UKOUG Tech 14 : Monday

 

The day started with a taxi ride into New Street station to get the 06:01 train to Liverpool Lime Street. I was a little dissapointed that the train was a sprint train, so there were no tables and no power sockets. When the ticket guy came through I asked about an upgrade to first class and it was only £25 for the return journey, so I paid the extra to get a table and a power socket. Two 90 minute journeys are so much more bearable when you can actually do something useful on them. From Lime Street, it was a quick taxi ride to the ACC where I picked up my pass and headed straight to the room for my first session.

I was up in the first block of speakers at 09:00 for my virtualisation session. I expected a very small crowd for a virtualisation session in the first slot of an Oracle tech conference. I got into double figures, so I was happy. I got some questions at the end also, which is always nice.

After chatting to Peter Scott and Richard Foote about Richard’s fake tan and botox, I went to the speaker lounge and spent some time chatting to a variety of people. I also got my Christmas present from my dad. I was kind-of surprised and the size of the cheque, but I promised not to tell the wife or daughter how much he gave me! They are jealous types.

Next up was Robyn Sands speaking about “Why Solid SQL Still Delivers the Best ROI”. Being a database guy I guess it’s pretty obvious I’m going to agree entirely with what Robyn says. :) A few of the key points included:

  • Good database and application design pays off many times over.
  • Set-based processing in the database will always out pace row-by-row processing, either in the database or in the middle tier, for large data sets.
  • If you can’t use set-based processing, array processing typically beats row-by-row processing.
  • Threading to fake parallelism is not a great replacement for true database parallelism, but it can give advantages in some circumstances.

There are always exceptions to the rules, but bad programming gives bad performance. The test harness used for the demos is really neat. It really does hammer home the point in a very clear way!

SpeakerAwardSmallI chatted through lunch and didn’t actually make it to the food. :) After lunch it was off to the keynotes, where the UKOUG gave out some awards. I picked up a “UK Speaker Award” for last years session on “Improving the Performance of PL/SQL Function Calls from SQL”. The award was based on the speaker evaluations, which makes it feel kind-of special. I wasn’t too happy with my performance during that particular session last year, but obviously some of the folks in the audience felt different. Just goes to show you can’t be objective about your own performance. I’ll no doubt act all blasé about it, like it does’t matter, but I’ll secretly get a t-shirt printed to wear around the house. :) Thanks to everyone who filled in the evaluations. It is very nice to get a pat on the back like this from time to time…

The keynote overran and I was sitting near the front, so I was a bit nervous about leaving early. As a result, I was the last person to arrive at my session. My second session was an introduction to Analytic Functions, which seemed popular. The room was full and Tom claimed he was turned away. I think he was on the wind-up! It’s always better to have a smaller room that’s full, that a large room that feels empty. :) I was a bit “giddy” during this session. I think it was a combination of things including lack of food, adrenalin, excitement over the award, having a few friends in the audience and it being my last presentation of the year. I remember it feeling like a fun session for me. Not totally sure how that translates to the audience reaction though. As an example of my “giddiness”, about 3/4 of the way through the session I noticed Dawn on the front row, right in front of me, stopped and said something like, “Oh. You’re here!”. I must have looked like I was on crack! :)

During the Analytics session I try to break things down to the simplest possible terms, so this is more like a teaching session than a conference presentation. Analytics is something you just have to get your hands dirty with. No amount conference presentations will actually make you feel comfortable with them, so rather than trying to get heavy, I’m trying to get people over the first hurdle and get them started. The response from this session is usually pretty good, but I’m always worried someone will miss the word “introduction” mentioned in the abstract and turn up expecting some deep dive type session. It’s always good when you learn stuff during sessions you present and I learnt a couple of things thanks to Stew Ashton. Happy days!

After another chatting session in the speaker lounge, it was off to see dad speak about “AWR: Looking Beyond the Wait Events and Top SQL”. This meant missing Tom’s “AskTom” session, but family comes first! :) I really liked this session. The main point dad was making was people often jump into the top-5 wait events and try to fix the problem, without doing the necessary prep work first. Guilty! Instead, people should look at the information in the AWR report and try to build a picture of the system and application architecture, before trying to fix the problem. In many cases, this process will actually highlight the problems. This is not an exhaustive list, but the sort of things he highlighted were:

  • Check the spec of the hardware at the top of the report. Specifically the core count.
  • Check the number of sessions. Is it excessive compared to the core count. Ideally it should be 1-10 times the core count. More than that may represent a problem.
  • Is the number of sessions increasing during the sample time (start compared to end)? Is this normal or a session leak?
  • Is the number of open cursors excessive? Is it growing? Is this a cursor leak, which suggests bad application code?
  • On the load profile, is the DB CPUs per second is higher than the number of cores, you are CPU bound. This will probably make other waits “over-report” as they are really CPU bound. Maybe the contents of the top 5 waits is an artefact of being CPU bound. Can you trust them?
  • If there are a high number of rollbacks compared to transactions (commits), the application is doing lots of work only to throw it away. Bad application design.
  • Check out the init.ora settings for non-default and hidden parameters that look suspicious. Are these necessary or legacy?

Only after you’ve built up this picture, should you jump to the top 5 waits and the top SQL sections. Do they confirm your picture of the system built up from the previous investigation?

I’m pretty sure I will end up at the same conclusions when looking at an AWR report, but I think this approach is much better than the way I do things, so I will try to adapt and see how it goes. If you didn’t manage to see the session, you should download the slides and check them out. I think there is a lot of value there. Well done dad!

After the last session we headed off to the exhibition hall to socialise for a bit. I talked to a whole bunch of people, which is the best bit about conferences. I also got my first food of the day, a chocolate fish from the Dbvisit stand. :) I spent quite a bit of time talking to Jacco Landlust, who is always a great source of info. His advice has been incredibly valuable in plugging up the gaping holes in my middle tier knowledge.

At about 19:40 I shot off to the station and got on the 20:04 train home. A table and a power socket again. Awesome. I also managed to scrounge and extra strong mint of someone, which was the second meal of the day. :) I got to Birmingham at about 21:45 and stuffed some food down my face before getting a taxi home.

So that’s the last conference of the year. Let’s see what 2015 brings…

Thanks to my company for paying for the train ticket and letting me have the day off work as a “training day”, rather than holiday, especially having just got back from a three week “holiday” doing the OTN APAC tour. :) Thanks to the UKOUG for inviting me again and making sure everything ran smoothly. Thanks to all the attendees this year and to everyone who filled in their evaluations from last year. Cheques are in the mail. :) I’ll do a separate post about the ACE Program

Cheers

Tim…

UKOUG Tech14 : It’s nearly here…

 

TECH14_ResourcePk_IS_v1I’ve literally just picked up my train tickets for Monday’s trip to Liverpool for UKOUG Tech14!

I’m only going to be there for Monday, so I’ve got a lot to pack in. I’ll be doing 2 sessions, at 09:00 and 14:30, so if you don’t want to come to my sessions, but want to meet up to chat, grab me before or after them. Geeking out is much more important than the sessions. :)

I thought I might be able to make the Sunday stuff this year, which I usually have to miss because of my nephew’s birthday party (got to get your priorities right). I thought I might make it this year because his birthday is on Wednesday (today), but they decided to do the party on the weekend following, rather than the weekend preceding, so no luck. One of these years the stars will align and I’ll get to do the whole event!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again. Hopefully I will get to see the wife and kid. Not sure if dad (and master of social media) is going to make it this year…

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing Interviews

 

While we were in Beijing on the OTN APAC Tour, some of use were asked to do some media interviews. You can see them here:

I don’t like seeing myself on video, because it reminds me I don’t look like Brad Pitt. :)

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Summary

 

As you will have seen from my last post, I’m back in Birmingham after completing the OTN APAC 2014 tour. Here is a list of all the posts I wrote over the course of the tour.

At just short of 3 weeks, that was a really long tour, most of which seemed to be in planes. If someone could hurry up and invent a teleport system I would be most grateful!

I feel like the tour went really well. There are a lot of user groups in the Asia Pacific region (see here), whose membership numbers vary considerably. For some of them, overseas speakers are essential to draw people to the events. For others, it is a way of encouraging the members to interact with the English speaking community. Oracle is an American company, so being able to speak English is a distinct advantage if you plan to use Oracle technologies. The bigger user groups, like those in China and Japan, recognise this and encourage people to come to the English sessions.

I’m in a bit of a daze now. I think it’s going to take me a few days to feel vaguely normal again. Back to work tomorrow. :)

Now for the thank you list…

  • Big thanks go out to all the Oracle user groups, companies and individuals that helped make this tour happen (AUSOUG WA, SHOUG, Insight Technology Inc.ACOUG, OUGTH,  NZOUG).
  • Thanks to Francisco for his work in bringing this about.
  • Thanks to all the attendees. Without your support, none of these events would happen.
  • Thanks to all the other speakers for putting up with me.
  • Many thanks to Bjoern for being my PA during the start of the tour. I hardly had to do anything. He planned the lot for me. :)
  • Last, but not least, thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for getting us ACEDs to these events. Your assistance is very welcome!

I hope I get to see you all again soon!

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Auckland to Birmingham

 

Everything went smoothly at Auckland airport. Boarding an A380 takes quite a bit of time and I was near the front of the plane, so I was in the last group to board. Fortunately there was loads of room for hand luggage and the seat was pretty good. The people too my right were a couple, so they were leaning together, which gave me more elbow room. The extra room and a plug socket meant I was able to have the laptop open for most of the 4 hour flight.

At Melbourne we had to get off the plane, go through security, then wait to board the same plane in the same seat. My neighbours were also flying through to Dubai, so I had the same folks next to me for that leg of the flight. No matter how good the conditions are in economy class, and they were good on this Emirates flight, sitting in a plane for 14 hours is hell. Eventually I get cabin fever and have a desperate desire to get out. I have thoughts of faking a heart attack and forcing an early landing, just to get out. It’s really not cool. With a little bit of sleep, some re-watching of films and a lot of pacing up and down by the toilets I managed to get through it. The only bit of drama was when I was leaving the plane I realised I had left some things behind. I was allowed back on the plane to get them, so all was good!

After a totally uneventful 2+ hour layover in Dubai, it was back on to a 8 hour flight to Birmingham. By this time in the journey I’m usually kind-of frantic. Not so much thing time. I think my brain was mush by now. This flight didn’t feel so long, but I don’t remember too much about it, apart from ripping one of my finger nails and needing a plaster. I don’t think I slept much. I think I was just kind-of dazed.

I arrived in Birmingham in the early afternoon. After getting my luggage it was a relatively short taxi ride home. At one point we got in a traffic jam and I wanted to die, but then the traffic opened up and I got home. Once home I got a drink, put some washing on, had a bath, then went to bed. It was about 14:00.

Next thing I know, I was having a dream about something biting my finger. I shook my hand to get it off, and knocked my tablet off the bedside table. Freshly awake, I looked at the clock and thought, damn it. It’s 5 o’clock and I’ve slept for only 3 hours. I got up and drove to a store and it was closed. I checked the clock again and I had actually slept 15 hours. It was 5am, not 5pm. I guess I was pretty tired… :)

So now I’m back and I think I’m OK. I have that “aeroplane nose”, which I’m hoping is not a cold coming, and I also have a foggy head, which is I guess a jet-lag thing. I’ve got today off as it’s Sunday, but it’s back to work tomorrow…

My next post will be a wrap-up post…

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Auckland – Day 2

 

My day 2 at the conference started with my analytic functions session. I’m always a bit worried I oversimplify things, but people seem to appreciate it, so perhaps I’m just being paranoid. I’m sure the feedback will let me know. :)

Next I went to Chris Muir‘s session of Developing Web and Mobile Dashboards with Oracle ADF. I had already seen this at the AUSOUG WA event in Perth, but I liked it, so I thought I would give it a second go. :) You can see some of the stuff that gets bundled with ADF 12.1.3 here.

From there I moved on the Anton Els’ session called Is Your Standby Database Locked and Loaded, Ready to Take on the Disaster?, which was a whistle-stop tour of standby database. The session started with an overview of standby technology in general. It then focussed on Data Guard, including a discussion of Active Data Guard and the Broker. It then moved on to implementing standby databases with Standard Edition (SE), using manual scripts and third party products, like Dbvisit Standby. The discussion then moved on the impact of flashback database in the context of standby, including snapshot standby. Next up was situations where you’ll need RMAN to fix problems, or use RMAN in conjunction with your standby database. This was the first time I’ve seen Anton present and I was really impressed. He’s very relaxed, confident, presents at a good pace and most importantly sounds like he really understands the subject matter!

I missed the next session because I got talking with Anton and Arjen from Dbvisit. Some tech talk along with the state of the movie business these days… :)

Then it was time for my 4th and final session of the conference. This one was my WebLogic introduction presentation, which is a bit of a braindump type session. With people scattered around a big room, you feel a little separated from the audience and I don’t think it works so well. It’s better to be in a smaller room so you feel more up-close and personal, but it’s all good. :)

Once my session was done, it was a quick goodbye over an ice-cream, then off to my hotel to get my bag. It’s a little sad when you have to rush off from a conference. It feels a little ungrateful somehow. I shared a taxi with a guy from Dunedin who had been at the conference, I’m so sorry I forgot your name. :( That made the journey a lot more pleasant though as we got to talk about the conference and life as a DBA etc.

This was my 4th visit to New Zealand and I hope it’s not my last. It’s always a really friendly conference and the fact I get to visit non-Oracle friends as well is a bonus. Hopefully I will get to pop in again on another APAC tour in the future! Thanks to everyone in the NZOUG for inviting me and making it run smoothly.

So I’m sitting in the airport now, waiting to start the nightmare journey home. I’ll post that as a separate post, along with a wrap-up post when I get home…

Cheers

Tim…

 

 

 

OTN APAC 2014 – Auckland – Day 1

 

So it was really day 2 of the conference, but it was day 1 for me, so that’s the way I’m naming it… :) There were seven tracks available, but I’ll be speaking about what I saw…

First up was the keynote by Tim Ebbeck called 10 Rules of Transformational Leadership. I’m not the biggest fan of keynotes, but this one was pretty cool. To summarise:

  1. Nothing beats being as good as you can be. Get off your ass and do it.
  2. Expect less of other people’s leadership and expect more of your own. Be a self starter. Don’t rely on others to lead you.
  3. You always have a choice. Make positive choices.
  4. Manage and protect your personal brand. Do other people perceive you as you perceive yourself.
  5. Life’s not fair. Get over it.
  6. Settle for nothing less than you deserve.
  7. Keep perspective. Never take things personally. Avoid it becoming about ego.
  8. Do it differently and innovate.
  9. Balance the game. You need a work/life balance.
  10. Make up your own rules.

Pretty cool. I agree with everything, but he forgot to mention number “11. S.T.F.U. and R.T.F.M”. :)

Next up was DBA 101: Calling All New Database Administrators by Gustavo Rene Antunez. I’ve met Rene a few times, but I’ve never seen him present, so this was a great opportunity. It was a really nice introduction Oracle and the DBA job. His slides are really fun and informative at the same time. I really like his presentation style. I’ll definitely make the effort to see him present again in future.

My PL/SQL performance session seemed to go quite well. After presenting recently to groups of people where English was a second language, it was liberating to be able to speak quicker and in a more relaxed manner again.

After lunch I went to see Gustavo Rene Antunez speaking about Getting Started with Database as a Service with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. It’s a subject that I’m interested in, even though I have very little experience of it at the moment. I think the important point Rene made is you should be trying to reduce the number of offerings in the service catalog to a manageable level, so you can cope with 80% of your systems that represent the “standard stuff”. There is no point defining templates for the one-off things, since DBaaS probably isn’t the right place for that. Once again, one size does not fit all. Some interesting decisions to make in terms of management and governance…

Next up was Stuart Speers talking about Oracle database on AWS (Amazon Web Services). He started off talking about the pros and cons of RDS for Oracle, then moved on to a case study where they deployed conventional Oracle installation on AWS to support an APEX application for a customer. I’ve played with most of this AWS stuff to kick the tires, but that’s different to the experience of doing a production app on it. It was interesting to see the approach and architecture of the application in the context of AWS.

Next up was Jennie Vickers speaking about The Fear Factor – Getting Past Legal Concerns About the Cloud. She’s a lawyer, not a computer geek, so the idea behind this session was to help us identify problem areas that may need legal attention, not turn us into technology lawyers. This stuff is very scary and very interesting. She broke the identification of problem processes down to 8 key areas.

  • Business or Consumer (B2B or B2U)? : There are different legal issues around this. It’s often easier to protect yourself from other businesses than from consumer rights? Some consumer law is not defined in your contract, but part of the statute. There is some cross referencing to do.
  • Global or Local? : Legal jurisdictions are important. Are you bound by the law of your country, the country of your service provider or the country of the user.
  • Goods, service, experience or community? What are you actually selling?
  • Brands : Support not damage the brand. Your service shouldn’t compromise the values of the brand. Does the cloud affect your brand in a negative way?
  • Online, physical or both for sales? Some countries treat internet sales differently to physical sales.
  • Selling a technology product, or technology enabler? It makes a difference.
  • What data? Does privacy even matter for the data you are putting into the cloud? Lots of data is irrelevant from a security perspective.
  • Who owns the data? Does it belong to your business or your customers? It makes a difference.

Depending on your answers to these questions, you are going to have a different attitude to the cloud. It was pretty neat getting a talk about this from a lawyer, not a geek pretending to understand the law!

From there I went to my session on virtualisation. It’s a nice and fluffy session to end the day. :)

After the last session, there was a social gathering in the foyer for a bit of networking. I went and grabbed some with Chris Muir, before going back to the hotel to bed down for the night…

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Auckland Day Off

 

The first day of the Auckland conference was made up of hands-on labs and workshops. I wasn’t presenting, so I arranged to meet up with some friends and have a play day. :)

On my way out of the hotel I saw Osama Mustafa, who is still looking buff like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. On the way to the station I met Anton Els, which was a pleasant surprise. We chatted for a bit and he gave me a lift around the corner and dropped me off at the station. After stuffing my face at Subway, I got on the train to Papakura, where I met my buddy Stan and we went to his place in Pukekohe.

The great thing about meeting up with good friends is you don’t have to say or do a lot. Just hanging out together is fun. It’s been about 8 years since he moved to NZ and about 3 years since I last saw him in person, but you just kick back into gear. It was a really cool low pressure day with him and his family. They have a 12 acre lifestyle block with some cows on it, as well as some cows grazing the neighbouring blocks. It’s funny watching the stages of development in cows. The young ones gallop and skip around like chunky gazelles. At about one year old they are more sedate, but occasionally revert back into the child like state and jump and run around, which is very impressive considering their size. Once they are adults, they are like tanks made of flesh…

In the evening I was planning on getting the train back to Auckland, but I was reading the wrong timetable and missed the last train. I could have stayed the night, but I wanted to get back so I took a taxi. It was a little sad to say goodbye, because you never really know when you will see each other in person again…

For me, the NZOUG conference starts tomorrow. Like the Perth event, I’ve got four presentations in total. Two on each day. It’s amazing to think the tour is nearly over…

Cheers

Tim…

OTN APAC 2014 : Bangkok to Auckland

 

I left the Bangkok event straight after my session, went back to my hotel to get my luggage, then got a taxi to the airport. I was a little worried as people said the traffic would be horrific. Luckily I beat the worst of the traffic and my hotel was very close to the highway. I got to the airport with about 3 hours spare, which sounds like a lot, but for Bangkok airport I think that is a good amount of time.

I got through check-in pretty quickly, but the queues for passport control and security were pretty horrific. There were a couple of large groups of Chinese old people traveling, who seemed to surround me and scream at each for over an hour. I mean properly scream. I felt like I was in the middle of the seagulls in Finding Nemo. I just wanted to shout “Mine! Mine! Mine!” at them. What with that and the constant shoving, I was amazed I didn’t clobber someone. Once through security and passport control, they all scuttled off to the gate for Shanghai, my ears got a much needed rest, and I decided going on a killing spree was probably not necessary… :)

The first leg of the journey was a 9:15 hour flight to Sydney. We boarded late, but the journey ended up taking 8:22, so we arrived on time. Apart from being deathly boring, it all went OK. I had an aisle seat and it was an Emirates plane, so that was fine. It did feel a bit like a plague pit. One young boy threw up at the start of the flight and a number of people were coughing and sneezing a lot. The airline staff are really jumpy at the moment, so when I took a pre-emptive Lemsip to stave of a headache, I got the third degree…

On arrival at Sydney, I headed straight for the next flight where I bumped into Pete Sharman and Chris Muir. Pete was on my flight, but Chris was on the next one. Pete and I boarded the plane, then waited while they offloaded the baggage for a missing passenger. By the time we landed, Chris had caught up with us. They managed to lose Pete’s luggage. :( Chris and I took a cab to the hotel, then when out to get some food and chat.

Guess what I have in my apartment?

WashingMachine

First load done and draped around my room to dry. I’m so happy!

Cheers

Tim…

 

OTN APAC 2014 : Bangkok

 

I spent a long time in bed last night, but it was quite fitful sleep. As a result, I slept in late this morning, which wasn’t really a problem as I was not speaking until 14:45.

The Bangkok event was a single-track event, with the following running order.

I arrived just as Dan was finishing his session. I’m sure I’ll get to see it in Auckland. It was a rapid-fire event, with a few small breaks. It was nice to get to see everyone, but it would have been better if I was not so rushed for time. As soon as my session was over I only had time to take a few pictures, then I was rushing off to the airport to start the next leg of my journey. Next time I will try to stay longer…

Thanks to everyone in Bangkok for organising the event and keeping everyone on schedule. It would have got really tricky if things had run behind schedule. :)

So tonight I start the journey to Auckland. I’ve got about 6 days left of the tour and because of the way time zones work, about 3 days of that time is on a plane. I could have done with the Auckland event being in the middle of the tour, so I would be half way home now, rather than travelling to the furthest point before heading home. I’m sure it will be worth it. The Kiwi event is good fun and I will hopefully get to meet up with some of my friends who live in NZ.

Cheers

Tim…