Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : The Journey Home

It was a 03:00 start, which is never a good thing. I got down to reception to meet my fellow travellers and we started on our trip to the airport. As we walked out of the hotel we were greeted by a lite scattering of snow. It was clearly visible on some of the mountains the day before, but it was quite a surprise to see it here, especially as I left my balcony door open for the whole of my stay…

The drive to the airport was quick, as there was very little traffic. The baggage drop and check-in queue for Lufthansa was pretty large, but fortunately I had checked in online and I was hang-luggage only, so I walked straight to, and through, security. That left me with over an hour before the flight.

The flight from Sofia to Frankfurt was pretty easy. I had an empty seat next to me, so I got the laptop out and started to write two presentations I’ve got to give at work.

I was expecting the layover in Frankfurt to be about 70 minutes, but it turned out is was nearly 5 hours, because I didn’t read the itinerary properly, so I logged into work and cleared down all the crap that collected during the two days I was away.

The flight from Frankfurt to Birmingham was about and hour and went pretty smoothly. Once again I had an empty seat next to me, so happy days!

Getting through security was pretty quick, then I was in the bounciest taxi ride ever to get home, and that is was my last international conference of the year complete.

As followers of the blog will know, this year has been problematic for me from a conference perspective. It’s especially disappointing when my travelling curse hits my favourite conference of the year.

Thanks to everyone from BGOUG for letting me come for the 8th time. Thanks to the people who came to my sessions. The turnout was great, and it certainly lifted my spirits! Sorry I wasn’t able to get more involved on the first day, but at least everything went well on the second day. See you again soon!



PS. Here are the other posts from this trip.


Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : Day 2

I woke up feeling a little dodgy, but much better than the day before. I even got down to breakfast.

The first session of the day for me was “Oracle Database infrastructure as code with Ansible” by Ilmar Kerm. I’m pretty early on in my Ansible journey, so it’s good to see what other people are doing with it. I had a long conversation with Ilmar after the session, and was joined by Oren Nakdimon, which meant we missed the next block of talks.

Next up I went to see “So, my query plan says ‘Table Access Full’ – what happens next?” by Roger Macnicol. There was some stuff I knew, some stuff I’d written about and forgotten, and some stuff I will pretend I always knew, even though secretly I didn’t. 🙂

After lunch I went to see “Upgrade to Oracle Database 18c: Live and Uncensored!” by  Roy Swonger. In addition to speaking about the options to upgrade to 18c, he also covered some 19c stuff, and did a live demo of upgrading from 11.2 to 18.3. Funnily enough, this is exactly what I’ll be doing on Monday for one of my systems. 🙂 I spent the whole of the next block speaking to Roy about a bunch of different things, including upgrades of course. 🙂

From there I went to see “Oracle Exadata – Laying the foundation for Autonomous Database” by Gurmeet Goindi, which was a run through of Exadata and In-Memory features, amongst other things, and how they have been used as a platform for the autonomous database cloud service to be built on.

From there it was on to a panel session where we were discussing our opinions on Autonomous Systems. I think this was a funny session, and I feel like I was doing a sales pitch for autonomous databases at some point. 🙂 I think the word autonomous is a big sticking point in the heads of some of the audience. I don’t really care what it is called. I care more about what it can do.

From there we went to get some food, but I has to duck out quite early because tomorrow is a 03:00 start again for me. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for all the folks at BGOUG for inviting me again. This was my 8th visit to the conference. I wish I hadn’t been unwell at the start, but it was good that I managed to get involved today!

See you all again soon!



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : Day 1

I got out of bed at about 11:00 feeling dreadful. Just before 12:00 I headed down to do my first talk at 12:30. The projector really didn’t like my laptop, so I had to present from Krasimir Kovachki‘s laptop, which meant no live demos. The presentation loses a lot without the demos, but I think it went OK considering.

I took some paracetamol, then grabbed some food and went outside to eat it in the cool air. Pretty much as soon as I moved inside I felt hot and bad again. I went to my room, puked and then it was time for my second presentation.

The second session was all demos, so I was rather worried about the projector situation. It was in a different room and luckily the projector played ball, so I was able to do the session I was expecting to do. I think the combination of adrenalin and paracetamol worked quite well, as apart from feeling a little giddy, I was OK.

Pretty soon after my second session ended, the adrenalin subsided and I felt terrible again, so I went back to my room.

The evening after the first day of the conference is the appreciation event. There’s usually good food, drinks, entertainment and an opportunity for me to join in with some Bulgarian dancing. I didn’t make it out of my room. 🙁

Sorry for being so rubbish! Fingers crossed I will feel better for day 2 and actually be able to get involved in the conference properly.



Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) 2018 : The Journey Begins

It was a 03:00 start, which is stupid. I vowed never to do this again, but there wasn’t really a sensible alternative.

The taxi ride was fine. I got to the airport in plenty of time and it was pretty empty. I walked straight through security and had 50 minutes to get myself together, which basically meant a coffee and diet coke breakfast.

The flight from Birmingham to Munich was scheduled for 1:45, but I think it took a bit less than that. The plane was pretty empty, so there was room to spread out. I nodded off a few times, which is not that normal for me, but I still felt like I’d been punched in the face when I landed in Munich.

I had about 80 minutes between flights, but I managed to walk the wrong way a couple of times… I met Francesco Tisiot at the boarding gate, and we chatted a bit before it was time to get on the plane.

The flight from Munich to Sofia was scheduled for 1:45 again. I was meant to have an aisle seat, but the plane had an extended business class, so my seat was reassigned at boarding to one further back in the plane, and a middle seat. 🙁 I nodded off a couple of times again, so I survived OK.

BTW: The middle aged guy in front and to the right of me was looking at pictures of semi-naked young women on his phone. When did that become a normal thing to do on public transport?

We arrived at Sofia on time and made our way pretty quickly through security, where we were met by Gianni Ceresa and Christian Berg. Soon after Roger MacNicol turned up and we headed to the minibus, where we found Julian Dontcheff. We then started the drive to Pravets.

Once at the hotel I dumped my stuff, grabbed some food, said hello to some more people who had turned up, then went back to my room to veg out for the afternoon. It would have been nice to do something useful, but I was too tired.

There was a speaker dinner in the evening, but by that time I was feeling pretty dreadful, so I gave it a miss in favour of sleeping more.



BGOUG Spring 2017 : The Journey Home

I got up at about 08:00 and headed down to breakfast, where I met a bunch of conference folks. Some of the people were leaving early, so when we were done we said our goodbyes. I then went back to my room for a few hours before heading down to the lobby for my lift back to Sofia. I got talking to Bryn about REST, JSON, ORDS and PL/SQL, which carried on during the journey to Sofia in Milena‘s car. 🙂

Rather than leave stupidly early from Pravets to get an early flight on Sunday, I decided to leave the following day, which meant staying over in Sofia for a day. Milena dropped me off at the hotel and I spent the rest of the day in my room on the computer.

The plan was I would be able to get loads of sleep and wake up at 04:00 to leave for my flight. The reality was I stayed awake until about 03:30. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t sleep. There was nothing wrong with my room, but for some reason sleep didn’t come until ist was too late. At 04:00 my alarm went off and I felt like I had been kicked in the head. It might have been better to not drift off just before my alarm.

I got cleaned up, packed the last of my stuff (including my laptop charger this time) and headed down to check out and get the shuttle to the airport.

The airport was pretty busy. I couldn’t do an online check-in as my ticket was KLM, but the first leg of the trip was Bulgarian Air, so I had to queue at the check-in and bag-drop area, at the entrance to the gates, at security and at passport control. The queues were quite big, but moved quickly, so it wasn’t a problem.

The flight from Sofia to Amsterdam took about 2.5 hours. We were a little late, but the gate for my next flight was close, so it wasn’t too much of a worry.

The flight from Amsterdam to Birmingham took about 50 minutes. I arrived in Birmingham to 12 degrees C and rain, so it felt like being home. 🙂 It was a quick ride home in the taxi, where I discovered my car had been stolen while I was away. 🙁 That gives me something to whine about for a bit, and I’m only happy when I’m moaning. I’ll put some washing on to cheer me up. 🙂

Thanks to the folks from DXC for asking me to come across and spend the day with you before the conference. Special thanks to Milena and everyone else from BGOUG for inviting me and making everything go so smoothly during my 7th visit to Bulgaria. Thanks to all the attendees for making this such a friendly event. I paid for this trip myself, but I would still like to thank the Oracle ACE Program for letting me fly the flag.

So that is my 7th BGOUG event over. I’m looking forward to number 8. See you all soon!



PS. Posts for this conference include the following, some of which have brief videos. 🙂

BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day 2

Breakfast at 07:30 was surprisingly busy considering the late night. Food, coffee and chatting. 🙂

After that I went back to the room to finish off the blog post about the previous day. Then it was time to start the day proper.

The first session of the day was “Utilizing the data attribute: Client-side behaviour in APEX” by Richard Martens. I’m an eternal newbie at APEX, so its good to keep turning up to APEX sessions to see what a real APEX developer can do. 🙂

Next up was Joel Goodman with “Oracle Database 12cR2 Application Containers”. We chatted before the conference to make sure our sessions didn’t overlap too much. I like going to see other presenters covering similar topics to me. It’s good to see how they approach the topics and to get their opinions on a feature.

Next up was “Oracle Compute Cloud vs. Amazon Web Services EC2 – A Hands-On Showdown” by Ahmed Aboulnaga. This was another session where I was getting someone else’s view on a subject I present about. It was interesting to hear his views on the differences in pricing and maintenance of the two providers, and their move from AWS to Oracle Public Cloud.

I got talking to Bryn at lunch and someone said, “Don’t you have a session in 2 minutes?” Quick dash to the room and it was me with “Put your feet up and take a REST. Take a tour of JSON support in the Oracle database”.

Next up was “Exadata on-premises or in the cloud? The reasoning for our decision” by Elise Valin-Raki and Heli Helskyaho. The title of the session pretty well sums up what this was about. Literally going through the evaluation and decision process. By the way, they chose on-prem. 🙂

After that it was a panel session, mostly focussed on security and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Lots of interesting conversation and yes, I had a drink during the session and was a bit drunk! 🙂

From there is was off to get some food and do more chatting. I got to have a longer chat with Julian Dontcheff, which was really nice. We have known each other since our days answering questions on DBASupport.com, and we always speak at events all the time, but it was good to spend some more time with him.

Gradually the food and beer took its toll and I switched into hibernate mode, so I said my goodbyes and went back to my room.

That marks the end of another fantastic BGOUG event. I’ll save my proper thank you messages for a wrap-up post when I get home, but for now I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came to the event! See you at breakfast tomorrow. 🙂



PS. It seems I pressed publish when this post was half-written. Whoops!

PPS. It takes very little to get me drunk… 🙂

BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day 1

Day 1 started with far too much for breakfast, followed by trying to rehearse a new presentation as my laptop complained about having no power.

The first session of the day was “Oracle Database Links” by Joel Goodman. I don’t care what the subject is, and how much you think you know about it, you will always come out of a session by Joel saying, “Well I never knew that!” I learnt some new stuff which I will now pretend I always knew! 🙂

The next session I went to was Julian Dontcheff with “45 most useful new DBA commands in Oracle 12.2″. I like sessions like this that act like an index of new features. A load of pointers to remind me what I should be learning. 🙂 There is so much in 12.2 it’s both fun and depressing rolled into one. So much to learn and so little time.

After that it was me with”Multitenant : What’s new in 12.2”. It’s impossible to fit all the new features into 1 hour, so I cherry picked a few and covered those, then listed the others and spoke briefly about them. The session was based on these articles. This was the first time I’ve done this presentation and I was a bit nervous, so I think I spoke a bit too fast. Hopefully people got the message that multitenant rules. 🙂

After lunch I went to see Giuseppe Maxia with “A quick tour of MySQL 8.0 roles”. This was really useful for me. There are some similarities to roles in Oracle, but also some really important differences too. I have been looking forward to this new feature, and this session will definitely save me time and some headaches when using it.

From there it was on to Ilmar Kerm with “Implementing incremental forever strategy for Oracle database backups”. This was based around Incrementally Updated Image Copy Backups, but included some custom stuff they do with their storage. I’m always interested to see how people use the same tech as me, but use it in a different way. I can see how his approach may prove useful in a project I’ve got coming up soon. Interesting!

The final session of the day for me was “Exadata : The Road Ahead” by Roger MacNicol. I know next to nothing about Exadata, so I feel like a total tourist when I’m in sessions about it. I think I may have sown the seed for a joint blog post between Roger and Jonathan Lewis though. 🙂

From there is was back to my room to catch up on work and blogging, before going to the evening event. 🙂

I was a little late for the start of the evening event, but I got some food and watched the dancers do their thing. As that came to an end they got the crowd started by leading them in a dance, before leaving us to our own devices. I displayed my usual expert Bulgarian dancing skills. If you see any pictures or videos of a baby elephant waddling and sweating a lot, that is not me! 🙂

At about midnight I turned into a pumpkin and went back to my room to bed!



BGOUG Spring 2017 : Day Off?

On my last visit to Bulgaria I got chatting to Todor Grigorov and I agreed to come and speak to his team at DXC the next time I was in Bulgaria. Once I knew my sessions had been accepted for this conference I dropped him a line and said I was still up for it if he was interested, and so a plan was hatched. That’s why I arrived in Bulgaria a day early for a “day off”. 🙂

At 08:30 Todor picked me up and took me to the DXC office, we all sat in a room and just started to talk. Rather than doing presentations, the idea was for this to be a day long informal question and answer session. This sort of thing can be quite daunting, especially when some of the people asking questions are better at this stuff than me, but it’s good to challenge yourself. The questions ranged from specific to general, and I gave answers ranging from technical to opinion. There were a couple of storage related questions I dodged with the line, “Email me your question and I’ll send it on to someone who will be able to answer it!” 🙂

There was one storage question from Krasimir Kovachki that confused the hell out me. I thought he said “Team Provisioning” and I guess I must have looked like a rabbit in the headlights. A bit later was speaking to him and it dawned on me he had said “Thin Provisioning”, at which point his question made so much more sense and we had a discussion about that. That made me laugh. 🙂

At lunch time we went out to get some food and guess who appeared on the TV behind us? That’s Krasimir next to me. By the way, this photo was taken by another Krasimir. 🙂

After lunch we got some drinks and went to sit in a park to continue the question and answer session in a less formal environment. I also got to try some boza and banitsa. 🙂

It was a really fun day and it was nice to meet the ladies and gents that make up the team at DXC. Thanks for making me feel so welcome!

At about 16:00 Todor drove me to take a quick look at The Bells Monument, and waited for me to ring the UK bell before telling me adults weren’t supposed to ring them. 🙂 From there it was a quick trip over to the Hilton to meet up with Bryn Llewellyn and Roger MacNicol for our ride across to the RIU Pravets Resort, ready for the first day of the BGOUG Spring 2017 conference the following day.

I got into my room, unpacked my stuff and it was then I noticed I didn’t have my laptop charger. Panic! I rang the hotel in Sofia, who had found it in my room, and said “someone” would be picking it up for me. I sent a panic email to Milena and Todor and we arranged for Todor to pick it up on his way to the conference the next day. Phew!

That did leave me with no juice in the laptop, hence this blog post is coming out a day late and some work stuff has backed up. 🙂

In the evening we walked round to the golf course on the other side of the lake and had some food. It was a really nice end to a very busy day!

The next post will be about Day 1 of the conference (today). 🙂



BGOUG Spring 2017 : The Journey Begins

Waking up at 03:00 is stupid! When I wake at this sort of hour I tend to feel kind-of sick unless I’m distracted. Fortunately the taxi driver was pretty cool, which helped me forget about how miserable I felt. 🙂

You never know what you are going to get at the airport. Last time the queues were massive, but fortunately I had fluked a business class ticket so I walked straight past them. This time the security was empty, so I walked straight through, even with my economy ticket. That’s great, but you start to kid yourself you could have come an hour later and slept some more. 🙂

The first flight of the day was from Birmingham to Amsterdam. The plane had a lot of free space, so boarding was quick. We left on time and the flight took about 40 minutes.

A connection time of a little over a hour can sometimes be a problem in Amsterdam. It’s a big airport and if you catch the gates wrong, it can be a bit of a panic to get to your connection. This time my departure gate was next to the arrival gate.

I wrote a lengthy bitch about the airport and the lead up to the next flight, but it was because I was tired and emotional. Actually it was fine.

The next flight went well. It took about 2.5 hours to get form Amsterdam to Sofia and ended with possibly the best landing I’ve ever experienced.

I was met at the airport by Todor Grigorov, who took me to my hotel. I’ll be spending tomorrow with him and his team at DXC Technology doing a free form Q&A. It’s like a job interview with 40+ people on the panel, and no job at the end of it. 🙂



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!