I can see how his approach may prove useful in a project I’ve got coming up soon. Interesting!

The final session of the day for me was “Exadata : The Road Ahead” by Roger MacNicol. I know next to nothing about Exadata, so I feel like a total tourist when I’m in sessions about it. I think I may have sown the seed for a joint blog post between Roger and Jonathan Lewis though. 🙂

From there is was back to my room to catch up on work and blogging, before going to the evening event. 🙂

I was a little late for the start of the evening event, but I got some food and watched the dancers do their thing. As that came to an end they got the crowd started by leading them in a dance, before leaving us to our own devices. I displayed my usual expert Bulgarian dancing skills. If you see any pictures or videos of a baby elephant waddling and sweating a lot, that is not me! 🙂

At about midnight I turned into a pumpkin and went back to my room to bed!



BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day Off?

On my last visit to Bulgaria I got chatting to Todor Grigorov and I agreed to come and speak to his team at DXC the next time I was in Bulgaria. Once I knew my sessions had been accepted for this conference I dropped him a line and said I was still up for it if he was interested, and so a plan was hatched. That’s why I arrived in Bulgaria a day early for a “day off”. 🙂

At 08:30 Todor picked me up and took me to the DXC office, we all sat in a room and just started to talk. Rather than doing presentations, the idea was for this to be a day long informal question and answer session. This sort of thing can be quite daunting, especially when some of the people asking questions are better at this stuff than me, but it’s good to challenge yourself. The questions ranged from specific to general, and I gave answers ranging from technical to opinion. There were a couple of storage related questions I dodged with the line, “Email me your question and I’ll send it on to someone who will be able to answer it!” 🙂

There was one storage question from Krasimir Kovachki that confused the hell out me. I thought he said “Team Provisioning” and I guess I must have looked like a rabbit in the headlights. A bit later was speaking to him and it dawned on me he had said “Thin Provisioning”, at which point his question made so much more sense and we had a discussion about that. That made me laugh. 🙂

At lunch time we went out to get some food and guess who appeared on the TV behind us? That’s Krasimir next to me. By the way, this photo was taken by another Krasimir. 🙂

After lunch we got some drinks and went to sit in a park to continue the question and answer session in a less formal environment. I also got to try some boza and banitsa. 🙂

It was a really fun day and it was nice to meet the ladies and gents that make up the team at DXC. Thanks for making me feel so welcome!

At about 16:00 Todor drove me to take a quick look at The Bells Monument, and waited for me to ring the UK bell before telling me adults weren’t supposed to ring them. 🙂 From there it was a quick trip over to the Hilton to meet up with Bryn Llewellyn and Roger MacNicol for our ride across to the RIU Pravets Resort, ready for the first day of the BGOUG Spring 2017 conference the following day.

I got into my room, unpacked my stuff and it was then I noticed I didn’t have my laptop charger. Panic! I rang the hotel in Sofia, who had found it in my room, and said “someone” would be picking it up for me. I sent a panic email to Milena and Todor and we arranged for Todor to pick it up on his way to the conference the next day. Phew!

That did leave me with no juice in the laptop, hence this blog post is coming out a day late and some work stuff has backed up. 🙂

In the evening we walked round to the golf course on the other side of the lake and had some food. It was a really nice end to a very busy day!

The next post will be about Day 1 of the conference (today). 🙂