OTN Nordic Tour 2013 – Stockholm

I didn’t sleep too well the night before the Stockholm event, so I woke up feeling extremely groggy. I think it was just the combination of excitement and adrenalin you get before starting a tour. I met Lonneke and Sten for breakfast, then headed on to the conference venue.

I watched Lonneke presenting on SOA for the first two sessions of the day. This is completely not my area of expertise, but I learnt a lot in these sessions. I now understand a lot of the buzzwords and a lot of the common pitfalls for the first time ever. I’ll never be a SOA guy, but it’s nice to know a little more, so that I can understand when people are leading me astray. You don’t have to know how to swim to recognise when someone is drowning. πŸ™‚

After those two sessions, I presented three sessions in a row, including my first ever WebLogic presentation. Eeeccckkk! I made it very clear I was not an expert! The approach was, this is what I wished I had known in my first hour of learning WebLogic! I think it went well. I got some helpful feedback from Lonneke, which I’ve added to the presentation.

After my last presentation we went straight from the conference to the airport. There was a problem with the boarding scanners, so we had to be processed manually, which meant we were about an hour late in departing. That meant we were too late to have dinner with the Danish OUG folks, which was a pity. So it was straight from the airport to bed.

Thanks very much to everyone that came to my presentations in Sweden, to ORCAN for inviting me and to OTN and the Oracle ACE Program for letting me take part in the event. πŸ™‚



OTN Nordic Tour 2013

I got up this morning in plenty of time to get to the airport to fly to Sweden to begin the OTN Nordic Tour 2013 tomorrow. I then proceeded to wait and wait and wait for the taxi. Eventually it did arrive, but now the rush hour traffic had started to build up, so time was ticking by and we were standing still for a very long time. I tweeted that I would probably miss my flight and I really believed I would.

After a considerable amount of time, with me trying to ignore the nervous glances of my driver, the traffic opened up, I got to the airport and check-in was empty, as was security. I got through in time to grab a drink on the way to boarding. Phew…

After all that excitement, the flights were pretty uneventful. I wasted most of the two 1 hour flights playing Plants vs Zombies or reading my Kindle. I spent most of the 2 hour layover at Copenhagen airport juggling my carry-on luggage. I think this is the first time I’ve just used carry-on and I find it pretty hard going wrestling two bags and coat. Far easy to just check everything but the laptop in…

I spent some time in the hotel bar with Sten Vesterli chatting about life, the universe and ADF 12c. πŸ™‚ Don’t tell him, but I spent some of the time enviously admiring his goatee beard. If only my face would go through puberty so I could grow one like that. πŸ™

It’s bed time now. Tomorrow I’ve got to check out of the hotel, do 3 talks at the Swedish Oracle User Group (ORCAN), then shoot off to Denmark… πŸ™‚



OTN Nordic Tour 2013

I’ll be representing the Oracle ACE Program as part of the OTN Nordic Tour this year. I’ve just booked my flights, so in a little over a week I’ll be starting the three date tour.

  • Oct 22nd : Stockholm, Sweden (ORCAN) – 3 Presentations
  • Oct 23rd : Copenhagen, Denmark (DOUG) – 2 Presentations
  • Oct 24th : Oslo, Norway (OUGN) – 2 Presentations

I put forward a few different papers each event picked different ones, so it looks like I could be presenting up to 6 distinct sessions over the tour.Β This next week is going to be very busy. I’ve got to put the finishing touches to one presentation, then rehearse all 6 a few times… πŸ™‚



Should you aim to become an Oracle ACE?

I tweeted the following yesterday,

“It’s 7 years ago today that I was made an Oracle ACE. Seriously. It was April Fools Day 2006… :)”

The followup from that tweet included a number of questions about what you get out of becoming an Oracle ACE and what is the quickest way to become one. In my mind, these types of questions highlight the misunderstanding of what the Oracle ACE program is. You can hear Vikki, Debra, Alex and myself talking about the Oracle ACE program here, but I feel like I want to clarify a few things. This is just my opinion. Others may say different. πŸ™‚

Should you aim to become an Oracle ACE?

IMHO No! You should try to get involved in the Oracle community. If you enjoy that experience, keep on doing it and eventually you may be nominated and accepted as an Oracle ACE. If you don’t enjoy being involved in the community, then there is little chance you will do enough to warrant being nominated and accepted into the program.

The community contributions of the ACEs are assessed each year and as a result people drop out of the program. You can’t just do a quick spurt of blogging and hope to wing your way into the program, only to kick back and think you are sorted for life. That’s not how it works. Writing, presenting and answering questions on forums takes a lot of time. If you don’t enjoy it, you will not continue to contribute over a long period of time.

Does being an Oracle ACE mean you are an Oracle guru?

No. It is basically a pat on the back from Oracle for all your contributions to the community. Some of the ACEs are completely awesome and will melt your brain when they get going. Others like myself are just regular DBAs and Developers that like spreading what we’ve learned over the years. The ACE program is not a certification. It is not proof of ability. It is not a natural progression from OCP to OCM to ACE. If you think that, you’ve completely misunderstood what it is all about.

There are some awesome DBAs and Developers out there who you will never hear of. Why? Because they don’t enjoy putting themselves out there. If you are that type of person, then why make yourself miserable, just to try and become an Oracle ACE?

What do you get out of being an Oracle ACE?

You don’t need to be an Oracle ACE to get most of the benefits of being an Oracle ACE. It is the process you go through that provides most of the benefits, not the program itself…

The Oracle ACE program is great for networking. You meet lots of really cool people and make friends with many of them. That circle of people contains a great wealth of information. Having said that, because we are all involved in the community, almost all of us are directly accessible by you. If you show an active interest in a specific subject area, you will probably get in to regular conversations (online) with the Oracle ACEs in that area, as well as many other people.

Presenting is a skill *everybody* should have. At school I found it almost impossible to read out loud in front of people. My head would spin and I would panic. I could chat in groups of people, but anything that was even remotely formal was a nightmare. My experiences of presenting during my PhD weren’t much better. When I started working in IT I found the work environment fine, but put me in a meeting and ask me to introduce myself to the people around the table and a part of me would die inside. The reason for saying this is to highlight that presenting was not a natural thing for me. It was only after being made an Oracle ACE that I felt I should do some presenting. Like most newbies I was terrified and the added pressure of being labelled an Oracle ACE did not help. Fortunately, I got some good advice from some great speakers along the way, which helped a lot. What was the knock-on effect of this? I now find it easy to speak in meetings and interviews. Presenting is still a little nerve wracking, but it is fun also. You don’t need to be an Oracle ACE to get this benefit. Start presenting to your colleagues. Try and present at a local Special Interest Group (SIG). TryΒ ToastMasters. You don’t have to present to 1000 people at OpenWorld to get the benefits of the confidence this gives you. The ACE program was the nudge I needed to do this, but for others user group participation was the factor that influenced them.

I feel like if you are looking for what the Oracle ACE program will give you, you’ve kind of missed the point.


Being part of the Oracle ACE program has been a very positive thing for me. I will remain in the program as long as it exists and as long as they will have me. πŸ™‚ What’s really important is, if the program were to end tomorrow, I would still keep doing what I do. If you see the Oracle ACE program as a goal for you to achieve, then I don’t think the program is what you think it is.

It’s just my opinion. πŸ™‚



Update: Jeff Smith just pointed me at this. Seems someone else was admitted to an evangelist program on April 1st too and was equally prompted to write on the subject. Kinda freaky to say the least!

Oracle ACE Director meeting and stuff…

The ACE Director meeting went well yesterday. On the database base side there were a couple of really neat things mentioned that they are considering for the next release. As usual it’s all a big secret, so it looks like I’ve got to keep my fingers crossed and my gob shut for a couple of years…

Lots of the other stuff went over my head. I’m just a DB guy, so the middleware and SOA stuff confuses me. πŸ™‚

The prototype of the Oracle games console was awesome. Can’t wait to see what impact it has on the gaming sector. I think it’s going to strike fear into the hearts of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.

It’s was cool to hook up with all the usual suspect, and meet a few new faces.

After the meeting it was a very jerky bus trip into the city to check into the InterContinental hotel. I’m so close to the Moscone Convention Center that if I threw myself out of my 19th floor window I would practically be in/on Moscone West, albeit rather flat. My room is awesome.

In the evening I went out with a couple of the guys to a local Irish bar where Anjo forced me to drink beer. He really is a very bad influence on me. Doug Burns bailed on us. Probably suffering from “jet lag” again.

So I have today off before the circus comes to town tomorrow. I’m a combination of exited, nervous, daunted and tired.

On a slightly different note, I actually cleared my inbox for the first time in several months. I feel an air of calm descending over me… πŸ™‚



Oracle ACE Office Hours in the OTN Lounge…

There are going to be even more ways to meet Oracle ACEs at this years OpenWorld. The OTN Lounge is going to have some time slots where you can meet and chat with Oracle ACEs about any subject you want. See here:

Some Oracle heavyweights have already signed up for the sessions. If you’re and ACE, sign up. It’ll be fun.

Of course the most important thing is that people turn up with questions. Don’t be shy… πŸ™‚



Oracle ACE Program…

If you read Oracle blogs, you will probably have noticed a few lively debates about the Oracle ACE program. The announcement of the Oracle ACE Director category caused a bit of a stir, causing several people, including myself, to throw the toys out of the pram. I’m not totally sure what I want to say in this post, but I feel I need to say something, so here goes…

I was very flattered when I was nominated as an Oracle ACE. I’ve spent a lot of years writing about Oracle and it was nice to get a thank you from someone for my efforts. It was not something I expected, or really thought I was worthy of, but it felt good. I never considered it to be more than a pat on the back, but when I looked at the names of existing members it was a little daunting.

Worth to the community is a very difficult thing to judge. Some people have great technical skills, but quite a small readership, so they are not helping the wider audience, but they are raising the bar by which we all measure ourselves. Some people are less technical, but have a very wide readership, so they are helping to get the message out there. In my opinion, both of these groups of people have equal importance to the community, but service it in different ways.

I think we can also be a little myopic about the Oracle community, assuming it means the big names in the English speaking world. There are many large Oracle communities where English is not the first language. I don’t read articles or attend seminars in these regions, so I’m not in a position to “rate” these individuals and their contributions, but just because I can’t rate them doesn’t mean they have no value.

I think the Oracle community is still very database-centric, by which I mean value seems to be judged on the level of skill in the core database technologies. Oracle has moved on, so should we. My passion is still the database, but it is almost irrelevant to others, who could still arguably be called world leaders in their field, which is Oracle technology.

As for the Oracle ACE Director, it is now clear to me it’s just a pat on the back with some extra commitments. If people think it means more than that they are wrong.

I’m starting to bore myself now… πŸ™‚



Work and Oracle ACE Director… (again)

Work (or not)

The company I work for was taken over 2 years ago and I’ve been waiting since then to see what the result of this takeover would be. In that time loads of staff have left and it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Yesterday I had a meeting where I had to make some decisions about my future in the company. As most of my colleagues already know, I don’t believe there is a role for someone like me in a company like this, so I’ve made the decision that our paths should diverge.

The result of this is that some time in the next 12 months I’ve got to get off my ass and find a new job. At this point I don’t have a clue what I want to do next. I guess time will reveal all.

Oracle ACE Director

On a more pleasant note, I’ve been invited to become an Oracle ACE Director!

My initial reaction was, “We’re not worthy”, but then I decided it would be a cool thing to do. I’m waiting for clarification of the level of commitment required before actually accepting the offer. Most of the commitments are things I already do, but others include:

  • Attend annual Oracle ACE Directors’ meeting at Oracle Open World
  • Attend most web conferences with product team
  • Attend local Oracle event(s)
  • Present at non-Oracle event(s)

For someone like me, with no company backing, this is actually quite a big commitment. All the time comes out of my holidays and all the expenses come out of my pocket. Committing to Open World every year in itself is quite a financial drain. I guess guys from big consulting companies do this as part of their job already, but for me it involves putting my hands in my own pockets.

Over the next few days I’ll get some more feedback and have to make my decision. I like the sound of getting involved, but it may be a step too far for someone in my position.



ACE Director 2…

This morning I received and email detailing the merger of the ACE program with the Fusion Middleware Regional Director scheme. It’s a pity this mail didn’t come a couple of days earlier, then my “toys out of the pram” post yesterday wouldn’t have happened. I’m sure over the coming weeks the people I consider the stars of the Oracle world will be recognized as they should be.