Birmingham City University (BCU) Talk #7

Yesterday I went to Birmingham City University (BCU) to do a talk on “Graduate Employability” to a bunch of second year undergraduate IT students. I’ve done this a few times at BCU, and also at UKOUG for a session directed at students.

The session is what originally inspired the my series of blog posts called What Employers Want.

I’ve mentioned before, these sessions are a little different to your typical conference sessions. Perhaps you should try reaching out to a local college or university to see if they need some guest speakers, and try something outside your comfort zone.

Thanks to Jagdev Bhogal and BCU for inviting me again. See you again soon.

Cheers

Tim…

Becoming an Oracle ACE

I got asked about this a few times at OpenWorld 2018, so I figured it was about time to visit this subject… Again…

I’m not saying becoming an ACE should be your motivation for contributing to the community, but it is for some people, and who am I to judge. 🙂

Remember, this is just my opinion! Someone from the ACE program might jump in and tell me I’m wrong. 🙂

What do I have to do to become an ACE?

It’s explained here, and if you follow the links. In the past it used to be a bit more “fluid”, but there are still a lot of different types of things that can count towards your “community contributions” with various weightings, but most of the points come from technical content creation and presenting.

If you follow the links provided you can fill in the score card and see if what you currently do adds up to a “reasonable” number of points. I’m not sure if they tell you how many point you need up front, and I’m not going to talk about specifics, but you may be unpleasantly surprised by how few points some contributions get.

Does Oracle User Group work count?

The program was born out of online content. The old timers reading this will remember a time when any user group work, like being on the board, organising conferences and conference volunteering counted for zero. It was not considered as part of your contribution where the ACE program was concerned. Later on it was given a little credit. Now, if you do everything possible with regards to a user group, you can get about half way to qualifying for the ACE program without producing any content. That still means you have to pick up about half of the points from presenting and producing technical content. User group work alone will not get you there.

There are a lot of people who do loads of work for their local user groups. In addition, some write lots of blog posts to promote events. Some are super active on social media to promote events. No matter how much of that you do, from what I can see you qualify for *about* half the points needed to become an ACE. Assuming my calculations are correct, that’s really important, because there are probably some people that think they should be an ACE, and believe they more than qualify, but in fact don’t. You can question the *current judging criteria*, but as it stands, that’s the way it is.

I happen to think this is correct because it’s relatively easy to reach a very wide audience with technical content. In comparison most user groups have a very limited audience. They both have value, but from a “product evangelism” perspective, I think the focus on reach makes sense. Once again, just my opinion. 🙂

Does Twitter (and other social media) count?

No, not really. Technically it does, as you can get 5 points for being super-on-message with your tweets all year. I don’t even attempt to count and submit tweets, because what’s the point? I can get the same amount of points for one technical post. 🙂

If you are using social media to push out your own original content, that’s great. You will get credit for your original content, not the social media posts linking to it. If you are just being “active” on social media, or tweeting out other people’s content, you are not doing something that will earn a lot of points. You are providing a service by introducing people to content they might otherwise have missed, but you will not get a lot of points for it, which means you will not qualify for the ACE program.

Going back to the previous point, it’s mostly about creating original technical content, not curating other people’s content. Some people will feel like they are super active and will feel hard done by if they are not included in the program, but on the *current judging criteria* they should not be included.

What should I spend my time on then?

In my opinion, your time would be best spent on the creation of original technical content.

  • Technical blog posts and articles. Notice the word technical. Blogging random crap doesn’t count, which is why most of my blog posts don’t go on to my score card. 🙂
  • Presenting at conferences and meetups.
  • Videos, webinars and podcasts, but the rules for inclusion mean if you do the 2-3 minute technical videos on YouTube, like I used to, they are not going to count, unless you batch them together into playlists and submit as a single video.
  • Technical books. They get a lot of points, but take a crazy amount of time.

As mentioned, you will get points for other things too, but they are either inefficient, or will not get you “all the way”. 🙂

You get more points for content related to Oracle Cloud. When this was introduced the points difference between regular and Oracle Cloud content was significant and people freaked out. The difference is much smaller now and I don’t think it’s significant. You should be able to make the points easily without doing any cloud content.

But I don’t want to do that!

That’s cool. Do whatever you feel comfortable with, even if that’s nothing. Being an Oracle ACE is not a certification of greatness or a badge of approval. If you love doing this stuff, you get nominated and become an ACE that’s great. If you don’t enjoy creating technical content or presenting, it doesn’t mean you are worse than those that do. Do what you want to do!

I am awesome, but I don’t write/present much!

Remember, this is not a certification. It’s not a measure of how good you are. On countless occasions I’ve read people bleating on about how person X should be an Oracle ACE because they are great, even though they do almost nothing that qualifies for inclusion. It’s about community contribution. If you are great, but you are not out there, you shouldn’t be part of the program.

If you only write a handful of posts a year, even if they are great, you shouldn’t be part of the program because you are not meeting the criteria.

There are a specific set of criteria for entry to, and continued participation in the program. Do you live up to them? If yes, you should be part of it. If not, you shouldn’t.

That’s not to say you have to agree with the *current judging criteria*, but they exist. That is how your contribution is judged.

Conclusion

Don’t project onto the program what you want it to be. It is what it is.

Check out the criteria, rather than making up what you think the criteria should be. They do change over time.

Don’t listen to other people’s interpretation of what counts, even mine. 🙂

Related Posts

As I mentioned at the start of the post, I’ve written about the ACE program a lot over the years, and covered some of these points also. I’ve listed a few of those posts below.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. If I’m factually incorrect, I will gladly make corrections. Differences of opinion may be a little harder to sway me on. 🙂

Oracle OpenWorld and Code One 2018 : Oracle ACE Director Briefing (and 18c XE)

I woke up at 02:00. I tried to got back to sleep, but by a little after 03:00 I gave up and got out of bed. I hit the gym for a while, but felt pretty dreadful.

I mentioned yesterday, I had helped some people with setting up Oracle Cloud. Since I was awake I grabbed some screen shots and wrote a couple of small posts so I could forward them to one of the folks, so they could remember what we did. These along with a couple of other posts I released a few days ago pretty much show how we set up a demo environment in a few minutes..

Pretty soon it was time to go down to the Oracle ACE Director Briefing…

Like yesterday, the meeting was covered by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), so there isn’t really anything I can say about it, but during the briefing we were told Oracle Database 18c Express Edition (XE) had been released for download. I had previously done an 18c RPM installation on Vagrant, so it was pretty simple to modify it to do the XE installation in a similar way and leave it going while I was watching the sessions. Yay! Go automation! 🙂

I did my thing of not eating again, so I could stay awake during the meeting. By the end of the last session I felt pretty hungry, so I picked up a bag of cheese flavoured popcorn and downed that before heading to Chipotle (again). I think I’m done with Chipotle now. My vegetarian burrito had a huge chunk of meat in it, which I bit into and spat out. If it had been at the start of I would have demanded a new one, but as I had nearly finished I just walked up to the counter and said, “This is a vegetarian burrito and that is meat. Sort yourself out!”, then left in a bad mood.

I got back to the hotel and had about an hour before 19:00, when I was meant to go and meet people at some place about a block down the road. I made the fatal mistake of lying on the bed to watch TV for a bit, and waking up at 04:00 the next day. Sorry folks! 🙁 The fact I slept for about 10 hours, which is extremely rare for me, kind-of shows you were I was at by this point. 🙂

So that’s the first two days of briefings done. Tomorrow (today by the time you read this) is a “day off”, but I do have an event in the middle of the day and a dinner in the evening. I’ve also got to go through my three (and a bit) talks, because once the conference starts, there’s no telling when I will get time…

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I was forced to “disappear” Maria Colgan from the family because she came into the room and didn’t come immediately to say hello to me. If she is really good, and I don’t replace her with someone else, she may be allowed back into the family at some point in the future… 🙂

Riga Dev Days 2018 : Day 2

Day 2 of Riga Dev Days 2018 was pretty much a repeat of day 1 for me. My mystery illness continues. I spent most of the day in bed, but went to the conference to present my session called Make the RDBMS Relevant Again with RESTful Web Services and JSON.

I think the session went OK, but my brain was on a go-slow and I was struggling for words a couple of times. Thanks to Chris for pointing out my “pistol fingers”, which I seem to be doing in every shot he took… Personally I think pistol fingers look better than Jazz Hands, which he does during his presentations… 🙂

I got some questions at the end, one of which I have referred to the “ORDS Gods in the Sky” (see below for answer), and spent some time chatting outside the room after the session.

I headed upstairs to the balcony to discuss some stuff with Martin Bach and Neil Chandler before going back to the hotel to crash… Again…

It’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t get to see much of the conference this year, but the main thing was I made it to my sessions. I hope to be back again and in better health next time so I cab be a bit more involved and learn something myself! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Reply from the “ORDS Gods in the Sky”…

Question: Does ORDS support HTTP2?

Answer: ORDS 18.1.1 Standalone Mode on JDK 9 or later supports HTTP/2 out of the box no additional configuration required. In the case of ORDS running under an application server, it comes down to whether the application server support HTTP/2. WebLogic does not support HTTP/2 yet. Tomcat recent versions with JDK 9 or later support HTTP/2…

Riga Dev Days 2018 : Day 1

I woke up at about 06:00 feeling pretty terrible. Not physically sick, but dizzy.

I lay in the bath for ages, hoping that it would bring me to life. It didn’t. I got out of the bath to find my case was locked. I must have somehow mixed up the combination the day before, and didn’t know what it was. After Googling how to break into the lock and failing, I started the process of trying every combination from 000-999. Luckily the number was only about a quarter of the way through…

With clean clothes I then noticed none of my stuff had charged overnight, so my laptop and phone were nearly dead. Are you starting to see why I think I have a conference curse this year? I charged them up for a bit, then headed off to the conference, grabbing some diet coke on the way, hoping the caffeine would help and it did a bit…

I bumped into the few people when I arrived at the conference, but pretty soon it was time to present my session on analytic functions. Once the adrenalin kicked in I felt fine, except for a couple of times when I turned my head too quickly and felt like I was going to fall over. I think the session went OK. All the usual problems you expect with a live demo, but I think I managed to roll with the punches. I even managed to accidentally out the post I’ve been writing about my current “midlife crisis”, which I wasn’t sure I was going to publish, but I guess I am now… 🙂

The event is held at a cinema, so you are standing at the bottom corner of the room, with your slides on the cinema screen, which is really good when you have live demos. The room was pretty full, with a few people sitting on the stairs because they didn’t want to fight their way across the row. I got some questions at the end, including one about my midlife crisis. 🙂

The conference seemed really busy. Excuse my shocking camera work, but here’s a shot of the main concourse.

After the session I sat down for a chat with Chris Thalinger. It’s kind-of scary how similar we are (not physically). Needless to say we will never meet or speak of this again… 🙂 We were joined by Ted Neward, Kamil Stawiarski and Patrick Barel along the way. Despite sitting in the shade I managed to get sunburnt…

I had avoided food all day as I had the feeling as soon as I ate something I would feel dizzy again and want to sleep. When Chris went to do his session I grabbed some popcorn, and sure enough once I ate it I could feel my bed calling! I headed back to my hotel and crashed for the rest of the day…

So day 1 of Riga Dev Days 2018 was a very short day for me, which mostly involved sleeping… Sorry. Let’s hope tomorrow goes better.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. I figured out my charging issue. When I turn off the main light in my room all the power cuts out. That’s why none of my stuff charged…

Riga Dev Days 2018 : The Journey Begins

Having spent most of the previous day in bed with a headache, I woke up at 03:00 to get ready for my taxi at 03:00. Despite all the sleep I was not feeling too great.

The taxi driver was nice enough, but he didn’t have any receipts, which was annoying. I got to the airport just after 04:00 and it was really busy. Luckily the new queuing system at Birmingham Airport is really good and I got through security quickly.

The flight to Amsterdam took about an hour, followed by a couple of hours waiting for the next flight. Amsterdam airport was so incredibly hot, which made me feel terrible. It would have been a lot worse if I didn’t have an EU passport, as there was a massive queue at security. I guess I have that to look forward too. 🙁

I got on the plane to Riga and managed to swap my window seat for an aisle, which was great. The flight took about 2 hours, but I was so tired it felt like a lot longer.

Once I arrived it was a quick taxi ride to hotel where I was greeted with a free upgrade to Debra Lilley status. Here’s a picture of my lounge. 🙂

I have no idea why I got this upgrade because I booked the cheapest room they had and I have no status in this chain. I booked quite a long time ago, so maybe they ran out of cheap rooms and I was the first on the list to make way? 🙂

It was only a little after midday when I arrived, so I did the obvious thing and went to bed for the rest of the day and night. I woke up at about 06:00 the following day, but that is a different story…

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Code : Warsaw

Oracle Code : Warsaw started for me with my first presentation of the day as I was in the first block after the keynotes…

My first session was about Analytic Functions. It’s a little difficult to predict the makeup of the Oracle Code crowds. In some cities you get predominantly Oracle developers, while in others it’s the opposite. As a result, you never know how what you are doing will be received until you get there. I shouldn’t have been concerned as the room was full. I had a little glitch at the start, which was caused by my laptop switching between the hotel and event wifi. Once I sorted that the connection to my Oracle Cloud DBaaS service was fine, which meant I was able to run through my demos. 🙂

Next I watched “Database DevOps and Agile Development with Open-Source Utilities” by Susan Duncan, which was another standing room only session. This included a demo of Oracle Developer Cloud Service, a freebie when you buy other Oracle Cloud services, and it looked pretty good. The demo was of the full lifecycle of an incident from logging through to release of a fix, which included database changes managed by FlyWay, with a quick a mention of LiquiBase and utPL/SQL.

After lunch I went to watch “Graal: How to Use the New JVM JIT Compiler in Real Life” by Chris Thalinger. I finally got to see this presentation, having clashed with Chris’ session slot at all previous events. I’m trying to think of something to say to make it sound like I understood what he was talking about, but between you and me it was a complete mystery to me. He did some awesome “Jazz Hands” though! 🙂 The session was a live comparison of Graal with an unmodified JVM, showing examples of potential performance improvements, and examples of where performance is no better too. I guess the take-home message that will impress most people is Twitter run all their Scala microservices in production on Graal and it’s saving them a bundle of cash because of improved performance…

Next up was Ewan Slater with “Honey I Shrunk the Container”, who amongst other things talked about using Smith to produce microcontainers, which looks really interesting. In one example he was able to shrink a container from about 850 meg to about 85 meg, which is pretty darn impressive. It’s definitely more impressive than –squash.

After that it was me with my session on REST enabling the database. I think this was a case of preaching to the converted, but I did get some questions at the end. 🙂

After my session I got chatting to some folks, so I missed the last session of the day, which meant that Oracle Code : Warsaw was over for me. Thanks to everyone that supported the event, including the Oracle Code crew, the other speakers and of course the attendees!

In the evening we went into town to get some food and I was introduced to a drink called The Terminator, which tasted really nice, but was rather deadly. I think it contained more alcohol than I normally drink in about 2 years… I was also given a shot of some vodka which was incredibly smooth. Despite feeling rather inebriated, I was sensible enough to switch back to water and juice for the rest of the evening. The photos of me with the empty vodka bottle and some bison grass (from the bottle) in my mouth were staged. 🙂

I was intending to be in bed really early as I needed to be up in the morning at 04:45 for my flight. I got back to the hotel at about midnight, so that didn’t work out so well… Thanks to the POUG folks for taking us out for the evening. It was much appreciated!

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Code : Warsaw – The Journey Begins

For a change it was a normal wake-up time for me. The advantage of flying late morning is you don’t have to get up so early. The disadvantage is the traffic. I left an hour earlier than usual, just to make sure, and it paid off. I missed some of the traffic, but there were some questionable decisions by my taxi driver. He seemed like a nice guy, but his SatNav was taking us on a rather strange route, and when he chose to ignore it, it seemed to be for all the wrong reasons, like he was speaking on his phone and missing the turn… Despite the long time and erratic route the price was the same as normal. Odd… 🙂

Having started off super early I arrived in plenty of time, so much so that the Brussels Airlines desk wasn’t open. Despite this delay, I managed to get through security pretty quickly, grabbed some food and a drink and parked at a table for about 90 minutes to do some work.

The first flight of the day was Birmingham to Brussels. We took off on time and it took about 55 minutes, so no drama there. The lady in the seat behind had a really shrill laugh, which I couldn’t block out with headphones. I noticed a number of people turning to look, so I wasn’t the only person this was annoying.

I had a 2.5 hour stop at Brussels, so not surprisingly I got the laptop out etc.

The 2 hour flight from Brussels to Warsaw was delayed a little, but it didn’t make much difference to our arrival time. I was meant to wait for Brendan to get a taxi, but instead Brendan was waiting for me. We got an Uber to the hotel, then it was pretty much time for the speaker dinner. I was going to duck out of this, but got persuaded. It was a good evening. 🙂

I mentioned in a previous post on the subject, I had agreed to do a second presentation to fill and empty slot. I went through that presentation a couple of days previously and wasn’t happy with it, so I spent the evening doing some work to tailor it more to the Oracle Code audience, who are not all Oracle techies…

Tomorrow (probably today when this gets released) is Oracle Code : Warsaw. See you there!

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle Code : Warsaw, Poland

In a little over a week I will be travelling to Poland for the first time to speak at Oracle Code : Warsaw.

The Oracle Code events are free 1 day events. The fact they are only a single day means it’s pretty hard to get a slot. As usual I put in a few papers, so they had alternatives in case there were subject clashes with other speakers. I got an acceptance for one of my talks, so happy days…

About 5 days ago I had an email from the organisers asking if I wanted to fill another slot… Does this sound familiar? So now I’m doing two sessions at the event. 🙂

I think my destiny this year is to be the backup kid. Have talks, will fill in at the last minute… 🙂

The hotel and flights are all booked, so all I’ve got to do now is turn up… 🙂

See you there!

Cheers

Tim…