Australia Trip Conclusion…

I’m back home from my Australia trip, so I thought I would post a brief summary post of the whole trip…

The trip out:
No major drama here. Only 1 delay, after we boarded the plane in Dubai. It turned a 14 hour flight into 15 hours on the plane, but it wasn’t a major drama. Emirates managed lose my special meal allocation, so they had to cobble together a vegetarian meal for me on both their flights. One of these contained prawns, so that got left. 🙂

In my brief time in Australia I managed to speak at 3 events. The main event for the trip was InSync11 of course, but the addition of the Sydney Oracle Meetup and ACTOUG events make it a lot easier to justify traveling such a long way. Three events in four days is a little crazy, but it certainly didn’t leave any time to get bored. 🙂 Thanks to everyone involved for making this go smoothly for me.

The trip home:
No delays during the trip home. Emirates even managed to get my food almost right. One vegetarian and one vegan. 🙂 Unfortunately, they managed to lose my seat allocation for one flight, so my 14 hour flight was not an aisle seat. This normally freaks me out, but fortunately I managed not to get out of my seat every 15 minutes or so.

I made a few single-serving friends on the way home:

  • One guy was doing the systems for theaters, which included music, lights, stage automation and back office systems. Sounded kinda cool.
  • I was sleeping on the floor near a check in desk in Dubai and a lady from my previous flight recognized me and woke me up just in time for boarding my last flight. For that she qualifies as my best single-serving friend of the trip!
  • The young guy next to me on my Dubai – Birmingham flight had won/earned a holiday in Dubai in a competition. It was all about memorizing and reciting The Koran. He won a regional heat and progressed to the UK final and won it. Pretty cool.
  • The guy next to him was on his way home after visiting his Filipino girlfriend. It turned out we liked most of the same films and were both big fans of The Dresden Files books. So sad how excited two grown men can get when discussing Harry Dresden. We swapped a few tips on authors we thought each other would like etc.

This was by far the most bizarre trip I have ever done where sleep is concerned. I never sleep really well on planes, which is a problem. Both trips started in the evening, so it made the total time from bed-to-bed ridiculously long. In Australia I seemed to follow a day-on/day-off sleeping pattern. I would alternate between about 6 hours sleep one night, then about 1.5-3 hours the next. By the time I was due to go home I was feeling like I was in a rather altered state.

I decided to go to Canberra airport early and slept on the floor for about 2 hours. As soon as I got to Dubai I did the same thing. I think both these sleep breaks are just about the only thing that kept me sane during the trip home.

Once home I went to bed and slept for 18 hours. I’ve just been to the gym and I think I’m going to right-off the rest of the day and try and sleep again.

So now I have 5 weeks to get myself ready for OOW11. The combination of the ACE Director meetings and OOW itself makes it a very long trip, so I need to be in top form to get through it without feeling like a zombie.

Thanks to everyone I met during the events. You all helped to make it a great trip.



InSync11 – Day 2

InSync11 day 2 was very much “the day after the night before” for me. I didn’t sleep very well at all. I think I spent most of the night winding myself up about my dodgy demo earlier in the day.

My next presentation was in the last slot on day 2, so I got to see the following presentations before I was up:

Jeremy Ashley & Chris Muir: What’s next for Oracle’s Application User Experiences?

On our first night in Sydney, Chris Muir and I were out with Jeremy Ashley and Mark Drake from Oracle. In addition to the regular geek talk, Jeremy waxed lyrical about end-to-end user experience. It’s quite an interesting subject, with a lot more to it than first springs to mind.

Graham Wood: Ashes of DBTime

I’ve seen Graham speak on this subject a number of times, but it’s always worth checking it out again. I’ll probably end up watching it again in OpenWorld in a few weeks. 🙂

Marcelle Kratochvil: Why you should be storing unstructured data in the Oracle database.

I have some experience of storing images and documents in the database, so I can appreciate some of the issues Marcelle was highlighting in her presentation. She’s very passionate about the subject and constantly pushing the barrier of what Oracle is capable in the multimedia field.

Connor McDonald: Managing optimizer statistics – A better way.

Management of database statistics has got to be one of the most contentious issues. Everyone seems to have a slightly different opinion and I always come away both agreeing and disagreeing with many of the points.

Connor always has great content and is renowned as an excellent presenter. This talk was no different in that respect. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is the best presentation I’ve ever seen him do, which probably means it’s one of the best Oracle presentations I’ve ever seen. If you get the chance to see Connor present, you really should take the opportunity. Of course, if you are a presenter yourself, you may want to avoid it, as it will probably make you paranoid about how bad you are in comparison.

Me: Edition-Based Redefinition.

Rule of thumb: Don’t present a database talk in the same time slot as Tom Kyte because everyone will go to his session, not yours. To be fair, if I wasn’t presenting I would have been in his session too. 🙂

Even so, the talk went ok and my demo worked as planned, so I slept well that night! 🙂


Pretty much everyone I spoke to said they were very impressed with the standard of the conference this year. The standard of the presentations was high and the location was cool.



InSync11 – Day 1

Getting to Sydney:

No major drama there. I didn’t sleep much on the plane. A couple of 15 minute stints during the 22 hours on the plane. Slept well on the first night, so day 1 of the conference was relatively jetlag free.

InSync11 Sessions I attended on Day 1 included:

Me: Clonedb: The quick and easy cloning solution you never knew you had.

This was my first presentation at the conference. The majority of the talk went pretty well. The demo didn’t go quite to plan, which was my own fault for making some last minute changes. Even so, the clone worked and if you managed to ignore the bumbling idiot at the front, I think it proved the point. I’m presenting this again in Canberra in a couple of days, so I guess the wrinkles will be ironed out by then. 🙂

Tom Kyte: Efficient PL/SQL – why and how to use PL/SQL to its greatest effect.

I’ve done similar presentations to this myself, but Tom is a better presenter than me, so it’s cool to see him doing his stuff.

Richard Foote: 10 things you possibly don’t know about indexes.

Richard is fun guy, who doesn’t look at all like David Bowie! 🙂 The presentation mostly focused on refuting many of the myths surrounding indexes, with some really neat examples. It would have been cool if he had been given a double slot for this as it was a struggle to fit it into 45 minutes.

Angus MacDonald: An insight into what is coming next.

Angus works for Oracle, and main focus of this talk was Oracle-Sun related technology, including general hardware, as well as the Sparc and Solaris roadmaps. It was well presented and the subject matter was interesting, but a few comparisons grated on me a little. I felt like some information was a little like, “This is what Solaris on Sparc will be capable of in 2015, and Linux on x86-64 can’t do that now”. OK, but what will Linux on x86-64 be capable of by 2015? I think I was being a little over-sensitive, so perhaps it wasn’t a big deal. 🙂

Sydney Oracle Meetup:

In the evening a number of us (Connor McDonald, Craig Shallahamer, Chris Muir, Guy Harrison, Marcelle Kratochvil, Tom Kyte, Richard Foote and myself) were invited over to the Sydney Oracle Meetup to sit on a panel session. It was very informal and good fun. Probably the most enjoyable panel session I’ve been too. After the panel we all went out for some food, so the panel session extended into the night a little.  Thanks to the Pythian guys, Noons, Gary Myers and others for sorting this out… 🙂

I didn’t sleep well last night so Day 2 will be a struggle. I’m presenting in the last slot, so it’s going to be a long day. 🙂



InSync11 and more…

The Oracle ACE Program approved my travel for InSync11, so all systems are go for my trip down under.

My current schedule looks a little hectic, but it’s great to be able to pack so much into such a short time:

  • InSync11 – August 16th-17th : Presenting two papers.
  • Sydney Oracle Meetup – August 16th : On a panel with loads of other people. Should be fun.
  • ACTOUG – August 19th : Presenting at a DBA/Developer day in Canberra with Chris Muir.

I was in Australia last year teaching some Oracle University classes, but it’s been a couple of years since my last conference there, so I’m really looking forward to getting back and meeting everyone again.

It’s going to be a very short, crazily busy visit. I think about  50% of my time away from will be spent on planes. 🙂

Big thanks to InSync11 for inviting me and a very big thanks to The Oracle ACE Program, who have made it possible for me to go!



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.