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…




AUSOUG 2011: Perth Day 1 & 2…

Day 1:

The first presentation of the day was Debra Lilley speaking about 42 real life examples of Fusion Middleware with applications. When you see the markeing bumf it’s easy to believe Fusion Middleware is only for massive projects that use all its functionality. Debra’s presentation highlighted how Fusion Middleware is being used out in the real world. It’s not all about mega-projects.

Next was my Edition-Based Redefinition talk. I think it went pretty well and I got a whole bunch of questions at the end. The speakers receive a bottle of wine as a thank you for presenting. I donated mine to the lady who asked the last question of the session. Talk about shamelessly buying friends… 🙂

I started to chat to a few people and somehow managed miss the next two sessions. People should have learned by now that once you start me off there is no stopping me. 🙂

The last session of the day was Graham Wood’s on Oracle’s hidden features. This was a mixed bag of neat little features, some of them I knew, some of them were new to me and some were things I remember reading about in the past, but had forgotten they existed. These presentations are always pretty humbling when you realize how much stuff has passed you by over the last few years. 🙂

In the evening a few of us went out for a quick drink, then it was off to bed (not together 🙂 ).

Day 2:

Day 2 started off with Scott Wesley talking about APEX 4.1 security. I like APEX, but I don’t use it enough. The content was cool and the presentation style was pretty neat. He used Prezi rather than PowerPoint, which made a nice change. It would make senese to download this presentation and make a checklist of things you need to consider before putting any APEX app live.

Next up was Craig Shallahamer speaking about SQL elapsed time analysis. I think the OTN APAC Tour is taking its toll on Craig’s voice. He’s starting to sound like Barry White. 🙂 Craig is a very dynamic presenter. I tend to waddle around the stage a bit. Craig is more like Superman. It’s really good to watch and the content is great too.

Then it was off to present my Clonedb session. The turnout was pretty good, but the room was massive, so it felt a little like a wasteland. 🙂 Once again, lots of questions, so it was pretty cool. Lots of comment after the session as well. It seems the Clonedb feature has got a few people really excited.

Next was the panel session on our experiences of presenting. I like it when panels have strict control. Without it, it’s impossible to stop me from talking. I enjoyed being part of the panel, so I hope it was useful for the audience. The more people that can get into presenting, the better conferences will be.

Chris Muir‘s session on angels in the architecture was pretty neat. I’m not an ADF guy, so it’s not exactly my thing, but he presents well and had some cool photos of buildings to go along with his metaphor for the session.

Finally, it was Connor McDonald‘s session on a year in purgatory – diary of an 11.2 RAC upgrade. Connor is a great presenter and I think this is a presentation that many DBAs really need to hear. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Oracle RAC is not easy. Yes, you can install it on VirtualBox and have it running in no time, but that is far from using it in a high-octane live environment that *must not fail* and having deadlines to meet while patching etc. When you see the history of what Connor went through, you could understand lesser DBAs just jacking it all in and going off to grow carrots.

That was the end of a very successful AUSOUG conference, so a few of us went out to eat, then I got my plane home…

I was a little nervous about the flight home. I was awake from 04:30 and my plane was not until 22:30, so I had been awake about 18 hours before I even got on the plane. I don’t sleep on planes, so I was expecting another 21+ hours of being awake before I got home. I managed to cope quite well and I got into my house at about 14:00 and went straight to the gym, trying to delay going to bed until a more normal time in the UK. I ended up in bed about 18:00, so I had been awake for over 45 hours. I’m going to be in an “altered state”for a few days, but no major dramas, which is good.

Big thanks to the ACE Program for allowing me to go on the OTN APAC Tour. Also a big thank you to everyone involved in the organization of their respective events.



InSync11 : 16-17 August 2011…

A few weeks ago one of the AUSOUG committee asked me to submit some abstracts for InSync11. I got the official acceptance through today, so travel approval permitting, I’ll be in Sydney on August 16-17 to speak at the conference.

I’m not looking forward to the flights, but it will be really cool to see the Aussies again. I was teaching some Oracle University courses in Australia last year, but it’s a couple of years since I’ve spoken at a conference down there.



AUSOUG Melbourne…

I had one day to myself in Melbourne before the conference started, so I asked the hotel concierge what I needed to see. I followed his itinerary almost to the letter and got to see a fair bit, which was cool.

Melbourne feels very different to the other cities I’ve been to in Australia. The other cities feel very functional, but the central business district of Melbourne feels more like a city designed for socializing in. It has a very central European feel to me. Not at all what I expected.

Anyway, back to the conference. The work I did on my talk really paid off. The change to the first half really made a difference. Sometimes the demos actually obscure the message, rather than enforcing it. Removing them from the first half of the talk gave it a lot more punch and made it feel like I was staying on message, rather than demoing for the sake of it.

I’m a bit annoyed I didn’t see this before the Perth event, but that’s life. A big thank you to Connor McDonald and Chris Muir for there input on that. A few well placed words from people with their experience can really help a newbie like me big-time.

So a big thanks to all involved in the event. It was really cool to come back and hook up with everyone again. Also a big thank you to the people who came to my sessions. You never know what the future brings, but I hope I get to come back again.

I fly home today. I’m leaving quite late, so I’ve got to fill the day. I always find it hard to do that the day of the flight. I spend the whole day worrying about missing the flight rather than enjoying myself. I’ll probably end up spending most of the day in the airport being really bored before spending 21 hours on a plane. 🙂

See you on the other side…



Refocussing my presentation…

The plane journey from Perth to Melbourne turned out to be very productive. I’ve made some substantial changes to my presentation. The content is the same, but as I suggested in my previous post, I’ve de-emphasized some bits and emphasized others.

I guess my presenting style is based very much on the way I write articles on my website. I’m not a fan of reading overly “wordy” articles. Instead I want a cut & paste example that gives me a feel for the feature/issue. I can then play around with that to get more familiar with the technology.

Well that works fine for a lot of database and development presentations, but not all of them.

This particular presentation has two distinct halves. The first half really doesn’t lend itself to demos and the copy & paste mentality and the second half does. It’s still early days for me as far as presenting is concerned, and this presentation has reminded me of that again. Fortunately there are a few old hands around that give some pretty good advice.

So what I have now delivers the message I want to deliver, but I think does it in a much more sensible way. I’m a bit annoyed I didn’t see this before I presented in Perth, because it didn’t take much time to repackage, but that’s life. Sometimes, when you are too close to something you can’t see the wood for the trees.

So in a few minutes I’m off to get a plane to Canberra to do a presentation to a local user group. I’m not totally sure yet how much time I have to present, so that one will be a bit more “seat of the pants”. 🙂

I’ll be back in Melbourne tomorrow where I will hopefully get to see a bit of the city before the next AUSOUG event starts.




The Perth event is now done and dusted.

The day before the conference, Chris Muir took Lucas Jellema and myself on a little tour of the city. I slept OK the night before so I felt pretty good. That night I didn’t sleep at all. Not one minute. By the morning I felt OK so I went to the conference as planned. About 30 minutes into the first talk it was game over. I went back to the hotel and slept for about 3 hours.

When I got back I spent the rest of the day in Lucas’ session about “SOA for Database Professionals”. Lucas is a great speaker, which is even more impressive when you consider it’s not his first language. I shall try and catch the bits I missed at the Melbourne event.

The next day I spent the morning at Connor McDonald’s SQL sessions. I guess everyone knows by now Connor is a great presenter. Not surprisingly, he won the Best Speaker prize for this event. Shock Horror! 🙂

I had the afternoon session on day 2. I’d presented several elements of this session before, but never as a single block all together. The session was about 1 hour 45 minutes. It went OK, but I wasn’t really happy with it. A few of the demos towards the end failed. I’ve been playing with them since and it seems to be an issue with browser authentication in Firefox and Safari, rather than a fundamental technology issue. It seems that often, once you authenticate through the browser (to XML DB or EPG), subsequent authentications to different users ignore the new credentials and continue to try and authenticate with the old details. Just about the only way to make it consistent is to reboot between demos, which isn’t going to happen. Authentication via WebDAV or FTP works as expected. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m gonna work on tonight for workarounds.

Anyway, once the talk was over I got a bit of feedback from some of the guys and I think  I’m gonna revise a couple of bits of the talk for Melbourne. Emphasize a couple of bits and deemphasize others etc. Hopefully that will give it a little more punch.

This morning was … interesting. I got up early and started to do a bit of work. After a few hours I checked my flight details, even though I was sure my flight was at 17:10. Turns out that was my arrival time at Melbourne. My departure time from Perth was actually 10:50. My first reaction was I had missed my flight. Fortunately I had been up since 04:00, so even though I had been working for ages I was still in time for my flight. As I’ve said before, travel is never easy for me. 🙂

I did some frantic packing, threw my rucksack over my back, at which point my laptop flew across the room and landed on the floor. Seems I forgot to zip the pocket. Fortunately MacBooks are pretty solid so there doesn’t seem to be any damage.

Time to get on another plane and change time zone again…



Traveling is never easy… for me…

This morning I’m traveling to Perth, Australia for the start of the AUSOUG Conference Series. The thought of 19 hours in a plane is not exactly thrilling, especially after the turbulence during my last flight, but I can manage that sort of stress, just about.

In an attempt to be efficient I completed the online check-in and all looked good. Then the taxi was 20 minutes late (stress +1). I got to the airport and dropped of my bag and went to security, where I was turned away because of a duplicate seat allocation (stress +1). I went back to the check-in desk, where they found no such problem, but printed new tickets for me. I got through security the second time, then was told the plane was delayed by about 30 minutes, which has now become 40 minutes and counting. So I’ve got about 9 hours until I know if I will make my connection (stress +lots).

This international travel is a pain in the <insert word of your choice>!



Update: The seat was double booked, despite what the check-in desk said. Luckily there were spaces on the plane. I guess it makes sense to board early because it seems like the person sitting down is the person in control.

I made it on to the second leg OK. I was between a couple, so I got to snag an aisle seat which was lucky.

So I’m here in Perth…


The AUSOUG Perth conference finished a few hours ago. It’s a really good size event, about 400 people, which is big enough to feel busy, but small enough to feel personal. I met a bunch of familiar faces and many new ones.

The best speaker prize went to Connor McDonald. If you get the chance, check out his presentation style. It’s not the normal thing you see on the Oracle conference circuit.

I did two talks, which must have gone down OK with the audience as I got the second prize behind Connor. It was very nice surprise.

So tomorrow morning I leave Perth and head to Sydney for a couple of days on my way to Gold Coast…



Doug: I’ve already had the Number Two’s joke, so I’ll head you off at the pass on that one… 🙂

More Server Builds and Presenting…

Server Builds

My room is full of servers again. I’m still rebuilding loads of kit to send to the new site. Yesterday I installed RHEL4 on two servers ready for 10gR2 installations, and RHEL3 on three servers ready for AS10g (9.0.4) installations. The versions, especially App Server, may sound strange, but this is to duplicate the current environment, so my hands are tied. 🙂

The three application servers are all going to be installed as 1 node clusters, so we can configure and test them before releasing the remaining nodes. Just trying to reduce the impact of the move.

Hopefully, by the end of today we will have at least one node for every layer in the new production and test environments.

It’s not long until I leave this company, so I’m really keen to get everything moved and bulletproof.


OpenWorld: Booked, and I’m ready to go.

AUSOUG: I’ve just received confirmation of my conference presentations in Australia. I’m presenting two papers at both the Perth and Gold Coast events.

NZOUG: I’ve been confirmed for the New Zealand conference in Rotorua, but I don’t know how many papers I’m presenting yet.

One of my friends is trying to sort out a presentation at a local user group in New Zealand after the main conference is over. Seems a shame to go all that way and not do as much as possible.

So it looks like the world tour is back on. 🙂

By the end of the year I will have been to Austria, Denmark, Estonia, America, Australia and New Zealand. I guess this seems a little tame for some of the consultants out there, but for a regular Joe DBA / Developer from Birmingham it seems a bit crazy.