OTN APAC 2014 : Auckland – Day 2


My day 2 at the conference started with my analytic functions session. I’m always a bit worried I oversimplify things, but people seem to appreciate it, so perhaps I’m just being paranoid. I’m sure the feedback will let me know. :)

Next I went to Chris Muir‘s session of Developing Web and Mobile Dashboards with Oracle ADF. I had already seen this at the AUSOUG WA event in Perth, but I liked it, so I thought I would give it a second go. :) You can see some of the stuff that gets bundled with ADF 12.1.3 here.

From there I moved on the Anton Els’ session called Is Your Standby Database Locked and Loaded, Ready to Take on the Disaster?, which was a whistle-stop tour of standby database. The session started with an overview of standby technology in general. It then focussed on Data Guard, including a discussion of Active Data Guard and the Broker. It then moved on to implementing standby databases with Standard Edition (SE), using manual scripts and third party products, like Dbvisit Standby. The discussion then moved on the impact of flashback database in the context of standby, including snapshot standby. Next up was situations where you’ll need RMAN to fix problems, or use RMAN in conjunction with your standby database. This was the first time I’ve seen Anton present and I was really impressed. He’s very relaxed, confident, presents at a good pace and most importantly sounds like he really understands the subject matter!

I missed the next session because I got talking with Anton and Arjen from Dbvisit. Some tech talk along with the state of the movie business these days… :)

Then it was time for my 4th and final session of the conference. This one was my WebLogic introduction presentation, which is a bit of a braindump type session. With people scattered around a big room, you feel a little separated from the audience and I don’t think it works so well. It’s better to be in a smaller room so you feel more up-close and personal, but it’s all good. :)

Once my session was done, it was a quick goodbye over an ice-cream, then off to my hotel to get my bag. It’s a little sad when you have to rush off from a conference. It feels a little ungrateful somehow. I shared a taxi with a guy from Dunedin who had been at the conference, I’m so sorry I forgot your name. :( That made the journey a lot more pleasant though as we got to talk about the conference and life as a DBA etc.

This was my 4th visit to New Zealand and I hope it’s not my last. It’s always a really friendly conference and the fact I get to visit non-Oracle friends as well is a bonus. Hopefully I will get to pop in again on another APAC tour in the future! Thanks to everyone in the NZOUG for inviting me and making it run smoothly.

So I’m sitting in the airport now, waiting to start the nightmare journey home. I’ll post that as a separate post, along with a wrap-up post when I get home…






OTN APAC 2014 – Auckland – Day 1


So it was really day 2 of the conference, but it was day 1 for me, so that’s the way I’m naming it… :) There were seven tracks available, but I’ll be speaking about what I saw…

First up was the keynote by Tim Ebbeck called 10 Rules of Transformational Leadership. I’m not the biggest fan of keynotes, but this one was pretty cool. To summarise:

  1. Nothing beats being as good as you can be. Get off your ass and do it.
  2. Expect less of other people’s leadership and expect more of your own. Be a self starter. Don’t rely on others to lead you.
  3. You always have a choice. Make positive choices.
  4. Manage and protect your personal brand. Do other people perceive you as you perceive yourself.
  5. Life’s not fair. Get over it.
  6. Settle for nothing less than you deserve.
  7. Keep perspective. Never take things personally. Avoid it becoming about ego.
  8. Do it differently and innovate.
  9. Balance the game. You need a work/life balance.
  10. Make up your own rules.

Pretty cool. I agree with everything, but he forgot to mention number “11. S.T.F.U. and R.T.F.M”. :)

Next up was DBA 101: Calling All New Database Administrators by Gustavo Rene Antunez. I’ve met Rene a few times, but I’ve never seen him present, so this was a great opportunity. It was a really nice introduction Oracle and the DBA job. His slides are really fun and informative at the same time. I really like his presentation style. I’ll definitely make the effort to see him present again in future.

My PL/SQL performance session seemed to go quite well. After presenting recently to groups of people where English was a second language, it was liberating to be able to speak quicker and in a more relaxed manner again.

After lunch I went to see Gustavo Rene Antunez speaking about Getting Started with Database as a Service with Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. It’s a subject that I’m interested in, even though I have very little experience of it at the moment. I think the important point Rene made is you should be trying to reduce the number of offerings in the service catalog to a manageable level, so you can cope with 80% of your systems that represent the “standard stuff”. There is no point defining templates for the one-off things, since DBaaS probably isn’t the right place for that. Once again, one size does not fit all. Some interesting decisions to make in terms of management and governance…

Next up was Stuart Speers talking about Oracle database on AWS (Amazon Web Services). He started off talking about the pros and cons of RDS for Oracle, then moved on to a case study where they deployed conventional Oracle installation on AWS to support an APEX application for a customer. I’ve played with most of this AWS stuff to kick the tires, but that’s different to the experience of doing a production app on it. It was interesting to see the approach and architecture of the application in the context of AWS.

Next up was Jennie Vickers speaking about The Fear Factor – Getting Past Legal Concerns About the Cloud. She’s a lawyer, not a computer geek, so the idea behind this session was to help us identify problem areas that may need legal attention, not turn us into technology lawyers. This stuff is very scary and very interesting. She broke the identification of problem processes down to 8 key areas.

  • Business or Consumer (B2B or B2U)? : There are different legal issues around this. It’s often easier to protect yourself from other businesses than from consumer rights? Some consumer law is not defined in your contract, but part of the statute. There is some cross referencing to do.
  • Global or Local? : Legal jurisdictions are important. Are you bound by the law of your country, the country of your service provider or the country of the user.
  • Goods, service, experience or community? What are you actually selling?
  • Brands : Support not damage the brand. Your service shouldn’t compromise the values of the brand. Does the cloud affect your brand in a negative way?
  • Online, physical or both for sales? Some countries treat internet sales differently to physical sales.
  • Selling a technology product, or technology enabler? It makes a difference.
  • What data? Does privacy even matter for the data you are putting into the cloud? Lots of data is irrelevant from a security perspective.
  • Who owns the data? Does it belong to your business or your customers? It makes a difference.

Depending on your answers to these questions, you are going to have a different attitude to the cloud. It was pretty neat getting a talk about this from a lawyer, not a geek pretending to understand the law!

From there I went to my session on virtualisation. It’s a nice and fluffy session to end the day. :)

After the last session, there was a social gathering in the foyer for a bit of networking. I went and grabbed some with Chris Muir, before going back to the hotel to bed down for the night…



OTN APAC Tour: NZOUG Day 1 & 2


The evening before the NZOUG conference was a bit chaotic. There was still no resolution to the Qantas fiasco and I was starting to believe I would have to cancel my sessions in Perth and try to fly home from Auckland. I tried to switch my flights, but everything was sold out.

By the next morning the Qantas strike seemed to be over, but there were reports of delays and disruption, so I was still not sure if I would make it to Perth.

NZOUG Day 1:

I was just about to start my first session (Clonedb) when there was a fire alarm. Fortunately it was resolved pretty quickly and I was able to get things back on track. From there is was straight on to do my second session (Edition-Based Redefinition), with no fire alarms this time. Both my sessions seemed to go down well. I got some good questions in each session, which is always cool, and some more later in the day and at the evening event.

I spent a little time chatting to some of the guys on the Quest stand and the guys from the DBVisit stand.

My first session of the day as an attendee was Graham Wood’s Exadata session. I saw this session for the first time a few years ago when it was known as the “Terabyte Hour”. With the hardware refreshes and a few software tweaks that have happened since then it now only takes about 18 minutes to complete the demo, so the name has changed. :) My comment to Graham at the end of the session was, “Much as I hate to admit it, it’s really impressive.”

That pretty much took me to the end of the presentations on the first day.

Chris Muir told me to check my emails as my flights had been sorted out. Sure enough, when I checked Lillian Buziak from the OTN team had contacted Oracle Travel and fixed everything for me. She is a total miracle worker. If I was younger and more attractive (and she wasn’t already married) she would be mine, oh yes, she would be mine…

In the evening we all went to the conference dinner. The theme was “Murder Mystery”, which involved a few poor souls getting selected to be made a fool of in front to the rest of the audience. Unfortunately, I was one of the fools in question, along with Chris Muir, Debra Lilley, Bambi and a couple of guys. The compere and the ghost of the victim (my wife, murdered on her wedding day) lead us through various “role playing scenarios” to determine who was the murderer. The final decision for the murderer came down to me (the husband) and the chef, with the chef being voted the winner/loser/murderer. It was all very confusing, fun and embaressing, all roled in to one. :)

The whole event seemed to go down really well with the audience, who had plenty of comments (and photos). I have a feeling this is going to haunt (no punn intended) me for a long time.

NZOUG Day 2:

This was cut very short for me. My new Perth flight was arranged for 14:10, so I had to leave the conference at 11:00. I still got time to chat to a few people, mostly about the previous evenings events, and check out Ronald Bradford‘s session on the top 9 issues people have with mySQL databases. I’ve been a casual user of mySQL for years, but never really spent much time looking at it in any depth. I learned quite a bit from this session. Maybe I’ll spend a little more time playing with it in future.

Assuming the rest of the conference carried on the way it started, I would say it was a big success.


The flight to Perth was pretty straight forward and I got to the apartment with no dramas. I took a walk over to the conference venue, which is significantly further than I thought. It took be about 60 minutes to walk it at a pace, with no bag in the (relatively speaking) cool evening air. I’m not sure what it will be like in the summer sun.

At 06:00 this morning I went out for a run along the river, then made myself look like a freak by doing sprints on the way back. Nothing like the sight of a fat sweaty bloke panting like a dog to turn heads. The locals were out in force, walking, running and doing boot camps on the banks of the river. Even at that time is was very sunny. I think it would be damn near lethal to try it at midday. The flies and mossies were out in force. If nothing else the swatting and endless ticks you develop when they fly round your face and ears helps you burn more calories. :)



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.



NZOUG Day 1…


NZOUG Day 1 seemed to go pretty well. My talk went OK, and the guys from Quest gave me some more Toads to shoot out into the audience. In the evening we all went out for a Skyrides and Luge trip. The Luge rides were cool, but I nearly fell out at one point.

I managed to get a photo of Connor McDonald while I was on the chair lift.

From 2008_Rotorua

On the last luge run you had to carry a cup of water, with the person spilling the least winning a prize. Francisco Munoz Alvarez got some shots off me. Before…

From 2008_Rotorua

And after…

From 2008_Rotorua

Here’s a couple of shots of Francisco and his son.

From 2008_Rotorua
From 2008_Rotorua

The luge runs were followed by food and a quiz. My team came 4th from bottom and I was unable to answer most of the questions about the UK. :)

It was a great night out, but I feel really tired today! I guess I better go and prepare for my second presentation now…



More Server Builds and Presenting…


Server Builds

My room is full of servers again. I’m still rebuilding loads of kit to send to the new site. Yesterday I installed RHEL4 on two servers ready for 10gR2 installations, and RHEL3 on three servers ready for AS10g (9.0.4) installations. The versions, especially App Server, may sound strange, but this is to duplicate the current environment, so my hands are tied. :)

The three application servers are all going to be installed as 1 node clusters, so we can configure and test them before releasing the remaining nodes. Just trying to reduce the impact of the move.

Hopefully, by the end of today we will have at least one node for every layer in the new production and test environments.

It’s not long until I leave this company, so I’m really keen to get everything moved and bulletproof.


OpenWorld: Booked, and I’m ready to go.

AUSOUG: I’ve just received confirmation of my conference presentations in Australia. I’m presenting two papers at both the Perth and Gold Coast events.

NZOUG: I’ve been confirmed for the New Zealand conference in Rotorua, but I don’t know how many papers I’m presenting yet.

One of my friends is trying to sort out a presentation at a local user group in New Zealand after the main conference is over. Seems a shame to go all that way and not do as much as possible.

So it looks like the world tour is back on. :)

By the end of the year I will have been to Austria, Denmark, Estonia, America, Australia and New Zealand. I guess this seems a little tame for some of the consultants out there, but for a regular Joe DBA / Developer from Birmingham it seems a bit crazy.