Oracle Code : Paris 2018

Oracle Code : Paris started with a short walk from the hotel to the venue. After signing in it all began…

The first session of the day was a keynote by Lonneke Dikmans called “What Happened to My Order? The Need for Orchestration in Modern Architectures”, comparing BPEL orchestrations with orchestrations and choreography used in microservices and serverless architectures. It was a really good introduction to the concepts.

Next up was James Allerton-Austin with “Building a Chatbot Front-end for Blockchain Transactions and Serverless Functions APIs”, which included a description of the stack offered by Oracle and a demo of selling Larry’s car. During this session there were also brief stints by Karim Zein and JeanMarc Hui Bon Hoa.

From there I went to the speaker room and started to feel decidedly odd. I sometimes get migraines that don’t give me a headache, but make me feel dizzy and nauseous. The following couple of hours were mostly lying on the floor and going to the toilets to puke.

I did pop in to see “Build a Decentralized Blockchain Application with Hyperledger Fabric and Composer” by Robert van Mölken, hoping it would distract me.

I also popped my head in to Women in Technology (WIT) session to see what the turnout was like. It was very busy. It was in French, so I could understand what was going on. 🙂

After that I went back to the speaker room floor, then before I knew it, it was time for my session, but not before another conversation with the toilet bowl…

Adrenalin is a wonderful drug. I warned the audience I might have to leave suddenly, but I managed to get through my session without any major problems. I lost the internet connection a couple of times, and had to reconnect to my 18c DBaaS instance on Oracle Cloud. The new laptop behaved itself though. Once my talk was over the Adrenalin started to subside and I felt worse again, but not as bad as before. I was sitting still and chatting to some of the folks in the speaker room for the rest of the afternoon, and I only remember puking once more after my sessions, which was an improvement…

Pretty soon it was time to leave for the airport and Oracle Code : Paris was over for me. Thanks everyone for making it happen. Sorry I wasn’t able to participate more. This year’s conference curse seems to be continuing.

I’ll write about the journey home in a separate post as that is already proving “interesting”, in a conference curse style… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

It’s all about focus!

When I’m in airports I do a lot of people watching. One thing I notice is a total lack of focus in some people.

In the airport I have several distinct goals.

  • Get through check-in and/or bag drop as required.
  • Get through security.
  • Identify my boarding gate if it is already displayed.
  • If my boarding gate is listed, get to it to make sure I know where it is and how long it takes to get to it, so if I have time to wander off I’m not going to get into trouble later.

Only once these tasks are complete can I relax and while away the time. Now I understand things can get complicated when people are having to sheppard young children, but I see lots of single adults, or couples that seem unable to focus on the task at hand…

As an example I recently witnessed someone being asked the same question three times before answering it. At this point you might be thinking it was because they were hard of hearing, or maybe struggling with the accent. Although that could be true, what I could see was they were not looking at the person dealing with them. Their attention was elsewhere, rather than focusing on the task at hand. This drives me crazy. You are asking for help, so pay attention you flippin’ idiot!

There are lots of characteristics that can be attributed to successful people, but I would suggest one of them has got to be the ability to focus. Being able to shut out everything else and focus on the task at hand is really important. You think you are good at multitasking, but you aren’t. It’s a lie. Sure, you can to some extent multitask mindless operations, but anything that needs proper concentration is single-threaded. By attempting to multitask all you are doing is performing substandard work. It takes time to switch between tasks, so when you think you are just checking your twitter messages, you are actually wasting significantly more time… I notice a big difference in my productivity when I’m working from home, because home is really boring, with very few distractions. In contrast the office is full of people that just want a “quick chat” about something, me included. 🙂

One of the principles of agile development is to control Work in Process/Progress (WIP). This is important because it allows you to focus on a single task (user story or story point) and get it done and out of way, before moving on to the next thing on the list (or kanban board). Since you are only ever focused on the current task, there is no need for context switching during the task. It also has some other benefits…

  • If you are like me, you get a kick out ticking things off a list. This is something I’ve done for years, before I heard of kanban. Something like a kanban board just adds visibility to something you are probably doing anyway.
  • It’s easier to judge progress on large pieces of work if it is broken into steps.
  • Assuming the work moves to production in stages and can be made visible to the users, the users can see it happening too. This is important on long running projects where it’s easy to look like you’ve disappeared for 6 months before the finished product arrives.

There will always be some interruptions, like high priority incidents, but removing all but the essential distractions has a massive impact on productivity. This doesn’t have to be controlled by others and imposed on you. The trick is for you to be disciplined about when you do things. If you can’t live without checking social media, fine. Just do it between tasks, not during a task. If you are already switching between the end of one task and the start of the next, you are already having a mental context switch, so the impact is much reduced compared to checking in the middle of a task. I don’t agree with companies trying to turn workers into mindless drones, but at the same time it is your duty not to waste time you are being paid for.

Most importantly, never stand in front of me in a queue and ignore the person on the desk who is trying to help you, or I’ll write a rambling blog post about you! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Code : Warsaw – The Journey Home

I woke up at silly o’clock to begin my journey home. I checked out of the hotel and got a taxi to the airport, where I breezed through check-in and security and found myself at the boarding gate 2 hours before the flight. Another hour in bed would have been nice… 🙂

As usual, out came the laptop and I played catch-up on the blog and some of the other stuff I had missed during the conference.

The flight from Warsaw to Frankfurt was a little under 2 hours. I don’t think I’ve flown with LOT before, and it was quite a nice experience. The plane had a clean and modern interior with power sockets at every seat, which was cool. I didn’t have an aisle seat, but the flight wasn’t full, so I was able to move to one. 🙂

I had a 90 minutes stop over at Frankfurt, before starting the hour flight home to Birmingham. That fine was easy, even though I had a window seat.

A quick taxi ride home and Oracle Code : Warsaw was complete.

Thanks to the Oracle Code crew for inviting me to the event, and to the Oracle Developer Champion and Oracle ACE Programs for making this possible for me. Most importantly, thank to the attendees and speakers for coming to the event and making it all happen!

The posts for this event were:

Cheers

Tim…

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick message to say happy holidays!

I was going to include a suitable wintry scene, then realised that would be discriminating against my southern hemisphere brothers and sisters, so I went for a hybrid. Look out of your window and select the half of the image that seems most appropriate to you…

Just so you know, neither of these looks very much like Birmingham… 🙂

Anyway, I hope 2017 was good for you and I hope 2018 will be a great one for you!

Cheers

Tim…

OUG Ireland 2017 : Day 2

I got up a little after 08:30, which was a bit of a surprise, and headed down for breakfast, where a met a bunch of other speakers.

By the time I got showered, changed and checked out of the hotel I had missed the first session of the day (sorry). The first session I went to was the wife presenting “PaaS4SaaS”. I know what you are thinking, and yes I could do this presentation as I’ve seen it so many times. 🙂

Next up was Francesco Tisiot with “What a Successful OBIEE 12c Upgrade Project Looks Like – Customer Case Study (Liberty Global)”. As mentioned before, I don’t work with OBIEE, but some people I work with do now, so I like to keep my ear to the ground. It is also looking like I will be looking after some of their infrastructure, so this session was really useful to me, just because of the additional context it gave me.

After Francesco’s session there was a vendor awareness session, lunch, chatting (networking), then it was back to the sessions.

Next up was Roel Hartman with “The Quest for the Little Gems in APEX 5.1”. Having introduced the headline features of APEX 5.1, he switched to speaking about some of the less well publicized cool features. Things like font APEX, button builder, live template options, improved dynamic actions, new PL/SQL APIs, theme styles and more. Cool!

I missed the next session as I was logged in to work, trying to catch up on some stuff. By the time I finished that I was a little late for Alex Nuijten presenting “Structuring an APEX Application”. I’m not sure how happy most APEX developers would be with some of the stuff Alex was suggesting, but I think it’s perfect, probably because we both came to APEX after spending years as PL/SQL developers. Listening to some of his structural approach reminded me of this. 🙂

The final session was “Question Time with ACEs & Ask Tom’s Chris Saxon and Maria Colgan”. The actual list of panelists was Chris Saxon, Martin Widlake, Joze Senegacnik, Neil Chandler, Alex Nuijten, Oren Nakdimon and Maria Colgan. I should not be allowed in panel sessions, whether I am on the panel or not. I have no off switch. It was a really funny session. Don’t mess with Maria! 🙂

And that was it for the OUG Ireland 2017… I’ll write a wrap-up post with all the usual thank you messages when I get home, but for today I would just like to say thank you to everyone for a great time!

After the last session I hung around in the hotel bar for a while having a chat with some of the folks, then it was time to head home, but that’s another blog post… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

As a DBA, what do I need to learn next?

Arup Nanda did a talk on Big Data as part of the OTN APAC Tour and one of the points he made was DBAs need to get involved in all this new tech or they will get left behind and be out of a job. Someone came up to me and asked me my opinion, basically saying, “What do I need to learn next?” That’s a very difficult question to answer for a number of reasons.

The DBA job continues to evolve and you need to evolve with it. A few years ago I was able to be an Oracle database specialist. Now I need to look after SQL Server and MySQL as well. I’m also expected to know about assorted application server and web server products, as well as operating systems etc. You can’t be a specialist at everything, so as a DBA we are now forced to be generalists. What’s more, most companies don’t really want a specialist anymore. They want someone that can turn their hand to anything. The role will almost certainly include some of these big data pieces as we move forward.

Do a bit of Googling and you will see the Hadoop ecosystem is huge. There are loads of pieces from loads of projects and they are all changing rapidly. The chances are, what you learned 2 years ago has been almost completely replaced now. This is often the case when something “new” comes to the forefront. Over time things evolve, some projects win and some projects lose. Eventually things stabilise and life gets a little easier. This is not to say you shouldn’t get involved now, but just remember it is a moving target. Everything you learn about it will be useful, but not necessarily exactly what you need for your next project.

I’m not a big data guy, so my opinion is rather uneducated, but following on from the previous points, it seems to me there is no such thing as a “big data expert”. You probably need to be a “big data generalist”, that doesn’t know everything about any of the pieces, but knows enough about each of them to string them together to do something useful. This is an important skill in itself.

As for me personally, my website is a reflection of one part of my work life. The Oracle bit. I have an ever growing to-do list that is mostly made up of Oracle stuff, but also includes big data, docker, IoT and …

It’s difficult enough to keep on top of the stuff you need for your day job, not to mention the new stuff needed to position yourself for the future. So when you ask me, “What do I need to learn next?”, I will probably answer, “When you find out, can you please tell me?” 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Midlands : Event #17

Don’t forget Oracle Midlands Event #17 next week!

om17

I don’t know about you, but I would like to know what Oracle have been up to. There has been very little in the way of publicity from them recently… 🙂

If you live near, please show your support for the event and come along. It’s free thanks to the sponsorship by RedStackTech.

Cheers

Tim…

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?

Cheers

Tim…

OTN Tour of Latin America 2015 : It’s a Wrap!

ace-director

I just realised I didn’t write a closing post for the OTN Tour of Latin America 2015, so here goes.

Here are the links to all the posts I wrote during the two weeks that related to the main body of the tour.

Here are the links to the posts I wrote during the little trip to Machu Picchu.

Overall it was a really fun tour. Ignoring my illness at Machu Picchu, I think I coped a lot better with it than I have the previous couple of tours, which was good news.

Big thanks to the organisers and attendees at all the events. I hope to see you all again soon! Thanks also to the ACE Program for giving me the opportunity to fly the flag! I must also say a thank you to my fellow speakers for putting up with me for all that time. I know I can be hard work, so you are all deserving of an “I survived a tour with Tim”, badge, if one existed. 🙂

Sorry for the delay in writing this post! See you soon!

Cheers

Tim…

MOVOBall : Kickstarter

movoballThis morning I went to the launch event for MOVOBall, an invention by one of my (In Real Life) friends Steve Priestnall. The event was held at the Electric Cinema in town.

It was kind-of fun to see the name up outside the cinema.

cinema

I’ve kept the ticket as a memento.

ticket

Later this month they will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the product development.

deviceSo what is it? It’s a neat little device to make using a swiss ball a lot more fun. You can either put your mobile device into the cradle, or use a MOVOBug to talk to your phone. It uses the motion detectors in the phone, or MOVOBug, to detect the motion of the ball, so it can be used as a game controller or to interact with fitness apps.

ballI can imagine Noel Portugal and the AppsLab folks coming up with some party piece at OpenWorld using this. Maybe MOVOBall controlled Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. 🙂

When the Kickstarter film is released I’ll put a link to it. It’s pretty fun, especially the outtakes at the end.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Cheers

Tim…

Update: Here is the Kickstarter URL.