OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing to Bangkok

The day started at 03:00. Once everything was packed and ready to go I typed up some blog posts to fill my time before the taxi arrived. I had checked out the night before, so there was no drama getting out of the hotel.

The great thing about travelling early in the morning is there is very little traffic. The cab to the airport took about 20 minutes. Everyone had suggested it would be 40-60 minutes, which of course it would have been later in the day.

Airport security went relatively smoothly. They wanted to scan my cables several times. Joel got one of his power-banks (mobile chargers) confiscated. Interestingly, they confiscated the small low-power one, saying it was dangerous, but let him keep the bigger, high-power one. Go figure…

The flight to Bangkok took a little under 5 hours. There were some quality passengers as always. One guy decided to get out of his seat to look through the window about 1 minute before we landed. Others got out of their seats and started to collect there hand luggage as soon as there wheels hit the ground. It seams there is no cure for being a dumbass. 🙂

When we boarded the plane in Beijing the air was cold and dry. On leaving the plane you were instantly hit with the hot and wet air of Bangkok.

Bangkok airport is quite large and very busy. The immigration line was *very* long, but it moved quite quickly. Joel got to the front of the line and was then told to go somewhere else, so I picked up the luggage and waited for him to arrive. He joined me about 15 minutes later and we went through the customs etc.

The taxi to the hotel took about 15 minutes, with only a couple of near-accidents, but I was too sleepy to care. I checked into my hotel and was told I had a free upgrade to a suite. The room is amazing. I have:

  • A lounge/office room.
  • A bedroom with a balcony.
  • A massive bathroom with a bath, separate shower, makeup mirror, Dalek style toilet with controls on the wall
  • A walk-in wardrobe.
  • Two TVs with cable.
  • A bowl of fruit.

It’s like my own little flat. If it had a washing machine I would move in permanently.

I’m only in Thailand for about 24 hours, so I’ve not got time to do any real sightseeing. I took a walk around the hotel, which is very posh. I walked around the nearby park, which was quite hard work in the heat, while dressed completely in black. I also walked along a couple of small streets, which were full of rather interesting establishments. I popped into a big shopping mall to cool down and bought some posh bread, then grabbed some diet coke from a 7 eleven near the hotel. That’s dinner sorted!

I’m back in the hotel now and I’m going to bed soon. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I go straight from the conference to the airport for a 9.5 hour flight to Sydney, then a 3 hour flight to Auckland. It’s going to get really messy if I don’t sleep on the plane!

I’ll check in tomorrow with another post where I moan about my lack of sleep… 🙂



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing – Day 2

For some reason, unknown to me, I could not sleep. I left the restaurant at about 22:00 and switched between attempting to sleep, watching TV and playing on the computer until 06:00 the following day. I have no idea why. When 06:00 eventually came I went down for breakfast, then got back to my room and attempted to sleep again. This time I went out like a light and was woken by Bjoern at 12:00 asking if I was coming to lunch. Of course I did not turn down food, so I threw on some clothes and went with him. After that I hit the shower, then was ready to start the day…

I had no presentations on the second day, so I originally planned to work most of the day. That didn’t happen…

I went along to see Giuseppe Maxia speaking about MySQL replication. The MySQL track had a great turnout of attendees. Giuseppe asked about usage of a few different technologies to get a feel for the audience. Interestingly, when asked who uses Hadoop, the crowd didn’t seem to react, but when asked about MongoDB, lots of hands went up… I’ve had some time to speak with Giuseppe over the tour and he’s given me some ideas about what I need to look at next to improve my MySQL installations. The networking at these things is really the best bit. 🙂

Following that session we did some mingling and some group photos and the event started to wind down. Bjoern must have taken a photo of himself with every woman in the place. He was loving the attention. In the evening we did a quick walk around the local area, including looking at a high-end shopping mall that was pretty much empty of customers… 🙂

Then it was back to the hotel to check out and book a taxi for 04:00 the following morning…

Big thank you to all the folks in Beijing for making this happen. This event certainly has a buzz about it now and I hope it keeps going from strength to strength. I look forward to coming again to see how it progresses in future.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok…



OTN APAC 2014 : Beijing – Day 1

Having an extended period of sleep was really good. After a week of minimal sleep I felt vaguely human again…

On my last visit to Beijing in 2011 the conference had about 500 attendees registered and we used translated slides and live translation of the speakers. This time it was a much bigger event. Over 1000 people registered, split over 3 tracks. The keynote room held in excess of 1000 people and there were people standing. Quite impressive. Also, there was no slide or live translation for this event. I was going to use my Chinese slides from Shanghai, but the organisers said they preferred the attendees to listen to English and read the English slides. That is quite a change in 3 years.

Another encouraging sign was the number of slots for English speakers was quite limited. The aim of the Oracle ACE program is to encourage a stronger local community, so ultimately it would be good if overseas speakers were totally surplus to requirements. It certainly looks like China is moving that way, which is great. Interestingly, they do not seem to have any interest in the apps side of Oracle. It seems to be purely a tech conference.

In addition to the growth of the conference, there was also a growth in the vendors having stands at the event. It’s kind-of freaky looking at Dell’s Spotlight running with Chinese text. 🙂 I think the growth of the event is really encouraging. I hope it continues to grow.

Since most of the sessions were in Chinese, I spent most of the morning playing catch-up with some stuff for the website. I met up with Bjoern for some food at lunch time, then went to do my session. The room could hold about 500 people. Tom was in the room before me and not surprisingly he had it packed out. I had less than half that number for my session, but I was pretty pleased with that considering it was a straight PL/SQL session and I’m a foreign speaker competing against native speakers.

In the evening we went to the Hotel’s Brazilian Barbecue. 🙂 It was a meat-fest, but there was plenty of Chinese veggie stuff for me to eat and I took full advantage of it. 🙂

I was expecting a really easy night with loads of sleep, but things didn’t work out that way. More about that tomorrow…



OTN APAC 2014 : Tokyo to Beijing

Not much sleep last night. When I know I’ve got an early start I don’t sleep well because I’m worrying about waking up late. 🙂 At 04:00 I started getting everything ready to leave. I met Bjoern in the lobby and we took the airport shuttle to Hanada airport. Once again, I piggy-backed on Bjoern’s lounge access to get some free drinks and breakfast. 🙂

It was my first flight on Air China and I can’t say I was too impressed. With one exception, the stewardesses were as miserable as sin. If they tried to smile they would have cracked their faces. I was attempting to get my one and only piece of hand luggage into the overhead locker and I was told twice to get out of the aisle so people could carry on boarding, and of course put their 75,000 pieces of hand luggage into the storage bins. By the time I was able to try and put my bag away without being moaned at there was no space. Needless to say I got the right hump and will do my best never to fly with them again!

The flight itself went OK. I got between 1-2 hours sleep during the 3 hour 40 minute flight. On arrival at Beijing we took a taxi to the hotel, dumped our stuff and went in search of food. Being the adventurous types we are, we settled on Pizza Hut. 🙂 Bjoern wasn’t feeling too well, so I was forced to eat his food too. 🙂

It’s 15:00 now, but we’ve both come back to the hotel to crash. I’m planning on sleeping for the rest of the day and night. Conference starts tomorrow…



PS. I’m back behind the Great (Fire)Wall of China again, so I’ve got limited access to social networks and emails for a few days…

OTN APAC 2014 : Tokyo – Day 2

db tech showcase tokyo 2014Day 2 of the English speaking track of the Tokyo event began with:

  • Tom Kyte : Oracle Optimizer : What’s new in the Oracle Database 12c?
  • Mike Dietrich : Hitchhiker’s Guide to Oracle Database Upgrades

After Mike’s session we went out for lunch at a Tempura place. I had vegetable tempura. Very nice!

Tom took great pleasure in saying things like, “You’re only saying that because you get those cheques from Oracle every month…”, after everything I said. 🙂 For those that don’t understand the joke, read these blog posts (Fanboy, Oracle Bitch, Follow Up).

The afternoon sessions were:

Presenting so late on the second day was really tough. I just wanted to climb into bed and sleep. I had to miss a couple of slides out as I ran out of time, but it’s all backed by an article, so people can fill in the gaps later if they are interested.

After the event we went out to eat and few brave souls went out to Karaoke.

I’d like to extend a big thank you everyone involved in the setup of the event, especially Noriko, who went out of her way to make everything as simple as possible for us. I look forward to seeing you all again.

Tomorrow is an early start for the flight to Beijing, so I’ll probably post an update once I land and get into the hotel there.



OTN APAC 2014 : Shanghai to Tokyo

Not the best night of sleep last night. During the day I noticed the load time for pages on my website is really slowly in China because it hangs waiting for a Google Javascript file to load, which eventually does a timeout. Once the timeout happens the page continues to render. That means it takes over a minute to load the page. Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to get out of bed and fix it. It turned out the Javascript file just renders the “Powered by Google” text in the search box, so I removed that and the pages now load fast. There are still some asynchronous calls to Google code that timeout, but those don’t block the page rendering, so I don’t care about them. The site is usable now… 🙂

After breakfast I got a taxi to pick Bjoern up from his hotel, before heading off for the airport. It was a quick flight, about 2:35, so it was pretty small compared to what we’ve done so far. I was sitting near some people who were talking really loud. I had my earphones on almost full volume, but the people were still clearly audible. The landing in Tokyo was quite hard, which prompted one of the loud women to wail somewhat, then the woman across the aisle was sick in a bag. I didn’t think the landing was that bad… 🙂

From there we got the Narita Express into town and a short taxi ride to Bjoern’s hotel. He dropped his stuff off, then we got a taxi over to my hotel, where most of the other speakers are staying. We took a walk around the local area to look for food, but I got scared as everything looked like it contained meat or fish, so I got some fries from McDonalds. I will try some proper food tomorrow, when we have someone who speaks Japanese to help make the choices. 🙂

I’m a little worried about my hotel room as the bathroom has been taken over by a Dalek.




OTN APAC 2014 : Journey from Perth to Shanghai

As I wrote previously, after some drinks and food after the Perth conference, Bjoern and I went to the airport to start the trip to Shanghai. Fortunately Bjoern has gold status so he could get into the lounge and sign me in, which made the long wait for the first flight much easier.

The first flight was about 5 hours to Singapore. I didn’t sleep, which was a pity. We were a little delayed, so the layover in Singapore wasn’t too long. Then we boarded the flight to Shanghai, which was another 5-ish hour flight. I did manage to sleep for between 1-2 hours on this flight, so if my maths is correct I got about 2 hours sleep in the last 38-40 hours. I arrived at Shanghai feeling pretty terrible.

MagLev SpeedOn arrival at Shanghai airport we took the Maglev train to the city. Its top speed for this journey was 430kph. Crazy fast! We then switched to the {metro | subway | tube} to get us right next door to Bjoern’s hotel. I got a taxi from there to my hotel. I’m staying in the conference hotel, so life should be simple…

I’ve ducked out of the dinner tonight (sorry folks) because I’ve got to get some sleep or I simply won’t be able to do anything at the conference tomorrow. Bjoern sleeps OK on planes, so he’ll be there to entertain everyone. 🙂

Hopefully I’ll feel fine tomorrow…

Just a word of warning to anyone trying to get hold of me in the next three days. From the hotel wifi I am unable to access Gmail or any social media. I’ve posted a couple of messages by connecting to my computer at work, but I’m not really going to be doing that too much. The great firewall of China strikes again… 🙂

Bjoern is able to access all this stuff from his phone, so I might use him as my secretary…



OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 2

Day 2 started at 03:30 local time, so I got about 5-5.5 hours sleep. After doing a bit of work on the computer I went for a swim at the beach. I would like to say I was very brave and marched in, but I got to waist level and gave up. It wasn’t so much that the water was cold. It was more than the wind was so strong I was freezing to death before I got to the water. Bjoern and Connor were made of sterner stuff and stayed in. I wrapped myself in a bunch of towels and paddled. Once I was covered up I realised the water was not so bad, so I actually got back in. It wasn’t so much a swim, as jumping up and down trying not to get drowned by the waves. 🙂

The second day of the conference started for me with Connor‘s session on 12c for developers. It was a fast paced pass over a whole bunch of features that don’t necessarily make the headlines. There’s so much stuff in Oracle 12c I found myself thinking, I really need to write and article on that, only to remember I’ve already done it. It’s going to take a long time for this to become a natural part of my toolset.

Next up was Penny Cookson talking about the optimizer, focussing on the traps people fall into when they forget the optimizer sometimes has to make assumptions or guesses. Amongst other things, this included cases where histograms help and where they don’t. Where extended statistics help and where they don’t. Where cardinality (statistics) feedback helps and it doesn’t. Penny always uses a specific example or metaphor to explain her case. In this case is was OHarmonry (eHarmony in UK & USA) and all about finding the perfect man. Very amusing. 🙂

After lunch it was back-to-back sessions for me. I think they went OK, but I was very tired so it was really hard to get psyched up for them. A couple of times I felt like I was really straining to speak without slurring my words. I always say I am nervous before every talk. I was too tired to be nervous before these, which is not a good thing. It’s quite hard to be objective about your own performance. I felt kind-of hyper in yesterday’s sessions, which made today feel comparatively flat. I hope they didn’t come across that way. Four sessions and a 5 minute contribution to a keynote in two days while sleep deprived is not optimal, but you gotta get the job done. 🙂

After my sessions I went to watch Penny Cookson and Scott Wesley speaking about presentation skills. Every bit of advice you can get helps…

The last session of the day was Connor McDonald speaking about hardware options for Oracle DBAs. Over the years you come across a lot of information, but it’s really nice when someone breaks it down into really simple terms and puts it all together so you get hit with it in one go. It kind-of crystallises in your mind. As is normal for Connor, it was a fast paced session, which was what I needed for the last session of the day. If I had sat in a sedate session I would have fallen asleep…

After a quick wrap-up, we headed down to the bar and sat speaking to the AUSOUG and SAGE Computing Services folks. After that we popped out to get some food, then Connor gave Bjoern and myself a lift to the airport.

It’s now 00:30 local time as I write this and in about an hour we board a 5 hour flight for Singapore, then a 5 hour flight to Shanghai. I’m going to be a right mess by the time I get there! 🙂

Thanks to all the folks in Perth for inviting us along and making sure everything went smoothly. Thanks also to Connor for being our chauffeur. 🙂



OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 1

I got up at 04:00 local time and spent the morning working through some stuff on the computer. Due to not reading tweets properly, I missed going for a morning swim at the beach with Bjoern and Connor.

Day 1 of the Perth conference started with some quick keynotes, then it was on to the first session. Inspired by the lightning talks at OOW, the first session I was involved in was a group of us each giving a 5 minute talk about impressions of this years Oracle OpenWorld. This one was less technical than the OOW sessions, but I thought it was fun.

After that I headed off to watch Chris Muir‘s talk about the data visualisation functionality in ADF. There is some pretty neat stuff in there these days! I think the important message from this was Oracle are not trying to make it all things for all people, but it should be pretty easy to use these visualisation gizmos for most of the stuff you need to do. There will always be a place for specialised visualisation tools. I think this is a good move on their part. Overcomplicating the offering would be a mistake IMHO. Even so, it’s darn impressive what this stuff can do these days! You can see some of the stuff that gets bundled with ADF 12.1.3 here.

After that I headed over to watch Bjoern Rost do a session on Flashback Data Archive. I had a quick chat with him and Connor about the subjects afterwards. I’ve not looked at the 12c enhancements yet, but it seems there is some interesting stuff there.

I spent quite a bit of time catching up with Chris Muir after Bjoern’s session, so I missed some other sessions. Then it was off to mine. I did back-to-back sessions on virtualisation and WebLogic. They are intentionally “light and fluffy” introductory sessions, so I hope they were useful to people. I got some questions at the end and talked to a couple of people afterwards, so I know there were at least some satisfied customers. 🙂

There was a social gathering to mark the end of the first day, then we headed back to the hotel and bed.

I’ve not been in this neck of the woods since 2011, but it feels like only yesterday. I kept bumping into family faces for a chat, which was really cool.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I’ve got the conference all day, with my two database sessions in the afternoon, then Bjoern and I have got to hang around until 02:00 in the morning to fly out to Shanghai. I’m looking forward to the conference, but not looking forward to the long wait before a long two-leg flight…




OTN APAC 2014 : The Journey to Perth

It was a pretty uneventful morning. I did my normal trick of checking everything was turned off, then checking again, just in case… 🙂

I breezed through baggage drop-off and security in record time, barely breaking stride.

We were a little late getting on the plane and stared taxiing out to the runway before everyone was seated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. The first flight was somewhere between 6.5-7 hours long, followed by a 2+ hour stopover in Dubai. There was one minor incident when a woman had a hissy-fit at the stewardess, which resulted in her reporting the stewardess to the purser. A little while later, I went and found the purser and told her what I saw as a witness of the event. Basically, the stewardess was really nice and the passenger was being a stupid miserable old cow. Nuff said.

The second flight from Dubai to Perth was about 10.5 hours. No real dramas, and amazingly for me I actually got some sleep. I probably slept about 3 hours in total, made up of a few minutes here and there.

I arrived in Perth at about 17:45, having told folks here I would be arriving at about 14:00. I really don’t know what is wrong with me and travelling. 🙂 I got through passport control and customs with no worries, then got a taxi to the hotel. Once I was connected to the wifi I had to deal with nearly 2 days worth of emails in one go. It always amuses me how it feels like one long day for me, but 2 days for the rest of the world.

There was a dinner in the evening, but I was frazzled, so I ended up going to bed at about 22:00 local time and waking up this morning at 04:00. I’m supposed to be going out swimming in the sea this morning, but I’m hoping Connor and Bjoern are hungover and change their minds…

So the madness starts today. Wish me luck!