I can’t go to the BGOUG event :(


Unfortunately I will not be at the Bulgarian Oracle User Group (BGOUG) event. That pesky volcanic ash cloud has put a stop to my flights. :(

As I’ve said before, the BGOUG event feels like a big family gathering, so I’m really annoyed at having to miss it.



NZOUG 2010 Day 2…


Day 2 started with an ACE panel session. There were more ACEs than attendees, but we all had fun chatting to each other. I guess one of the difficulties with this was it ran along side regular presentations, but such is life.

Straight after that it was the second part of my PL/SQL Presentation Layers session. Familiar faces from the day before and a couple of new people, although I think I did lose a few to Robert Freeman as I expected. I thought this session would finish early, but true to form I over ran and had to bolt through the last few slides. The blind panic at the end meant it didn’t feel as slick as I would have liked it to be, but that’s the price for trying to squeeze 120 minutes of content into 100 minutes.

I spent the rest of the day talking to people. I am blessed, or cursed depending on how you look at it, with the ability to talk to anyone and I just kept finding myself on conversations with various attendees and exhibitors about a whole variety of subjects. This is my favorite bit of going to conferences if I’m honest.

The day was wrapped up by an assortment of prizes from the sponsors, including a couple of people who got prizes for injuries sustained during the luge ride the night before. There was blood. :)

In the evening I went out for food with a few of the guys and we had a walk around the park, looking at all the thermal vents that spontaneous appear there. Lots of bubbling mud and water, along with a little cat sitting slap bang next to one. Cats are crazy.

So that’s the NZOUG conference over for another year. It was good fun and I hope I get to come back again, but with it being such a long way from home you never really know if it’s going to happen. Fingers crossed though.

Thanks to all the people on the NZOUG committee for making it happen and to all the attendees for coming. I hope to see you all again next time. Also, a big thank you to the Oracle ACE program for getting me down here. Without them this just wouldn’t happen.



NZOUG 2010 Day 1…


The day started in the normal way. First, an introduction by Francisco, the new president of NZOUG, then some keynotes, then on to the presentations…

One of the difficult things about being a speaker at so many conferences is you often struggle to see something on the agenda you have not already seen several times around the world (nice problem to have). As a result I side-stepped Dan Morgan’s first presentation because I had already seen it (or most of it) at OpenWorld. I’m sure it went down well because Dan is a natural speaker.

My first session of the day was Robert Freeman‘s. A quick romp through the Oracle features that have been around for ages, but you probably don’t know exist. You will struggle to find a nicer guy than Robert, so it’s always good to see him present. I kinda like this sort of presentation because because Oracle has such a lot of functionality, it’s easy to miss things. Robert has turned “to the dark side” and is now an Oracle employee. Come on Oracle. Stop poaching our ACEs. :)

I spent a lot of time during the day chatting to people (there’s a surprise). Plenty of familiar faces along with some new ones.

My session was the last time slot for the day. I’m doing a two-part session on PL/SQL presentation layers. I had a good turnout. It felt like it went well. I guess the real test will be how many people turn up for the second part, although I’ve just noticed I clash with Robert Freeman on my second slot, so when nobody turns up I can massage my ego by telling myself I was amazing, but Robert is famous. :)

In the evening we went over for the social event at the Skyline Skyrides. It was great fun going on the luge again. I learnt two lessons last year.

  1. You have to brake on the corners, or you die.
  2. You don’t enter the “carry a cup of water to the bottom” game unless you want to be ridiculed the whole evening for having a wet ass.

I remained alive and dry, so all was good.

After the luge rides came the dinner. Lots of food, lots of drinking (for those that do), comedian, party games and very little in the way of speeches. I think the NZ sponsors have got it right. Essentially it was, “Thanks for coming. Have a good night. Cheers”. Perfect. :)

This morning I’ve got a “Learn about the Oracle ACE Programme” session, followed by the second part of my PL/SQL presentation layers session. Then later in the afternoon I’ve got a “Meet the Experts” session. I’m interested to see what experts they’ve got for me to meet. :)



Arriving at NZOUG…


I walked off the 7 hour flight to Dubai, straight on to the 13+ hour flight to Melbourne. I got a 1 hour rest at Melbourne while they cleaned the plane, before I started the 3+ hour flight to Auckland. I got to Auckland at about 14:00 where I was met by one of my friends. I was whisked straight back to his house and spent the rest of the day catching up on everything that happened since my last skype call ( 4 days before :) ) and playing with their kid.

The following day was mostly spent with a trip to some of my friends relatives and general idle conversation. Very low pressure. Very cool. The funny thing is, it’s about 18 months since I was last here and I feel like I never left. :)

This morning I got up early to pick Chris Muir up from the airport, where I bumped into Dan Morgan, not literally. Chris was delayed, so after a bit of messing about we got on our way to Rotorua. The roads were quiet so we made good time and I’m now in the hotel ready to go. We have a little get together tonight, then the conference starts tomorrow.

I guess I’ll do a run through of my presentations now, and maybe sleep a little later.





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…



Post-Conference Lull…


The conference finished yesterday at about midday, so I went into town with Chris Muir and Marcel Kratochvil to check out the aquarium. I managed not to get sunburnt this time. Later we met up for some food and basically chilled out. I’ve added some more photos here.

I leave for San Francisco airport in a few minutes, then I have to look forward to an 11 hour flight, 2 hour wait, then a 1 hour flight. Lovely. :)

Thanks to the ladies and gents from OTN and the ACE program for getting me here and thanks to ODTUG for putting on a cracking conference. Not surprisingly, there was no mention of the new Oracle games console, which we are not allowed to mention…

Doing conferences is always a strange experience. They are a little daunting before you start, quite exciting while they are happening, then I get a post-conference lull. It’s like your brain says, “enough is enough”, and you close down for a few days. Having to travel home doesn’t help much.



OUGF Conference


In my last post I mentioned the technical difficulties I was facing before the OUGF conference in Helsinki. I managed to get my demos working again and got the laptop fully charged, so I was ready for the conference to start…

I was one of the first speakers up on the Round Table track, so I turned on my laptop and everything was working fine. About 3/4 of the way through my presentation my laptop powered off and I was forced to switch to an alternative one, running everything off my memory stick. I guess this time I was expecting a disaster, so when it came I think I coped quite well.

Next, I went for the first hour of Pete Finnigan’s security masterclass. Pete is a really cool guy and I really enjoyed the session. Unfortunately I had to miss the second hour because I was presenting. I think every DBA should at least see Pete present at a conference, or preferably go to one of his 2 day workshops. Security is an important topic and I guess we all think we know all about it, but occasionally you need a reminder that there is more there than meets the eye. :)

So my next presentation was… interesting… I decided not to bother with my own laptop and use the one provided. Unfortunately there was a problem with that, so the start was delayed for a few minutes. When I started things looked OK, but then the projector kinda froze, so the slides were changing on my screen, but not on the big screen. That was fixed then I rushed to the end in what little time was left…

It’s like every technical problem I could have faced over the last 2 years of presenting was crammed into a single week, which happened to be the ORCAN and OUGF conferences. I hope people got something useful out of the talks. If nothing else, it should have provided some comic relief watching me destroy every bit of electronic equipment I touched. :)

The conference was held at an amusement park, so when it was over I got to go on a couple of roller coasters. Then it was off to the dinner, where I got to sit next to Milena from BGOUG, which was cool. After that there were a few informal round tables, which degenerated into drinking (not me), eating nuts and rather random conversations about life the universe and everything. Good fun.

The OUGF event is like a whirlwind. It’s only a single day so it seems to shoot straight past. Even with all my technical issues, it was really enjoyable.

The next day I woke up feeling a little under the weather. I had a bit of a sore throat, but figured that was down to the presentations and general socializing. In the morning I met up with Julian Dontcheff who took me to speak to his DBA team at Nokia. It was an interesting meeting because all the guys sat down, plugged in their laptops and continued to work through the meeting. That was a little unusual at first. :) Anyway, we spent about 90 minutes just talking about RAC, performance, operating systems, networking etc. I like this sort of thing. No agenda, just a group of people sharing opinions on technology.

After that I was supposed to be doing some sightseeing, but after about an hour I felt a bit rough so I headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day in bed. Tuomas Pystynen from Miracle had invited me to a beer festival and I was meant to be meeting up with some of the people from the OUGF conference there, but unfortunately I stayed in bed and slept through it. Sorry people. :(

Next morning it was the flight home. I really don’t like flying when I feel ill, especially when it involves a 5 hour connection. :)

So now I’m home. I bought a new power adapter and the laptop is behaving itself.

This whole week emphasizes the difference between backup and recovery and disaster recovery. I had backups of my VMs, slides and even expected output from the demos, but I didn’t have a disaster recovery plan. I think I’m going to start carrying two laptops from now on. :)

I have a few photos from the ORCAN and OUGF conferences, but not many.



More technical problems…


OK. I’m in Helsinki. My laptop is behaving eratically and my power supply is broken. I’ve borrowed one off the reception and I’m desperately trying to come up with some alternatives for tomorrow. There is always a chance it will all work fine, but just in case I want a couple of fallbacks, including several memory sticks. I’ve been pretty lucky with technology up until now, but I guess that’s all catching up with me on this trip.

It’s a little frustrating because you only get one chance to make a first impression, and I fear I’m not going to make a good one. :(



ORCAN Day 1 & 2…


Day 1 started with a bit of a shock. My demo VM would start. It was completely wasted, so I sat through 2 Steve Feuerstein talks trying to fix it. Fortunately I had a backup of the VM, so eventually I gave up and switched to the backup. It was a little old, but good enough to do all the demos. Panic over… Later I went to presentations by Anjo Kolk (SAN Stories) and Arup Nanda (RAC case study). My talk was the last session of the day. The combination of the mornings antics and the vibration of the boats engines made me feel a little jittery. I wasn’t totally happy with my performance, but I got through it with no major hitches.

Day 2 had new delights in store. I was first speaker on. I started up my VM and all looked well. Started the presentation and bang… No Oracle. I had a quick play but decided to continue without the demos. Fortunately, good advice by Andrew Clark meant that I always bring examples of what the demos “should” do, so I was able to continue without the database. I guess I should have been a little more distracted in this session because of the problems, but the result was I actually relaxed and felt a bit more focussed. I guess it had got so bad it could only get better. :) I felt like this presentation, despite the technical problems, went a lot better.

Later in the day I got to see Sten Vesterli present “What’s hot and what’s not” in the development world. It was a neat summary of the technologies out there and seemed to go down well with the audience. He speaks really well and looks very natural in front of an audience.

So now I’m in the airport on the way to the OUGF conference in Finland and I really don’t know if I have functioning demos. Joy… :)



ORCAN Day -1


I started out from home at 03:00 this morning, so I decided it wasn’t a good idea to go to bed, in case I slept through the alarm. I’m now in Stockholm feeling incredibly tired, which is hardly a surprise. :)

I suppose I should have a look round as last time I was here is was raining and I didn’t take many photos. Maybe I’ll just go to bed though…