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. :)



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!



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…



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…






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…



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…



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?


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




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.



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…