LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : GOUB…

 

The journey from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Sao Paulo, Brazil was quite straight forward. Just a 3 hour flight and I found myself in Brazil. I got one of the official taxis from the airport to the hotel, but if I told you the price you would think I had booked a private helicopter ride! Brazil is very expensive. :)

I dumped all my stuff in the hotel and took a walk around the shopping mall next door. Wow! This place is really expensive! If I lived here I would be skinny because I couldn’t afford to eat. :)

The morning of the conference started with a bit of a panic. I came back from breakfast, started up all my stuff ready for my talk and my VM was missing! Gone! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! I have no idea how I managed to delete it. Out came the external hard drive and I recovered the VM using time machine. About 20 minutes later I had a VM again. Phew!

About 40 minutes later I was doing my first GUOB presentation to about 200 people, with my working VM. :) The presentation seemed to go well. I got a lot of questions during the following coffee break, as well as photos with some of the attendees. Proper rockstar stuff. :)

I attended a few presentations, including Dana Singleterry‘s session on ADF 12c, which looks pretty cool, and Mike Dietrich‘s session on upgrading to 12c, which gave me a couple of ideas about things I need to add to my article about 12c upgrades.

My second session was followed by a coffee break, which allowed me to extend the question and answer session with the audience. People seemed happy at the end of the session, so I think I did OK. :)

It seems lots of people have questions they want to ask, but not in front of the room, so I spent a lot of time answering questions between sessions. I can’t emphasise enough how important networking time is at a conference. I love chatting to people about technology, so the question and answer stuff is really good fun for me.

In the evening we went out to a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. There was loads of veggie stuff to eat, so I stuffed myself, whilst watching everyone else devouring a heard of cows. They like their meat in Latin America!

I got back just in time to see Soulja Boy arrive at the hotel. How the mighty have fallen. There were only about 20 fans there to meet him and he was travelling in the hotel minibus. He’s really small! He looks like a skinny little 10 year old, so I guess the hotel minibus felt like a giant tour bus to him. :)

I was only in Brazil long enough to present at the conference, so I didn’t get any shots of the city. You can see a few photos of the conference here, as well as a few pictures I’ve downloaded from twitter.

So that is the last event of the LA OTN Tour (Southern Leg) complete. I’ll be checking out of the hotel in a few minutes and starting the long trip home.

Thanks to everyone at GUOB for inviting me to the event and thank you to the Oracle ACE Program for making it possible for me to take part in the event.

I’ll write a wrapping up post about the tour once I get back home.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : ArOUG Day 2…

 

I was determined to get on a bus tour of Buenos Aires this morning. The plan was to do this yesterday, then spend this morning revisiting a few parts of the city in a bit more detail. Unfortunately, my inability to follow basic directions scuppered that plan… :)

So this morning I got myself to the tour bus and rode the loop of the city, taking photos as I went. You will see lots of blurred images and lots of pictures containing parts of the bus, but I don’t care because they are still good memories. :)

I got back from the tour bus, had a quick shower, then walked to the conference venue to do my last presentation of the ArOUG event. Everything went smoothly and people seemed really happy with it. I got to speak to more of the attendees, which is always fun, and pose for a bunch of photos with people. Everyone in Latin America has such nice skin tones, then there is me looking like casper the friendly ghost next to them. I think I will get a fake tan before I come next time. :)

After saying goodbyes to a few people, a few of us went out to a local bar to toast the end of another event. Alex would be proud of me, as I drank a pint of the local equivalent on Guinness, while eating chips (fries) with a cocktail stick. What a great idea! No sticky fingers. :)

I’m now back at the hotel and I leave for Sa0 Paulo, Brazil tomorrow. That’s four out of five events done. It hardly seems real…

Thanks to everyone in Buenos Aires and the ArOUG that looked after me and made me feel welcome during my stay. I hope to see you again soon. Also thanks to the Oracle ACE Program for making this happen.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : ArOUG Day 1…

 

I arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina late last night. The ferry ride from Montevideo took about 3 hours.

This morning I got a taxi to the ArOUG conference venue and did my first presentation of the conference. I was originally scheduled to do both my presentations today, then have tomorrow off, but Alex Gorbachev needs to leave earlier tomorrow, so I’ve swapped slots with him and my second presentation is now tomorrow afternoon.

Feeling adventurous, I decided to walk back from the conference venue. The directions seemed pretty straight forward, but I managed to get myself lost. I walked around for quite a while, thinking I must be close to the hotel, but not managing to find it. I eventually decided the only way to get back was to get a taxi. As I walked to find one, I noticed I was standing next to my hotel. Bonus!

The plan was to spend the afternoon on a city tour bus, but unfortunately I got lost on the way to the pickup point and I just walked around for a few hours until I found myself again, standing next to the hotel. :)

After reading a bunch of security messages from Oracle I felt quite nervous of taking photos and making myself look even more like a tourist, so I didn’t take many photos. If I can get on the bus tour tomorrow, and not get lost again, I will take loads.

In the evening went out to a barbecue-style place to eat. Everyone ate a little bit of salad and fish to start, then guys brought a procession of different meat out on large skewers, more like swords really, then it was a meat-fest for the rest of the night. I’m a vegetarian, so I kept eating the veggie stuff while I watched a herd of assorted animals get devoured. Everyone was very happy and full by the end of it. Even so, Alex still managed to eat some food from a street vendor on during the walk back to the hotel. I have no idea where he puts it all! :)

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : UYOUG…

 

The trip from Lima to Montevideo took quite a long time. First I flew back to Santiago, then from there to Montevideo, Uruguay. The drive from the airport to the hotel was pretty cool. It was dark, but we were driving along the coast and the city was all lit up. We arrived quite late, so we dropped off our stuff at the hotel and went out to eat.

The next day was the UYOUG conference. I did three presentations at this event. My laptop died during my first session, so I had to fill while waiting for it to restart. The second session went without any problems. I managed to mangle my DB before the third session and I didn’t have enough time to recover it as I only noticed as my session started. Fortunately I have an article associated with each presentation, so I used the examples in the article to demonstrate how the features worked. It always pays to be prepared! :)

After my last session I went back to the hotel to get my bags, then it was a quick dash to the ferry port to get the ferry to Buenos Aires.

One bit of culture I did manage to encounter was Mate. When I was walking to the conference venue I noticed lots of people walking with what looked like bongs in their hands, which seemed a bit strange. Later I found out these were used for drinking Mate. I got a chance to try it. It tastes like a mixture of tea and tobacco and has a slightly smokey taste. It was quite an interesting taste, but not like anything I’ve tried before.

So I was in Montevideo for less than 24 hours, which was a shame as the people were great and the city looked interesting. Hopefully I will get a chance to visit again and take a proper look at the city next time.

Thanks to the organisers of the UYOUG conference for inviting me, and of course the ACE Program for getting me to the event!

I’m now in Buenos Aires for the 4th leg of the tour…

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : Day off in Lima, Peru

 

I actually got a day off from travelling and presenting yesterday. I would have loved to see Macchu Picchu, but that would take more time than I had available, so instead I went to see Pachacamac, which is about 30 minutes from the city. It is a really big site, about 10 hectares. It must have looked amazing in its heyday. One part of the site is a cemetery, where they estimate there are 40,000 mummies. What with that and the whole human sacrifice thing, it was kind-of freaky. I shall have to get some more information about it and scare my nephews with the story. :)

I took quite a lot of photos, but they don’t really do the site justice.

After the tour I took my second visit to Wong (a supermarket), to embarrass myself by trying to buy food without knowing the language. The people in Peru are really friendly, so I hope they find my cluelessness amusing, rather than annoying.

After stuffing myself with bread, fruit and Inca Kola, I spent a few minutes in the hotel gym. I think I probably burnt off about one tenth of the calories I ate. :)

IncaKola

This morning was a very early start. My alarm went off at 03:45. I was showered, packed and out of the hotel by 04:30. The trip back to the airport was not as much fun as the trip from it. The roads were very quiet, so there were no Fast & Furious moments to write about. :)

The hotel told me to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight. Although the place was really busy when I arrived, I got through check-in, security and immigration control really quickly, so as I write this, I have about 2 hours until my flight. The journey is a 3-4 hour flight back to Santiago, Chile, followed by a 2+ hour flight to Montevideo, Uruguay.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : PEOUG…

 

Jonathan Lewis‘ sessions (over WebEx) about “Designing Optimal SQL” and “How to Hint” were extremely popular. The room was full and the audio and slides were very clear. I would say approximately 3/4 of the audience were wearing the simultaneous-translation earphones. Everyone looked very focussed! It was a pity Jonathan couldn’t make it in person, but this was a much better alternative than cancelling his sessions!

My sessions seemed to go down well. In the second session, I nearly fell off the stage at one point, one of my slides went weird for a minute and I got a little static electric shock, but this just added to the excitement. :) I got some questions at the end of both sessions, which is always nice to hear. Listening to a question over a translation service is strange though. :)

I’ve heard Michelle speak at both events so far and I keep on thinking to myself, I really don’t know enough about security! I’m not a newbie, but there is still much more I could know. We’ve crossed paths numerous times in the past, but I’ve never had an opportunity to speak to her much before this tour. She’s a cool person. Very approachable and she knows her stuff! Another Oracle geek to add to the “good person” list. :) Sadly, this was her last event, so she’s making her way home now.

Jonathan, Michelle and myself had 2 sessions each and Ultan O’Broin had a session in English too, so that was 7 hours of English content today. Thanks to the translators and those who braved listening in their second language.

At the end of the conference we had a little celebrity moment when people wanted photos taken with us. My face hurts from smiling so much and it was hard work keeping my stomach sucked in for so long. :)

A big thank you goes out to the organisers of the PEOUG event and also to the Oracle ACE program for getting me here.

I’ve got a day in Peru tomorrow before I fly to Montevideo , Uruguay for the next event.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : Arrived in Lima, Peru…

 

Yesterday did not start so well. My sleep was rather erratic, so I woke up in a bad mood. The taxi ride to the airport in Chile took a long time because of the traffic, but I had allowed plenty of time, so I still got to the airport with 2 hours to spare. For some reason I was not able to use the check-in machines, so I had to wait in a very long, very slow moving queue. That in itself was annoying, but more annoying was there seemed to be lots of staff at the counters just chatting, rather than dealing with the people in the queue. Airports are annoying at the best of times, but this sort of thing makes my blood boil.

After getting checked in, it was time to go through immigration control. Once again a long queue. This time there were two people processing the queue. One seemed reasonably efficient, but the other guy looked like he was chatting to people as they went through. One family went through his desk and he stamped the passports, then chatted to them for about 10 minutes. They appeared to be laughing and joking. It was now time for my plane to board and I was practically volcanic.

I got through security and rushed to my gate. The wrong plane was there. I checked the boards and they still said my plane was meant to be there. After a bit of panic, I realised the previous plane at that gate had not taken off yet. Rather than updating the departures board to say there was a delay, they just kept the same information on them, relying on the fact you would work it out. I was now on the verge of supernova.

We finally boarded the plane and I sat down in the smallest seat known to mankind. Everyone had brought on too many pieces of hand luggage, meaning I had to leave my laptop half way down the plane from where I was sitting. Why don’t they just enforce the rules? They say one piece of hand luggage, then let everyone on with three, plus coats and handbags and a baby with a pushchair, then try to ram everything into the overhead compartments. It’s never going to work and it’s likely to break sensitive electronic goods in the process. All the mass in the universe had now compacted into an infinitesimally small space and I was at the smallest fraction of a second before the big bang took place…

Just before I had a complete temper tantrum, the staff on the plane disarmed me by being really nice. That was very lucky, or I would probably have missed this leg of the trip while cooling down in jail…

The flight was pretty uneventful, apart from the snoring of the guy sitting next to me.

I arrived in Peru, and got a taxi to the hotel. This taxi ride will probably be one of the highlights of the tour. My taxi driver was a robo-babe from beyond infinity.  She cranked up the radio in the car, playing a rock station, then proceeded to drive like she was being chased by the devil. At one point about eight lanes merged into 2 and she beat down lorry drivers and bus drivers like they were little grannies on push-bikes. Driving in Peru seems to be based totally on commitment. If you drive like you don’t want to live, you get priority. This woman was immortal, so we were bound to come out on top. After a little over an hour, we arrived at my hotel without so much as a scratch. I think I should have been scared, but I felt like a little kid saying, “Do it again!” She really should be the star of the next Fast & Furious movie!

So all in all, a very good end to an extremely frustrating day…

I slept OK, but I’ve still got some catching up to do, so I hope I don’t spend the whole day yawning. I’m just about to go down and register for today’s conference. Wish me luck!

Cheers

Tim…

 

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : CLOUG…

 

As you will have gathered by now, the first event of the southern leg of the LAOTN Tour was Chilean Oracle User Group (CLOUG) in Santiago, Chile.

After the initial keynote, the main room became the Michelle Malcher and Tim Hall roadshow. We both picked up extra sessions to fill the gaps left by Jonathan Lewis‘ absence, so we were like a tag team, alternating throughout the day. :) As a result, the conference seemed to go really quickly for me.

In addition to doing the presentations, I got to speak to a few people in the breaks, which is always one of the nice things about conferences. You have to admire people’s endurance, spending most of the day listening to presentations in their second language (or via a live translation service) and still wanting to speak to you in the breaks.

In the evening we went out for some food with the conference organisers. Being a vegetarian who doesn’t drink is not the most natural fit for socialising in Chile, but it makes for good comedy value. :) We had a really fun evening.

Big thanks to the organisers of the conference for inviting me and a big thank you to the Oracle ACE Director program for getting me here.

So that’s the first event over. Later today I fly to Lima, Peru.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) : Arrived in Santiago, Chile…

 

I’m now in the hotel in Santiago, Chile.

The flights were fine. I landed in Paris with just enough time to walk to the departure gate and board my next flight. The Air France boarding was a bit chaotic, and once again there was no vegetarian food. With many airlines, booking a special meal seems to be very hit or miss. It’s not like I’m going to starve though, so never mind. :)

For some reason, unknown to me, I got a Business Class flight out, so the 14.5 hour flight from Paris to Santiago wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. I’m cattle-class for the rest of the flights, including the 11+ hour flight home from Sao Paulo.

The weather in Santiago is more like the UK weather than the UK is at the moment. I arrived to about 10 degrees and fog. I was walking round in a t-shirt an it felt nice after the last couple of weeks at home. I’m not great with the heat. :)

Unfortunately, Jonathan Lewis has had to cancel his trip due to a problem with his ear, that’s prevented him from flying, so I’ve got an extra session tomorrow to fill in one of the gaps. Hopefully, he’ll be doing some web sessions later in the tour.

I think I’m going to run through my talks now, hit the gym and try to get some sleep before the tour begins in earnest tomorrow.

Cheers

Tim…

LAOTN Tour (Southern Leg) Preparation Complete…

 

Tomorrow is going to be a very tough day. I’ve got work as normal, including one of my fortnightly Tuesday presentations. From work I dash home, get changed, pick up my stuff and it’s off to the airport. I get a quick flight to Paris, then it’s a 14.5 hour flight to Santiago, Chile. That’s the starting point for the southern leg of the LAOTN tour this year. I can only hope I break the habit of a lifetime and actually get some sleep on the plane. If not I’m going to be like Day of the Dead when I get there.

I went out at the weekend and bought a load of cheap polo shirts, so I’m going to look pretty much identical on every day of the tour. :) When I was in Bulgaria, Tom Kyte gave me some packing advice, involving rolling stuff up to reduce creases, so I’m not packing a travel iron. I’ve just finished my packing using that method, so if I look like a bag of creases on this tour I will be giving him a kicking at OOW2013. :)

The weather forecast looks a bit cooler than it was on last year’s northern leg, but the humidity is high, so even though I’ve packed more than enough stuff to get through the whole trip I’m sure I will get half way through and need to hit the hotel laundry service.

I’m now feeling totally wired. Five countries in 10 days, with very long flights at the start and end is quite a daunting prospect. I know I’m going to enjoy it, but I’m feeling a little nervous/scared at the moment. I’m sure when I get on to the Santiago flight I’ll chill out, but until then I’m just going to be panicking about what I’ve forgotten to pack and about my connection in Paris…

Cheers

Tim…