ODTUG: I’m back home…

I’ve just got back home from ODTUG. Unfortunately my bag didn’t make it. Continental have played a blinder on this trip. I had an 8 hour delay on the way there and they lost my bag on the way back. Fingers crossed it will turn up soon.

My first happy birthday (I’m 41 today) message came from the passport control officer as I arrived in the UK at 07:00 this morning. I didn’t sleep on the plane so I’m off to bed now to try and play catch-up.

Thanks to everyone who made ODTUG possible. I had a great time and hope to be back next year.



ODTUG: Day 5…

Day 5

It was hard to get out of bed this morning. The timetable for the day was also pretty daunting. Most of the sessions were half-day, which at this late stage of the conference makes me wanna run off screaming.

I chose to go with “Data Warehouse Performance Best Practices – Parts I – III” by Maria Colgan and Jean-Pierre Dijcks, both contributors to the Data Warehouse Insiders Blog. Much of the information from this presentation is already available from the blog, and some variations of the information from these webinars, so don’t worry if you couldn’t make it.

Most of my work has been on OLTP systems so I’m always eager to know where theory and practice diverge as far as DW are concerned. For me this presentation had a really good mix in that respect. It was very easy to listen too, sparked a lot of questions and gave people some compelling reasons to consider 11gR2. All in all, a very enjoyable way to spend 3 hours.

Next stop the airport. 🙁



ODTUG: Day 4…

Day 4

“Analytic Functions Revisited” by Alex Nuijten was a great presentation. I’m sure lots of people left the presentation thinking, “Where has this stuff been hiding all these years?” 🙂 Incidently, Alex won the $500 prize in the PL/SQL Challenge last night. Well done dude.

I caught the last couple of minutes of “Why Isn’t Oracle Using My Index” by Jonathan Lewis. One of his suggestions was to take the lazy approach and go with the default parameters and functionality, which will work for most stuff, then spend your time focusing on the stuff it doesn’t work for. A man after my own heart. 🙂

“Thinking Clearly About Performance” by Cary Millsap was a combination of the messages Cary’s been pushing for the last few years. It was essentially a whistle-stop tour of his views on performance and why we should care. Very clean, very slick and very interesting. If you’ve been following #odtug you will have seen it described as , “The best spent 60 minutes of my 40 years of learning”, by one of the delegates.

“Performance Instrumentation” by Karen Morton focussed on instrumenting your PL/SQL applications using ILO from Method R, which amongst other things encapsulates the functionality of the DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO and DBMS_SESSION packages. One of the really neat things about ILO is it manages the call stack so the contents of the V$SESSION view is always correct, even when you are nesting procedure calls. This can be a pain if you are using the DBMS_APPLICATION_INFO package directly. Karen is a great speaker (I love her accent) and it’s so cool when someone presents on a subject you already know well, but still makes you feel like a kid with a new toy. 🙂

“Creating Sub-Zero Dashboard Plug-In for APEX with Google Visualizations” by Roel Hartman did what it said in the title. He showed how to create plugins using the Google Visualization APIs, which was a bit over my head, then how to use the plugins he’d made, which looked real simple. As the repository of APEX pluggins grows it’s going to get easier and easier to produce very stylish apps.



ODTUG: Day 3…

Day 3

I made it through a panel session without talking constantly. I sat at the back of the “Database Development Panel” and kept my gob shut like a good boy. 🙂

The next two talks, “Oracle Extended SQL Trace Data for Developers” by Cary Millsap and “Co-operating with the Database” by Jonathan Lewis, were more developer focused. Being a DBA/Developer type myself, there weren’t many surprises for me, but I guess a lot of the straight development crowd got plenty to scribble down. 🙂

I’ve got quite a few clashing sessions tomorrow and I’m getting the early onset of conference burnout. Having the ACE Directors meeting before the conference makes it seem like a very long event. Early to bed tonight I think.



ODTUG: Day 1 & 2…

I’m not going to write about everything, but just post a few select highlights.

Day 1

There had been a timetable change that I had missed, so I arrived late for the “Messed up Apps: A Study of Performance Anti-patterns” talk by Cary Millsap. He knows his stuff, is a great presenter and he’s very pretty (in-joke). 🙂

Next it was “Take a Load Off: Load Testing your Web Applications: Oracle APEX, JDeveloper, Web Services, Anything” by Chris Muir. Chris demonstrated JMeter and SOAPUI for stress (and regression) testing web apps. I’m vaguely familiar with JMeter, but SOAPUI was new to me, so this was a really useful presentation. Chris has a very casual presenting style, which I like. It feels kinda like you are chatting about a product, rather than being preached to. Definitely get to one of his sessions if you can.

For the love of God, don’t let me into panel sessions, or gag me. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the panel or in the audience (as was the case here) I just can’t shut up. The “Experts Panel” in the “Performance, Scalability, and Security” track had the misfortune of my attendance. I’m sorry.

Day 2

“How to Write Efficient SQL” by Jonathan Lewis was a very cool session. I’m no Jonathan Lewis, but I’m pretty happy with my SQL and SQL tuning skills. When I’m writing and tuning SQL it’s all about shapes. Some shapes work and some shapes don’t. I can’t really explain what I am doing to others, but it works for me. Jonathan on the other hand can explain exactly what he is doing and why. Almost like a repeatable recipe for success. Very good. After the presentation I was talking with Alex Gorbachev and he suggested I read The Checklist Manifesto. On a similar vein, I’ve had some dealings with NLP in the past so I know how important it is to model successful outcomes, so maybe my next task should be to understand my tuning methodology, rather than assuming I will never lose it. It will probably end up looking like a poor-man’s version of Jonathan’s. 🙂

“Accessing the Oracle Database from Google (Apps, App Engine, Spreadsheets)” by Anjo Kolk was an eye opener. Some of the infrastructure Google has in place is still in its infancy, but it certainly makes you wonder what we might be doing in a few years. Maybe I can ditch Enterprise Manager Grid Control 11g in favour if iGoogle. 🙂

The “Database Development Sundown Session” was another example of why I should shut the hell up in a panel session. That said, one of my more cynical comments did elicit a hand shake from Bryn Llewellyn (PL/SQL Product Manager at Oracle). 🙂

One of the coolest moments of the day was during the reception with Oracle ACE Directors in the evening. The moment in question was when Victoria Lira and Lillian Buziak got a “Contributors of the Year” style award. If you are outside the Oracle ACE program you may not know who Victoria and Lillian are, but almost everything the ACE program achieves would be impossible without their organization skills. I’m very pleased they were recognized by this award. 🙂



ODTUG: I’m in Washington D.C…

Well, I actually got on the first standby flight. It was delayed by over an hour, then we had to wait in a hot plane for an eternity for a runway slot, but at least I made it.

When I got to the hotel I met up with a few of the other Oracle ACEs and had a chat before bed. It is really hot over here, but fortunately the hotel has good air conditioning. Blow the environment, I wanna be cool. 🙂

I got up pretty early this morning and my back made some “interesting” noises while I was stretching. I guess spending 20 hours sitting in planes and airports is not the best thing for a spine.

Today is the Oracle ACE Director Product Briefing. Hopefully I’ll manage to stay focused during the day. These sessions can be a little tough because they cover a wide variety of topics, some of which I know very little about, so it sometimes feels like buzzword bingo. 🙂

I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone again. One of the best things about the ACE program is getting to these big events and hooking up with all the other ACEs. There are some really cool people.



ODTUG: Stuck in Newark Airport…

Someone commented on a previous post that I always seem to have some drama with every journey. It seems like this one is no exception.

I got to Newark Airport a few minutes early and started my 3 hour wait for my connection to Washington D.C. Then 3 hours became 3:45, then the plane was cancelled. I’m now on standby for a 17:00 flight. If I don’t get that I’ll be bumped on to a 19:30 flight. If I don’t get on that I’m apparently confirmed for a 21:45 flight tonight. Looking at the notice boards, there are loads of delays and cancellations, so I’m not banking on anything until I’ve actually landed at D.C.

How can I be so close to New York yet be so bored?

Several people have told me they avoid US connections. Since a wise person learns by other people’s mistakes I’ve always done the same thing myself. I will typically fly to anywhere in Europe that will take me directly to my US destination. I tried to do the same thing for this journey, but the Newark connection was so much cheaper than any other route I had no choice but to take it. After all, it’s not my dollar paying for it. Sigh…



Update: Just announced, my 17:00 standby is delayed to 18:00. This is not looking at all good. 🙁

Update 2: Just announced, the delay is even longer. The plane has not taken off yet to start its flight to here. 🙁

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 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.



ODTUG 2009 Update

I decided fairly early on that ODTUG would be an APEX conference for me. I’m trying to go to as many APEX talks as possible as a fact-finding exercise.

I’m a DBA and PL/SQL developer, so I don’t have a foot in either the APEX or ADF camp. I was expecting this conference to help me formulate some opinions on the relative merits of the technologies, but in actual fact it’s kinda confused me more. Why? Well, I’ve seen some really cool enterprise developments done in APEX, which look good and perform well. I guess I didn’t expect that and it certainly places a tick in the APEX box.

But then talking to some of the guys from the ADF camp, it seems the barriers to entry have been lowered substantially over the last few verisons, which makes that sound interesting too.

I think OpenWorld this year will be my ADF conference. Maybe at the end of that I will have a clear, but newbie, picture of both technologies and be able to say something intelligent about them. 🙂

All I know is, whatever method you choose for your developments you really need a PL/SQL API layer. Not that I’m biased of course. 🙂