Let’s play spot the Sve…

I was just looking at a couple of photos from OpenWorld and I noticed a “not so little” Bulgarian hiding in the photo. Can you spot the Sve (Svetoslav Gyurov)?

Other things to notice about the photo are:

  • Richard Foote explaining exactly how much like David Bowie he really is. My original explanation of his action was a little more uncharitable. 🙂
  • Me being interested enough in Richard’s conversation to drag me away from my iPad for 2 seconds.
  • Chris Muir ignoring us both and trying to come to terms with the fact he hadn’t brought his iPad to the US and was forced to use one of those mini-iPads.

If you recognize yourself on this photo feel free to comment. I think the foot may belong to Jacco Landlust as I seem to remember him having one of those posh lunch boxes one of the days we were camped out in The Zone. Having said that, Jacco is usually making far more of a fashion statement than denim. 🙂



OpenWorld 2010: Day 4-5

Day 4 & 5 followed pretty much the same pattern for me. Lots of time in The Zone, a few presentations and lots of chatting.

On Wednesday I met up with a former colleague from the UK, now based in Denmark. He’s an Aston Villa fan, but I try not to hold that against him. Last time we met up was in Copenhagen and I blame him for me being very ill the next day. 🙂

Wednesday evening was the Bloggers meet up, which was very busy. It’s good to be able to put a face to blogs you read.

I missed the wrap party on Thursday as I had to fly home. The trip home was not be best because I didn’t have an aisle seat. When I don’t have an aisle seat I get really fidgety because I am nervous about having to ask the person next to me to repeatedly let me out. As a result I usually have to stand for the whole trip. I was forced to sit through three bouts of turbulence, but the rest of the flight I stood at the back of the plane. I guess I was standing for about 8-9 hours. Never mind.

Thanks for everyone at OTN and the ACE program for another great OOW.



OpenWorld Day 1-3…

This years OpenWorld has been a little unusual for a couple of reasons. First, in previous years the OTN Lounge (now The Zone) and the Unconference have been in Moscone West, which meant it was really easy to bounce between those and the database sessions in Moscone. This year The Zone and the Unconference venue are near the Hilton, which make for a lot of walking and clashing sessions for anyone with a database focus. I guess the extra walking will do us all good. 🙂

Second, the wifi this year has been really bad. There are always glitches, and don’t get me started on the schedule builder, but this year the wifi has been unusable for extended periods of time. In fact, I’ve never managed to get on it in Moscone South yet. It makes life very difficult when you are trying to use an online schedule builder. 🙁

Enough of the moaning. Let’s focus on the good…

The best thing about being at OpenWorld is all the cool people you meet. Lots of new faces and lots of old friends. I’ve also really enjoyed The Zone this year. At first the location and layout felt a little odd, but I’m now used to it and it feels even more relaxing than previous years. I’ve been hanging around there a lot, chatting to people rather than trying to attend every conference session on my agenda. Most importantly I won the Google sponsored Lego competition today. I play with Lego a lot with my nephews, so I felt like I had an unfair advantage. 🙂

I’ve been quite selective about the sessions I’ve attended, picking speakers I enjoy listening to more than specific topics. With so many conferences under my belt over the last couple of years it’s getting harder to find sessions with new content, but that’s a nice problem to have. 🙂

The evenings have been as fun as ever. The ACE dinner was on a boat this year. Food, drink and unsteady footing didn’t sound like the best idea. As it turned out it was really good fun. Especially since the water was calm. The OTN party was a food fest. I’m sure other things were happening, but all I can really remember was eating. 🙂 Tonight was a quick trip out with some of the guys, then back to the hotel to catch up with the blogging.



PS. I bought an iPad. More to come on that as I learn how to use it, or not…

Frankfurt to San Francisco…

I posted yesterday about the start of my trip to OpenWorld. I arrived late, so I never got around to posting about the second half of my trip so here goes…

Frankfurt to San Francisco

I was in a pretty bad mood when it came to boarding. We were 4+ hours late and the boarding process was a complete disaster. Nobody could hear the announcements, so we were all in queues to ask what the hell was going on. Even so, nobody on the desk thought to just come and shout out what to do. As a result, boarding was like a rugby scrum, with people from all classes, seating zones and people who had not cleared security all thrown together. I don’t remember ever taking so long to board. Sigh.

I got on the plane and was instantly more miserable. It was one of those planes where you all have to watch the same films on shared screens. Sigh. I watched:

  • The Back-up Plan: Nauseating romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez.
  • Iron Man 2: In my opinion it wasn’t as good as Iron Man 1, but it was still pretty cool.
  • Just Wright: Chick-Flick. Would have hated it, except I had used up all my hate on the Jennifer Lopez film.

The food came along and guess what? I wasn’t on the list of vegetarians. Sigh. Luckily, they had extra so it wasn’t a big deal, just another thing to “brighten” my day.

I was seated next to the galley so I got to hear a lot of the gossip from the cabin crew. They do talk rather loud. 🙂 One woman seemed to be hitting the assistance button continually, which was getting on their nerves (and mine because I could hear the dinging). It seems the maintenance crew had left one of the internal panels off, which was mentioned by a passenger 2 hours before landing. HELLO! Don’t you think you might want to mention that to someone before you take off ? You are sitting next to a ruddy great hole on an 11+ hour flight! The cabin attendant told the woman to keep her seat belt on. 🙂 I’m sure it was just a cosmetic thing.

All in all, the flight was ok. The cabin crew were pretty good, which offset most of my gripes.

In the update to yesterdays post I mentioned Hajo Normann and Andrejus Baranovskis were on an later flight from Frankfurt. I think it was scheduled to leave about 3 hours after mine. Their flight wasn’t delayed, so they actually left over an hour before me. When I landed at SFO I saw Hajo in the customs queue. It turns out they were in a holding pattern for over an hour so we landed at about the same time. 🙂

It has been mentioned several times by friends and family that I never seem to have a straight forward trip anywhere. My response is, this is the reality of international travel. There is no enjoyment involved. It’s a matter of endurance and anger management. Can someone hurry up and invent a teleport system already!



Birmingham to Frankfurt…

Birmingham Airport

Whilst people watching in Birmingham Airport I discovered a new category of traveller I had never noticed before, namely the “control freak”.

The person in question was an older gentleman having a bit of a tizzy because he didn’t think the allocated 25 minutes boarding time was enough to get everyone on the plane. During the next few minutes, the sky was apparently falling in because of this disastrous planning by the airport. I can only conclude that:

  • His life is timetabled down to the last second.
  • He probably uses MS Project to track the slippage caused when the kettle takes 30 seconds longer to boil than he planned for.
  • He probably reads the Daily Mail. Did you know if there are more than two teenagers together they are probably planning to murder you?
  • Things were much better in his day!

Birmingham to Frankfurt

We boarded in plenty of time. It seems 25 minutes was actually more than enough. The cabin doors were shut, then the captain announced that flights to Frankfurt were delayed because of the wind. Frankfurt was apparently down to 2/3 capacity, so that meant a 60 minute wait on the ground in Birmingham. Sigh. Of course, 60 minutes became 70 minutes before we took off. This meant we would land at the same time as boarding was planned to start for my connection to San Francisco.

I arrived in Frankfurt to the good news I hadn’t missed my flight. Joy quickly turned to misery when I was told my flight had been delayed by 4 hours. 🙁 On the plus side I did get a €10 food voucher, which I accidentally spent on loads of diet coke and chocolate. In my defence, the lady in the shop wasn’t too happy about me spending less than €10, so she kept telling me to pick up more items. For the sake of international relations my only option was to take her advice and fill my bag with chocolate.

I’ve been collared by security twice in Frankfurt Airport. The first time focused mainly on my sachets of Lemsip. I’m not sure if they were hoping to confiscate my cold cure, thereby saving themselves about £5 at the pharmacy, or whether they thought it was something naughty. The second encounter was random check to see if I was carrying weapons. I’m not sure quite how I could manage that after going through security in Birmingham and Frankfurt, but I would rather they tried too hard, than not hard enough. I wasn’t sure if they vast quantity of chocolate I was carrying qualified as a deadly weapon or not. It’s certainly going to kill me if I don’t give it up.

It’s a couple more hours until I fly…



Update: Just bumped into Hajo Normann and Andrejus Baranovskis. They were just about to board their flight to SFO that was running on time. I’m still waiting for mine, even though it was meant to leave 3 hours before theirs. 🙁

ODTUG: I’m back home…

I’ve just got back home from ODTUG. Unfortunately my bag didn’t make it. Continental have played a blinder on this trip. I had an 8 hour delay on the way there and they lost my bag on the way back. Fingers crossed it will turn up soon.

My first happy birthday (I’m 41 today) message came from the passport control officer as I arrived in the UK at 07:00 this morning. I didn’t sleep on the plane so I’m off to bed now to try and play catch-up.

Thanks to everyone who made ODTUG possible. I had a great time and hope to be back next year.



ODTUG: Day 5…

Day 5

It was hard to get out of bed this morning. The timetable for the day was also pretty daunting. Most of the sessions were half-day, which at this late stage of the conference makes me wanna run off screaming.

I chose to go with “Data Warehouse Performance Best Practices – Parts I – III” by Maria Colgan and Jean-Pierre Dijcks, both contributors to the Data Warehouse Insiders Blog. Much of the information from this presentation is already available from the blog, and some variations of the information from these webinars, so don’t worry if you couldn’t make it.

Most of my work has been on OLTP systems so I’m always eager to know where theory and practice diverge as far as DW are concerned. For me this presentation had a really good mix in that respect. It was very easy to listen too, sparked a lot of questions and gave people some compelling reasons to consider 11gR2. All in all, a very enjoyable way to spend 3 hours.

Next stop the airport. 🙁



ODTUG: Day 4…

Day 4

“Analytic Functions Revisited” by Alex Nuijten was a great presentation. I’m sure lots of people left the presentation thinking, “Where has this stuff been hiding all these years?” 🙂 Incidently, Alex won the $500 prize in the PL/SQL Challenge last night. Well done dude.

I caught the last couple of minutes of “Why Isn’t Oracle Using My Index” by Jonathan Lewis. One of his suggestions was to take the lazy approach and go with the default parameters and functionality, which will work for most stuff, then spend your time focusing on the stuff it doesn’t work for. A man after my own heart. 🙂

“Thinking Clearly About Performance” by Cary Millsap was a combination of the messages Cary’s been pushing for the last few years. It was essentially a whistle-stop tour of his views on performance and why we should care. Very clean, very slick and very interesting. If you’ve been following #odtug you will have seen it described as , “The best spent 60 minutes of my 40 years of learning”, by one of the delegates.

“Performance Instrumentation” by Karen Morton focussed on instrumenting your PL/SQL applications using ILO from Method R, which amongst other things encapsulates the functionality of the DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO and DBMS_SESSION packages. One of the really neat things about ILO is it manages the call stack so the contents of the V$SESSION view is always correct, even when you are nesting procedure calls. This can be a pain if you are using the DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO package directly. Karen is a great speaker (I love her accent) and it’s so cool when someone presents on a subject you already know well, but still makes you feel like a kid with a new toy. 🙂

“Creating Sub-Zero Dashboard Plug-In for APEX with Google Visualizations” by Roel Hartman did what it said in the title. He showed how to create plugins using the Google Visualization APIs, which was a bit over my head, then how to use the plugins he’d made, which looked real simple. As the repository of APEX pluggins grows it’s going to get easier and easier to produce very stylish apps.



ODTUG: Day 3…

Day 3

I made it through a panel session without talking constantly. I sat at the back of the “Database Development Panel” and kept my gob shut like a good boy. 🙂

The next two talks, “Oracle Extended SQL Trace Data for Developers” by Cary Millsap and “Co-operating with the Database” by Jonathan Lewis, were more developer focused. Being a DBA/Developer type myself, there weren’t many surprises for me, but I guess a lot of the straight development crowd got plenty to scribble down. 🙂

I’ve got quite a few clashing sessions tomorrow and I’m getting the early onset of conference burnout. Having the ACE Directors meeting before the conference makes it seem like a very long event. Early to bed tonight I think.



ODTUG: Day 1 & 2…

I’m not going to write about everything, but just post a few select highlights.

Day 1

There had been a timetable change that I had missed, so I arrived late for the “Messed up Apps: A Study of Performance Anti-patterns” talk by Cary Millsap. He knows his stuff, is a great presenter and he’s very pretty (in-joke). 🙂

Next it was “Take a Load Off: Load Testing your Web Applications: Oracle APEX, JDeveloper, Web Services, Anything” by Chris Muir. Chris demonstrated JMeter and SOAPUI for stress (and regression) testing web apps. I’m vaguely familiar with JMeter, but SOAPUI was new to me, so this was a really useful presentation. Chris has a very casual presenting style, which I like. It feels kinda like you are chatting about a product, rather than being preached to. Definitely get to one of his sessions if you can.

For the love of God, don’t let me into panel sessions, or gag me. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the panel or in the audience (as was the case here) I just can’t shut up. The “Experts Panel” in the “Performance, Scalability, and Security” track had the misfortune of my attendance. I’m sorry.

Day 2

“How to Write Efficient SQL” by Jonathan Lewis was a very cool session. I’m no Jonathan Lewis, but I’m pretty happy with my SQL and SQL tuning skills. When I’m writing and tuning SQL it’s all about shapes. Some shapes work and some shapes don’t. I can’t really explain what I am doing to others, but it works for me. Jonathan on the other hand can explain exactly what he is doing and why. Almost like a repeatable recipe for success. Very good. After the presentation I was talking with Alex Gorbachev and he suggested I read The Checklist Manifesto. On a similar vein, I’ve had some dealings with NLP in the past so I know how important it is to model successful outcomes, so maybe my next task should be to understand my tuning methodology, rather than assuming I will never lose it. It will probably end up looking like a poor-man’s version of Jonathan’s. 🙂

“Accessing the Oracle Database from Google (Apps, App Engine, Spreadsheets)” by Anjo Kolk was an eye opener. Some of the infrastructure Google has in place is still in its infancy, but it certainly makes you wonder what we might be doing in a few years. Maybe I can ditch Enterprise Manager Grid Control 11g in favour if iGoogle. 🙂

The “Database Development Sundown Session” was another example of why I should shut the hell up in a panel session. That said, one of my more cynical comments did elicit a hand shake from Bryn Llewellyn (PL/SQL Product Manager at Oracle). 🙂

One of the coolest moments of the day was during the reception with Oracle ACE Directors in the evening. The moment in question was when Victoria Lira and Lillian Buziak got a “Contributors of the Year” style award. If you are outside the Oracle ACE program you may not know who Victoria and Lillian are, but almost everything the ACE program achieves would be impossible without their organization skills. I’m very pleased they were recognized by this award. 🙂