Oracle OpenWorld 2012 : Day Minus 3 (continued)

Continuing from my previous post, the Oracle ACE Director Meeting went well. There seems little point in giving you a list of things I can’t tell you about, so I think I will just say I like Eddie Awad‘s summary of the day in tweets here.

I think it is safe for me to say there will be some interesting things going on this week for a variety of reasons. When you are following the blog posts and tweets, keep in mind the following three things are legally *very* different:

  • Talking about future tech under a safe harbor disclaimer. This basically means Oracle promise nothing and all the stuff they say may not come to pass in future products. There is absolutely *no* legal requirement for them to deliver.
  • Making an official announcement of a new product. This has some legal ramifications. These types of announcements have to be followed by real products within a certain time frame.
  • Releasing the product. This is the bit I care about, because it means I can get my hands on it. 🙂

Some of the things we’ve been told seem very… odd. It’s difficult to say more without digging a hole for myself, but I suggest you listen carefully over the coming week and make sure you place what you hear in the correct one of those three categories…

Regardless of the *oddness* of some of the information, it was a cool day. Wim Coekaerts is always a highlight for me. I just like to listen to the guy talk about tech. He makes things sound so simple and obvious. Very cool.



Oracle OpenWorld 2012 : Day Minus 3…

It’s about 05:00 Pacific Daylight Time. I’ve been up since 03:30, so I’ve already sorted my work emails, personal emails, forum questions etc. I’m going to write this post then hit the gym before going to Day 1 of the ACE Directors meetings. I have a feeling I will be asleep under the desk by the end of the day. Sorry Victoria and Lillian. 🙁

The trip to San Francisco was long but uneventful. By the time I went to bed I think I was awake for a little over 24 hours. A few hours of fitful sleep and so begins the series of ,”My life’s so hard because I’m so tired!”, blog posts that normally accompanies a trip to OpenWorld… 🙂

In the ACE Directors meetings we normally (dance naked around fires chanting) get a sneak peak at the big announcements for OOW and the coming months post-OOW plans. The first rule about the ACED meeting is don’t talk about the ACED meeting! We are not allowed to talk about the contents of the meetings, under pain of death, but judging by the stuff that has leaked already, it should be an eventful week. I’m still not sure what the plans are for announcements vs. releases. Sometimes Oracle surprise us at OOW with a combined announcement and release, but many times it’s just the marketing garb, with the software release coming a little later.

Based on what Larry has already said in press interviews, Oracle Database 12cR1 is due end of this year or start of next, so I guess it will be a big announcement at OOW12, rather than the actual release… but you never know. 🙂

If there is anything blogable/tweetable during the ACED meetings I will pass it on. If you hate getting 6 billion OOW related tweets/blogs, I suggest you avoid Twitter and your RSS feeds for the next week or so. It’s going to get very busy out there. 🙂



PS. I’m saying nothing about the Oracle Games Console (OGC). I’ll let the announcements speak for themselves…

OTN Tour of Latin America: Wrap-up…

The OTN Tour of Latin America is over for me. Several brave souls continue on to the second leg in about a week. For those playing catch-up on my little adventure, you can read the posts here:

These OTN tours are a great experience and I would advise anyone who gets the chance to take part in a tour to do it, but keep in mind the following points:

  • These tours require a massive investment of time. This tour has taken about 17 days in total for me. For some of the speakers this meant taking annual leave. For others it meant unpaid leave. Not everyone is able to commit this amount of time and potential lost earnings.
  • The conference agendas were rather fluid for the days preceeding the conferences. In some cases, people were dropped off the agenda entirely, only to reappear the day of the conference. It can be a little unnerving arriving at a country, not knowing if you even have a slot to present.
  • The breakdown of the audiences varies quite widely. It’s worth having a few spare presentations prepped before you start the tour. On several occasions we switched presentations around when it became apparent what we planned to present was not suitable for the audience. I started the tour with 2 presentations. I came home with 4.5. You’ve got to be flexible when you do this stuff.
  • We didn’t always know where conferences were taking place before we got to the country. We quickly got into the habit focusing only on the next country, rather than worrying too far in advance.
  • You spend a lot of your own money on these tours. The Oracle ACE program generously provides for the travel and hotel room bills. Some local user groups pay for social events in the evening, which is greatly appreciated, but there are still many other costs that come out of your own pocket. Paying for visas, exit taxes associated with some countries, subsistence costs and things like laundry services all come out of your own pocket. It’s a mere fraction of what you would have to pay to fund the whole tour yourself, but you should be aware it’s not a free ride.
  • It’s hard work. For the whole of this trip I was constantly tired. I feel like I need a holiday now to get over it.
  • There seems to be some misconception that we get paid to do these tours. We definitely do not!

So now I’ve scared you off talking part, I guess I should to tell you why you really need to get involved:

  • Some of the speakers on the tour I have met before, some I knew via the internet and some were new to me. It is surprising how much of a bond you can develop in such a short time. I’m not the type of person that is quick to consider someone a friend, but there are people I’ve only known for a few days who I now consider my friends. I don’t know if I will ever see them again and that makes me sad, but I will definitely not forget them.
  • There are great Oracle communities around the world that us English speakers never get to experience. This is one way to bridge that gap.
  • It’s a very humbling experience to know that most of the attendees are listening to you present in their second or third language. Even more so when they have the guts to approach you to talk about the content of your presentation. It kinda makes you ashamed to be a lazy Brit who only speaks English… Badly…
  • Above all, it’s a really fun experience.

I need to mention a few people for their sterling work in getting me through the tour:

  • Sheeri Cabral for translation services and general organisation skills. I just piggy backed on her (and Debra’s) flight plans, hotel bookings and relied on her Spanish to get me through assorted airports and shops etc.
  • Debra Lilley for being a little island of (near) sanity on the occasions when I was starting to lose the will to go on.
  • Tom Kyte. Watching you present reminds me I must try harder. It was nice to see you out at the social events too. It’s been a few years since you’ve knocked around with us. 🙂
  • Melanie Caffrey. You are a scream and I suspect we would have seen less of Tom at the social events if you hadn’t been around. 🙂
  • Graham Wood. I know we are a similar age, but if you don’t mind I would like you to adopt me. You can be my Oracle dad… 🙂
  • Sergio Tribst. Where do I start with you dude? Quite possibly the most consistently amusing person on the tour. A top bloke!
  • Noel Portugal. What a cool guy. Such a pity you only came to the first couple of events. Hopefully we can meet up at another event so you can  find out how annoying I can be…
  • Shay Shmeltzer for juggling worthy of the Cirque du Soleil.
  • Joel Pérez and Ronal Vargas for my Spanish lessons. Sorry I’m such a terrible student.
  • Plinio Aribizu. Yeah.. init! 🙂
  • All the other speakers I chatted too.
  • All the attendees for coming and listening to my sessions.
  • All the conference organizers for making the events a success and keeping us entertained.
  • The Oracle ACE program and Francisco for making this happen.

Enough of the mutual appreciation society… 🙂 Next time…



OTN Tour of Latin America: Costa Rica…

In my previous post I mentioned feeling like a class traitor by paying for someone to do my washing. Well it gets worse. Sheeri and I (but not Debra) got a random upgrade to business class for the 1 hour flight from Honduras to San Jose, Costa Rica. I think that was the first time I’ve ever flown business. So much room. Seats wide enough to fit my ample butt. Tray cleared as soon as you’ve finished eating… A little taste of the good life, before I go back to coach for my big trip home. 🙂

We got to San Jose in the afternoon and spent a little time by the hotel pool. Not being a sun lover, I spent that time sitting fully dressed on a sun lounger with a towel over my head.

In the evening we got a taxi to a local place to get some food. Unfortunately, we were dropped off at a location favoured by tourists, which gave us a choice of chain restaurants from every location in the world except Costa Rica. I wasn’t particularly proud that the first food I ate in Costa Rica came from an Outback Steakhouse. Added to that, it was extortionately expensive…

The next day was conference day. We arrived and were assigned individual helpers for the day, which was a nice touch. All the attendees were together for the introduction speech, then split up for the 5 conference tracks. My first session was in the main auditorium after the introduction speech, so I had to watch the packed room empty, leaving a few brave souls. 🙂 I tried to do before (awake) and after (sleeping) photos at the start of the session, but some of the acting left a lot to be desired. Check out Graham Wood’s “excited face” in the first shot.

He does a pretty good impression of sleeping in the second too…

I got some questions at the end of the session. One of the attendees sent this photo of me leaning forward while listening to a question.

I’ve leave it for you to decide what the caption should be. 🙂

Later, I went along to Graham’s session on ASH, which I’d seen before, but was worth watching again. The room was full, so I gave up my seat for one of the paying attendees (it seemed only fair) . As the presentation continued, the room got increasingly hot. By the end I thought I was going to keel over. 🙂

A little while later it was my second session. This one was in a smaller room, but pulled a bigger crowd, so people were standing up at the back and sitting on the floor. Being up close and personal with the audience is much better for me. I just feel like I connect better. After this presentation it dawned on me that it was the end of the tour, which came with very mixed emotions.

In the evening we went out to a place serving Costa Rican food, which was much cheaper than the tourist stuff we ate the day before. The lack of alcohol caused some discent amongst the ranks, but everyone survived. 🙂

Some of the gang are off out for a Jungle tour today, but unfortunately it is time for me to fly home, so I’m missing out on seeing yet another country. I must come back and do it properly next time. 🙂

Big thanks to Ronald Vargas for organising this leg of the tour and thanks to the Oracle ACE program for making this happen.



PS. When I get home I will write a wrap-up post to summarise the whole LA OTN Tour experience.

PPS. More photos here.

OTN Tour of Latin America: Honduras…

I mentioned the trip to Honduras at the end of my previous post. We landed in Tegucigalpa, Honduras with no dramas. A couple of guys from the University were there to meet us, which was a nice touch.

When getting foreign currency from an ATM, I would suggest you ignore anything Debra Lilley tells you to do. Her expert advice lead me to draw out the equivalent of $10 US, rather than the $100 US I planned to get. We couldn’t even pay for our food. 🙂

When we got to the hotel, the first thing I did was throw a whole bunch of clothes into the hotel laundry service. Paying someone to do my washing made me feel a bit like a class traitor, but my previous abortive attempts at drying wet clothes in my hotel room left me with little choice. Having your boxer shorts returned individually wrapped in cellophane bags is quite funny, but paying $57 US for the privilege is not. At least I don’t smell like wet dog anymore… 🙂

Apart from the washing service, Honduras seems to be a pretty cheap place from a UK/US tourist perspective. On the first evening we went out to eat at a local place, scouted out by Melanie Caffrey, which was really cool. The bill for the group (about 10 people), including drinks and a tip came to about $110 US.

The following day it was conference time. We were all shipped to the University in a minibus, where we settled in for the day (10:00-19:00). The audience was a little tricky, since it was predominantly IT students, who weren’t necessarily Oracle focussed. Thanks to the expert tuition of Joel Perez and Ronald Vargas, I was able to introduce myself in Spanish, which was a good ice breaker. You don’t want to know how much time they spent coaching Debra and I at dinner the night before. Joel came to my presentation and videoed my attempt at Spanish. When I get the URL I’ll post it here. 🙂

People were very shy about asking questions in front of the whole group, but after both presentations I got some 1-to-1 questions. It’s always nice when that happens.

The next day Debra, Sheeri and I took a whistle-stop tour of Tegucigalpa using a taxi. The driver only spoke Spanish, so it was up to Sheeri, our translator extraordinaire, to organize everything. It was a brief tour, but really enjoyable. Having a day off flying and presenting was a blessing. I was starting to feel like I was losing the plot, but I feel much better now.

You can see some photos from Honduras here.

Big thanks to Jonathan and the rest of the Honduras gang for looking after us and the speaker gift, and thanks to the Oracle ACE Director program for helping to make this happen.

In a couple of hours we will be flying to Costa Rica, which is the last stop before I return to Birmingham.



PS. Drivers in Honduras like to use their horns a lot. I think the horn must be pressed every 3 seconds or the car stalls… 🙂

OTN Tour of Latin America: Guatemala (Continued)…

We arrived in Guatemala at night, went straight to the airport and parked ourselves in the hotel bar for a few minutes before bed. Seeing armed guards in front of the hotel restaurant was more than a little unnerving. On one hand, having the guards should make you feel safer, but on the other hand, the fact they may be necessary is a little scary…

In the morning it was straight off to the conference. Things started off with keynotes by Tom Kyte and Graham Wood, then the room got split into three for the regular presentations. I was speaking in the first time slot and got a good turn out of people. My demos worked and everything went well. Next up was a filmed interview, then I went to the speaker room to try and play catch-up with my online stuff. From this mornings post you will see how well that went. I spent half of my time laughing. 🙂

Later on I went to Graham Wood’s talk on the problems associated with badly managed connection pools. If you get the chance to watch, it is well worth it. The live demonstration clearly shows how badly large numbers of physical connections affect database performance. Think 1-10 database connections per CPU core. Any more and you are probably setting yourself up for a world of hurt.

During my second session there was a technical hitch, causing the projector to cut out intermittantly. Fiddling with the projector ate away at my time, making it a struggle to finish without rushing.

The last session of the day was a keynote by Tom Kyte. I got my 15 seconds of fame when one of his slides was a screen grab of one of my blog posts. Believe it or not, amongst all the book and film reviews he managed to find a post where I was saying something that sounded resonably intelligent. Who’da thunk it?

In the evening we got taken out to dinner by the user group. I ate far too much melted cheese, which left me feeling full and very happy. I also drank two different bottles of local beer. For a non-drinker, this is becoming far too frequent on this tour. When in Guatemala, do as the Guatemalans…

Early the next day we all piled into taxis and headed to the airport. Spending two nights and a total of about 36 hours in Guatemala didn’t leave any time to look around, but the people were really friendly and I had a really great time.

We flew to Honduras on a small plane. One third of the passengers were on the ACE Tour. I did a head count. 🙂

On arrival I threw pretty much all my clothes into the hotel laundry service. I wanted to do it in Guatemala, but we were there for such a short time I got worried they might not get back to me before we had to leave.

Thanks to Carlos and everyone in Guatemala, the country of eternal spring, and to the ACE program for making this happen!



PS. Very few photos posted here.

OTN Tour of Latin America: Guatemala…

The Guatemala event is over. I will write a proper post about it on the plane tomorrow, but I just wanted to share three photos from the speakers room.

To set the scene, Graham Wood and Debra Lilley are on my left and Tom Kyte is on my right. Debra was describing something that happened earlier in the week and I just completely lost it. I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face. These tours are tiring and really hard work, but they are also extremely good fun!



OTN Tour of Latin America 2012: Quito, Ecuador…

Getting to Ecuador from Colombia was really quick and easy. I think the flight time from Cali was about 45 minutes. 🙂 We arrived late in the day, so it was bed and straight to the conference.

We had a little car trouble on the way to the venue, so we were a little late. Fortunately my laptop was ready to plug in and go, so that’s what I did. I think the translators got an easier time during this conference, because I got the speed of my presentations about right. Both talks went well and I got to speak to a lot of people between sessions. I also got to do an interview for the user group and a local computer magazine. I was famous for 15 seconds in Quito. 🙂

On the evening we went for a tour of Quito. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera, so I just have a few very bad shots from my phone. I’m sure you’ll see some great shots from other people on the tour though.

The following day we took a trip to see a volcano crater, a big market and the equator.

Being inside the crater of a volcano (even an extinct one) is a strange experience…

The trip to the equator was a real bonus. It’s odd to think how happy it made me to stand on this line.

I even got a bit over-excited and did a couple of tricks.

I’ve made some of the photos available, including some I “borrowed” from other people on the tour. 🙂

Once again, a very big thank you to Paola, the tour organisers and the ACED program for making this trip happen. Latin America is definitely a great place to visit!

In a few minutes I’m off to catch a flight to the next location. It would be really nice to get some sleep some time soon! 🙂



Update: I just found this video interview from this event. It makes me laugh. I’m trying so hard to speak slowly and clearly I can see myself straining, then visible relaxing at the end of each sentence. 🙂

OTN Tour of Latin America 2012: Cali, Colombia…

Let me start by apologising for spelling Colombia incorrectly on previous posts. I think I’ve corrected all the mistakes (I hope). Also, the name of the tour doesn’t really reflect the actual locations, since it contains two South American, one Caribbean and three Central American countries. I’ve heard multiple names for the tour, none of which are quite correct for all the countries involved, so I’m going to stick with this name for the sake of consistency. Once again, sorry if any people don’t like the tour name…

Update: I switched to “Latin America”, since this fits more of the countries (5/6). 🙂

I was sent a bunch of security notices before traveling to Columbia and I must admit I started to feel very nervous. As it turned out I had nothing to be worried about. Like most places around the world, if you are naive you can get into trouble, but if you take sensible precautions you will be fine. During my stay in Cali I had a great time and never once felt unsafe.

One of my lasting memories of Cali will probably be the fruit. I ate (and drank) loads of fruit. It just tastes so good!

The conference went really well. It’s always a little scary using a translation service, because I talk so fast normally. I tried really hard to keep things slow and not waffle too much. I hope I managed it. People were a little reluctant to ask questions in the sessions, but several people came up to me later to ask questions after each session.

Robin was a great host and made sure we had a good time. I’d like to send a big thank you to him and everyone else at the conference that made it go so smoothly. Also a big thank you to the ACE program and the tour organisers, without whom this would not be possible!

I’m not too great with a camera, but I did take some photos.