Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : It’s a Wrap!

bgougSo that marks the end of my 6th BGOUG event. I’m already planning to return next year. 🙂

As part of this event I put out the following blog posts.

I’ve already said it, but my thanks got out to Milena and all the BGOUG folks for inviting me once again. Thanks to all the attendees. Thanks as always to the Oracle ACE Program.

See you all again soon!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Pravets to Birmingham

bgougA group of us were being picked up by a minibus at 09:50 for the trip back to the airport. Timo Raitalaakso and Gianni Ceresa were on the same flight as me for the first leg. We said our goodbyes to everyone in the hotel lobby, then it was off to Sofia airport.

The airport was very quiet when we arrived. We checked in and dropped off our bags, then walked straight through security. It really doesn’t get easier than that. Timo, Gianni and myself then sat and chatted until the it was time to board.

The flight to Munich was listed as a two hour flight, but I have no idea how long it actually took. I was reading a novel written by one of my friends during the trip. The guy a couple of seats along was snoring so loud it kept making me laugh. I’m not sure how anyone could sleep in the same house as him!

We arrived at Munich, where I said goodby to Timo and Gianni, before trudging around for quite some time trying to find my gate. It was a 1:40 layover for me, so it wasn’t a rush.

The flight from Munich to Birmingham was another two hour flight. I spent the journey reading again, so I didn’t really notice much about the flight.

Back in Birmingham, I got my case and took a taxi home, while continuing to read my book. By the time I got home I was feeling quite drained, so I went to bed early, ready to start the working week!

That marked the end of my last international event of the year and I’m looking forward to spending some time at home in a single timezone. The last few months have been a killer!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Day 2

bgougI planned to go to breakfast for a few minutes and then hit the gym. I got caught up in conversation during breakfast and several hours later the gym was not an option.

I headed off to the Christian Berg‘s session called “Back2Basics – 50 Shades of #Fail: OBI Worst Practices in Real Life”. I know next to nothing about OBIEE so this was me checking out something new to me. it quickly became obvious quite how little I knew as it all shot completely over my head…

Next up was me with “Pluggable Databases – What they will break and why you should use them anyway!” This session is getting increasingly difficult to present as I pick up new stuff about Oracle 12.2. Once I’ve spent some time on 12.2 I will revise this session and the associated article. I think it is still relevant in the 12.2 world, but it may need a little tweaking.

I spent some time chatting to people before the last session of the event, which was called “Discussion Over Beers About Oracle Database” with Joze Senegacnik, Martin Widlake, Bryn Llewellyn and myself. Most of the session was a discussion of cloud and what it means to the current batch of DBAs. As Bryn pointed out, it is quite a hard subject to talk about when everyone in the room seems to have a different definition of what cloud means. Added to that, I’m not sure I know what job is currently described by DBA, as mine seems to be very different to everyone elses.

That marked the end of the day, so after a bit more chatting, we headed off to the hotel restaurant. In addition to the regular food I got myself some chocolate cake that was so rich and heavy it seemed to drain the life out of me. Rather than a sugar rush, it felt more like it gave me a stroke. 🙂 I excused myself and crashed out for the night…

Big thanks to Milena and all the BGOUG folks for inviting me and making my stay so effortless. Thanks to all the attendees. This conference is going from strength to strength! Thanks also to the Oracle ACE Program for letting me fly the flag.

See you all soon!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016 : Day 1

bgougI woke up, went down to breakfast, then went off to the gym. By the time that was all over I felt totally knackered.

I headed down to register and quickly moved to the first talk of the day, which was Martin Widlake with “The Heart of Oracle – How the core RDBMS works”. As the name suggests, this was a romp through the basics of how the Oracle database does what it does, which by his own admission included some over simplifications. As a presenter it’s easy to get caught up in trying to present “cool stuff”, or trying to “impress your friends”. It’s easy to forget about the newer folks who aren’t coming to the conference with all the basics in place. These days, there’s a lot of “experienced” people who also don’t have all the basics too. 🙂 I like this type of session and I think there is an audience for it.

After the session I was feeling very drained. The recent time zone changes and a night of broken sleep (body clock related) got to me, so I parked myself in the hotel lobby, caught up on some blog posts, video editing and then turned my brain off to do some mindless admin stuff I’ve been putting off for a couple of months. I feel kind-of guilty coming to such a great conference in such a beautiful place and not taking full advantage of it, but I’m in survival mode at the moment.

I met up with some of the folks over lunch and went outside (yes, outside) for the group photo, then it was back to the lobby for a while until my session.

I did my “It’s raining data! Oracle databases in the cloud” session, with some live demos of Oracle Cloud. Depending on my mood, this session can sometimes be rather upbeat and at other times be rather cynical of cloud in general. This one leaned more towards the cynical side. I think cloud is a very valuable tool when used correctly. It is not the solution to all problems that some people would like you to believe. Doing my session brought me back to life.

There was a gap between the last session and the evening’s festivities, so I went to the gym again. It was either that or lie in my room and I would definitely have slept through the party.

I got to the evening party a little late and things were already in swing. I sat down, had some food and then the entertainment started. I would describe this as the Bulgarian answer to The Three Tenors. During some songs the singers were joined by three ballet dancers. Once these performances were over, we got to the Bulgarian dancing. Milena found me and we joined the line… It’s been a couple of years, so it took a while for my brain and feet to start speaking to each other, but that just adds to the fun. 🙂

After a while the singers returned to do some more pop-style numbers, which kept the crowd going and then it switched to a DJ playing pop songs and people dancing.

This is my sixth visit to a BGOUG events and ever since my first I’ve described the events as being like a family wedding without the fights. I spent the evening with a smile on my face thinking, I really need to come back more often! The people are so happy. The male/female ratio is always the best you will see at a tech conference. It feels like coming home.

I went to bed at about 00:00 with the party still in full swing. I pretty much put my head on the pillow and fell into a coma until 06:00 this morning.

Let’s see what day 2 will bring… 🙂



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2016: Birmingham to Pravets, Bulgaria

bgougI purposely didn’t try and get back into the UK time zone because I knew I had an early start for this trip. My alarm was set for 03:00, but I was up from 02:00. Even so, I still managed to be late for the taxi. 🙂

At that time in the morning the roads were clear so the drive to the airport was super fast. The airport was very quiet, which was a bit of a surprise as most of the cheap flights leave at silly times, so often the early starts are very busy. After walking straight through bag drop and security I parked myself at a cafe and opened my laptop.

As you probably know, Oracle 12.2 has been made available on the Oracle Database Cloud Service and like everyone else with an account I created an instance to play with it. This morning my 1 year trial account ended. 🙁 I had tried to get it renewed, but this hadn’t happened in time, so my new 12.2 instance was gone. While I was at the airport I signed up for a new 30 day trial using a corporate email address. It was instantly approved and I created a new DBaaS instance. I’ve got 30 days to learn everything about Oracle 12.2. 🙂

The flight to Frankfurt was short (75 mins), quiet and uneventful, but there was always a nagging doubt in my mind. My stopover in Franfurt was only 65 minutes. Depending on gate locations, getting between gates at Frankfurt can take longer than that. Luckily I was at the front of the plane, so I was able to get off quickly and rush to my next flight.

The flight from Frankfurt to Sofia was only a couple of hours. Once again, pretty uneventful in itself.


When I got to Sofia I was met by Julian Dontcheff and a gang of presenters and we were whisked off the Pravets in a minibus. It was about an hours drive, so you can imagine what it’s like with a bunch of presenters in a minibus. 🙂

Once I was in the hotel, I went through the usual routine, film the hotel and my room and put everything on charge ready for the next day. 🙂 The hotel is very grand!

I’m on a bit of a fitness kick since my APAC Tour, so I headed off to the gym, but was delayed for some time chatting to the guys, but I did get there in the end.

In the evening we went to the hotel restaurant for food. At about 10:30 I excused myself and crashed for the night.

This morning is the BGOUG Autumn event. Hope to see you there…



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) Autumn 2016 Conference

bgougIt’s been over two years, but I’m finally going back to my second home. I’m presenting at BGOUG Autumn 2016 Conference. 🙂

I get back from the OTN APAC Tour, go to work for three days, then I’m off to Bulgaria. I figure if I confuse my body enough it won’t recognise how many time zones I’ve travelled through…


At the moment it looks like this is the last event I’m presenting at in 2016, so let’s make it a good one. Hope to see you all there!



BGOUG Spring 2014 : Summary

I know I keep calling it the “spring” conference, but in my mind the two BGOUG conferences are always spring and autumn. This year the “spring” conference was a little late, hence my apparently strange blog titles. 🙂

I was initially planning to get a taxi from Sandanski to Sofia airport. Fortunately Sve and Mimi were driving back at the same time, so I got a lift with them, which was much better company.

The flight from Sofia to Munich went as planned. After a 110 minute layover in Munich, it was time for the last leg of the journey to Birmingham. Once again, so drama there.

So now I’m home and my 5th BGOUG conference is over. Once again, Melina and the BGOUG team did a great job. No offence to any other user group, but BGOUG is still my favourite conference of the year!

Thanks to everyone at BGOUG for making this run so smoothly. Thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for letting me “fly the flag” for the program. Your support is much appreciated! Thanks to all the other speakers. Your advice and support is always welcome. Of course, thanks to all the attendees who came to my sessions and made me feel so welcome. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

I’ve shared a few photos on Google+.





BGOUG Spring 2014 – Day 2

The Day 1 evening festivities consisted of lots of food, followed by a group doing a display of traditional dances. Once they had finished it was up to me to teach the Bulgarians how their local dances should really be done. Needless to say I smashed it! 🙂

Day 2 started with a swim and breakfast. When I say swim, I really mean gentle floating, wishing I was still in bed.

The first session I went to was Joel Goodman‘s session on “RAC Global Resource Management”. Lot’s of good stuff! Joel is like a walking Oracle encyclopedia.

Next up was “Oracle 12c Automatic Data Optimization” by Joel Goodman. Nice feature. Once again, another thing added to my to-do list. I think the developers have done a really bad job of naming the views and some of the procedures for this feature. I would have abbreviated words and added underscores to stay under the object name size limit. The naming feels like “Peter and Jayne do programming”. Ugly, ugly, ugly! In terms of the feature itself, the main issue here is ILM doesn’t work with the multitenant option. I’m sure this will be fixed in future, but for now it is a big flaw. Even so, lots of potential here.

After lunch it was “Utilizing new CBO features after upgrade to 12c – Practical example” by Joze Senegacnik. I have to admit, I turned up late for this one. Very sorry mate! The part of this session I saw focussed on a specific customer upgrade from 11g to 12c.

I ducked out of the last session on the day and headed back to my room. During the day I had been asked a few questions I did not know the answer to, but I know other people who probably do, so I pinged out a few emails.

In the evening we took a quick sightseeing trip to Melnik. We had a walk through the town and did a quick tour of a famous winery.

From there is was back to the hotel to get some food, then bed.

I’ve got an early start this morning to begin my trip home. I’ll write a summary post when I get back.



BGOUG Spring 2014 – Day 1

The morning started out with a family swim with the wife and daughter.

The first session I attended was “Auditing in Oracle Database” 12c by Maja Veselica. I haven’t spent any time looking at 12c auditing yet, so this was a great introduction. I think I’m going to need to spend some time on this stuff. It looks like there are quite a number of changes to auditing in Oracle 12c.

My first session came next. The room was quite full, which was nice. It’s good to see such a good turnout for PL/SQL. Together we are strong! 🙂

After lunch I went to watch “Understanding Oracle GoldenGate” by Svetoslav Gyurov. I’ve had GoldenGate on my to-do list since it was aquired by Oracle and I’ve still not got round to using it, so it was cool to see an introductory session on it. Sve can reach the top of the screen, even without a ladder. 🙂

Next up was “Do Oracle Cloud Applications stack up?” by the wife. You’ve gotta show some support or they just go on at you! This focussed on a customer story about how Fusion Apps on the Cloud was the correct choice. Many of the points raised were true of a variety of cloud solutions. Resistance is futile. We will all be water droplets in the cloud soon!

Next up was my introductory WebLogic session. I think it went down quite well. There were some nice messages/retweets on Twitter. 🙂

The final session of the day was “Real-World DataGuard” by Yavor Ivanov. The introduction part of the talk covered familiar ground for me, but as the session progressed there were a number of thing mentioned that were new for me. I’ve put another note in my to-do list to spend some more time of data guard, especially in 12c.

So I’m back in my room, writing up this blog post before the evening meal and dancing. I don’t have any presentations to give tomorrow, so I can relax and enjoy other people’s sessions.

As always, a great first day at the BGOUG conference!



BGOUG Spring 2014 – Day -1

The flight from Birmingham Airport to Frankfurt went to plan. The landing was quite possibly the smoothest one I had ever experienced. Very impressive. I got off the plane to find my connecting flight had been moved to another terminal. I was pretty worried by this as Frankfurt is a massive airport and I already had a short connection time. Luckily I made it. The flight to Sofia went without a hitch.

On arrival, I met up briefly with some of the other speakers before we were whisked away to Sandanski. It was a 3 hour drive, but I was chatting with the wife all the way, so it went quickly.

Once we got settled, we took a quick tour of the hotel spa. It was then I remembered I had no swimming gear. A quick shopping trip down the road and I had swimming shorts and some goggles. Then it was off to the pool, so I could float around and complain about the possibility of sunburn. 🙂

In the evening we met up with some of the other speakers and the BGOUG folks for dinner in a restaurant right next to the hotel. After that it was back to the room to get some much needed sleep. What with the 03:30 start, two flights, a 3 hour drive and a quick session in the pool I was completely knackered.